Surviving…and I beat the birds & bugs to the elderberries this year!
In my corner of the world we’ve been pretty lucky so far. Our weather has had its ups and downs, but nowhere near what’s been happening in other parts of the world. This year has been different: apparently the current drought is the worst since 1959. Weathering challenging times like this will take more serious thought and ingenuity as climate change continues.
Spring began with the usual burst of glorious ephemerals followed by Spring bulbs blooming with colour.
But now, my heavily mulched gardens are drying out and I’ve lost an Oak sapling and a Red Osier. My native plants are surviving, but only just.
My pond has dried up and I’m sure that many tadpoles didn’t survive. About three weeks ago I filled pails with water and poured them into the deepest part of the pond hoping to save the tadpoles, but now with the low water table I don’t want to tax my well any further. My township has also asked us to cut back 20% on water use, even those with wells.
The strawberry season was very short and sparse, so no strawberry preserves this year. 🙁 I was given some rhubarb which is in the freezer for later. Even the native wild black raspberries were mostly dried up and gone in no time at all. Mine that are growing on the north side of what I laughingly call my summer house, with no sun at all, were good and we gobbled them up.
I had some asparagus, which is an interesting story in itself. I grew asparagus from seed the first full year I was here, 1999. Over the years I had some lovely asparagus, but over time they mostly disappeared. I hadn’t known about the impact of Black Walnut trees then, but I certainly do now! Anyway, I gave up on the asparagus and planted four lovely David Austin roses and tulip bulbs in that little garden. They have flourished, but surprisingly the asparagus is coming back in the same bed. And as part of this very unusual year, I’ve had at least eight spears pop up long after the asparagus season was supposedly finished. I just saw a couple of young ones today, August 12!
I made a new veg and herb garden up near the house two years ago, and this year I began to weave a short wattle fence around it using my basket willow cuttings.
I’m having some successes with intermittent watering: a few veggies and my tomatoes are coming along nicely planted in containers and two in the ground in the very middle of the property, as far away as possible from the surrounding Black Walnuts. The heat-loving herbs are still happy, too.
Which brings me to Elderberries. Last year the birds got them all before I even knew they were ripe. Two years ago, there were insects in every berry, which I didn’t know until I began cooking them. Three years ago I made wonderful Elderberry & Apple jelly and Elderberry Cordial. This year is proving to be a good one, and this is only the beginning. There’s at least as many still to finish ripening, then I make delicious jelly.
I hope you’re weathering the challenges and reaping some good harvests wherever you are. 🙂