Friday, August 8, 2008

A rose, and thinking about fall...


Is it fall yet?
I feel like a kid asking, are we there yet? August days are trying for gardeners and nature watchers in the southern U.S. It's the worst time of our gardening year, actually -- even in 'good' years, it's hot and often dry. This year, we've already hit 100° in the first week of August. And hardly a drop of rain in the forecast.

The cutting from the hardy rose at the corner of the house is flowering beautifully, two hummingbirds are chasing each other outside my window, and I'm harvesting tomatoes, squash, and yardlong beans (the regular beans are sulking in the heat), so I'm grateful for that. And, the dry weather, unlike our usual humid summer days, makes mornings and evenings quite pleasant, instead of sticky.

But I'm enjoying thinking about fall vegetables, tough fall-flowering perennials, and fall color. The lettuces, mustard, and mesclun mixes in flats are doing well, although I'm waiting to sow some other things until conditions are actually favorable for germination.

I'm eager to try garden peas this fall, although they sound like something that is totally unsuitable for our climate. I've had good success with spring crops of sugar snap peas and snow peas, but never thought about trying garden peas (English peas, or shelling peas) before.

Seeing Rob's lovely photo in a post about his peas (and flocking pigeons) got me thinking about it. Hmm, peas would be fun (and my gardening companion loves peas with rice at Thanksgiving dinner)... So now I've got pea seeds, supposedly suitable for growing in warm climates, ready to go.

This morning, I was listening to a gardening podcast (Ken Druse Real Dirt) in which his co-host Vicki Johnson waxed enthusiastic about the virtues of fresh peas (which are legendary, of course), and has me even more eager to try. I'm going to try succession plantings in shadier areas starting in late August through mid September. And then I'll hope for a long (cool) fall. I like Ken and Vicki's podcast; it's quirky, and often gets off topic, but is often full of interesting environmentally-friendly gardening tidbits.

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