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Friday, August 31, 2018

Red Oak House Garden Notes no. 48: wrapping up the summer season

Although the growing season began with such promise, Jim is bemoaning that it has been a disappointing year in the vegetable gardens, as he harvests the meager take of vegetables. Last year at the same time he was bringing in 30 or so tomatoes a day, and now he only finds about three or four ripe among the hundreds of green ones. He spent the past two days severely pruning the twenty-five plants in the hope of goosing 'em.

In spite of our best efforts at fencing, the rabbits did a real number on the beans and cowpeas. Our dry edible bean harvest amounted to a one-quart jar and we only froze about a dozen or so bags of green beans. Only a handful of cowpeas survived, enough for one small pot when I next cook soul food. Some carrots survived and are yet to be harvested. Most of the potatoes are dug after Mr. Greenjeans made a valiant effort to protect those from the voles. The garlic has been hung and dried and stored away. Twenty-seven quarts of tomato juice and twenty-eight quarts of pickles have been processed.

We've had a little rain, but it has been mostly dry and I can hardly remember the last gully washer as they have been few and far between this year.

A gift of tomatillos from my sister

Jim with his birthday gift of a new mini-tiller

Orange-banded bees on Small Globe Thistle

A few weeks ago we "put up" sweet corn, in the manner taught to me by my Aunt Frances, of Mississippi (now Alabama). I had hopes that this newfangled gadget (shown below) that I bought at a gift store in Medora might save me some time and strain to my wrist and elbow, but no -- the old-fashioned way with my sharp knife is the only way to go. I work from my aunt's handwritten instructions and fondly think of the hours she and my Mama Crook have spent doing this very task over the years.

The garden tour was a success and we christened our new sign in the front yard in the nick of time. Not much was blooming that evening, including the six dozen impatiens I planted last spring (all of which are blooming this week -- figures!). But the hostas in the front have been glorious this year and the weather was pleasant as was the company of many local gardening friends, all of whom were interested to hear the story of our champion red oak tree.

Indoors our lives are a muddle this week as we had someone in to refinish most of the hardwood floors. The wizard who did this is a true craftsman and a fine gentleman, who arrived exactly when he said he would and worked hard all day long (sadly a rarity these days). We are thrilled with the results. Next week, the roof gets fixed. Our springer spaniel, Lizzie, will be just as happy as we will be when this chaos is behind us.

The highlight of my week came on Sunday when I glanced out a window at just the right moment and spotted a female Ruby-throated hummingbird feeding at one of my patio flowerpots. Note to self: plant more of this variety they favor next year.

I thoroughly enjoy this time of year, when the Washington peaches are in, the heat has abated, and the weather is mostly still and clear (that is when the haze of the western fires is not so oppressive). I'm working in the flower beds dividing and moving peonies and irises and I thoroughly enjoy giving away surplus perennials to friends. While I labor, I listen to the red-breasted nuthatches yonking about me and watch for migrating hawks. The Red Oak House yard is our refuge from the clamor of city life. May you all find such refuge. Namaste.

Profusion Orange Zinnia

Profusion Yellow Zinnia


The autumn blooms of sedum and yarrow

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