By LYNNE IRONS
The best way to describe my last week’s gardening activities would be “an hour late and a dollar short.” I hate to use the expression “should have,” but honestly my plants would have benefitted had I done in July what I did last Saturday. I finally finished mulching the Brussels sprouts. Some were six inches tall next to their cared-for family members of two feet. I added Pro-gro liquid fish and seaweed and sprayed with Dipel to thwart the cabbage worm. There are a number of the white cabbage moths hovering over all the cole crops.
We enjoyed another meal in the garden on Saturday evening. The full moon rose on us during dessert. What a tough life, huh? I threw together a ratatouille of sorts in a Dutch oven and placed it into the coals. I had some sweet Spanish onions, basil, a lone spaghetti squash, plum tomatoes and some sort of Brazilian eggplant. I tried to go back into the memory bank to figure out the cultivar, but my memory bank has had too many withdrawals. At any rate it was a bright orange eggplant having ripened from a deep green. If anyone knows, give me a ring as I would love to grow it next year.
A Dutch oven is a wonderful piece of equipment. I have cooked nine-pound hams over an outdoor fire as well as large chickens.
Speaking of great equipment, another necessary part of the food processing kitchen is the Squeezo strainer. I believe they are offered up for sale in the back of Johnny’s Selected Seeds catalog; Liz at SBS could help in the ordering. It is unrivaled for removing skin and seeds from raw tomatoes. The resulting juice can be drunk at once, cooked down for sauce or processed for winter use. Years ago I stopped using the water-bath method for tomatoes as I fear they are not acidic enough to ward off botulism, a potentially fatal disease. I use the pressure canner. I whip the quarts of juice up to 10 pounds pressure for 10 minutes and I’m still alive.
When they first come out of the canner the juice will have separated into clear liquid and pulp. Not to worry, just give a shake when cool and it will reorganize.
I love the cool evenings and low humidity. It’s time to think about lifting and dividing various perennials. I know I have a great deal of phlox and daylilies needing to be separated. It is a wonderful time to plan and plant a new bed. There is still plenty of time for it to become established before the cold sets in. I have one of the blood red hibiscus blooming right now. I swear the blossom is almost as big as my head. I noticed Dee at Eden has some for sale. I have had good luck in the past picking a seed pod in the fall and planting it into a flat in early spring. It would bloom the second fall. Totally worth it!
I am happy to have Seniel back illustrating. She has been practicing her artistic nature at Circuit Style across from daRosas in Oak Bluffs. Go in for a cut!
On Tuesday last at noon I left work to collect my granddaughter, Violet, so we could listen to President Obama address the nation’s schoolchildren. I, for one, am not living in fear of his indoctrinating my child in 20 minutes. If that were even possible it doesn’t speak well for the parents. Perhaps those who are afraid of his speech should have stayed in school longer themselves?