The heat is getting to me. The desire to stop gardening is great. Thoughts of skipping the summer season next year pervade my thoughts, yet then I gather a colander full of butternut squash, peppers, tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, zucchini, Swiss chard, basil, and more, and I say, “Okay, it’s worth it.” The addition of the heavy summer crops recently pushed my home garden poundage harvested in 2012 over the 400-pound threshold (which at $5 per pound in average value, especially figuring in high-value greens, herbs, and tomatoes, puts my home garden production value this year at $2,000 so far, minus the $300 I put into it, resulting in $1,700 profit, or basically, every single thing I picked since April has been free).
So, I get out there every day now, committing to just an hour of whatever is needed. This week I’m focused on clearing out the overgrown Bermuda grass in my garden beds to make space for a second planting of the crops I’ve grown to love (I can never have enough basil), and the ones I simply haven’t had yet this year. Those honeydew melons from Italy that grew so nicely last year. My beloved red-spiked amaranth. The sunflowers that I’m trying to save for my daughters and maybe even one day their children, grown from seeds from the actual flower featured in my book (and which I’ve now planted three times this summer but the chipmunks keep eating). And could I have possibly forgotten to plant eggplant? (Hint: if you use raised beds from Farmer D Organics, you pretty much eliminate the Bermuda problem!)
I’m also starting to think cool thoughts. Breezy thoughts. Fall thoughts. Even winter thoughts. Where do I want the lettuces to go? Which beds will I overwinter with broccoli and garlic (which don’t need to be hooped and covered) and greens (which do)? How long until each summer crop is done and the space will once again be available? Helpful tip: basil says bye-bye mid-October on that first chilly night–I call it “black death” because that’s what the leaves look like the next day. And I’ve actually had those yellow pear tomatoes right up until Thanksgiving (they look beautiful in a salad of tatsoi leaves and pomegranate seeds). Thinking about a September 15 planting date for most fall crops therefore means I have to think around plants like this.
The weeding is rather mindless, meditative, and, I must admit, somehow nice. It gives me time to think, to plan, to dream, and to trust that I will once again, one day soon, enjoy this thing called gardening.
Tap in Thursday and I’ll share with you what I’m doing about microclimates and cover cropping to prepare for the next season’s bounty. And be sure to stop by Farmer D Organics either in person at the Briarcliff Road store or online to get what you need to make your summer gardening dreams come true (there is still time for this).
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