I once knew a woman named Dot who lived in a seaside town and planted gardens for people. By the time she got around to her own, it was July 1, which some would call “too late.”
Dot, who also dug clams, knew that “time and tide wait for no man,” but, having no choice, she did in early July what she’d hoped to do in March or April. Somehow she always wound up with a productive garden.
Habitual gardeners rely on precise planning. But the guidelines we learn so carefully can seem more a belief system than an empirical science. “The last expected frost date,” after which the planting of most food crops is safe, is no more of a signpost than a blaze on a tree that has fallen across a trail.
Guesswork has always been a part of gardening and will remain so. Although forecasting temperature, rainfall and the like has gotten more sophisticated and perhaps more accurate, the weather itself has gotten more extreme and at times more “unseasonable.”
As a response to a life of weather uncertainty, I’ve become less attached to the idea of a gardening year, with well-defined seasons. So if you somehow never got around to spring planting, here are a few tips on how to go ahead and roll the dice.
Tormenting yourself about the non-sowing of spring peas is less helpful than ordering seeds for a fall crop, “fall” being a vague stretch of time that might, theoretically, be marked by cool temperatures. And while you’re planning for a garden that will perform from early September into November and beyond, there’s still time to stock the summer garden.
You can still sow beans, both pole and bush. In fact, any crop that you’d normally…