|Organic lettuce growing in my garden.|
I can’t remember a season quite like this year’s spring. It started off cold, then rainy. And more rainy. Yesterday I checked the rain gauge hanging on the fence along the vegetable garden, and it registered two inches of rain in just one day!
Abundant rainfall is a blessing, and one that I’m not complaining about. Look at the lettuce in the picture, above. I can’t remember harvesting lettuce into late June, but I still have red and green leaf lettuce in the garden, along with Romaine. The cucumbers are just started to mature, and it looks like I’ll be able to harvest a few before the cucumber beetles hatch on the plants and destroy them overnight. The potatoes look excellent, and the beets, onions and other vegetables are also growing well.
|Cucumbers, just starting to mature…|
|Onions and beets in the garden.|
Everything seems lush and green this year, even the lawns. Usually by this time of the year, the summer drought and heat have built up, and the earth turns to red brick clay. This year, the ground is so moist that we have mushrooms adorning fairy rings on the lawns.
With the amazing rainfall comes mushrooms, of course, but also insects. The mosquitoes are abundant too, probably breeding on all the puddles and damp leaves in the woods. I haven’t noticed many bats this year, and I wonder if they are doing okay or if diseases are starting to affect bat colonies nearby. The toads are out each evening, parked along the driveway near the garage bays, letting the spotlights attract insects right to them. They don’t seem to mind the cats at all. Spiders are everywhere this year – in the house, in the garden, in the basement. I bet they’re enjoying the extra mosquitoes for sure!
The weeds are also proliferating, and it’s getting to the point where I just have to let them grow until they’s so large I can’t avoid them anymore. I’ve started gardening after dinner, enjoying the cool evenings, but the evening temperatures are still muggy and uncomfortable. We’re just starting on that period of the year when the garden is pleasant at dawn and after the sun sets, but not for very long in between.
The cats have been coming inside during the heat of the day. They’re so funny, because each one seems to have his preferred area of the house to snooze the afternoon away. Genghis must be on my desk behind the computer monitor; if I need to reach for a pen while I’m working, I run the risk of losing a finger, since he sees this as an opportunity to prove he lives up to his fierce name. Raz and Pierre prefer the bedrooms, while Groucho likes the knitted cat bed I made. Whitey lays right down on the cool wood floor of the hallway, while his brother Shy Boy must find a cardboard box or similar object for comfort. We’ve learned their preferred sleeping areas around the house and keep track of them during the day, making sure that everyone is accounted for by midafternoon.
The peppers have begun to come in, earlier than usual, and we tomatoes ripening in the garden, too. Green beans are maturing and the eggplant are getting tall. In another week or two it will be time to harvest potatoes, onions and garlic. And then the fun begins – canning beets!
What’s growing in your garden this year?
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.