As the snows finally subside for the season and the chances of evening frost have finally passed, it is easy to get lulled into a sense of complacency when it comes to gardening. All that snow has melted deep into the ground and there is no need to worry about watering. Each day of spring presents a brand-new miracle to behold as the earth comes alive. Nature’s magic is in full swing.
As spring matures into summer, the plight of the gardener becomes apparent. Clouds are rolling in. Will it hail? Or, as it was this year, there were no clouds, only baking hot sun. Then the question becomes will it rain? Our rains came late this year but I will talk more on that later. As the garden transcends spring, the true tribulations of the gardener begin.
Quite simply and even more apparent, the typical garden will not survive without supplemental irrigation if you live in an arid climate – as we do in most of Colorado. I personally feel it is irresponsible to create a landscape that requires constant watering. Water is by far the most precious resource and conservation is of paramount importance. With this in mind, my garden primarily consists of plants native to this area or plants that are easily adaptable to our climate and (at times) extreme weather conditions.
Adaptability was certainly put to the test early this season. All around me plants were wilting, the earth was drying and cracking and I was losing plants. I started the habit — which continues to this day — of bringing a five-gallon Home Depot bucket with me into the shower. I position it in a way that manages to catch a lot of the water that would normally flow down the drain. Despite only turning on the water to get wet so I can lather and then again to rinse off, the bucket ends up nearly full. That is five gallons of water every day. I pour this water out on all the beds and if I am feeling generous, the grass. I gravely dislike grass. Beyond the recycled water, I will sometimes get the hose out in the mornings but I am very careful with the amount of water I apply and where.
With so many things that can go wrong in a garden (weather conditions are just the tip of the iceberg), it is a wonder anyone gardens at all. I know I have personally sunk deep into my outdoor chair many times in exasperation. It is arduous work but you know something? Just as Tom Hanks said in ‘A League of Their Own’, “It is the hard that makes it great.” If it was easy and required no effort, there would possibly be gardens everywhere just like the old times — when folks didn’t mind a bit of hard, soul-enhancing, satisfying work.
Oh! The old times! There once was a time when most everyone HAD to garden. That’s right. There wasn’t always a fancy, lit up, refrigerated aisle full of ‘fresh’ produce. If you wanted vegetables – and of course you did as they are paramount to proper nutrition – you had to grow them. You had to not only grow them but harvest them and then prepare them for storage through the winter. Oh, the humanity! I speak facetiously of course but this is an honest reaction in an age when very few bother to make something out of a bit of earth.
By the grace of God, the heat of June and early July dispersed and for the last several weeks we have been blessed with afternoon thunder showers. This coincides with our monsoon season but the cooler days and the plentiful moisture is so very welcome. The garden is responding in kind. The wilted plants have given way to robust, green stems and the struggling vegetables are flowering and will soon bear fruit. In some cases, they already have. For example, I have already harvested enough pickling cucumbers to create several jars of delicious pickles.
Oh, to garden! Just when you are about to throw your hands in the air and wash your hands of the whole affair, it rewards you with bountiful blessings.
The tomatoes are ripening, a small petunia formed from a seed of plantings past is flowering, ears of corn are forming on their stalks, perennial 4 o’clocks are blooming for the first time ever, ancho peppers are forming (those that were planted from seed), sunflowers are blooming everywhere, hummingbirds are flitting about the impatiens and penstemons, birds are darting from feeder to feeder and worms appear in every shovel of earth disrupted. Yes, gardening is hard work but it can be ever so rewarding!
As always, thank you very kindly for reading. I pray your day has been blessed.
And now, some photos from the garden. Enjoy!