Clearing and Planting for Fall

What a weekend!  I did a flying trip to Fredericksburg to see my cousin and her husband.  They are in the midst of  illness and crisis and putting one foot in front of another.  I was able to visit and cook a couple meals for them and their son, daughter-in-law, grandson, and a friend who were there Saturday when I was. I stayed over and came home Sunday.

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Last week’s garden–I ripped out the basil and a bunch of the zinnias as they were not fit for bouquets–seedy and spotted.

Labor Day was a garden day for me.  There was weeding in the new AFAC plot.  The covers over the broccoli, cauliflower and kale needed weeding inside, so I did that. I fixed the borders for the small AFAC plot that had been taken out by the bus accident, and asked my gardening neighbor, Mike, whether he would hoe up the small garden and add compost.  He said yes!  It’s so good to have help.

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Last weekend, I built an unstable wall between the mulch pile and the new AFAC garden.

I worked in my own garden, where I had some carrots, a zucchini and an okra pod as well as some flowers.

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And some red peppers along with the zucchini and okra and carrots. Also, likely the last good bouquet of the summer!

I ripped out most of the zinnias.  It was sad, but I was merciless.  I have them for bouquets for the house and to feed the pollinators.  I felt a bit guilty pulling some out, but there are still a lot of other flowers in the garden, so I didn’t feel too bad about the bees and butterflies.

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This is the garden now, with the zinnias gone, except for the ones I trimmed, and the fall plantings under rabbit proof covers.

I planted a few things–more arugula, some rapini, some lettuces.  I hope to keep the garden going into fall.  The rabbits (one of which I chased today) are just awful, so I have created rabbit proof shelters for  much of what I planted.  I know they don’t bother the arugula; the rapini sprouts, which are not under cover, may be subject to their depredations.  We’ll see.

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Once the okra gets good sized, the rabbits don’t bother it. Looks like I’ll have more pods this week!

I’m looking forward to peas this fall.  They are planted in what I normally call the bean enclosure–safe from rabbits and voles. We’ll see how they do.  So far, so good.

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Yay for the peas! And some resurgent mint at the edges. Actually have a pasta recipe that calls for both.

The okra is happy again, with a bit of water.  I only have two pods so far this week, but it looks as though there will be more, and I’ll just add them to a zucchini saute.

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These are my kale, cauliflower, and broccoli plants, under protective custody…

If you pray, meditate, send good thoughts out to the universe–please add my cousin Allison and her husband, Bob.  She’s in a fight for her life after treatment for a brain tumor and he’s doing all he can to help day to day and advocate for her with medical personnel.  The treatments knocked out her blood system and red blood cell production.  We’re hoping for recovery from the treatment and some good time for her.

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This is the new AFAC plot, with the small plot in the background. I fixed the small plot’s border today.

I hope you have a good week!

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Excitement Nobody Needs

On Friday afternoon, I got an email from a colleague who knew where my garden was.  She gave me a link to a local news organization that showed a picture of a bus that had ploughed through our fence and into the garden. I scanned the article quickly to make sure nobody was hurt.  Whew. Last time this happened with an SUV and it sideswiped a gardener who never recovered.

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The bus had to be towed out.

Apparently, someone ran a red light and the bus driver, rather than t-bone the guy and kill him, took evasive action into our garden!  It saved lives and injuries, but left us with a wrecked fence and a few wrecked gardens.  The red light runner was ticketed and his insurance will be getting a few bills from us.

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The small Plot Against Hunger got quite a working over.

My garden was untouched, but the small AFAC plot was pretty hard hit.  We were getting ready to plant for fall there, but hadn’t considered replacing the fence too!

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Tonight I salvaged what hardware cloth I could and tossed the bent up steaks.

There has been more vandalism in the outside garden (the blackberry bush was cut down) and we have decided to move the larger AFAC garden inside to a plot adjacent to the small one.  So I cleaned that out a bit tonight.  It had been abandoned and gotten weedy, but was mostly cleared during a garden work day. I will put some broccoli and cauliflower seedlings in there once I prepare rabbit protection for them.

I also gave the county a call and asked for a traffic analysis at that light.  I think it needs left turn lights.  We’ll see what happens.  For now we’re expecting the fence to be fixed next week and to do some of our repairs. soon.  In the meantime, enjoy this video one of the neighbors of the garden took, complete with rainbow.

