What’s growing in my garden in August (besides weeds) . . .

A lot. A lot is growing in my August garden, Gentle Reader. SO. Much.

But before we go there, do you mind a wee little story? *wincing* I hear a few groans, but mostly . . . confused silence . . . so onward I will forge.

Here goes: I mention my garden and business mentor, Gene, now and again, in my posts. I hope I don’t embarrass him overmuch by doing this, but on the other hand, he embarrasses me now and then (for example, when he introduces me as his “oldest living mentee,” not to be confused with the oldest living manatee, mind you, who–sadly–recently died in a freak plumbing accident), so possibly we’re even. Gene and me, that is, not the manatee and me. Bless him. Gene. Not the manatee.

(I have tried to explain to my dear mentor that the word “oldest,” no matter what other words are before or aft, is rarely a sweet word to a woman’s ears, when used in regard to her. No matter her age. I have no idea how the typical manatee feels about the word, by the way. Not a clue.)

Possibly, just bewildered? By the way, I think–if I were a manatee–that I’d prefer being called a manatee to a “sea cow.” But maybe that’s just me. That’s a side note that you can ignore, if you like.

So. Anyway. Gene sent me into spirals of stupefaction one day in July when he sent me an oh-so-casual email mentioning his having invited a half-dozen or more chefs to his house for dinner and a garden tour. These chefs are employed at a fancy restaurant that we sell specialty produce to.

Read that paragraph again, to make sure you catch the full import of it. ↑ Please. Yes. See, you did read it correctly. My mentor. Cooking for professional chefs. Afterwards, giving them a garden tour.  Of his garden. IN JULY.

If you are a cook or a gardener (especially in July or August) you will agree with me that he is one brave dude.

Gene’s preparing food for chefs is akin to my making pie for my mother. Which. I. Don’t. Do. Ever!! My mother has spent a lifetime perfecting her pie recipes. She has experimented with every fat on earth to make the best pastry. The thickening agent within a fruit pie has been agonized over and analyzed, too. She has tinkered with her recipes for years. Soooo I make her something else–instant pudding with Cool Whip, for example. Sliced apples. Carrot sticks. Crackers and cheese. Frozen pizza. And I then hint (delicately) for her pie. Because I am not one brave dude. Or one brave gal, or even one brave sea cow. (Who prefers to be called a manatee.)

As I grappled with the intel that my mentor would be gutsy enough to cook for first-class chefs, and then give them a tour of his gardens and greenhouses, he mentioned offhandedly that maybe someday I might consider doing the same thing.

Bless. His. Heart. Such optimism. Such gentle hope. One word (more accurately, perhaps, a series of them) came immediately to mind: hahahahaaaaa!!”

Maybe the day that the kids wrap me in an old quilt and bury me next to Bea (our little Aussie that died last summer) and Little Red (my favorite chicken who perished finally) in the weedy edge of my garden, I’ll give them permission to let folks come look at my garden in July. Not before.

Of course, Gene has it All Together in ways that I do not. For example. Bryan and I ate dinner at Gene’s house one night. There were glasses of wine (your choice of white or red!) before dinner–in actual wine glasses–and (get this) tasteful hors’dieuvres . . . horse’derves. . . appetizers. Just the right amount, not enough to get in the way of an actual appetite.

Then there was the garden tour. Gene’s gardens and greenhouses are . . . extensive and impressive, and there are no weeds (not that a chef would notice, anyway) to speak of, and Gene tells interesting stories and keeps a pleasant running commentary during the tour. It is clear that he has done this many, many times.

Dinner, which followed the garden tour, was served by Gene and his lovely wife Dorrie, on plates that matched (each other) and (get this) in actual courses. I think there were four. Courses, not plates. Salad was served with the bread. It was all well-organized and went so smoothly. (For example, nobody had to stop the meal to dig through an o’er-stuffed ‘fridge *cough* for thirteen minutes to find a mashed half-stick of butter.) Nearly all the food was locally grown, and it was all delicious. There was wine to drink during dinner, too, and coffee was served out on the porch, with dessert, after dinner. Nothing was rushed. Everything was lovely, peaceful, and well-planned.

