Gardening in the Time of a Cool Wet American Summer

This was a year for rain. June was wet and cool for much of the month and I couldn’t even get things planted until much later than I like to. I forwent the walls o’ water this year because laziness and it ended up being a complete blessing. People who planted in May saw their entire gardens washed away by rain and hail. Early June when I finally got everything planted here’s what it looked like:

June 10th

June 10

Compare that to the pictures I took in June a few years ago and you can see how behind things were this year. Nevertheless, like I said things grew as they do and now I again have a small jungle.

September 14

September 14

Thus far we’ve had good tomatoes, squash, eggplant, broccoli, a few peppers, basil, tomatillos & carrots, but NOTHING like last year where I just didn’t know what to do with all the produce. I’m not sure if I’ll have enough to can this year, but the big Roma plants haven’t ripened yet and as they’re determinant tomatoes they all ripen at the same time so I might be able to make a few batches for sauce over winter.

This year the kids had their own little plot in the front which they were responsible for choosing, planting and caring for over the year. They’ve done a good job with it and it was delightful to see them full of pride when they would wrest carrots from the ground or check on the peppers for just the right redness to eat!

It’s getting colder now and I’m watching temperatures near daily-soon will be a frost where I will have to pick everything or try and use sheets to cover the plants for a night.

I’m sad that next year with the travels I won’t have a garden. It’ll be the first time in several years. I’ve realized that the garden gives me a sense of real seasonality. From the moment I first plant in the ground, usually mid March, winter is over for me and I no longer want to go snowboarding even though there’s plenty of snow in the mountains. And somewhere around October when the mornings are cool with just a bit of bite, I realize that summer’s really over and I stop wanting to do anything with the garden and let it fall into decay. The rhythm of life and seasons which is so settled for me here will be turned upside down starting next summer, and while there’s an excitement to that and a knowledge of growth, there’s also a wistful feeling of missing what is normal and standard and regular and familiar.

tomatillo, bright in the morning sun

tomatillo, bright in the morning sun


aerial view of tomatillo

brightness in the green

brightness in the green

Spring Awakening

Can I just start by saying that I must have tempted the blogging gods with my last post because the kids have been nothing short of terrible.  Horrible. The girl throws tantrums at the drop of a hat.  Or the suggestion of a hat, as in “Let’s go pick out your clothes!” This results in a drop-to-the-floor-and-kick-mommy tantrum, screaming at the top of her lungs, and all I can do is walk away until she calms down.  Once I start to walk away, she purposefully PEES ON HERSELF so that I CAN’T walk away and have to go attend to her and then think about how much it’s going to cost to replace our upstairs carpet. Grrr. I guess that’s what the terrible twos and threes are all about.

This post, however, is not supposed to be about the children:

So those are expected, right? I mean, I planted the bulbs on purpose.

What I was excited to see was the stuff that is the result of sheer laziness:






You may remember that I briefly mentioned the fall crop I tried to plant in this post last year which yielded absolutely nothing.  I intended to mulch them heavily but never got around to it.  Over the winter I figured the few days we had of -10 below weather would have killed them all off, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the little bits of green. The stuff that is growing is hardy–I’ve never seen spinach leaves quite that sturdy before.  The ground around it is dry and barren, so I’m not sure that they’ll do well in the long run, but if these plants have fought to make it through winter they deserve a chance to live…so I can then kill and eat them.

I guess it’s time to start thinking about the garden again, especially the early stuff like peas and such. I need to redo the topsoil and the compost, but I can’t bring myself to kill these little sprouts so I’m going to let them run their course and redo those patches when the next round starts in May.

For the real gardeners out there, are these little guys going to grow at all or should I just turn them over and get new soil now? And do I need to start watering them now or should I wait?

I’ve got some new ideas planned for this year–corn, squash, and more bean varietals. Looking forward to getting started!