Liz Writes Life 8-22-17

Aug. 22, 2017

Liz Writes Life

Published in Siskiyou Daily News, Yreka, CA

Garden musings in the dog days of summer —

The green beans have been producing well. I blanched enough for four pint-sized plastic bags that went into the freezer. We’ve been eating or giving the rest away, but have enough left from last Friday’s picking to blanch several more pints today.

Gotta admit that I don’t use the vegetables that go in the freezer as well as those that I can, so I’ve decided not to freeze as much and try to use them all up each winter. (Famous last words!) You see, last weekend, I tossed quite a few bags of broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, peaches and two gallon bags of bell peppers. Most had some freezer-burn. One bag of peaches dated 2009! I don’t cook much with bell peppers – so why freeze them? There were several bags of black berries and one of strawberries that are still good and can be used for jam or cobbler.

Rhubarb is doing well – both the old plant and the new one. Can’t believe how much the old one has grown. It is huge again – enough for a third cutting. Don’t think I’ve ever gotten a third cutting. Only thing I can think of is that we have poured the water to it.

The potato plants are falling over and more potatoes are skimming the top of the soil. Need to get some mulch on them. Canned my 10th quart of dill pickles and the lemon cucs are in their prime. Four watermelon look close to ready and we are enjoying ripe tomatoes. The basil and parsley have re-grown after harvesting them earlier in the month.

Speaking of herbs, my extra bedroom is full of paper bags and boxes of herbs that have dried and need to be de-stemmed and packaged. I’ve de-stemmed the first batch of mint, but it needs to be packaged. I harvested a second mint batch, which along with lemon balm, oregano, basil and parsley are now dry and need attention. For some reason, I tend to put this part off.

There are lots of cantaloupe, but they won’t get ripe until Sept. Bell peppers are getting big and the onions have dried that I pulled in late July. Looks like I have all the makings for the Green Tomato Sweet Relish as there are lots of green tomatoes. I do like to add ground-up red bell pepper. It gives the green color a kick, but I usually purchase those at our local grocery stores.

Interestingly, the zucchini are not over-producing. Some of the zucchinis will still start to rot at about four inches in length, but more are making it to eight to nine inches and that is when I cut them. Usually, there are several that have been missed by now and are huge. I will definitely be looking for organic non-GMO seeds next year even though it is nice not to be trying to find folks that want zucchini in late August – almost impossible to find them (gotta just leave the zucchini on their car seat or front porch)!

Sure enjoyed Pastor Drew’s column spotlighting sunflowers last week. I hadn’t planted any for years, but did this year. I left three that are growing about 14 inches apart in a circle and have given them extra water. Their big leaves tend to look pretty sad during the hottest heat in the afternoons. We didn’t get the windy thunderstorms that some of you experienced in other areas of Scott Valley, so they are still standing! They certainly would not make it, without support like Drew’s fence, if we had a strong wind as they are amazingly over nine-feet tall.

I am really pleased with my flowers this year, but no matter what I do they just don’t seem to fill-out until August. Finally, the impatiens tripled in size, the amaranthus have put on large maroon heads, the pink anemones are blooming well along with the annual zinnias, glads, cosmos and four o ’clocks. I love the jungle of greens and colors under the pine tree.

Last fall, I decided to expand the perennial side of the wildflower garden. After 16 summers here and the four-year drought, I’ve decided it is prudent to grow plants that don’t mind our not-so-good soil. Coreopsis and cone flowers survived with little water outside the fence in an area that I wanted to expand several years ago — but no longer have the energy for. Using the grubbing hoe, I dug holes last summer, re-dug and added some manure in May and finally transplanted a bunch of coreopsis, tansy and cone flowers. Most have survived. Yay!

I keep saying I will not add more flowers, but the few gladioli that are blooming are so exquisite. Sure would like to prepare the ground for a few more in the wildflower garden and maybe a spot by the red bee balm in the garden, where the soil wouldn’t be difficult to improve.

Jack finished raising the fence around my wildflower garden and the deer have not gotten into either of the gardens. Another yay!

Quick hummingbird story: There are two females out sipping on flowers every morning with one, being dominate, chasing the other. On this morning, Tiger cat was laying on the deck behind the wrought-iron railing flicking the tip of his tail, when one hummer flew over to about three-feet away and floated there in mid-air (at least 10 seconds) teasing him. I told her that wasn’t very smart to do. She ignored me. Luckily, she guessed he couldn’t snag her through those bars. Still …?


The Scott Valley Protect Our Water meeting will be held on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017 at the Fort Jones Community Center. Time is 7 p.m.

Liz Bowen is a native of Siskiyou County and lives near Callahan. Check out her websites: Pie N and Liz or call her at 530-467-3515.

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