The long days are here on The Ridge. Given the path of least resistance, it is much more preferable to work with the environment rather than against it. So, the time we get up each morning is inversely proportionally to the temperature forecasted that day. The hotter it is likely to be, the earlier we get up to get jobs done before the heat sets in.
Work in the garden happens in shifts – dawn until mid-morning (on a cool day) and early afternoon until dusk. This is when we water and prune, as it is not only easier on us as humans, but the plants do better because of it too. The mid-day hours are spent inside, and on the hottest days, we take our cues from the animal kingdom and find a shady tree to sit under or some cool tiles to lie on.
Our egg-laying friends are well cared for too; the sunflowers we planted a month or so ago are now large and lush and provide both shade and seeds to snack on, old feed bags have been sewn together to make temporary shade sails and the arrowroot we cut back months previous also offer shelter from the baking rays of the sun, as well as a great hiding place from the sneaky hawks who would like to make a quick meal of our growing chicks.
Old milk and juice bottles are put to good use – each night we fill them with water and freeze them solid, then take their lids off and lay them on their side over the animal’s water containers. As they thaw, they drip refreshing cool water for thirsty critters.
Small seedlings are given shade with cut banana leaves or bamboo frames, and to stop the fishpond from simmering the guppies; we use an old beach umbrella to block the worst of the sun.
Summer causes us to consider the heat pretty seriously, but it would be remiss of us not to think about the effects the inevitable rains will have as well.
The early hours of a fine day are a good time to check gutters for leaf litter, sticks and other debris. The last thing you want when the rains come is to have water come cascading over your gutters, especially if you are on tank water and are (quite literally) sweating on catching every drop.
It may be tempting to do this job of an afternoon, but given the solar storage capacity of our roofs, the tin or tiles can still give quite a nasty burn! The morning time frame also ensures you don’t lose light and can get the whole job over and done with in one go.
But rain or shine, truly the best part of our hot summer days are the cool balmy evenings when twilight is long, and the breeze blows softly. A cool drink fades the effects of the day, and the powdery scent of vibrant blooms fills the air and reminds us that summer is well and truly here.