Strong stomach garden season


For those of the Gator persuasion, this is going to be a longggggggggggg season.

In Utah we often had an abundance of zucchini and our friends were the recipients of loaves of zucchini bread from time to time. Now it’s Eggplant parmesan. Nancy makes it in large batches and then freezes it in throwaway aluminum loaf pans. Some friends get the raw eggplant to do with as they wish; others get the parm. Tomorrow I’m making a batch of my zucchini-eggplant dish with a new twist – adding rice. Here in the south, not too many people do eggplant but I noticed up in the northeast, it was a prominent vege in the farmer’s markets, grocery stores, and featured at every Italian restaurant in Little Italy. So it’s definitely an ethnic, Mediterranean favorite.

I mentioned replanting the pole beans with a new variety after the Kwintus failure. Wow – three days after planting the seeds, they popped out of the ground and it seems as if you can watch them grow on an hourly basis. They’re advertised as a 55 day variety with vines growing up to 8′ so I guess if you do the math, you should expect almost 2” per day. So far the sun isn’t intimidating them at all and maybe they’ll wrap their tentacles around any attacking grasshoppers.

Have I mentioned that you really need a strong stomach (a weak mind helps) to try to start things going in the garden in late summer? The young plants just get hit with the hot, direct sunlight right out of the chute. In the spring, it’s nominally cool when the plants hit the garden and they have months to acclimate before the sun gets really brutal and by then, many have already produced and gone off to plant heaven. And if the sun doesn’t get them, the voracious grasshoppers do. You just have to be able to deal with watching a young plant get to where it’s looking good and then bingo, a few hours later it’s been chopped off just above ground level. If you start to see leaves getting chewed on, you have time to spring into action but a chewed through stem is a trip to the plant morgue. I’m even running out of spares. You keep telling yourself that if anything at all survives, you’re ahead of the game plus there’s only a month or so until it cools off.

Lots of action going on with the 5 acre lot up at the corner. A year or so ago the tree filled, retired nursery was sold and cleared except for a few decorative oaks and an open pole barn. In our opinion the new owner converted a beautiful piece of property into an eyesore. His plan was to create a palm tree nursery. It sat dormant for about 6 months then he had a serious fence installed – a chain link fence with a few strands of barbwire on top – and loaded some small palm trees in the pole barn. The field grew up with tall, ugly weeds until last month when he hired someone to cut it. In addition to cutting it, the guy must have sprayed roundup because it was a totally brown field with no signs of the regrowth you’d normally see with a cut field. Last week he unloaded two dump trucks of compost and placed out stakes on 20′ centers. The compost was distributed with a pile set beside each stake. My neighbor talked to the worker who told him the next step was to plant palm trees at each stake point so I guess it’s really going to happen. Right now I have no idea what kind of palms he’ll be growing but I guess all the mysteries will cleared within the next few months.

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