And I’m watering the garden. This growing season has gotten off to a rough start – long, cool, wet spring (delightful, great for peony season, but not so swell for tomatoes and such) followed by a slamming heat wave that killed some things off. Even tomatoes, because they’d only just been set out and the wee baby plants just fried in weather that they weren’t supposed to encounter til July, when they were bigger. We’ve enjoyed herbs, even basil, for some weeks, but the first tomatoes are only just beginning to form. But the cukes are exploding! Yesterday I picked the first cucumbers. I love cucumbers, and home-grown are the best – lots of flavour, and you can pick ‘em small. Diced, they made a lovely addition to a potato and ham salad that was already pretty fabulous.
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We bought seeds and seedlings today at Bennett’s, the locally-owned, very good garden center. I’ve put in the parsley, 3 basils, and dill. Various curcubits, solanum, legumes and flowers to folloew.
We are apparently having kind of his&her veg plots because the GC grew up with mid-west type dug/tilled rows and I grew up (gardening-wise) with low/no-till, mulch, square-foot principles.
Over the wk-end we bought, and the GC’s son assembled, a swanky rotisserie compost bin, which is now full, with some of the sod the GC dug up for his garden, some leaves from last year, and doses of kitchen garbage.
Today I picked two big bunches of peonies (always think of my mother and aunt) including the sainted and scented Festiva Maxima. It’s nice, the cool weather has at least pushed the peonies into mid-May; it’s rare that they’re still in bloom by Memorial Day for which they used to be the traditional flower. Mrs. Swan’s Philadelphus (Mock Orange) is just getting ready to bloom, as is my wonderful everblooming briar-type rose.
We are sooooo fortunate with incredible soil — transplants like the rose and peonies and mock orange, and 4″ potted perennials like the sage and tarragon, have doubled or quadrupled in size by their third season, with no extra fertiliser or anything. Lots of earthworms.
Only downside is the ma-squitoes, and the pa-squitoes, and the little bitty baby-squitoes have all come out as well. I smell of eau-de-deet.
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Early this summer we saw many plants coming up in the seams in the concrete of the patio. They looked like corn and hey — what does The Great Hoosier Nation grow if not corn? We figured some seed corn had blown in from somewhere and just for fun decided to let one grow to maturity instead of weeding it out. Well, it was probably two or three plants growing as one. And it clearly was tough bugger — growing steadily all through one of the driest summers in recent memory, in the middle of concrete. And… it began to be apparent that it wasn’t corn. We were stumped until a friend who does photography for the local paper visited and asked — Why are you growing sorghum in the middle of your patio???
So sorghum it is. For a while birds foraged in it. I’ve saved a couple of seed-stalks and want to grow it as an ornamental this coming year. I’ve written to Gebisa Ejeta, Distinguished Professor of Agronomy at Purdue U. who was awarded the World Food Prize, the Nobel of agriculture, in 2009 for his work with sorghum. I’m hoping he can tell me how it might have gotten to our patio and how to cultivate it on a garden scale.
nb. Professor Ejeta did write back and thinks it probably came in bird seed.
Two winters ago I brought a few Wistaria pods into the house. They are bean-like (because wistaria is in the bean family). After a few days in the warmth they exploded, loudly, releasing flat round shiny seeds the size of shirt buttons, and leaving the hulls spiraled like rams’ horns, each pair perfectly symmetrical and different from any other pair. Last summer the Wistaria nearly ate the house. This summer, however, this summer, the Wistaria bloomed. Apparently it is a Japanese wistaria, Wistera floribunda, because the stems twine clockwise. The books say it smells of grapes. I say it smells of wistaria, especially in the late afternoon and early evening. Our pergola hosts darker and lighter violet coloured plants, and one white. I like the way the little “eye” is yellow in the violet flowers and pale snow-drop green in the white.
This isn’t really a cooking or gardening blog, but since I do garden, cook, and eat in my house, I guess those things will come up once and while.
We’ve had this amazing open “autumn/Indian Summer” here in north-central Indiana this year. I still have a rose in bloom. (will share picture tomorrow) But two days ago the rain and damp started. The weather cried out for soup, er, I cried out for soup. I had about a cup and a half of country-style vichyssoise in the freezer that really needed to simmer a little longer. I had a partial box of “spring greens” type salad that was on its last legs. I had a thriving chive plant that had valiantly put forth one last purple blossom. Had it been a thistle it would have been worthy of Bonnie Prince Charlie, although it might not have tasted so good.