By LYNNE IRONS
You would be hard-pressed to find someone further politically left than me. However, the other day I was potting up some plants and listening to old bluegrass tapes (Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys.) They have a song called Let’s Keep Old Glory Waving and Never Let It Touch the Ground. I was thinking about the American flag and what it means.
When I was coming up in Rew, Pa., my grandfather, Popop, was in charge of the flagpole in front of the World War II memorial at the fire hall. He would run the flag up that pole every morning and we children would take it down at dusk. He impressed upon us how important it was to never let it touch the ground. We folded it nightly into the classic little triangle.
Nowadays, when we are supposedly super-patriotic, flags are nailed to trees, hanging ragged off pickup trucks, flying all night long, and becoming a symbol of arrogance in the world. You wonder what this possibly has to do with gardening? Absolutely nothing, and I don’t care.
I had a fine crop of Jerusalem artichokes this year. Now there is an interesting plant. When the holocaust comes, we can live on dandelion greens, wild onions and Jerusalem artichokes. They kept Lewis and Clark alive. Sacajawea, the Indian girl, was their guide. She showed them how to prepare the artichokes and basically kept them from death several times on their westward journey. Oh, and by the way, she carried a baby on her back during the three-year hike.
The Jerusalem artichoke is, I believe, a cousin of the sunflower. The edible tuber can be prepared like a potato. It has a crunchy texture similar to a water chestnut. It also can be ground into flour. The DeBoles Company makes several types of pasta out of that flour. It is great for those of you with wheat intolerance.
There are several lovely annuals still holding their own. All the salvias look great (Indigo Spires, Mexican Sage and Pineapple Sage.) They are probably the genetic grandparents of the common zinnia, which I could not bear for one more minute and ripped up in mid-September. The classics still look excellent and require little or no deadheading.
I am happy to report that I had thrown a few flats of the foxy annual foxglove in the ground in August. Well, actually, I set them free from the flats which had been sorely neglected for months. They are happily blooming right now. Nature is so forgiving.
Every time I pick a tomato, I think it will be the last of them, but they just keep coming. I did not get them into the ground in a timely fashion so they are still trying to catch up. Good thing I have yet to freeze here in Vineyard Haven.
I couldn’t process any more this week, so I made up a huge pot of tomato soup. First, I had the totally irritating task of removing all the skins. I dip them in boiling water first. Then, I sauteed a good amount of onions, garlic and herbs, pureed with the skinless tomatoes, cooked just a short time and added cream to finish it off in the bowl. Yummy.
I like to grow the Roma and San Marzanos. They are both Italian paste tomatoes with a minimal amount of juice. They are the best for sauce.
This month’s National Geographic has an article about how our memory works. I need to reread it because I can’t remember how I planned to end this week’s column.