Summer months

Dear Budding Farmers,
As July comes to a close, I’m looking back on what we’ve been doing for clients as well as the pivotal seasonal turns we are gearing up for here at work. I write this thinking of our summer months and our city’s weather. Starting with our beguiling June lightening, and now, in August, our steep and derisive temperatures. At the grocery store, I hear strangers guessing at our climates “new normal,” because it seems this summer is once again full of uncertainty. Of course, such unpredictability works its character out on the human body as much as the plant body, and this season has called on us to be lithe and resilient gardeners.

The Summer Months that Have Passed…

Looking at these past summer months, I feel grateful that there are some seasonal gestures that our team has busied itself with. And as the year has circled on, we’ve been preoccupying ourselves with the edible garden’s quarter turns: trellising heavy raspberries, picking the straw-like leaves off day lilies, and watching the bees and other creatures hover over second-year Mullein and Echinacea. We’ve fed blueberries acidic amendments (and fed ourselves a few as well), and we’ve mulched beds and consulted clients on their plant’s water needs – this in hopes of retaining the soil’s moisture. Meanwhile, the Wisterias and Camellias have been thinned so that light better filters through the window.

And the Garden Work Ahead of Us…

It’s been charmed work, and as summer draws itself out, here are some of the seasonal activities we’d like to help you out with:

Lovely summer squash

1. Pruning Stone Fruit Trees: These delicate fruits require a delicate hand, though when pruned judiciously, mid-summer makes a great time to thin some of your stone fruit trees, slowing and steadying the ripening process. Summer pruning is especially perfect for Apricots and Cherries, trees that are susceptible to disease when otherwise pruned in our rainy weather.When removing branches from your stone fruit trees, we take care to remove the best upper branches and expose the tree’s lower shaded fruit, making sure to avoid any potential over-exposed or sun-burnt fruit. Stone fruit pruning also makes a great excuse to harvest plummy fruit!

2. Pruning Your Tomatoes: While going through client’s gardens, I’ve noticed some fecund, if not wild, tomato plants. Though while these plants may drip with green fruit and make gestures of abundance, I’ve been suggesting that client’s thin out their tomatoes.Why, you ask? Well, like most of life, more is not always better … and I’ve found that taking some of the weight of your tomatoes plants produces a delicate, more pleasing, fruit. If this sounds good, have us over, and we will get your plants in shape for your salsas and gazpachos.

Onion blooms

3. Preparing Beds For Fall crops: Given the eclipsing heat, it may be hard to imagine that any kind of cool fall is upon us… Nevertheless, August is a time to start dreaming of the Fall’s bed of crops. Those beets, brassicas, and other hearty seedlings that may have withered early this year. Needless to say, we would love to help you plan for this turn: preparing beds, choosing companion plants, mulching and helping maintain this coming plant cycle.

4. Helping You Save Seed: The heat has certainly sent some of my crops to flower, and currently, there’s more than a few, pale yellow flowers waving around my garden, trying to grab the attention of the bees. At home, I’ve been watching for the pods that grow under their flowers and making time to save their seeds. If you have never saved seed before, PDX Urban Farms would love to offer itself as tutor, showing you how to collect seed for the seasons to come.

Of course, gardening is full of tendencies, with any need being variable and wild. In which case, we are always here to help you with your crop inconsistencies and horticultural concerns.

Wandering through the garden with a client, I’m often stopped and asked: Is this normal? As they point to the moss outstretched in the shade, or the yarrow and comfrey that’s spread wild, and the aphids that have clustered and ascended their hop vines. Often my answer is something like: It happens respecting the reality that gardening is.

That said, I hope some of your summer garden is maintaining its vibrancy and that you are at the edge of an abundant harvest! Personally, I’ve had a plethora of garden herbs to use in my garden, and I’ve been making a rendition of this chimichurri sauce and drizzling it on fish or a few of my warm season crops. I will leave you with the recipe, hoping it motivates you to make feast out of your edible garden.

(from Alice Waters, The Washington Post)

  • 1 cup lightly packed cilantro stems and leaves
  • 1 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley stems and leaves
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons oregano leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients in the food processor and pulse until it is a salsa-like consistency. Add salt to taste and drizzle on your favorite vegetables and proteins.

Tenderly Yours,
PDX Urban Farms