Six on Saturday – Dog Days of Summer -August 11, 2018

Hot and humid  dog days here. Typical Eastern Shore summer weather. Occasional thunder storms may bring rain or just spectacular lightening in the night sky.  The garden work never ends. A load of mulching chips is now in the driveway. We will start moving it a few loads at a time in the cool of the mornings. It’s hard to believe that September is just around the corner.

Here are my six on Saturday, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

  1. Naked ladies (Belladonna Amaryllis) – I can never remember where this clump of bulbs is, but in August they appear and bloom. This year I found a stray one and moved it to its sisters. Google tells me that there is foliage that disappears before the flowers appear, but I don’t remember seeing that. I’ll put some flags by this clump so I can plant something low around them to hide the stems. These ladies do look undressed.

IMG_7018

2. I saved some seeds from zinnias in a Community Garden bed (not mine) last fall. This is my reward.

IMG_7048

3. The liriope (Liriope muscari) is beginning to bloom although it is becoming something of a nuisance as seedlings are appearing in the gravel drive.

IMG_7024

4. Tomatoes continue in my Community Garden bed. When I picked this morning I realized the strange yellow/white tomatoes were from the Shah plants I started. I tasted one and wasn’t seduced. I’ll throw them into the sauce pot but I wouldn’t can a kettle of just white tomatoes as I suspect they don’t have as much acid as the red ones. The chewed tomatoes were on a plant at home. Squirrels! The eggplant in a pot keeps producing.

5.  A fresh flush of ferns in an area where they all died back when we didn’t have any rain for six weeks. The hosta is a Francis Williams. Still no significant slug damage on the hostas this year which is miraculous considering how wet it has been in between the weeks of no rain. Might it be those fireplace ashes I spread around the hosta? The ashes have not deterred deer in another section, however.

IMG_7046

6. This is an early morning  photo of St. Michaels harbor, a ten minute walk from my house. On the right is the Maritime Museum, a world class facility that is keeping Chesapeake Bay history and waterman culture alive as well as rescuing and rebuilding some of the boats used by the watermen. Every time I go I am astounded that our little town has this jewel. A friend of mine is in charge of the gardens at the museum. He has recreated gardens from different time periods, including what would have been a typical garden at the small home of a freed slave. I’ll take some photos and share them.

IMG_6980

That’s my six for this Saturday. I hope you’ve enjoyed what I have to share in my garden on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Six on Saturday – I Heard My Garden Singin’ in the Rain – July 21, 2018

It rained on Tuesday afternoon this week. Several inches. I could hear my garden singing as water became available to parched roots. There will be casualties from the drought and this rain won’t see us through the rest of the hot summer, but it was welcomed by every gardener in the Mid-Atlantic region who got some. Rain here is capricious. Often storms that start on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay don’t make it across to the Eastern Shore. And when they do they may skip areas, but on Tuesday we were blessed.

More rain predicted for today. 100% chance. I’ll take it.

Here are six garden songs for this week.

  1. The schubertii allium heads dried on the stalks. I cut them, spray painted them pink and attached them to bamboo sticks. They look like pink fireworks and will give me some color for the rest of the summer. If I really cared I’d spray paint the duct tape that I used. This winter I’ll spray paint them silver or white and use them for Christmas decorations.

IMG_6790

2.  Yellow day lilies continued to bloom throughout the weeks of no rain. My parents both grew up on Iowa farms and both were gardeners. I think the gardening bug bit me when, as an eight-year-old, I returned to Indiana with a newspaper wrapped root of what my Iowa Grandmother called a lemon lily. I planted it when we got home and it lived and bloomed. I was hooked. How did the rest of you become hooked on gardening?

IMG_6779

3. The Goldsturm rudbeckia have perked up since the rain and will now bloom for weeks.  They are a hardy and reliable perennial in my garden. Upper right hand corner of this photo is Soldago rugosa (commonly called goldenrod.) It blooms bright yellow. I cut it back by half on July 4th. I’ll post a photo when it is blooming.

IMG_6783

4. This coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is happy in dappled shade. Others I had in full sun didn’t suvive. This one keeps coming back.

IMG_6786

5. Zinnias from saved seeds are blooming. Next year I need to get a packet of some that don’t get quite so tall.

IMG_6765

6. We are eating out of the garden. These few Yellow Finn potatoes grew in a patch where I had potatoes last year. Apparently I didn’t get all the babies out of the ground. They are delicious but not worth the bed space for the small harvest. I need to find a better variety. Suggestions?

