The range of 4-H exhibitors bringing garden exhibits into the Hendricks County Fair in Danville recently ranged from one puny vegetable because that's all they had to collections of five plates of good looking vegetables that would be competitive in any year. But the lengths some people went to get decent vegetables were beyond my scope. When they talk about putting a tent over the plant to keep it from getting so hot, that's beyond my time constraints! The project manager was lenient. So was the judge- me. One family brought in vegetables that I don't think are even on the acceptable list, but it was all they had, so we stuck ribbons on them and they completed the project. My own daughter took the only five tomatoes I could find out of 30 plants that didn't have dry rot on the bottom. They were small. To be honest I'm not sure they were even all red. There may have been a yellow in there. Whoever judged her exhibit must have been really lenient- she got a blue!
The closest I got to helping her garden along was watering one zucchini plant that produced one big fruit 10 days before the fair. Seeing more starting I watered it twice, five gallons at a time. The night we went out to get the zucchini we had been eyeing, the vine had died, and the zucchini had shriveled! Hence the tomato back-up plan was all she had left.
My garden is a micro-view of Indiana crops in general. I fertilized it with compost and it worked up well. I planted on time. Then it didn't rain and some things didn't come up. So I planted again. They still didn't come up. The few squash plants that did come up all died but one. I thought I might have a decent squash for her to show until I turned it over and it has been chewed on by insects.
The only edible thing I'm going to get back for my $75 investment in seed and plants and a lot of work spreading manure, tilling and planting is that one zucchini. It made a great casserole. Plus the $3 my daughter will get at the fair for showing her vegetables.
It's a shame they don't have crop insurance on gardens. Mine is a total wipe –out. The only saving grace is there aren't many weeds either- most of them couldn't even germinate or survive the heat and drought.
My garden is nothing compared to your farm fields. But it gives me an inkling of what the drought can do and has done. Fortunately many of you have crop insurance. That won't make you whole, but it may keep you in business.
Indiana Prairie Farmer is doing our level best to supply information you can use to make better decisions in tough times. Here's hoping for more rain, and that we all live to grow things, be it gardens or crops, another day.