The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Harvesting the crop of Irish potatoes – The potato crop planted in mid-March should be ready to harvest. There’s an old saying that Irish potatoes should be harvested before Dog Days which will arrive next week. Two ways to tell when they are ready for harvest is when their blooms start forming and leaves die down and the soil around the base of the plants form mounds where the spuds are forming. If the potatoes are in a raised bed, they can be dug out simply by hand. If in a row, you can use a potato digger rake to pull the spuds from the soil without bruising or damaging them. Sprinkle a layer of powdered lime on newly dug potatoes to prevent rot and promote the drying process. Place in baskets or boxes in place in semi sunny location like a carport or outside shelter. Check them every few days. Wash and scrub them before peeling.

Feeding and cooling of the birds of summer – The summer heat can have its affects on birds as well as humans. On days when it does not rain or thunderstorm in the area, water becomes a challenge for them. Keep birdbath filled every day and change it every evening to cool the bath off. Keep the feeders refilled for a quick source of food to keep up their energy level.

A frying pan a fresh summer squash – Summer squash was my mothers favorite vegetable and in early summer, she would have them on the table several times a week. Yellow straightneck squash are best of all because they have less seed and water and are also meatier. Their yellow skin is also more tender and smoother. Mama used country ham or fatback meat to season her fried squash, but for heart healthy reasons, we use light margarine. To make a frying pan of these delightful squash, cut the squash into 1 inch cubes, add several large onions cubed into half inch cubes, add a stick of light margarine, salt and pepper to taste. Add no water because squash consist of 75 to 80% water. Use about 10 to 12 squash. Fry until squash are tender, on medium heat. For more flavor, add a spoonful of bacon bits. Serve squash with a few diced fresh garden tomatoes or a side along with a platter of southern fried chicken for an unforgettable meal.

The very best tomato taste is from those he did all day by the sun and sliced and served on a hot biscuit – Heaven on a piece of hot bread is what a sun-heated tomato and a hot biscuit combined with mayo, salt, and pepper and a few bacon bits is all about. A real taste of summer good for the heart, soul, and appetite – summer goodness at its best!

Fireflies: Amber light on a summer night – We love the old Mitch Miller instrumental, “Song for a Summer Night”. What a talent he had to compose such a song! This magical music seemed to be the tune that fireflies would flicker by gracefully in the summer twilight. We especially like watching fireflies appear on warm summer evenings and we are not too old to catch one once in a while, smell them to refresh your childhood memory, recharge our youth and then let them go, still leaving their lingering “scent” on the palms of our hands reminding us of all the summers of our life! Thank God for providing such a majestic insect with an amber light in its tail.

The fight is on every day with the hummers – With several feeders, it is very amazing to watch hummingbirds fight over just one of the feeders instead of just moving to another. We sometimes think their favorite sport is contending with each other at the feeder. They do not ever seem to make contact so this inclines me to think they are sporting with each other or could they actually be courting each other? After all, love can be strange in how it shows itself.

Using grass clippings to heat up the compost pile bin – The clippings from the lawn are loaded with nitrogen and will quickly heat up a batch of compost and break it down. The residue from the spent crops of late spring, combined with crush leaves and garden residue will quickly form into a finished compost for the late summer garden. Stir clippings into the compost pile or bin and do this several times a week to mix the clippings with the other pile mixture. Add a little water if needed.

Enjoying the aroma of a summer thunderstorm – The summer garden and the trees of summer have a renewed life after a summer thunderstorm. The landscape has a fresh smell about it and garden crops seem to lift their foliage. Flowers quickly respond, birds become more active and more fireflies seem to appear. All natures outlook seems to improve after summer thunderstorm.

Checking out the deck umbrella – As we mentioned thunderstorms of summer, lest we forget, some can be quite gusty and it’s always a smart idea to wind the umbrella down when a storm develops. If you are away for the afternoon, it may be a good thing to lower the umbrella before you leave the house. You may want to remember it and replace it after the storm.

Cucumbers playing hide and seek game – Cucumbers in their dark green leaves play a hide and seek game at cucumber harvest time and the second effort should be made to find elusive green cucumbers hiding under leaves. Cucumbers quickly grow and if not found and harvested, they will get too large to harvest. Take a rake and pull back the leaves to search for elusive cucumbers.

Still plenty of time to plant green beans – Green beans can produce a harvest in about 65 days and there’s plenty of time to make a second harvest of beans. You can choose from Top crop, Strike, Kentucky Wonder Bush, Blue Lake Bush, Derby, and Tenderette. Add handfuls of Pete Moss to the seeds before covering with soil. Fertilize every 10 days with Miracle-Gro liquid fertilizer.

The night of the full strawberry moon – A full “strawberry moon” will rise tonight just a little while after sunset. This may look pink like a half ripe strawberry because of the afterglow of the summer sunset. It should be a romantic moon on a summer night, but be cautious because legend says, “The strawberry moon sees everything and hides nothing!”

Ray Baird