A few days after I wrote the previous post in June, we had a “weather event”, something not uncommon in Oklahoma. It was not a tornado, but a microburst. Don’t be deceived by the name, there was nothing “micro” about it! Most microbursts only last a minute or two, but this one went on for 20 minutes. Winds were up to 80 mph, and there was hail. So our garden and yard looked like it had all gone through a paper shredder. It took Mike three days to clean up the debris. Some plants came through better than others – things that had skinny or fern-like leaves. Many vegetables snapped in two, or had all their leaves stripped. And then, the next day, the temperature started rising, so that now we’ve had a month of 100+ degree weather.
In fact, July in Oklahoma was the warmest month on record – ever- for a state in the USA:
“Oklahoma and Texas had their warmest months ever on record, with average temperatures of 88.9 degrees F and 87.1 degrees F, respectively. Oklahoma’s statewide average temperature was the warmest monthly statewide average temperature on record for any state during any month.” (NOAA)
And, oh yeah… we’re also having a drought here. Most things are still alive, thanks to Mike’s foresight in installing a new drip irrigation system. So tomatoes, cucumbers, and pole beans are still alive, but not setting fruit (too hot for blooms to set). But here are the real survivors, the plants that are not only still alive, but are producing something edible:
- sweet potatoes
- basil, oregano, garlic chives
- hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus) which I grow for an ornamental, but I’m rethinking that…
The funny thing is that the plants that seem to be doing the best are those that came up voluntarily in the patio chat (arugula, basil) or cracks in the concrete (amaranth).
There are times, in the depth of winter, when I absolutely crave Thai basil. And here in Norman Oklahoma you can’t just pick it up at the local grocery, you have to make a special trip to Cao Nguyen. So two weeks ago I harvested all my Thai basil and made a pesto, which I then froze in those little snack-sized ziplock baggies. I intend to use it in fresh spring rolls, Thai curries, and on rice noodles.
Thai pesto (process the following in your blender)
- 1 – 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1/2 cup peanut oil
- 1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
- 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 2 tsp fish sauce (optional; if you leave it out add 1 tsp salt)
- 1/4 cup sweet chili sauce (or substitute hot chili and brown sugar)
- lots and lots of Thai basil leaves (as much as you can jam into the blender)
If your blender balks at processing all this, gradually add a little water.
Here is an arrangement of today’s pickin’s from the garden. Yellow wax bush beans, baby eggplant, serrano chili, bell pepper, and yellow cherry tomato. I’m going to use these in a tofu and noodle stir fry for dinner.
I also harvested a large bag of parsley, and am making pesto with it, adding in fresh oregano, mint, garlic, olive oil, a squirt of lemon juice, and salt.
- basil seedlings
Tonight I’ll transplant my Genovese and Thai basil, which I broadcast seeded in the garden. Because I save my own seed I always have more than I need, and I’ve found that direct seeding in the garden after the soil has really warmed up works best for basil. I even have lemon basil coming up on its own – voluntarily. Speaking of which – I have arugula sprouting underneath the patio table (where I harvested the dried seed). Funny, but the pebbles and chat underneath this table seem to be a perfect medium for seedings! I’ll transplant some of the arugula and see how it does in the middle of a nasty hot Oklahoma summer.