Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rain on dry ground

Last night, the wind hiked up around dinnertime, whipping/ lashing/ ripping at the damp sheets on the clothesline. The sky was blue and innocent on three sides, with a ball of cumulonimbus only to the west. The usual tease. We started to take in the sheets, but they were still damp. We shrugged, and laughed, telling each other we would leave them as a small sacrificial offering. (Knowing it was useless superstition.)

Under cover of darkness, an hour or so later, it poured. A torrent. Overshooting the rain barrel, rushing in a muddy gush down towards the tomatoes and peppers, headed for the neighbor's bare yard on the other side of the wall.

So many days inbetween times. Even the weeds sere, leaves curled. I stopped to count. 16? 17 days? A long heartless death if you're a mammal: dessication. A pain that stretches down into to each of a billion cells. Multiplied like grains of sand. Motes of dust. Pray, pray for rain. Hold out your hands and be ready to catch it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

No, really, go on without me...

And a good thing too: Gloria keeps watering and tending the garden. For me the last month seems like a blur. I feel like I haven't been out rooting in the plants in a month! (Reaction: puzzled. baffled. annoyed at myself. Exactly what HAVE I been doing?!) Considered more carefully, this turns out to be hyperbole.

Raisins & dried cherry tomatoes
Gloria bought a second dehydrator (a week ago? ten days?) After we harvested mounds of rosy shooter-marble-sized tomato bon-bons, washed, halved, dried them for a day then tasted the results. Which left us swooning. This one was expensive (all the cheap ones already plucked off the shelves by people who, unlike us, planned ahead.) But very nice. Much better temperature controls than the old one we are also still using.

Grapes as microclimate
I am always humbled by the sheer number and variety of insects who apparently make their homes in the vines, in the myriad crevices in a particular cluster of grapes. Snip them, bring them inside, put them into the sink because you are busy with other things and will get to them after awhile. Soon the counter is spotted with tiny spiders of every shape and color. And a particular variety of beetle. Not too many worms thankfully. The wasps we chase away while harvesting--very grateful that those don't ride in then bump and bustle trying to get out again. Not too many ants. But wow. >Labor Day Weekend, Susan Mintor and Linda Johansen came over and harvested 2 paper grocery bags of grapes. To Teresa's dismay. She said later that she ended up cleaning and plucking for nearly 5 hours. All to make jelly they themselves really won't use. I have to agree, we ourselves probably consume a dozen jars in a year... between the crab apples and our grapes, she said they had around 80 jars? Hmm.

Basil, Potatoes, Beans.
Constant battle to keep the basil from going completely to seed. (That I HAVE done several times over the last month). The plants are big as 5-gallon landscape plants. Potatoes cranking along: sweet and otherwise. I've carefully harvested green beans for nearly 2 weeks: in a baggie in the fridge. But somehow I always get lazy and tired and there they sit. :(

Second Crepe Myrtle got planted by yours truly over Labor Day weekend. Since the heat got the most recent batch (well, not THAT recent) of spinach and lettuce, G planted a new round in the oak barrel along the front walk. ((...there's a lot of hope out there.))

Winter Squash
Our little mound of winter squash plants yielded a pleasant hill of delacottas and acorns before the squash bugs got ahead of us. G got annoyed with them and called it quits: yanked them all out yesterday. She took them, along with Teresa's infested plants, and several buckets of windfall apples down to Soilutions. Came back with a load of ... aged wood chip? [Maybe it has a name... forest floor mix without the compost.] She is supposed to use it as mulch. The fellow there shrugged and said, you have plenty of time to put on compost. Keep your soil moist! She told me she really did want to try the lasagna layering thing this winter. (We talked about it last year, then never got around to it. We still have an unsightly pile of by-now-very-weathered cardboard slabs to mark our good intentions.)

Julia Mummert said she heard recently that if our month were to end this week, we'd have one of the hottest Septembers on record. Sure feels the last couple of days. And no rain in sight. :(