I pulled no longer productive summer plants and planted lettuce, spinach, chard, and arugula. The birds have been eating my seeds, so I got seedlings at Eastern Market yesterday morning. I have planted some more seeds, but wanted back up. The grape tomato is still prolific, alone among the tomatoes. The cucumbers are completely past, making room for chard and turnips. It is time to make the last batches of pesto with the basil and parsley. Another blossom has come and not quite gone on the night-blooming cereus.
Every day, it seems, another cucumber (though this shall pass soon enough). And baby carrots–first new carrots of the season. I asked friends and neighbors who were at the house this morning whether they would like a cucumber. As fellow gardeners who are also members of a CSA, they denied with almost a shudder. It is evidently a good year for cucumbers not just in my garden.
I was just led to this blog entry on community gardening in DC from the DC Urban Gardeners‘ list serve’s daily digest. The blog entry was originally posted last spring, but still has helpful information, and the service provided by the blogger looks interesting too.
If you have been thinking about getting into a garden, now may be a better time to get on a waiting list than the start of the growing season. Now is the time that novices have realized that they don’t take care of their plots, and they are better off supporting the local farmers’ markets. If you cannot get into a garden, why not be the fantastic neighbor that starts a new garden?
In the interest of full disclosure, after a few years at the garden nearest to my house, I decided to restructure my tiny backyard to add three 3’X3′ beds. This gave me as much space as I had in the community garden. I would love to have both spaces or more, but since there was a long waiting list at the garden, I ceded my space. Currently most productive in my garden: cucumbers, hot peppers, and all sorts of herbs. Tomatoes aren’t doing too well, but I’ve gotten a few eggplants and my first big butternut squash. Yum!
After eating homemade popsicles. This week’s variation: lemon, lime, with white nectarine. The liquid was an chilled tisane with herbs from the garden; the sweetener, local honey. The farmers at the market were packing to go home. Tomatoes and peaches only $1 a pound. Tonight–cucumber and tomato salad with the second cucumber of the year from my own garden. The salad to accompany whole wheat pasta tossed with garden greens, herb pesto (basil, parsley, arugula; garlic in the pesto from a friend’s garden), and white beans. Later in the week when it gets cooler, slow-cooked tomato sauce and white peaches poached in wine (perhaps turned into popsicles).
How exciting to see not only what is ready to eat now — the greens and herbs and strawberries — but the promise of what will come throughout the summer, so long as my dedicated attentions continue; the weather is cooperative; and the bugs, birds, and squirrels and I can negotiate my getting a decent share of what ripens. The fairy rose in the last photo was a gift from a student who was an enthusiastic participant in my gentle/therapeutic class who left his body last year. Sweet to see the rose still thriving.
The grapes are starting to bunch, and for the first time, the kiwi is covered with buds. Two of the tomato plants have their first flowers. Snow peas are climbing up the trellises. Carrots, spring onions, radishes, and beans are sprouting. There are plenty of cool weather greens and herbs for eating already. The red roses are blooming. I pray for sufficient rain.
It is time to pay attention to the garden, to watch closely whether it will be a warmer fall or whether there will be an early frost. Yesterday, there was a chance of temperatures in the mid-30’s F in the next few days. Now, the first day below 38F (which is when I bring in the hardiest of the tropicals–they like to get nights in the 40s F, but not the 30’s F) is toward the end of the 15-day forecast. I gambled that temperatures would stay warm enough until the next time I would be able to spend the hour and a half moving plants inside. It is best when I can do it on a weekend, but in a pinch I have done it first thing in the morning instead of my regular practice before starting the work day. I wait until the last minute because the plants are so much happier outside. They don’t mind four months inside, they are ok with five, and they start really suffering at six months. This means I watch closely danger of first and last frost to keep the plants outside as long as possible.
Some things, such as the impatiens and begonias that I was taught by my paternal grandmother to bring inside as cuttings to root in winter and then replant in spring start struggling outside when lows are steadily in the 40’sF, which is why I did the cuttings today. The tomatoes are still producing, so I have not yet switched the raised beds from tomatoes to hardy greens, but the seeds I planted when I pulled up the peppers and the eggplant are starting to come up.
Today’s harvest included: Cherokee purple, roma, and cherry tomatoes, green beans, baby butternut squash, thai hot chili peper, white and orange carrots to eat now; sweet herbs to dry for infusions–stevia, licorice mint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, spearmint. Coming up: spinach, chard, turnip greens.