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Yup, Thinking of Fall Planting…

The garden has been a bit droopy lately because it is hot and the customary afternoon thunderstorms have either not happened or have happened two miles away.

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The peppers suffer most in hot, dry weather.

I was not able to get to the garden last week until Friday and my neighboring gardeners, let me know they had watered my garden, which was really nice.  On Friday evening, I saw things had gotten out of hand, so did a trash bin full of weeding and clearing.

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Even the basil looks as though it’s shrinking in the heat.

There are mulberry trees in the area and as a result of feasting birds, mulberry saplings in the garden.  They are long established, and it’s been impossible to dig them out, so I just cut them off, but when I don’t keep up with it, it gets shrubby along the fence line. Various weedy vines also had gotten out of hand both in the garden and out and flowers that seed, like the Love-in-a-mist, had gone completely brown.  All these things came out, along with some weeds and a lot of Jerusalem artichokes (another plant that goes utterly feral and unmanageable).

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Believe it or not, this is after the clearing!

That created a little room to begin to think about fall crops.  Yup.  In the midst of summer heat, I’m thinking about planting for fall.  The cucumbers, which have given lovely fruit, are about done, so I’ll likely rip them out soon.

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I always hate to rip things out and may trim the diseased leaves, but I do think these are about done…

I’ll keep the beans for the time being, but may rip them out if they don’t keep bearing and put some peas in there for fall.

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There are a lot of blossoms right now, so potentially more beans. We’ll see.

I am not a tomato grower. They fail for a variety of reasons, including weather and fungus, but I always get a few, especially now that I have discovered flower camouflage.

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There are three tomatoes in this picture…

This morning, I looked at my seeds, which include spinach, several types of radish, carrots, lettuces and arugula and something I have never planted, called rooted parsley, which apparently creates a big white root that gets sweeter as the weather gets colder.  I’m going to try that just for kicks.

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The thyme is looking good, with some new growth.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the continued profusion of zinnias in bouquets.

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Heading Into August

You may have heard that it’s been hot here.  Even for me, it’s been hot.  Just walking outside, not even exerting myself, I started sweating.  But it’s already broken, thank goodness.  The plants are looking a bit tired of the heat.

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The sunflowers are not wilting. They are amazing.

I took a walk around the garden, which I don’t normally do, looking at other people’s plots this week. Sunflowers!!! They are so lovely. I can almost feel them smiling when I look at them.

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It does look like artist portrayals of the sun, petals being the blaze…

Someone, a better gardener than I, has eggplant!  My eggplant have not been successful the past few years.

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I have failed in eggplant production in recent years. These two are marvelous.

Someone is growing what may well be winter squash.  And lovely they are!

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Another gardener has planted artichokes , which I did not realize looked so much like thistles at a certain stage.  Their foliage always makes me think of Audrey the man-eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors.

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The bees are thriving under the care of their beekeeper.

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They have doubled in size so far.

And I’m enjoying the flowers they work on.

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This week I plan to clear some things out so I can have space to plant some fall crops.  We’ll see how that goes, as the whole garden is rife with evil bunnies with glowing eyes.

I hope you enjoy your week!

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Who Gets a Band at their Retirement?

We’ve had some beautiful days recently, and yesterday I spent part of the beautiful day at my friend Jane’s retirement.  Those of you who read my blog have heard me speak of Jane in the garden–growing unbelievable tomatoes, building rabbit proof fences and laying out beds in the large Plot Against Hunger garden.

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Part of this week’s take for Plot Against Hunger, except the carrots. Those are mine.

Yesterday she retired with 25 years of service in the Marine Corps, the last 11 of them as Chief Music Librarian.  The Marine Corps has a huge music library as well as artifacts from the band that need to be archived and preserved.  Jane also made sure the band members had the right music and the rights to play it when they went on tour.  She has organized the music for five inaugurations, the funeral of George H.W. Bush,  and innumerable White House events, written journal articles on running music libraries, and given presentations at international conferences.  So it’s no wonder that the Marine Band played at Jane’s retirement.

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Here she is with the Marine Hymn being played at the end of the ceremony.

