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Garden Lifestyle

Happy August! Here’s to the Harvest and to Growing Gardens!

Today is the first of August, know as Lughnasadh in Ireland, it begins the celebration of the harvest season.

  • Summer heights in the August garden. Yes the make-shift gypsy-look deer fence has worked pretty well--they really only chomped the edamame plants. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
    Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
  • Bees buzz marigolds.
  • Green garden jewels: await the ripening... or fried green tomatoes?
  • Swallowtail on anise hyssop.
  • Yes, those are tomatoes in the background--over 6-foot tall--in cages that are barely visible; healthy curcurbits in the foreground.

Today is the last day of July and when you read this it will be August, since I am posting this late in the evening. We had a long, really hot July and it looks like August might be the same. Although, to many of us gardeners, it seems to be about midsummer, August 1 in some parts of the world, celebrates this day as the beginning of the harvest season.

Known as Lughnasadh in Ireland, Calan Awst in Wales, and Lammas in Great Britain, this first day of August commemorates the first harvests of grain and is sometimes referred to as the “celebration of bread”. This ancient holiday signifies the passing of the summer growing season into the autumn harvest. People celebrate the beginning of this season with feasting, dancing and bonfires, giving thanks for a bountiful harvest, and enough food to get them through the winter months to come. Bread is made with this year’s harvest.

Although we have been harvesting food from the garden since spring, the real abundance is about to begin and we will be preserving in earnest this month and next. So on this day I stop and give thanks for our gardening efforts and their yield and what is yet to come. Even though we’ve dealt with the deer and the groundhogs, and then the flea beetles and cabbage moths, and now the stink bugs are climbing around on the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants—would you stop gardening? Not I.

Even though we have not had enough rain and the weeds threaten to take over, I  still visit the garden daily and happily harvest tomatoes, chiles, eggplants, squash, beans, onions, and fragrant herbs of all flavors. The joyous flight of the butterflies causes me to pause everyday; they go about their garden chore of pollinating—gaily dancing over the pycnanthemum, Echinacea and anise hyssop. I stoop over to inspect those cantaloupes and winter squash hiding under the big leaves and hear the drone of drunken bees in the squash blossoms. The flowsy red heads of the bee balm tremble and I know that the hummingbird is gathering nectar. I patiently wait to dig the potatoes, which will be soon. The heat, the critters, the bugs, the weeds—we all inhabit our little green-growing universe together—and I celebrate the joys as well as the challenges of gardening. This week with the first quarter moon, I will sow some more annual herbs and hardy greens. And the cycle of the seasons keeps on…  

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