Summer Solstice

Happy summer, everyone! Okay, let’s not fool ourselves. Today feels no different from yesterday. It has already been super-summery for all intents and practical purposes. We’ve had several days of 90+ degree weather, and we need rain like nobody’s business. The sun has been beating us down for weeks already with that ultra-bright white light we all associate with swimming holes and ice cream trucks and the like.

Today marks Ethan’s first successful tree climb. He and Laurel have been trying to climb this sad little tree in our back yard for years. Laurel, being significantly older and taller, mastered this first. Ethan lagged behind and was rather put out by the whole situation. Finally, today, I took some time from my garden duties to coach him a little, having been a successful tree climber myself. Most of the branches were juuuuuuust out of his reach, so he had to grab one and sort of crab-walk with his feet up into the fork and haul himself from there. The kid has abs of steel so I knew he could do it. He just needed a couple of pointers.

And it paid off:

First successful tree climb

Meanwhile, the chickens are hanging in there. We only have three left after a fox/coyote absconded with two. A raccoon severely injured one, the little grey one you see below. She’s not given us an egg since that time but she’s soldiering on. She’s eating and drinking and I saw her running today when I moved the pen and let them out on fresh grass. Yes, I know, it doesn’t look very fresh. Or grassy. We’ve had a drought this Spring like I can’t remember ever seeing before. Sigh. I can’t remember the last time I mowed.

bock bocks

But! Thanks to modern technology in the form of irrigation lines, not all is lost.

Granted, the outdoor plantings look pretty sorry, as do the other outdoor crops. They are irrigated, but the schedule can’t seem to keep up with the evaporation. Even so, we do have a few tomatoes coming on:

outdoor romas

Inside the hoop house, however, the situation is much brighter. The crops I’ve managed to save from (or which are usually undisturbed by) the melon aphids are doing well. That consists almost solely of tomatoes and peppers with some herbs thrown in, but I’m still succession planting and hoping for the best. Once we’re back from our big summer vacation I’ll likely throw some more seeds in the ground; but for now I’m happy with the tomatoes. I eat a LOT of tomatoes. Mouse over the photos for captions if you wish.

indoor tommytoesjalapenos preparing for salsa dutylittle bell pepperslittle green Thai chilisthai sweet basilvolunteer something-or-others

And of course, a thrill for any tomato-loving gardener (and her kids), ripening tomatoes:

illini star