Well it’s started…the hot summer days. When the garden here in southern Virginia is bathed in the fierce glare of the sun. The ground bakes so dry that it cracks. It looks like a clay pot left in the sun.
The Japanese beetles are out in full force. They seem to love to munch on flowers. So far they’ve taken out the flowers on one Sonia rose, my yellow hollyhocks, and some zinnias. We retaliated with traps and Neem spray and seem to be winning this skirmish.
The tomatoes have set fruit and I’m eagerly watching one tomato next to the garden gate. Today it’s the size of a ping pong ball but just two days ago it was a tiny little marble. These are the big guys, the ones called “Mortgage Lifter” that the ads promised tomatoes of a pound or more each. We’ll see!
The corn has petty purple tassels, the watermelon has completely taken over its bed, and the cantaloupe and strawberries are battling for dominance. They each sent runners out and the curving stalks met in the middle. Now the runners are intertwining and battling for space. They filled in all around the tiny blueberry bushes which love the gentle shade from the big cantaloupe leaves. The strawberries are remarkable. Each day I harvest handfuls. We gorge on fresh berries for breakfast.
The beet harvest is in full force and I dropped off some bags of them with our neighbors the Hertzlers today. I hope they enjoy them. The golden beets are my favorites. I have been eating so many I’m surprised my skin hasn’t turned orange! I’m saving the rest of the red beets for my first attempt at canning. Maybe later this week I will get around to it.
The spinach set seed and now the lettuce follows suit. The first batch of basil is drying in an old roasting pan we inherited from John’s chef great grandfather. I’ve got these giant roasters and they’re wonderful for drying herbs. The onions are also out to dry today.
John’s made me promise that the next batch of herbs will be the home grown catnip. Maybe it will distract Pierre from the baby birds. Yup, that’s right…Mama bird on our ceiling fan is now an official Mama Bird! She has two babies. Today they poked their fuzzy little heads over the edge of the nest. They look prehistoric with the gray fuzz sticking up all over and the yellow sharp beaks opening and closing. I can watch them from inside the house.
Hot summer days…I wouldn’t trade them for all the world!
Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.