Bee balm

Bee balm

So it appears that summers here have reached a new normal with climate change, at least for now. It begins with a wet spring and wet early summer. We had the wettest June on record with flooded lakes and streams and rivers and basements (thank goodness my basement didn’t flood). And then after this over abundance of water, the tap is turned off and we start to get dry and before long “abnormally dry” turns to “drought.” This has been the pattern for the last two years and is looking like it will be how this year turns out too. We had hardly any rain in July and August is so far continuing the trend. We had rain promised this weekend but so far all we have gotten are a few sprinkles. Sprinkles do not water the garden. Our two rain barrels are almost empty. If we don’t get any significant rain soon they will be empty and then we will have to turn on the hose and start paying for water from the city.

We have already determined that since this seems to be how summers are going to be now, we will get another rain barrel next year and connect it to one of the existing ones so as one barrel fills up it spills into the second barrel. We will see how we do with three rain barrels and if that doesn’t suffice, we will get a fourth, and keep going until we can manage to save enough water in the wet spring to last us through the end of summer drought. And with our luck, as soon as we are filled up with rain barrels, the weather pattern will change again and rain will be more consistent or we will have dry springs and wet end of summers when having a lot of water saved going into winter means losing it because we cannot save it in the rain barrels over winter because it will freeze and burst the barrels. But I can’t worry about that now, I have to just plan for saving as much water as I can and deal with whatever happens when it happens.

Do you know how hard it is to search the internet for whether putting socks on your corn will keep critters away? You

Phlox

Phlox

search for corn socks and you get socks that look like corn. I did manage to find a newspaper profile of a gardener in Missouri or someplace like that who has been gardening almost as long as I have been alive. The article had a photo of his corn. His corn was wearing white cotton tube socks. He said he has been putting socks on his corn for years because it is the only method he has found to keep birds, raccoons and squirrels from eating his corn. He puts the socks on when the corn silk turns dark which means the corn will be ripe in about two weeks. Bookman worked today and came home with a pack of 20 knee-high nylon stockings. We are going to try those before going the more expensive tube sock route. I hope the nylons work because I can reuse them to cover the water outlfow of my washing machine to catch all the lint from going in the drain and clogging it up. It will be like a two-for. The silk of my corn is red so it is hard to tell if it is dark or not. But I think on two ears it is dark as a newer ear just getting silk is pink. So tomorrow we will add socks to the garden.

I am a new fan of pole beans. Not only are they space savers because they vine up, and vine nicely up my corn stalks, but they are oh so tender and tasty. The rattlesnake heirloom variety we are growing are green with purple mottling. I included a photo of them in last week’s garden blog. When you cook them the purple does turn green but it doesn’t quite match the green of the rest of the bean. If you really look at the bean on you fork you can see it is mottled two-tone green. Not eye-popping, but noticeable if you pay attention. And did I mention they cook up really tender?

It is also time to plant for fall. The peas finished last week. When they went they went fast too. One day they were green and lush looking, the next day almost every single plant was brown. The timing was perfect and so was my planning because I had planned to plant turnips where the peas were growing. The peas were looking so good for so long I was getting worried I had made a mistake in my planning, but I did alright. So we pulled up the peas and planted a long row of turnip seeds where the peas had been. We have never grown turnips before, but if all goes well, they should be ready to start eating in early October, just after we get a frost to sweeten them up a bit. Root vegetables do not like growing in my sandy soil, so fingers crossed that planting them where the nitrogen-fixing peas had been growing for a few months will mean I will be having yummy mashed turnips in a few months.

One of my favorite gardening sites had a blog post during the week about the patience of a gardener. The author is referring to her own patience in letting her garden develop over time, in getting to know her soil and climate and plants. This patient, slow approach as opposed to homeowners who hire landscape companies to design and install fully grown gardens for them. The instant gardens certainly look beautiful but there is no pleasure in watching them grow and develop and change.

Zinnia

Zinnia

The author acknowledges that yes, it is hard to wait for things to grow, for beds to fill in, for trees and shrubs to reach their mature size. And sometimes neighbors might not appreciate how bare an area looks as the plants grow. But, she says, one of the most rewarding experiences she has had in her garden in planting New England aster from seed and watching as, over the years, it spreads through the garden and in the process begins to produce a variety of flower colors from light pink to deep purple. She feels like she has gotten to know the species rather than just one plant.

And it all takes so much patience. Patience to match the right plant to the right site. Patience to learn what the right site even is. Patience in allowing nature to do her thing. Patience in developing a relationship with the plants and the garden. One does not get a picture perfect garden from a seed packet. But one gets so much pleasure and experiences a kind of personal growth by tending to those seeds something the instant garden delivered to your door from the landscaping company can never provide.

I very much enjoyed this article because I often find myself walking around my garden and getting frustrated over not having made a garden bed here yet, or planted something over there. And I sometimes get grumpy over how long it takes difficult areas of garden to fill in with plants — I’ve done so much, why can’t you plants do something for me? Why do you have to take so long? They take the amount of time they are supposed to take and they are working hard at it, harder than I am most of the time, I just try and provide the right conditions and they do all the work of growing. And they do give. In reward for my patience, they give me so much more than I ever give them so that I learn not only patience but gratitude as well.

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