By LYNNE IRONS
I am about to pronounce time of death to my summer vegetable garden. Although I have yet to freeze here in Vineyard Haven, I have had it with tomatoes, eggplants and peppers. The short days and cool nights have robbed them of their appeal. The only thing still doing well is Matt’s wild cherry tomato which reseeds like crazy and keeps on producing to the bitter end. The leaves are still bright green and full of life. I also have a late planting of haricots verts. I only harvest enough to munch right in the garden but they are very enjoyable.
Hopefully, over the weekend I will weed and fuss over the carrots, kale, fall cabbages, and baby lettuce. I love a fall garden once I accept the loss of the summer one.
On some of the job sites, the party is completely over. People have closed up their houses for another season and all that remains is putting the perennials to bed for the winter. I simply cannot bear to cut back the old-fashioned mums or even the annuals hanging on for dear life. I do not mind working in the freezing cold so I guess I’ll put off the task for another month. The birds and bees will enjoy the harvest of seed and pollen.
Speaking of birds, I have a large beech tree at the edge of the property which drops nuts all over the street. I have had a lone crow waiting for cars to break up the nuts and give him a fine afternoon snack. He is quite fearless and barely moves out of the way of oncoming traffic. He helps himself to my chicken feed but I don’t mind! Crows do a terrific job of chasing away hawks which would take out my flock one at a time.
There are so many beautiful ornamentals right now. The Kousa dogwood looks festive with its bright red fruit. I have a wonderful crab apple simply loaded with tiny sour apples. One of these years, I may make some crab apple jelly, but for now, I am happy watching the birds feast on them. The hepticodium and clerodendron both have lost their flowers and replaced them with pink calyx.
Because Katherine Stewart read my dismal account of celery failures she shared that her family lived in a house where the Tisbury fire station now stands. She remembers the land dropped off into a damp area where celery was grown. It did very well because of the consistent moisture. I forget if she said her father or her grandfather used newspapers to blanch it so the stalks would be white and tender. Thanks, Katherine, I love garden and family history.
I have been busy lifting and dividing perennials. We moved seven large clumps of ladies’ mantle and turned them into 65 plants. Phlox is another plant that needs some control. I wonder why I ever buy anything in the spring as there is so much available right now. Keep an eye out for annual seeds. A couple of heads should be enough for next year’s crop. Make sure to store them in a cool dry place. With the present economic insecurity and heading into an uncertain winter, it would serve us to think ahead.
The dog lost another battle with a skunk. Poor guy! He had to spend the night outdoors and was very distressed. Do they ever learn? I heard recently that instead of tomato juice, vanilla would mask the odor after the bath.
It is rather extraordinary to have a Republican Secretary of State and military man endorse Barack Obama.
I am proud to call myself a left-wing Christian. That’s right: there is such a person. I found it troubling that the McCain and Palin ticket like Bush and Cheney before them claimed ultra-Christianity and pro-Americanism to the exclusion of Democrats especially the Northeastern variety. In my Bible it talks about having a gentle nature, caring for and feeding the poor, and being a good steward of creation.
I am saddened yet horrified that it has been confirmed in writing that our White House has approved “enhanced interrogation techniques.” We torture other human beings. Have mercy!