July is a very pleasant month on the coast of Maine if you can afford to run the heat.

I’ve planted beets and carrots twice. My friend Duane helped me put in over 500 beet and carrot seeds on June 24 but only six or so tiny beets have peeped out so far, and they are probably wondering if they made a mistake.

On the positive side, I just ate my first carrot from the first planting and, as I crunched away on the country-fresh sweetness, could not but help think that some of the molecules in that carrot had recently passed through the intestines of Timmy Polky’s cows.

Several times every day I bundle up, visit my garden, and say a few encouraging words but it doesn’t seem to help.

Perhaps you can tell me why nothing but microscopic weeds seem to be growing. Beets do nothing when the temperature is below 60 degrees.

I’ve noticed that my affluent neighbors plant in raised beds, and a raised bed might be the answer to my problem.


I will plant my seeds in the raised bed on the back of my pickup truck. And every morning I will drive them up to Warren where there is no fog and it is 15 degrees warmer and let them bask in the inland heat all day.

At night, I’ll drive the truck home here on the coast. In four or five weeks I’ll have the most impressive crop of anyone in town and will invite envious neighbors over to munch on crisp, young carrots.

Why, I often ask, did my ancestors come here? The ones from Scotland, England, Ireland and Sweden didn’t realize how cold it is here because they had never seen a summer.

The weather here in St George was admittedly warm for July 4, the temperature being in the high 50’s, so we only had to run the heat part of the day.

If you are in business you know that you have stock answers for the silly questions you hear several times every day. Go into my cousin Truman’s antique shop and ask him if he buys antiques and he’ll say, “I’ve got to. I can’t steal enough to stay in business.”

Ask me why I run my heat in July and I’ll confess that it is difficult to type here in my sun room while wearing mittens.


Every August for years I’ve put a small sign out by our big B&B sign. It says: “Heated Room – Hot Shower,” and it draws them in. I remember in particular a shivering teenager who had spent the past few days in an Outward Bound open boat.

Have you ever noticed that by the time you have figured out a fail-safe technique for success that you are too old to implement it? Here’s another way I could move my garden ahead by weeks.

The temperature in the cellar beneath the floor of my new back addition, is probably 75 degrees.

My cellar is heated by solar water heaters, the liquid from which is directed into pipes that Mr. Libby and I put down on a concrete floor before Jim Kinney poured another beautiful concrete floor on top of it.

If you can warm a concrete slab in the cellar with solar radiant heat, why not the soil in a Maine coast garden?

If it is the temperature of the soil that determines the germination and growth of carrots and beets, run a length of pex pipe about three inches below the ground and run warm liquid from a solar water panel through it. Plant your seeds above that.


You’d not need solar radiant heat for radishes or cucumbers or squash. But two 20-foot rows of warm pex pipe for beets and carrots would be just the thing.  This is such an obvious way to get a Maine coast garden to produce that I’ll bet a Google search would turn up many examples of where it is already being done.

People ask me if it isn’t discouraging to live in a place where the temperature on July 6  tops out at around 55 raw degrees under a cloudy sky and you have to run heat to even read a book or type in your sunroom.

And I’m going to tell you what I tell them.

The middle of July is a good time to live in St. George. You can think to yourself that in only a little over five months, the days start to get longer and summer will be on its way back to the coast of Maine.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:


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