**blank stare**

This is my messy main garden–tomatoes are growing in the cages you see, and marigolds and cosmos and basil are in the foreground. I put my heart into this space every day. And sweat. And tears. You gardeners get this, natch’.

At our house–needless to say!–things would have been different. Soooo different. And where different is not (*wincing*) necessarily bad, my different would not be good. I would have had to use jelly jars for the wine–oh, wait–except that there would be no wine because we probably wouldn’t be able to find the corkscrew. You do need a corkscrew to get the wine out of the bottles, right? The corkscrew at our house is always lost, which is probably a mercy because some days I could drink a lot more wine than I really ought. A LOT of wine, which makes my dear cautious teetotaling husband very nervous, indeed.

It just occurred to me that maybe “somebody” hides that corkscrew. 🙁 Hmm. I bet I know who . . .

While jelly jars are cute in a country setting, when used for ice water, ice tea, or homemade lemonade, they are just plain pathetic when you use them for wine. Using jelly jars for wine has the essence of “unashamed alcoholic” about it. Oh, but wait, there’s no corkscrew. So, no wine.

That’s right.

L’Absinthe by Edgar Degas. This woman could so easily be drinking her highly alcoholic beverage from a jelly jar. Such is her desperation, obviously. So. Pathetic. This is me if I could find the corkscrew. *sigh* Which I can’t. I think I mentioned that.

Question: Why the missing corkscrew, and why the elusive wine glasses, you may ask??

Answer: Because we are still not finished with our kitchen remodel (alas!), though we are painfully close, Gentle Readers. Painfully close. And yes. I will do a kitchen remodel update post, if anybody is still interested in one. Really! I will. You probably don’t really want to know, do you? You’re probably tired of this topic? Well . . . if you’re still interested, leave a quick comment below, okay? 🙂 #sneakybloggertacticstogetcomments

Back to this imaginary event (which will not take place anytime soon, recall?) at our place: The garden tour in July. Or August, for that matter! This fictional event would be marred not only by the sorry jelly-jars-as-wine-glasses, the missing corkscrew, thus, no wine–the hidden, mashed stick o’butter, but also by the big collie dog that would bark and bark and bark at the strangers, and then be hauled off to take a time out in her kennel. Where she would continue to bark. Forever and a day, amen and amen. She is a barker, bless her! Probably, also, during the garden tour, our dear hay man would pull up in his pick-up truck with two raggedy sheep and a wobbly, skinny calf for Mack to pet, and he would have thirty-two questions to ask, and three long stories to tell, which on an ordinary day is a pleasant break from chores, but during a July Garden Tour and Dinner for Chefs, might be awkward.

He would ask for a ride home, afterwards, as his pick-up would die in the driveway and refuse to start up again. This would undoubtedly trap the chefs (as their cars were parked high up on the driveway) for a good long time, and they would check their watches, their ‘phones, and the unhappy livestock in the back of the pick-up truck, awkwardly, as Bryan and the dear hay man did everything in their power to get the pick-up started again . . .

I planted beds of peppers in-between thick beds of tomatoes, to aid in air circulation, rather than planting the tomatoes in beds side by side.

*siiiigh* And then the real reason I could never give a garden tour in July . . . one word . . . (okay, two, if you count articles) . . . the WEEDS. A garden tour in early May, when all is fresh and new, when you are still rejoicing over verdant green and warm breezes, when you happily munch on Hope for breakfast, Joy for lunch and Deep Satisfaction for dinner . . . it’s doable, or at least contemplatable.

But in July and/or August?

July and August are SO another story entirely. (Can I hear a weak amen, brothers and sisters and descendants of Adam?) When weary and discouraged and beaten-down gardeners and farmers decide to swear off gardening and farming forever, I would be willing to bet that most often it’s in the month July. Or, possibly August. But probably July.

