Common Ground – July

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“July is payday.”

Bob Thomson in The New Victory Garden

This is the time of year when I’m glad I braved the clouds of blackflies in the spring and managed to get the vegetables planted. I have no regrets about cutting back on what I grow. It’s a relief to let certain things go and focus on a few essentials. These are for me tomatoes, cucumbers, asparagus, potatoes, zucchini, garlic, peppers, and snow peas. I am relieved not to have to worry anymore about watering greens and squash which I grew for many years. We have just had the best kind of rain here in the valley. There was a lot of it and it fell at night.

The tomatoes and cucumbers and zucchini are noticeably bigger ever day with the heat and the rain. Asparagus is done for this season and has grown into what a friend of mine calls summer Christmas trees.

Under the asparagus there is a carpet of two of my favourite flowers: sweet william and foxglove. The flowers growing under the asparagus wasn’t really the plan when I first planted it. But they seeded themselves there and I left them alone. They look good together and they keep the weeds down. I wish I could say that the combination was my idea but it really wasn’t. Sometimes the garden gods create something beautiful when you’re not looking.

Flowers are an important part of my vegetable garden. I let the annual poppies seed where they may along with cottage pinks and lots and lots of Johnny jump ups.

I have no idea what’s going on with those tiresome folks who say they can’t be bothered with flowers. Or they self righteously opine that you can’t eat flowers. My response to that is that creating beauty is never a waste of time.

A potato patch with Shirley poppies and California poppies scattered throughout is a thing of beauty as well as a good source of food.  I remember the first time I saw morning glories mixed in with pole beans I thought I am definitely going to steal that idea. And I did.

One corner of my vegetable garden is given over to several kinds of Asiatic lilies. They came originally from a former neighbour who moved and wanted me to temporarily keep some of her lilies. Now she denies that she ever gave me any lilies and they have been increasing happily for several years. I suppose at some point I will have to find a home for them but for now they make a great show in July.

I like colourful tulips along the sides of a couple of my vegetable beds in the spring. Because they’re in the vegetable garden and not in a flower bed with anything else, I can get away with really outrageous colours. Parrot tulips and the stripey bicolours are great for this. I just ordered some red and white ones to plant this fall.

I also ordered some giant alliums to plant beside the woodshed. These are for some reason always shown in the seed catalogues beside really cute blond children. Some of the giant alliums will supposedly grow to be five feet tall. They should do well in the sandy soil here.

But never mind about fall right now. Let’s all enjoy all those vegetables we laboured to plant in the spring and our too brief northern summer.

By Jill Williams

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