By LYNNE IRONS
Apparently, I’m heading south in my new big vegetable garden. I’m trying some crops that in the past I have attempted with questionable results. I planted two big sections of peanuts — Spanish and Georgia Jumbo. Both were advertised in the Shumway catalog as suited for northern gardens. They have a relatively short growing season. They are finally beginning to emerge since, thankfully, we have had rain. I was not able to water them for two full weeks after planting so I had actually abandoned all hope. They look exactly like clover when tiny. They are legumes, that is, cousin to the pea. They grow about six inches tall above ground and produce the nut on nodules underground. It will be a kick if I get enough to share with friends and family.
Last Saturday, I finally put my okra seedlings into the ground. Common thought has it that okra is a slimy unattractive vegetable, but I recall eating it in a college dorm cafeteria and enjoying it. This was at North Texas State University in Wenton, Texas, in 1966. I have grown it ornamentally in the past and find it to be an interesting addition to the annual flower bed. Let me digress back to eating in the Texas college dorm. They were big on chicken-fried steak and actually referred to chicken-fried chicken on occasion. The scene in one of my favorite movies, My Cousin Vinny, when the characters encountered grits for the first time, could not more closely describe my introduction to the breakfast side dish.
I absolutely had no recollection of ordering sweet potatoes, but there they were in my p.o. box a week ago. There were several varieties — Georgia Jet, Beauregard, Nancy Hall and Centennial (I wonder what I think about when ordering from seed catalogs in January?)
They looked like they suffered on the overland trip. Nonetheless, my friend Marie and I planted the pathetic plants anyway. They resemble morning glory vines and also produce underground. I have planted them several times in the past and once in a while get a proper harvest. The deer are fond of the foliage so inside the fence is the best location. I love sweet potatoes — plain, baked, mixed with mashed Irish potatoes, cold with vinaigrette and blue cheese on a salad, or as dessert with maple syrup.
I’m also trying Georgia rattlesnake watermelon and Tennessee sweet potato winter squash.
Last Friday’s pouring rain sent me into the Scottish Bakehouse to purchase the best brownie in the world (melt-in-your-mouth, wheat-free.) I take it with no edges since I’m edgy enough. It could be described like an old gentleman told me once about Robert Cropper’s chocolate bomb at the old Cafe Moxie, “This is what God has for breakfast!”
Where was I going with this? Oh! Yes! While running through the parking lot I was in a veritable snowstorm of locust tree flower petals. The locust is a wonderful tree — extremely hard wood suitable for fenceposts, fast-growing, and having beautiful fragrant flowers in mid-June. There are quite a few lining the field at the Tashmoo overlook. Don’t bother pulling into the parking area. You will no longer be able to “overlook” Lake Tashmoo, thanks to the 30-year-old willow trees planted at the water’s edge by a private land owner. Guess he is enjoying the view all to himself now.
I was saddened last week by the death of Isabel West. I worked for her sister Sydna White, her aunt Mary May, and most notably her aunt Gratia Harrington. Gratia was an avid supporter of Cong. Gerry Studds and an outspoken critic of Ronald Reagan. She told me that she had received a 100th birthday card from President Reagan but sent it back to the White House unopened.