Story last updated at 9/2/2009 - 2:31 pm
Wow - some rainforest! All those weeks of clear, sunny skies seem to somehow contradict that description.
In terms of gardening, I'm all for it. Sure, the opposite of usual crops are doing well this year, but those of us that keep on optimistically planting seeds suited for all hemispheres finally discovered that the hypothetical phenomenon of tomatoes changing color on the vine can be valid. Peppers, cucumbers and beans also appreciated the heat and decreased incidence of high humidity gray fuzz (technical term).
Normally (in a rainforest) I plant most everything in a greenhouse to keep the precipitation off, thus controlling the amount of water distributed. That was working fine even for broccoli, cabbage and spinach in our years of mostly soggy, chillier weather, but this year those cooler-temperature plants are yielding smaller fruit or bolting into maturity too fast in my really hot greenhouse.
Until about mid-August the temps in the greenhouse have ranged right around 100 degrees day after day with the effect that you would be sweating profusely after 30 seconds inside there. (A fan would have been prudent.) Many suffocating hours of watering, pruning, weeding and slug removal were required.
The container plants on the enclosed porch needed water even more often, and, although it is always a pleasure to tend plants, it sure devoured large chunks of time just to keep things in a state of "not wilted."
Outside, with nothing falling from the sky, I still had to water the peas, carrots, chard and radishes.
Part of the overwork problem may be my tendency to start way too many seeds (just in case they don't come up) and then I lack the ability to discard them after they have indicated such a strong will to live. Some do go to other good homes, but mostly I keep as many as I have pots for - and I have a lot of pots.
I don't know if it is excessive, but it is a bit difficult to get around on the 8x24 porch among the containers of 19 tomatoes, seven peppers, 13 string beans, four squash, 17 cucumbers, five broccoli and four cabbage plants along with the basil, oregano, marigolds, two elderberry bushes, an apple tree and a couple of hanging baskets of flowers.
The 16x20 greenhouse is home to 12 large tomato plants, 17 cucumbers, 14 beans, 10 broccoli and various peppers, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, onions, carrots, beets, squash, lettuce, spinach, marigolds, zinnias, sage, basil, parsley and rosemary. There are also a number of volunteer mustard and catnip plants as well as unlimited chickweed.
All in all, tomatoes, bell and hot peppers, cucumbers and beans have produced more heartily this year and the rest of the vegetables and herbs are thriving in spite of living in an environment not unlike a sauna. The smattering of marigolds throughout the raised beds effectively deter some of the slugs from the vegetables as well as looking and smelling great.
A good year. Aside from one squash plant I can't seem to identify and a five-foot tall Cosmos that has yet to flower, the extra sunny summer has made my garden a busy place - and where better to spend your time?
Carla Petersen is a remote-living freelance artist and writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org