Summer Vegetable Garden, Garden Societies, and Gardening Books

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PHOTO: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
Some of these French Intensive beds are ready to host a summer vegetable garden crop, while established plantings flourish in others. 

High summer is here, and the garden basks in the shimmering
noonday heat. Dampen your shoes as you weed in the morning
dew, come to understand–once again–the
preciousness of water, and sniff the rich odor of the earth
after a late afternoon thunderstorm.

Then, while fireflies glimmer in the lengthening dusk and
the warm air is heavy with the scent of honeysuckle, give
thanks for the goodness of the land.

Summer Vegetable Garden

As Cynthia Driscoll points out elsewhere, it’s a shame to waste
an opportunity to have an autumn harvest … so here are
some crop suggestions for the a summer vegetable garden, your garden’s “second
season.”

Broccoli: If you’ve got the time, try
Cleopatra (75 days), a frost-resistant variety . . .
otherwise, grow Green Comet (55 days), which is the
earliest type available. Beets:
The people at Stokes warn that beets sown between July
15 and August 15 tend to become tough and stringy. If
you’re planting either before or after that period,
however, try Stokes’s Pacemaker ll (58 days) or Harris’s
Warrior (57 days). Both of them have sugar beets in their
ancestry and superb flavor. Or, for an interesting change
of pace, you may want to grow Burpee’s Golden Beet (55
days). Bush beans: For a really
quick crop, try Thompson & Morgan’s Limelight (38 days).
Burpee’s Tenderpod is an All-America winner that matures in
50 days, and Park’s Contender gives a fine crop in 49
days. Lettuce: Buttercrunch is a
prime choice (75 days), or–if time is of the
essence–try Burpee’s two short-season varieties .
. . Green Ice (45 days) and Royal Oak
Leaf (50 days). Cauliflower: Go with a sure thing: Snow Crown (53 days) is hardy and vigorous.
Chinese cabbage: Harris’s Early Hybrid
G (50-60 days) is the best selection by far.
Spinach and peas: Early September may
be the best time for planting these vegetables in all but
the coldest sections of the country, and most varieties
will mature in plenty of time. 

The Best of the Garden Societies

Gardeners are gregarious folks, forever exchanging
experiences and advice. And sometimes a casual “back fence
seminar” can turn into something considerably more
permanent, by bringing people with common interests
together to share and learn from one another.

There are many gardening societies worldwide … but two
“umbrella” organizations have become especially well-known:
the American Horticultural Society in the United States,
and the Royal Horticultural Society in England. Membership
in both organizations is open to all comers, and the
benefits of joining are substantial.

It costs $20 a year to become a member of the American
Horticultural Society,
and–for that sum–you get six issues of The
American Horticulturist …
six issues of the
Society’s fact-packed newsletter … a discount on numerous
gardening books … a choice of five or six packets of
rare and unusual seeds from a list of over a hundred …
access to the organization’s information service …
and the chance to attend meetings as well as two
open houses a year.

The Royal Horticultural Society also welcomes American
members (“fellows” is the British term) for a subscription
of £10 a year–which equals about $23 at this writing,
but check the foreign exchange rates at your bank or in
your newspaper before sending in your dues–and, while some
of the Society’s benefits are limited to residents of the
British Isles (soil and manure analysis, fruit
identification, and garden inspections), you will receive
monthly copies of the association’s journal, The
Garden … tickets to the world-famous R.H.S.
Garden at Wisley and to the equally well known annual
Chelsea flower show (these make excellent presents to
British friends, as the benefits are transferable) … and
up to 50 packets of seed each year (which you can select
from a list of over 1,000 varieties of trees and
flowers). Folks joining after June 1 can often “come
aboard” for half price, too! Write for information and an
application blank to The Secretary, The Royal Horticultural
Society, London, England. An
airmail stamp will speed your request on its way (sea mail
takes forever). If you pay for your membership with a
check, make sure that you add a dollar to the fee to help
pay the currency conversion costs.

Gardening Books

Two gardening books of note have recently come to
our attention. For Sunbelt horticulturists, the
Southern Living Gardening volume, Trees &
Shrubs
, is a delight. Over 350 warm-weather
ground covers, vines, shrubs, and trees
are described and pictured … and full
cultural information is given for each one. At $17.95, the
book isn’t inexpensive … but it would
make a fine birthday or Christmas present.  

The second work is Duane Newcomb’s The
Complete Vegetable Gardener’s Sourcebook
(Avon). This is quite possibly the best introduction available … and the detailed
charts of garden vegetable varieties alone are worth
the price. 

Random Gleanings

We’d much rather eliminate insecticide spraying entirely … but if you can’t convince your community of the wisdom of
that course of action, insist on the use of a “drift
control agent”. With such an additive, less wind-carried
pesticide will settle on your organic acres … and
25-50% smaller amounts of the dangerous chemicals will be
required. One such product, RAIN 200, is manufactured by
Landau Chemicals. 

If you’re interested in the rapid expansion of the number
of farmers’ markets, take a look at the fine new book by
Robert Sommer titled Farmers Markets of America: A
Renaissance.
The publication can be ordered from Capra
Press.