(Lest we forget, today is the anniversary of the D-Day landings of WWII, significant in many ways but especially because over 10,000 good, decent, patriotic Americans were wounded and 4,414 died before lunch time in a successful but extremely costly effort to secure the beaches at Normandy. These days we mourn the loss of even one soldier in Pakistan or Afghanistan. Imagine how the mothers, wives, sisters and daughters of American cried on that grim day in 1944.)
It’s amazing to me how much time we spend anticipating the coming of spring and yet, just like that, summer arrives on a blustery wind bringing heat, humidity and ...bugs!
I’m not a complainer so I go with the flow, preferring instead to rejoice about the good side of summer, mainly that all my long-awaited garden vegetables and flowers have literally leaped into germination in just the last week or so. I may have planted things a bit too early due to the prolonged period of warm, dry weather we had in April and May, and I was beginning to think that my garden was going to be a failure as a result. It turns out that the seeds themselves, not the packets they come in, know when they will begin to germinate and, as always it has more to do with heat, moisture and sunlight than whatever the seed supplier had to say about it.
Over Memorial Day weekend my garden went from a barren plot of roto-tilled compost to a bustling nursery filled with corn, squash, beans, sunflowers, strawberries, radishes, cucumbers and tomatoes. It’s as if everything agreed it was time to come out and grow, and just like that my little garden patch is practically in a race to see which plants mature first. As always, nature knows best. I was too anxious to get my plants in the ground – I could have waited a month and would have had the same results.
A couple of plants all but told me to back off but of course I couldn’t wait – but they did. I had scarlet runner beans and marigolds in the ground way too early, to the point that I had to check and see if the seeds were even there. Just this week they began to germinate and are now well on their way to filling the yard with the colorful flowers I like to see around the house all summer and fall; a good lesson to have learned.
With everything in and coming up nicely all I have to do is weed, water and enjoy. Being a grazer rather than a gardener I plant a lot of vegetables that I can pick and eat right off the vine. My strawberries are just a few days away from ripening and I’ve already been sampling the spinach and radishes I planted weeks ago. I especially like cherry tomatoes because I can eat them any time I see a ripe one, be it a red, orange or purple variety.
I also had good luck with hyssop and chamomile, which I use to make flavored iced tea all summer. It’s just so cool to me to be able to pick and eat (or drink) whatever comes out of the garden without a whole lot of preparation. Pick, eat and move on. That’s what I call gardening!
My clever (lazy?) plan includes being able to water everything at once using a simply oscillating spray head. I set the system up the same day I plant my seeds and then, when things start popping up I just switch on the hose and every plant gets its share of water.
This, of course, gives me more than enough time to do other things while I wait for my garden’s bounty – like fishing! It’s no secret that June is also a great month for bass fishing because both species (largemouths and smallmouths) will begin spawning in earnest over the next several weeks. These fish build their nests close to shore in shallow water, which makes them easy targets for intrepid fishermen who know where and how to cast a lure.
Bass fishing is not rocket science although today’s top professionals would like us to think so. At this time of year anyone can catch a bass with just about any fly or lure they choose (no bait is allowed during the spawning season). The easiest way to fish for June bass is to drift along shore in a canoe, kayak or small boat and cast wiggly lures close to shore. If a bass is there you won’t get three cranks on the reel handle before he strikes, and if he’s big enough you won’t even have to set the hook. Just about any lure will work on bass this month including spinners, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and rubber worms. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to find a lure that won’t work! One year I made it a point to try every single lure in my triple-decker tackle box and caught a bass on every selection, even some trout lures and a few small saltwater lures I’ve had for decades but never used. For some reason (anger, hunger, territoriality) bass work hard to defend their nests, so anything that comes close will be pursued, driven off or eaten. Needless to say, if you like to fish, June bassin’ in Maine is the way to go.
But back to gardening, which tends to dominate our summertime yard work, there is good news (blooming plants) and bad news (animals that eat blooming plants). Some years ago I discovered that the best way to keep deer out of the beans and corn is to spread Milorgonite around the perimeter of the garden every few weeks. I also keep knee-high nylon stockings stuffed with Milorgonite tied to my fruit trees and that seems to keep the deer away, too.
Milorgonite by definition is nasty stuff (a by-product of the sewage treatment process) but it is good fertilizer and is excellent for deterring deer and rabbits. There are other, more appealing options but Milorgonite works, and that’s good enough for me!