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Celebrating the season: happy Lughnasadh!

It’s August already, friends – how does your garden grow?

August first is the date celebrated in many cultures as the first harvest, the time when crops and plants are coming to fruit. Lughnasadh (pronounced Loo-na-sa) was originally celebrated in Ireland with feasts, festivals and fairs, as well as rituals and ceremonies designed to keep the plants and livestock healthy, and to ensure a good harvest the following year. It’s the point where we start to see the results of our hard work.

In my own garden, I’m definitely experiencing bounty, but also hardship. (I’m not speaking figuratively – yet!) Our tomato plants are more productive this year than they’ve ever been – so many big, beautiful tomatoes in shades of red, pink, brown and gold, the plants are 4 1/2 feet tall, and the foliage has been healthy and lush. The single zucchini plant has been producing 3 zucchini a day, and I have cucumbers climbing all the way over the archway at the entrance to the garden. I have been crediting the leaf mould we put on the garden this year, and I hope that’s true, because then maybe I can recreate the success next year.

And next year I will be on the lookout early for the sneaky culprits that have almost completely destroyed all that tomatoey, viney goodness in a matter of a week or two: spider mites. In no time at all the plants have gotten brown and dry. If I were in ancient Ireland I would bury a bowl of the first tomatoes at the top of a hill, or throw a cup of ale into the sea with a plea to the appropriate goddess. As it is, I’ve spent half an hour every morning spraying down all the leaves with a mixture of lemon juice, castille soap and water, hoping to save the plants. The verdict is still out.

Figuratively, I’m also starting to see the fruits of my labor, without too many spider mites to complain about. This year is a year of transition for me, as I am changing my business a bit, and I’m finally starting to see things come together. My first fabric collection for Windham Fabrics is now shipping to stores, and I have some fun new products that I’m putting up on the website this week. There’s still a long way to go, but this is just the first of 3 harvest festivals – I think I should be able to make a good deal of progress by Samhain, the final harvest celebration of the year.

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