It's the early mornings which bring reality crashing home that summer's days are numbered. I've been having some odd sleep patterns lately which often finds me awake in the early hours and I can vouch that the sun is nowhere to be seen at 5 am these days. In fact the lazy thing is barely up by 7 am, and each day we have about 3 minutes less daylight. That doesn't seem like much but when you add it up, that's 20 minutes less daylight a week and almost an hour and a half in a month!
Growing things sense the disappearing sunlight better than we do. This time of year the plants are scrambling to complete their mission of recreating their genes; from the maple keys that are turning brown and preparing to launch, to the tomatoes churning out fruit like there's no tomorrow because there really isn't, everything is taking it's cue from the waning daylight.
In my gardens some things are still in full swing and some have given up the ghost entirely. The tomatoes had a miserable year- I seeded late, I planted late and at one point the raccoons dumped almost all of the seedlings when they were still in small pots. For the containers on the roof I started them with less soil in the buckets with the idea of adding more as the season progressed so they would have fresh nutrients- that didn't work out as planned so they still have a lot less soil than they should have and it shows. Coupled with the not so hot weather and inconsistent watering and I have a bunch of sickly looking plants with a smattering of late ripening fruit, most with cracks. Also thanks to the raccoon dumping I have quite a few mislabeled and it's kind of a surprise until the fruit actually ripens!
The peppers on the roof didn't fare much better and the raccoons ate most of the jalapenos before I could pick them. The shepherd peppers in the ground are much happier but have a ways to go to ripen.
On the other hand, the beans were fabulous this year. I've been picking steady stream of green, yellow and purple beans for the whole summer and they are still producing. The edemame did well too. Up on the roof, I had a bumper crop of zucchini but not a single patty pan and only one lone butternut squash before the powdery mildew got them all. Thankfully it hasn't hit the cukes and melons because the biggest delight of the summer is these little jewels of canteloup which, fingers crossed, the raccoons haven't discovered yet. I used the metal frame from an old couch as a trellis and I'm hoping it's confusing them.
Like every year I had great plans to extend the harvest and plant some late season crops so back at the beginning of August I planted some turnip, beet and rutabaga seeds- some in the ground and some in the now empty zucchini bin on the roof. I had high hopes and pretty good germination, but for some reason I lost almost all the seedlings and the few remaining are sad and spindly. A week later I seeded some on the roof and they came up and promptly died as well. I think next year I will make sure to start them in seedling trays and transplant when they are a decent size.
I haven't even done much canning yet this year - a few batches of whole fruit earlier this summer and last week Colette and I did our years worth of dill pickles but that's about it! The rows of empty jars stare longingly at me but I refuse to listen right now. While the good weather holds, I'll be following the call of the beach- there's just 3 weeks of summer left and I plan to enjoy every second of it!