In the Garden:
Mid-Atlantic
August, 2005
Regional Report

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Up close, a gladiolus blossom shimmers in the sun.

A Nip in Time

August is a hot and lazy time in the garden. That makes it hard to think ahead. Our frenetic spring pace is over, the fall planting season and then the seasonal clean up and race against frost have yet to begin.

All we need to do right now is bend down to search out those zucchini squash monsters from beneath that thick canopy of foliage, or grab the plump juicy tomatoes from the vine and lug them up to the house in buckets, or snip a few quarts of tender young green beans every day, preferably before dawn so it's not yet too hot to move. My favorite is the sweet corn, never sweeter than when plucked and plunged straight into a bucket of ice water to chill and then cooked just as soon as it can be shucked.

Sometimes we luxuriate with a big late-summer bouquet of sunflowers or huge dinner-plate dahlilas, or elegant, tall gladiolus stems with their sequence of opening buds. We might catch a whiff of sweet scent as we pass by the flower bed, especially in the evening. I particularly enjoy the furtive nighttime scent of the old fashioned annual flowering tobacco; the flowers open late and fade by morning so their fragrance is only to be enjoyed in the evening or very early in the morning.

Small is Beautiful, Too
As today's yards become smaller and we seem to be always more pressed for time, more of us are tending to downsize or streamline our gardening efforts. While we may have less space and less time for our gardens, I think we still enjoy the fruits of our efforts at least as much as, if not more than, before. A home-grown tomato still tastes fresh and fabulous, whether we have just one vine cossetted in a container -- or a 50-foot row of them out back.

A handful of home-grown beans still warm from the sun is a time-honored, flavor-rich gourmet treat. Just because we are not canning them for next winter's survival doesn't mean we don't savor them now. And in a day-to-day world where we spend much of our time indoors or in the car, a few minutes' time reconnecting with the earth is a relaxing treat that feeds our souls.

So, what's your excuse? If you are space- or time-challenged, why not consider a square-foot garden design or a French intensive garden, or even an extensive container garden? Or start really small and simple with an herb in a pot on your windowsill. But don't delay -- you can plant a fall crop now and be harvesting by next month.


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