Summer survivors

NOTE: I wrote this last weekend, and waited to post until I had some good pics, which I never got, so anyway….

Fall is here, thank goodness, and I’m starting to feel alive again. After a wet and cool early summer it turned viciously hot – which isn’t unusual for Oklahoma – and the heat took it’s toll on me and the garden. The tomatoes, all lush and tender from the Seattle-like weather, fried crispy in the 104 degree temperature, and spider mites had their way with them. Ditto for the pole beans.  Next year I’ll try covering them with shade cloth or old white sheets. The only tomato variety that seemed to be able to deal with the heat was a grape variety (heirloom Italian?) that kept blooming and producing through it all, even though it looked really pitiful.

The peppers took it all in stride of course, as did the basil. And probably the craziest thing is that volunteer mustard greens sprouted in the chat and pebbles of our patio and thrived! I mean, that is probably the hottest location and the poorest soil on our property, so what is up with that?! This has inspired me to come up with my list of  “can’t fail” summer survivalist plants for Oklahoma. Naturally, your results may differ.

  • mustard greens
  • basil (especially Thai)
  • garlic chives
  • oregano
  • hot peppers (jalapeno, poblano, Anaheim, New Mexico)
  • lemon balm

Just before Matt left for San Francisco – yes, he was here for our hot-as-hell August – we got a cold front and some rain (which means highs in the mid 80’s to mid 90’s)  So I ripped out about half of the tortured tomatoes and planted bush beans and some fall lettuce, beets, chard, pak choi, kale, cilantro, etc. Today I ripped out another bed of tomatoes and broadcast saved seed: rutabaga, Russian red kale, pak choi, and mixed varieties of  lettuce. I also broadcast larkspur seed in the narrow bed that borders the alley. Tomorrow I will take out another bed of tomatoes and plant leeks and more greens. I’m leaving a few mostly volunteer tomatoes, just to see if we get lucky and have a long, mild autumn.  (Yeah… I planted too many tomatoes, as usual). I’ve also planted garlic in a few spots and it’s coming up. Did I mention that I harvested a ridiculous amount of garlic at the end of June? I really need to stop letting it go to seed. But it’s just so darn easy to grow!

I am proud to report that Matt has now become a bread baker along with the rest of the family. His first solo attempt – a garlic/rosemary/kalamata olive loaf was apparently a great success. He has also now made a basil  & sundried tomato loaf and an onion-walnut loaf. Next on his agenda is Russian black bread.


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