By LYNNE IRONS
This mild late fall has brought out the best in gardens. It is so odd to see marigolds and and geraniums in pots and window boxes alongside the Christmas greens. There are pansies and ornamental cabbages acting as if it is October. Last fall I put a few ornamental cabbages in some big cement pots. They lived through last winter in spite of the horrible weeks of solid ice. In the spring I did not have the heart to yank them so they were incorporated into the summer display. Occasionally the flowers had to be removed and a bit of general fussing. More than a year later they are still holding their own. I love that!
The vegetables are hanging on as well. Whippoorwill Farm is offering a limited (next two Fridays — one being today — and Saturdays) CSA, that is, community supported agriculture. I went last week to check it out. For $20 I loaded two bags with wonderful fresh produce — celeriac, onions, potatoes, carrots, turnips, kale, leeks, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and salad mix. For those of who don’t know, CSA is a method by which seed money is given up front at the beginning of the season and then sharing in the weekly harvest. This week and next are simply one-shot deals. Believe me, it’s worth it.
With all that food calling for preparation, I was delighted last Saturday afternoon with the rain. It takes seriously inclement weather to drive me indoors. I spent quite a bit of time hanging over the sink washing and peeling. Besides a kale soup of sorts — no linguica, just some home-grown pork bones — I prepared some vegetable vinaigrette dishes to eat cold for lunch all week. Broccoli, cauliflower and garlic makes a great salad and will receive a hard-boiled egg later on.
How about the fine showing of winterberry at the up-Island Cronig’s parking lot? I see they cut the ornamental grasses back early this year. Generally I prefer them next to the Ilex but the red berries make a strong statement on their own. Isn’t it a kick that the yellow marguerites are still blooming along State Road?
This Sunday at 3 p.m. is the monthly meeting of Homegrown. This reminds me: a note to Deb from Edgartown; you asked if there was a plant exchange on-Island because you were interested in sharing some of your cannas. Homegrown is your answer. We have exchanged quite a few plants, seeds and cuttings in the past year. It would be great if you could join us. Oh! And thanks to both you and Eddie and Janice Belisle for your kind words sent on e-maill to the Gazette office. I love it when someone eggs me on.
Several weeks ago, I purchased 20 bulbs of soft neck garlic and separated them into enough cloves to plant an area three feet wide by 30 feet long. Then I decided we needed some hard neck varieties for ease in peeling and to eat fresh all summer next. The soft necks will store nicely for next winter. My friend and partner Marie volunteered to search online for some company that still had some in stock. She found Landreth Bulk Company which specializes in heirloom varieties of flowering bulbs and garlic. It is worth looking up. They have lovely drawings and historical facts. Marie, a woman after my own heart, promptly ordered everything and then doubled it. Needless to say, we spent last Saturday morning hurrying to get the order into the ground. Luckily there was an area with foot-high field peas. We had some rows directly in the pea plants. They had done a good job of loosening the soil so the task was relatively simple.
Health care! I have had it with the United States Senate. How do we call ourselves a democracy when we allow a bunch of naysayers and poor losers to dictate against what is clearly the majority rule. Isn’t democracy defined as majority rule? Instead, in the Senate we have some ego-driven few who are apparently starved for attention, not to mention in the side pocket of the insurance companies. To wit: Joe Lieberman. Al Gore must rue the day he tapped him for his Vice President running mate. Where is LBJ when we need him? How about some old-fashioned backroom arm twisting. Can’t we have Medicare for everyone and call it a day? Come on, folks, let’s get selfless for a change, put a bit more in taxes and take care of all. Who said a rising tide will raise all boats?