Sunday, July 11, 2010

7.6 Dry Run

One Hundred Haiku

One hundred degrees
Sweat-stung bodies peel their petals
And gleam like the sun

Farmers’ Market Haiku

I like it, he said
When you have trouble sleeping
My corn is growing

I’m doing midsummer patchwork. Summer perennials have been finishing their run much too early this year, even before this week’s heat spell. Hot dry weather – with temperatures approaching three digits today – dry out the last healthy blossoms on plants that usually flower through July. So now I’m thinking of ways to brighten the dull spots of the garden, where all the perennials with the colored blossoms have spent their ammunition. The fireworks come early, and diminish early.
We turn, in part at least, to annuals. I have a couple score of cosmos seedlings which I grew, starting them late, in the seedbed in the vegetable garden. I surprised myself by how well the cosmos grew from seeds. Full disclosure requires me to report that other seeds, such as those mixed summer flower seed packets given away as promotions produced absolutely nothing.
I had a vague idea a few years back that I could plant a lot of late-summer annuals by seed, the idea being to save myself the expense of buying flats or nursery grown single plants each year. I usually find myself haunting nurseries in late July to see what they have on sale, regardless of how poor condition they’re in after sitting in a flat or tiny pot six weeks longer than they need.
This year without much conscious intention I have mostly done that. Besides the cosmos, I grew scores of morning glories – currently assaulting the back of the house – and a couple dozen ornamental pea vines, which I’m also teaching to climb.
But the thin lacy cosmos seedlings, about six inches high now, are our best hope for new life in late summer. I am parceling them out, a few here, a few there.
Also, of course, we have another privileged class of annuals known as vegetables. Tomatoes and peppers turning red in July are a cheering sight.
And low and behold, underneath the spreading awnings of a squash plant the other day I spied two large, fat green zucchinis. Everybody else in the world grows them to sickening excess, but after repeated failures here – my squash plants tend to develop the white mold disease on their leaves before they yellow flowers turn into fruit – I am ready to throw a zucchini festival to celebrate our first successes.