I planted a lot of eggplants, which are just beginning to bear. I wish I could share them with my son Matthew, who insists that he’s pretty “meh” about eggplants. He’d like these cute little ones I planted.

If May in the garden is breathless hope, July and August are fierce, gritted-teeth battle. At least here in the Midwest, and here at our place, this is true. In July and August, I engage in battles with bugs, blight, determined neighbors who insist on spraying the fields next to my gardens again and again, festering tick bites, occasional drought, punishingly hot temps and equally abusive humidity levels, a toe smashed by a log that fell out of the log splitter, mysterious caterpillars that curl up inside of tomatoes and tomato vine stems, scrapes, bruises, summer colds, heat exhaustion, summer allergies, and a heat wave that bullies you around for weeks. If you do get some rain, you generally get a LOT, and then clouds of mosquitoes appear as if by magic, and are not deterred by the clouds of toxic poison you spray on yourself just so you can hang out outside for a few minutes. Sunburn. Stiff muscles Every. Day. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. But not much!

July and August take some mettle, don’t they? It takes GRIT to be a farmer in the end of the summer.

I’m thinking the month of July has been a toughie on this ole’ farm lady.

That said, by July, I certainly have got plenty growing in the garden. Every day, I plan my menu on what I have extra coming out of the garden, and what the fancy restaurants in town didn’t buy this week. 🙂 This is a terrifically fun way to menu-plan, by the way. Cucumbers. Tomatoes. Squash that got a little too big. Bushels and bushels of basil.

And then, August comes and one day you realize that you aren’t seeing as many blister bugs as you were, and you feel a whiff of a breeze, and you smell fall. You see a few yellow leaves on the ground, and it hits you: the hard part, perhaps, has passed. Fall in the garden is another animal, entirely, isn’t it? Not a manatee either, mind you. Something of another ilk. A little hope edges in. And you have some pictures of the good parts to show your friends. And lots and lots of zucchini and cucumbers to share.

Wanna see some pictures? Ohhhh kay. I do believe I have a few. 🙂

This is French mallow, a start of which my Mom shared with me a decade ago (at least). She doesn’t even remember sharing it with me. It comes back year after year. It’s an edible flower and is related to hollyhocks!

Last year, of course, I couldn’t grow a cucumber to save my life. Cucumber bugs were terrible! And this year . . . goodness! Cucumbers are doing so well!

This is an experiment: Cardoon. Have you ever grown it? Me neither. It’s related to artichoke, which you can probably tell from its foliage!

 

 

This narrow garden next to my hoop house is filled with cukes, a few beds of fall crops, lots and lots of herbs, and some experimental amaranth (i.e. grasshopper food).

It looks like a weedy mess, but I’m particularly proud of this third garden. It has been overrun with weeds and despair since the fall that Dad and I dug it up, over fifteen years ago. This year I put my shoulder to the plow, laid out lots and lots of landscape cloth to keep the weeds down, and planted it full! I’ve got purple podded beans, a bed of cutting flowers, squash and melons growing next to a flourishing bed of blackberry brambles.

Well. Now you know what’s growing here at our place at the end of the this summer, Gentle Reader. I hope that seeing pictures of my overgrown gardens will give you hope as you tackle your garden in this tricky, late-season time. I hope that your own garden is fruitful and pleasant, and not at all frustrating or despair-inducing!

A blogging note: I haven’t been blogging consistently, but I’ve hired some help in the blogging department, and my Virtual Assistant will be doing some of my busy work of blogging, so I’ll be able to spend my time doing what I like best–writing, and sharing with you!

I hope you are doing well in your garden and life. Thanks for popping in today. As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. If you’ve enjoyed this post, would you do me the HUGE favor of sharing it with your friends and gardening communities? And if you haven’t liked my vomitingchicken.com Facebook page, you really oughta! We have a lot of fun and share a lot of tips and tricks and recipes and such over there. It’s a wonderful community.

