Extreme Midwest Weather and Grandma’s Cucumbers

Tiresome. That’s what this year’s growing season has become. You would think with such a wet spring, things would level off and rainfall would be timely for the rest of the growing season. Nah.

With Such a Wet Spring, How Can a Field be Dry?

We all know Mother Nature was mean this winter and spring. To the point you don’t want to be her neighbor or friend. We need her, but apparently she doesn’t need us! You’d think she’d try to cozy up this summer after she was so mean before. You’d think. But you’d be wrong. According to the United States Drought Monitor our area (Eastern Iowa) is abnormally dry. Sure, why not!

How farmers track the weather

Do you have a hobby? Our hobby on the farm is charting the weather outside, watching the Weather Channel and the local weather on TV. A digital outdoor thermometer? Yes. Weather Apps on our phones? Check. Watch weather radar storm loop predictions in slow motion? Oh yeah. Books about cloud formations? Uh huh. A digital anemometer (measures wind speed) on the kitchen table? You betcha.

We’ve invited Mother Nature to our party, and she first came on cold and then dumped a bucket of water on our heads!

Now she’s holding off and giving us nothing at all. It hasn’t rained since July 17. That’s 20 days without any rainfall coupled with extreme heat in the 90’s. Thanks Mother!

Things are dry. Very dry. But tonight our weatherman has predicted a rainstorm. Fingers crossed. Here’s a photo of a cornfield before the predicted rainfall. Do you notice how the corn leaves are curled up and pointing toward the sky? This is an indication that the corn plants are under stress. Stressed as there’s no water left in the topsoil. Stressed because the air temperature is high and there’s no humidity to add any moisture to the air. When there is no rainfall, humidity can add some much-needed moisture through fog and dew in the morning. None of that so far! Thanks again, Mother!

A field of dry corn before a rain
Notice how the leaves are curled toward the sky. That’s a sign of stress in the plant.

Some Rain Arrives

It rains overnight. 1.25 inches! This is enough to lift the stress on our corn and beans. Kinda like when you have a sunburn and put some aloe on it to calm things down.

A photo of corn plants after a rain
The corn leaves have flattened out after a much- needed rain!

Twenty two inches of rain is required to grow a good crop. So far we’ve received around 14.35 inches of rain since May. May had too much rain with 7.99 inches. June and July were sub-par.  We are about -2.83 inches below normal rainfall from June to August.

So what’s a farmer to do? Wait. Watch the clouds. Hang on.

Be Blessed!

Update! We have received one additional inch of rain since I wrote this post!

Now if we could only solve the problem of low markets…

Grandma’s Cucumbers

Cucumbers in a bowl
These cucumbers are as refreshing as they look!

Today’s recipe is a vegetable that’s mostly water! Grandma’s Cucumbers is so easy and delicious! The recipe below is a water marinate for two medium cucumbers. Whatever you do, DO NOT let your cucumbers get big in your garden! They get weird and uneatable. You can add onion slices to the mix if you like. The onions add extra flavor. I don’t like to eat onions, but the marinate makes everything delicious! You can easily double or triple this marinate to accommodate additional cucumbers and onions.

Grandma’s Cucumbers

Tools you’ll need:

Knife or mandolin to slice cucumbers

Bowl or plastic bag to marinate cucumbers in the refrigerator

Ingredients:

1 t salt

1 T sugar

1 T vinegar

5 T water

Mix and pour over 2 medium sliced cucumbers and ¼- ½ an onion. Leave in refrigerator around 3 hours. Serve with or without the marinate.

Illustrated cucumber recipe