It's the second week in June, a time when all gardeners have been working away out there on their piece of land for weeks and weeks, yet I still haven't written at all about my garden. I too have been out, preparing the soil, digging, sowing and planting, but at a very slow pace, and I only finished planting our garden this weekend (the basil was the last to go in).
This year, in fact, I didn't rush the new gardening season when the calendar or the gardener's almanac alerted me that it was time to plant summer crops. Instead, I looked at our woods, and watched for the new leaves on the winter-bare branches to come. Then I took a handful of garden soil, squeezed it and rubbed it between my fingers, and felt its temperature and its texture - was it still winter-clammy? And I felt the water in the irrigation tank by dipping my hand in deep, to see if it was still winter-frigid. This year, I waited for signs that would tell me that in our narrow, wind-swept valley the time had come to plant a garden.
Because spring crawled along at a slow pace this year (yes, again!), my garden did too: I planted only when the soil and the water warmed up, only a couple of weeks ago. It's a little late according to the gardening schedule for our growing-zone, but years of local experience have taught me that plants will have a much better chance of thriving and producing good crops when the delicate balance between temperature, soil type and sun exposure is optimal - and this, within the same growing zone, can differ considerably from one area to another. Our little plots of land perched on terraces on a steep hillside in Liguria has a micro-climate and growing rhythm all its own, which I've been striving to learn and respect.