Colours change to red and orange
Colours change to red and orange
To me the plant that best encapsulates summer is one I recently had to say goodbye to - tomatoes. Each year I am getting better at growing them, but I seem to make some pretty big mistakes every time I try to grow them. This year I started my seeds about a month later than I should have, and it really showed in the final product.
These four tiny yellow tomatoes were some of the five that actually ripened on the vine. (If you look closely you can see the tiny bite mark from where Little Forager taste tested one.) The rest I picked early since every night threatens to frost and I don't have enough blankets or sheets to cover the tender summer vines.
I was pretty sad while I pulled up the plants since they were looking like some of the best I had ever grown. If I had started them on time I would have had so much fruit! Next year I am determined that I will get a better start on my tomato plants. This year as it is I managed to get just over 3 kilograms of unripe fruit that thankfully I had an interesting pie recipe to try them in. I love everything about growing tomatoes. Their flowers are adorable, and their fruit is delicious. One of my favourite things to do in the garden is to brush the foliage and enjoy the entrancing smell wafting through the summer air.
I was surprised to find this tiny volunteer tomato (pictured below) that came up from my compost pile and actually started to form some tomatoes! None of them ripened in time, but I was still surprised to see them. This area is so perfect for growing tomatoes that you don't even have to actually plant them yourself for them to grow. My friend even had one volunteer in a crack in her driveway!
Right now it feels like my garden has turned a corner. Spring is officially over and all my plants associated with that time have spent their blossoms, set fruit, and either been harvested or have been allowed to go to seed. Currently all that is blooming in my garden is some accidental buckwheat, some nasturtiums, and some wildflower seeds that I received in a few mixes from West Coast Seeds. Some were throw-ins with my order - blends to encourage beneficial insects and pollinators. Some were in a mix designed to discourage deer from coming around. I haven't been able to put it to the test yet, but currently I am hoping the plants in this blend will co-exist with my three sisters garden. So far there have been a few deer coming around. We haven't seen our friend "Tom Unibrow" yet, but I'm sure he will return. Usually the deer get really close to our place in August, but there was a new house build next door in what used to be an empty lot they used to like to wander through. Now with that and a new retaining wall separating their usual trail from my garden I am curious if that will give me some more protection or not.
In this mix are some of the tiniest poppies I have ever seen. I am not sure if they are supposed to be that small, or if they were stunted from being crowded in with the buckwheat and the peas, but they are super cute like that! For reference they are about the size of a Canadian two dollar coin.
The buckwheat is blooming somewhat by accident. I had planted it as a cover crop before I put the peas in, but it never came up before it was time for the peas to be planted, so I figured the seed was no longer viable as it had been several weeks. I threw in the peas, and a little while later all the buckwheat started popping up! I tried initially to pull it out (tedious), but eventually gave up and allowed it to grow together with the peas. I was worried it would shade them out, but the peas came up faster and the opposite almost happened. Buckwheat is tenacious, and didn't allow that to stop it from blooming. Right now it is going to seed and I am hand harvesting it (also tedious) to get the largest yield possible from my small accidental crop. The amount I have growing makes this feasible, but I would not recommend it if you were growing any more than me! Normally you should wait until somewhere between 75-90% of the seed is ready on the plant and harvest then. The seeds mature at all different times, so you don't want to wait too long or the seeds will drop and you will have more buckwheat growing. Did I mention it was tenacious?
Most people let buckwheat grow and then till it under for green manure, but there is a benefit to allowing it to flower since bees absolutely love it! I am trying to incorporate more flowers in my garden (bonus points if they are also edible like the nasturtiums!) to encourage more pollinators and beneficial insects to visit.
I have traveled a fair amount for someone my age, and have fallen in love with many different landscapes. The craggy mountain terrain of Scotland stirred my heart. Mt. Fuji was enthralling. I have fond memories of long road trips through the United States and Canada and each new scene was exciting. I love my new semi-arid desert landscape here in Kamloops, but there is something about the West Coast that I don't seem to be able to get past.
It doesn't seem to matter whether it is in Canada or in the USA. North or south makes no difference. The west coast of North America is just so special. Whenever I get a chance to go back - even if it isn't to a shore where I actually lived - it feels like coming home.
The cities and places I love to visit are diverse, but there seems to be a certain west coast attitude that makes them all feel familiar and comfortable be it Vancouver, Seattle, or Portland. I have to say I have not been more south than Portland for a very long time, so my memories of those areas are rather dim, but very fond.
Most recently a coastal place I have fallen in love with is a little place called Long Beach in Washington state. It is just north of the more well known Astoria, Oregon. The contrast between the quaint town and the vast expansive landscape makes an interesting juxtaposition. The sandy windswept beaches are perfect for kite flying, horseback riding, and roasting marshmallows over a fire. Since it is part of the highway system, you can actually take your car out on the beach which is a really interesting experience for someone more used to the rocky coastal areas near Vancouver. Running parallel to the beach is the 'Discovery Trail' forged by Lewis and Clark on their quest to find the pacific opening of the Columbia river. Walking or riding a bike along it is a great way to spend an afternoon. If you look closely you can find beach peas, and wild strawberries all along the trail! I have never been there when they are in season, sadly, but they are so plentiful.
Just a little further along the trail (or you can use the highway) there are unique places like 'Waikiki Beach' - a small cove only similar to Honolulu in that there are surfable waves - and Cape Disappointment where there are many hiking trails and the Lewis and Clarke Discovery Center. In the area there are something like 2000 shipwrecks, and some of these are actually visible from the beach. At the right time of year you can see whales migrating past the cape.
I actually like visiting here in the winter or very early spring because the misty rain, wind, and fog seem really appropriate as the waves incessantly crash against the sand. Apparently the waves bring sand along with them which keeps making the Long Beach peninsula longer.
I hope to go back one day soon and enjoy my favourite landscape with a cup of warm, freshly roasted coffee from the local Long Beach Coffee Roasters.
I had to do this prompt at night. My days are filled with a glorious clamour; the baby shrieking - usually an outpouring of joy, occasionally an expression of grief or want. There are things to do - endless dishes and laundry. Bandit the Ancient always has a tale of woe to tell of some perceived injustice (usually food related).
At night the day to day bustle comes to rest and - if I choose to - so can I. So often I use that time to catch up on the ever growing list of personal projects I hope to someday come to the end of, but tonight I am grateful for the prompt to sit.
To be still and listen.
The crickets are the predominant thing. A backdrop in the blackness - well, blueness. We are in the height of summer, only one day past Solstice so the sun has just barely 'gone down in the west behind the hills into shadow'.
But this is meant to be about sounds.
The train rumbles. I am almost surprised I notice it. It seems nearly every place I have lived in has been near a train. Cars drive by on the streets and highways below. In this valley even slight murmurs are amplified. I can hear dogs barking that are likely miles away.
The train is fading further away, but the low whine and steady rhythm are still rumbling.
In this intersection of the urban and rural it is quiet, but there are still electronic and mechanical hums from lights, generators, and laundry machines in people's homes. An unidentifiable low whine is coming from the neighbours' place still under construction.
The sounds of the day have faded. The many chattering songbirds, quorking ravens, screeching hawks, rasping magpies, and screaming eagles must be sleeping. Once in a while there is a small squeak of a vole or mouse, or a rustle from some invisible night creature. Something mechanical switches off at the neighbours house, but I can still hear the hum of the dishwasher escaping from my own windows. A lone barking dog isn't planning on sleeping yet. My cat pads almost silently through the long grass. Moths flutter a dull thud as they bump into the overhead lights.
Even at night the world is living and active.