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Potager Progress Report: August 2023

Are you looking for the unvarnished truth about gardening in the heat and humidity of the southern United States? You'll get it here. Even these sunflowers are tired of it!

Sunflowers and blue sky

Honestly, this has not been the hottest summer on record, but just a few days of humidity amidst high pollen alerts can make the easiest chores seem tiresome. Additionally, there was the discovery of fallen corn stalks, each missing ears of corn. The cobs were tossed aside and picked clean. Nearby were promising melons with gouges from animal claws. Did I mention the prized pumpkin we were growing? Well, it was full of gouges, too. We suspect it was the resident groundhog whose nearby grove was dismantled due to dying oak trees. The groundhog had a perfect escape route through one of the old trunks, leading to a hole in the ground. Good for the groundhog, but not for the nearby outbuilding and vineyard. Those large trunks could have destroyed both. When the trees were cut, then the groundhog no longer had a sheltered place of escape. Perhaps he is getting even?

As for the French heirlooms, the Petit Gris des Rennes and the Charentais Melons were very good. The groundhog seemed to think so, too. He also enjoyed the southern watermelons, but we had to pick a few before they were ripe, just so they could escape his claws. The various French lettuces were mostly bitter, but some of that can be attributed to growing conditions. Meanwhile, my hopes for creating personalized Herbes de Provence have been dashed. Herbs such as marjoram and thyme were overwhelmed by the mint, which should not surprise anyone who has let mint take center stage in the potager. The Patisson Golden Marbre Scallop Squash was adorable with a mild taste, but we did not get very many of them. New growth has recently emerged, so perhaps more will be forthcoming. The Parisian Pickling Cucumbers and various French carrots were very good, and more of those seeds should have been planted. The Zebrune Shallots were not as prolific as hoped, but cooler temperatures will give us a chance to try again. Luckily, we do not consume many onions or shallots, so this small crop should be enough. The Louisiana 16-Inch Long Pod Okra was delicious, but it was not prolific, either. I have a hunch that it is fabulous okra, but perhaps I should have planted it elsewhere in the garden. Not sure what happened to this year's batch of okra, because the other variety from previous years did not do well, but there's always next year. Or is there?

Sure, we have enjoyed the fruits of our labor, but is it truly worth it? When I initially wrote these words, it did not seem like a good idea to continue the garden. However, a few days of reflection and looking at jars full of vegetable stew can change one's mind. Yes, it's worth it.


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