Summer Garden Harvests In An Extreme Year

Potato harvest

Given the extreme drought we’re dealing with here in Sonoma County and the West Coast of the U.S. in general, I’m especially grateful that we still have some sustaining food harvests from the garden this summer.

Growing your own food in a summer dry climate always requires some irrigation. If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve heard me relate that we water our garden with drip irrigation, which delivers the water efficiently. We are being especially careful with every drop and using greywater from the house for orchard trees and landscaping.

To me it’s important to continue the food garden, even in the drought, because growing food uses water wherever it is grown. And, if that food then needs to be transported and packaged to reach the user, that has a greater environmental impact than growing it at home. Climate change is fueling the very weather extremes we are dealing with and growing your own, when that is feasible, can help reduce our carbon footprint.

Nonetheless, in an extreme drought, priorities are called for. The high-water-use plants like blueberries and raspberries are not getting as much as they would like and thus are merely surviving rather than thriving. We lost some shrubs in the hedgerows, even though they were drought-tolerant plants. And one of the huge old willow trees, growing in what is normally a bog area, dropped a massive branch, barely missing our cherished mulberry tree. Whew!

But the veggies are being sustained and they, in turn, are sustaining us.

Summer vegetable garden harvest during drought year
Most days there is something to harvest from the garden for a meal. A few tomatoes, beans, parsley, and maybe a pepper or two from the greenhouse. Zucchini are usually abundant at this time of the summer. French speakers: you call them courgettes, right? I love that word. Kale and chard are grown year-round and lettuce from spring through fall. We’ve got nectarines for the first time ever, and I love the new winter squash/pumpkin Red Kuri.

Keeping the basil harvested frequently enough to forestall bolting always keeps us on our toes. Making pesto is a favorite use. (Or just sticking your nose down amongst the growing basil leaves for an uplifting aromatic boost).

Basil and parsely with tomato plant
Basil and parsley inter-planted with a tomato.

As I’ve been joking to friends: the photos of the garden I’m posting may be green, but beyond the frame, it is brown and very dry. πŸ˜‰

Potato harvest
I love the purple potatoes… so pretty.

We harvested the potatoes from the grow bags–something we were testing out. I was hoping for a larger haul, but such is life. A rodent chewed through the bottom of one bag and appears to have enjoyed some potato dinners itself. Maybe we’ll be luckier with those still in the ground and in the nursery pots.

Mega zucchini
You could use some of these zucchini for weight-lifting exercise!

Squash Olympians–you’ve got ’em too, right? I’m talking about those hiding zucchini racing for the world record. πŸ™‚

Each spring, after the last frost date, we plant two green-variety zucchini and one yellow, and then repeat mid-summer. That keeps us in as much zucchini as we can use for green soup and ratatouille–our main zucchini dishes. There are usually extras to share with neighbors.

Jungle Vibe--the neglected greenhouse
The neglected greenhouse. It’s OK to tease me about this. πŸ™‚ The angled bamboo pole is holding a vent open so Gulf Fritillary butterflies can get in and out.

Since being on crutches the last two months severely limited my ability to get to the garden, I hadn’t visited the greenhouse in awhile. A much-needed cortisone shot has helped me hobble about better and today I stopped by for a visit. Upon opening the door, a jungle vibe jumped out and startled me. After recovering from the shock, I managed to hack my way in and attempt a tidy. There were a few red peppers and tomatoes to harvest (and a couple of Gulf Fritillary butterflies orbiting around one another in an intimate flight dance). Sadly, the okra are not doing very well. They probably don’t like sharing their containers with the geraniums (which I planted in spring to cheer myself up). Live and learn. The fo-ti has found its way into the greenhouse and continues its attempt to invade everything within reach.

To invoke the water element, I’m going to end with a koi pond photo from last year. Please wish us some rain in the coming months! Hope all of you are well!

Koi pond with water lillies and fountain--protected from predators by pond netting.
The koi pond. It was formerly an old cistern that was on the property when we bought it. The netting is to protect the fish from just about everything else. We periodically pond-vac the bottom to remove sludge, and use that as fertilizer on fruit trees.

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5 thoughts on “Summer Garden Harvests In An Extreme Year

  1. I am so sorry your that you are still poorly and it makes your vegetable crop even more impressive. Your previous hard work on irrigation has paid off. I am learning the hard way that you cannot relie on the “usual” weather for the garden now. Courgettes are indeed what you call Zucchinis in France and also the U.K. too although Zucchini is understood in the U.K. – probably thanks to all the Italian restaurants. Your greenhouse looks very tempting to sit in! Amelia

  2. Here in rural NE Kansas, persons are warned to lock their automobiles in our little town, otherwise you will find zucchini added to its contents. πŸ™‚

  3. I love your photo of the purple potatoes! What variety are they and are they tasty?
    So far this year, the mice have kept away from my potatoes, but they feasted on the sweetcorn instead!

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