It’s hard to believe another year has gone by and we are at the Agricultural Fair. This week always seems like the true end to summer — the last big push of activities, traffic and visitors before back-to-school shopping. Since I write this on Monday morning, I have only seen the beginning of fair preparations. The “carnies” have set up camp, the rides are not yet set up — they are still neatly folded on their tracks, and the locals are putting together the booths.
I used to enter some items in the fair but haven’t done so in years. We still have some dusty ribbons hanging in the pantry. The children took various chickens, bunnies and enormous zucchinis. I remember the first prizes being awarded for uniformity, for example, all the green beans the same size and facing the same way.
I’ve never figured out why the fireworks and the fair are on the same weekend. I do know Friday nights at the fair are quieter and more enjoyable.
Big news in the annual flower world! Several people have mentioned poor results with their impatiens plantings. Several articles in trade publications have noted downy mildew outbreaks on impatiens in Europe and South Africa in the 2011 growing season. It seems we are beginning to experience something similar. We pulled all the plants at one job site last week. Some peeled right off the ground and others had totally disappeared. My friend, Kitty Burke, heard that a solution of baking soda and water may help. I use that method on the powdery mildew that shows up some seasons on monarde and phlox. It’s worse when the soil is dry and the air is wet. Sound familiar this year? These same humid conditions will often lead to black spots on roses. Honestly, it’s impossible to keep up with it all!
In order to keep ahead of slug, vole and who knows what all, I’ve been picking my paste tomatoes before they are totally ripe. The kitchen counters are loaded with them. I was able to make a sauce this week with tons of garlic, onions and fresh basil.
I’ve been noticing hedges this week. There are some beautiful ones of Rose of Sharon — notably on Chase Road in Edgartown. There is a striking hedge of hydrangea, the cone shaped white-flowered ones, across and up from up-Island auto. I’m crazy about all the peegee hydrangeas. There is a nice L-shape strand of them separating Florance Hauders from her neighbor on Skiff avenue in Vineyard Haven.
There is a perfect sophora on the Edgartown Road on the right, perhaps a city block past Skiff. It is in full bloom with lovely white flowers. It is at least 50 feet tall. I’ve noticed it for several summers blooming in August. My son, Jeremiah, finally identified it for me. The bark is black locust-like. It’s worth a drive by.
Cottles has the $10 Gilmour pulsating sprinklers that work better and last longer than the expensive metal ones — I’m just saying!
I’ve put away the hand cultivator in my vegetable garden. The weeds now require a shovel or perhaps a lawn mower. I have pigweed and lady-finger over my head, for Pete’s sake!
I love how a couple of rains have brought the lawns back from the brink. Even those with no irrigation look good again. Have I mentioned my fondness for rain?
I took a death-defying drive to Aquinnah and back recently. Have people never been taught to walk on the left facing traffic? Honestly! About 90 per cent also had on those iPod ear buds so they could not hear me creeping along behind them. I actually stopped and told a few that they had a better chance of living by walking on the other side. You can just imagine how well that was received.
OMG. I have a mere two words for the current political situation — Paul Ryan! I lie. I’ve never had a mere two words. He is a huge devotee of Ayn Rand. She is a novelist from the 50s or 60s who is a big social Darwinist. I think I read Atlas Shrugged in college but can only remember the part where she defended cigarette smoking as being good for you. I was so liberal in college that I couldn’t imagine any other way of thinking.
A woman interviewed on NPR was asked what she thought of Ryan’s plan for Medicare. She was at a Romney rally in Florida and said, “I raised my kids good! They will take care of me and buy me drugs if I need them.”
Wow! What else can I say? We might be in trouble.