I feel it’s not really summer if I don’t do a garden update or two but… frankly our city’s been in a level two drought (voluntary restriction of outdoor water useage) for weeks. Although we’ve gotten a couple sprinklings of badly-needed rain these past couple days, it hasn’t been anywhere near enough (less than half an inch in total). Needless to say, my garden is not the lush, verdant place it was in the spring.
In spite of all that, my plants continue to surprise me.
Above is what I lovingly refer to as “the salad bowl”: a bowl-shaped terracotta planter that I decided would make a better home for lettuce greens (and spinach and basil; I got a little carried away when I was seeding). I found it on the curb during one of our neighbourhood’s “Put Stuff On Your Curb And Hope Someone Takes Your Trash Home With Them” weekends *. I had picked up a plant stand ages ago, but had discovered that I didn’t have any pots of the right size to fit in it. I picked up the bowl (which admittedly has seen better days), hauled it home and gave it a scrub and lo! It fit perfectly. Serendipity! It has since lived on our back porch, cheering me up mightily to see its tender green-ness while I’m grilling.
* The Boy and I are huge fans of these weekends — all the benefit of getting rid of stuff you don’t need, having it go to someone who can make use of it, and none of the hassle of having to remember to haul it to Goodwill!
Although I had been diligently hoarding my veggie-rinsing and steaming liquids for to water the bowl and selected garden residents, I was trying to be realistic about The Bowl’s chances. Terracotta is a porous material. The bowl is quite shallow. Given the heat, relentless sunshine, and aforementioned drought, I didn’t hold out much hope for it. And yet… and yet it seems that I have on my deck exactly what I’d hoped for, back when I’d seeded the thing in the cool of spring. Amazing.
I was so grateful for the second rain barrel we’d installed in the first couple dry weeks: for about three weeks I was able to keep watering my veggies what I considered “normally”. By this point, though, those barrels are long dry, and it’s been a week of washing dishes with minimal soap and tupperware in the sink to catch the water and take it jug by jug out to the garden.
Am I a little compulsive? Probably. After all, this is a voluntary water ban: I’m sure the city isn’t going to notice a few liters fed to my veggies. I feel too guilty at the thought of the river’s and reservoir’s low water levels though, and with no real rain on the horizon, I can’t bring myself to just hose down my plants, as much as I want to.
So instead, I’ve been prioritizing. The cucumbers — yes, those vegetables made up of 97% water — have, beyond all logic, somehow thrived in this baking hot, dry summer. So whenever I’ve had a jug of water to offer up, they’ve been getting first dibs. I’ve been trying to take care of the tomatoes too, but they are way behind the cukes; I’m not even sure they’ll produce this summer.
This week, as a reward for all those jugs, The Boy and I will get to try our very first homegrown lemon cucumbers!
As for everything else… well, the majority of the carrots have been eaten (and not by us, grrr!), the beets seems to have hit a plateau in their growth, the garlic is probably ready for harvesting, and the peas and beans look about ready to call it a season. Not my best growing season, for sure, but better than expected given circumstances.
On a completely unrelated note, I felt I should mention that I finally got around to buying myself a canning book. After a couple hours of flipping through my short-listed contenders at the local bookstore, I picked up a copy of Marissa’s book and thus far, am so happy I did! I tried her recipe for carrot and radish pickles (although I just used top radishes) and have earmarked about the half the book as “to try”.
One recipe I couldn’t wait on (the above pickle was more of a too-many-CSA-veggies emergency) was her Ginger Walnut Granola. I’m no stranger to home-made granola, but this recipe knocks any of my previous attempts right out of the water. (If you’re wondering just how gingery this granola is, I will tell you that for once I did not increase the crystal ginger (!), and I find it to be absolutely perfect. Not too sweet, not too dry.) I am so excited to try other recipes, and so frustrated that it is way too hot to be turning on the oven or boiling pots of water for long on the stove.
Come on Fall! I have all this cooking to do — get here already, would you?