Ten Things to Hate About This Rainy Summer In the Northeast



10. It's turning near-farmers into frou-frou ornamentalists. My perennials, in previous years referred to as "those stupid weeds," are all as big as buses with this steady moisture and as elegant as anything in a Penelope Hobhouse book. A peculiar and dangerous fascination is ensuing.
9. It's ruining all survivalist fantasies. My feeling about the post-peak-oil/global warming apocalypse has generally been, bring it on. Here on Quarry Road in Salem, NY, me and the doughty neighbors are prepared to be extremely gastronomical about the collapse of civilization. But that was before I realized that climate change might mean increased precipitation in the Northeast–and NO MEDITERRANEAN VEGETABLES! Now, I can see that in a future with no roasted tomatoes, the cowardly way out chosen by the wife in Cormac McCarthy's The Road might be the only option for me.
8. While potatoes like the water, they rot in the ground if you leave them too long in the fall. So I discovered in last year's super-wet summer.
7. Poor germination is the rule.
6. The strawberries taste like crap.
5. On the cucurbit front, everything is sulking except for the Dill's Atlantic Giant pumpkin. Another ridiculous ornamental the gardener plants only under pressure from the short people in her life.
4. The okra appears to be completely inert.  It has not grown an inch in a month.
3. Yet the pea plants are burning up in their accustomed July way nonetheless.  Whatever are we going to eat if it doesn't stop?
2. The weeds are ceaseless. In a normal July, they are panting and saying "Uncle" by now.
1. No pesto in sight. Now, we are talking a real survival issue! The only truly great 10-minute meal!  Here's how I do it: Rummage up a handful of nuts. Pine nuts are traditional, but walnuts are fine and I've even used pecans in a pinch.  Roast in a hot oven until they are slightly brown and the bitterness is gone. Throw into a blender with raw garlic, two cloves if you are cooking for a six-year-old, five if you are cooking for my husband. Add a colander's worth of basil leaves, a teaspoon of sea salt or maybe more, and enough good olive oil to blend this easily.  Pour over a pound of pasta. Grate a nice pecorino romano over it. Be happy. I would be if only there were enough sun for the basil to grow.


  1. It’s all true! Poor germination. Pathetic basil. Weeds and more weeds. The roses loved it though. And I do like snap peas. The tomato plants don’t look bad, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get a rip tomato. The squash plants are still sulking. Not even a zucchini blossom. Every morning the temperatures are barely 60 degrees. The cold wet has got to end though. Doesn’t it?

  2. Agreed, my basil is still a little clump right now and my tomatoes are not exactly loving the wet weather. But at least the lettuce lasted longer into the season than normal. Maybe we’ll all have to start eating more greens in the northeast.

  3. I guess this would be a bad time to say I’ve already made two big batches of pesto with some put in freezer. Plus I need to make more this weekend. But hey I live in Alabama not the Northeast.

  4. An unusually cool summer here in Cali – we’ve only hit 100+ degrees five times or so – has resulted in a boatload of green beans. Tomatoes are delayed because of the cooler temps, but so long as the apocalypse is too, we’ll be able to live quite well on all manner of tomato products, too.

  5. Well, agreed, except all that outdoor nonsense hasn’t affected the crops in our greenhouses (hoophouses). But indeed the future of plastic isn’t quite so bright with the end of oil. What to do?

    But The Road! A friend called it “The Feel Bad Book of the Year.”

  6. I HATED that book! Onandonandonandon, worse worser and worst, relieved only by climaxes of horrors followed by more. I actually threw it in the trash after my book group read it.

    As for the rain — well, here in the mid-Atlantic it has finally dried up and now we are parched. Doesn’t anyone up there understand moderation?

  7. p.s. — apparently because of the rain, we have a bumper crop of fireflies! They are magical, festooning my shrubs with their tiny lights and making evenings in the garden wonderful.

  8. If it’s any consolation, the National Weather Service ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) page says it looks like La Nina (the cold end of the cycle) is lifting and El Nino will swing into effect later this year.

    That means the rain shifts south with a milder winter up north.

    I don’t wish mudslides on California, but at 7.5 inches over normal rainfall for the past 6 weeks here in Maine, I’m kind of hoping the switch is real.

    We could use a break.

  9. We’ve had about a week of sunny weather now (knock wood) in southern CT, though we had 3 torrential downpours yesterday. I have seen an immediate response from the struggling tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers. The basil is still lagging behind, but I picked up some cheap from a local greenhouse grower (open a few weeks later this year than normal due to the rainy June and lack of customers), and it’s thriving. The mosquitoes are brutal and the slugs voracious, but I too have seen at least 3x the normal number of fireflies and have been absolutely enchanted.

  10. As a father of three young kids, The Road haunts me like no other book I’ve read. I just have to convince my wife to read it, who’s reluctant because I keep telling her it haunts me, and repeat often the mantra “I am not a survivalist, I am not a survivalist”. Essential reading indeed.

  11. I put slugs at #1 on my top ten list, followed by poorly growing basil – pesto is a staple here, poorly growing peppers, poorly growing eggplant, poorly growing tomatoes, a bumper crop of garter snakes, more snails than ever, larger snails than ever, lack of outdoor work time (I’ve weeded in the rain), and too cool temps. On the bright side, I’ve had a bumper crop of lettuce and peas are still producing – unheard of in my central Connecticut garden.

  12. This is only my second real summer of gardening so I don’t have much to compare this year to. This post made me feel better – I can check off several of these – 6, 5, 3, 2 & 1!

  13. So I am not imagining more garter snakes? I may see a couple a summer but they’re all over the place. Any idea why?

  14. And here in Minneapolis we are crying for rain. It’s so dry that all the perennials are shorter than usual, but my basil is doing very well.

  15. Me and my garden have LOVED, LOVED, LOVED all the rain here in the Northeast…record breaking amounts of the stuff. No sun for over a month and yet my basil is busting out all over…best crop I’ve had in years. Roses are fantastic…no mildew on the lilacs….clematis are blooming their heads off…a few mosquitoes have finally showed up but my Burts bees repellent is working just fine. Me and my garden haven’t been this happy since the yearly droughts started around 10 years ago. I’d gladly trade a year like this for a year like most of the last ten where we’ve had pitiful rainfall amounts and blazing heat.

  16. The no pesto in sight thing is really driving me mad; even now, the farmer’s markets and things are more or less basil free in the Finger Lakes area. And my own basil is, well, limp . . . on the other hand, the flower garden, lawn and trees are flourishing and I am getting a load of blogging done. . .

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