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  • Writer's pictureInes Batterton

The Summer Garden of 2023: A Season of Challenges and Surprises

A story of challenging weather patterns and resilient plants

The summer of 2023 was a season of contrasts for gardeners across our Eastern Ontarian region. As the growing season began, wildfires cast a shadow of uncertainty, shrouding the sun in smog and introducing a cool, overcast start to the summer. However, despite these challenges, we gardeners persevered. We planted and sowed as usual and were over the season presented with beautiful surprises.

One of the most significant challenges gardeners faced in early summer was the persistent smog caused by wildfires which was an unusual event to the area. The haze obscured the sun and kept temperatures cooler than usual during the early weeks of the growing season. Many gardeners were concerned about the impact of reduced sunlight on their crops, especially those that thrive in warm conditions and need at least 8-10 hours of sunlight per day. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants grew significantly slowly through the month of June, but they survived.

As the summer progressed, the weather took a turn and frequent rain showers became a regular feature, bringing much-needed relief to gardens, farms and forests. At first it was a blessing, but the temperatures remained cooler than normal, and the combination of high levels of moisture and relatively cool temperatures provided the perfect breeding ground for fungal diseases. Some crops like kale, broccoli or cauliflower got easily infected and withered away early in the season. We gardeners were eager to protect our crops with covers or by adding mulch to our beds to prevent these soil borne diseases from spreading.

Warm season crops like tomatoes faced a similar challenge. They typically thrive in the summer heat but were initially slowed down due to the delayed warmth. We had to exercise patience as we waited for our beloved summer staples to ripen. However, our efforts paid off as the warm weather finally arrived in August, and these plants began to yield a bountiful harvest. Any lucky gardeners whose crops didn’t get affected by blight or brown rot are actually still harvesting!

In hindsight we can say, leafy greens and beans were the unexpected stars of the season. These cool-season crops thrived in the cooler, wetter conditions, producing vibrant and healthy yields. We enjoyed an abundance of fresh salads, crisp greens, and flavorful beans throughout the summer.

If anything, the summer of 2023 taught gardeners near and far valuable lessons about adaptability and resilience. It was a reminder that, in the face of unexpected challenges, nature can surprise us with its ability to adapt and thrive.

As we bid farewell to the summer of 2023, we can look back on a season that tested our skills and patience. Despite the smog, the late start, and the rain, there were triumphs to celebrate. It was a summer that highlighted the enduring spirit of gardeners and our ability to nurture life from the soil, even in the most challenging of circumstances.

Keep on gardening!

This article will be published in The Review, edition of October 11, 2023, Health Page.

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