Tuesday, May 31, 2011

BOOM! Hot weather is here.

Summer came on all at once and with a vengeance. We've had a solid week of days in the upper 80's and 90's and there is another one just like it forecast for the days to come.  I'm trying not to complain since we had the longest coolest spring I can remember for many years.  But I sure hope we get a break and are not going to see temps in the 90's for three straight months.  It's enough to make me consider moving further north, for the summer at least.

In the meantime, I'm thinking hard about where I can get to some moving cool water and I have a couple of nearby rivers in mind for later this week.

Today I had to take my car to the shop.  When I got in the car on Sunday and cranked up the AC it was painfully obvious that something had died.  Stinkola.  Sure enough an unfortunate mouse had met its demise in the fan blades of my AC system and with the hot days had gotten quite ripe quite quickly.  I hope it won't take too long to get the smell out of there...
On a lighter note, the horsetail (Equisetum hyemale) coming up through the chives in flower was pretty stunning last week.  This is the edge of what I call the invasive plants garden.  We just try to keep things contained and let them battle it our for superiority and space. Horsetail, mint, painters palette (Persicaria virginiana), traveling ferns and salvia.  They look pretty good all together and seem to co-exist somehow.  But take heed, do not plant horsetail in your garden, you will be fighting it for the rest of eternity, even the lawnmower can barely keep it at bay.  We pull it up wholesale on a regular basis and it just grows right back.  The new shoots are cool looking, but I rue the day I planted it in my yard.
The cicadas are still at it though they seem to be easing up some.  Lots of dead ones litter the ground and leave a slightly uric smell on the air.  The tips of the tree branches are starting to turn brown where the females have cut the bark to lay their eggs and now those tips are drying and will soon fall.  I'll be glad when things are quieter again.

The onions are starting to fatten up and their tops fall over signaling harvest time coming soon.  The garlic tops are drying and browning too, I've starting pulling a few heads just to cook with, I finally used up the last head from last season a couple of weeks ago.  It feels pretty good to have grown enough garlic to get us through a whole year and this years crop promises to be as abundant.  The pea crop is peaking, despite the heat.  Summer crops look really good; the beans, squash and cukes are some of the healthiest plants I can remember. I hope that continues.  We tickled out a handful of new red potatoes the other night and they were super sweet and tasty, I'm leaving the rest to keep on growing.  I still haven't gotten my pepper plants in the ground, it's been too darn hot, but maybe tomorrow?  As usual, there is no end to the gardening demands this time of year.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's Mid-May! Where does the time go?

It's been awhile since I've been here.  Ran into some trouble posting photos which frustrated me and just been plain busy with no time to blog.  Not that there hasn't been plenty to write about.

Take the cicadas for example.  The 13 year periodical magicicadas of the great southern brood XIX.  I didn't make that up, that's what they are.  And when you walk outside our house it sounds like a spaceship is landing on top of us.  I feel like I'm in a sci-fi movie, Day of the Locust perhaps?  They are noisy and its predicted to last several weeks, but they are not really a problem like back in the days of plagues of locusts. I read an account from the diary of a western settler who described having locusts fly inside their clothes and eat away their underwear. I should think that might drive me mad if I had lived through it. But the cicadas are LOUD.  And everywhere.  If you look towards the trees in any direction for more than a minute you'll see their heavy orange bodies, like little footballs with wings, gliding from branch to branch.  Walking up the road to get the mail yesterday the gravel was littered with their remains.They're a remarkable phenomenon though and one I won't hear or see again until I'm 65 years old!

I could also talk about the peonies, but I'll just show these photos instead.

They're coming to an end, the softball sized, double pinks have mostly been cut and brought inside or given away as they get so heavy they bend their stems and fall face first into the dirt.  Not acceptable, they must be cut and brought in to scent the whole house with their heady perfume.

Maybe you'd like to know what we've been eating from the garden lately.  The asparagus are winding down after a solid 5 weeks of heavy bearing.  It's a tough job eating all those jade beauties but somebodies got to do it.  The strawberries are also coming to a close, their red sweetness gracing my breakfast for several weeks now.  I'll have to wait a few more weeks for blueberries, but I'm happy to report the bushes are loaded with plump clusters of green fruit.

We finished the last of the wintered over cabbages this week and the radishes are about gone.  We're buried in tender lettuce, spinach, kale, chard and green onions. Peas are about to start happening as are beets and carrots.  The cukes, squash and first planting of beans are up.  Planted two more varieties of beans yesterday.  All of the tomatoes are finally in the ground.   Twenty plants, 12 varieties, 3 cherry, 2 plum and various slicers including Cherokee purple, yellow taxi and green zebra.  I'm hoping for some very colorful tomato sampler plates and salads this season.

The weather has continued to be remarkably cool and beautiful with fairly plentiful and frequent rains for which I am grateful.  It's been one of the nicest and longest springs I can remember having in these parts.

We have been busy and continue to be so, the process of growing and making so much of our own food is a time consuming proposition.  The KP alone can sometimes overwhelm.  I do understand why lots of people eat fast and pre-processed food, but I'm glad I'm not one of them.

In closing, I share this fantastic pairing of Jackmanii clematis and the pale pink New Dawn rose.  I got the idea from the Wayside Gardens catalog and it's a winner.  This is even better than I imagined it would be, I can see it from the kitchen window, the flowers softening the many hours I spend at the sink.