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Natural Perspectives: Faster than a speeding chick

August 21, 2012|By Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray
(Courtesy Lou Murray )

This long, hot summer is finally winding down. After two months free from teaching, Vic has started back to school with his birding and natural history classes at Saddleback College. Classes will begin soon at Golden West College, where he teaches biology. For Vic, summer is over.

Not for me, though. Because my summer revolves around my garden, my summer is still going strong.

My plot at the community garden, which was planted quite late, is just approaching harvest time. That productive little patch of dirt is already providing summer squash, bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplants and lettuce. I also have a bumper crop of Crimson Sweet and Sugar Baby watermelons ripening on the vines, as well as Hale cantaloupes. I should get my first wax beans this week, with Blue Lake green beans a few weeks from now.

On the other hand, things are winding down in the vegetable garden at home. Over the weekend, I braved the hot, humid outdoors to prune away dead tomato, squash and cucumber leaves. There wasn't much left of my garden after that.

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I harvested what will probably be my last big harvest at home of tomatoes and cucumbers. I'm going to make a big pot of marinara sauce today and freeze most of it. I will also make and can sweet pickles later today.

In addition to sweating in the sun this past weekend, I also took time to relax on our deck with a glass of iced tea in hand. I make sun tea every day in the summer, using two tea bags in one quart of water. After a couple of hours on the windowsill, I remove the tea bags and put the tea in the refrigerator to chill. That uses much less energy than boiling or microwaving the water to make the tea. It also takes less energy to cool it down for drinking.

During my iced tea breaks, I thought about what has worked for me this summer and what hasn't. As always, I had some crop failures. I got no tomatoes at all from some of the heirloom varieties that I planted. Sadly, I got no German Gold, Paul Robeson or Brad's Black Heart tomatoes. My Black Prince tomatoes yielded poorly this year, and the Mortgage Lifter didn't produce enough tomatoes to pay off even one hour of our mortgage.

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