Dad did not stake his glads as is evident because he is holding them up. This photo was probably taken in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. The twinkle in his eye? Probably me; I didn’t show up in the garden until 1964. 

I feel like all I have done lately is stake and support plants. Part of the problem is the recent summer storms. Then there is the sandy soil in my garden that does not have a whole lot for roots to hold on to. There is also Katie the Nervous Dog bounding though the plant beds in pursuit of squirrels, bunnies, chipmunks and voles leaving in her wake a bunch of broken and trod upon plants. I’m trying to stay one step ahead of it all by staking–which does help a good deal. Here’s the list of the candidates: Dahlias–I stake these at planting time so that’s been done for awhile, Persicaria, Lilies, Tall Coneflower, Perennial Hibiscus, Branched Coneflower, Aster, the baby Paw-Paw Tree, Sneezeweed, and one Sea Oat Grass that was just beat up in the last storm. With the exception of the Sea Oat Grass, there are multiples of all the rest adding up to a bunch of work. In the heat.  After the staking came the half-time edit, but that is next week’s topic. Finished for the day– the heat nearly finished me and then feeling like one big itch from the plants– I’m thankful now to be writing to you while enjoying a nice cold beer. 

Last week when I wrote about herbs, I forgot to mention another favorite–Lemon Grass. This annual, graceful grass is a great addition to the garden, even if you don’t want to use it for Asian-inspired dishes. The foliage is a pretty yellow-green, the base of the plant is striped with a bit of red and the foliage arches about half-way up, allowing the breeze to take it. Since it is an annual, you don’t have to worry about it becoming too big for a spot–you can just pick a different place for it next year. I don’t think my garden has been without one in over ten years.

We have been picking from our veggie patch at the community garden nearly every day. Squash is the big producer right now. We grew two varieties of yellow squash: One is Golden Zucchini, the other is a Patty-Pan variety that looks like yellow bowl called “Sunburst Hybrid.” My favorite way to make the zucchini-like squash is one I learned from Marcella Hazen in her book, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. First caramelize a sweet onion or two (I like Vidalias.) Season with salt and pepper. To this add squash cut into half circles and cook until just tender. The final seasoning is some fresh thyme from the garden. Serve over wild rice–or your favorite rice mix– topping with some crumbled goat cheese. For the Patty Pan Squash: I like to core it out and stuff the same way I would a stuffed pepper. The difference is to bake the squash first until nearly done before adding the filling–then finish it off. If this squash “blows up” in the garden before you get to it, it makes a lovely vase for cut flowers. Just core out the center and insert a small votive candle holder. Fill with water and a few short stems.

Green beans–have got to be the easiest veggies to grow–for real. Simple to cook, too; steam over salted water until they loose their grassy taste. Toss with a bit of olive oil and a few dashes of balsamic vinegar if you like. I even like these room temp so no worries if they finish cooking before the rest of the meal is done. Great dipped in pesto, too. If you hop on it you might could get a round planted and harvested this season–about 55 days from planting to harvest.

Kale–I have this in my Tower Garden. Kale is a power food, one of the most nutritious plants you can eat. The recent heat has had nearly no effect on the Kale in my Tower. I have been harvesting it for my breakfast smoothie for over a month and today I put in a round of fresh plants. Burped makes a pellet that contains a variety of Kale within it; I am not kidding that they sprouted in three days in the wooly starter and are off and running moved to the Tower. But you can grow it in the ground fine, too; just protect from bunnies and ensure consistent watering.

Finally, tomatoes. Sometimes they don’t even make it into the basket. They are amazing right off the vine still hot form the sun. Other than this, just a bit of sea salt to bring out the juices even more and they need nothing more than a chin to drip down. 

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