Green In Winter, Brown In Summer

Mowing the pasture. Summer is here.

For those who move to California, particularly from the east coast, one of the biggest adjustments is that winter is the “green” season and summer is the “brown” season. When summer comes, the grasses in the open spaces of the chaparral areas of the state turn into the “golden” color that gives the state its nickname “the golden state”. And the rolling hills, scattered with oaks, are quite beautiful.

Lavender. This flower comes with a soundtrack.

On a more practical note, when the hills turn gold it means that summer is here and we need to mow the pasture. Fire is a real danger, especially near populated areas. The Oakland hills, just across the bay from us, burnt in 1991 with the cost of 25 lives and $1.5 billion in damage. When the grass gets dry, the big tractor mowers come out (we hire the guys, too big a job for us). And if you don’t get your mowing done, your neighbors will let you hear about it.

Lettuce at its peak.

Red leaf lettuce doing well this year.

But while the pastures are brown, our gardens are overflowing with green..and purple. Let’s start with the purple. Our lavender, once just on the cusp, is in full bloom. It will last for months and the honeybees will work it, almost exclusively, for the rest of the summer. Here at the “farm” summer comes with a soundtrack, the constant humming of bees in the lavender. Both the honeybees and the native bees enjoy the lavender and completely ignore us, and everything else, while they work the flowers. Happily, the native bees will work / pollinate some of the other plants, while the honeybees seem to focus on the “highest and best” sources of nectar. That focus is what gives us “varietal” honey like clover or orange-blossom. I guess we basically get lavender honey.

The peas are just coming in.

The nasturtiums are very, very happy this season.

As for the green, it is all around us in the garden. Our peas are just forming pods, lettuces are at their peak and the tomatoes show their frist fruit. The tomatoes have us very excited, lots of blossoms and growth foreshadow a good crop in the late summer. And the basil runs in parallel to the tomatoes. We see Caprese salads in our future. Oddly, our zucchini plant seems more interested in growing huge leaves than in producing zucchini. We still get zucchini, but yields are lower than expected. Our arugula is also low-yield (part of a bed that seems unhappy this year). As zucchini and arugula are “easy” crops, this is a bit humbling, but such is the nature of the garden and orchard. We get a bumper crop of cherries and can barely grow zucchini. Go figure.

A wall of tomato plants. They love the heat.

Early tomatoes. Some will be ready in July. We can’t wait.

And when you have tomatoes, you need basil.

Summer also marks the peak and decline of some crops. While our strawberries are re-flowering for their next spurt, the blueberries are at their peak, but will soon be gone. We see a few berries that are starting to shrivel in the heat. But it was another great season of blueberries. We are grateful and will enjoy what’s left, and besides, its time for golden raspberries…

Strawberry blossoms. More on the way.

A path to a small green oasis amidst the brown pastures. The garden.

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16 thoughts on “Green In Winter, Brown In Summer

  1. Lovely. Always good to know that even experienced growers have those seasons when the ‘easy’ crops go wrong and the tricky ones do fine…Oh, and my gardening schedule has definitely not had enough cocktails in it. Must sort that out! Cheers, from the rainy UK.

  2. the soundtrack of summer – I’m hoping to hear that soon here, I don’t live too far from Misk and like her our late Spring – early Summer has been cool and wet, everything is behind at least 3 weeks, so I’m re-learning that patience is a virtue! But while I wait I can enjoy seeing your progress and bounty, and enjoy the sunlight that filters into your photos.

  3. Lovely photos! You have a lot more space than I have devoted to a garden, but my tomatoes and zukes are coming in nicely. And of course, the basil. I can’t wait for fresh caprese salad! They’re saying the fire season is already underway and we’ve had double the fires for this same time last year. My friends in the foothills are very concerned. I would love to expand my garden and I guess in some ways each year I do! I did plant pumpkins for the first time just so my granddaughters could see how they grow. That was a space sacrifice, but the teacher in me took over! 🙂 Debra

  4. This may be a duplicate comment. I’m having some trouble with WordPress and comments left previously don’t seem to be visible. Would you mind checking in your Spam box to see if I’m currently visiting there? LOL! Thanks so much, Debra

  5. What a lovely plant “house”! It’s so interesting how differently things grow in different locations, isn’t it? My tomatoes are just about to finish up here, and it’s not yet July. Whereas Nasturtiums here are a winter bloom. Some years in Texas, summer is the green season. Last year summer was definitely the brown (dusty, lifeless cracked earth) season. This year…we’re greener.

    • Glad you are greener this year…sounds like texas needed some rain.

      The caged/housed section of the garden is to keep the critters out- we border on open space and you can’t keep them out otherwise. Not as romantic, but it does work.

      Nasturtiums in winter would be a nice bonus..all we get is kale…;-)

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