What fabulous weather last weekend. Cool and crisp for sleeping, I had to use an extra blanket. Then absolutely perfect daytime temperatures. I sat on a stool and weeded with no goal in mind. The little goldfinches simply cornered the drooping, spent heads of my volunteer sunflowers. Those volunteers were larger and more sturdy than the ones I planted. Go figure.
Speaking of sunflowers, the Italian white variety is the way to go in your annual beds. They are small-blossomed — not much larger than cosmos. They are multibranched so will keep coming. They are really looking great right now. Even the hurricane damage has not hindered them. I cut off the severely damaged branches and they have completely revived. An added feature is that the birds are equally fond of their tiny seeds. I confess I tend to buy up all the seed packages when I see them as not all the catalogs carry them. Try to beat me to the stores in the spring.
I pulled my third planting of green beans. I simply couldn’t bend over one more time to pick them. I pulled and then stripped the plants of their final offering in an upright position. I’m glad I did it because when holding the plants upside down I discovered the yellow fuzzy larva stage of the Mexican bean beetle. Honestly, enough is enough. I buried them under black weed mat. Hopefully the next sunny day will fry the pests.
For all my griping about bugs this summer I did make a couple happy observations. I do not believe I noticed one tomato hornworm. How this good fortune happened is beyond me. I did nothing to prevent them, although last summer I used a fair amount of Dipel on my cabbages. Then this spring and early summer we used a ton of kaolin clay in hopes of discouraging all sorts of insects. Supposedly it doesn’t kill but tastes bad so the pests leave.
I picked quite a few ripe Jimmy Nardello peppers. They are the first to ripen. They are long and skinny and resemble a cayenne but are very sweet and extremely productive. They are worth planting again.
Debbie Farber rang with a curious story. It seems someone placed a rooster in her chicken yard. Mind you this was an unsolicited “gift.” It was a very large but young bird capable of doing damage to her existing tiny Bantam. Luckily it was too young to do much damage and probably is resting comfortably alongside some dumplings by now. People, if you plan to do the “country thing” and raise a small flock of egg-producers take responsibility for the inevitable. There is always a stray unwanted rooster. Everyone knows their own flocks and an uninvited guest is never welcome.
This was a week for calls. Kit Dreier phoned with a heads-up for the powers-that-be. She noticed the row of false bamboo, also known as Japanese knotweed, along the guardrail at the Tashmoo Overlook. She rightly is alarmed at its potential invasiveness of our wonderful town field overlooking Lake Tashmoo. I know the state mows it a few times yearly but I promised her I would look into it. Any suggestions from my reading public would be welcome.
I’m crazy about the Lespedeza dripping over the wall at Polly Hill. I purchased one several years ago and put it next to a tardiva hydrangea. Little did I know at the time, they are perfect companions. It is a legume, that is, a member of the pea family.
The latest government figures came out: 20 per cent of Americans are below the poverty level. How is that even possible? So much for being the greatest country in the world. The debate in Congress over cutting entitlements sometimes seems overly moralistic. We have fallen for the big lie. If we only work hard enough we will succeed. We have names for the practice — “Protestant work ethic,” for one. Why doesn’t that explain the working poor? Two minimum wage jobs won’t pay the bills. I know I could not sustain my minimal lifestyle on seven dollars an hour. I have no solutions nor can I properly place blame (one of my favorite positions). I do know the Bible has thousands of references to caring for the poor!