For those of you gardening in temperate climates, summer is a wonderful gardening season. For me in the subtropics, it is the least productive time for traditional annual veggies. Even the zucchinis and tomatoes curl their toes up in the heart of summer some years.
For the last two years I've put a heap of pressure on myself to continue gardening with as much vigour in summer as I do the rest of the year.
It turns out, though, that pressure combined with gardening just doesn't work for me.
I realised the other day that the pressure I'm putting on myself is actually causing me to avoid the garden, find it harder than it should be and notice all of the things that don't work in this ridiculous heat, rather than noticing the ones that do.
This afternoon I walked up to the chicken pen (which as you know is combined with the veggie garden) with a basket to collect eggs in and another for gathering herbs. I glanced despondently at my wilted, grub-eaten tomatoes. The other crop of tomatoes is suffering from bacterial wilt, which despite my attempts to manage it has invaded nearly every part of the garden. Sigh.
Then I looked over at the pretty afternoon light dancing on the cucumber vines, stretching their curls along the trellis and covered in little yellow flowers and cucumbers of varying sizes. As I picked the first one of the summer I felt happy and content.
Next I found myself admiring the stand of volunteer rosellas. I began picking, thinking of stirring the vibrant jam tomorrow and then eating it with home grown lamb in Autumn.
I looked around and I realised that summer may be a less productive time for some plants, but it's a bountiful time for others. And I realised that this garden is only young, and in reality I only have a few years gardening experience under my belt. I'll get better at growing through this sticky, hot season and I'll learn what is realistic to expect of the garden at this time of year.
So whilst I might not be harvesting arm loads of veg, I'll be picking herbs for drying, rosellas for jam making, cucumbers and zucchinis, beans and a little bit of this and that too. The spring onions are nearly ready too. Written down, it sounds like more than I realised.
I'll try my hardest not to wish this summer away, and to continue to learn how to grow food I like* in a subtropical summer garden.
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