Or is it? Depending on how you look at it today is the last day of summer, or it isn’t. Going by the meteorological system that divides the seasons by the calendar says today – the last day in February is the last day of summer. However, the astronomical system that divides the seasons based on the location of the earth in relation to the sun, means there are another three weeks to go. Ordinarily I like to be a bit free and easy and go with a meteorological start and an astronomical finish to maximise the season.
This year I’m over it so I will happily concede the season to autumn at the end of the day. The mornings are comfortably cooler and there is a heavy dew on the grass which is doing a great job of restoring the verdant green to my once brown lawn. I find myself paying closer attention to the minimum temperature on the thermometer as well as the maximum one. And while I doubt, we will see the record high of 38.5 again any time soon, the afternoons are still trying their best to rise from the below 10 degrees morning starts and are still quite troublesome at 31.5°C. I imagine, once autumn is in full control again, I will need to start the day with warm socks and a fluffy jumper and I’m ok with that.
So as the seasons pass over to a new page, it is a good opportunity to do a bit of a reset. Have a fresh mindset to take into the future. It is funny the way a moment like this is a great way to punctuate time to allow for a new shot at change. Why it doesn’t sit logically on a Tuesday at 2:15 in the afternoon in the middle of the month is beyond me. Or maybe it is just me and I need to have a good excuse to reframe things, in the same way 10:30 on a Thursday morning is a great time to write off a bad week hoping for a better start on Monday.
So, shaking off a horrible summer – thanks to the unbearable heat, I will take stock and go back through the season and count my blessings, look for opportunities to improve, then write them down and put them somewhere I will find at the beginning of the new growing season, so I don’t forget and make the same mistakes again. I will begin to remove the lingering traces of summer – the plants that are no longer required and to be fair to them, they are just exerting more energy than they have left to give me one more cucumber.
With the removal of the summer crops will come the starting of the new season cool crops. I could have technically started them earlier, but I have figured my garden runs about 4 – 5 degrees hotter than the weather forecast says it is, so it would still be much too hot for many of the cool season varieties, and they’d just bolt to seed. This is a lesson this garden has taught me. Nature has its own sense of timing, and we need to find this rhythm and match it. Trying to force it into my timing never turns out very well. A good gardener is always watching and learning, and the garden is a very good teacher.
The options for cool season crops aren’t as abundant as the many choices available in the summer so this leaves empty space in the garden. As nature abhors bare earth and will quickly attempt to reclaim it with weeds, I will sow cover crops to help cover the soil. This will lock in nutrients to prevent them being leached away in winter rains and return them to the soil as organic material in time for them to be broken down and available for the crops next season. I do love the lush appearance the cover crops give to what would otherwise be a mostly barren garden.
For the first time in ages, there is a spark of joy when thinking about the garden, opportunities to make changes by starting tasks and seeing them through to completion without being driven indoors by the relentless heat. Bring on the autumn, it is more than welcome here!
Come again soon – actual gardening will be happening a lot more frequently!
Sarah the Gardener : o)