Monthly Archives: July 2010

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It’s getting very hard to work outside in the garden, especially in early evening. No, not because of the heat. Not because of mosquitos either. The difficulty comes from the intoxicating aroma that wafts into the air each evening now from the row of lilies just outside the east side of my vegetable garden.

These lilies are not daylilies, which are mildly and pleasantly fragrant. Wild, orange dayliles are common along roadways and yellow and hybrid daylilies, often yellow, are common in mall parking lots .(That’s not a dis’; the plants tough and beautiful, and I’ve planted them also.) Neither are these lilies tiger lilies, which lack aroma and sport downward turned, dark red speckled orange flowers with recurved petals.

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Summertime and the livin’ is easy, fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high . . . I don’t know about the fish in this hot weather, but, yes, the cotton is getting high. High for New York’s Hudson Valley, that is. My cotton is now about 10 inches high.

The yellowing, old pages of my Farmer’s Encyclopedia of Agriculture, published in 1914, states that cotton “is successfully cultivated in the United States as far north as Southern Virginia.” I’m banking on today’s hotter and longer summers for a cotton harvest this far north. Not that I’ve invested much in my crop; only 4 plants, started from seed sown in April and each now in its own 2 gallon pot.

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Today, June 30th, I saw my first couple of Japanese beetles of the season. They looked innocent enough, a single one on a grape leaf earlier in the day and then another one on a different grape leaf later in the day.

I know they weren’t the same beetle because each one I saw I wrapped in its resident leaf and squeezed hard. Ruthless? Perhaps. But any beetles now could be — probably will be — forerunners of hoards to come. What’s more, the more beetles that show up, the more new beetles will be attracted. And last summer’s wet weather provided good conditions for the beetles’ egg-laying in grassy areas, so plenty of young ‘uns might soon be …

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My daughter Genevieve does not like to garden but does like good-tasting vegetables, especially tomatoes. So when she recently moved to the third floor of a rented house with access to some backyard space, I, of course, offered her some special tomato plants and help in planting them. No, this wasn’t necessarily going to be a garden, but 9 tomato plants bearing fruits of minimal labor.

The plants — the varieties Anna Russian, Amish Paste, Sungold, Carmello, and Valencia — went into the ground at the end of May. I brought along, besides the 9 plants, some building paper (“rosin paper”), bamboo stakes, a small sledge hammer, compost, and soybean meal (for nitrogen fertilizer).

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