Extra Ideas Whereas Weeding: Gardeners rejoice as steamy June offers method to July | Gardening


There was a time when June meant gray, muddy weather in the New Hampshire mountains, but not in recent years, and certainly not in 2021. By the time the month turns into Independence Day, farm fields and home gardens alike will have dried up. Stiff breezes and a dozen June days of 80 degrees or more have created conditions much more reminiscent of August than early summer.

Sweltering perfectly describes the last week of June, which ended with an official heat wave.

The monthly average temperature of 66.9 (as of 6.29) was two degrees above the average of 64.4, and this difference reflects the annual variance of 41.2 versus 39.2. It is also noteworthy that the heating degree days up to the 29th were 7,075 heating degree days, compared to the average of 7,506. In simple terms, heating degree days are a calculation of what it takes to heat your home. The bottom line is that 2021, measured with various tools, will be another record year in terms of temperature.

When it comes to humidity, the statistics are sobering. As of June 29, rainfall was just 0.61 inches, compared with the 4.24 inches average (recorded since 1974), according to local weather observer Ed Bergeron. Another measuring instrument, the Saco River flow rate calculated by the US Geological Survey’s water meter, shows a steep downtrend.

“At the beginning of the month we were at 47 percent of the historic 30-year average,” said Ed on 29. “Now it’s 32 percent. As long as it lasts in the 30s, it indicates to me that the groundwater is stable and stable. The main reason for this is that we had less than half the average snowfall last winter. It made a big difference. “

Groundwater is key, and it’s on the minds of farmers, gardeners, and any homeowner with a well dug. Maintaining the crop for the past two months meant vigilance with the watering, just trying to keep the plants alive and growing.

Why an annual battle with the elements, predators and plant diseases, ticks and black flies, one might ask, in a region where sometimes only stones and trees seem to grow easily. For me, the reasons are as varied as the challenges. Food security and supply chain bottlenecks that emerged during the pandemic certainly increased many of my concerns.

Ultimately, however, the focus is on quality. Growing a garden offers the opportunity to choose varieties bred for taste rather than the ability to transport thousands of kilometers and pick them at their peak of maturity.

Tomatoes are often the point of reference between store-bought and home-grown, but the same goes for most other varieties, whether it’s peas, corn, carrots, peppers or fresh vegetables. And then there are the ones you will never find in the aisles of the grocery store anyway – Fortex Pole Beans or Royal Burgundy Bush for example, heirloom tomatoes like pineapple or fragile cherries like Sun Gold.

Inherent in this quality is increased nutritional value and enjoyment of the best products available.

There is compelling research that confirms the value of making fruits and vegetables an integral part of your diet. Growing your own home makes it easier to get the minimum “five a day” portions of vegetables and fruits recommended by health experts. Research confirms that most fruits and vegetables are not only rich in vitamins and minerals that are already known to support good health, but also “phytonutrients” which have been shown to strengthen the immune system, delay the aging process and help cure or prevent many chronic diseases.

Growing fruits and products with no chemical residue is another important motivator. The nonprofit Environmental Working Group publishes an annual Dirty Dozen report that classifies pesticide levels in fruits and vegetables based on samples from the US Department of Agriculture and the FDA.

At the top of the list in the March 2021 report were strawberries, with apples and grapes in fifth and sixth place respectively, which have remained fairly constant over the years. The idea of ​​spinach in second place and kale, cabbage and mustard greens in third place was amazing.

Growing brassicas, including broccoli, cabbage, kale, and cabbage, in the home garden without toxic chemicals is not complex. Surely they have their team of predators, from cutworms to cabbage moths, that lead to those green worms in your broccoli heads. But preventative measures like row covers prevent major damage, and if you need to take it to the next level, reach for Bacillus thuringiensis, also known as Bt, a naturally occurring, soil-dwelling bacterium that is readily available locally. Bt is toxic when ingested by butterfly or moth larvae, but does not leave residues harmful to humans.

Admittedly, intervening with pests in other crops can be more complex and involves multiple practices to minimize toxin use. But from my point of view it is worth the effort given the alternatives. As we move into the weekend of July 4th and the growing season ahead, consider it an act of independence.

Ann Bennett writes and gardens on a hillside farm in Jackson.