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bee gathering pollenBees were busy this morning grabbing nectar from the garden’s squash blossoms. Their presence is as welcome as the early morning rain we received. I think we were all grateful for the much needed moisture, the cloud-filtered sunlight, and the lower temperature. After several 100+ degree days, the 71 degree morning felt refreshing allowing both gardener and pollinator to linger.

The year’s heat and dryness have kept many insect populations down. Last year’s pest problems have not yet materialized. The wet spring of 2011 had been a bounty for slugs and mosquitos while this year’s conditions kept their numbers low. About the only pest that requires special management in my garden is the cabbage worm. Cabbage worms have been feeding on my collard greens, and, since they operate at night, the pests can prosper without fear of a scorching sun. I can manage them up to a point by taking a flashlight to the garden in the early evening and hand picking the worms from the undersides of the big leaves or by removing lower leaves from the plants so the worm’s predators have easy picking.

My vigilance has faltered however, and the cabbage worms have gotten out of hand. Collards resprout easily so this weekend I will strip the plants down to their branching stems. Without the leafy greens, the cabbage worm population will crash. New greens will sprout from the collard stems in a few weeks, and my flashlight and I will return to keep the worms from reestablishing themselves.

Today, the bees were so consumed with their work that they never minded me. I was able to watch as they loaded up… first packing pollen on their legs and then washing their black and yellow coats in rainwater. When I drove downtown to the farmers market, I found it humming as well. Stands were full of customers and crates loaded with produce.

Buzzing about the Yellow Springs Farmers Market, I learned how carrots, salad greens, and cilantro were going out of season, how tomatoes and potatoes were peaking, and blueberries and blackberries were coming in.

I discussed plans for tomato sauce, carrot juice, bean casserole, and cucumber soup with my fellow shoppers. I also grabbed berries, broccoli, and beans for the kids to snack on and salad greens for the week’s arriving company. Cilantro and fresh pepper seed destined tomato sauce and homemade pasta rounded out my produce selections. The plants from Paul Snyder and Yellow Springs Botanicals looked particularly tempting, and I bought herbs to diversify my kitchen garden presently bursting with as much seed as leaf.

The sound of tire on wet pavement is wonderful after so long a dry spell. Despite a light drizzle, I rode with one hand out and cupped to catch the drops. Still in the peace of the morning, I returned home to make breakfast—a stir fry caramelizing onions, apricots, and blackberries into a spicy syrup, folding in fresh kale, and topping with hard boiled duck eggs. The blackberries hail from Anderson Farm and the berries will find themselves in as many savory dishes as sweet.

Now is a perfect time for a bike ride through town. Plants are perking up and gardens are busy with the life and vigor that a good rain imbibes. Enjoy this day’s refreshment and thank our old good friend, rain. Rain, rain…yes, good friend…come again.


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