July went by faster than I could have imagined a month could go. The daily rhythm of cooking, cleaning, tidying, setting meals out, and clearing things away (into which I insert my own writing and work for the press) made time run. It was an incredibly warm month. The end of June and most of July were in the 80s and 90s (F), but right at the end of the month it cooled down and we had a bit of rain. It hasn’t been enough, but it’s better than none. We are supplementing with water from the rainwells but are worried that they may run out (the washer, showers, and toilets also run on rainwater). Having the residents here has been the most fulfilling work I have had, besides teaching. I enjoy preparing food for them, making sure they have what they need, and helping make space where they can happily work for long periods. I also appreciate the way their presence forces me to concentrate on my own work in the short intervals I have for it. I have been working on a manuscript for Milkweed and am hoping to finish it by September 1.
The sunflowers have really been successful. We’ve had a ton of stripy ones and dark red/brown ones. This fall we are planning to do a better job saving seeds, including separating them by variety instead of just by species. The front meadow will be converted to a more planned garden, including space for vegetables (and retaining some areas of more wild planting).
Garlic has come out of the ground and is hanging to dry. The heads were fairly small; whether this was because they didn’t get enough water or because the variety was a small-headed one I’m not sure. We will plant about three times as much garlic this fall as I did last fall, though: especially with residents here, we go through about a head every two days.
Cabbages are coming. Savoy cabbage is one of my favorite vegetables, because it is so pretty. We had great luck with our russian red kale last year but this year gray aphids did most of it in. They haven’t touched the cabbages, though (they are now decimating our sweetpea plants).
With the residents we have been eating out of the garden daily for the past week or so. Tomatoes, salad, zucchini (lots: best way yet is shredded, sautéd with onions, and mixed with black beans in enchiladas). Tomatillos are in flower and I really hope we can get a jar or two of salsa verde. I miss tamales and I really miss salsa verde. Our jalapeño plants aren’t doing so well; they need an earlier start and better soil next year.
The tomatoes have enjoyed the dry heat; unfortunately, the rest of the summer is projected to be wetter. Crossing our fingers we don’t get what gardeners here call ‘the plague’—fungal/bacterial sicknesses that wipe out tomato plantings.
Celery, marigolds, celeriac, marigolds. Marigolds everywhere. Whether it’s my superstition or not, they do seem to keep the bugs off the plants.
The whole back garden. Flowers are coming (zinnias, lupines, baby’s breath, delphiniums, canterbury bells, snapdragons). Flowers, books, quilts, books, flowers, tea, books, quilts.