When you retire from the Marine Band, you’re offered the opportunity to conduct it.  Jane didn’t take that–rather, she opted to play one of her instruments–an alto clarinet–in Seventeen Come Sunday by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

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And here she is playing the Vaughan Williams with the orchestra.

Now you may say she doesn’t look old enough to retire.  She’s not. After a trip to Vancouver, Tahiti, and on to Southeast Asia bicycling through Vietnam, she’s coming back to join the music archives of the Library of Congress.  I’ll say they should be mighty glad to get her.

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Getting a hand for the Vaughan Williams–from the conductor as well.

She got some nice gifts from her colleagues, including a garden gnome specially painted to look like John Philip Sousa (wish I’d gotten a picture of that for you).  She’ll be blogging about her trip at The Journey in Between, so if you want to find out about Tahiti or what bicycling through Vietnam is like, give her a follow.  I know I’ll be waiting for posts!

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Blue skies!

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The Bounty Comes On

The gardens are doing their summer work of producing.  I dropped off about 15 pounds of produce for the Plot Against Hunger this weekend. It included green beans, carrots, tomatoes, summer squash and zucchini. Some of the zucchinis were big, so I dropped in a couple stuffing recipes.  I have a big one myself that I’ll be fixing tonight.

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Look at that sly zucchini! It’s the size of a baby.

Yesterday I made jam and this morning, I made some dill pickles.  I have been getting a good crop of cucumbers from my garden.

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Dill pickles and strawberry jam. Something good to put in the cupboard.

Everything is happy with all the rain we’ve had.  This morning though, it was raining again and my email kept pinging with warnings of flooded streets and crossroads.  Twitter had videos of crazy people driving through water up to the tops of the wheels. Where I grew up, you never drove into water over the road during heavy rain.  It likely had a current that could sweep your car off the road.  Alas, I think few people here know that.

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This is one of the less egregious examples on twitter this morning. The alarming ones were videos with cars driving through making wakes.

The flowers are in their glory right now and it’s wonderful cutting some every week.

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The zinnias continue to thrive.

I have more little golden squashes coming on, and have collected zucchinis as well.

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These will be ready by Wednesday…

And it’s time to start making pesto both for pasta and tomato sandwiches. Not to mention freezing…

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Basil is magical stuff!

As I write, the sun has begun to come out.  I’m taking some time off this week to do things I can’t get to while working and to make a push to get myself in order for retirement in the next year.  So many things to think about–and act on and make decisions about!  One thing for sure is I’ll still be gardening…

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These seem like the happiest flowers.

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Ah, Summer, Here at Last!!

Ah, finally glorious summer!!!  I love heat. I love humidity.  I walk out into it and it feels like an embrace.  Most people don’t feel that way, so I have to listen to a lot of complaints I don’t share in all summer.

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The bee balm is flourishing.

Don’t get me wrong; there are temperatures I don’t like, but generally they’re over a hundred:  the sort of temperature that makes you think you’ve opened an oven rather than a door to the outside.  That I don’t like, but it doesn’t bother me the way it does other people.

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Black-eyed Susans are beginning to blossom.

If I can dress for a temperature, I usually don’t mind it too much.  I have the appropriate clothing for winter, for instance.  If it’s 10 degrees and the wind is blowing, I make sure to wrap my face in a scarf and put on a down coat.  If it’s going to be 87 and humid, I wear linen and carry a sweater or wrap for the inevitable chill of air conditioning.

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The harvest Saturday morning.

But I do love summer and all the warmth.  I like working in the garden and having to take a shower afterward.  I don’t mind sweating as it means I’m warm.  And goodness the sun feels so good this time of year.  Sometimes I think I could be a photovoltaic cell, storing up energy for the inevitable cooler months.

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The cucumbers could very well be prolific this year.

The garden is really beginning to produce.  Beans, beets, carrots, summer squashes.  That lovely lull in having to buy vegetables has arrived.  This evening I had fresh beans from the garden, enhanced with a few carrots.

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The beans have been coming on really well.

There’s nothing quite like summer, in all its glory:  the scents of flowers, the different colors of green, the lushness of trees, the new growth on shrubs, fireflies, cut flowers.  It’s all lovely and transient, ready to be noticed and enjoyed moment by moment.

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These zinnias are protecting carrots from the rabbits AND providing color.

Have a good week, and by all means maintain your ideal temperature!

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