It is utterly forbidden to be half-hearted about gardening. You have got to love your garden whether you like it or not. ~W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman, Garden Rubbish, 1936
When do the dog days of summer start? I don't think they've started in my garden, I haven't even harvested the first decent tomato yet.
I did harvest a tiny orange-y tomato from the tiniest tomato plant I've ever seen, 'Micro Tom'. It was almost big enough to taste.
I also picked two small squash and ate them this evening. Now, if you are gardening where it is hot and dry, skip this next part.
I've had a couple of squash just rot before they got to any size. I think this is because of all the rain and what I think are cooler than average temperatures for this part of summer. So when I saw two small squash, I picked them and ate them before something or someone else got to them. It was just one serving.
Okay, those who skipped that part can now rejoin.
We are at the point of the summer, whether these are dog days or not, when we either like how our garden is growing or don't like how it is growing and wish we could turn the clock back and start over.
For those who want to turn the clock back and start over, I have good news for you! If you'll wait a few months, you will actually be able to start over. That's one of the benefits of gardening, the clean slate of spring! Or the clean slate of fall, depending on where you garden.
Seriously, sort of, these are days when we start to lose those who are half-hearted about gardening. This is when it gets tough. The garden still needs as much attention as it did in the spring, when we were all enthused and couldn't wait to get outside.
But now, it's hot. We are tired. Some of us would like to just stay inside for awhile and not worry about the garden. But we can't!
Regardless of how hot it is or because it is how hot it is, we still need to water a lot of the plants.
Regardless of how careful we were, how much we mulched, and any weeding we did earlier, we still have weeds to pull, including big tough weeds that laugh and grow in the heat.
Regardless of how much we wish the birds would eat them all, we are still going to find insects in the garden, bad insects sucking the life out of plants, gnawing at the roots, burrowing into stems or eating holes in the leaves, and we have to figure out how to control them.
Regardless of any truce we think we've come to with the rabbits, deer, moles, mice, neighbor's cats and other critters that want to make our gardens their homes and restaurants, we still have to figure out ways to keep them from ruining the garden.
Yes, if someone is half-hearted about gardening, this is usually where it ends for them, about the time the mythical dog days of summer start.
But it doesn't end here for the rest of us. We are weeding, watering, hoeing, pruning, deadheading and yes, planning.
We are planning for big harvests, thinking about new beds to dig in the fall, looking at catalogs once again to see what bulbs to order for fall planting. We are making notes of what's doing well, trying to figure out why some things aren't going well.
We aren't going to quit now. We can't. We are gardeners. We are in it through it all.
Honestly, I've never met a true gardener who up and quit on their garden. Have you?