August: Time to Get Back to the Garden
Written by: Patricia Stern

Really, now? Well, it’s hot, it’s humid and an awful virus continues to plague the nation.  Apparently, there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.  But there is a way to have some safe, productive, possibly sanity saving fun at home while you wait for things to cool off.  Here are some ideas:

  1. Process and eat produce
  2. Plan your fall garden activities
  3. Think about and order bulbs

Okay honestly this list does not sound fun as I write it, but I swear it is more fun to do than I am making out.  I will now add the word ‘fun’ to my sub-headings to make it appear so.

Produce Fun

Hopefully you are in possession of some homegrown tomatoes, eggplant, sweet corn, or summer herbs like fresh basil.  If you or a wonderful sharing neighbor did not grow these “at their best in summer” items do not despair; they are in ample supply at local farmer’s markets or produce stands.  My personal, gotta-have-at-least-once-every summer recipes include: Fresh Tomato, Brie and Basil Linguine, Fresh Tomato Pie, Chicken Breasts Primavera with Fresh Tomato Sauce over salad greens, and, (only if the tomato plants really put out, which they did this year, hurray!), Oven-Roasted Tomatoes which I make and store in the freezer for use in the dark days of winter.  Below are some sexy food photos and click here to get the recipes.

NBCA’s own newsletter editor and eggplant grower par excellence (thanks Nancy for all you do!) provided this link to this great blog site with some eggplant recipes she likes.

And, if you have backyard basil, it’s a great idea to whip up some pesto in the food processor and store it for winter use.  I like to make a batch, freeze it in a small plastic tray, then cut in slices and wrap individually in wax paper to store in the freezer in a Ziploc bag.  I dole it out for winter use in minestrone and pasta recipes; winter days seem brighter when I use it.

Fall Garden Planning Fun

Mid August is a perfect time to evaluate your outdoor space and decide what you want to do for the next growing year which officially begins (for me) in late September.  This can include planting (or re-locating) trees and shrubs, prepping a new garden bed for flowers or vegetables, installing new perennials (look for a nice neighbor to offer pass-a-long plants), and researching cool season vegetables and annual flowers.  See details on this in a future NBCA newsletter.  Remember! You don’t have to do it now!  Because it’s too hot!!  But it’s a great idea to think about it now so you will be ready to act when the first cooler days energize you in the fall.

Bulb Ordering Fun

This is the easiest and most fun task of all because it requires NO PHYSICAL LABOR, just a little dreaming, computer access and a credit card.  I personally love ordering bulbs from a paper catalog because I can pore over the pages longingly occupying many joyous hours, but if this isn’t your jam, you can do everything on-line.  My two very favorite catalogs and bulb vendors are Colorblends (a highly informative and entertaining catalog BTW), and Brent and Becky’s Bulbs (they are a real-life couple who live and grow in Virginia so they know about growing flowers from bulbs in the hot South)  If you go to their websites they will ship you a paper catalog lickety-split.  Both of these vendors will ship bulbs at the correct planting times which is for us mid-November and on to the first hard freeze.  Details on easy bulb planting and how to be successful will be provided in a future NBCA newsletter.  Please try and order your bulbs and don’t just rely on buying whatever is around in the fall; the selection and quality of the bulbs you receive will be vastly superior to what will be for sale at retailers.  But you need to order NOW because they will sell out very soon and you may not get your favorite.  (The ones you’ve been mooning over in the paper catalogs.)

So, go forth over a cold drink or glass of sweet tea and grab some homemade, wholesome, safe and delicious August fun!