Around the Garden
Meandering Through the Weeds
By Chris Cohan
A life without love is like a year without summer. ~Swedish proverb
The sweet smell of freshly cut grass, the taste of vine-ripened tomatoes, crickets click in the night, lightning bugs blink across the garden lawns, daylilies burst forth and fade, followed by pink cone flowers, blue hydrangeas, and white daisies. All make summer lovely.
It’s August. The humidity has sapped your motivation. The hazy days leave you viewing and pondering more than pruning and weeding. Time to let your mind wander and reflect. Time to appreciate the flowers and vegetables you nurtured and enjoy your gardens. You did it!
The mornings are cool. Well, they are less hot. You start by pulling a few weeds, eat a tomato, grab a handful of bush beans and some greens. You gaze around at what should be done. The sky is cloudless, the sun is higher and hot. You have nowhere to hide. The humidity takes its toll on your motivation, again. Quickly, you mumble to yourself, “That’s a good start, I’ll return later.”
Ah, when is later? A metaphysical quandary or a self-impressing polysyllabic delay tactic? Hmm, that question could keep one busy avoiding the garden. This non-gardening gardening tactic works regardless of the answer.
You may avoid the gardens for a while, but most gardeners will be itching to do something. So, wage war on weeds. A garden task best accomplished in the cool of morning. August is the time to get busy because both annual and perennial weeds are starting to produce thousands of seeds that will germinate in your garden next spring. If left unchecked, these pesky invaders become extremely difficult to eliminate.
The best time to weed is right after a rain when the soil is still moist. If rainfall is scarce, irrigate your garden thoroughly the night before you start your attack. You can pull weeds by hand or use a hoe. Just be sure to remove the roots. Crabgrass or purslane quickly regenerate from any root left in the soil. As soon as you have the weeds removed, cover the area with a thick mulch of compost, straw, leaves, or shredded bark. I’m an on-my-knees hand-pulling weeder. If you use tools, always maintain a sharp edge. The sharper the blade the faster you’ll get the job done and the easier it will be.
August is the month to harvest herbs as the oils responsible for the most intense flavor and aroma are at their peak in late summer, just before the plants flower. Clip foliage in the early morning after the dew dries, but before the day heats up. One of the easiest ways to store herbs is to rinse them under cold water, chop them coarsely, and place them in water-filled ice cube trays. Then, place the trays in freezer. Pop out frozen herbs as you need them.
Okay, there you go with two important tasks that can be accomplished in the cool of the day. Before you know it, September will be here and the air brisk. Your inspiration will return. Then it will be time to saddle up and ride back into the garden. For now, think like a Swede and <karlik sommar> — love summer.