Liberian Water Torture

We’re getting near the end of rainy season.  At least, I sincerely hope we are.  In reality, we probably have a month left.  The weather is making up for the relative lack of rain and plethora of sunny days in August by dumping buckets on a daily basis.  It’s hard to adequately convey to an audience that hasn’t been to the tropics, much less a place billed as the rainiest capital city in the world, exactly what the rain is like.  Last week, I started out to work and it started raining.  It was a light rain at first, but within five minutes, it became a torrential downpour.  Water was rushing down the roads and in some places four inches deep.  And it kept on raining.  I was soaked through, and my biking shoes finally dried out by Thursday, just in time for yet another torrential downpour.  Thursday, roads were really flooded, with standing water six inches or more.

We have a few tomato plants that we started a couple of months ago.  They were doing great, since there was just the right mix of sun and rain for seedlings to grow.  They’re all about two feet high, or more.  We still have one in a planter on our covered deck, and the rest are in the ground.  If you’ve read The Poisonwood Bible, there’s the scene where the family plants their crops the way we do in the U.S., in rows, rather than on mounds like the locals.  Their plants all wash away in the rain.  So, I did put these plants on fairly high mounds, and when I transplanted them from the planters buried the seed leaves.  The rain keeps on washing away the soil, exposing roots, and, in two cases, completely knocked over the plants.  Adding soil around the plants has been added to my Saturday morning gardening maintenance routine.  The dill and swiss chard we planted directly in the ground (yes, on mounds, not in rows and furrows), has not fared as well.  I think we got about three chard sprouts that were then beaten down by the rain.  The dill, believe it or not, didn’t even try.  And I thought dill would grow anywhere.

The tomatoes are also getting over watered now.  It’s entirely possible that the yellowing leaves are due to a nitrogen deficiency in the soil, even though they’re planted in basically straight compost, but I strongly suspect they’re waterlogged.  Our CSA has also apologized because the plants they grow for the CSA (as opposed to the ones they grow for export to Europe) are not doing so well.  They’re just soaked and can’t take much more.  Even the palm trees look like they have their shoulders hunched up to try and keep the rain off.

So, contrary to the U.S. and more northerly latitudes, we’re near the end of the lean times.  By the calendar, if we were in the U.S., we’d be canning furiously for the winter.  That impulse is still there…but there isn’t really anything to can, freeze, or dehydrate at this point.  We do have citrus, especially some early tangerines, but not a lot else.  In about a month we’ll start to see more variety, but it’s more Liberian water torture until then.

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