My modest garden blossomed into a bountiful little garden this year. Much to my surprise, as I’m still learning how to make herbs, flowers, and tomatoes grow and flourish in semi-arid Billings. For several years, I just gave up. Now that I have lots of time on my hands, Richard and I decided to give it another go.
In the spring, we get a few weeks of rain, heavy at times. And then, around mid-June, the drought begins. Nourishing rain showers are few and far between until September, when the weather begins to cool bringing much welcomed raindrops. I’ve actually heard my tomatoes cry out for a drink of water – well, maybe not, but it gets pretty dry in southeastern Montana, just when the growing season is approaching its height in other regions of the country, like my beloved Indiana.
I have two observations about the weather here. The spring arrives late and fall is way too short. We’ve already had snow, for crying out loud. My second is that after spending incredibly hot June months, which normally arrive around the end of the month, I cannot begin to understand how Custer and Sitting Bull were able to rouse any of their troops to battle. I mean, it will be over 100 degrees on a bright, sunny day on the Little Bighorn. And the 7th Cavalry wore wool uniforms, boots, hats, and gloves. And the poor horses. I also understand why diets in the early days were hearty and laden with carbohydrates. But I digress . . .
The herb garden was spectacular! It required little watering, compared to the vegetables and flowers. I had to hack down the sage a few times to keep it from snuffing out the thyme and chives. At my last home in Indiana, I planted sage along a raised flower bed built into a small hill on the back of our property. The sage didn’t get a lot of sun or a lot of pampering, but boy did that stuff grow. And in the spring, it would bloom – filled with lavender flowers cascading down the retaining wall. I loved it.
OK, now we’re at the end of our harvest. Richard and I enjoyed a bounty of fresh tomatoes. At every turn, I was using them in tomato soup, marinara sauce, salsa, and simply sliced with salt. And you can see from the “after frost & snow” photo, I still have plenty to turn into sauces to freeze.
I had less success with my peppers – hot Hungarian wax, orange bell, and jalapenos. Normally the jalapenos and Hungarians thrive. It may just have been too hot this summer, despite a new watering system Richard installed. But they were pretty and tasty. It was my first attempt growing bell peppers, and I was pleasantly surprised. They were very sweet – great in salads, on top of pizza, stir fried for fajitas, or sliced into strips to dip into ranch dressing for a snack.
And I hope to be surprised in the spring, when the perennials I planted begin to sprout. The daylilies and echinacea I planted in June survived like gallant little troopers. A good winter’s rest will do them good.
Guess it’s time to put away the gardening catalogs. Christmas ones are already arriving in the mail. I’m not in a rush.