This summer’s drought has turned a promising start of the growing season into a struggle to keep gardens alive. Thanks to a mild winter and early spring, gardeners got off to one of the earliest starts in memory, with one farmers market vendor selling “June” strawberries in April.
“Things set on so nice, then it just got dry,” said gardener Shana Thornhill of rural Marion.
Cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers were some of the biggest victims in Thornhill’s garden when the summer turned especially dry and hot.
“I’ve got people asking for tomatoes, but I’m reluctant to part with mine,” she said. “For some reason, the weeds don’t seem to be affected.”
Thornhill said there isn’t much advice to give to gardeners when the weather is as hot and dry as this summer has been.
“Water, water, water, otherwise there isn’t much you can do,” she said.
She isn’t ready to count out her tomatoes. With cooler temperatures and a couple of good rains in August, her tomatoes have put on some new blossoms.
“If it will keep raining, we might have a prayer, but if not, I guess we won’t have tomatoes this year,” Thornhill said.
She might get her wish. Kansas may receive rain leftover from Tropical Storm Isaac, currently making its way through the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Weather Service.
Despite the drought, it hasn’t been an entirely bad year for Thornhill’s produce. Cherry tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, and okra have done OK, and her apple trees are weighed down by an excess of apples, and the fruit is exceptionally sweet this year.
“This has been a great year for apples,” she said.