Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Back Home Again

Back home again from Indiana. My family always laughs when we cross over the Illinois/Indiana border, I break out in song, "Back Home Again In Indiana." I do love my Indiana roots and childhood farm-kid memories. I still have lots and lots of cousins and I managed to visit many this trip. A mixture of sweet/sad as my closest cousin's husband had passed away unexpectedly and I attended the services.

One of the things I've noticed is we have reached the age where family get-togethers are more at funerals than just for visiting. I decided this spring to make the trip to my home area and visit family just because I want to stay connected. Many of my cousins are in their 70s & 80s (my dad was the youngest of eight children.) My visit reaffirmed how much I care for them and enjoy our visits.

Although mid-Indiana is typically a little ahead of us on crop and bloom times, our weather conditions parallel. Their sweet corn, tomatoes and muskmelon were at many road side stands and I made sure to bring back some. YUMMY!

In talking to others and my own experience, it seems vegetable gardens are doing strange this year. Tomatoes are slow to bloom, mature and ripen. Pepper plants are just sitting there and only this past week set blooms. Some cabbages have almost been destroyed by earwigs. Sweet corn in many places have been stunted by standing water depleting nitrogen. All these are from the huge amount of rain we've received.

On the up side, if you planted squash or gourds of any kind they are taking over the world. Moisture lovers, this has been their perfect year.

I'm willing to wait on the corn, tomatoes and other fresh vegetables - the Midwest does grow some of the best.

Just to brag: We had tomato sandwiches, fresh buttered corn on the cob and for dessert, cut up muskmelon last night. Heaven! It was a great quick meal after spending most of the day weeding my flowers. Yes, this rain has encouraged bind weed, water grass, and other weeds to go crazy, too. I know it's a lot of work, but pull those weeds prior to their setting seed or you will find next year's weeds will have multiplied ten fold. After pulling weeds, add another layer of mulch (not over 4 inches) and perhaps you will have it licked for the rest of the 2010 growing season.

Side note: This is the perfect time to buy annuals. The cost is drastically reduced, can be pinched back and will be doing great for the rest of the season. They seem to take hold even better when planted in midsummer and tend to last much longer. Because they are so cheap, you can get enough to tuck into any bare spot in your gardens.

Another side note: Even if you used enhanced potting soil, it is now the time to start applying fertilizer. Water hanging planters at least every other day and if they are looking stunted, water every day. Once a pot or planter dries totally out, the plant never fully recovers and never becomes as healthy/vigorous as it should. Use a light solution of commercial fertilizer dissolved in water or an organic fish emulsion at least once a week.

A little late but just saw this and had to add to my post:

"Back home again in Indiana,

And it seems that I can see

The gleaming candlelight, still shining bright,

Through the sycamores for me.

The new-mown hay sends all its fragrance

From the fields I used to roam.

When I dream about the moonlight on the Wabash,

Then I long for my Indiana home."

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