A good read

I’m reading a new book by Carl Hiaasen that is my kind of book. Aside from being a good read, I immediately think of an old lost friend and an old, but not lost, brother in law. The book is called Star Island and is quintessential Hiaasen – a bizarre crime story with totally unbelievable characters set in South Florida. For me it’s a slow read because I break up laughing a couple times each page. If my old buddy Bob Sherlin was still with us, I’d be on the phone steering him towards the library. Denis, you too. You guys are the only ones I know/knew who have the right sense of humor to appreciate Hiaasen. I don’t know if this would be a read for Todd or not. Think about a body guard, named Chemo, who lost an arm to a barracuda and had it replaced with a weed wacker. The guy is so nasty looking that the mother of the babe he’s been contracted to body guard asked if the barracuda had bitten off his face too. I think I’ve read every novel this guy has written and crack up totally with each one. Joey bought me one and had it autographed a few years back for Christmas or a birthday or some equally auspicious event.

Nancy’s got a new project going – Grace’s Halloween costume. She’s going as Dorothy, as in the Wizard of Oz. She bought the pattern and all the material awhile back but just began the construction last week. I can already tell this is going to be quite a project with lots of little pieces and intricacies. When our grandkids were little, she made all the costumes and it was always a busy September but there’s been a 10 year hiatus so Nancy is all stoked again.

Going to try something new in the garden. Actually it’s something I tried to grow before with zero luck but this year could be different. First I have a technique to deal with nematodes which I didn’t have the first time I tried melons. Second it’s really hot and really dry (right now) which means the killer insects don’t seem to be doing as well. Melons need hot soil and plenty of rich, rich mulched soil – all of which I can provide. One thing is that it’s fairly late in the season and I wonder whether or not the pollinating bees have fled for cooler climes. I’m going to plant them in the area I have reserved for lettuce. I would normally plant the lettuce in October so if the melons are doing well, I can easily postpone the lettuce until November; if the melons are cratering, I’ll yank them out with no regrets and plant lettuce. Why not, all I have to lose is about two cents worth of seeds. Think I’ll try two varieties of watermelon and two varieties of cantaloupe. Melons are long crop – on the order of 100-120 days from planting to picking – so I’ve already started the plants in peat pots on the back porch. The plan is to actually put them in the garden early September for harvest early November. Also picked up a tip that sounds interesting. One problem you have with melons is that they sit on the ground and are subject to rotting or boring critters. The tip is to take half gallon milk containers, slice them in half lengthwise to make a “pad” for the melon to rest on. I’m definitely going to try it.

Started a batch of tomatoes plants, pepper plants, and acorn squash. As with the melons, I start the seed on the porch planning to move them to the garden early to mid September. Last year I waited too late and the plants froze before the fruit ripened. I might run into some other problems but freezing shouldn’t be an issue this time around. I also plan on adding cucumbers and zucchini but these are short crops so I won’t do any starts until late August. One thing that does work against you in the fall is that the days are shorter which extends the time to harvest dramatically. Things just grow slower and I didn’t properly account for that last year – the freeze. So this year I’m starting things earlier but will keep them from the heat by shading them on the screen porch for a month or longer before moving them to the garden. I’ll eventually figure it out if it’s possible at all. So many small, subtle details that make the difference between success and failure.

One thing shaping up is that this late summer/fall garden, when planted, will have the largest diversity ever (for us).

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