Summer UpdateTuesday Aug 16 2016
We’re at that point in the season when so many seed crops start looking a lot more like seeds. The white and pink radish blooms are fading as plump pods form. Peas are drying down, peppers ripening. Soon we’ll hear that familiar shake, rattle and roll of beans being threshed and seeds getting sorted out.
Hot and dry – it’s good for something
It’s been an extremely hot and dry summer (are you tired of hearing this?), with wild fires raging in the province and farmers facing a real “rain deficit”. Many of us are rain dancing in desperation and keeping a close eye on the well. For a seed grower, though, the dry weather can also provide some opportunities. One of the temptations we resist on a seed farm is “babying” plants too much. Because a seed's genetics are influenced by the conditions in which it was grown, allowing plants to hold on through drought is one way that we can select for seeds adapted to withstand those stresses. It’s not so simple, of course, as a plant can abort its pollen, bolt too early, or even shrivel up and dry out before completing its life cycle. But knowing that plants – grown from the seeds of those that fare well in a summer like this one – will have the upper hand is truly gratifying.
Another dry-day bonus? Andrea Berry chuckles a little and answers, “Harvesting carrots and beets is a breeze – don’t even have to wipe them off on my pants, just blow the dust off!”
Some plants, such as garlic, also seem to thrive in the dry conditions. Grower Al Picketts in PEI says that last year was the best possible for his garlic. And this year? I wonder. “Even better!” Harvesting and curing garlic are underway and the rain-free days are a real help.
Even for seasoned gardeners, each year is a little different. You may have been the unwilling host of a cucumber or squash bug convention or you may have been pleasantly surprised by an abundance of early tomatoes or handsome cabbage heads. Whatever the weather, we hope your gardens are providing much curiosity and enjoyment.
Wishing you an abundant and flavourful summer!
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