GARDENING AFTER HURRICANE HARVEY
On August 24, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made land fall directly over Rockport, Texas. My wife and I left early in the afternoon of the 24th and stayed with friends in San Antonio for the weekend. We came back on Monday, August 28th to find what looked like a war zone with many fallen trees and no leaves on anything. 80% of the structures in Aransas County were severely damaged with 30% of them unrepairable. Any thing that could be blown apart was scattered all over and everywhere. Our home, which was built to hurricane code 10 years ago, only had 8’ of a metal roof cap wrinkled by a tree that split. No leaks. We did have over ten 100+ years old Live Oak trees twisted out of the ground. The largest tree fell on the back of the garden fence destroying it and the drip irrigation system. The cleanup left over 100 yards of tree debris piled up to ten feet high in the ditch in front of our home.
We used a generator for over two weeks to power a refrigerator, freezer, lights, microwave and fans. We went two weeks without electricity and a month without cable service or cell phone service. The commodes couldn’t be flushed so we used a portable potty and dug a latrine. The shock, ugliness and grief left me feeling lethargic, disoriented, unmotivated, and disenchanted with my property and Rockport, Texas. I was discouraged and decided I would take a long sabbatical from gardening.
By October, we knew that the insurance would pay for most of our recovery expenses. Then my wife decided she wanted me to plant turnip greens. She said if I didn’t, she would quit cooking. I was already starting to recover some from my grief, so my stomach told me to get busy. I rebuilt the drip system and put up a temporary fence. Then, I started digging, tilling, and hoeing the mass of weeds and grass in the garden from over 14 inches of rain. Many of the trees, between the picture windows in the back of the house, were gone making the garden visible. Several of the citrus were leaning part way out of the ground but alive. No telling how far the fruit flew.
Now here in mid-December, the turnip and mustard greens are over a foot high, the English peas are blooming, the lettuce and spinach are ready to pick, and the herbs (cutting celery, cilantro, and dill) are thick and usable. Last week I planted 3 bunches of onions from Dixondale Farms which amounted to 475 onion plants. There are leaves on the trees, some plants are blooming like it was spring, and tonight we are having Teriyaki chicken breasts, turnip and mustard greens, sweet potatoes, and jalapeno cornbread. This is the resurrection of HOPE.