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July Notes 2021

Updated: Jan 6, 2022

July is a lovely pause in the year. As if I needed an excuse to spend the month in the hammock, it’s often too hot to garden after 8am or before 8pm.

Flower cutting is done at dawn, and a deep watering once a week at dusk, tying in growth and a turn around the plots every week or so with the hoe. For these few weeks, we can do as little as this in confidence that it is enough. And so we should, because with August storms and September harvests ahead, we ought to have the midsummer version of hibernation, (lullination?) lie back and enjoy our efforts, gather our collective breath before we continue our efforts to maintain and bring in the harvests.

This year we have been following the biodynamic calendar, sowing seeds and transplanting on auspicious days and doing other jobs like clearing on others. I am beginning to get a sense of the rhythm of growing to moon. I don’t believe in co incidence – our gardens have never looked better, the plants healthier or more abundant. From my notes, we have also spent less hours labouring. I have wondered that is might be because I have a more relaxed approach to gardening that the calendar permits where what might benefit most from my focus and attention easily decided.

The monthly moon cycle, like the tides in a day and the seasons of a year, has a pendulum quality, a whoosh of energy one way and then a slowing to a crest, a moment or suspension before dropping back and returning. The few weeks after midsummer, much like January after midwinter feels like that moment of suspension.

It is one of the few months that I won’t sow seeds, very few germinate in this weather. Instead I will start collecting those that go over on plants that flowered in spring and dead head others, encouraging more to come. The abundance of the garden can be overwhelming so I try to take in details. Jasmine, honeysuckle and tobacco plants languish in the heat, releasing heady scents in the evening attracting pollinators. Tendrils of sweet peas curling around the hazel pole, a poppy case, with the tiniest slither of colour, bursting into bloom within moments, tomatoes swell with a smell resonance of the midday sun and we pull pods of peas, greedily eat straight from the plant. Every sense can feast on the garden in July and be quite simply lost in this like almost dream like indulgence.

School is out for summer, and so am I. If the last year has taught me nothing, it is to take it all in and appreciate all about us. Next month I will start sowing seeds for flowers next year. July, the disco nap of the year’s afternoon, we’ll be back to it before we know.

This column was published in Cambridge Edition July 2021


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