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More News from Paradise

Sunday, August 9, 2009

There are some urgent news flashes from Paradise that I need to pass along. This is the only news that really matters, so pay close attention.

It is very hot, touching 90. I suppose it had to get hot sometime. August 9 seems like a good day for it to finally turn hot. Having spent the first half of the day sweating, weeding and getting filthy, I'm running the air conditioners. It feels divine, although I miss the bug and bird music that has filled our house this whole cool fresh summer.

Today I clipped off the green bean plants, about three inches from the ground. My friend David told me a couple of summers ago that he'd taken a lawnmower to his green bean rows, just to get rid of the bug-eaten old plants, and to his shock they had resprouted and borne a beautiful fall crop! It's too late to plant more seeds, so I thought I'd give it a try. There are good roots under that soil. Maybe they'll put on some new growth, bloom and feed us again before frost. They've already outdone themselves, but maybe they can do more.

While I was at it I planted some "Farmer's Market Baby Lettuces" from Renee's Garden Seeds. I have never succeeded in getting a fall lettuce crop, but if there were ever a summer to try it, this is it.

Big news: The tuberoses are going wild, 14 blooming stalks, a personal best and all-time high. From this I surmise that tuberoses like a cool, wet summer. Our nights are perfumed with wild dreams from the little white flowers in vases on the nightstands.

The dwarf peach tree gave its all this year. Too bad we were in Trinidad for peak peachdrop. I surmised by all the chewed pits on the ground that the 'coons had a field day, waiting beneath it each night. One thing I know: they didn't make it up my homemade baffle to pick them for themselves. The Science Chimp has learned a thing or two about stopping 'coons, having experimented with it since 1982. You may feel free to copy my original design with your own taped-together Yard Funnels. It is especially handsome, I think. Do not try to use duct tape. The only tape that works is that silver metal stuff. You could probably fix a car with that tape.

The Rose of Sharon "Satin Blue" that we bought at Chautauqua two summers ago is growing and blooming, delighting us with its delicate mix of lilac and sky. I do love the mallow family. I can think of seven different species growing in my gardens right now. Two are from Africa, several from Asia, exotics all. My giant pink hibiscus might well have been developed from the native marsh mallows, which are turning Marietta's Kroger Wetlands into a total fiesta right now with their huge red, pink and white blossoms. My cultivar and the wild marsh mallows have the same structure and blooming schedule. So I wonder if I could boil the roots and make marshmallows? As if I'd ever find time to try it.

More news: There is a beautiful sorrel pony on my bluebird route. Sometimes she comes down to the fenceline where I can admire her.

Almost all the hay is cut now, the last time this season. August looks like it's burgeoning, but in truth hardly anything is really growing any more. It's more just seeding and fruiting.

The hayrolls are almost all gathered up now, piled and coated in ugly white plastic. I wish I could say I find them attractive when they're shrink-wrapped, but I don't. Here's an unwrapped holdout, with a thunderhead crown.

Bill goes around this curve at least twice a day. I like how the road looks like a model racetrack in this photo, like you could just peel it off the land and roll it up.

And always the hayrolls, lurking like musk oxen off to the side of the meadows.


Thanks for the tip about the beans. I'll be planting my fall beans soon and will try that to see if I can keep them producing longer. So far that only crop that will grow across seasons is swiss chard. I grew it all winter, then cut it completely back and transplanted it where it would get afternoon shade for the sumer and it is surviving our 98-199 degree days. We are having the hottest and driest summer on record in the Texas Hill Country.

I've working on moving mountains of cedar chips - made from clearing my daughter's property of most of the cedar and dirt- the scrapings for the foundation to make new garden beds for fall planting. I'll be starting lettuce and broccoli plant the same weekend we'll be moving.

What a great word picture, "hay rolls lurking like musk oxen..."!

I think of hayrolls as animate. Don't know what I did before they were invented. Square bales are fine but nobody leaves them out to mark off the landscape like they do with the big round bales. They bale them and throw them on the truck and get them in the loft and that's the last you see of 'em.

Another item to keep on hand for when duct tape just isn't up to the job is Gorilla Tape. Imagine duct tape on steroid, far heavier material and much more and stickier adhesive. Not something to waste taping up a box, I save it for important repairs... patching a tear in soft-sided luggage that is leaving for Ireland in a few hours, sealing and reinforcing a split vacuum cleaner hose, holding the smashed body of my spotting scope together. Expensive, and worth it.

Yes, we have Gorilla Tape here, but as strong as it is, it is still a duct tape, and I don't think it much likes being in the sun. That's where the metal tape shines. Best part is you can still remove it after a month in strong summer sun. Try that with Gorilla tape... Believe me I don't want to look at my handsome baffle for a moment longer than it's needed, so I have to be able to dismantle it.

Some hay rolls are animate--when I was working full time, my secretary lived down the road from a farm. One day as she was driving home, a runaway hay roll came blamming down the hill and smashed right into her car. And the car was damaged. The farmer paid up. Not sure where that is covered under home owner's insurance.

Sometimes they form a ring to protect their young, but sometimes they charge.

Love that coon baffle Julie! I suppose it is the only way you all would get to taste any of the peaches! The countryside where you live is so beautiful.

Good lord, Julie! You make me homesick. Beautiful, as usual.

Amazing photos! I love the descriptions about the hay bales. it much reminds me of the windmills in Don Q.

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