Happy Summer Solstice! The height of the season, the longest day of the year. So far, we may have a lot of rain, but a spectacular season with April Showers bringing May flowers and beautiful eighty degree days to linger in the garden.
My New Year begins with Winter Solstice on or around December 21, the longest night (about sixteen hours) of the year and believe it or not the days proceed to get longer. One can't really tell until February, but take heart, in the dead of Winter is the Return of the Sun.
Earth revolves on an axis and as it spins it's axis tilts North and South. Here at the Summer Solstice, the axis begins to tilt away from us (South) and at the Winter Solstice, the axis starts to tilt back. In between we have the Spring/Autumn Equinox followed by the deep dark down to Winter Solstice. Spring Equinox is the bright light that drives us to the height of Summer Solstice.
Imagine a world where time was not kept for us. Where we could only look up and follow Moon and Sun. How long would it take us to figure out the rhythm of the seasons? When we were in the Paradise of the Caribbean and Africa, the Southern Hemisphere, when a harsh Winter could not kill us? Spending lazy days fishing and growing food. Fail to plan here in the Northeast and one could lose their life.
With the New Year at Winter Solstice, the excitement for the season begins. At Summer Solstice we assess the gains and losses of the season so far. I did not get Lavender, Wormwood or Marigold in Spring. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, Labiatae, Shrub, Perennial, Mediterranean), Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium, Asteraceae, Perennial, North Africa, Eurasia), Marigold (Tagetes minuta, T. patula, Asteraceae, Annual, Guatemala, Mexico). I can try again with Lavender and Wormwood on my deck for an Autumn planting, but it's too late for Marigold. I got Marigold from seed, but they rot when I transplanted them. I grow them in my living room so they don't get leggy, but when I transplanted them, I should have put them outside on the deck to dry out and take. There just was not enough sun in the living room. I also didn't get Sunroot pickled (Helianthus tuberosus, Asteraceae, Perennial, Turtle Island). I read that native Americans use them like Radish and I love to pickle Radish, so I make a couple of pints of pickled Sunroot. By the time I got to them, they were three feet tall and the tuber had no innards left. It was three weeks after the Spring Equinox. Visons of what to improve upon begin here, and what if anything new I want to grow. I've been considering perennial food crops for the last few years at Sargent-Downing. We may never use the Spiral for vegetables. Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis, Asparagaceae, Perennial, Africa) has been there since I've been there so it would be nice to extend the section. Berries in beds West of the Spiral would also be nice. That's as far as I've gotten thinking about it. Peppers are only half a bed I realize this season so considering some thing for the other half would be good. Possibly Fennel. I love Fennel, but Marc does not so I don't need much, maybe a quarter of the bed, maybe Ground Cherry in the fourth quarter.
Autumn Equinox is that final push to the end of the season. Processing the harvest will have begun in August. Roots and seeds can be harvested in Autumn. Visons of next season begin for me here. All my crops are planted, time to harvest and process.
For me, coupled with Moon, I find an ebb and flow of sowing and reaping. I pray at the New Moon. Winter Solstice like New Moon has all the promise of what I can conjure in my imagination. I can send my vision out into the universe knowing the energy of creation works for me. I buy seed to manifest my vision. Spring Equinox is that first quarter Moon where I put my vision into action starting seed April 1. Summer Solstice has the energy of fruition like the Full Moon as my dreams manifest and I start to give thanks for my first harvest. I am grateful at the Summer Solstice for the weather Mother Earth has given me. Autumn Equinox is that ebb in the season like the waning Moom drifting to darkness, where I've done my very best and give thanks for the gift of a bountiful season. It has brought peace to my life to follow the rhythm of the seasons with Solstice/Equinox and Moon to guide me.
I got Tomato (Solanum lycopersicon, Solanaceae, Annual, Mexico) in just before the Equinox. I fell a week behind during propagation and the clouds lingered so long Tomato is pretty small, taking them directly out of the seeding trays instead of having transplanted them into pots like I usually do. Cabbage has come directly out of trays for the second season now. I'll have all my crops this season. Mustard Mix, Peppers and Parsley left to go.
Happy Summer Solstice! It's time to celebrate. Festival season has begun here in Beacon and I have that first opportunity to pause, breath and give thanks for Earth's bounty. The feverish drive from Spring falls away and I start to linger in the garden. Here's wishing you have brilliance in your garden. That you have dreamed big and manifested your vision. I am in the gardens which is all I ever want. I am spending my life outside. Twenty years here through Botanical Gardens, the Parks Department and now my gardens. I dreamed of being outside, so I am and it is good. A good life.