This bowl will get turned into some German potato salad made with bacon from a local organic pig farmer. Also in the bowl are a few puny radishes I found when I was getting ready to sew a fall crop of turnips. I’ll slice them into a bowl of cucumbers and onions.

IMG_6792

In my beds at the Community Garden I am harvesting small beets and a few tomatoes. Yesterday I made gazpacho with tomatoes, cucumbers and garlic from the garden .

That’s my grateful-for-the-rain Six on Saturday, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

The Garden Gets Put to Bed

Almost all the leaves are off the trees. This year I’m having a guy come who has a big mulching mower and can dump the mulched leaves where I direct him. Not all goes in the wire corrals I created, but most of it does. His machine makes finer mulch than my little self-propelled mower with a bag. Chris has been here once and I’ll have him do another pass in a few days. Then I can put those mulched leaves on the flower beds and my four raised vegetable beds at home.

I currently have three beds at the St. Michaels Community Garden. One is a bed that nobody wants. It’s under a big maple tree and requires extra attention. It’s planted in garlic at the moment, although I am thinking about planting it with some hardy flowering shrubs next spring. Another bed is covered in heavy black plastic to keep the weeds down. I’ll uncover it in the spring, add some amendments and dig it before planting seeds. The third bed, where I had my tomatoes last summer, was planted at the end of August with fall crops: radishes, turnips, collards and two kinds of kale.

IMG_4746

Last week I put a floating row cover on it. I’m always surprised that most people at the community garden never think about fall crops. Our temps are moderate here on the Eastern Shore. We didn’t have a hard freeze until  two weeks ago. Friday was the first day I had to scrape frost off the car to go to my early morning yoga class. The row cover will allow me to harvest greens all winter long.

IMG_4748

The garden across the alley from this bed is the Wilson Reading Garden at Carpenter Alley which I helped create and maintain. A vacant lot when we started, it’s outside the St. Michaels branch of the Talbot Country Free Library. A winding oyster shell path and benches offer an inviting place to sit and unwind.

The land the Community Garden is on is owned by the town. The town council just approved our second five-year lease. Another friend and I have, for the last four years, been primarily responsible for keeping the Community Garden going. Recently we sent out an email that others needed to step up as we would be stepping away from our leadership roles next year. We got two “thank-you for all you do” emails in response, but no volunteers for the behind the scenes work that keeps the garden going. I’m not sure what will happen.

One of the original goals of the community garden was to create more opportunities for the small black community which borders one side of the garden to interact with the rest of the community (or the other way around). We were more successful with that in the beginning because the pastor of Union United Methodist church was very involved in the garden. A couple of years ago he moved to another church and the new pastor isn’t interested in the community garden project. That is not a criticism. Not everyone is a gardener.

Non-profits ebb and flow. Change happens and sometimes things get better. Sometimes they don’t. We’ll see how interested the community is in continuing to have a Community Garden. In the meantime, I’m off to the garden to harvest red turnips for a dinner party tonight.

 

 

Today I Get Pummeled

I have a body work guy who comes once a month to my house. He brings his massage table and works on my shoulders, frozen thoracic spine and hips. His name is Billy and sometimes he makes me cry. Billy has magic hands, but this is not a feel good massage; it’s deep tissue work getting my body ready for chiropractic adjustments by Dr. John Mitchie in Annapolis. I try to schedule Billy in the morning and Dr. Mitchie the same afternoon. I feel pummeled by the end of the day, but my spine is getting better.

If I was rich, I’d have Billy twice a week. Maybe then, I could have a feel-good massage occasionally tucked in between the body work.

I went to chiropracher Dr. Mitche originally for mid-thoracic issues. I think I may have hauled too many 40 pound bags of chicken feed or tuck-pointing cement. I actually think this all started the week we hand carried 20 thousand board feet of lumber from the pasture and stickered it up to dry in the barn. That was many, many years ago, but I’ve had back issues ever since.

My four mornings a week 7 a.m. yoga helps. Sitting at my desk writing for hours most certainly does not. I’m thinking about a standing desk. But it’s standing for a long period that really makes my mid-back hurt. Like the days I can tomato sauce or make jam. A conundrum… But all of this therapeutic work means I can work in the garden and not be crippled the next day. And I rarely take ibuprophen any more. A GI bleed (three years ago) that landed me in the hospital needing three pints of blood stopped that. Tumeric also helps.

