Labor Day is unofficially called the last day of Summer as children return to school and the equinox approaches. This year, however, it is hard to see something ending that for many practical purposes never seemed to start. With the exception of a few humid and hot days, Summer never got off the ground. The days were warm but not hot. The nights were cool, often in the 50s, leading to early morning dew coating the grass and moistening the soil. Instead of mowing the lawn every other week during July and August, it needed tending every week or less. The hot steaming days and nights of summer missed us for most of the season.
The tomatoes governed their growth and flowering as if they were complaining over the lack of hot, humid days with afternoon downpours of water. They grew only incrementally and flowered rarely. And while bees and other pollinators did their job, the fruits were small and green.
Blackberries, on the other hand, were more than happy with the summer as they grew numerous and fat on the brambles. Every afternoon, there was another basket of black berries waiting to be picked. Unlike blue and strawberries, blackberries appear to have few creatures save us humans who want to eat them. They are one of the few edibles in the garden that do not require a hands-on approach.
But other crops failed in compensation. Large slugs didn't let greens grow and rabbits bit off the tops of carrots stunting their growth and dashing any chances for sizable harvests. Peppers fruited, but were small like their tomato counterparts. Beets were ready for harvest but a groundhog got to them before we did.
Summer has been more late Spring with a fresh clean smell greeting you every morning. Plants know better as they ready themselves for Fall. The hostas' flowers have come and gone with the seedy stalks needing snipping. The daylily blooms have long since dropped leaving yellowing leaves and naked stems. Golden rod and a few asters bloomed last week, well before they often do. The leaves have started to tumble and a few early escapees lay alone on the ground waiting for their higher brethren to join them.