The Summer is moving along quickly. There are just six weeks until Autumn so time is getting short. Many vegetables are ready to harvest. I’ve dug some potato varieties, but others can stand to grow some more. The first broccoli can be cut tomorrow for fresh eating while the rest will need more time to grow. They won’t be ready until September. There is a massive amount of kale to harvest, clean, cook, and freeze for winter and harvesting of this will go on for weeks. Fresh kale will be on the menu every day now. Summer squash are producing about five pounds a day, more than I can eat so much of that is also going into the freezer. A new variety I’m growing this year is called “zuchetta rugosa friulana” and is extremely flavorful with a dense texture.
The tomatoes are still green but will ripen nearly all at once if the warm weather goes on for another week. My beets are growing again, too, after sitting still for most of July. Today, when walking through the patch, I saw beets pushing up out of the ground. The first thinning should yield a few pounds. I will need to go check the other beet patch and the rutabagas, too.
Apples are ripening but not all at once. Some apple varieties are early, some late which makes processing them into sauce and dried slices less of a chore. There should be a good crop of wild plums but not as great as last year. Cool spring weather during flowering reduced pollination.
Wild berries are ripening. There are raspberries, rowan, viburnums, dewberries, bunch-berries, black elderberries, and red, gray, and pagoda dogwoods loaded with fruit. I have planted many of these in hedgerows between gardens and along fences for the birds to eat. Right now catbirds are making the most of the fruit but as more fruit ripens vireos, robins, and waxwings will come and eat. The waxwings are especially fond of the rowan berries. Tiny fruited ornamental crab-apples are loaded this year. Robins and ruffed grouse feed on these in the late fall. There are also many wild tall sunflowers and cut-leaf coneflowers planted along fences and wherever there is some open space. The seeds are favorites of goldfinches. Patches of goldenrod and aster provide late season nectar for bees into September and seeds for birds in late winter.
Everywhere in the fields and hedgerows the sounds of crickets, cicadas, and katydids can be heard. Bees work feverishly at flowers collecting pollen and nectar to feed young that will continue the species into another year. Concealed in the wildflowers are crab spiders, some disguised in white, others in yellow waiting for some hapless bee or syrphid fly. The spiders are not without their own dangers. Searching for them are mason wasps who paralyze spiders with a sting and take them back to dried mud nests where tiny wasp larvae will feed on the numbed carcasses.
Our summers are short in northern Minnesota yet each year there is what seems to be an explosive abundance of life, whether in the garden or in the woods and meadows, in our few months of warmth and long days.