I know this plant was approaching 12 feet because I measured it with the tape measure and I know how tall I built the deck up off the ground and how tall the upper cover is. You cannot see it well in this photo but it actually had grown crooked in the last 3 feet of its height because it was growing around the Shepard's hook that in the winter time holds the seeds for the birds to eat.
There was so much life associated with this wild sunflower. There were insects using it for shelter under its leaves that were easily a snack tray in size. The birds would sit on it for a rest while they checked for cats.
In the wee morning hours of Wednesday, July 31, 2013, this sunflower and its near by friends in the garden had its life cut down, shredded, left laying in pieces on the ground by a hail storm that started at 2:05 a.m. and was finished with its carnage here on the farm by 2:25 a.m. This storm dumped 1.25 inches of rain during that same time frame so that anything not cut down, knocked out or shredded was left to drown a slow death in the ensuing shallow lake that covered the ground.
First I heard thunder, that just matter of fact like I registered in my sleep. Then the rain and the hail started and being covered in steel it is amazing what it takes to hear a storm like this because most rain showers we don't hear in our sleep. Small hail is generally not even considered while we sleep. But when you get hail hitting the roof, the sides of the house over an inch in diameter, that makes a person sit up, wake up and say, "what the hell is going on!" That was me at 2:05 a.m. I started turning on the outside lights only to see what my worst fear was already forming in my head - HAIL.
What is most amazing is the picture above with the piled up hail - that is the wind and the hail's configuration on the deck off the French doors that is covered above, protected on one side by the house, protected for 75% opposite of the French doors by a heavy gauge vinyl sun shade but mostly open to the north side other than the upright 4x4 posts that support the overhead cover.
As soon as the hail started I send my husband outside to retrieve the solar pickles in 4 glass gallon jars that I had just put out 8 hours earlier to begin their solar processing because he was dressed and had on shoes. I was the door caddy. I gave him a bucket to protect his head and a plastic bin to retrieve the jars with.
At 2:25 a.m. the storm had moved on south of us and the rain stopped. So I got dressed and slipped on some shoes, grabbed a flashlight and went out to survey the damage. Believe me that the cover of darkness helps to soften the blow of the carnage and destruction that 1 inch hail causes in a pumpkin patch or a garden plot or a flower bed.
Take a walk with me in a virtual before and after photo documentation of the joys of gardening and the agony of loss at the cruel hand of the wicked witch of HAIL.
Remember that 12 foot wild sunflower at the start of this story? Even it bowed down to the wrath of Mother Nature.
All of the tomato and pepper plants here had veggies setting on and ripening.
Next on our tour is the ghost pumpkin patch. These were to be regular sized pumpkins with their ghostly white color that actually turns an eerie shade of blue when it gets cold enough. They were looking happy and setting on several ghosts.
My plans were to pick green beans on Wednesday, July 31, in the afternoon when I got home from working at the insurance office. With what was promising to be a weekly occurrence for the next month or 2.
3 gallons of solar pickles and maybe a gallon more if I choose to do that or maybe I will just eat the few left in the frig.
Amazingly the tomatoes along the fence edge only suffered minor injuries. They will be trimmed back and we will watch carefully to see if they can recover and produce some tomatoes, we hope by the end of August at this point.
Our final stop on the garden tour is the squash patch where I have made one mock apple crunch.
I have 2 zucchini in the house ready for another crunch that was requested to attend the Kersenbrock family reunion on August 11. I may have to make it and freeze it and then bake it to crisp it back up since there will be no more squash.