I am loathe to admit, because of the horrendous drought affecting so much of this country, that this past weekend we got several downpours. In between the torrents, I did manage to do a bit of harvesting. The dozen or so cloves of garlic and the red onions were dug up and put in a tray to cure. Typically, the garlic bulbs and onions are allowed to cure for about 3 weeks in an area with warm temperatures and low humidity before storing at cooler temperatures.

Onion seedlings from the Knox Parks plant sale

Red onions


This is the first year I tried onion seedlings instead of sets and to tell you the truth, I’m sold! I picked up a small flat of red onion seedlings at the Knox Park Foundation plant sale last spring and set about 2 dozen red onion seedlings into the ground. They then were mulched with shredded paper (courtesy of Worm Day) and now the tops are bent over and browning. My red onions are not that large (about 2 – 3 inches) but are flavorful and inspiring enough to buy and sow some onion seeds next February.

The beans, both the pole and the bush needed to be harvested and when I was picking I noticed two heat related issues with them. The pole beans were all curved like fishhooks and the bush beans had a fair percentage that were yellowish in color and hollow (often referred to as polliwogs). Apparently the hot, dry weather is responsible for these conditions. We’ve had a number of days with temperatures in the 90’s and most beans are happier with daytime temperatures in the mid 80’s and nighttime temperatures dropping 20 degrees or so. (I suspect many of us are too). So high temperatures combined with sporadic rainfall and no supplemental irrigation are causing problems with beans.

Yellowing, hollow beans

Fishhook beans due to drought/heat stress

I have noticed that over the past decade or so, my gardens have gotten more and more purple. In the vegetable garden I grow purple cabbage, purple kohl rabi, purple radishes, purple Brussels sprouts, purple onions and of course, purple eggplant. Not only are they attractive but they combine quite nicely with many self-seeding and direct seeded annuals for great color combinations. Also those pesky caterpillars that feed on cabbage seem a bit less enthusiastic about chowing down on the red cole crop varieties.

In the past I have written about the many self-seeding annual flowers that just spring up all around my garden. One of my favorites is flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata). The white, tubular flowers emit this most intoxicating, spicy perfume especially prevalent on warm, summer evenings. I usually leave about a dozen or so each year in various spots in the vegetable garden. That means I weeded out literally hundreds of seedlings that are where I don’t want them to be. I do usually deadhead but that last October snowstorm left lots of garden chores undone in the gardens.

One of the plants I left looks like your typical flowering tobacco in height and growth form except the flowers turned out to be a lovely, pale lavender color! And unlike many of the other shorter hybrid cultivars, it has that same lovely scent as the white ones. I am planning to save seeds from it and see if they come true. Mother Nature is full of surprises and rarely does a day of work out in the garden fail to find one.

Pale purple scented flowering tobacco

Soil-fully yours,