Home Columns & Editorials Iva's Input Horticultural Report—Summer, 2017

Horticultural Report—Summer, 2017

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Well, the ferns and the jack-in-the-pulpits were riotous this year and some even had to have some of their fronds evicted from the cozy jungle which they had created. There was green stuff everywhere! And moss!? The water feature/rock with a modest up-spout of gurgling liquid is burbling away but the water is encouraging a bumper growth of really shaggy green moss. The stones around it are semi-dry but the rock looks sort of like a weird green sheep. If I hear baaahing in the night, I’m not even going out there to look. Too strange. In the rest of the place, we’ve seen the result of not enough rain over the long haul and not enough attention being paid by Moi leading to actual watering of the plants that have been curling their leaves and drooping their flower heads in a vain attempt to let me know that they’re feeling poorly. Strangely enough, the black raspberries managed to do not too badly in a couple of spots.
Further afield, the strawberry crop in my favorite picking spot was below par, while the cherries seemed to do well and now the peaches are going gangbusters, with other fruits—red raspberries, pears, apples—crowding up behind and just waiting to be declared ready. My “tree run” (basically, unsorted but all good) peck basketful is disappearing pretty quickly, as straight sliced-peaches-in-a-bowl or ice cream-with-peach-topping or peach shortcake (I’m a buttered biscuit fan, myself, with pound cake a close second; no namby-pamby sponge cake for this gourmand), peach pie (an heirloom recipe from the Benes kitchen that’s like a peach custard pie in a butter crust—tasty) and foundation for a real fruity smoothie. I have never frozen peaches before but this looks as though it might be a good year to give that a try.
I also lucked into a blueberry bonanza, courtesy of Gary and Mary Spencer in Hiram. They had three blueberry bushes near the house (The ones farther afield were appropriated by the birds.) and kept them covered with netting, only uncovering the nearest one to occasionally pick the cream of the crop, so to speak. Well, now that the season is drawing to a close, the netting came off and—Yahoo—it was clear that the other two bushes had not just been twiddling their twigs, so to speak, all that time. The bushes were loaded with big, fat, ripe blue orbs that were READY, willing and able to head to a table or an oven or a refrigerator or a freezer, somewhere, anywhere. I have proof of this sitting in cupcake papers on top of the stove and in pans—individually frozen—in the freezer. Nice work if you can get it (and you can get it if you try).
As regards vegetables, the picture is not so bright. I planted four tomato plants—two hybrids, two heirloom, one pepper plant—Lunchbox Orange—one potful of basil, one green zucchini, one yellow zucchini ; we won’t even count the rhubarb. So far, Mr. Stripey, one of the heirlooms can’t even manage to produce a polka dot, much less a stripe, the other plants have been badly affected by the weather patterns and got a late start at producing anything at all, though I did see a couple of late-bloomers struggling to make a showing just lately. I think that the total so far has been three tomatoes. The pepper, unfortunately, was about shaded out by the tomatoes (They were not short of foliage, just fruit) and seems to have managed to produce just one little pepper; no late arrivals seem to be waiting around the corner either. The basil is bushy and healthy as long as I can remember to water it; it recovers quickly. Must try making some fresh pesto. The zucchini plants have FINALLY begun to look as though they are going to produce something. I don’t think that there will be an overproduction problem; I will not be skulking about in the night leaving basketsful on the neighbors’ porches. I WILL get to use my Vegetti—as seen on TV—a genuine, handy-dandy spiralizer guaranteed to make vegetables so appealing and appetizing that my consumption of said assorted herbs, legumes, cucurbits and cruciferous plants will be vastly improved and my health boosted to Mayo Clinic levels, no “put hair on your chest” claims have been made…or solicited.. Yeah, right. Vegetable spaghetti is vegetable spaghetti. It is cute, though.
And speaking of cookin’…. Check out the program ongoing at the Garrettsville branch of the Portage County District Library , “Cooking with Marian”, where they were recently Cookin’ up a Storm with desserts, having already visited soups, salads and various other topics. The brave individuals actually started up their ovens to turn out pies, cakes and puddings for the delectation and enjoyment of others. There’s dedication for you. They even did gluten-free variations; the chocolate/peanut butter cake was a winner, ditto for blueberry pie, and everything else, for that matter. They’re going on to bigger and better challenges, with a speaker coming soon to expound on Japanese culinary possibilities. Check out the schedule and pick your favorite food group (I include butter, chocolate, spinach and red-eye gravy—not all together.)
As a matter of fact, check the programs being offered at all of the PCDL branches—Aurora, Streetsboro, Garrettsville, Windham, plus Reed Memorial and Kent Free—because they all have interesting offerings on a variety of topics. Genealogy, astronomy, book clubs discussion groups, maker spaces…find something you like and you’ll probably find someone else who does too.
Anyway, the greenery has all been groomed to within an inch of its chlorophyllian life for the entertainment season here at the Park Ave. Party Center—Garrettsville-Hiram Rotarians on the 14th, James A. Garfield Historical Society on the 21st ( We can talk about the just-completed eclipse at that one). Anybody got a clambake or wedding reception looking for a location? Pig roasts might be a bit much. Bring your own entertainment, my show costumes are in storage.