Hot, Humid, Lazy Day

The morning as usual was spent doing some garden maintenance. The asparagus tops so tall that they were shading the tomatoes and laying on the electric wire at the top of the fence, got a hair cut. I know they need the tops to feed the crowns and I didn’t cut them down, but reduced them to about 4 feet and used the ferny tops in the compost and as mulch in the paths around the bed. Nothing was harvested today, but some weeding done. It was hot, even early. After animal chores and garden time, breakfast on the back deck, and quiet household tasks, I took my spindles to the front porch to sit and spin and watch the Hummingbirds and the doe and her tiny spotted fawn.

The spinning is using locks from a clean Jacob wool fleece, spinning one lock at a time.

The walk up to the mailbox this afternoon was brutal. The cicadas have quieted, gone back to ground for 17 years, but there is evidence of their visit everywhere. The young tips of some trees dead, they seem to have liked the young oaks and locusts most. It would have been nice if they liked the Autumn Olive.

Tucked between two pines on the edge of the driveway where they won’t be mowed by the hay farmers or by me is a nice little patch of milkweed beginning to bloom. I’m not seeing the butterflies yet though.

After dinner we drove to the nearest town to get an ice cream cone from the ice cream parlor/arcade that is never busy early in the evening, but they are closed on Monday and Tuesday. Across the road is a river outfitter that has a small cafe and sells ice cream by the scoop as well. There were 4 employees and at least half a dozen customers in there and no one had on a mask except us. As we were leaving, we did see one older man putting on his mask as he entered. We are seeing a few more at our village store, but they seem to not be a safety measure that most in this community believe will help. Our county cases have tripled and has 1 hospitalization now. What is it going to take for people begin to be safe and take this virus seriously.

It only took 3 Days

In the heat and humidity, it took 3 mornings to get the lawn done. Yesterday morning I broke out the monster Stihl line trimmer and got around the house, garden, the coop, and within the walled garden. I mixed up a gallon of salted vinegar and sprayed the stone path where I don’t want weeds to grow and where sterilizing the soil isn’t a problem. I need to get the cardboard down in the walled garden while the grass is short, but I need compost to put on it. Perhaps I should arrange a load to be delivered. A friend told me about a vinegar based weed killer that doesn’t contain salt. My research shows it is a concentrate of vinegar, lemon juice, clove oil, and soap. Maybe I will try it on the grass in the walled garden first if I can get it without going in a crowded store. The tops from the Iris that I cut back were added to the compost pile and more spoiled hay on top of that.

After the sun started down and some clouds came in, I moved 18 T posts that have been laying in the grass for weeks, beyond the chicken pen with grass and weeds growing through them. I weed wacked those weeds while the trimmer was out. Cleaned up some rocks in that area and made it easier to maintain with the riding mower when I mow back there. Slowly everything is getting easier to maintain. We still need to replace the brush hog to mow areas that the riding mower can’t handle, but can’t be hayed. There is another morning of trimming to get around the culverts and the chicken palace but they can wait. Ms. Broody is going on 8 weeks of sitting, so she is going in isolation in the chicken palace for a week to see if I can get it out of her system. For some reason the hens have decided that the nesting boxes aren’t for laying eggs and they are making a nest in the back corner of the coop. The coop is raised slightly higher than my knees and it isn’t quite tall enough to stand up in, so going in to gather their eggs is a challenge. I put a bucket in that corner and they just made a nest next to it.

This morning was reserved for vegetable garden maintenance and new harvest. There are always a few weeds to pull and I’m being a zealot when it comes to the Creeping Charlie that with pulling, cardboard and aggressive monitoring, so far is mostly developing outside the garden and I’m keeping it away from creeping in. If a tiny bit crops up in a bed, it is quickly dispatched. If I get the vinegar based weed killer, I may spray the outside base of the garden fence. The morning inspection and weed pulling showed me that the garlic and potato onions are just about ready to pull and dry and just in time because the box they are in was planted last fall before I rebuilt the other boxes and it is literally bursting apart at the seams. And I should be looking into buying garlic for fall planting before it is all sold out.

