OPINION: Mid-summer garden poses its challenges

Picking cucumbers is like an Easter egg hunt every day in the summertime.
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I love zinnias. Anybody who rides by my house can’t miss them everywhere.
Last spring, they came up in the garden, and so I just dug them up and re-planted them all around.
Goodness, they look pretty.
However, one downside is they love to get covered with powdery mildew about this time. Most of us just ignore it because nobody wants to go to all the trouble to deal with it.
Perhaps one of my many garden mistakes this year – and there are plenty to remember – was to let those zinnias come up randomly amongst the cucumbers.
Now, the scratchy vines have got a bad case of powdery mildew and are making the most disgustingly twisted and otherwise weirdly shaped fruit, in some places.
This weekend, I think I’m going to rip them up and replant, with some antifungal spray to boot. I’ve got plenty of time before frost, and I bet I can get another crop for more pickling adventures.
I’ve been having the best time trying to make pickles.
Oh, first, I sliced them and bottled them up with a kind of “home brew” concoction. They mostly are dill and garlic with some red-pepper flakes for heat.
I’ve also put up carrots and green beans that way.
Then, I decided to try “Good Eats” Alton Brown’s advice on brining. I wasn’t as excited about those results. I thought they were too salty and squishy.
So, I’m back to a different brew with non-brined, crisper cukes. I think that’s my best result.
Anybody with pickle tips, please pass them along.
The tomatoes, okra and bell peppers are coming along nicely, and the cantaloupes are getting there.
I’ve been babying some really big melons, two of which rotted before I realized the upper-40 watering was detrimental to their health. But I’ve got one about ripe, a new one growing like Glen Manning on “The Plutonium Man.” (Who can forget that old movie?)
I’ve planted two new hills of the big ones with hopes for a crop before fall.
And finally, the eggplants are coming into their own. After I cut the zinnias all around, they finally got enough sunshine to get on with it.
Who knew?
I am ever the optimist, but truthfully, this farming adventure is my best entertainment. I get to go out and dig around all weekend, and roam out there very morning and afternoon to see what’s new.
If I could just get sports and ETV from the Television Gods, I’d cancel cable.
Today, I’ll venture down to the Neshoba County Fair outside Philadelphia for a dose to politics and butterbeans – if the rains cooperate.
Frankly, it will take a gullywasher to prevent my attendance.
My worst weather experience there was in 1995, when after the famed Molpus-Fordice debate almost came to blows, Mother Nature showed who was boss and nearly blew all the political placards to Eupora.
It was a sign.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com. Read Patsy’s blog, “From the Front Row,” at NEMS360.com. She’s also on Facebook and twitter.com/realnewsqueen.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

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