*hugs*

 

 

 

31 thoughts on “What’s growing in my garden in August (besides weeds) . . .

  1. gene

    Amy – the particular chef’s tour and lunch you mentioned had to be postponed since El Ranchito Grande was in the middle of a thunderstorm and tornado warning , and my liability insurance probably wouldn’t cover a sous chef (lost among my 9 ft tall tomato plants) getting struck by lightning. But I’ve done it before and will do it again. I just think it is incredibly important for chefs – particularly the ones who work for “from scratch” restaurants – to know exactly where their produce (and meat and cheese) comes from. Besides – the gang of chefs that you and I work with these days are fun to associate with precisely because they are so curious and willing to try absolutely anything.

    Glad you and Brian enjoyed the dinner at our house. Obviously, I love cooking for people who understand and appreciate what they are eating.

    Now . . . you need to promise your gentle readers that you will report in full on the upcoming super fancy Farm-to-Table dinner that will feature our veggies and your flowers! I will spend some time with the chef this morning wrapping up a few menu details. You will be a rock star after that meal!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Oh ho ho, Gene, a rock star, I don’t think so. But I heartily enjoy your confidence in me. I will report–as long as I don’t lose my head and forget to take pictures! It’s going to be an evening to remember, I’m sure!! 🙂

  2. Diane Decker

    Okay, okay, I’ll comment! I know it is hard to look at all the weeds, but rejoice! You have such a bounty of wonderful vegetables to feed your family and a portion of the world.

  3. Hope Goodwin

    I for one would love to see pics of the remodel! The in-between is the best part imo, in all it’s dusty, chopped, loose wires and exposed plumbing glory. But I’m a glutton for punishment in that, since I’m an interior designer who loves mucking around in construction sites. WIP is my fave place to be.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      oh Hope, bless your heart. I am hoping with all my might that some of your sunny attitude concerning remodeling will somehow morph itself into my own stubborn heart! Thanks for your comment!

  4. William

    Two cups of Coffee indeed, more like two pots of coffee. But of course, I would be happy to come and cook for you when the chefs are on tour. Of course, there are my expenses, which I am sure you would cover. Just the air fare and I will want to write the menu myself. (Chefs require special care when eating in front of other chefs, otherwise, very simple foods work wonderfully well) So do give me a call if you need me to fly up to cook for the tour. I need a couple of weeks notice and a list of what will be available from the garden so that I can plan the menu. The main course will be chicken, of course, yours, so you can mention “Free range” during dinner. I will stay in the background in the kitchen. Dessert will be a couple of your mothers pies. Looks like we’ve got it covered, right?

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Sounds like we’ve got it covered, Chef. This scenario makes me giddy with joy. I’d LOVE it if we could collab on this . . . *thinking hard* . . . hey, I’ve even got some freshly-caught Alaskan Halibut in my freezer now.. . and you saw the piggies that are now in the freezer, too. Boy. We could surely come up with an impressive meal, between us. And the sky’s the limit where garden veg are concerned, right now. NOT TO MENTION all the wild fruits that are needing to be harvested right now in our area . . . elderberries, elderblossoms, possibly some cherry plums soon, aronia berries. Sounds like between us, we could feast for a week! I’d provide the locally grown veg and meat, and you could do the cooking! Yes. It’s a plan!!

  5. Morgan Mill

    Thank you for this! My weeds are hopeless at this point this year. (And yesssss — there is always a semi-plan in the works for doing things better next year) but —— it’s just a lot to maintain and it’s good to know that I’m not alone in my overwhelm.

  6. Heather

    Every year I plant a ridiculously large garden, and right about this time start wondering what on earth I was thinking, and why I can’t control myself in March and April (I suppose it goes all the way back to December when the seed catalogues arrive). It can be easy to lose sight of the joy and hope of it all! Thank you for your post, for the reminders of good things, for the commiseration, and for the encouragement to keep at it.
    You are very blessed in your mentor! I’ve been praying for a garden mentor . . . still waiting for my answer.
    Yes, please post a kitchen remodel update, if only for your own sake. How satisfying it will be, and cathartic, to wrap it all up with a post full of lovely pics. And I’d love to rejoice along with you.

