Greenpoint: Take time to savor summer in all its glory

PHOTOGRAPHER:

I had to start going back to the office last week, after working from home for almost 16 months, and it kind of made me feel like summer was over and the big yellow school bus was waiting to take me back to autumn.

It’s not true, of course. Summer is in its glory right now, with long hot days, lightning bugs and lightning storms, and city friends showing up for visits.

It’s fruit season — a gift of cherries from a friend’s tree, peaches from a more southern orchard on a visit to see family, rambles through the woods to hunt for berries. I’ve made some jam, and chopped and packaged fruit for the freezer to use when summer really is over.

The vegetable gardens had a slow start this year. We planted in stages — the little kitchen garden early, the big garden right on time and the side garden later. I think the dry weather in May slowed things down. Our early planted peas came in very late and our summer squashes are only just starting. The first cucumbers will probably be ready this week, and beans the next.

I always push to start the garden as early as possible, and my husband always says it doesn’t matter. Everything comes in when it’s ready — and generally all at the same time.

He’s right. The first beans likely will come in just two weeks before the late beans, despite being planted a full month earlier. The late corn caught up to the early corn. Three different rows of carrots are about the same size right now, despite being planted in proper succession. That’s OK. You can’t have too many fresh carrots.

And succession planting continues. We pulled the last of the pea plants from the kitchen garden, and will fill the rows with beets and turnips. The garlic will come out in the next week or two and we can start our fall broccoli there. When the first beans are done we can put in late spinach and some other fast-growing, cool-weather green. Bok choi? Broccoli rabe? I’ll have to check the seed stash. By then the tomatoes and tomatillos should be ripe, and the winter squashes will be fruiting.

It’s good eating this time of year.

We can live on fresh vegetables, cheese from the goats and eggs from the chickens.

Sure, we buy food, but it doesn’t taste as good as what we grow right here. And we’re always wondering what more we can produce here at home, and buy less of. Food, firewood, clothing.

There are hard cheeses ripening in the little wine fridge that serves as our cheese cave. The cheddar will be ready at Christmas, the gouda and tomme a few months earlier.

By then we’ll be pulling our garden bounty from the freezer, or eating winter squash, potatoes and onions from storage baskets, and tomatoes and tomatillos from canning jars.

And by then the school bus will be passing every morning and afternoon. The kids are long gone, but the bus driver still beeps and waves as he passes.

Greenpoint appears every other Sunday. Look for it next on Aug. 1. Reach Margaret Hartley at [email protected] or @Hartley_Maggie on Twitter. Opinions expressed in Greenpoint are hers and not necessarily the newspaper’s.

Categories: Life and Arts

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