I was the assistant light hanger a couple of nights ago as we finished putting up the outside lights at the back of the house. My job was to run errands, hand up tools and light bulbs, and such. Once the lead light hanger, my dearest husband, had the first light up, the right tools were in his pockets, he grabbed a light bulb and put it in his pocket and mounted the ladder, leaving me with nothing to do but watch the process. I do not like to idle, so I began pulling the garlic. We had such cold spring temperatures that I think many of the bulbs were stunted. Our clay rich soil probably didn’t help either. Right before I planted the bulbs in November I had conversation with a Master Gardener here in the county. He had attempted garlic several times and as yet had not harvested any. I am amazed at my bumper crop! As garlic goes with nearly everything, I am excited to use it in all of my cooking.
Five lights is a lot to put up in one night, so we had a second round of light hanging a couple of nights later. I was there as support person, this time my duties included turning on and off the switches in an attempt to get the remaining lights to go on. This was a more involved process, but it still left me with time on my hands. This time the carrot bed was my target. I planted carrots, beets and leaf lettuce at the foundation of the house in early spring, anticipating its maturation in mid-summer. We began the roof replacement and then the exterior paint job right away, which didn’t do my seedlings any good. The lettuce came up in far flung places, from which I potted them to give them a chance. The beets were mangled and died under the roof shingles and the painter’s ladder. But the carrots fought on valiantly! They were quite successful and I happily dug them up and cleaned them. Oh, do they taste wonderful: sweet with a slightly bitter core. There is no need to peel them as the outside is thin and tasty.
Ah, the soups (lentil or split pea with carrots), the stews, the salads and stir fry dishes, and sauteing them with the lovely garlic will be fantastic. I had best plant another crop for fall as I think these will not last long enough to make all of these fun dishes. Beets and carrots, maybe even more lettuce as the earlier planting bolted in the heat, so it is useless now.
We rigged an old, slightly bent screen door between two benches as a temperature-driven drying rack. Yesterday I spent the morning cutting winter savory, basil, oregano, rosemary, and stevia to dry for later use. There will be another cutting before the end of the season, too. I threw an old sheet over the whole to protect it from the sun and bugs… and the little pieces of composite roof that still roll off and bounce down through the deck. Most of the herbs I have I prefer to use fresh, but preserving some means I have it when I want it.
We do have flowers, although I focus on the herbs and fruiting plants, there are so many flowering bushes that deserve notice.
My container plantings have tuberous begonias in red and salmon, as well as sweet peas in a variety of colors. Probably the most beautiful, to my surprise, is the dark pink petunias on the back deck. Petunias are not usually something I would choose to plant. This year for mother’s day I received a multi-hole topsy-turvey plant hanger, so I put petunias and lobelia in it. Next year it will be all lobelia in contrasting colors as they are doing much better than the petunias in that hanger. I have also discovers that potato vines really like the shade. The one on the front porch is growing all over the bench and down the side of the large pot it is in. It isn’t a flower, but it is showy enough to be mentioned.
Oh, there are love-in-a-mist in blue and white all over the flowerbeds. I had so many seeds that I sprinkled them here and there, just to see if they would come up – and they did! The birds seem to have gotten most of them, and I pick them to dry before they seed out most of the time as they are quite decorative. There are lots more seeds, so I will probably seed again in the places I like them most to ensure they return.