September is absolutely the most challenging month for me as a gardener here in hot, dry San Diego. Temperatures are typically as high as any summer month, with no rain in the forecast. It’s a time for me to just try and keep everything alive in the garden.
I’m outside most days, watering, pruning, clipping and/or weeding. The entire yard requires hand-watering every other day, a real challenge during California’s worst drought in its history. On one hand, I feel guilty to water, however conservatively, yet without frequent “drinks”, there would be no citrus, roses, herbs, shrubs or vegetables.
This being early fall means that my beloved Meyer lemon trees, one thirty years old and one only a year old, have been picked clean with a new crop of green golfball-sized lemons due to ripen by early winter.
Likewise, our ancient navel orange tree, which produces fruit only every other year now, is covered with fruit that won’t be ready until late February. I can be patient and wait for the oranges (fresh juice every morning) but really miss those Meyer lemons. Because we watch salt in our diet, Meyers are a fabulous substitute and I pick a lemon pretty much every day to use in the kitchen.
My little herb garden is overgrown the basil has become “leggy” and needs its blossoms snipped. The chives are crowded by a bumper crop of flat-leaved parsley and the thyme needs to be weeded. Only the rosemary (not shown) thrives on heat, no water and, frankly, neglect.
Meanwhile, the butterfly weed, similar to milk weed, has prospered and spread all over the front and back yard, the raised bed and even on the front deck. It attracts Monarch butterflies, who lay their eggs under the leaves. Even during the current heatwave, you can step into the garden and count on seeing several beautiful Monarchs.
Last week, I found a ton of caterpillars on the butterfly weed, so I was excited to anticipate seeing them develop into butterflies. Unfortunately, they all disappeared overnight – some hungry birds, perhaps?
An army of crickets gobbled up my beautiful borage, its blue flowers a perfect garnish for summer salads. Here it is in all its glory last month.
What’s happening in your garden?