The sun beats down and it is so tempting to have a bit of a moan about how hot is all is. I am harvesting good things every day, although I have way too many gherkins and zucchinis to know what to do with – again! I never learn. Even the weeds have slowed down in the heat. Watering can be quite risky, especially if you have a long hose, as the longer the hose the greater the chance of third degree burns for you and your plants and that is even before the worst of the heat at midday.
I have decided to make a conscious decision to celebrate every stage of the gardening calendar this year as a part of my horticultural New Year resolutions. And the cause to celebrate this month is we are smack bang in the middle of summer. This is what we have waited all year for and I won’t waste a single word bleating about how hot it is. My watering can is half full!
This is the bit we have all been looking forward to with great anticipation. The abundance of the harvest. Seeds were sown with care on days when it was so cold and wet that this intense heat could only be conjured up from a distant memory and was cherished with the thought “soon…” This is why we garden, to sample the fruits of our labour, and labour we have. A lush veggie patch chocked full of produce doesn’t happen by accident. And doesn’t that vine ripened tomato taste so good because of it.
Having such a plentiful harvest allows you to be generous with your friends and neighbours, although little do they know that what they are so gratefully receiving is being gratefully off loaded. There is only, after all so much tomato sauce, pasta sauce, relish, chutney and even tomato jam that can be made before the larder and freezer is full and the jar supply exhausted.
Opportunities for creativity abound. How many ways to use zucchini is always a challenge in the height of summer. It will quickly fall from the star of the meal to being grated into fine shreds and hidden so zucchini weary diners won’t spot it on their plate. Out of desperation comes chocolate zucchini bread and zucchini chips and other seemingly dubious recipes that can often come as a pleasant surprise.
And then the sweetcorn comes along. A sweet and juicy ray of sunshine, well worth waiting for. Fresh off the plant, it provides a taste sensation that money can’t buy. I become a little furtive with my corn. It is so good I want to save it for later, for gloomy days when just opening the freezer door will release the essence of this wonderful month in the middle of it all.
Aside from the constant need to water and harvest, which is a delight and a pleasure in my new way of thinking, this is also the best time. The garden is as full as it will ever be and the plants are at their peak and have yet to slip into that downward slide of end of season exhaustion. It is a little too hot to plant new things, although with a little care and attention and a bit of strategically placed shade cloth, a few succession plants like lettuce, beetroot and carrots can be slotted in.
Other than tucking in a tendril here and squashing a stink bug there, now is the time to take a stroll through the garden in the cool of the evening and let it just sink in – I created all of this. This wasn’t an instant pop up garden, but a good old slow and steady wins the race. Good things can’t be rushed.