A little rain at last! It's been very dry for four weeks, with only
sprinkles of precipitation here and there. Our gardens, nevertheless, are
producing bounteously, thanks to plentiful organic matter in the soil and
mulches, both of which retain moisture in the ground. We don't water or
irrigate at the farm, except for fresh transplants and young onions.
We've got a wonderful crop of strawberries this year! The dryness has been
great for them. We should be picking lucious berries for the next two or
three weeks and be able to make strawberry jam this year! And, there's
still plenty of rhubarb for a strawberry/rhubarb pie.
The asparagus is just about finished; we'll let the rest of the spears grow
up to the tall feathery tops which make next year's crop possible.
Perennials such as rhubarb and asparagus thrive because their roots go deep
and are well-established. Perennials make growing food easier.
It's been a great spring for lettuce, too - despite the drought. Hardly
any slugs! We've got close to a dozen varieties at the Old Solar Farm and
at our school gardens in Bridgeport and Hamden. Spinach, arugula,
radishes, over-wintered kale and lettuces in the Hamden garden have
provided salads for many of the Foster School's students and staff for well
over a month now. And, more big, beautiful red and green lettuces await
cutting for end-of-the-year picnics. The Foster School garden does get
watered because that's an enjoyable recreational activity for the teenagers
on very hot days. Oh so sweet Sugar Snap peas and strawberries are the big
hits there, providing healthy treats at the end of the school year for the
We've been picking fragrant and beautiful bouquets since April, with a
changing mix of locally-blooming flowers. They look good together in the
gardens and in the vases. Many flowers have opened a week or two earlier
this year, perhaps in response to the heat and lack of rain. Peonies,
lupines, and irises are mostly gone by. Asiatic lilies are opening
spectacularly. Cosmos, zinnias and daylilies will bloom soon.
Four weeks without rain has almost halted our transplanting activities.
Because it is easier to keep plants watered in containers near the house,
than when they're spread throughout the fields, many of our tomatoes and
peppers are not yet set out. Hopefully there'll be enough new moisture to
plant today and this weekend.
The early potatoes are flowering, which means we can start eating new
potatoes soon. Soil hilled up around the plants and a deep mulch not only
conserve moisture and control weeds, but also encourage tuber growth. In
addition to the standard variety, Red Norland, we planted Red Gold and
Tobique for these early potatoes. We're looking forward to trying them
We'll eat these delicious new potatoes with the Sugar Snap peas which are
just filling out. Like snow peas, Sugar Snaps have edible pods. However,
as the pods get more plump, they get sweeter and sweeter till they're
We should have broccoli in two weeks. Ours went in a little late this
The sweet potatoes aren't in the ground yet. This year I planted the
pathetic little slips from the feed store and a mail order supplier into
pots where I can help them develop an extensive root system before they're
set out in the garden. The soil will be warmer by then, too.
We're breaking the flower scapes off the garlic plants to encourage larger
bulbs. In less than a month, we'll be pulling them out of the ground.
Good pollination on the blackcap raspberries, red raspberries, wineberries,
blueberries and blackberries promise to keep us picking and eating fruit
for most of the summer.
Monday is the solstice- the beginning of summer. There's still plenty of
time to grow food and flowers. Broccoli, cabbages, beans, lettuces, kales,
beets, carrots and much more can be planted now for fall harvest. With
good care, tomato and pepper plants set out soon will produce a fine crop
before the first frost.
Good gardening and happy solstice to you.
This is Bill Duesing, Living on the Earth
(C)1999, Bill Duesing, Solar Farm Education, Box 135, Stevenson, CT 06491
Bill and Suzanne Duesing operate the Old Solar Farm (raising NOFA/CT
certified organic vegetables) and Solar Farm Education (working on urban
agriculture projects in southern Connecticut and producing "Living on the
Earth" radio programs). Their collection of essays Living on the Earth:
Eclectic Essays for a Sustainable and Joyful Future is available from Bill
Duesing, Box 135, Stevenson, CT 06491 for $14 postpaid. These essays first
appeared on WSHU, public radio from Fairfield, CT. New essays are posted
weekly at http://www.wshu.org/duesing and those since November 1995 are
To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with the command
"unsubscribe sanet-mg". If you receive the digest format, use the command
To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command
All messages to sanet-mg are archived at: