In a couple of days, Dennis and I will be on our way to Denver for our daughter’s graduation from her periodontal program. Then Dr. Amy and I will be flying from Denver to London to start our three-week sojourn through the UK and Ireland. For days, I’ve been getting the garden ready to go on auto-pilot again while I’m gone, while Dennis has been working on the drip system. Timers will turn the drip system and sprinklers on and off.
Today I finished up a few last tasks, picking the strawberries, netting the blueberries, peaches, and apricots, transplanting Amy’s cloned tomato cuttings, pulling the last of the spinach and lettuce (except for a seed-producer of each kind), staking some tomatoes and eggplant, and yanking a few weeds. I had things to do in the house, but I couldn’t make myself leave the garden; instead, I wandered around taking bad pictures. All day, I felt as if I were saying goodbye to a beloved friend. And that’s a pretty accurate description of my relationship with my garden.
What makes this leave-taking particularly difficult for me is that the garden is really taking off right now. I have lovely, lovely lettuces—romaine, red romaine, oak leaf, buttercrunch, and black-seeded Simpson—all ready to pick, and some going to seed already. It’ll all be bolted by the time I get home, and normally, I’d pull all but one of each type of lettuce after it blooms, leaving just one to make seeds for next year. (I let my lettuces bolt and bloom to make more blossoms for bees.) I’m relying on my son, Joel, and neighbor, Yolanda, and Dennis when he comes home after helping our son-in-law move house to Reno, to cut the lettuce. I’m hoping it doesn’t all go to waste. It is so good right now. But I won’t be here to pull the lettuce when it bolts, so I know I’ll be coming home to a jungle of spent lettuce in the tomato beds.
My raspberries are just beginning to ripen as the strawberry harvest winds down. I have boysenberries starting to redden also. They’ll be deep purple when they are ripe. I’ve been babying these vines along, rescuing them from invading raspberry canes, and it’s killing me that I won’t be here for the first good harvest of those beautiful berries. I’ll have to depend on Joel and the grandkids to pick the berries that ripen while we’re gone. My granddaughter’s favorite pancake syrup is boysenberry, and I’m planning to make some for her if I get enough berries in the freezer.
All the tomatoes are in the ground now, or in pots, waiting for Amy to take them to her new home when we return in July. Already the Sun Golds are turning orange, and I picked the first ripe one two days ago. They should be putting on lots of fruit while I’m gone. All the tomatoes are caged, but I’ll probably have to do some staking when I get home. They’ll have outgrown their cages in a couple of weeks, most likely. Staking and tieing is a chore I can’t entrust to anyone else, so hopefully, the tomatoes won’t get too big before I get back.
Another chore that needed doing before I left was harvesting the herbs. Most herbs should be cut before they start blooming, and I left the thyme a little late but cut it anyway. I’d rather cut it when the blossoms are fresh than cut it later when the blossoms have gotten crispy. I use a lot of sage, so I cut two big bunches of it. The herbs will dry while I’m gone, and then I’ll put them away in glass half-gallon jars. I’ll use fresh herbs in most of my cooking until winter. From left to right, here are lavender, oregano, sage, lemon balm, hyssop, sage, oregano, and thyme. If I’d had time, I’d have chopped dill and chives and frozen them in water in ice cube trays, but that’s probably not going to happen. Just not enough time.
The beets are thinned, the beans are up sparsely, which means I don’t have to worry about thinning them (the birds did it for me), and the corn my grandson asked for and helped me plant is growing fast. The potatoes have been mulched with compost, although I sure do miss having good straw to cover them with. I hope I don’t come home to a bunch of sun-burned potatoes. I’ve planted all the squash and pumpkins, and put the mini-cantaloupes into their plastic-covered bed which keeps them warm during our cool nights. There’s nothing left to do, really, but go.
This is my last post from home for a while, but I’ll be posting pictures of gardens as I encounter them in Great Britain and Ireland, and for some short travel blog posts, please follow me at www.JeanLFrench.com. I’m looking forward to the trip and to seeing English, Welsh, Scottish, and Irish gardens, even as I lament leaving my own garden to the tender mercies of friends and family.