Temperate And Perfect

By Bonnie Grant | November 14, 2021
Image by Alex
by Bonnie Grant
November 14, 2021

One of the most bountiful and diverse regions is the Mediterranean. If I had my choice, I would vacate this desert and move where I could grow a temperate garden full of beautiful fruits and vegetables. The climate would be perfect for long season foods like tomatoes and basil. I would revel in the Mediterranean food I could produce in my garden, straight to my kitchen. It would be a dream. 

Dreaming of Milder Conditions

My current location has punishing winds, driving dust, blistering summers, little rain, and to add insult to injury, icy cold winters. It is no picnic in which to grow plants. The challenges are climatic, but also difficult in terms of insects. Some of the grasshoppers we have here are longer than my index finger. There are weeds here that scoff at herbicides and are so persistent they grow in land in which nothing else will take root. It has been a very 2 steps forward, 1 step back situation. While I am gaining some ground, it is an uphill battle to keep a beautiful and productive landscape. 

That is why a Mediterranean setting would be ideal. There is plenty of warmth, winters are not very harsh, the sun shines evenly, and there is plenty of moisture in the cool season. Summer is longer than winter, giving ample time to grow long season plants. And the things you can grow! 

Mediterranean Garden Foods

Mediterranean food has several classic staples. The temperate garden can feature olive trees, figs, numerous types of nut, almost any type of herb, and a plethora of Mediterranean vegetables. Citrus trees flourish and the fruits ripen perfectly on the tree. 

Of course, there are plenty of Mediterranean vegetables I can grow here in zone 6. But the tests of keeping them moist in our extreme wind, and healthy in our dusty soil, make it much more difficult than enjoyable. Plus, almost everything has to be started indoors if I want a prayer of getting food on the table by the end of the season. In a Mediterranean zone, the climate is mild and the slide into winter is gentle. Here we are thrown into winter, with nary a breath of fall. There is no time to enjoy an Autumn; we are simply thrust one day from a nice warm summer day to an overnight freeze which kills everything. 

Ideal Gardening Conditions

I can say the basil here is doing magnificently and I have plenty of root vegetables. My new baby passion fruit vine even has tons of buds as I write this. There may be maypops this year. The new grapes tried to fruit but I had to abort the clusters in favor of vegetative growth. However, I have high hopes for next year. We have tons of peppers — spicy to sweet, and many in between. But I would love a fig tree or citrus. I would simply swoon if I could grow nut trees. I guess you have to take the bitter with the sweet and make do with what you have. 

Still, a Mediterranean garden location is my gardener’s ideal. Mediterranean food is so good for you. In a temperate garden, I would have my pick of produce. If global warming is really here, I doubt we will grow milder, but instead expect to see hotter, drier summers. The challenge is here and I am up to it, but boy, do I wish gardening was easier.

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