As we head into the dog days of August, the heat-loving crops are starting to ripen more each day, and the animals continue to seek the afternoon shade to stay cool—during the middle of the day the chickens are often burrowed in the cool dirt of their enclosure and the girls can be spotted lounging under the canopy of trees in their pasture.
As much as the sun-ripened peppers and tomatoes are loving the sunshine, other more tender crops, such as the lettuces and greens, are now needing a good drink of water each day so that they continue to thrive. Even with a later ripening date due to the cooler than usual spring, our fruit crops are still proving to be bountiful, from the big, juicy blueberries, raspberries and blackberries to colorful red and yellow plums.
As busy as it is around Bella Luna this time of year—both with tending crops and hosting the special events we hold so dear—we also spend quite a bit of time in other people’s gardens, too, through our landscape design firm, Parterre. We conceptualize and install tranquil, natural gardens and outdoor living spaces all around the Puget Sound, as well as care for them using organic, low-impact gardening techniques. With its long daylight hours, this abundant season keeps us bustling between projects.
During the lingering evenings, we are busy preserving all the gorgeous summer delicacies. In addition to fruit preserves, our “jam sessions” will also include pickling cucumbers and canning beets, as well as making small batches of our Nonna Pat’s famous tomato sauce with vine-ripened tomatoes plucked fresh from the garden. By the end of summer, we usually stow away around a thousand jars, which are always beautiful reminders of the glorious, sun-kissed summer during the cold winter months that will arrive all too soon.