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Drought, rot, personal stuff

From: Bill Shear <BILLS@hsc.edu>

Our county was just included in the "disaster area" decree from the
Department of Agriculture.

For fear of depleting our well we have now stopped watering the gardens and
have instituted some of the water-saving measures Rosalie mentioned.  Up to
a few weeks ago we were lucky enough to get a plant-saving thunderstorm
every three weeks or so.  Tidewater below Richmond has been regularly
getting showers, but they seem to start somewhere between Farmville and
Richmond and move southeast.  Similarly, on our way back from Cleveland
last week, we were driving through good rain all across southern Ohio and
West Virginia, but when we got to Lynchburg the rain stopped and never made
it any further east.  The meteorologists tell us it is a combination of an
unusual northerly jet stream and La Niņa that has isolated much of the
mid-south from its usual quota of storms.  Curious that the air is full of
moisture, but it does not coalesce into rainfall.

"Scattered storms" predicted for tomorrow, but it is a song we have heard

The bearded irises seem not to be much affected by this and have put on
good growth.  Here and there a bit of rot surfaces.  At this point, FRINGE
BENEFITS has rot on nearly every fan, and MESMERIZER on about half of them.
With other varieties, it is just here and there.  SDBs and IBs planted last
year have made big clumps, the main rhizomes of which are already showing
"increase" (in quotes because a lot of this is not increase at all, but
branch fans that will bloom next spring).  As usual, I specified September
delivery for bearded iris orders and given conditions, will certainly pot
them until the drought breaks, in large part because we can only afford to
water containerized plants now.

Louisianas have done OK despite the drought--I sneak a little water to them
from time to time to keep them from going completely dormant.  JIs and Sibs
are suffering mightily--it is just not possible to get enough water deep
enough in the soil to help them.  Although Spuria foliage looks sorry now,
it usually does at this time of the year, and I suspect the summer drought
will suit these varieties just fine.  Likewise the bulbous types;
especially reticulatas seem to like being dried out completely in summer.
Too bad I haven't been planting arils for a while!

By the way--let me crow a bit--our trip to Cleveland was to allow Justin to
compete in the AAU Junior Olympics karate tournament.  He was in three
events, Kobudo (weapons), Kata (forms), and sparring.  His performance in
kobudo was superb, but we were told by the judges (after he got
discouragingly low scores) that his selection was "not traditional" (it
was--right from an Okinawan master) and "too flashy."  Well, you might
expect a little guy to get pretty down in the mouth after that, but Justin
resolved to put every effort into his next event, and wow, he won the
silver medal in kata, missing gold by just a tenth of a point!  Then in the
sparring he took quite a battering (always being the littlest guy in his
division), lost to the gold medalist by a half-point, and wound up with the
bronze medal.  You can bet there were two proud parents in the stands, and
a sensei who almost had a heart attack!

OK. OK, sorry about that.  You know when I ramble like this, I'm trying to
avoid getting back to work.  School begins in a week!

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (804)223-6374

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