Sunday, August 04, 2013

Homegrown tomatoes a hard row to hoe in Wyoming

Only two things that money can't buy
That's true love & homegrown tomatoes
So sings Guy Clark in "Homegrown Tomatoes." He'll be in Wyoming next weekend, playing at the Targhee Bluegrass Festival at the Grand Targhee Resort at 7,850 feet on the west slope of the Tetons. Not many maters grown at that altitude. Not many grown anywhere in Wyoming.
One two things guaranteed in WYO
High altitude and a short growing season
And, sometimes, hail in July.

So I'm no Guy Clark. But you know what I'm talking about. Homegrown tomatoes are a tough chore here, even if you live in a Banana Belt community such as Lander or Buffalo.

This urban gardener has six plants this year. Plenty of fruit on the vine. Barring a hailstorm or Biblical plague, I expect a fair crop this year. Best not to get too optimistic. Not exactly sure how farmers deal with the vagaries of growing things on a large scale. I was reading yesterday about a hailstorm that decimated the barley crop in Wyoming's Big Horn Basin. The barley plant is at its peak and ready to harvest just when hail season is at its peak. That doesn't seem fair, does it? The blooming barley is delicate and ripe for destruction. Mother Nature is a cruel mistress. Barley, of course, is one of beer's main ingredients. The barley crop in the Basin is bound for big brewers, craft brewers, and home brewers. Whiskey distillers, too, such as Wyoming Whiskey in Kirby.

No barley, no beer. I weep.

Hailstorms tend to be localized so it's likely that some plants survived when the wind tore through the barley. We send our best wishes to the Basin barley growers.

And now, for this gardener, there are tomatoes to tend.

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