A winter with only two light frost means a hot summer with lots of insects, especially the biting kind, and a huge citrus crop. This is my kind of winter. I can ware long sleeves to ward off the mosquitoes and midges and I can choose the time of day I work in the garden to avoid the heat and in return, I can pick oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, Myers Lemons, limes, kumquats, mandarins and navels from November to March. Add to this the fresh produce we get from the vegetable garden during the entire year and one could say Eden is located on Lady’s Island, SC. One can augment his diet, if he wishes, with the fish, crabs, mussels, oysters and shrimp pulled from the Coosaw River just 200 feet from the garden. Makes me wonder why I go to work every day… Oh yea, taxes, insurance, medical bills and prescriptions, and home repairs to mention just a few reasons.
Today was not a work day. It was a day in paradise. I worked for several hours in the garden where I mulched beds and serviced the watering systems in preparation for the summer heat. When the temperature reached 82 degrees (remember, this is February), I decided to sit down and enjoy the day. And what a day it was. As I sat in the mottled shade of the old live oak trees, the honey sweet smell of orange blossoms wafted around me reminding me that there were still a few oranges to pick.
ORANGE BLOSSOMS AND ORANGES
The sound of the bees on the blossoms made me aware of the other sounds (Not my honeybees as all five of my hives were destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in October. The winds blew each of the double brood boxes with two supers over and then proceeded to pound the bees and wax/honey so that when I was allowed to return to the island nine days later, there was little evidence of any life in the hives.) . Above the pulsing tenor of one of my high rise sprinklers, I heard the wonderful sounds of spring. Blue Jays in the distance, a Red-tailed Hawk above. Tufted Titmice, house finches and sparrows , doves, a crow – then more. A Yellow-throated Warbler, sings across the garden while what I thought first was a Mocking Bird but turned out to be a Brown Thrasher mocking the sounds of the Chickadee and another unidentified warbler. The ratatat sounds of a sapsucker mingled with that of the nuthatch and a distant cry of the Pileated Woodpecker. This cacophony of sounds overlapping themselves and then a sudden break in the chorus only to start again. Meanwhile the chickens and their rooster have to start a raucous exchange which overpowers everything for a couple minutes. My favorite sound of the afternoon was the spring call of the Northern Cardinal as he staked out his territory for his breeding efforts. What a pure spring melody.
KATHY WITH THE GARDEN GUEST
Later, several of my garden partners came by. Davis and Kathy brought a new couple over that are interested in joining our group. They were very pleasant and the wife, Nancy, got busy with Kathy planting peas. More on them in the next post. Nancy’s 90 year old father was visiting and came along for the visit. He was very bright and enjoyed seeing the garden.
DAVIS BRINGS IN THE TANGERINE SUPPORTS
CHRIS SAMPLES A SOUR KUMQUAT
Chris brought her partner, Joan, over to look at the barn as she may bring her horse over to board with Glenda’s two horses. They brought a friend that will add a third stall to the barn. Chris and Joan live next door so this arrangement will be very convenient.
We have produced various greens this winter faster than we can harvest them. Mustard, Kale, rape, collards, lettuce and turnips. These make wonderful cooked vegetables but there is only so much we can eat. the oak-leaf lettuce is eaten raw as a single head can be cut and served as a personal salad. Extremely good but now the butter crunch is starting to grow to give it some competition.
We decided to not pull the sweet pepper plants up but to cut them back and see if we could get them to rejuvenate themselves. I think it is working. We have sprouts along the stems and if all goes well we will have big pepper plants well ahead of any that we plant from sets. Three or four locations of several varieties of peas have begun to sprout. I am erecting the climbing nets. These peas are not the shelling kind, they are the “never get to the kitchen” type. Best eaten straight off the vine by the picker. Broccoli sets are in and more to come as are the Pac Choi, carrots, Swiss Chard and radish. The blue berries are beginning to bloom and the blackberries are starting to grow their cane as the fig hedge is showing signs of bud swelling. I love it when everything starts to come together. I have dug the holes, mulched and inserted the tomato cages but the tomato sets are still in the greenhouse still too small to put out. I am planting only Rutgers and Cherokee purple this year. I will probably through in a couple Roma later from purchased sets.
KATHY MULCHES THE REST OF THE BLUEBERRIES
OUR OLD FRIEND – THE MYSTERY GREEN REAPPEARS
AWAITING THE TOMATOES
SWEET PEPPER REJUVENATION
THE ANNUAL WISTERIA SOIREE IS AROUND THE CORNER SO STAY TUNED.
I have standardized the date for the Wisteria Soiree to the last Saturday in March so that people can put it on their calendars. In the past I tried to coordinate it with the peak of the wisteria bloom but realized that it was not necessary to hit the peak weekend. All are invited to our garden for the afternoon and into the evening. Arrival should be about noon and it will go until everyone leaves. It is rain or shine as we have a large shed to stand under if necessary. Bring a chair for yourself along with your beverage of choice. Beer and wine are often brought. We provide the soda and water along with the ice and Frogmore Stew. Please bring a side dish or for the non shrimp eaters, something that you can eat. Bug spray has often been a good thing to add to your list. We usually have 40 or 50 to attend but I ask that you RSVP to my email (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that I have enough shrimp. I guarantee a wonderful afternoon with many very interesting people and the sights of our garden. You may have to email me for directions to the garden. I don’t publish them here for obvious reasons but an email will get you here. I should post at least one more entry here before the end of March. You are encouraged to bring a guest – just let me know the count.
I love Spring!
Gordon at the Sea Island Garden.