Seasons are so different in the desert. While gardens in much of the country are thriving with the green moisture of summer, gardening here in July is quite a challenge. Tomato plants in the midwest are hanging heavily on the vines and we hardly have any on the meager vines in our home garden. I consider myself a fairly accomplished gardener, so this summer heat is a real blow to my gardener’s ego. We do have some hearty basil and one small eggplant, but it hardly compares to the rest of the year.
The best course of action seems to be to try to keep the weeds under control, water whatever is still thriving, chop down the dried up hollyhock stalks, and wait out the rest of July and August till September’s almost-coolness arrives. I do have to say that mid-July is not without its gardening treasures, however. This week after requesting one dried up sunflower head from the ones we planted in February, I received a pile of them, loaded with juicy seeds. One head was over 14 inches in diameter and looked big enough to drive a school bus. Seeing that pile, which I eventually took home to dry in my garage, reminded me once again that endings are also beginnings. Although it’s a few months off, planting season for the new sunflower seeds will be here soon enough. The summer heat is so overbearing, it’s easy to lose sight of these small details. When we feel exhausted and depleted from the broiling sun, it’s hard to care about the potential of sunflower seeds. Yet, it’s the thought of fall planting that inspires me to hang in there with the summer heat.
As a child, the advent of autumn was always hard to take. All my life I’ve been a summer girl and letting go of summer’s days of freedom was often heart-wrenching. I’ve gotten over that somewhat, in large part due to my garden. I love when all the new sprouts begin poking up through the soil, and eventually end up in my kitchen to be made into delicious meals. Although I won’t be eating the sunflower seeds harvested this week, they will be a placeholder for other new seeds that will soon arrive. In a way it’s like the children who have been at the Seed for many years. Their days here are numbered and they will soon become new seeds somewhere else. At the same time, they hold space for the new ones who will arrive here in just a short while.