summer is well upon us here in georgia. the temperatures have already been
called “unseasonably”warm by the tv weathermen. it is already up into the 90’s,
much more like our mid-july dog days….
although the nights are still pleasantly cool,
the fresh morning flowers are limp in the afternoon sun, despite all my
watering. like the summer squash plants in the garden, their leaves remain
withered until sunset, but refresh themselves each new day. i know it is just
self protection, but the pots around the kitchen steps lose their bright beauty
in the mid-afternoon, sun or shade. all my careful color harmonies fade away
as temperatures rise.
this is the only time of year that i wonder why i live in the south. my gardening
experience in ohio was useless here in the powerful heat of summertime. it took
a few years, and some kindly old neighbors to point out the folly of a july garden.
down here we have three growing seasons. for the best flowers and lovely shrubs,
it’s usually before the middle of june. the vegetable garden must wait awhile….
most old-timers aren’t masochistic enough to try and work a summer garden.
the really productive vegetable gardens are begun in the last weeks of august,
with plenty of mulch and watering. the almanac says we have until mid-october,
the potential date of the “first frost”, although it is more often in november that
the tender tomatoes suffer.
after the first brief cold snap, the warm days and cool nights of ” indian summer”
( anyone know why it’s called that?) can continue well into
the midwest’s winter season.
and then there are these mild winters, when the cole crops flourish, and the tender
salad greens live happily under their floating row covers. the catalog claims that they
protect down to 28 degrees, but i have eaten january salad from undercover during
our ice storms and occasional snows, with temps in low twenties. in the earliest
warmth of a spring breeze in march, we begin all over again.
this reversal of growing seasons was strange at first, but in the blazing heat of the
high barometric pressure( our “Bermuda High”) and the ever-unrelenting drought
– global warming?- and all the sticky days of still humid air, without a breeze in sight.
i quickly got a good education in southern gardening. now i spend summers like most
of my neighbors, sitting on the porch, under a ceiling fan, drinking copious amounts
of ice tea, and complaining about the heat. while northern gardeners toil away, i am
gladly waiting for fall to begin my “dirty” work….