We can take a deep breath. Garden fork in hand, harvest basket ready
and waiting, food is emerging where once there were weeds. Our myriad of annual beds have been forked,
weeded, seeded, transplanted into, edged, mulched, and watered. As the solstice passes, the urgency of
spring has finally been satiated.
Weeds still abound, mind you
(indeed, nature’s persistent biology is the ultimate job security), but our
focus has shifted. With the final bed
weeded out last week, and the last of our seeds and starts in the ground,
weeding has taken on a new purpose: maintenance.
This is the pulse of the
summer. Weeds continue to grow at an
overwhelming pace, and our rapid work is now directed at staying ahead of these
undesirable invaders in our garden space. To this end we take to the fields each day, our many hands
maintaining our growing number of agricultural beds, patches, and rows so that
our food crops flourish. Each meal is a
testament to the work that dirties our nails and calluses our hands. As garlic scapes, peas, broccoli, herbs,
berries, and a plethora of greens now fill our bowls, the vital nature of our
work is continually demonstrated.
Annual food crops, however,
haven’t garnered our exclusive attention.
The perennials have our interest as well. Flowers and groundcovers abound, as do herbals and medicinals;
these favored species are encouraged to hold the weeds at bay. They don’t maintain themselves, however, and
our efforts must be directed to these understory perennials, as well as the larger
species. Even with weeds encroaching,
fruit and nut trees have begun to form fruit, offering the first glimpse of the
abundance that will be upon us come fall.
Berries are swelling and gaining color – mulberries will likely be the
first for pickin’, with blueberries, gooseberries, raspberries, and currants
close behind. As we watch insects
humming about the valerian, and notice birds evaluating the coloring of
berries, we must work quickly to maintain such valuable rootstock against the
competition of persistent, weedy colonizers.
While perennials require less constant consideration than annuals, they
do require maintenance, especially as younger crops.
So there is no shortage of tasks to rapidly fill our
hours, our days, and our weeks. From
summer solstice to autumn equinox, we bask in the longest, warmest days of the
year. With our hands in the dirt, we
pull weeds…may our food prosper.