We’ve had a brutal summer here in Montana — temps consistently in the 90s, not even cooling off that much at night. Until the last week or so. The earth, thank goodness, seems to be starting it’s tilt away from the sun — there was frostbite on the cucumber vines yesterday morning and this morning, I’m sitting at my backyard table, under the dying apple tree (although it’s resurrected itself from suckers so often that I’m not giving up on it) wearing wooly socks, and a Pendelton shirt. I am a happy happy girl.

Everything out here seems to be breathing a sigh of relief. The grass is greening up again. The bok choi and mustard greens and chard are recovering from the Summer of The Flea Beetles. There’s arugula at last, and the 2nd planting of green beans seems to be finally throwing some beans. I did have to swathe the tomato plants in row cover, but there are tomatoes beginning to ripen up under there — the tomatoes and peppers are the happiest plants in my garden this year — but of course, we’re in that danger zone now –it’s supposed to go back up into the 90s this week, but all it takes is one cold night … hence, lots of row cover, and as it gets colder, I might add a layer of plastic to boot.

And there’s no fruit. Both plum trees did not produce this year (well, the wild plum seems to have about six tiny plums). I did get a few raspberries and gooseberries off the new plants, but they’re new, so I hadn’t expected much. The apple trees — nothing. The two Yellow Transparents had no fruit at all (I think it snowed right after they bloomed) and the red apple trees (Macintosh? something else? I don’t know exactly what they are) only produced a handfull of apples, all of which were eaten by magpies. Also, birds ate every cherry in town this year — there wasn’t much of a harvest on the sour cherry trees down the street that I poach from every year, but the bird stripped what there was.

Because not only has it been hot, but we have no humidity at all. For the worst of it — July and most of August, it felt as if every time one watered, it just evaporated right off. The ground was hard, and dry, and no matter how much water I dupmed on everything, the grass was on the verge of dormancy, the weeds were taking over, and in the vegetable garden flea beetles and earwigs just ate everything. Same goes for most of the gardeners I know in town. Clearly, I’m going to have to add to the drought techniques, since it doesn’t seem that any of this is going to get better in the next few years.

But this morning, it’s cool and lovely. The chickens are digging things up in my perennial bed, the dog is underfoot, and I am a happy happy girl in my wool socks.

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