Garden Dreams and a Full Buck Moon

Garden Dreams and a Full Buck Moon

 

“Homegrown tomatoes homegrown tomatoes
What’d life be without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can’t buy
That’s true love & homegrown tomatoes”

From the song “Homegrown Tomatoes” by Guy Clark

For the past couple of years, I’ve had a dwindling relationship with my vegetable garden. My original garden, started 12 years ago, was 50 feet by 25 and filled with varieties of summer and winter squash, rows of tomatoes and potatoes, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, peas, beets, onions, eggplant, basil, beans (pole and bush) and one year kohlrabi. I froze tomato sauce by the gallon bag, also peas and bush beans and put sweet potatoes and regular potatoes into storage bins by the bushel.

Since those first years the garden has gotten smaller and smaller, using a full third of the original area for pollinator plants (that’s a good thing) and instead of rows of tomatoes just a few plants – two of the “slicer” variety, two of the “cherry” variety and one of the heirloom varieties. My days of planting the “sauce” Roma variety were over. More potatoes, less tomatoes, one hill of summer squash and one of zucchini and a climbing row of cucumbers was plenty for me.

That all changed past winter when our niece Alisha suggested she would help with the garden this year if we could share its bounty. Like her mom, Jamie, Alisha has a green thumb. Unfortunately, most of her yard is too shady for a large garden, and she was looking to grow more fresh produce for home use. The deal was made and by April I had tilled up the entire garden area, expanding a bit to be almost the original size. I added three tractor bucket loads of well-rotted horse manure compost and raked it in. The garden bed was ready to plant.

For several years I have used growing paper to help control weeds and retain moisture. One weekend I returned from a work event to find Alisha had put down enough growing paper for 3 long rows of tomatoes and squash. Time to buy the plants and seeds! I ordered 10 pounds of seed potatoes and Alisha and my wife, Julie, shopped for vegetable plants at our local farm stands.

For the first time in several years the vegetable garden is brimming at capacity with more than 20 tomato plants, with half of them the Roma variety to make sauce for canning. I put in two rows of potatoes with 30 plants blooming by the end of June. Three hills of squash and one of watermelon (the small variety) along with a row of eggplant, cucumbers and basil. The growth of the tomatoes has been astounding, and by mid-June we already had flowers and a few small cherry tomatoes ripening. Our first meal of summer squash came the end of June, and the winter squash and watermelon are sending out healthy vines with flower buds. We’ll be eating fresh cucumbers and tomatoes soon.

In his song “Homegrown Tomatoes,” Guy Clark says it best, “What’d life be without homegrown tomatoes,” and I can’t wait for that slice of still warm homegrown tomato with a pinch of salt. For me it’s just not summer until that first bite.

I am grateful for the help Alisha brings every time she stops by to tend the garden. I look forward to tomato sauce canning and enjoying the bounty of shared work and a summer of fresh vegetables. July is here – bring on the heat and let the garden grow.

Wednesday brings the Full Buck Moon of July – and it’s a supermoon too! Here’s how the 2022 Farmer’s Almanac describes the July 2022 full moon.

“July’s full Buck Moon orbits closer to Earth than any other full moon this year, making it the biggest and brightest supermoon of 2022! At its nearest point, the Buck Moon will be 222,089.3 miles (357,418 km) from Earth, so it just edges out June’s Strawberry Moon by 200km.”

“While a supermoon is technically bigger and brighter than a regular full moon, it only appears about 7 percent larger—which can be an imperceptible difference to the human eye, depending on other conditions. Nonetheless, it’s fun to know that the full moon you’re looking at is the closest, biggest, and brightest of the year. “

“Why Is It called the Buck Moon? The full moon names used by The Old Farmer’s Almanac’ come from a number of places, including Native American, Colonial American and European sources. Traditionally, each full moon name was applied to the entire lunar month in which it occurred, not solely to the full moon.”

“The full moon in July is called the Buck Moon because the antlers of male deer (bucks) are in full-growth mode at this time. Bucks shed and regrow their antlers each year, producing a larger and more impressive set as the years go by.”

Wednesday I’ll go out to the garden after sunset and look to the southeast horizon to witness the rising of the full Buck Moon of July. Perhaps I’ll have a few “super ripe” homegrown tomatoes to pick that night as well. Summer is here, the heat is on, and thanks to Alisha the vegetable garden calls to me again.

We live in a beautiful place called The Last Green Valley. I hope you’ll join me and together let us enjoy it, care for it, and pass it on.

Bill Reid is the Chief Ranger of The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor. He can be reached at 860-774-3300 or via email at bill@tlgv.org.

Exploring The Last Green Valley, Sunday, July 10, 2022

The Norwich Bulletin is granted first serial rights and associated electronic rights to publish the following article.  The Last Green Valley, Inc. retains all other rights to the work.

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