Summer Garden Report

Stars in broad daylight I spot heading up our path in the back. I see summer clematis vining on the ground. Passing the foot size lavender plant I press leaves between my fingers. Calmness. Continuing on I take a sharp right along the ridge lush with leaves and pine needles. This summer it’s unusually wet from a recent rain. I take caution to walk safely in my sandles. The sweet smelling mystery bush from spring sits quietly by the side of the path. I view sassafras off and on and dip down the path and past our shiitake logs sometimes fruiting.

shiitake logs from path on our deck

shiitake logs from path on our deck

As the trees clear out and my way opens up, I look up on the right to see my blueberry bushes. I harvested a pint this year which is better than last year’s one blueberry. This year I’d find a handful every two days or so. They were tasty mixed with our strawberries. Beyond the blueberries I see the small fig tree in the side yard. My husband’s Philadelphia family fig tree is a new addition to our yard. My sister-in-law carted this tree down in her van last summer. We ate fresh figs already last year and Figgy just landed on our property. I never ate fresh figs before we had fig trees. I only knew dried ones. I always loved fig newtons. Fresh figs explode in my mouth from the pink fleshy sweet sacks.

As I move down the path, trees and huge forsythia bushes cover me like a woods’ womb. The coolness and dampness on hot days feels like a rain forest. On further I pass my friend Mountain Laurel happy in her new home. Last spring I transplanted her to save her from being mowed down for a new road. She’s a little windblown but growing new shoots on her top branches.

The path opens to a dogwood beginning to turn a rust red—signs of months to come. I veer right and head to our lower garden. I just dug potatoes and we are using them to cook with now. One recipe is
steamed potatoes
strong fresh garlic
mayonnaise or yogurt
all churned up in a food processor and chilled

This dip enjoys a spot in our summer suppers with raw vegetables such as cucumbers, carrots or celery.

Next to the potatoes is my strawberry patch and I remember June and the berries we picked every other day for cereal and snacks. There are two year, one year and this year plants. I’ve mulched the rows with mushroom straw and it looks very tidy at least for the moment. We plan to add strawberry plants each year. They do well in the red clay not particular about the soil they are grown in. We’ve finally found food that grows well in this spot. Next to the strawberries are echinacea or cone flowers in bloom with their simple pink blossoms. I transplanted 8 or 9 clumps last year and they survived the move. They choked out my rhubarb and had to go. It’s a good place for cone flowers, too.

Moving on up the driveway to the end of the upper garden, I see newly sprouted spaghetti squash plants. We lost ALL our butternut which I love and patty pane squash because too much rain. We did have a week of zucchini everyday but it finally succumbed to the moisture. too. We fretted how to use lots of squash. Ha. It didn’t give us a chance to follow through with our plans for preservation. I planted Chinese okra in the old zucchini bed. Sadly it was too wet the day I laid seed and it didn’t germinate. Last year we enjoyed the Chinese okra which is a spiked zucchini like vegetable and I saved seeds.

On the side below the old zucchini bed set two rhubarb plants that I baby because I love rhubarb and it’s comforting taste. I plan to cut it today and cook with apple cider and raisins. It is one less fruit serving I have to buy at the grocery. The sweet/sour taste of rhubarb reminds me of gardens growing up. I cherish the two healthy plants fertilizing with manure and ringing with sand so slugs don’t devastate the leaves.

I pass the bed where our first crop of green beans grew. We ate and froze them. Green beans also give me comfort because of past childhood gardens. Yellow larvae covered the leaves so we pulled the plants. I see green beans blooming soon to eat from our second crop.

Surrounding me now are tomatoes and they look sad. Too much rain created blight. Lots of the vines are dark but tomatoes are still growing so some nourishment is going on. We canned 50 quarts and froze another 10 quarts of tomatoes. Our pepper crop proved to be a mixed bag. We grew and planted 70 pepper plants from our greenhouse and many did not fruit due to the heavy moisture. The rain washed the blooms away. But the chili peppers survived the rain and we are using them to flavor our food.our tomatoesmt. mitchell, charleston, paint rock 026

Next I observe butterflies floating above the zinnias—huge Dahlia size in yellow/red/orange. Sweet miniature zinnias grow in front of the newly planted lettuce for our fall garden. There are memories of peas come and gone from the fenced in area. I see the place where kale feed us in spring. We now have cucumbers planted there in three mounds. The area where my husband grew garlic from October–July is dug up and chard is planted. Earlier we picked an abundance of chard enough to freeze and give away. We miss it but hope to grow a new crop for fall. It is wonderful simply sautéed with olive oil and garlic until tender.zinnias

How different my musings are from spring. Expectations bounced around in spring and abundance and plenty grace us now.

written Summer 2013

edited Summer 2014