Category Archives: summer

#622: Garden Tour

For those of you who don’t live on Nantucket
but wanted to tour our garden,
here you go:

Last March it looked like this.
A few leeks hanging on.
Mostly cleaned out by the chickens.
August. Come on in.
This Sweet100 tomato vine is at the garden’s entry.
In theory, tiny tomatoes are ready-to-eat.
In reality, if I don’t get this plant tied up soon,
the ants are going to get all the tomatoes.

The source of our fertile soil, the henhouse.
The 6-week old chickens are allowed in the popcorn garden.
They eat all the weeds and leave the corn alone.
Milkcrates cover the sweet potatoes.
No way they’ll leave those alone.
We do let them have whatever escapes the crate.

Interlaken grapes. 
Safe from the chicks but not the crows.
 We might have to cover with deer netting
to keep them out.
This has been our best grape year yet,
due to some expert help in the spring.

Little Finger eggplant, ready to pick.
Stir-fry here we come.

Butternut squash, a favorite.
Mostly because vine-borers leave them alone.
Cutting out vine-borer grubs is my least favorite garden chore.

Kale. And more kale.
No such thing as too much kale.

Pumpkins on the chicken yard fence.
This one will have to go in a net bag to hold its weight.

Lots of cukes this year.
Also lots of cucumber beetles.
Every morning, after breakfast, it’s bug squashing time.

Lavender along the path releases its scent.

Zinnias, red, orange, then yellow.
The grayest rainy day can’t overpower zinnias.

Echinacea attracts bumblebees.
If the plants survive this winter,
we’ll harvest buds next year to make an immune-boosting tea.

Onion tops tipping, Ready to pull.
Potatoes, mostly Yukon gold, are in the process of being dug.
It’s a bit like a treasure hunt.

Garlic already harvested, fourth of July.

The garden in full production:
food, flowers,
and two chairs for sitting and chatting.
The perfect spot to listen for the Lord’s voice.

#556: Square-foot Garden: potatoes

It’s August, our 2000 sq ft of garden
is in full production and I find this:
A 20# bag of sprouted yukon gold potatoes. Oops.
The only thing to do is plant them whole.
In a new garden space.

Voila. An 8×8 rubber sheet has been over this patch
of sod for the last month.
Everything underneath is brown and ready to turn.
Using a spade, I dig 12″ squares and turn them upside down.
It feels like I’m my Scottish ancestress digging peat.

The potatoes are laid out in a 12″ grid, 
sprouts and all.

Then watered, then the squares go back on top,
upside down. 
A wheelbarrow full of garden soil fills in the gaps.

Two weeks later:
a new potato bed.
I’ll let you know the yield when we harvest.

#548: Nantucket Community Garden

Not everyone on Nantucket has a yard.
Lack of a yard is no obstacle to an island gardener,
we have a 40 plot community garden
out by Bartlett’s Farm.

Which currently smells like honeysuckle.

Some gardens are elaborately structured.

Others, not so much.

It’s a place for experiments–
will tomatoes grow better in a black tote?
Check back in August.

Is  black plastic better for keeping weeds at bay?
Or mulch?
Or hay?

The Colorado potato beetles have arrived,
but with many helpers, they get picked off quickly.
Veggies, flowers, community, whimsy.

The robin approves.

#544: Lyme’s Disease Saga

This is my daughter Becky:
She’s a gardener with Garden Design Company,
here showing off a tradescantia.
This is her back a week ago:
Classic Lyme’s bull’s-eye.
Want to see it closer?
That’s it, we’ve had Lyme’s in our household
a dozen times, easily.
We live next to the State Forest and spend
a lot of time wandering around on the moors.
What can I say? Between the deer and
the white-footed mice, there’s a lot of ticks around here.
Our two cats bring them in on their fur.
So, of course we knew exactly what to do.
Take amoxicillin for 21 days.
But how to get a prescription?
That’s the saga part.
1. Call Dr. Koehm, who took over Dr. Hinson’s practice,
answering machine. Left message.
2.Call hospital, get hotline number.
3. Call hotline, explain about Lyme’s bulls-eye,
‘can’t fit you in, go to Emergency Room’
4. Call Dr. Pearl’s office, answering machine, left message.
5. Call both Dr. Pearl’s Nurse Practitioners, left messages.
6. Call Dr. Lepore, left message.
7. Call Dr. Lepore’s Nurse Practitioner, left message.
8. Call Dr. Koehm again, another message.
9. Call Dr. Butterworth, got an actual human.
Message-same as all the others:
I have a Lyme’s bulls-eye, ALL I NEED
is somebody to look at it and prescribe some antibiotics.
And she said, ‘Let me call you back.’
Nine calls, still in the void of the abyss of bureaucracy.
10. Dr. Butterworth’s office calls back.
‘I’ve had a cancellation, I can fit you in in half an hour,
if you hadn’t told me exactly what it was, we wouldn’t have been
able to fit you in.’
Leave work, go directly to Dr. Butterworth’s, see nurse
Oh, yeah, that’s a Lyme’s bulls-eye,
we’ll have Dr. Butterworth look at it…
he looks, confirms diagnosis and 
Writes A Prescription.
Next time, I grow my own penicillin.

