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On Sunday a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions struck my garden. James and I went for a lovely drive out in the country side, and while there was a bit of rain and some darkly menacing clouds in the sky, we really didn’t see anything more alarming than the goat below, which stood in the middle of the road and refused to move for love or money.

By the way, excuse the crappy iphone photos in this post, the camera did not travel with me.

Upon venturing back to Calgary we spotted signs that something’s amiss:

And then some more:

And by the time we turned into our street, we drove right into winter. That ever happen to you? You leave and it’s summer, come back to winter? Not in August, you say? Welcome to Calgary.

All the streets were white, there were huge puddles of slush, and stunned kids were wearing parkas.

Except for that wasn’t snow on the ground, it was it’s dangerous cousin – hail. Apparently we missed a hailstorm of epic proportions, hail so thick and powerful that ‘it came down like a brick wall’ according to my mother.

Signs of destruction and carnage were everywhere – tree branches broken, leaves stripped, flowers trampled, plants and cars wrecked. Of course my poor garden did not escape unscathed.

These tomatoes that were bushy and gorgeous:

Are stripped bare:

Raspberry bushes crumpled:

Tomatoes that were lush and gorgeous:

Now broken and sad:

And I’m not even talking about my poor flowers, or trees, or anything else. I guess we’re lucky our car escaped, seeing our neighbors car covered with a hastily thrown on blanket. It was an event of epic destruction and carnage. The neighborhood plants are destroyed, which is fine I guess, since our temperature this morning was only 5 degrees, and it really did feel like winter is in the air. The local paper is reporting that outdoor pools are going broke because this is our third cold summer in a row.

And for me? After I find it in me to pick up the pieces, I quit this game. Way too much time, money and effort went into this gardening adventure for me to have such losses so late in the season. I don’t mind feeding baby cucumbers to local rabbits, as I figure if they’re brave enough to venture into my yard and get yelled at by my cats, they probably need them more than I do. But to lose them to hail seems so senseless, and uniquely Albertan, that it makes me want to pack up and move with a greater zeal than I’ve ever felt.  I will grow no more veggies until I have a greenhouse. A hail proof one.

13 comments to Plant-pocalypse

  • OMG…that is terrible. I’m so sorry this happened; I know how hard you’ve worked on your garden and how much pride you’ve taken in it. There’s really not much I can say except for “Come here to Kingston, Ontario”. Zone 5b. Not exactly Florida weather but certainly much better than what you’re experiencing. And you’ll have a long enough gardening season to enjoy an assortment homegrown veggies. Plus, you’ve already got a friend here – me! 😉

  • bowreality

    I am sorry to hear that your garden got hailed on. We are west of Airdrie. I have a greenhouse and let me tell you it was a GREAT investment. We got it from CT and it wasn’t super expensive but it is sturdy and is doing fine. We got hailed on a few weeks ago and it was no problem for the greenhouse. My lettuce and beets, carrots and herbs got pretty much destroyed. Only the tomatoes etc in the greenhouse and zucchinis which are on the south wall of the house were fine. Oh and potatoes which are under the trees. I high recommend a greenhouse not only because of the hail but also for pro-longing the season (which is wicked short here) and increasing heat/sun during a crappy summer like this one.

  • admin

    @Water-Roots – you have no idea how tempting that sounds! Anything to get out of this cold miserable place. Perhaps I should look into jobs there? And I’d love to be somewhere that has an actual growing season. The only saving grace of this fiasco is that the peas were done, and half the tomatoes survived the onslaught due to being right up against the house.

    @bowreality – yep, a greenhouse is quickly becoming a NEED not a want. I remember the hail that pounded you guys, I felt so lucky that it didn’t hit south, but I guess I spoke too soon. I’ll be checking any end-of-season sales this fall, and classifieds in the spring. Our gardening season is pathetic, I really don’t know how anyone farms here.

  • I stopped vegetable gardening because as soon as everything is ripe, it’s dirt cheap since all the farmed goods are at market too. I say, “I tended and nurtured all summer to save $3 on tomatoes?”

  • admin

    I grow heirloom varieties of vegetables for flavor, if not vigor, and they really are amazing. Most farmers around here grow conventional vegetables, with one getting his seedlings from California, no less. So while they’re fresher than the supermarket counterparts, they’re still the same old.

    There is one tomato farmer that grows heirloom tomatoes, and they’re amazing, but SO hard to find. So to me the advantage was not saving money, but eating better food. I’m sure in Montreal, with a proper growing season and more people you get way more variety at the farmers market than we do. But I know what you mean about the economics of it, it’s not cheaper by any stretch.

  • Melissa

    I feel your pain. My poor garden got pounded by the same storm. I hoping that the squash pulls through.

  • What the hell is that white stuff??!!

  • I know!!! Isn’t it sick? In AUGUST? I need to move…

  • We built a chickenwire cage around our veggie garden this year – to keep out the squirrels. Maybe you could do the same, except to keep out the hail! Don’t give up just yet. You might still get some veggies from that garden. But then again, did you say 5 degrees? Yikes. That’s cold!

  • admin

    @Melissa – I hope your squash pulls through too, although it’s really cold and wet now. So sad this year!

    @Marly – I’m afraid our hail is so powerful and potent that simple wire would not do it. And yep, five degrees is simply too cold for tomatoes. I’m afraid in this climate a greenhouse is a must for anything other than root veggies and greens.

  • Wow, and here I am complaining that we have too long winter in Ottawa.
    That must be devastating.
    I remember reading your post about repotting tomatoes back in spring.
    So sorry to see them broken…

  • admin

    Uhhh… yeah that sucked. I understand life and nature and stuff, but this is adding insult to injury. Calgary gardening is not for the weak, apparently.

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