I’m desperate for rain. I don’t mean a tiny sprinkling or a passing thunderstorm with a five-minute downpour. I need two or three days of a steady soaking. When I was a child, I remember many summer days of rain. We either played happily outside getting thoroughly drenched or spent hours of board game fun on the front porch.
To this day, I enjoy being outside in the rain. I own good rain gear. Pants are a must as a rain jacket will telescope the water right down the legs. I’ve said many times... there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. What is odd to me is the universal fact that people who work inside complain more about the weather than those of us working in it.
My gardens and lawns are languishing in the heat and dryness. Most of my job sites have irrigation systems. There always seems to be some sort of issue — either there is a break or some beds don’t receive more than twenty minutes from a soaker hose every few days. This is crazy-making for me, as the homeowner always wants to know why things aren’t growing properly. I hand-watered an area recently until a three-inch puddle formed. I stuck my finder through it into the soil. A plume of dust followed my finger up through the puddle.
Don’t get me wrong, I am eternally grateful to live here and not in the oven of a large city or the Midwest. I wouldn’t even think about living in the wildfire-prone Western states. The burned area in Colorado shows from space. Oh, just a tiny aside. The Great Wall of China can also be seen from space.
People, please, if you do nothing else, water the hydrangeas. The key word here is hydra. They look so sad without hydration. Just put the hose on a drizzle and leave it on one plant for a couple of hours.
While I’m on the subject of watering, all-rubber is the way to go. They have them at Home Depot for under $30 — American-made — and they will last a decade or more. They don’t kink, can be left out all winter, and you can drive over them.
The bittersweet seems to thrive when everything else is gasping for a sip. I parked my dump truck for several days on the edge of a patch of it. It wrapped around my side mirrors several times. Does it grow a foot a day? Good grief!
Why I grow radicchio is beyond me. It is entirely too bitter for human consumption. It has flowered a beautiful blue and reminded me that it is in the chicory family.
I finally have my tomatoes into the ground. Honestly, the weeks and months fly by and get away from you. The irony is that the day seems to last forever.
I grew some alpine strawberries from seed. What a wonderful plant. It does not send out runners like the June-bearing ones and can be eaten throughout the summer. You may honor it as a frais du bois. It is much sweeter but smaller than the common strawberry.
It is early but time to harvest garlic. The tops have dried out and some are lying down. Naturally, I planted a ton last November and so should be all set for a year in the garlic department. In my perfect world, I would lay it out on screens in a dry shed to cure. If I’m lucky I’ll probably cram it into a paper bag and call it a day.
Take my advice. (I don’t seem to use it.) Never plant gooseneck loosestrife or perennial ageraturn. The latter is a form of eupatorium. They will absolutely take over in a year’s time and you will live to regret it. I only say these things from sad and personal experience.
There was a great op-ed in piece in the New York Times on Monday. It was called Appalachia Turns on Itself, by Jason Howard. It basically explains the importance of corporate money on the attitudes of the coal miners and their families. Despite the overwhelming evidence that mountaintop removal, the radical form of strip mining, is a terrible practice environmentally and risky to the health of the general population, the coal industry has persuaded the majority that mountaintop removal is a powerful job creator.
Anyone who dissents against King Coal is greeted with open hostility and harassment. I understand this mindset. Being an Appalachian gal myself, I know the resistance to the federal government, especially the Environmental Protection Agency. People in my hometown are still angry about the government’s capping of the oil wells in the late 1960’s. This is regardless of open oil sludge lagoons, oil running in the streams and the tap water tasting of oil.
During the 2008 presidential election, I was surprised when Pennsylvania went for Obama, as I grew up in the Alabama section of that state. The big cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, won out. After that I knew Obama would win the election.