I know it has been a long time since my last meaningful post from the garden. I have tried to keep up lightly with the occasional hand-me-downs in other matters. Quite frankly, though,
“Life comes at you fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.” – Ferris Beuller
There I go showing some of my eighties roots.
Are we already at the end of our summer?
Area schools are starting up; the ubiquitous yellow bus is once again choking our city’s streets and highways; and parents of school age children everywhere are longingly anticipating the sound of September. Ahhhh! Those semi-sweet morsels of delicious silence! (weekdays only, between the hours of nine and three)
Where did our summer go? No, really. Where did it go? In hindsight this was definitely one of the most “English” summers I can remember having. At least for our area. “English” is the best way I can describe it although I suppose using other regionalities such as “cascadian” or “Appalachian” as descriptors would invoke a proper impression. “English” sounds better off the tongue.
This summer has been wet; cloudy; and only punctuated with rare bouts of the signature heat and humidity common to our region, and even more rarely by sunny skies. As I said, “English,” though I have never visited England personally and only presume to know what a truly “English” summer feels like. Yet, when I mention “English summer” in conversation my sentiment is well received with nods of understanding.
Regardless of how I describe it, this’ summer has had a noticeable impact on the produce of area gardeners, growers, and farmers alike. Wide spread flooding, reported crop failures and higher produce costs at market are testimony to this unseasonable weather’s impact. What ever vestiges of recent droughts in many areas and regions of our country are all but forgotten in one fell season.
In our little garden the rains were at first welcome, bringing with them an explosion of growth and green. Truly the milder temps were also a welcome respite from the heat of summers past but as time ticked on it took longer and longer for the tomatoes to ripen as they begged for the stress of just a few days’ heat and sun. Meanwhile, as they plumped and plumped, they also started to split and crack. Yet, there are only so many calcium and potash amendments one can deliver before making a detriment to the soil you so want to protect. Our tomatoes have not been a failure by any measure, though, and I do not have pictures ready to prove that to you. I have gratefully enjoyed my fair share of tomato sandwiches, the pinnacle of summer’s mealtime bounty in my opinion.
Our peppers, California Wonder and Mixed Bell, were a total failure. Neither plant survived and all succumbed to some as yet unknown hungry pest. Speaking of pests, do not even get me started on this year’s cucbrits; squash, pumpkin, zuchinni, and even a volunteer acorn squash all fell victim to the most massive invasion of squash bug and beetle we have ever had. I think we need to take a year or two off from these fellows in order to break the apparently thriving life cycle of these menaces.
Herbs were a welcome boon. Basil, oregano, cilantro, dill, parsley and rosemary all thrived in the early rains but in the end the wetter soils and clouded humid days brought on mildews and molds. The basils and oregano lasted the longest, but they too succumbed in these last weeks.
I am not one to paint too bleak a picture. We have thoroughly enjoyed our herbs and I’ve let the basil go to seed in order to preserve this line that has done so well for us this year. Our black beans have been great producers much to my wife’s delight. I have enjoyed watching her joy at seeing each little “turtle” as she opens the pods.
We even had success with a few new varieties in our garden like these mammoth sunflowers and various inedible flowering perennials and annuals.
But alas, summer’s bounty is nearing its end and now is the time to move forward for some of my more preferred cooler season veggies. We started this last month with some crispy romaine lettuce adjacent to an established bed of leeks. Then this past week we finished out the bed with more leafy greens, roots, and alliums. Then last night I started a couple of trays of Onion (cortland) seed, collard (vates) seed, and Swiss Chard with hopes of planting out next month in adjacent beds.
While preparing the old onion bed I found many welcome sets in good condition that did not come up earlier in the year. Seeing them as “house money” and nothing to lose, I cleaned them and the bed up and replanted them as well as some left over baby leeks. If anything comes of it I will be glad. If nothing comes of it I am none too worried.
The seasons change but growing for us is far from over. While it might look unsightly for a time, with a little grit, and a little time this garden spot cleans up real nice. And add in the new community spot we will soon be starting, we will be growing forward this fall.
Keep on keeping on.
- Last of the Summer Garden (mysoutherngarden55.wordpress.com)
- End of the Summer Garden (mizmooz.wordpress.com)
- Gardening: Common tomato problems for summer gardeners (cumberlink.com)