Gardener's Grapevine 2012.06.20

Written by David Green.

Wow, what a hot dry week. We’ve done a lot of watering and it is still so darn dry. Sunday morning’s light showers did not do a lot due to the depth that the ground is dry.

This past Friday my son Nicholas came home for the Father’s Day weekend. He and our daughter wanted to go to the zoo in Toledo. We went on Saturday and what a beautiful day it turned out to be. Very hot, but a nice family day out and the zoo has never been nicer. The benefactors keep that zoo so very clean and attractive. I love to go to the arboretum and walk in the gardens. Most people don’t even do that when they visit the zoo. It’s all about the animals.

There were a lot of young animals, a giraffe, elephant, birds, and three baby lemurs that were so funny I could have watched them for hours. They move very fast and do antics that are funnier than most comedians.

The zoo impressed me with the level of conservation and willingness to reduce the carbon footprint. They have recycling containers all over for plastic bottles, their animal waste is composted and they have solar panels all over the parking lot, hundreds of them. It is refreshing to see a business that is as dedicated to the earth as it is to making money. If you haven’t been to the zoo I would encourage you to go, you won’t be disappointed.

In the vegetable garden this week we have peas growing like gangbusters but only because we keep watering them. The cooler evenings and nights always help. Lack of water can dry them up very quickly. The pea pods are slowing down and the shell peas are just beautiful. I picked the first batch on Saturday and they were so good steamed for Sunday dinner. If the potatoes were ready we’d have had creamed peas and new potatoes. My grandmother Katherine always makes them and they are so yummy.

The raspberries are producing and it looks like a good year. We’ve only picked enough to put on a bowl of cereal, but I know in a few days it’s going to be a crazy mess to pick. I have found that the easiest way to freeze raspberries at home is to rinse them well and lay them on paper towels to dry then put them in a single layer on a cookie sheet and freeze them. Transfer them to a Ziplock bag or freezer container in about two hours and they will last for a year in the freezer. Fresh raspberry crisp or cobbler is awesome. 

Haven’t the strawberries been nice? Ours are not filled out enough to get very many, so we bought ours this year. They are nice but also a bit pricey. I don’t always realize the price of fresh produce because I either grow ours or purchase it locally and there are not all those fuel prices added in to get it here. The strawberry prices I did notice.

Dad came home with some beautiful blackberries, I’m not sure where they came from though. We moved all our blackberries, so this year we won’t have any. When you see produce along the road, stop and shop. It is usually from our area, priced more reasonably, and it helps our local growers keep going. I don’t normally sell our produce, but I do share it. Isn’t that what gardening is all about?

The old farmer’s saying goes, “Knee high by the 4th of July,” meaning it will be a good corn crop if it’s that high. What does waist high before then mean? That’s how tall our first planting is and every time I look at it I can taste some yummy sweet corn with real butter and salt dripping off it.

Keep watering, weeding, harvesting and caring for our world, the bounty is great.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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