#541: Russell Morash’s Garden

Our go-to reference book
for gardening has always been
Russell Morash’s Victory Garden.
Who knew we’d get to visit his home version
on Nantucket?
Of course, it helps that Marian Morash buys
her fish from us, Glidden’s Island Seafood.
We headed over on a rainy day.
The Morash garden began with Nantucket’s typical 1/4″ topsoil,
in other words, none. It’s all sand.
The Morashes bring in loads of free compost from the dump,
I mean, Environmental Park.

David had some ideas,

About which Mr. Morash was, um, skeptical.

The man knows what he’s doing–look at this butter lettuce!
We don’t even try bibb, the slugs always get them.
(he gave us this one, bless him–it served 3 meals…)
It starts in the ‘Victory Garden’ greenhouse.
One plant per cell or a bunch in a row planter.

Then to 4″ pots, all in starter soil.
Garden soil would bring bugs and fungus into the greenhouse.
Everything goes into raised beds

in perfect rows.

The bean seedlings are covered to keep the doves and crows
from pulling them up.
We’re going to try these Hakurei turnips next year,
planted May 2nd and ready to harvest already!
They were an inch across and so sweet.

The indeterminate tomatoes are pruned and trained
to two main stems.

Escarole is blanched by a pot on top.
This was an experiment,
worked ok but some has bolted.
It perversely made me happy
that even Russell Morash’s lettuces
get away from him.
The fruit of it all,
summer feasting with anonymous family 
and friends.
Very funny, guys.

#536: Nantucket Spring

Spring on Nantucket is fleeting.
Some years it’s only days long.
Baby chicks, snuggled in
Grow to kid chicks, tasting the outdoors,

Then to teen chicks, 
catch me if you can…
Peeking starflowers give way to
 Quaker ladies

and climbing poison ivy.
the moors will still be lonely,

the boat basin,  not so much.

#535: Summer Solitude

There was a bit of craziness here Memorial Day weekend.
Lots of folk visiting, lots of alcohol.
Some locals have begun the ‘longing for winter quiet’ already.
Not me, solitude can always be found,
if you get up early enough,
or go out to the moors.
Sankaty bluff, toward Milestone Road
Sankaty Light on the right,
  golf cart on the left.

Main Street at 6 am

Pacific Bank peeking out,
its flanking elms gone.

Pacific Club, 
at the other end of Main Street.
My son, a mason, tells me they found 
 old trompe l’oeil on the ceiling
while working on it.
I’ll post pictures when I get them from him.

The harbor, at rest.

Sconset’s always good for a walk,
a clear head,
an open ear to hear God’s voice.

#534: Signs of Summer

It’s that time of year again.
The whole clan has gathered and jobs
must be posted:
Some workers are,um, hostile toward their siblings:

Others make provisions:

Just stay out of the kitchen.
My car gave me this sign:
What’s done is done.

Although I’ll miss this place.
How many gas shacks are shingled
 and decorated with hooked fish?
Clear skies and empty beaches.
That’s the sign we’re all looking for.

#439: Island Happy

Happy times on Nantucket:
Susan’s perfect find at the Take it or Leave it.
Does your town have one of these?
Ours is at the dump.
David’s annual indulgence,
a rented convertible to go to the county fair
(which is only 8 miles out of town).
Timothy+ sprinkler=happy.
Bobbing in the surf.
And my happy time,
watching the sunrise with a cup of coffee,
and David.

From the rising of the sun,
until its going down,
the Lord’s name is to be praised.

#429: Making tomato sauce or soup

First, slice the tops off all the romas.
This works best at a meeting or while watching tv.
A five gallon bucket takes a half hour.
Drop a dozen at a time into almost boiling water for 
one minute. See the cracked skin?
That’s how you know they’re ready to squoosh.

Squoosh into bowl. Just like milking a cow.
What? You don’t know how to milk a cow?
I don’t either, I think it’s just like squooshing out tomatoes.
Now crush the tomatoes with your hands.
This is best done by a four-year-old kid,
borrow one if you have to.

Drain, the drained liquid makes a great base for veggie juice.
The drained tomatoes can be frozen or…

If you’re going all the way to soup, 
run through a food mill.
Add caramelized onions and blend in Vitamix.

 A heart of pecorino romano and it’s ready.