Saturday, June 11, 2016

Almost Summer (But Still Spring, Technically)

Here in Maine --the COLD spot on the US weather maps-- we are cloudy and cool today.  Not a good day for the vegetable garden.  I have floating row covers on the tender stuff.

We, here in Maine, are the only state with a Brown Tail Moth infestation.  The moth lays eggs which overwinter in little bundles of folded leaves.  In the spring (now) the eggs hatch into caterpillars that eat all the leaves off trees.  They especially enjoy crab apples, Japanese maples, and this year, oaks because this year there are 300,000 times more caterpillars. The caterpillars fling off "hairs" as they move through the trees, shrubs and travel on the ground.  The hairs fly thru the air and land on skin, clothing, pets.  The hairs create a blister that itches like the dickens and weeps, spreads etc.  Everyone I see has red blisters on their arms, legs and especially around the neck.

The local hospital will mix up 100ml of anti brown tail moth itch spray for $43 a bottle.  A co-worker says its simply a mixture of benadryl cream, cortisone cream and Witch hazel to make a sprayable liquid.  So, being the girl I am, we went to the store and bought the three items and I mixed up a batch.  Seems to be working.

I finished a book this week.  Blood Lure by Nevada Barr.  I have a second Nevada Barr book to start reading, but it's out of order and I really don't like to do that.

My picture up top is representative of summer eating here.  Some sort of grilled vegetable or meat with salad greens.  Today, my day off, I breaded and fried the eggplant I sliced and salted on Tuesday or Wednesday. I only seem capable of cooking or prepping things on my days off.  Such is the depth of my fatigue from working with customers who are on the low simmer of resentment regarding available plants and the cost of said plants.  This year more than the 8 previous years.

I feel their pain.  The prices are higher and the size and quality seem to be lesser.  We have too much of the things they don't want and none of the things they do want (a new grower seems to be having difficulty seeding successive crops).  Our new tomato seedlings are an inch tall and the cucumber seedlings are microscopic.  There isn't enough summer here in Maine for them to produce tomatoes but possibly pickles.  But I have no control over that.  It's not my problem.

I am counting down the days until July 1st when I go on my two month summer furlough.  My preview of retirement.  When I can spend long hours in the garden pulling weeds where I wanted to be growing carrots and beets.  The lettuce didn't germinate either.  I have rhubarb stockpiled in the freezer for when the Maine strawberries arrive on the roadside stand.  Strawberry Rhubarb Jam. Another rhubarb pie.  And, wonder to behold, all G's weeding, pruning and lawnmower riding over the blackberry patch has finally paid off.  Branches and branches of flowers and buds for the big juicy blackberries not the weedy nasty berries.  Summer yogurt with blackberries.  A Blackberry pie. I will gladly have thorns rip my skin raw for the glory that is a plump sun warmed blackberry.

The fig trees aren't enjoying the cool June.  Only the smaller one has leaves.  The taller, older one did have leaves but a cold night did them in.  Now there are leaf buds on the bare branches.  I am spraying the branches with a foliar spray--trying to boost the growing power.  But G and I are quite sad as there isn't enough warm summer for the trees to make leaves and then fruit and for the fruit to actually ripen.  I know it's only June 11.  But this is Maine.  Summer is limited to the month of August.  The 4th of July is sometimes (often) quite cold.  We may need to build a greenhouse for the fig trees.

That's about all from here.


MariMo said...

I think it's time for you and G to consider a visit to Morocco, as long as we still have our wonderful house near the Atlantic Ocean. Guestroom for two still available all July - would love to have you stay with us!

Anonymous said...

thanks for the recipe for the brown tail moth spray! I've got itchy kids here.