Garden Exhibits Reveal a Lot About This Year

Hoosier Perspectives

Where are all the vegetables?

Published on: July 26, 2011

I traveled to Danville to judge some garden crops a couple weeks ago, then to Lebanon the week after. One thing noticeable was that there wasn't as many vegetables as in some years, especially at Lebanon. It was the first clue if you just arrived from Mars that there is something a little bit different about the weather this year.

Number one it was very wet early. So that meant cool-season crops didn't go out on time. They include cabbage and broccoli. Ironically, that may have helped a young man win reserve grand single vegetable at the Hendricks County Fair. It's usually pretty tough to some up with a big, tight head of broccoli that hasn't bolted and lowered out this time of year. The secret? He couldn't plant his garden until late May. And this worst heat wave, death on those cold crops, came after the head formed.

At both fairs, heavy rains in the last few weeks prevented onions from being dug on time. There was still more green than should be there. Gary Mosbaugh, ag teacher at Southmont High School in Montgomery County, also helped judge garden crops at Hendricks County. He says that onions need to be dried for at least two weeks, and it's better if they can have three weeks to dry. Several young gardeners admitted they had to wait until just over a week ago, because it was too muddy to get them out.

And then there is size. While I saw some of the biggest potatoes I've ever seen, I also saw several plates of small onions. They just didn't have time to grow since they were planted late.

And anybody arriving from Mars would certainly wonder where all the tomatoes were. One exhibit of green tomatoes showed up, which, sorry, there is no category for green tomatoes, even though they're very good if fried and dipped in grease and flower- oops, not on the heart diet. I used to crave them as a kid.

The tomatoes are still on the vine, ripening now. And if the person raising them isn't spraying them often with fungicide, there probably won't be many good tomatoes to get. The weather is perfect, with all the humidity, for several diseases to develop, although it may be on the warm side for some of them.

A couple plates of sweet corn showed up- one very good. Obviously, sweet corn is late too. Did this sweet corn come from a garden or Kroger's? Who knows? At some point you have to trust people. And while 4-H is a microcosm of those in society, ie: if the parent cheats the kid might cheat, I took them at face value.

All in all, the vegetable lineup reflects the year. There was late planting, delays due to rain, and unusual circumstances that helped some crops and hurt others. The same principles may apply to corn and soybeans before the year is over.