This year’s weather and climate has been quite unusual since we moved to Bend, Oregon. Although we had some hot days during Summer, there were also unexpected rainy days, thunder storms, and moderately cool days throughout the past few months. I also decided to beautify the garden this year by growing some flowers: sunflower and cosmos. Despite the deer coming through to help themselves to the “free salad bar” every now and then, the lettuces, kale, basil, sunflowers, and cosmos weathered the elements.
There is so much joy in maintaining a garden, and there’s so much to learn about how the plants grow and survive in such challenging climate conditions here in the high desert. Good soil health, length of the growing season, insect pollinators, water, and sunlight are only some of the essential ingredients needed for the plants to thrive. I have learned to be somewhat selective about what vegetables to grow outdoors, and one can never know what weather events might transpire and affect the health of the plants. I was fortunate enough to have harvested some tasty lettuce for salads, amazing basil for home-made pesto, and even the smooth-leaf kale grew bountiful enough for us to make oven-baked, crispy kale chips that were seasoned with my wife’s delicious seasoning.
Having grown food in this climate, I have reaped the benefits. One key take-away lesson for me has been understanding the need of a controlled-environment situation for growing specialty crops. The weather here in Bend can sometimes get too hot to grow quality lettuce because bolting (flowering) can occur, and that makes the leaves rather tough, alkaline and bitter-tasting. Also, factors such as high humidity, heat, and direct sunlight can cause tip-burn on the lettuce leaves. But I’m extremely grateful to grow food here and learn so much from the process (Click on the photo carousel to see more).