Monday, August 16, 2010

The Optimism of Gardeners

Temperatures hovered around 85 degrees F. today--not cool, but a relief after so many days in the 90's.
We undertook some garden clean-up.
Like everyone else in the area, we've had to concede that the tomato crop is a bust this year, rotting on the vines in the intense heat.
We have uprooted most of them--a messy, untidy job--leaving only a few which look as though they might revive and produce.
This shows a few standing tomato plants, the beans which I hope will provide a fall crop, and a clump of zinnias which seem to be heat-proof.

About a week ago on a scorching afternoon, I labored to plant a double row of beets.
I know that I told J. what I was planting and where.
Early this morning I drove to WalMart for milk and coffee cream, returned to find J. charging about with the Torybilt tiller.
"Surely," I thought, "I don't need to remind him where I planted the beets."
I put away the groceries, started the coffee and strolled to the lower garden.
All the space not in visible production had been neatly tilled.
When I pointed out to J. that he had nullified my hour under the hot sun sowing beets, he retorted that I should have "Marked the Rows!"

I felt most mightily wroth, what my Mother would have called "Put Upon"--after all I TOLD the man where I planted beets.
After breakfast I re-planted the beets, finished out a short row with more beans, and sowed Swiss chard and kale.
I rather ostentatiously made cardboard signs to tuck at the head of each row.
The cardboard will disintegrate in the next good rain, but perhaps by then the location of the veggies will be fixed in certain minds!

I dead-headed the two clumps of zinnias, marveling at the way they have flourished in punishing temperatures.
They continue to attract butterflies.

The yellow Simplicity roses [ purchased with a Jackson and Perkins gift certificate from a dear friend] have surprised me with a second blooming. Although the roses fade quickly in the heat, they are a beautiful golden yellow as they open.

I planted a variety of perennials and annuals from seed around the new hardy roses.  Some of the seeds never germinated--notably nicotiana, nigella and calendula.
This is a form of monarda which has popped up in vigorous branching clumps.  I moved some, there are more which need to be re-located.  It may turn out to be an invasive plant.
No matter--the blossoms are pretty, the butterflies and  hummingbirds will enjoy it.  Anything which can flourish in heat and humidity is a keeper.

Moth or butterfly?
These are the latest visitors to the garden.
I haven't had time to look them up.
They seem to prefer the tiny flowers of the catnip plants to the more exotic zinnias which the swallowtails admire.
We drove to the next town this afternoon to buy a dozen broccoli plants and half a dozen stonehead cabage plants.  I tucked them into the freshly tilled soil this evening, watered them in and gave them a hopeful dusting with Sevin.
A lady we have met at church was at the greenhouse when we were.  It was a lovely chance for us all to share our moans and grumbles about unfavorable weather and the never-ending nuisance of "bugs" on the plants.
We agreed, though, that there is something about gardeners--we just don't quit.

A note to say that I appreciated the many comments on my last post.  I've replied to them all--at last--in the comment section.


  1. Gardening has been difficult here too, way too hot, hit 40 days of 90+ weather before we had a break, only 89 with way too much humidity. It's always so wet here we've gone to the upside down tomatoes and even they haven't done well this year.
    Mac says it's a butterfly, a Buckeye, one of the angle wings.

  2. Whether moth or butterfly it is so beautiful and has such a clear 'eye' on the wings ...I think I go for butterfly.
    Whar is it about men and selected hearing and memory ????

  3. Your garden "helper" apparently needs better direction *g*...i used to have to mark my rows with string and sticks for that very reason! I had convinced myself that your mysterious winged-visitor was a moth that i couldn't identify, but then looked up Mac's suggestion of Buckeye butterfly and that's it, for sure!

    Your garden really looks welcoming and i love the bright clumps of zinnias (and the blue that the garage now painted?)

  4. Sorry I missed Eggnog. I think I'm spatially challenged! I can never decide if my photo comments should go above or below the photos. I look at all your cats and I know I will have to soon relate the tales of the cats at the shelter. I'm having fun there. How could J run over all your hard work in the hot sun!