Don’t do as I do. I just make things up as I go along.
A year ago I grew an entire package of English thyme seeds. I painstakingly separated the tiny plants into cells. They had stems no bigger than a human hair. It was not an unpleasant task in my sunny greenhouse on a snowy February afternoon. At any rate, I planted them all randomly in my vegetable garden and pretty much ignored them for a year.
This past weekend while finally tackling some enormous weeds, I found several of the now woody and unkempt plants.
Like a crazy person I cut them down to about two inches tall. They have a tiny bit of green left. I think it was the worst time of year for such aggressive pruning. Oh, well! The good news . . . they all look tidy around what will become my fall garden.
Speaking of fall gardening, now is the time. I seeded some collards, beets, carrots, lettuce and kale. There is plenty of time for those crops. I also put in a row of sugar snap peas. Every year I vow to plant peas August 1 and never do it! Sadly, just as my end-of-the-month planting is ready to produce, a killing frost takes the crop. I am trying to develop a good-natured acceptance of my foibles. Wonder if I’ll live long enough to achieve that lofty goal?
Both the monarda and phlox have seen better days. They have developed a bit of mold on the leaves as a result of poor air circulation. Note to self . . . thin them out a bit this fall.
Last week I mentioned the curious lack of mosquitoes. I received quite a bit of feedback. Everyone had various theories, not to mention gratitude!
Since all the gardens are hopelessly dry, we’ve had to do early cutbacks in astilbe beds. They look ghastly. Some we were able to strip of their dead leaves, and the remaining flowers, although gone past, still have some interesting structure.
We have been marveling at the ability of hostas to still look their best with nary a sip of water for weeks. It is odd considering how fleshy these are!
Allow me a few moments to gloat. I started some dahlias from seed both the dwarf bedding type and giants. I put them into the ground as tiny babies — about two inches tall. They are beyond successful — all sorts of colors and sizes. I think they will produce enough bulbs for me to store for next year. Now, if I can only remember to label them for color won’t I be something?
What’s up with the wonky shapes of Brandywine tomatoes? I have grown some real beauties this year. However, by the time I cut away all the nooks and crannies, there’s not much left for slicing — chunks it is!
I did harvest most of the Romas. Since they are a determinate variety, they all ripen at once. There is a determined number of fruits for each plant. Once the harvest is complete, the plants can be pulled up. I hauled out the Squeezo strainer and processed a canner-load of tomato juice. I will cook it down this winter for a sauce when I have time and would like to heat the house with cooking projects.
The August 16 business section of the New York Times had an interesting piece on canning jars. Titled Authenticity, Sealed and Repurposed, it gave a short history of the jar. Back in 1858 John Landis Mason figured a way to preserve fruits and vegetables using a sealable jar and boiling water to create a vacuum. When his patent expired in 1870, Ball, Kerr and many more companies sold billions of the jars. They were widely used until the 1960s, when all sorts of processed foods began emerging from the growing food industry.
Canning had a big revival during the back-to-the-land movement in the 1970s. I must admit I’ve been canning food ever since then. Besides preserving my homegrown produce, it is an extremely satisfying venture. I’ve processed everything at one time or another, including chicken and pork. I haven’t died yet from any food-borne pathogen!
Speaking of food . . . how about Burger King moving its headquarters to Canada to avoid paying U.S. taxes? The IRS taxpayer still has to subsidize the workers’ paltry minimum wage with food stamps and fuel assistance. How fair is that? Oh, wait! It’s a whopper of a deal for them!