Once the onions and garlic are out, the box will be rebuilt, the soil supplemented with a wagon load of compost and it will hold a fall crop or two.

The Tomatillos are a large variety. I bought plants this year, though if I had been patient, I could have transplanted volunteers from last year’s crop that sprang up in one of the pea beds where they were planted last year. The cucumbers are resisting climbing the trellis and have to be encouraged every few days, but there are dozens of tiny just forming fruits so fresh cucumbers and pickles will soon be enjoyed.

The bush style green beans are prolifically developing. The first few meals harvested this morning will be blanched and some frozen this afternoon, the rest enjoyed with dinner. It will be a daily harvest now for a while until they quit blooming, then there will be a wait until the second planting which has sprouted grow large enough to give us a another crop.

There are raspberries that I didn’t expect to produce this year not to make jam, but enough to top my granola and yogurt each morning. Soon the kitchen will be hot and steamy every day as beans are blanched, pickles are canned, then tomatoes and peppers to process and hopefully corn to be eaten fresh off the cob as well as blanched and cut from the cob for winter cut corn. There are two developing Chinese cabbages, the second planting of them hasn’t come up yet. I wonder if they can be fermented. Hmmm, Kimchi.

The grape vine that I totally decimated to get it up off the ground in late winter or early spring which I didn’t expect any fruit from this year is laden with bunches of tiny grapes. There will be grape jam this year even if I never can get to the berries. They are a Concord variety, so the jam is deliciously grapey.

The hay cutters have one more field to the east of us, the rest are mowed, baled and lined up for them to move to their fields as winter feed for their cattle. I doubt they will get to us this week because every day til Friday has a 40 to 80% chance of thunderstorms. Next week’s projection looks better, but who knows how that will change in a week.

Later today, we will make our weekly curb side pickup of supplies from the Natural Foods store. This is even more important for the next few weeks as cases of Covid have increased in this part of the state, not substantially, but worrisome all the less, and daughter spent a week away from home in an area that was heavily infected, so we will have to be even more isolated from her for a couple of weeks. She avoided going out, but we still want to be careful.

Stay safe everyone. Wear a mask, wash your hands. We want to meet our now 6 month old grandson we still haven’t been able to meet.

Independence Day

July 4, 2020 would have been my mother’s 96th birthday. As kids, it was celebrated at a neighborhood pool party and feast. We lived in what is now the suburbs of Virginia Beach, then a county. Our houses were all on several acres, so neighborhood is being used loosely. Four of the houses were a Greek immigrant and his 3 sons and their families. The patriarch of the family had no idea what his birthday was so he celebrated on July 4 and one of his son’s had the pool and a fantastic outdoor kitchen with a spit and they always grilled a lamb with lemon, olive oil, and oregano. Everyone brought dishes and the kids spent the day in the pool, we ate, and celebrated Papu’s and Mom’s birthdays.

As young adults with kids of our own, there were neighborhood block parties, fireworks at the ocean front or a local park and the traffic jams trying to get home. Blacksburg and Christiansburg, the towns nearest us have fireworks and we usually have our oldest grandson at this time of year and sometimes his Dad too and we go in to see them. Not this year. With the social isolation, we went in at lunch time, for drove through food, took a walk on the old rail grade, masking when we passed anyone or were passed by cyclist, and returned home for the afternoon spent planting more corn, pulling the corn suckers from the ones that were up and transplanting them if they had roots, repairing a leaky garden hose, and watering pots and newly planted seed. I cooked burgers on the grill and had corn on the cob, then drove to a little town nearby to get ice cream only to find hundreds of people in the street looking at various cars, having some sort of street festival and no masks in sight, so we drove to the county seat to a drive through for cones. By the time we arrived back home, the sun was going down and I tackled the overgrown yellow Bearded Iris bed, first cutting back their tops, then digging them all up to divide.

Three large clumps set aside for friends, the remainder tossed into an area we don’t mow where they will set roots and bloom. The finished bed will be an overgrown mess again in two years.

It just wasn’t the same watching the fireworks on TV, but some of the music was nice.