Two weeks ago at the Farmers market I got some fresh lima beans. I shelled them and put them in the fridge not sure what I would do with them. Then, twice that week, guys who came to do appliance repairs at the house talked lima beans. These were shore boys who knew a thing or two about cooking fresh limas. Both told me to soak them overnight before cooking them. Fresh limas? Yes, overnight soak. That keeps them from being too starchy, I was told. The next day I cooked mine with a smoked ham hock and the result was creamy, delectable limas in a succulent broth.

The week after that I found cranberry beans at the Farmers Market. I’d never had them before and they were so beautiful, I just had to buy them. And Charlene, the vendor I bought them from, told me I’d never again use kidney beans in chili once I’d tried Cranberry beans. I also asked Charlene, from whom I’d bought the lima beans the previous week, about soaking fresh limas overnight. She’d never heard of that, but my results were so delicious I’d do it again. Fresh limas and cranberry beans are hard to find except for a very limited time at Farmers Markets.

I shelled mine, blanched them and now have four one cup bags in the freezer for winter soup. I found six pods that were quite dry. I set them aside to get totally dry and will save the seeds to plant next spring. This is a link to a Cranberry Bean Pasta Fagioli recipe. It sounds really good. First cold day, it’s going on the stove.

In the garden things are winding down. The huge pot of red geraniums that comes inside to bloom all winter has been cut back and the pot is sitting on the deck. I just have to wash the outside of the pot before my husband helps me bring it in. I can’t lift it on my own. A rootbound clivia has been divided and two repotted plants given to friends. The one I divided will come back inside for the winter, but I’m told by the gardener who gave me the original that it probably won’t bloom this winter. I also divided a huge agapanthus. I’ll bring a smaller pot of it inside, but haven’t quite decided what to do with the leftovers. Some people tell me they can winter over in our area, but I don’t have a sheltered place to plant them. They may go on the compost heap.

My bed at the community garden is full of winter greens. I should have radishes in two weeks.  I’ll put a row cover on it next week to keep out the falling leaves from a nearby maple.

A raised bed at home has bok choy that needs to be thinned. I’ll take the thinnings and plant them in another bed. That’s on the schedule for this weekend.

Soon I’ll be inside most days, with even more time spent at my desk. I really need to think about ordering that standing desk.

 

Fall Has Arrived

The new furnace has a thermostat that shows the outside temperature. 59 the other morning – that required a sweater. I love fall weather. Crisp mornings and evenings and mid 70’s during the day. Flowers are still blooming including one confused azalea. The flowers are beautiful so I’m going to pin down some low branches to make new plants. I think this plant came from my mother’s azalea garden and I have no idea what the name is. The only one I remember is Martha Hitchcock which has a very similar flower but in shades of purple.

Seeds for fall crops are going in a couple of the raised beds. On Saturday my husband helped me take the tomatoes down in my Community Garden bed and cut them up for the compost bin. Then we added some amendments (LeafGro) and dug the bed. I’ll seed it today. Two kinds of kale, some radishes, turnips and a couple of rows of leftover seeds just to see if they germinate.

My parsnip seeds never germinated. They came from Johnny’s Seeds and that was surprising and disappointing. I paid extra for pelleted seeds as parsnip seed is tiny. But not one parsnip seed germinated when I planted mid-summer. I think I’ll plant a row now  and see if I have better luck. You can do fall parsnips for spring harvests but I might be a bit late.

I had the last “student” at my leaf casting station.

Those concrete leaves will go to yoga class this morning to be delivered. Most of the sand I used for forms has been scattered around. It will eventually help my clay soil. The  I’ve been wanting to do some hypertufa planters and at Lowe’s yesterday found smaller bags of perlite and sphagnum moss so I think I will have to do that before it really gets cold. Then that flat door I’ve been using as a work station can go back into the garage as a colder weather project table.

My first book is at the proofreaders. The second in the series is on the dining room table. I have another plot thread I want to add, and then it will go to the proofer. I am quite impressed so far with her work. She’s asking all the right questions and is only occasionally confounded by some patois slang I use in dialogue.

When work on the second book is completed I will go back to working on book 3. I need to get up and move after working on the books and sitting for hours. These outside projects give me that opportunity. I supposed I could pull out furniture and clean behind, but being outside is always the option I’d rather choose.