Yes, We Can

photo(7)The end of the summer is not a trip to the beach or the slow stockpiling of school supplies and the first glimmer of The Christmas Shopping Season. Summer is coming down from it’s peak in June, truly for most of the flora and fauna this is not the height of summer but the last wan days of greenery where the tender bits of plants have gotten woody and sour and all the baby animals are now un-cuted by their adult size, strange sexual habits and musky smell. It is now the time of the blight. The time of the final bug invasion. The time to start harvest and removing all those wonderful fruit we have been growing and to then, stuff them into glass jars so we may arrange them in the larder, and watch them grow dust. The canning season is here.
Sadly, there has not been the plenty of tomatoes in order to make an abundance of sauce. Save for the minutiae of cherry and grape tomatoes, the larger varieties are deep green. If the nights continue to be cool, as they have been since our heatwave, they will remain green and be only fit for frying or pickling. Not a bad end, but not meeting the sensual expectation of muff-diving into a tomato that is only wearing a little salt, pepper, and maybe frothing a hint of mayonnaise. The one time of the year that that puffy store-bought white “bread” is fitting to use – perhaps a throwback to my suburban roots, a Freudian slip collection of unfulfilled childhood desires and adult sexual misadventures that drives me, and many others, to take their organic tomatoes, slice them in large meaty sections and place them between plastic pan d’chemical, slathered in that toxic yum condiment that is indeed a miracle that has been wiped, since only either G/g/o/_/d/s/es/ses or Oppenheimer could have created such material for us to drown our perfect heirloom foodstuffs in.
photo(8)The zucchini madness, the gardener’s version of March Madness, except the brackets are between plant and pest, team bug and team vine. This crop was blighted after a scant few were rescued from the vine. We did not have to play the “hide the zucchini” game this year. No endless gifting to unhappy friends. No fried zucchini sticks. No zucchini bread. Mini muffins. Rotting piles of zucchini in the crisper. We lost Betty, Moe, and Wendy, our zucchini family somewhere at the beginning of August. Eaten by a fungus as well as the usual squash bugs, but this time there seemed more a win for the powdery fungus so – spores 4 squash bugs 2 – was the final score. The butternut squash has yet to die… but the production is low and each squash looks like it belongs in a doll house. Larger than an HO train set (kids, google that term) but smaller than anything used for dinners in the actual sized world. The yellow squash…. yes… the summer squash… Please stand up. Will the summer squash please stand up… We’re going to have a problem here…. Since either we planted acorn squash in its stead in some error of seed swap or transplant Popsicle stick tag cloud cockup or indeed the summer squash was beaten back into the ground by a set of forces as uncontrollable as they are perhaps Fortean.
The potatoes came in and out of the ground without issue. We were surprised by the number, the pounds out based on the ounces placed in, but I am not sure why since we all know the story of the Irish and what happens if you feed them on potatoes and how simple it was for the Irish to make more potatoes, as well as make more Irish. Perhaps we can lure a few bonnie lasses and wee dunn boyos by tossing out a few potatoes next season. At least this season we can feast on piles of starch and drown all this in certain cheeses or butter since it is still, I believe, illegal to just eat butter with a spoon or stab a block of cheese with a stick and carry it about licking it (at least in public. What one does in front of the refrigerator with the door open and the cold spilling out, is up to consenting adults).
Root crops this year were small, but seemed to be a success. There was a great deal of rain this year, perhaps more on the way for all we know, and I expected that everything in the ground would rot. I suppose we did good by creating that “well drained soil” all the labels on all the Lomedepows flower pots ask for. The raised beds actually still need more loam in the soil since while we don’t want to increase the rot factor, we don’t want them to dry out as they currently do, increasing the need for us to water just a few days after a diluvian event. All manner of shit is floating in a brown and angry creek, tyres, house bits, barn particulates, dis-articulated trash bags, Snapple(tm) bottles, and we still have to water the raised beds. As to the section of the garden where we just mounded the dirt, there was less of a need to water, however, I still wonder at the PH as well as the nitrogen content and believe that next year, we can do better in improving our soil and achieving that gardener’s wet dream of “black earth.”
The green-beans were a success. Not that I want to see another green-bean until next year. We had built these frames for the squash to climb and among them I went a little crazy pushing seeds into the ground one drunken morning. Along with our healthy acorn squashesus were a multitude of beans. Some leafs were nibbled by beetles, but otherwise the plants were healthy and spry, climbed and searched for sun and rewarded us with pound after pound of tender beans of which my share I hid beneath bacon, cheese, and bread crumbs. I say, I will be pooping on the regular two reincarnations from now, I have had so much fiber.
To the acorn squash, it has now been infected with the strange powdery mildew that I am told is normal for August is the time of blight. I have not taken such a passive approach of Buddha and made sure when I was there this past weekend to blast everything with neem oil spray. I guess we will see this weekend what impact, if any, that has had on reversing the wilt and further spread of the powdery menace that neither can I whist nor capture as I can the grasshoppers, horn-worms, and cucumber bugs who at least exist in a similar familiar dimention as I do and I can understand how to crush them. How does one crush spores?
To this, at least the fruit of the acorn squash is set. They will ripen and then we can all look forward to placing these wonderful examples of produce under as much molasses as we can afford (Grandma’s brand is what I have used since I was a kid and we kids refereed to it as ‘grandma’s moldy asses’ because kids think nothing is funnier than something with ‘ass’ in it… they’re right… ass… huh huh huh… butt… ahem).
I have yet to rule on the tomatillos, so that and a few other plants continue to keep this blogger on edge, wondering how this season will end and will it end like we have been told Breaking Bad is to end, that is, that everything ends badly, or will it climax in some older form, some grand finale more Busby Berkeley than Gus Van Sant? Whatever end, it is coming soon and we must ready our jars, the pots, the pickling salt and sterilizing soap, since we move now to preserving what we may gather since the long winter is here and we must hord that which we have canned so we can look at it every time we come back from the store with our powdered potato buds, cracker doodles, butter nutters, chip o’crisps, spankmores, fartolopous double coco chunky monkey dog cat beagle, and spoon.
Because really. Are we going to actually eat from those weird looking jars with tape labels? I mean, I will. But not for dinner tonight.
photo(6)

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