August 1 – 14, 2016
Mt. Washington — All at once it’s high gear, sustained climax, steady growth, flowering, fruiting and transition in our gardens. Spring bloomers have gone to seed or to sleep. Summer’s lilies, mallows, monardas, verbenas and helianthus stand out and stand tall in bud and bloom. Vegetable, fruit and herb gardeners are wrestling ears of corn from their stalks and plucking tomatoes, blueberries and borage blossoms from their stems. Some of us grow crops that feed us throughout the year. This is a pivotal moment in the cycle of growing and storing food for all seasons.
Lifting up the shade cloth reveals orbs of tender, Blushed Butter Oaks lettuce alongside curly, deep-hued Merlot and green and burgundy Speckled Amish Butterhead – bouquets for evening salads. They are growing in a bed that is being harvested, one head at a time, to be succeeded by burgeoning winter squash vines that are spreading in all directions. Across the aisle, purple-pink and green-shouldered tomatoes, Black Krim, are the first large tomatoes to ripen in my mountain town garden. Matt’s Wild Cherry tomatoes, promoted for their nutritional value (see http://theberkshireedge.com/natures-turn-vegetable-varieties-21st-century-garden-part-2/), are delicious but slow to ripen.
The leaves of garlic planted in the fall are turning brown, a signal that the bulbs are nearing maturity. For a full description of when to dig the bulbs and how to cure and store them, click here.
If your garlic looks like mine, it’s time to harvest. I’ll spread compost and – if not applied in spring – a mixed organic fertilizer on the cleared ground and dig it in. Just like in all areas where spring crops have been pulled, the transition to autumn crops will be swift unless a cover crop is desirable. Consider all short-season varieties of carrots, beets and turnips. Asian greens, arugula, cilantro and dill also produce in 60 days or less and tolerate heat. Radish and most lettuces had best be sown during a cool period and, for good measure, refrigerate the seeds before planting. All seeded rows and areas where seed is broadcast must be watered twice a day while dry weather persists. A covering of shade cloth is a plus.
I’m harvesting blueberries from 3- to 5-feet tall, many-stemmed bushes I planted last October and so was keenly interested in the watering requirements of trees as described by Casey Trees:
Newly planted trees — those that have been in the ground less than three years — require 25 gallons of water, approximately 1.5 inches of rainfall, per week to survive. During extended periods of little or no rainfall and/or high temperatures, trees may need your help getting the water they need.
Watering Trees – http://caseytrees.org/get-involved/water/
All about beans – vric.ucdavis.edu/pdf/beans.pdf
August 12 – 14, NOFA Summer Conference – http://nofasummerconference.org/
September 24-26, MOFGA Common Ground Fair, Unity, Maine – http://www.mofga.org/TheFair