Our weather has been more than strange. Typically by this time of year, we are already crouching into 100-degree weather. We are receiving a regular rainstorm almost every Wednesday and the heat has been kept at bay. I am by no means complaining having comfortable days with cool windy evenings. It is almost like a Spring version of an Indian Summer! My only ponder that comes with this favorable weather is the fact the garden is miles behind in production. I see other farmers in the area toting huge baskets of vegetables to market and it reminds me of another reason why it is a blessing I took the month of July off to focus on restocking my market supply and for honey harvest.
The apricot and peach trees are still laden with hard green fruit awaiting the heatwave so they can mature into soft fragrant fruit. The only regular items in my garden I have been able to harvest are the chard, lettuce, and zucchini. This delay could not have come at a more perfect time in my eyes. I am able to harvest enough to cut my current produce bills in half and even the goats, rabbits and chickens are able to enjoy this small bounty before the garden truly takes off and we are back at the market selling our excess.
Even though the variety in the garden has not yet taken off I have been able to spice up my meals with the fresh evening surprises. Each night, as I walk into the cool shaded garden to search out my bounty I am blessed with the site of a potential garden delight ready for the picking. Fresh herbs are growing in bushels and starting to fill their raised beds. A smile brightens my face as I smell the aroma of cucumber caused by my leg brushing a vine while I crouch down to pull a few weeds between the rows. Honey bees buzz below my feet and I take each step with caution as they are busy at work collecting water from the moist soil to cool their hives. They know I intend them no harm and as long as I look prior to pulling each weed to not pinch a bee I know I will not be stung doing my work. Gardening is truly a labor of love and the numerous benefits your labor provides is beyond rewarding. I have found my happiest of happy places.
Today was a day spent replenishing the soil so that larger future harvests can occur later this summer and into the fall. I spent the evening collected rabbit manure from under the hutches and spreading it among the seedlings I have just planted for succession planting. I also incorporated more of the manure in my flower beds after significantly weeding. It is so fun to watch the bright pops of color unfold as I recount planting each individual flower in the years past. Though their time with me will be short I always enjoy seeing them unfold each year.
I recount hand-harvesting the Batchelor and marigold seeds last fall and am grateful for my efforts as they now sprinkle the flower beds with beautiful colors not only from their blooms but also the colorful butterflies they entice to visit. The perineal bee balm is another favorite of mine as each day more red petals appear until it is finally in full bloom, the very unique shape and rich red color add interest to any flower bed and the honey bees absolutely love it!
Several varieties of squash are beginning to bulb at the base of their flowers and I know it will only be a matter of time before I am swimming in all things squash. Zucchini bread, pumpkin cheesecake, and roasted squash all come to mind! And fresh tomatoes are on the horizon as green spheres drape the limbs. Even though I have tried to keep up on pruning back the suckers and even using some to start new plants these monsters have completely taken over their corner of the raised bed.
And then there was the experimental potato tower that I thought for sure was a goner. Years prior I had done fall planting and after a raining and moderately cold spring I thought for sure I had killed the poor devils but here they are making a come back with a vengeance! So far my only true loss is the broccoli I planted that is being overrun by aphids and even that is not a huge loss as I can feed it back in moderation to my livestock.
My mantra has become ” You reap what you sow”. Last year I failed my garden by not preventing the moles from eating every last plant, this year with hardware cloth bottomed raised beds I am really reaping the rewards! It brings me such joy to care for the garden and my critters because I see how they give back in the end. It is a beautiful circle of life!
How has the weather this year been for you and your garden? Do you have plants that you thought for sure would not make it and have surprised you with their will to live? What trials and errors have you tackled to reap a harvest reward?