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Jinxed in June

July 8, 2022

Who liked the June Seattle weather? The slugs, that’s who! We scorned them as they began to diet on the little green bean plants.

Actually, the celeriac, parsnips and salsify, plus most of the cool weather greens were delighted with the Juneuary weather.

But, here’s a strange twist. Soon after the brassica vegetables revved their engines, many began to bolt. Bolt! Don’t veggie plants bolt when the hot weather arrives? Well, as explained in this excellent article about vernalization, periods of cool temperatures during early growth, followed by long daylight hours are often the most important determinant of unwanted bolting in vegetables. Sue, always quick to adapt, dropped carrot seeds today.

Sue waited as long as she could before she thrust the tomatoes into the cool wet soil. They are mad. And so are the peppers. With their arms folded, the peppers have pushed the pause button … waiting for more heat before they reset.

And what about the fruit plants? Finally, a year with less winter moth larvae to thin out the apple, chestnut, and pear crops. Nevertheless, to make up for the shortage of damage from these inchworms, the birds are pecking the apples and knocking them off the trees. We have twice as many resident crows and jays this year and they are pecking at and pulling on everything in sight. Basically, making quite a mess.

The fruit crop this spring is mixed. The Northern Spy had no blooms. It shoved out a ton of apples last year and now it’s resting. Had we thinned more aggressively, when the fruit was the size of a dime, we might have moved it out of its natural biennial-bearing nature. But, we love our Spys!

In contrast, the Liberty is on pitch and in tune every year, with little or no coddling moth or maggot fly damage. Stroke her leaves as you walk by; we mustn’t take her for granted.

Another oddity from the strange June weather – sun scald. Sun scald! What? And just where was the sun? Well, that’s the point. There was a hint of sun June 8 and that’s about it until the skies turned completely clear on June 24 for four very long days, including a 91F day June 27. Some leaves, without the opportunity to acclimate to the bright sun, paid the price.

All in all, the fruit is in pretty good shape, a wonderful outcome considering that pollinators were huddled under umbrellas in April, when rainfall was 2.5 times normal.

Ah… June is finally behind us. And this week the volunteers are well-paid, with fresh strawberries, blueberries and mulberries.

Ruth

P.S. As promised, I will not talk about the Zinnia catastrophe.

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