Summer arrives, the garden is full!
The longest day of the year arrives. The garden, sparsely populated a month ago, is full. By George Knowles
The longest day of the year brings the official arrival of summer, although it seems as if it arrived at the end of April.
The vegetable garden looked sparsely populated a month ago. Now every corner is filled and I am anxious to harvest the garlic crop to free up space for a second wave of planting.
One can see the effects of warm weather and moisture as tentative early shoots give way to robust plants that have clearly established their roots and are pushing upward.
Tomatoes are in flower and some have set fruit. Potato plants are a foot high and “hilled up” with more soil to keep the growing tubers covered as they develop.
This year I am trying shell beans for the first time; a dramatic red and white variety from William Dam Seeds in Dundas.
And lest you think that it is all anticipation and no early harvest, the asparagus began in early May and we have been enjoying it for the last six weeks.
Now it is time to reluctantly let those delicious spears turn into ferns and feed the huge old roots. We think that some of the asparagus crowns (as the roots are known) must be fifty years old. They pre-dated our arrival here in 1976.
One ancient root was turned out by a bulldozer years ago and it was about two feet long and had dreadlocks that would have been the envy of any Rastafarian.
The house rule is that we usually pick the first asparagus and get the first black-fly bite of the season on the same day!
Lettuce begun in raised beds by the house in April was ready on May 18th – somewhat earlier than the June 1st prediction I had made.
And up in the vegetable garden, we have lovely Arugula to add to the Mesclun mixture by the house and radishes for some peppery tang and crunch in salads.
Shallots are ready to add to the mix.
Today (this is written in the third week of June), the first signs of flowering heads on the rapini tells me that we can harvest that special green.
It is well known in the Italian community of course, but for those of us who grew up in homes where garlic and olive oil were unknown, it is one of many discoveries that make Mediterranean food our cuisine of choice.
Now to water and watch for insects in the flowers of the squash, cucumbers, melons and zucchini.
Hopefully the companion planting of nasturtiums and marigolds will keep the nasties at bay.
Every day outdoors brings some new growing challenge – good or bad – to go with the chorus of birdsong around the garden hedge.
I can’t think of a better place to be.