The Long Wait for Summer
Successes & Challenges Growing in Summer 2011
This Spring brought its normal quota of “Great expectations”…quickly followed by “Great disappointments”…with “Little patience” and “Lots of frustrations” thrown into the mix! It definitely was the year to throw out our traditional garden calendar of “normal” planning and planting dates. Far from following any sort of projected timing; it has been more about guessing, perseverance and Luck… The old time farmers would add in their science of night time temperatures and they were right! Light, heat and water are the alchemy of plants waking up…let alone performing.
For all my anxiety and despondency about the Lavender buds developing late, barely showing colour ~ let alone blooming for my chosen picking date July 17th…I consequently was not being able to ignore my green Lavender fields by early July and cancelled Harvest with a capitol “H”. This entailed meant cancelling harvesting people, band and celebration cake. Can you believe in our early years of Lavender harvesting, one year we cut on Solstice, June 21st?!
My panic went as far as “Lavender rustling”…cutting blooming Lavender from supportive friends who had Lavender blooming in more protected micro zones so there was a representation of fresh Lavender at my Lavender Farm during our so called Harvest days!!
We rescheduled for Sunday July 31st …
Lucky visitors: 3 more weeks to freely take photos or paint or have a picnic here like private grounds of an estate! Lucky me: 3 more weeks to enjoy the fields myself! The fields usually bloom and wham: sheared like Lorraine’s sheep so fast. Lucky Harvest: as on sunny July 31st the ripeness was perfect, not too young and soft/not too old and browning.
What do I know about farming? Maybe Mother Nature had it all figured out and patiently waited for us mere humans to trust her. What was July 17th anyway but a date on a man made calendar plus it rained that Sunday!!! So our July 31st Harvest is safely in, drying nicely and smells GREAT!
AND, after all the moaning and groaning of our “Sprinter” season…the whispers are getting louder about the BEST strawberries, GREAT peas if you persisted and planted again…LOADED fruit trees with the delayed blossoms not getting frosted. We can almost laugh at ourselves yet I find there is a certain amount of holding back of celebration hoping for a bonus Fall “in exchange” for our earlier woes… Gardeners feel “owed”. Now that is laughable~ what a bunch of kids we are in the garden!
Are you complaining about too many Zucchinis yet? Now there is a sign of true Summer with a capitol “S”! Here are my Zucchini trial results: Number 1from Vesey’s seeds are “Flying Saucer”, a yellow and green patty pan style summer squash with the ribbed Italian zucchini “Romaneso” as number 2, its “round” slices are loopy flower shapes. I pulled out all the novelty round zucchini “Tricolour”: their skin was too tough & the insides had too large of a seed cavity. I left only one pale green oval Lebanese “Magda” plant that reminds me of an English style of marrow: best for stuffing. My traditional green Zucchini was small and bitter before the heat kicked in …
And yes ALL my first and second attempts of Swiss chard, Spinach, Lettuce and herby greens bolted when the first warmth arrived after a prolonged cool growing season and I learned a new word…vernalization. Or…after a certain number of “chill hours”, it’s time to quickly flower and set seeds as this might be the only summer heat! I recently reseed all these green treats and look forward to tender greens by September. I now am starting my fall seeding of Kales, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Coriander, Arugula, Corn Salad and other over wintering choices.
So overall I send you encouragement to check out your gardens for what is thriving. The seasons change fast enough on their own without us hanging onto earlier disappointments and not grabbing our bit of vernalization to “flower” right now. Dine outside, sip wine on the porch until dark…savour what Summer we do have right now as even thoughts of Fall clean up will otherwise erase any memories of our fleeting Summer of 2011.
See you at Metchosin Day September 11th ~ Lynda
Originally published in the September 2011 edition of the Metchosin Muse