Columns

Gardener's Grapevine 2015.06.10

By JO ERBSKORN

It's Sunday afternoon. After a good church service and a hearty lunch on the grill I am settled in on the porch with a peppermint foot soak.

Our house has four porches, two of which are very large. The porch to the east is my favorite. It’s set up to entertain and relax with wicker chairs with overstuffed cushions, foot stools and tables. Most every Sunday when it gets warm you can find me on the porch with a cool beverage and the computer, book or magazine. Sometimes I sneak in a snooze, too. 

As I’ve said before, Art handles the vegetable garden and I tend to the landscaping. I am looking out over a garden that is just beautiful and getting so tall. The beans are climbing their fences made of hardware cloth, the beans are a good eight inches tall. The tomato plants are getting huge, the okra will need staked soon and the first planting of sweet corn is almost knee high. It all looks beautiful.

I love summer and I really love a lazy Sunday afternoon. Art is putting his hammock on the side porch and I just may never go in the house again.

If you have a porch—even a small one— try utilizing it from time to time. You’ll be surprised how much you see around you and how relaxing it can be.

I've written before about companion gardening and a book called "Tomatoes Love Carrots." We use this book to plant the garden and the success is amazing. Last week I told you our onions are in with our strawberries. Well, we are getting tons of strawberries already. Even the few new plants have berries. It’s strawberry shortcake for supper tonight.

We plant our corn in stages to be able to handle it. We like to have sweet corn all summer so we plant a new section every two weeks. We plant our cucumbers and squash amongst the corn. It does quite well. It also helps to keep raccoons and other varmints out. They don’t like the smell of cucumbers and the prickers on the vines make for unpleasant climbing to get to those tasty ears of corn. A lot of folks don’t think there are raccoons or deer in town. There are. We live too close to open fields and a fairly large creek not to have both of those animals and many more.

Our neighbors have an old carriage house barn and it is very clean and well maintained. Low and behold, they have had raccoons come strolling out of the barn at dusk. They will take shelter anywhere they can and forage for food anywhere it’s available, so any deterrent is usually welcome.

I can't wait to have cucumber and onion salad with sour cream. I think it will be awhile, since the vines are just starting to spread out. 

Isn’t it grand all the fresh goodness at our fingertips if we just take the time to plant it and tend it. One little two dollar tomato plant can make so many meals and there is no end to what you can do with them.