  7. Kay

    A. I’ll bring you my WINE OPENER (aka corkscrew) if you will come help me fight the unrelenting battle of the grasshopper hordes in my garden.
    2. You have to return said opener.
    III. You mean you can use JELLY JARS for something other than canning & storing homemade yougurt?? Who knew?!
    B. WEEDS are not too bad here. Grass, around the parameter where we don’t mow (because it requires the push mower and we’re old and don’t want to!!)
    Sticker (aka sandburrs) bushes are popping up because the guys tilled the garden deep, several times. No too many other weeds but those stickers! Oy!
    YOUR MOM. I would have texted you but you are not in my contacts… What?! Why? Maybe I should have checked under “Manatee”. 😉 Anyway– your Dad was holding court at the local coffee shop this morning and telling the fishing tales from Alaska/Canada (??– I saw a glimpse of a photo on-line, you?) Your dad does not know me, your mom does; otherwise I would have nosed my way into the convo and admired her fish. Tell her good job from me.
    WHAT WAS THE ORIGINAL QUESTION?: Oh right! YES!! I want/need/demand (gently of course) a Kitchen Update!! Remember you promised me a tour at the Plant Sale when I was nice enough to let you off that particular day. I’ll take a virtual tour.
    FINALLY (Thank Goodness!! It’s about time! says Amy): Cucumbers, yep! Squash, still, for the moment, but the squash bugs have found it. Only time will tell if the rest of the row survives. Tomatoes: The 2 in the best cages are not setting fruit at all! I gave them a stern talking to last eve. Either start up or I’m pulling you out!!! We’ll see if they listened.
    Thanks to the advice of MY dear garden guru (older lady neighbor); I hopefully am thwarting the hoppers from eating the growing fruit on just one of the tomatoes. Not all, just one! I covered the top and facing side with a netting. She said if the hoppers can see the tomatoes from the outside they will get them. They will not go hunting in the leaves. Eggplant: died. One of the pepper plants, eaten to stems. Herbs munched daily.
    The end of my blog post disguised as a comment because I’m too lazy to dig around my own blogsite. 🙂

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      oh KAY, you were at the Dragonfly and I wasn’t there to have coffee with you? Alas! I’m glad you got to hear some of my dad’s (and mom’s) Alaskan fishing tales. Tell ya what. I hope I’m able to go deep-sea fishing in my 80s! Wow. PLEASE tell me the next time you go there–my regular time is 7:00 on Friday mornings. Come then, and you can sit and tell lies with Dad, Mom, our local farmer friends, and me! I will save a seat for you, if you let me know the night before, and I’ll even buy you a fancy coffee!

      OKAY, I will do a kitchen update, I promise, and before too much more time passes. We are using it now, though it’s not quite finished, so I forget that it’s not . . . quite . . finished.

      About the grasshoppers: Girlfriend. Do you not own any chickens? Nor ducks? Keeping a flock of some kind (or guineas?) (it doesn’t even have to be very large) is, in my opinion, the best way–possibly the only way– to get rid of grasshoppers. They eat ’em when they are small, they chase ’em when they are large. I don’t have many this year, but BOY do I have blister beetles, Japanese beetles, and some awful little caterpillar that is killing my tomato plants one . . by . . . blessed . . . one. 🙁 Oh boy, is that a Sad State of Affairs! I actually have been working on my ailing tomato plants–pruning, coaxing, praying over, re-planting (yes, that is how desperate I have become), but I don’t know if I’m going to lose them all or not! Oh well. As Roseanne RosannaDanna used to say “It’s always something.” And as every devoted gardener I’ve ever known would say “There’s always next year.” *siiiiiiigh*

