Wednesday, June 20, 2012
We are enjoying almost the final harvest of this year's crop of blueberries, and the last ones to be ripe are the sweetest of all for some reason. This morning as I filled my container with these large blue spheres, a song that's been stuck in my head since yesterday evening kept me company in the blueberry patch.
Just before SAM and I headed for bed last night, we were listening to the Spa channel on XM Radio, and lo and behold, this familiar song began to play. Secret Aging Man recognized it right away. "This is My Father's House," he said confidently. Are you sure? I asked. "It's an old Baptist hymn. I'm pretty sure." Wrong. Sorry, honey. I looked it up in an old hymnal we somehow ended up with from a church (not Baptist) that we attended in Kentucky. This is My Father's World. Not house. A building could never contain Him.
This is my Father's world
And to my listening ears
All nature sings,
And round me rings
The music of the spheres...
(Words by Maltbie D. Babcock, music by Franklin L. Sheppard, 1901)
Thanks to Stratoz, whose latest post about a saint got me thinking deep thoughts this morning.
Friday, June 15, 2012
With food prices ever increasing, SAM and I have been working on turning our landscape into more of an edible one. As part of that effort, the Loropetalum tree--not edible as far as I know but too beautiful to cut down--that shades the front porch now holds pots of herbs. Can you spot the Cuban oregano (Plectranthus amboinicus) in one of them? Not a true oregano, also called Indian Borage, it has large variegated leaves, is very aromatic, and tastes wonderful in just about any dish that calls for oregano. I purchased it earlier this year at a Santa Rosa County Master Gardener plant sale. After watching its vigorous habit in a pot, I'm not about to turn it loose in the landscape. It might get carried away and cover everything in sight with its aromatic self, at least until freezing weather knocks it out. It's more suited for much warmer climates.
The Loropetalum might as well be called the Lunch Pail Tree now. Remember that unusual tree in Frank Baum's story Ozma of Oz (you might have seen it in the film Return to Oz)? It seems that Peanut the cat would agree that lunch is right at hand, only it's not herbs she has a taste for. The mockingbirds attracted to our edible landscape delight in taunting her. Now I'm not encouraging her to "thin their herd," but I won't discourage her from putting the Fear of Gardener into them.
Shortly after we moved back here, I noted that the local mockingbird population had exploded. We had already made great progress on the edible landscaping with the addition of blueberry bushes and plum trees a few years ago, and then pear and persimmon trees were planted shortly before we moved away. A few weeks ago, I told Peanut that I would be very disturbed if all of our work were fruitless on account of the birds. At least this time, she must have been paying attention to me.
Thursday, June 7, 2012
You've probably heard the expression "old as dirt." Since true soil or "dirt" is mostly weathered rock with some well-rotted plant material mixed in, you can understand why that expression came into being. Now Florida doesn't have much weathered rock or soil, but it does have a lot of sand, as you can see just beyond the boundary of the vegetable garden. The veggies in my garden this year consist of a few scatter-planted green beans, some cucumbers, onions, tomatoes mostly in pots, and various herbs for seasoning everything. Since we moved back in mid-March, I didn't have enough time early in the spring to properly prepare the ground for summer planting. I needed some real dirt real quick, or the garden would fail just as miserably as in years past.
Our decision to attend church at the same place we used to go when we first moved here proved to be more fruitful than I could have imagined. Thanks to good friend and fellow gardener with a business, Cliff Martin, we now have some real dirt. He "makes" the stuff himself with mostly cotton seed hulls and other organic goodies. He won't give me the exact recipe for it, but maybe if I come up with an interesting name? It certainly could be Cliff's Compost Heaven.
I decided to conduct some very unscientific testing on the dirt by adding it to the front half of the garden, the part you can see first as you walk by. Just a few weeks have passed since those handfuls of dirt were casually pitched at the plants, and you can easily see how vigorously the plants have grown. The Homestead onions (another one of Cliff's specialties) have really shot up, and I've harvested several pounds of beans already from this tiny plot.
So what about the back 40 (inches or so) of the garden that didn't receive the good dirt? The plants are puny, the leaves are yellow, and the beans are not as bountiful on this side.
The beans aren't the only lucky plants to receive Cliff's Organic Wonder Soil. This Floradale tomato in a pot--purchased at a plant sale from another plantsman, our pastor/PSC math professor--received a top dressing of the good stuff. I had already potted it in some garden variety garden soil before we got a truckload of Cliff's Miracle Mix. If it sounds like I'm thrilled with this new dirt, I am, strange as it may seem. Even an old-as-dirt gardener like me can "dig" some new soil.