I Used to Have a Garden, or, So who needs lettuce?


Well, shit. Hail for the second time in a week. The first time shredded my lettuce bed pretty badly, as you can see below.

Lettuce_after_hail_3 This one about ruined the young lettuce I’d planted for family across the alley who let me use gardening space in their yard; those greenish smears used to be lettuce plants.Marsinko_lettuce_after_hail_2 Things look almost as bad in the lettuce bed next door, where five college guys also let me use space. (This is my plan for world hegemony: yard by yard, I advance.)

I did wrap a row-cover over one tomato and young squash in a barrel, and they fared better under the weight than others did with the slash and freeze of the hail itself. This young crookneck squash took a real beating, though, Squash_after_hail_4 as did the potatoes. 


The whole thing was over in five or ten minutes. The temperature plumetted, from somewhere in the high eighties or above (it’s been in the mid-nineties recently)  to the sixties or lower, then swung abuptly back up as the  cloud passed away and the sun returned.  The neighbor’s picnic table, heated in the sun, then doused and cooled, and warmed again, created its own little cloud:Steaming_picnic_table_after_hail

When it was over, we had flooding in the cellar and a leak in the dining room. That was two hours ago.

Oh god, it’s starting again. It’s almost six-thirty, darker than it usually gets till nearly ten, and it sounds as if the house is under seige. What happened to good old-fashioned thunderstorms with RAIN? Some of these hailstones are in clusters; some are an inch in diameter.

The tomato I saved this afternoon has been flattened; the delphinium in the circle garden, just about to bloom, have disappeared into the earth. Leaves from the golden current just outside the window are plastered on the screen, and the branches, lush even after the last onslaught, hang bare and tattered.

Eh–I never really wanted to garden, anyway.

I keep remembering the summer in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s last book, The First Four Years, when her husband Almonzo decided to wait one more day before harvesting the oats. A hail storm came through that afternoon, ruining the crop. There are probably people only a couple of miles away from me for whom this is not an inconvenience, but a tragedy. I am one of the lucky ones.

Okay, I just went out to assess the damage, and it’s almost total. Here’s the tomato I managed to save this afternoon:Tomato_small_after_hail

Here’s another, much bigger one:Tomato_tall

And here is the main garden plot:After_the_hail_3

The smaller box in front is the one that held potatoes this afternoon. Also peas. As for the back plot–wow. The peas were so lush, the beans behind them coming along nicely–all gone.

My husband calculates that if there was a centimeter of hail, (it’s drifted inches deep in places) then actually a ton of ice fell out of the sky onto our lot. Is this what the hand of God feels like?

Tell me your disaster stories, so I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself.


12 Responses to I Used to Have a Garden, or, So who needs lettuce?

  1. My god!
    Ummmm. I don’t have disaster stories for you. I can sing several “Men At Work” songs if that’d help. “Who can that be knocking at my door….”

  2. You poor thing. That looks so devastating, I can understand your frustration. I’m guessing that mid-summer hail storms aren’t a norm for your climate?

  3. Oh no Kate, this is terrible! I’m so sorry :( We’ve had a bit of hail here that made me nervous, but nothing like this. I was thinking of Laura and Almanzo too while reading your post.

  4. That breaks my heart for you! I know how you feel and have seen it many a time. I go on to garden another day but it hurts for a long time. It’s not fair.
    I lost $2,000 worth of landscaping this year due to the drought. I have a new yard and can only keep the stuff up next to the house watered. All my grass and some of the new trees are long gone. We are having bad storms right now and my yard becomes a mud pit with no grass to keep it from making a big mess. We need a good soaking rain for days.

  5. We are just heart sick seeing these pictures. If we were closer we’d find a way to organize a plant donation for you. Just totally go all out and get revenge on this storm by planting an awesome fall and over-wintering garden.
    Oh I wish there were something we could do. Please know we are sending you our best energies.

  6. Thank you, Benjamin, I may take you up on that. A unique approach to calamity, I must say. (I hope this doesn’t constitute a disaster in itself.)
    Actually, Stuart, hailstorms happen every year, several times, but I’ve never seen anything like this. Thanks for stopping by.
    (My older son is trying to cheer me up; I demanded
    Men at Work, which he has supplied, perhaps letting Benjamin off the hook; a few minutes later he suddenly says, “Would you like a Vegamite sandwich?” Go figure. At least it would distract me from my miseries–by adding to them.)
    Amy, were you really thinking of Laura and Almonzo? I didn’t know if anyone else would have read that last book. Somehow that’s a comfort.
    Cripes, Anna, burglery, drought–ack. I’ve decided recently that grass is a bad bet period; too vulnerable in these chancey times. But to lose young trees! Ouch.
    Well, people, thank you all. No doubt I was getting too big for my britches (my pants have been fitting rather tightly in recent weeks) and now I’ve been chastised. Tomorrow after all that ice has finally melted I’ll go out and see if anything survived.
    I suspect I’ll also be reading in the paper about people who sustained much greater loses than I did.

  7. Off-topic, but —
    Just so you know: I did eventually get around to responding to your six-things meme.

  8. Gack, Kate! What an awful year for hail! I can’t remember hail here at Hawk’s Haven ever before, but this year–exactly two weeks after I’d filled the deck with all my ornamental container plants from the greenhouse, and the veggie beds were flourishing–ice-cube-sized hail fell out of the 104-degree sky and shredded my lettuce, Swiss chard, cannas, and etc.etc. too. Even now, a couple of months later, I can see the damage. Grrrrr!!! So sorry you had to suffer too.

  9. Oh my gosh, that is a lot of hail!! I’m so sorry for all of your plant losses.

  10. I’m getting depressed just looking at your disaster. Sometimes being a gardener can be very frustrating, but hope springs eternal. Somehow, I just know you’ll try again!

  11. Shibaguyz,I didn’t see your comment last night; it must have posted while I was writing my response. Thanks for checking in. I am indeed plotting a gardener’s revenge.
    OFB, it sounds as though your hail was even bigger than mine. As you so aptly put it, Gack! and Grrr– both.
    Shala, what sort of disasters is your garden subject to, there in northern India? (Do the monsoons ever just skip a year?)
    Dorothy, thanks for the sympathy, but please don’t get depressed on my account. Save that for a bigger, more worthy cause. :)

  12. Ack. The poor plants. Mother nature is not being kind this year. We got hail about a month ago. I don’t remember the last time we had hail before that in Boston. Maybe once since I’ve lived here (25 years). I had lots of minor damage. Shredded leaves and such. I’m still picking tomatoes with scars on them from that episode. But it was not nearly as bad as your hail storm. My plants survived, just scarred.
    I’ll say a little eulogy for your plants Kate. It is so sad when a tomato plant is killed before its prime.

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