By LYNNE IRONS
I think I’ll give you all an update on the condition of my arms. Any of you who read last week’s column know that I got a terrible case of photodermatitis from handling the herb rue in the heat of the day. Now, I look like I have either a bad acid burn or some loss of melanin disorder. This has been a bit of a humbling experience — for some reason, I believe I am bullet-proof. This is a character defect of the very young, not a person eligible for Social Security, for Pete’s sake! Long sleeves and gloves would have been in order.
I love how there is always a bumper crop of some sort to make up for losses somewhere else. My beans and cucumbers have been a disaster. Every beetle on the Island made a stop at my garden. I pulled up all the plants and put them in a metal trash can in the full sun. Hopefully, it will cook all the loathsome pests.
My onions and cabbages, however, rock. I started the onions from seed and really took my time on a stool in the welcome spring sun separating them. They are ready for harvest. When more than half the tops are lying down, it is time to pull. Sometimes they will send up new green shoots this time of year. Don’t be fooled. It’s over. Those individuals will become mushy and inedible.
The crop can be spread out in the sun for a couple of days (bring them in at dusk) or placed on newspaper in a dry room. After the tops dry out, cut them and cure the globes a few more days. If you have a good storage variety like copra, they will keep until spring. Be sure and check them now and then. The sweet varieties will probably only last until Christmas, so don’t be shy about eating them first and often.
I saw my first cabbage moth, but not to worry — my cabbages are awesome. I’ll put a bit of Dipel on them, just in case. I am not fond of coleslaw but love fresh cabbage with Annie’s Caesar dressing, or even a plain vinaigrette. We have also been grilling cabbage at our weekly garden suppers. It receives a piece of fish or fresh tomato in an interesting wrap. Because we have been enjoying it so much, I don’t believe there will be enough for the making of sauerkraut, one of my favorites. It is ridiculously simple. Just salt the shredded cabbage until a brine forms, weigh it down for a week or so, and voila! It’s so great dumped over a pork roast for the last half hour of cooking.
There is a spectacular mimosa tree on the right-hand side of Clevelandtown Road just past the big field of lettuce at the corner. I noticed they harvested the garlic out of that field about a month ago. I love that our own climate allows for two or three crops a year on the same property.
I replanted both beans and cucumbers in a different area following the spring planting of fava beans. Hope springs eternal. My friend Sharlee gave me a Ziplock bag full of kale seeds harvested from her own plants last week. I put them into an area vacated by my early red potatoes. I hope I’ll be eating baby kale by October. I was so pleased with the condition of my soil following the potatoes. I had placed them on not too fertile or tilled ground, put tons of mulch, hay and a healthy dose of North Country Organics pro-grow and the soil is now extremely friable and teeming with enormous earthworms. I’ve said it many times: hay is manure that did not go through the horse. I wish I could take credit for making that up, but it was Ruth Stout, who gardened and wrote well into her eighties.
Everyone gets a break this week from my political ramblings. I’m bored with the healthcare reform bills, loved Hillary in Africa, and am gearing up for a new tirade concerning the willow trees stealing the view from the Tashmoo Overlook.
A warm, heartfelt welcome goes out to the Obamas. It should be a memorable week for us.