Of course, there are flowers in the August garden. But the fruits of hard labor are what stand out to me this time of year. And like a woman in the last trimester of her pregnancy, the garden looks both magnificent and worn.
Wild elderberries and chokecherries and black cherries have gone from green to red to black all on their own with no help from me. The seed heads of coneflowers and rudbeckia are fat. Swarms of gold finches keep the prairie and perennial beds in constant motion.
The tomatoes plants are stressed by incipient fungal infections (though no white flies yet, thanks to thick plantings of marigolds and the cool temperatures). Their vigorous branches have escaped my control, and sag under the weight of half-green fruits. The chili peppers are producing fast and furious except for the two plants I scorched when I accidentally sprayed them with the last dregs of a sprayerful of liquid copper fungicide. Moron that I am. The cucumber vines are the most productive I have seen in many years; but the older leaves have managed to contract powdery mildew. Sick and tired of making pickles, I long for them to just. drop. dead. But they don’t. They grow new leaves, flower again, and make so much fruit, my neighbors confess to helping themselves without my permission and I am GLAD.
Like the garden, I am wearing out, too. Nevertheless, I discipline myself to execute the gardening plan I set out last January: to plant cole crops in volume in the fall garden rather than in the cabbage-white prone spring garden. I start seeds outdoors, and can’t help but be amazed by how rapidly seeds sprout in the 75 – 85 degree heat. I roll the dice, consider waiting another week to pull the green beans, eager to make space for the daikon radishes. Will it still be too hot? Or will the weather hold in the upper 70s and low 80s? I pace the garden rows, tense with indecision.
Somewhere between wrangling children — no longer occupied with summer camp — canning, freezing and jellying in the kitchen, and spraying for squash beetles in the garden, I managed to redesign and cobble together (with the help of my better 1/2) our chicken run/tractor. Four new hens have taken up residence and are settling in well, despite their preference to roost in the trees rather than in the hen house. I need them to sort this matter out sooner rather than later.
Sho’ Nuff, we are tired, tattered but fecund around here. How does your garden fare as the harvest swells to bursting?
Check out other gardens and gardeners at Tootsie Time’s Fertilizer Friday. Meanwhile, I’m going to have lunch that includes my garden’s bounty!