Wednesday, August 29, 2012


            Oak Island’s August has been an exceptionally wet one, overflowing the rain gauge with 15.5 inches to date, compounded by a 70% chance of heavy rain tonight, and a 40% chance of showers tomorrow, depending on what Hurricane Isaac chooses to do. Out of 29 days, only 13 came and went without measurable precipitation. Even those “dry” days were damp and steamy, not conducive to gainful labor for Fitzgeralds Gardening. If it wouldn’t add insult to injury, I’d weep.

Tomatoes finito
            Toadflax Farm looks as disconsolate as I feel. Already stressed by the merciless heat of July, the garden hasn’t handled August’s incessant rain so well. Harvests have been small and less than gorgeous. Split, leaffooted bug-speckled tomatoes and brown-spotted peppers dribbled in. While the tomatoes planted in the ground have pretty much tanked, I’m hopeful for a second spurt from the ones in containers. The peppers may revive, too. The cucumbers gave up all together and died outright weeks ago. The eggplants, probably because neither Tim nor I eat them, remain unblemished of foliage and fruitful in the extreme.

'Fireworks' globe flowers & zinnias
flank peanuts' new growth
The big surprise has been the peanuts. When I pulled the zinnias off them this afternoon, I discovered they’d put on a ton on new top growth and even bloomed again. Does that mean a redoubled harvest? Don’t have a clue, because I know bupkis about peanuts. I’ll keep you posted.

During various breaks from downpours early in the month, I planted seeds for late-summer/fall crops: three varieties of pole beans, one row of which lost its competition with the aforementioned zinnias; seven heirloom varieties of melon; a hybrid mini-pumpkin; more cukes, in the ground instead of container this time; carrots; and beets. The beans are well up, and the melons and pumpkins put up sturdy sprouts. The cukes seem to lack enthusiasm. Only ‘Cosmic Purple’ came up out of the four cultivars of carrots sown, but, in their defense (like they care), those seeds were several seasons old. The beets—also from old seed—never showed at all. Perhaps they drowned.

The beans patch
Melons and pumpkins


           Ah, well, out with the old, in with the new. For Fitzes’ autumnal vegetable experimentation, hope will arrive in our mailbox in the form of a manila envelope from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. A week ago, I ordered 14 packets of seeds packaged for 2012 with names to inspire the soppiest gardener: ‘Chioggia,’ ‘Crosby Egyptian,’ ‘Detroit Dark Red’ and ‘Lutz Winter Keeper’ beets; ‘Danvers 125,’ ‘Chantenay Red Core’ and ‘Scarlet Nantes’ carrots; ‘Australian Brown,’ ‘Granax’ (allegedly one of the best for the South) and ‘Yellow of Parma’ onions; ‘American Purple Top’ rutabaga; ‘Amber Globe’ and ‘Purple Top White Globe’ turnips; and ‘Seven Top’ turnip greens. I’ll compost the dead and non-producers and start over with root vegetables and lettuce.

            Take that, August.

First attempt at weaving
             To stave off the psychic doldrums, I took my first weaving lesson yesterday. I’m convinced my teacher is actually myself from a parallel universe. We met serendipitously at Joann’s Fabrics in May and clicked instantly over color choices in yarns. Turns out she’s a weaver. Turns out learning to weave is on my bucket list. It’s all so familiar and comfortable. Isn’t it lovely how kindred spirits find each other? 


            Friday's full moon is a blue one, in case you've been waiting for something for a long time. The phrases "Once in a blue moon" and "Only when the moon is blue" have basis in astronomical fact. The Naval Observatory's Sky Guy--back from his annual August sojourn on Fishers Island--says we only get seven of them every 19 years. Nit-picking astronomers cavil over whether the term refers to the fourth full moon in a normally three-moon cycle or to the occurrence of two full moons in a single calendar month. Either way, step outside Friday evening and enjoy it. If it's not raining.

            Thanks for dropping by.