I spoke too soon. Last column I bragged about my dahlias and tomatoes. Last Thursday night-early Friday morning brought a killing temperature of 30 degrees to my big garden. It is located in the center frost pocket area of the Island.
The dahlias were blackened, although I still am holding on to hope for their recovery. The tomatoes, however, are beyond restoration. I took a trip up to Mermaid Farm to beg some Roma paste seedlings from Caitlin. She generously gave me a flat from her greenhouse. She, too, was hit by frost — so bad that she lost plants covered by Reemay.
I did wax fatalistic for the better part of the morning. This was after jumping out of bed at around 5 a.m.
I attempted to save the frozen plants with water. Sometimes a dousing will protect them if done before the sun hits their leaves. I think it may have worked somewhat as the King of the North peppers are still alive. It is a cultivar especially meant for northern climes.
Two tomato plants did survive. They were in the shadow of two large cardoon plants. I guess as the frost moved across the garden, the cardoons stopped it. It is something to think about.
I do not believe I have experienced a frost this late in spring for at least a decade. All bets are off, what with climate change. That’s right. I am a believer.
I do not think I have ever seen a more beautiful meadow than at the old Humphrey’s place at the State Road end of North Road. The red buds have finished blooming, as well as the small orchard. Now it is covered with blue lupines and ox-eye daisies — just beautiful. Just so you know, meadows take a lot of work. One that pretty didn’t just happen.
Equally impressive right now is the shasta viburnum. There are several in full bloom at the State Road Restaurant in North Tisbury. Viburnums are underrated. There are dozens of varieties, many with spectacular fall colors and bright berries.
I have a small Persian lilac. It is a cousin to the Miss Kim. It comes into bloom just as the others are finished. I have had it for a couple of decades. It is just over six feet and compact. It is a nice shrub even when it’s not blooming.
I am being overwhelmed with flea beetles. They have nearly polished off the cole crops and have moved on to the infant eggplants. I have been dusting with diatomaceous earth. It is the pulverized bodies of tiny sea creatures. Supposedly, its sharp edges puncture the exoskeleton of hard-shelled insects, causing them to dry up and die — in my perfect world.
One of the problems with attempting to garden organically is the necessity of sharing with pests. I don’t mind so much if they leave me something.
I am a big fan of handwriting. My brain works better. Finally, I’ve been vindicated. Tuesday’s New York Times section called Science Times had a front page article entitled What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades.
According to the article, common core standards which have been adopted in most states, call for teaching legible writing, but only in kindergarten and first grade. After that, emphasis shifts to proficiency on the keyboard.
After several studies conducted by psychologists and neuroscientists, it was discovered that children not only learn to read more quickly when they first learn to write, but they also remain better able to generate ideas and retain information.
One scientist even suggested that cursive writing may train self-control ability in a way that other modes of writing do not.
All of this makes me grateful to my editor at the Vineyard Gazette who continues to pick up my handwritten column each week and enter it for me into print. This is no small task since my handwriting leaves much to be desired.