Tuesday, August 22, 2006


August Garden

Oh the joys of retirement! Normally this has been the week of Supreme Panic – the week when I admitted defeat – another summer had passed me by – no time left to do all the things I just didn’t get to and time to start to load up the van for another year at the brain factory! Well, the only good part of that was the barns got emptier for 9 months, but the chores never quite got all done. Now, I do not mean to imply that all the summer chores are done, oh, no. but I really do not give a _____. I have next week. And the next week. And the next week. Ah, yes, retirement. While all my former inmates from the institutions of higher learning are back sweating it out in their classrooms and meetings, preparing for the little darlings to come back, listening to all the crap they pound us with in the first week, swearing under their breath about all the new complications the Ivory Tower has thrown their way, I will be calmly watering my garden, picking my tomatoes, pulling weeds and planning what I am going to plant where come next spring.

In all my years of teaching, I always wanted a garden – a vegetable garden. Not a big affair, mind you, but just enough to be able to go out and pick enough to eat and have some to share. My first attempt has been a learning experience. I have learned that all those squash blossoms will not turn into baby squash. Some of them are boy blossoms. Some of them will be eaten by rabbits. No two squash will appear to be the same although they all came from the same original squash.

I learned that the Japanese beetles can devour 48 bean plants overnight, leaving nothing but lace in place of leaves.

I learned that nothing tastes better than going out and picking a handful of fresh blueberries to put on your cereal… unless it is your own strawberries… or your own raspberries or blackberries.

Have you ever tasted a tomato one second away from having been picked, wiped off on your shirt, still warm from the morning sun and wet with dew? There is absolutely no way that tomato can be compared with the red cardboard things sold in the grocery store for $4 a lb in the winter. I am definitely going to build a walk in greenhouse up next to the back of the house where I can keep a couple cherry tomato plants over the winter. The little greenhouse I have is great for over-wintering the geraniums and impatiens, but not big enough for more than one tomato plant.

In the flower dept., some of my crape myrtle are starting to bloom, a few have finished. The fall azaleas have started and I can see the buds on the fall camellias filling out. The phlox looks good. I have a couple glads that are late and put a bit of surprising color out around the Circle. The hibiscus is struggling, one bloom at a time. Again, the beetles have eaten the leaves down to the stalk. The Rose of Sharon is looking nice. Mine are doubles. I want a white one with the deep crimson center.

My blue garden has morphed into the purple garden as all the blue flowers have died off or have given up their struggle against the violets that have taken over the St Francis - birdbath garden. My favorite, commonly known as Persian Shield or Strobilanthes is doing quite well. It is supposed to be an annual, but I have had it come back up for me a couple of times. It is one of the few annuals I will plant as I am turning to perennials in my old age. I must have pansies and I must have a few Strobilanthes around or my yard is naked!

Soon it will be a bit cooler and I will be able to work out in the yard longer each day. Now I seldom last beyond 10 AM – it is just too hot. So a lot of things have not gotten done. I have 4 or 5 bags of mulch from the spring I just never got open. They are patiently waiting. I have covered a large area around the tomato (and bean!) garden with that black garden cloth cover. I bought a whole big roll of it. It kills the grass under it so it will be ready to turn over and plant next spring. Sounds lazy to me, but if it works, I am happy. Soon it will be cool enough once again to sit in the Adirondack chairs to rest up a bit between dumping bags of mulch or trimming trees or pulling weeds. Move over Spook!

I am thinking I should just pull out the bean poles and cover that part of the garden, too. Yesterday I had to readjust the netting over the blueberry bushes, they have grown so much. I was going to uncover them completely now that the berries are done, but I surprised a deer later in the day out back munching on god-knows-what. Can you see her standing way in the back of the picture? I don’t know if deer eat blueberry plants or not, but it would be my luck that they do.

I also took pictures of my daily harvest. The cats were quite interested and just would not stay out of the picture. Oh, well. Hope you enjoyed the trip thru the garden. Just wait till next year!!!!!


Takin'pictures said...

Garden's looking good. I didn't have beans but someone gave me some zinnias and the beetles did a number on some of them. I read where the Japanese beetles go underground in August but I guess it was bean beetles did you in. If it was the Japanese beetles you should try planting some fall beans. My tomatoes were really attacked by tomato horn worms. One day I picked fifty worms off the plants. Hope you don't get hit by horn worms.

possum said...

Hmmm, I didn'tthink about bean beetles... those pale orange with spots beetles??? I have only seen the Japanese beetles on everything so I assumed......... stupid me, eh?
I have not had hornworms for years. But I don't have that many tomato plants.
No beetles on my zinniaz - so far.

Takin'pictures said...

Other years I have had only an occasional hornworm and last year I didn't even grow tomatoes so I don't know where they all came from. Did you see the beetles on the beans? If they were Japanese beetles, grow fall beans. If you are growing organically, a row cover on your beans, right from the start should help that situation if you have bean beetles.