Giant sunflower

Giant sunflower

It is season transition time! That means some days are like summer and some are like fall. The leaves on maples are beginning to change color already. The Canadian geese are flocking around the lakes for food and rest on their way south. The bees are very busy. The monarchs float through the garden. The crickets chirp almost 24-hours a day. The cicadas buzz in the heat of a warm afternoon. Days are noticeably shorter. Nights are cooler and mornings are on the verge of crisp. Some of the pumpkins in the garden are hinting at orange. On my bike rides I see masses of goldenrod with their feathery flowers turning yellow and bluestem grass flowering and starting to turn pink/red. The squirrels are frantically collecting their winter stores and digging holes everywhere to hide it in. And my allergies are raging beyond what my medication can control but I refuse to lock myself in the house and as a consequence have a near-constant sore throat, dry, itchy eyes, and swollen sinuses so I feel as though I am coming down with a cold even though I am not. But in a little over a month there will be a killing frost and it will be the end of the growing season and I will be both relieved and sad.

We have a sunflower in the garden that is 10 feet/3 m tall. The flower on top is ridiculously small given the plant’s height. It must have put all its energy into getting tall and not saved enough to make a big flower. We have a few shorter sunflowers in the garden and we are attempting again this year to save them from the squirrels so we can eat the seeds ourselves. One has a bag over the flowerhead already as the seeds grow and dry. We did this last year and it worked until we left it too long and an enterprising squirrel broke the flower stalk and ripped the bag apart and had itself a tasty meal. Not gonna let that happen this year!

The amaranth is going great. I had thought it would only get about 5 feet / 1.5 m tall

Awesome amaranth

Awesome amaranth

but some of them are about 7 feet/ 2 m tall. They are very beautiful plants. I looked up when and how to harvest the seeds and it should be pretty easy. Famous last words! But I also discovered the plant has a golden yellow variety too. So Bookman and I are thinking we will plant both read and yellow next year. The seeds are tiny and you can use them like flax seed or cook them like quinoa. Apparently they make a delicious breakfast porridge. The whole enterprise being an experiment this year, I am not certain how much seed we will get from our patch. Next year I will know to leave more room between each plant. Also, the young greens are reportedly very tasty and rich in iron, calcium and vitamin C. According to one website I found, if you prune down the main stem for greens early in the season it will promote a somewhat shorter but much bushier plant that will produce more flowers. The greens are used like one would use Swiss chard. I also learned that amaranth is a nitrogen hog so next year, since the plants get so tall, I am going to try growing pole beans with them and see how that goes.

Brussels beginning to sprout

Brussels beginning to sprout

The summer has been cooler than usual this year which is fine by me, but it does present a problem for plants that need heat to ripen the fruit like tomatoes. We have loads of green tomatoes in the garden and so far have had only three cherry tomatoes get ripe enough to pick. The coming week is forecast to be downright hot, summer’s last hurrah. So my fingers are crossed that the heat is enough to get the tomatoes on their way to ripening. If not, I suppose Bookman will have to make some green tomato salsa or discover the pleasures of fried green tomatoes.

I picked the last of the yellow wax beans, a second effort from the plants that are now officially done. I also picked a couple of small yellow beets. When I say small, I mean small, they are about the size of a gobstopper, but I am happy about it nonetheless because they are the first beets I have ever pulled from the garden. Every gardener has the vegetable that she just can’t grow and it is always one that is so easy, according to everyone else, but for some reason it is not easy for her. Beets are my Achilles heel. Every year I plant them and they sprout and get a few inches tall but never really leafy and never any beetroots. That I have pulled two beets big enough to actually eat is a cause for celebration and makes me inordinately happy. Perhaps my beet luck is about to change!

We had a bald eagle visit the neighborhood yesterday. It is not uncommon to see them near

Aralia Racemosa

Aralia Racemosa

the lakes but they generally don’t fly around the neighborhood. It circled around low a few times, watching something, no doubt, though I don’t know what. All the crows in the vicinity were in an uproar and goodness can they make a loud racket! After circling around four or five times it gave up and left, much to the relief of the crows who quieted as soon as the eagle departed. Unfortunately I was too busy watching it to even think about trying to get a photo. Such a beautiful bird too!

Thursday the fence people came out and set the posts for our fence. Yay! This week they will come out and install the chainlink. Yay! Bookman and I are still working out all the materials we need for the chicken coop. It is taking longer than I thought but we are getting there!

Biking

My long ride yesterday was lovely. It was cool enough that I had to start the ride with arm warmers. I took them off about halfway through and was still a bit cool but it was also really humid and I was borderline warm with them on. So I figured better a little chilly than hot. It was foggy in a few places though not so foggy that it affected visibility. A very nice ride.

My friend who rides with me Saturday mornings for part of the way had a wasp fly into one of the vents of his helmet and sting his head! I’ve eaten my share of gnats, been smacked by bugs and other unknowns, have even been pooped on by a low flying crow, but I’ve never had anything fly into my helmet let alone sting me while riding. Luckily he isn’t allergic to wasps and while it hurt he was able to keep going and still enjoy the ride. Next weekend he is getting married so I will be on my own for the whole ride. The weekend after that is the Jesse James fun ride Bookman and I are signed up for. One of the perks is a chair massage at the end of the ride. I am not sure which I am looking forward to more, the ride itself or the massage at the end of it!

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