By Jannie Vaught
But the high temperatures we are having feel like it has already arrived.
How is the “First” day of summer determined?
The timing of the June solstice is not determined by a specific calendar date, but by when the Sun reaches its northernmost point from the celestial equator. Therefore, the solstice won’t always occur on the same day. This year 2022 the celestial solstice is June 20, 21 and 22. This brings us to the relentless heat and drought conditions we are experiencing.
Many gardens and gardeners struggle to keep their plants going to try and get some production. It is all a heat and water exchange, which is causing slow fruiting. Those tomatoes are trying and are producing, it will just take some patience, I say you don’t give up yet. A slow soaker hose, regular feeding and add some shade cloth if possible. I’m using compost tea for feeding with a foliar spray. This doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Use water in a large tub. add your dry fertilizer and stir it up. always be on the side of diluting the powder or granules. I cover it to keep any thirst critters out and let it totally dissolve. Then early the next morning stir and get your garden watering can or pump-up sprayer and dilute again. I use 1 gallon of tea to 5 gallons of water. With this dilute tea your not going to stress the plants further than already with the heat. My lettuce is out, only arugula is still strong, the herbs are under the tomatoes for shade as are the melons under the zinnias and dill. This seems to be working for planted shade. We knew this was coming and as I planned the garden shade was very important.
Now it isn’t all pretty rows and clear underneath. I have purslane a wild plant everywhere I look. It is a delicious edible and even some cow-pen daisies a native grow where I normally would remove. This is allowing the vegetables to have some support and shade. Gardening is an experimental experience when record-long heat and low rainfall is making you wonder how to work with nature. Nature often will show you what is growing so pay attention. Purslane, friend or foe? I strongly suggest you know what this wild plant looks like. There are many pictures in books and on the internet that will describe and show you pictures. It is a red-stemmed low ground cover with a single yellow flower and is deliciously eaten in salad, smoothie additions, or cooked in stir fry. It can be aggressive but it is a ground cover thus keeping the soil temperatures cooler. It’s only as aggressive as you allow.
Never eat an unknown wild plant. Foraging is not just going out and picking whatever is on the natural ground. I had some wonderful young boys come to visit this weekend. One told me a quote that I will pass on about foraging “Eat a plant twice and eat it again. Eat a plant once and never eat it again!” Yes, plants are nothing to be casual about when it comes to your life! And the boys dug potatoes for the first time and it was a treasure hunt! This brings us as gardeners to the question of planning two seasons ahead. The Fall garden is often the most productive. Cooler temperatures and hopefully monsoon rain will bless us. As we garden this season keep making compost and mulch and in the fall you will have plenty of cover for the soil. And that second, late starting of tomatoes I have planted in 5-gallon buckets. They are in semi-shade and still small but later they will be my late summer into fall tomatoes and peppers.
We are almost at Summer Solstice, which will again begin the light-changing days as the Sun moves across our sky, as we are busy in the garden with the chores of growing maybe it is time to take a few minutes and add Gratitude to the daily activities. Thank You will bring a joyful peace to us as we stand and realize the beauty of growing food.
Growing Green With Jannie