Midsummer garden

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(HOST) It’s mid-summer in the garden and commentator Edith Hunter is taking stock of the season so far.

(HUNTER) Is there anything more beautiful than a fully ripe strawberry glistening in the sun, surrounded by the plant’s rich green leaves? And, as beautiful as the sight, is the taste and smell of the sun-filled fruit. In its second year this bed yielded three quarts a day for two weeks. I have frozen twelve quarts to make into jam, when I have nothing else to do.

Next to the strawberry bed was a double row of garlic. Planted in the fall, garlic has already been harvested. Beside the garlic were two rows of onions which grandson Matthew kept beautifully weed- ed. Now grandson Sammy has harvested them. The nearby leeks look strong.

This year I planted two short rows of chard, and it is proving to
be just the right amount – enough for me to eat, to share and to freeze. I plant chard rather than spinach since chard doesn’t bolt.

Two years ago I started planting Quickie Corn, a variety that germinates quickly, which I am already enjoying. I planted pie pumpkins in six hills between the corn rows, and the runners are going in all directions. The later, silver queen corn is in another section of the garden.

I planted my potatoes early. Thanks to grandson Matthew’s vig- ilance, the potato bugs are under control. The foliage is lush, and I have already reached under one of the plants and removed some lovely red potatoes. The three short rows of sweet potatoes have miles to go. Eggplant is in flower, peppers are picked daily as is the lettuce, basil, cucumbers and mesclun.

There are lots of green tomatoes, but my worst fears are being realized! More than half of the 36 plants I planted from seed are turning out be cherry tomatoes, some of which are already red. Oh, well, I can always squeeze them into juice.

The peas did well – too well. I have eaten, frozen and given them away. The bush beans are profuse and the pole beans in flower. I pick zucs daily. Beets and carrots haven’t done well. Cauliflower seeds didn’t germinate, but I have enough broccoli plants for all of southern Vermont.

Too soon to know how the winter squash will do this year, but the plants look healthy. I turned over an entire section of the garden to grandson Sammy so he could raise and sell his own Indian corn, gourds, Jack-Be-Little and Jack O’Lantern pumpkins. He is ecsta- tic at the results so far.

Finally, I had a great asparagus year. Now the feathery plants are surrounded by self-planted yellow dill flowers and parsley gone to seed. I have a quota of two pails of weeds to remove from the bed every day.

A lot of work? Yes, but a lot of food for the table and the soul.

This is Edith Hunter on the Center Road.

Writer and historian Edith Hunter lives in Weathersfield Center. She spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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