Kate Stephenson is a retired writer who can’t seem to keep her thoughts to herself. She is clearly obsessed with growing all manner of plants, especially vegetables and other edibles. See for yourself if her enthusiasm for gardening is contagious!
Kate's Corner for August
I know I’ve talked about this before, but we all look forward to summer for so long, and then it’s here for just a little while. We enjoy beautiful days during which we mostly stay at home because there are so many out-of-towners wandering around. “Lavender Weekend” was an especially good time to be anywhere but on the roads or in the towns. Yikes! We’ve got to stop telling everybody how gorgeous the weather is here! We’ve moved past raspberries to blackberries this month. The hot days mean that we need to pick every day, sometimes morning and night. The tomatoes are running neck-and-neck with them, and it’s so luxurious. Almost more tomatoes than we can eat! (And I can eat a lot of tomatoes.) Beans are just now coming on, after my ill-conceived greenhouse experiment earlier this year. My favorites are the purple beans, called “Blauhilde”, which have beautiful pods that turn green when you cook them. They stay tender even when the weather gets really hot. Next year I may plant twice as many, because they are fabulous! I prefer pole beans because they bear continuously over a longer time, instead of all in a couple of weeks. But of course they take longer to grow. I guess you can tell beans are one of my favorite vegetables. Next year I also will have to plant artichokes. My friend Charlotte has had the same plants producing for the last ten years! She finally pulled them this year. She harvested about one hundred artichokes per growing season. I’m going to start my seeds at the end of January, so that I can MAYBE fool them into blooming the first year. Who knows? It’s good to know the rules, especially if you plan to break them. My kale has bolted. It was so sweet and tender until the temperature got into the upper eighties, but now it keeps flowering. When it flowers, it gets bitter. I have more seedlings, but they aren’t ready to set out yet. It needs to cool down a bit first. The chickens are hoping for cooler weather, that’s for sure. They are hardy birds, and do well when it’s cold, but they hate hot weather. We have to make sure they have cool, shady places to relax in the afternoons. They like to sit with people under the pergola, which is covered in summer and fall by a rampant hops bine. (It’s not a typo.) Usually it’s the coolest area in the yard, and the chickens sit around, begging for treats. They’ll take almost any fruit except citrus, nuts, leftover Chinese takeout rice, cooked pasta, corn tortillas; the list is almost endless. Berries cause fighting, though. We have to make sure everybody gets an equal number of berries, or else feathers will fly. Today the chickens are not happy because we locked them in their small coop area. There is a family of raccoons wandering through the yard and we don’t want to invite trouble. The raccoons haven’t paid any attention to the chickens so far and we want to keep it that way. They are safe in the coop, that’s where we put them at night, too. Well, it’s time to go pick stuff, to see what goodies are waiting to become part of dinner. I know I can eat more tomatoes. Perhaps I’ll make a pizza with tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella. Sautéed green beans with garlic and chives. Berry crumble. I must be hungry. Gotta go! Garden on; talk to you next time. Kate