      1. Kay

        yes to coffee, but 7 a.m.?!! hope you like bed-head. No fowl here. Farmer doesn’t want it because A. he doesn’t care for it as food and B. brings in mice and I am a weenie-baby when it comes to rodents. When the neighbors had guineas, they spent much time over here and we had alot less flies & hoppers and bugs in general. Now all I have is cows and cats. The cats try to catch them. The cows just provide nurseries for more flies. :\ Caterpillar… corn bore? Or some other row crop pest, perhaps? I’ll start praying over your tomatoes too. You can pray over mine as well. I might get some ripe ones by September… maybe….

  8. Carolyn Morrison

    Definite YES on More Kitchen Remodeling Updates! It’s comforting to see other people going thru what I have lived thru. Lol

    There are 2 reasons why I gave up gardening: Weeds & Bugs. And the Heat. 3 reasons: weeds, bugs, heat. This is me, waving from Wimpville. Besides, SOMEBODY has to support the farmers markets and the locally-grown section of the supermarket!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      I like your attitude, Carolyn. And don’t forget to occasionally visit the restaurants in your area that buy locally-grown food!

  9. Gwen

    Just had a garden tour 10 days ago with the ladies I work with at The Flower Bed – surely as intimidating as chefs: two Hortis and a Master Gardner in the bunch. Kept me on my toes and my garden has never looked better. Now, to keep it up… I should get back to writing as well as it has been a great season.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Gwen, Good for you! You didn’t just creep inside and write a blog post about how you’d never do that garden tour (cough) like somebody I know. I guess it would behoove me to do a garden tour—but I’d sure have to do a LOT of clean-up first. Kind of like taking the scoop shovel to the house before you have company over–it always looks so great when you are finished, but OIY it’s a pain to get there!!

  10. Charlotte

    I think it is really adorable how you put the ‘ with ‘phones. Have you always done that? Is it a regional thing? Or just your thing?

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Hmmm, Charlotte, that is a very good question! I’ve always used ‘phone as a proper abbreviation for telephone. But who knows where I picked it up??

  11. Elsa

    I am with you on the weeds, the garden looked so good in May after the fresh mulch, but the weeds have come through and I haven’t been able or too lazy to keep up. We don’t have blister beetles here but they sound painful, but the Japanese beetles are destroying my grapes and rosebushes. We’ve had so much rain this year, the slugs and earwigs love it. But such is the life of a gardener and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Elsa, Wellll . . . I would have it without the bugs, but they do give us something to do and to fret about, don’t they? I have been patrolling my blackberry patch for those wretched Japanese beetles. I carry a bucket of soapy water and just knock them into them. They have been feasting on the blossoms. Dumb things!

  12. Anne

    We got back from France and my garden was…well, in it’s most natural state. 🙂 I have a rogue volunteer squash-ish something-or-ruther, that is taking over the garden and I know I should just pull it up, but I noticed my bees getting refreshment from the water that collects in the cups of the blossoms, as well as getting pollen, so…I’ve left it, and it has most literally covered 3/4 of my garden now. You are welcome, my little bee lady friends. 🙂 I have so many other things to do right now, anyway, and I have farmer’s market to buy fresh, organic veggies from. 🙂

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Sometimes, sister, it’s true that the best choice is to just Let Stuff Go. You are wise to know what’s most important in your life right now, and what you can let go! Anyway, the bees must be taken care of!

  13. rose

    You know you’re in trouble (weeds) when you have to break out the lawnmower!
    What kind of eggplants do you grow? Mine were prolific this yr too!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Hey Rose! I grew Rosa Bianca (I love that one, so gorgeous and big) and the rest are small, decent egg-sized. One really unusual one is Melanzane Rosso Di Rotonda, a small round stripey one that turns orange, from Baker Creek seeds. Honestly I haven’t eaten any of them, I’ve just sold them to chefs. But they are stunning! And prolific! What types do you grow?

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