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The Mast-Head: Grown From Seed

Thu, 08/24/2023 - 11:01

These are the weeks that gardens are supposed to be in finest form, high summer, as a friend calls it. All the planning, starting seeds early in a warm corner of the house, waiting for the soil to be ready to turn are supposed to come together in August.

Drought punctuated by a few heavy rainstorms made the spring and summer season a challenge. But conditions were just good enough that I did not have to water that often. My apple trees, bought about 10 years ago as mere whips from Henry Leuthardt Nurseries in East Moriches, produced fruit as they never had before. On the wild side, beachplums, if you know where to look, are in spectacular profusion.

There were some failures. My cosmos that bloomed wildly last year have had nary a bud. Something ate my basil seedlings every night until I moved them to a milk crate in the Star driveway, where they have gone entirely unmolested.

Of all the things I started from seed, the pompom dahlias are my most satisfying this year. A surprise were my pole beans, which managed a good crop despite neglect as they twined around the honeysuckle and poison ivy. A new-to-me French marigold, deep yellow with red stripes, has changed my mind about the dwarf varieties. I had great luck with arugula and lettuce, not so much with broccoli rabe and pak choi.

Attention turns to a fall garden. The books say that we can still plant cabbage and beets and a host of other things now. According to “The Old Farmer’s Almanac,” there are 55 days until the first frost of the fall. That is plenty of time to slip in a seedling in the hope of enjoying an October zucchini.

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