Friday, July 13, 2012
Through the Garden Gate
It's been over two months since I last shared some photos of our garden, which has certainly grown and blossomed (literally!) since then. The cool, wet weather we had in June (and it was officially one of the coldest, wettest Junes ever, based on records from around the province) slowed down the harvest somewhat, but already we have eaten radishes, chives, lettuce, strawberries, raspberries, carrots, and peas from our garden. The radishes are since done (they don't like the hot weather that we've had lately), and although the strawberries had a slow start, we've picked over twenty pounds of them so far and they're starting to wind down now. The cold, wet June is certainly a thing of the past now. It is hard to believe that scarcely over a week ago the temperature was barely 15 degrees Celsius (59 Fahrenheit) and now for the last several days temperatures have been well into the mid-thirties (mid-nineties Fahrenheit), much more normal for this time of year.
The garden is full of good things to eat. We started these lettuces from seed this spring and transplanted them into the garden. We've also added another row of raspberries this year - and the new bushes are doing much better than the old ones. We've only been in this house a few years and, regrettably, the raspberries that were growing here when we moved in were so sick that we had to pull them out and plant new ones. It will likely be a couple years yet before we get enough raspberries from our own yard. We will probably go raspberry picking at a u-pick farm in the next week or so to supplement our own harvest. The carrots are just starting, and I hope we get lots of those this year because carrots are one of my favourite vegetables.
Amazingly, none of the gardens that you see in these photos were on the property when we moved in in the fall of 2009. Since then, we've built raised beds for vegetables, created flower beds in every nook and corner around the yard, planted countless more perennials and shrubs, built a nice sturdy fence around the vegetable garden to keep the deer out, landscaped the yard, & removed truckloads of dirt to create a flat yard under the maple trees to sit in the afternoon. It amazes me how much our yard has been changed in the last few years.
This spring we were lucky (or so we thought) to get some free dirt. It was potting soil that was being discarded at an apartment in town that was being renovated. The soil in our yard is basically solid clay, so we're always looking for ways to loosen it up and aerate it. We thought our free dirt would be great, but as it turned out it was full of seeds of chickweed and poppies. We like poppies, but these ones were coming up absolutely everywhere. This patch of the yard was supposed to be grass. My dad had just planted grass seed there this spring, and then finished it off by sprinkling some of our free dirt on it. Now it's a poppy forest. Apart from poppies, we also have lilies, roses, blanketflowers, black-eyed Susans, sunflowers, marigolds, cosmos, nasturtiums, and many others in full bloom in our gardens right now.
This is one of my favourite plants in the garden, although it can become a bit invasive. It's called goldmoss sedum (Sedum acre) and, like all sedums, it's a succulent. I just love sedums, as well as the other succulents that I've always known as hens-and-chicks (Sempervivum). When I have a garden of my own, I'm going to create an entire bed of sedums and other succulents. Until then, we're trying to get the goldmoss sedum to grow over a steep bank in our yard. It's too steep to mow and right now it's basically just bare clay with a few weeds growing in it. Sedums really prefer coarser, well-drained soil (the opposite of clay), but it seems to grow just about everywhere and it was spreading like crazy elsewhere in the garden so we're hoping that it's going to work out on the bank. I spent many hours earlier this year balanced on the edge of the bank pulling the weeds out, so I do hope the sedum makes it after all that work. It's a low-growing perennial with these brilliant yellow flowers, and the bank already looks much better (it's about one third covered).
We've probably reached the height of summer now as the sun has started its downward slide towards the autumn equinox. The heat seems to slow everyone down, and it's the perfect time of year to spend early mornings in the garden with camera in hand, then retreat to the cool basement in the hot afternoon to write and plan and dream and ponder on what kinds of harvests I am reaping this year. In the evenings I sit on the deck and read and sip lemonade or iced tea and the cold, snowy days of winter seem so very far away, even as I know that they are getting closer every day, just as each day brings with it a little less light and a little more darkness. Already I'm starting to look forward to the cooler days of autumn, when the leaves are turning colour and starting to fall.
What have you been harvesting from your garden this summer?