First a spring heat wave forced blossoms early then there was a killer frost. The fruit and decorative trees took most of the damage, but it was a rocky start for most gardeners. Next came months of heat, little rain and less reprieve. Throughout the months of May, June and July I hauled water to wilting plants, but it was never enough. Thus my gratitude to see anything at all, blessed be the tomatoes!
Parched soil cracked, dormant grass became power under foot, as water levels fell, usage restrictions came into place and nature’s creatures began looking for anything green, quickly finding my garden. The rabbits took the last of the lettuce, the squirrels mowed down all but one of the sunflowers, the marmots fed on tarragon and nasturtiums, herbs dried where they were planted, a mole consumed everything below ground, and the deer snapped off every vine, leaf, flower and gourd from the pumpkins and zucchini.
Thankfully, since then we’ve seen some rain. The month of August has been cooler, the lawn is a pale shade of green again, and what little that is left in my garden is bursting with life. Every evening I compete with local squirrels and chipmunks for the tomatoes, now hanging heavy on the branch. Sweet and juicy, Solanum lycopersicum is a plant that thrives in hot and humid weather and makes excellent use of it’s resources in times of drought; it stops growing foliage and shifts it’s energy to flower and seed.
We could all learn something about life in times of stress from the tomato.
As I write, a summer squall moves through and swollen raindrops fall, washing away a weekend’s worth of dust. From the west facing window where my little comer of an office resides, I watch the water bounce off the sidewalks and pathways, running off the eave-less roof in a torrent. Out from his hiding spot comes my garden toad, fattened after a summer of feasting on crickets and Japanese beetles. He cools himself in the quickly formed puddles and walks awkwardly his favorite hunting spot under the daylilies around the barbecue. His has been a plentiful summer as pests move in to consume pants under duress, nightly we hear him hum and croak against the background of frogs and crickets.
Like all things in nature, dough is cyclical. The harm done can take some time to repair, but that is what nature does best; restore balance to allow for greater growth. As fall approaches, I am the grateful recipient of as many tomatoes as I can harvest, as many afternoon showers as the heavens allow, and as much as the Gypsy Garden will bare.
Live. Love. Eat WELL!