High Summer

There is a brief window during the season when we experience a slight lull…in the gardens and in the nursery. It happens just after school lets out in late June and continues until the 4th of July weekend. We appreciate the small reprieve. The garden’s beds are planted, weeded, and looking great, the flow of customers is steady but not as busy as in May and June, there’s a calm before the ‘storm’ that the now ‘high summer’ brings. From here on in however, our pace picks up again. The nursery gets re-stocked with late season offerings and with plants that simply needed replacing from earlier sales. Now is the time we do most of our propagating for the next season, this involves collecting seed, taking cuttings, and dividing plants from the stock beds. The greenhouse is cloaked in shade cloth and a misting system gets set up ( in the greenhouse)to provide a constant and controlled amount of moisture. In the vegetable gardens, the bounty to be harvested and preserved is coming fast and furious….summer squash, cucumbers, kale, chard, greens, snow peas and shell peas, beets, and loads and loads of broccoli. Every meal is the essence of freshness, plates of homegrown chicken surrounded by steamed veggies and an extra large green salad. I begin to eye the squash patch with concern, a day of not picking could lead to one of those gigantic zucchinis or an overly bulbous yellow squash. Harvesting the squash patch becomes a secret competition between me and the cucurbits. I am determined to harvest each and everyone before I need the wheel barrow to haul them away. I’m determined to pick them when they’re small and incorporate them into meals before they roll to the back of the fridge and become wobbly. Right now I’m winning, we’re roasting squash, grilling squash, steaming squash, and using them in our favorite squash fritter recipe. So far so good. If you come for dinner more than once a week and think to yourself “squash, again?”, please don’t say it out-loud. I’m on a mission and only looking to feed ‘Team Squash’ while I’m at it. Be happy that your squash fritters include smoked Gouda and that your grilled squash wedges are peppered with a nice spicy dry rub. Eat and be happy.
It’s at this time we begin glancing forward to what’s ahead. Yes, we’ll still be harvesting and preserving well into September, our work at propagating will continue, mowing and weeding and moving sheep fence a constant until the leaves begin dropping, but there will also be firewood to bring in and hay to be gathered and stored, meat birds processed and sheep brought home. It’s not about not living in the moment or in the present (we always hope to manage this as well!), it’s about the cycle of the season and how our lives here are connected to the natural rhythms of time. We’re part of it and I like that. Well, it’s 6:30 a.m. and I must leave you now, my Patty Pan squash and Costata Romanesco zucchini have had well over 12 hours to gain inches and it’s time to rein them in!
And while out in the garden stalking the vegetable bounty….we sure are stopping to smell the flowers!

19 comments on “High Summer

    • Thank you! Not a day goes by that we don’t stop to look ( and smell) the flowers up closely…..we all know that too soon another winter will be upon us and we must appreciate and savor all the green growth and delicious blooms the gardening season provides!

  1. You’re probably discovered spiralized squash “spaghetti,” yes? Spiralizers are inexpensive and fun-to-use tools. The “noodles” cook up in no time sautéed in a bit of olive oil–or broth or wine–and are a great replacement/addition for pasta.

  2. Oh, I love your deeeeeeep red hollyhocks! And are those blue flowers hollyhocks, too?? I have hollyhocks and they’re lovely but they are all very pale and cottage-y pastel colors . . .

  3. Beautiful sentiments and beautiful delphinium. I’m very fond of true blue flowers. Are those hollyhocks, the deep red ones? I’ve failed to grow them although have attempted at least twice before.
    Your squash diligence reminds me of my relationship with runner beans, definitely best picked small but often seem to triple in size overnight and I’m on a constant stakeout with them. 😀

    • Yes, beans here too and not always a favorite veg in our house, but come winter they are substance from the growing season. Yes, those Hollyhocks are divine…I’ll be saving seed and will bring you some. The gardens this time of year are a sea of growth, amazing to think that in a few months ( here in Maine) the ground will freeze, plants will go dormant, and we’ll be covered in a blanket of snow. We surely celebrate summer and all it provides while we can….making hay while the sun shines!!! Best to all of you!

    • And, when my noggin hits the pillow at night, I’m down for the count! So much happening during the harvest and bloom time in the gardens…here in our town we have a bumper sticker ( a town of just under 1000 residents) that says ” Montville, The Way Life Is”. Happy gardening to you, Judy!

  4. You described our high summer perfectly! Everything is growing to monstrous proportions. We have a pumpkin plant that is about to give me nightmares that it will strangle the dogs or grow in our windows. I, too, am trying desperately to keep up with the veggie harvest. I’m about to start freezing zucchini and fennel–no choice! I’d love your squash fritter recipe, if it’s handy. I tried last year to grow hollyhocks in the perennial garden, with no success. This year, I planted a row along the front of our fence, including the gorgeous Black Knight/nigra, and they are doing well. I have always wanted to grow hollyhocks, so I’m pretty happy. We have most of this season’s wood cut and seasoning and I’m about to harvest the honey. As soon as things slow down a bit, I will be by the nursery–I promise. I still would like to buy one of your fleeces if you have any to sell. Don’t work too hard and enjoy these gorgeous days.

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