This summer of rain and sun shows promise. The snap peas are prolific, so nutritious,sweet and crisp off the vine. The watermelon plants show flowers and tiny developing fruit. The zucchini proves to be reliable, no doubt it will overproduce for our family. Time to research recipes for pies, breads, ratatouille and casseroles. In the end, much will be frozen and kept for fall and winter use. There are many green tomatoes coming along, cherry varieties and beefsteak heirloom for slicing. The corn, the big experiment, grows slowly after a late start. Squirrels descended into the garden and took care of the first seeds I planted at the end of May. I sowed more seeds and fenced it off. Hopefully, the corn that is growing will produce many ears! Right now it is up to the knee, certainly behind the big growers’ fields I passed on my trip to Wisconsin. We’ll hope for corn at the end of August.
A note on the weeds of the garden. The garden is overcrowded with milkweed that shades the tomato plants. I allow milkweed to proliferate because monarch butterflies and others absolutely need it to eat. They also lay their eggs on the leaves. This summer I have only observed a few butterflies visiting the garden, a couple of monarchs and a mourning cloak. This is disturbing. No doubt, there are too many chemicals in residential gardens. Roundup sold like candy to unwary consumers poses a serious threat to the environment. So much research has been done on the harm this chemical is doing. Why is it still on the market? Do chemical company profits trump life? Everyone needs to get political on this issue because our food and all the natural environment is at risk, our own lives and our children’s lives. If we look to other countries for direction, we can see that many have already banned it. A good Source of information:
“Another Monsanto Handout: EPA Set to Raise Limits on Glyphosate” from the Organic Consumers Association. There are many more articles in their archives.
In July my sister and I walked through the alleys looking for gardens to raid. Since I was the smallest and best climber, I scrambled over the fence first. When the coast was clear, I waved her to climb over too. It felt good eating the stolen produce. Fresh carrots, cucumbers and one day by mistake, I ate a hot pepper. I had thought it was a sweet pepper. Never again did I pick a pepper without knowing what kind it was. Later, we headed to the house with the mulberry bushes in front. The people who lived in the duplex were renters and usually didn’t care if we ate the fruit. Sometimes, they were oblivious to the fruit, and the birds ate most of it.
In the next alley, we knew someone who grew concord grapes. At the end of summer when school was beginning, we would head over there to eat the grapes. The woman who lived there was a friend of my friend Sally. We called this woman the “Bird Lady.” She kept cockatiels, parakeets, a myna bird and a small parrot. With permission, we could go over to her house and see the birds. While she prepared food, she talked to the cockatiels. She lured them out of their cages by giving them tidbits of lettuce or celery leaves. As they flew through the house, we ducked and giggled, feeling the breeze of their wings rustle our hair. Behind the kitchen table, she kept a cage with 2 guinea pigs, Hansel and Gretel. Later, when they had babies, my sister and I took two of them home. We kept them hidden in our bedroom until Dad discovered them in the closet. “You can’t keep those animals in the closet,” He said. “They need light.”
Dad also discovered the ducks in the attic. My sister had taken them off the hands of a neighbor who had received them as Easter gifts. They were Pekin ducklings, yellow and peeping. Once the ducks were full grown, my brother and I liked to take them down to Lake Michigan and let them swim. This involved herding them through the alley and then 4 blocks to a busy street. We carried them across. Once down the bluff, the ducks floated and splashed in the waves, but were a little overwhelmed by the size of it all. After that, we used a baby pool to give them a bath. They become popular with the neighbors for their visits and quacking for handouts. Over several summers, the basement had filled up with found and adopted animals. Dad made cages for them and a tall stand that held the cages. He placed it across from the furnace. That way they would be warm, he said.