Heat, Humidity, and Harvests

Summer is such a satisfying time for me.  I have been harvesting tomatoes, summer squashes, onions, okra, and my first pepper in the last week.

Celebrity, Amana Orange, Mortgage Lifter and Sungold–all good eating.

Add to that basil, oregano, and lots of parsley and cutting celery, and the garden has pushed me into summer salad mode—bean salads, bulgur salad, and the perennial purslane with cucumbers and tomatoes have all landed on my dinner plate.

You might think things would have burned up in our recent hot weather, but the tomatoes actually seemed to thrive.  Many of the gardens that donate to AFAC for the Plot Against Hunger look really good.  A recent tour of eight of the gardens occurred on a punishing day when the temperature reached 105—one degree short of a record.  While brave hosts and even braver visitors wilted in the heat, the gardens looked surprisingly good.

Miya Van Dover, a Ball-Sellers gardener, was watering when I got there, and conducted several tours during the very hot morning.

I was waiting at the Ball Sellers House garden for visitors and you would never guess from the pictures how unbelievable the heat was, even at 8:30 in the morning.  The garden had quite a bit of lettuce and many beans ready for harvesting.

Central Library’s garden is thriving in spite of a rabbit that has eaten all of the beans and nibbled away at the peanut plants when they try to emerge.  Not long ago, the garden yielded more than 14 pounds of lettuce for AFAC.  (Beatrix Potter may have been wrong about Peter’s diet; the rabbits don’t seem to bother the lettuce.)  The signage at Central Library—courtesy of Don Weber—continues to attract readers.

These squash plants are growing by the library’s tennis courts.

The Garden at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church also appears to be thriving, with a new fence and a scarecrow.  My friend Julie, of the Gardeners’ Share, visited more than half of the gardens including St. Andrew’s and the impressive allotment at Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

All of these gardens take time and attention to thrive and they all run on volunteer labor.

A view into the garden at St. Andrew’s. Photo by Julie Mendoza.

Some of the volunteers want to feed the hungry; some want an opportunity to get their hands in the dirt; and some want to teach other people how to garden.  Gardens are a great place to learn about insects—beneficial and not—and wildlife, from birds that come for the insects to rabbits that come for your tomatoes.  And then there’s the satisfaction of seeing plants come up, grow, and produce, not to mention eating something you’ve grown yourself.

The plot at Thomas Jefferson also has some impressive plants and signage.  Photo by Julie Mendoza.

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