By LYNNE IRONS
For years I disliked geraniums, alyssum and marigolds. I considered them old lady plants, but now that I am one I have a whole new appreciation for them. I love the marigolds this time of year. They are so cheerful and sunny. I grew Yellow Boy from seed and put them here and there in the vegetable garden. I remember in the seventies lining the raised beds with them. I’m making a commitment to use tons next year. I also put Crackerjack into the annual border. Heavenly Blue morning glory is weaving into it. Crackerjack is quite large — two feet at least — with sizable yellow and orange blossoms. The good news about marigolds is that they come along nicely from direct seeding. No pesky stops at the nursery for pesky six-packs!
My artichokes are blooming. I opted for beauty not food. My friend Marie and I ate some early on but the heart was so tiny it was pointless. They are simply spectacular in bloom — a blue thistle-like flower. There is one blooming at the Katama General Store next to some rather impressive Love-Lies-Bleeding. It is worth a driveby — not to mention going in for the best scones ever. One of the Love-Lies-Bleeding, an amaranth cultivar, has a tendril over two feet long. Check it out!
As an update on the ongoing sauerkraut situation, I am happy to report that the fermentation was complete in just over a week. I removed it from the crock into a big stock pot with a couple of quarts of water, heated and packed it hot into sterilized jars. I processed the pints for 15 minutes in a boiling-water bath. I have enough to dump over several pork roasts all winter. Canning and any sort of food preservation needs to facilitate nine months of eating. Think big! We eat year-round. In the old days, people canned two years’ worth of produce to guard against crop failure. I have been known to do that in my younger days. Thirty quarts of tomato sauce is not excessive. It’s spaghetti once a week until spring.
I have had considerable damage from the orange-striped oak worm. They are crawling all over the place right now, having eaten their fill. Don’t bother spraying, it’s too late. This was the worst year for them. Just when we began to get control over the winter moth. To quote Roseanne Roseannadanna, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”
I ate a radish planted less than a month ago. I was so inspired, I replanted an entire bed of turnips. Last spring I had a great crop of them and hopefully now that it has cooled some I’ll get another batch. I think it may be late what with the failing light and all. I’ll keep you posted.
After the harvesting of the red potatoes, I had Violet, my granddaughter, plant some field peas. She loves the barely emerging greens and tendrils. She is definitely related to me — she covered every square inch of the plot. Hopefully I’ll till them under before it freezes to add some green manure to the soil. This particular area is not as rich as I would like yet.
Sue Branch and I spent some time carrying on about the sorry state of affairs politically. We met in the produce aisle of the down-Island Cronig’s. She commented that the liberals have done a poor job of communicating. In fact the word liberal is denigrated in many parts of the country, especially our Massachusetts brand of it. We agreed that President Obama made a good attempt to define the word during his comments about Senator Kennedy during his address to the joint session of Congress a week ago.
I over-caffeinated last Monday to stay awake for Obama on Letterman. It didn’t work. Slept right through several shows.