June is the month for fireflies here, with their glow and glimmer over and through meadows filled with grazing cows at dusk. June is a month of warmth, of summer blooms, heavily scented peonies and roses, and sudden storms and sunshine.
The world is green again, the woods fully leaved-over, shadowed and mysterious.
The sun is out and the air and soil now warm, so the garden plants are starting to take hold, to root down and grow up. There is something magical about June, in the way things are growing so quickly. A small seed, once planted, stretches out into a vine, a tree, a garden plant, and entire fields of seeds transform into a crop. The chickens range, catching worms, feathers in the breeze, the coop windows open wide.Yesterday, I saw one look at some leaves just overhead on a low-hanging branch, and then jump up with an open beak to get a bite. It reminded me of the way teenage boys will leap up to touch the top of a door frame on the way through, because it’s there, because they can. Just weeks ago, in March and April, these chickens were the size of golf balls and now they are almost full sized, enjoying the outdoors as they range from the wide open sun to the dappled shade underneath apple trees, and young plum and birch trees.
June is when the corn in the farm fields comes up, and then begins to really grow, and the plums and apples set fruit. The race of things growing UP and OUT is on; the clock towards summer and fall ticks onwards.
Now is the time to plant and grow for a later harvest in summer and fall. We planted our garden: some potatoes, some corn, tomatoes and peppers, some chard, parsley, a row of sunflowers, cucumbers and squash, bush beans. All quite ordinary, about 20 feet by 40 feet.
And in a corner of the garden near the wood pile, we planted pumpkins. Ach, you might think, big deal, pumpkins. Who cares? Some of these pumpkins are normal size pumpkins, and some actually are a big deal, they are hundred-pounders or more that a child can sit on without any toes touching the ground.
Week by week, we watch them grow, first twin leaves, then vines that stretch out farther than you can imagine would, a canopy of leaves, and the pumpkins themselves, expanding as time goes by and the summer rolls forward.
Pumpkins (and melons too perhaps, but we haven’t dabbled yet in those) seem to store up a whole summer of weather (sun and rain, muggy or cool) and a whole summer of color and carry it all, as they expand, through to fall. When we do cut into them in October, the scent and the color remind me of summer, of the months of June and July, preserved and stored.
If you want to try your hand at giant pumpkins and some over-sized Jack o’ Lanterns, it’s not too late this year, they can be planted as late as July and still be ready for October. So go ahead, plan ahead now for some October magic.