The hot peppers are in their prime, the late season tomatoes are ripening faster than I can use them, the sun is setting earlier in the evening (no more gardening until 10pm) and even the tomatillos are not far now. All of the hallmarks of the September garden have arrived. I am trying my best this year to enjoy it as-is without fretting about summer’s end.
This week (now catching up on last week) I’ve focussed on Zonal Geraniums (Pelargonium x hortorum). Zonals are the colorfully patterned, but stinky cousins of the wonderfully scented pelargoniums aka Scented Geraniums. I’m a scented geranium fan and always grow several each year (I will feature those soon), but I have never been into the zonals, primarily because I do not enjoy their musky odor. They remind me of the horrible pom-pom geraniums that my primary school sold as a fundraiser each year. As a result, the neighbourhood, which was not known for its gardens was pretty much littered with them. In fact, they were one of perhaps half a dozen plants that were grown with intention around our subdivision, and the plant I most closely associated with gardening until I was old enough to experience something more. This year my friend Barry gifted me with several cuttings and it is through his eyes that I have come to appreciate them for what they are rather than the memories they evoke.
Zonal geraniums, named after the patch or “zone” of colour that marks their leaves, are all about the foliage. Until recently I’ve been diligently snipping off their flowers, but decided to let them go for these photos.
This week’s Herbaria, which you will notice is (once again) last week’s Herbaria, is all about tomatoes. Several varieties ripened at once this week and canning has begun.
I am writing this at the airport while I wait for a flight and unfortunately there is one new variety in this batch whose name I can not recall. I promise to update this page when I return home.
July was painfully hot and dry. The garden suffered and there were days when I was sure that I would lose a few plants as a result.
August, on the other hand, has been wet and somewhat cool. I really can’t complain. I don’t remember the last time I watered anything other than the pots and many plants have bounced back from the extreme conditions. The only drawback is that the earwigs and slugs have regained traction and some of my tomatoes split on the vine due to the rapid shift overnight from extremely dry to wet. I don’t like knowing that summer’s days are limited, but I do like that I can get out into the garden without burning to a crisp!
Clockwise from Top Left: 1. My garden on August 9, 2012. 2. We made Stuffed Squash Blossoms last night. First batch of the summer and SO SO good. 3. Yesterday also marked the first big batch of homegrown Roasted Tomato Soup of the season. It was a day of delicious seasonal firsts. 4. I am in love with ‘Rattlesnake’ pole bean, a beautiful and delicious heirloom that I inherited from my friend Margaret at AwaytoGarden.com. The beans come on fast and grow large quickly, yet I’ve been able to snack on them raw despite their size. Oh dear. ‘Trionfo Violetto’ has got some work ahead if it is going to hold onto its title as my go-to pole bean favourite.
Assorted and Sundry
- Over at HGTV Gardens where I have a weekly Q&A column, I recently wrote about how to help zucchini plants that won’t produce fruit, gave advice on how to plant during a heatwave, and offered solutions for overcoming blossom end rot.
- The Homegrown Tomato Juice recipe from our new pocketbook, “Drinking the Summer Garden” is available over on Treehugger.
- If you’re in Toronto this week for the Urban Agriculture Summit (or just cause), I’ll be signing copies of my books along with other urban ag authors at an event called “Growing the City” at Toronto City Hall. When: Thursday, August 16, 2012. 6:30pm-8. Where: Toronto City Hall Rotunda, 100 Queen Street West, Toronto. I hear there will be free refreshments as well as a tour of the green roof before the event between 6pm and 6:30.
- On Friday, August 17 at 10:30am I will be chairing a session on diversity (or the lack of) in urban agriculture called, “Urban Food Production and Social Inclusion” with speakers Shewat Zeru from AfriCan Food Basket and Malik Yakini, the Executive Director of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network.
I believe that tickets are still available to attend this conference. There are tiered rates for students and small businesses and non-profits available as well as skills-based workshops that can be attended individually and without a full conference pass.
Again I am posting last week’s herbaria late. Tomatoes made their mark for a second week, especially since I am now bringing in harvests that are large enough to be preserved. For the first year ever we have had overlap and are still eating jars from last year’s mega crop!
Zucchinis are the other standout in the garden. I was late getting started so my crop is well behind for this time of year, but we have enjoyed a handful of fruit from a compact, early variety called ‘Astia’ that is not shown here.