I pretty much hate summer — fleas, poison ivy, sunburns, mosquitoes, traffic and countless insect pests in the gardens. The worst of all is the lack of significant rain. Even lawns with irrigation systems are beginning to crisp. The encouraging news is that the lawns will come back. The dried-up annual beds and window boxes will not recover. I cannot encourage you enough to water those areas every day — perhaps morning and evening.
The Weather Channel is calling this an extreme drought, rivaling the dust bowl of the 1930s. Granted, we have been more fortunate than the Midwestern states, but we are approaching a serious situation. I notice a good number of dead trees in the woods. They are tinder at this point. I’ve mentioned this previously. The large stands of ornamental grasses will go up like torches. People, be careful with your outdoor cooking activities.
One of the irrigation people on a large property noticed that under the medium-sized maple trees, the gardens are particularly dry. He thought that maple must require more moisture than some other trees and are taking all the water. If you have some nice specimen maples, perhaps set up an extra sprinkler.
Speaking of watering, a word to the wise: Do not drive over the connection between two hoses. I’m just saying! It is better to water a long time every couple of days than a tiny sip every day. Place your finger into the soil to check for enough moisture.
The trumpet vines are lovely this year. There is one at the top of the Tashmoo Overlook at the entrance to the amphitheater. The wall around the fourway in Vineyard Haven is covered with one, as well as an entire side of the Square Rigger. The red flowers are a favorite of hummingbirds.
I pulled all the garlic. What was I thinking? Be forewarned, family, you may be receiving it for Christmas. I grew some elephant garlic. It is enormous and much milder than the standard variety. It doesn’t store well, so I need to use it first. I peeled several cloves and popped them into the crockpot with a little olive oil. It makes a wonderful spread on bread for sandwiches. I’m not fond of mayonnaise so this is a perfect substitute.
I also grew some bulb fennel. It is starting to bolt so I picked and braised it along with some cabbage, onions, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a touch of sugar. I served it over an Orange Peel Bakery biscuit. It was great, but the rest of the family refused to try. They have a bad attitude about fennel from the seeds in sausage.
I stopped at Rusty Gordon’s new farm stand. It is now Ghost Island Farm at the Old Nip ‘n Tuck store. For a new start-up, he is doing a great job. Stop by and pick up some nice local produce at reasonable prices.
Why, in this searing heat and drought, do weeds thrive? They maintain themselves in driveways, cracks in the sidewalks and along Beach Road, tucked into the sea wall. In fact, there is some beautiful sky-blue chicory to enjoy while waiting for the bridge to come down. I tell my workers that weeds are easiest to recognize as they are bigger and stronger than the plants.
Honestly, the nerve of Mitt Romney! Now he is demanding an apology from President Obama for the negative ads against his time at Bain Capital. Romney has been bragging up his business experience at Bain all along. He doesn’t ever mention his time as governor of Massachusetts. Since when are negatives ads unacceptable, Mitt? Your party, the Republican, did not apologize for the Swiftboating of John Kerry. How about the constant barrage against triple-amputee Vietnam War veteran Max Cleland?
I agree with the president’s remarks in Ohio. Governor Romney is a job creator — in India and China!