Monday, June 9, 2008

Summer begins in earnest!

After the cold and damp spring, the recent heat wave has felt like a blast furnace. I've been inside in a cushy air-conditioned office job while everyone else has been doing the work. The seedlings were moved out of the greenhouse about a week and a half ago, to harden them up and slow them down. Some of them were getting very tall and overgrown for their soil pots. (Here's what needs to be planted next: cabbage, basil, zucchini, cucumbers, and more.)
Last Monday, Roger, dad, and mom got plastic mulch laid. Dad and Roger drove the tractors while mom followed on foot keeping the plastic on track, letting them know if irrigation tape ran out, and starting and ending rows of mulch. The plastic was for the peppers, tomatoes, and most of the lettuce ... about 1.25 miles, which mom walked twice! On Tuesday, they planted the second patch of lettuce with 10 different varieties, nearly 500 plants. (Here's the lettuce, with the tomatoes beyond.) It was sprinkling the whole time, but not really raining. Next they planted tomatoes--1,800 plants. After mom and dad did the first 3 rows Aunt Laurie helped with the rest, 9 more rows. Thunder cracked just as they finished, and rain poured down. From Tuesday 3pm until Thursday noon we received nearly 2 inches.

Wednesday they did lots of work in the greenhouse: planted seeds for the late cole crop, transplanted late tomatoes, planted pumpkin and winter squash seeds, transplanted yet another planting of lettuce, and moved most of the remaining plants outdoors. (Here's the squash and pumpkins just beginning to sprout in the greenhouse.)
Saturday morning I finally was around when planting was going on and we got all of the peppers and eggplant in. Roger drove the tractor, mom and I rode, and dad walked behind to fix the ones we miss. We got the 4,000 peppers planted in about 4 1/2 hours. (Here's a row of eggplant with pepper rows on either side.) The planting itself took less time than driving back to the greenhouse for more plants and filling the planter with water. It was plenty hot by the time we were done, but so far they seem to be doing well and have not died from shock.

Today, mom went to Coraopolis market with lettuce. (Here's the lettuce in the field--nearly ready to be picked.) It was the first market of the year, and sure was hot for her in town.

Today dad told me that there are different ways to mark summer--the summer solstice on June 21st is the one most people know, but there is also the meteorological summer which has already begun, and another designation of summer that I can't remember at the moment. For me, though, summer is when it's still light and warm at 9pm, when markets begin, and when we eat the first produce from the garden. Happy summer, everyone!
Note to family: If you experienced deja vu while reading this blog, it's because I edited mom's email from earlier this week for much of this update.