By LYNNE IRONS
I finally surrendered and took the lawn mower to my vegetable garden. There were areas where weeds were chest high. It stalled out repeatedly, with me using expletives and ripping my arm out of the socket restarting it over and over. Nevertheless, I am happy to report I found several areas where food was growing unconcerned by the tangled mess.
Some of the weeds had stems over an inch in diameter causing quite a bit of stubble. I had a flash of memory to my early childhood. My maternal uncle Bob Armstrong was a career military man who naturally served in World War II. He brought home a German bride at the end of the war. The woman had been in a concentration camp. I remember one evening in my grandmother Nonnee’s kitchen when she began telling some of her experiences at that camp. I believe I was sent from the room but not before I heard her tell of being forced to exercise nearly naked on newly-mown stubble in the fields.
It must have made an impression to suddenly remember after all these years. It makes me question the sanity of some of the right-wing radio personalities. How is it possible to compare our president’s health care concerns with the Nazi policies of Adolf Hitler?
As I was mowing along I came across a row of okra. At first I didn’t recognize it because why in the world would I have planted such a thing anyway? I think I like the flower. The label said Cajun Delight. Since it was Saturday and we were receiving dinner guests that evening in the garden I picked it all. The pods were similar to milkweed. When my friend Kitty Burke arrived she was put to the task of preparing it. A couple of teenaged girls Googled up some recipes on their iPhones (oh, the joys of modern life!). Kitty sliced the pods paper thin and we added tomato, onion and various herbs to the mix and sauteed over an open fire. We all had some preconceived notions about okra. We heard it was slimy and should have been battered and fried. Everyone was a good sport and gave it a try. There was some hilarity involved. We found it to be so fibrous that someone compared it to dental floss.
Here it is, the end of August and finally some tomatoes are ripening. I am not too happy with heirloom varieties. Many are cracked and rotted on the bottom. I hope it is not the blight about which people are talking. The plants themselves look fine and the paste varieties are perfect for the most part. I am at the stage where there are not enough to process for winter and too many to eat at lunch. Let me remind you all that they can be washed, cored and bagged for the freezer. Later the skins will slip off under hot water and they can be sauced all day in a crock pot.
I’m crazy about the phlox this year. Mine did not get the white moldy leaves this season. It is caused by too dry soil and too wet air. Also, when planted too closely the poor air circulation is a factor. Abigail Higgons hinted that the product Wilt-proof can be used with much success.
I have several cultivars that are worth growing. Nicky is my favorite — a rich purple-red. Also, Tenor Eva Cullen, and Orange Perfection are striking. One note about phlox, when it reseeds it will revert to a common magenta color. It is nice enough but, if you want to propagate, division is the way to go. I may order bare-rooted stock for next year. The perennial gardens can use the extra boost for the end of summer when annuals are looking good, but some more permanent structure is in order.
Past Sunday afternoon while working in my vegetable patch six enormous military helicopters flew over me bearing President Obama to our airport. A short time later, four returned over me once again. I must say they are very impressive — unnerving really. I thought back to the Viet Nam war and what it must have been like to be working in a rice paddy, extremely vulnerable, when our choppers could rain death at any moment.
At any rate, isn’t it wonderful to live in such a beautiful place that it is a favored vacation spot for heads of state?