Large, potted figs


Not a Hot, Dry Desert, but No Matter

Today’s cool temperatures, along with this overcast sky that’s periodically sneezing raindrops, doesn’t conjure up weather we usually associate with fig harvest. Still, I just returned from the greenhouse with near overflowing handfuls of dead ripe figs.Bowl of figs

This harvest does highlight one of the many characteristics of figs that makes it possible to grow them in cold climates. The particular characteristic, in this case, is the plant’s rather unique way of bearing fruit. Read more

Uncovering frosted tomatoes


The Worst?!

Every year, when I tell my longtime friend Vicki, “This year is the best garden year ever,” she smiles and rolls her eyes in a friendly way. But it’s true: Another year of gardening experience, better varieties to grow (Picnic Orange pepper of last year is now on my must-grow list); improved weed management (tarping added to my list); better pest control (the dreaded spotted wing drosophila on blueberries); etc.

Picnic orange pepper

Picnic orange pepper

This year, Vicki was surprised when I finished my annual sentence with “the worst year ever.”

She, of course, asked why. I spared her, but will not spare you, all the gruesome details, as far as I can determine. Read more

Okra, fruits displayed


A Good Site

Okra, like artichokes and dark beer, evokes from people either praise or disgust, rarely something in between. A pot of stewed okra, tomatoes, and onions sends me into creole heaven, yet makes my brother gag. I say the mucilaginous quality of okra adds “body” to a dish; he says okra is “slimy.”

This season I’m reveling in a bumper crop of okra. Such a crop would hardly be worth noting if I gardened south of the Mason-Dixon line, where okra plants grow to be the size of small trees! Growing okra up here in the Hudson Valley is somewhat of a challenge because the plants begin to shiver when temperatures drop into the 50s — not uncommon even for a midsummer night in my garden.Okra, fruits displayed

In spite of a good bit of hot weather this summer (1.3°F above the 127 year average), I like to think I had a hand in this season’s success with okra. And the first okra-righteous thing I did was to choose for my planting a good site: the hottest and sunniest spot in my garden.

Lack of sunlight used to be a problem when my garden beds ran east and west; tall plants, such as popcorn, on ann adjacent bed to the south of the okra bed would shade the okra. Read more