Garden Lifestyle

July in the Garden

Summer is full on and the garden is growing in leaps and bounds.

July showers create magic--a rainbow in the yard. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.
Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger

Summer is full on and the garden is growing in leaps and bounds. I love to garden. I love my garden and the earth upon which it grows. I’ve never really thought about the earth loving me… until just recently… I am reading BRAIDING SWEETGRASS Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. In the chapter “Epiphany in the Beans” (which is probably my favorite chapter–although I’m not quite finished the book yet), she deliberates on this subject and the ultimate reciprocity. Her concluding paragraph to the chapter is: “Something essential happens in a vegetable garden. It’s a place where if you can’t say “I love you” out loud, you can say it in seeds. And the land will reciprocate in beans.”

She has definitely given me food for thought. I had to highlight the first two sentences of the chapter because her sensory description so delighted me. “I was hunting among the spiraling vines that envelop my teepees of pole beans, lifting the dark-green leaves to find handfuls of pods, long and green, firm and furred with tender fuzz. I snapped them off where they hung in slender twosomes, bit into one, and tasted nothing but August, distilled into pure, crisp beaniness.”

Well, I am awaiting that crisp beaniness in my garden–though my five varieties of beans are only just flowering–and I recently had to cover them with floating row cover because the deer were enjoying the beaniness of the leaves and vines.

Here in Maryland, we have had pretty great weather–our days have been in the upper 80s rather than the usual 90s and so I can’t complain (they’re coming soon). I mostly garden in the morning before the sun gets too hot–and then after 5 or 6 pm or so in the evening when the heat of the day starts to dissipate–so I don’t have to swelter in the midday heat.

Many plants are starting to produce fruit and I am be blessed with garden abundance already. I’m harvesting summer squashes, cucumbers, early chile peppers and we’ve dug a few potatoes. The garlic was harvested about 10 days ago and it has been curing. Yesterday, I cleaned it up, removing the withered stalks and the roots and the outer papery skin where possible. This year the bulbs weren’t rinsed to remove the excess dirt right after being harvested so there was a lot of dirt in the roots and on the outer covering, which took more time to remove. I will remember to do this next year. Onions are forming bulbs now.

Many herbs like bee balm, calendula, elder and rose are flowering and so I have been harvesting flower petals and drying them for tea or to prepare syrups or confections in the future. My spring-planted crops of arugula, cilantro and dill have all bolted–sent up their flower stalks–and will be making seed soon. I do eat these flowers in salads and make vinegars with them and have used cilantro leaves and blooms to make an aromatic herbal paste. /item/13856/garden-bounty-has-begun-time-to-harvest I decided not to do that with the dill and just enjoy the flowers and soon I’ll have seeds for pickles and use up all of those cucumbers.

The spring greens and lettuces have all sent up their flowers and were flopping all over the place so I just pulled them out, stripped off smaller leaves and some flowers for supper and put the rest on the compost pile. This gave me room to sow some more coriander and arugula seed. It’s too hot for sowing lettuces, however I will be glad to have green arugula for salads and the cilantro for making salsa as the chiles ripen. I’ll be needing the cilantro for the upcoming International Herb Association Conference to be held in Columbia, Maryland in August, since we are promoting Coriander as Herb of the Year 2017. Check it out–should be a fun and educational time!

I am still anticipating my first ripe tomato, which looks to be a week or two away… and then the beans!


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