Now it’s time to harvest the fruits of labor

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By Cheryl Steenerson

I can’t believe it’s the end of July.
I have noticed that it’s getting light later in the mornings and that’s my reminder that the season is passing, however slowly. I took the time one morning last week to spend a few glorious minutes just sitting on the porch, listening to Mother Nature. It was incredible.
Living out in the boonies as I do, I enjoy critter sounds. Insects and birds provide discussions and a concert every day. If only I could understand their language. I’m sure I would hear some fussing about my picking, pruning and planting.
Out of the 17 acres, only about 12 are messed with and that leaves Mother Nature plenty of room to landscape. The wildflowers are blooming in a rainbow of colors and dot the carpet of greens. It’s lovely.
Some of those wildflowers make a great addition to flower beds and most need only water to grow healthy. A weed by any other name, some of these beauties blossom throughout the summer and get followed by fall show offs.
Right now we have the powdery blue hues of the tall and stately chicory along the roadsides. Both the false and woodland sunflower have sprouted their golden yellow blossoms and wave at me when I drive by.
The prickly, purple heads of the field thistles are getting plucked clean by the golden finches each day. Butterflies, too like to hover and land on the spiny blossoms. The bright red blossoms of the cardinal flowers in my new bed are butterfly magnets.
Queen Anne’s Lace is pretty, but a chigger magnet of Godzilla proportions. Of course, I have them everywhere.  They look great surrounding the orange-red bouquets of my butterfly weeds. The dark purple berries are hanging heavy on the pokeweed along the borders of the lawn.
This is why I don’t stress out about having a well-tended, manicured-like farm. Mother Nature takes care of it without me having to lift a finger. All I have to do is walk around and enjoy the pretty colors and the life it attracts.
Unless you’re an early riser, it hasn’t been very comfortable to walk around lately. We are officially in the dog days and will be until Aug. 11. You do know that it wouldn’t be so bad if we weren’t so spoiled by air conditioning, right?
All living things need plenty of water during this high heat period. We should drink it all day.
Our plants prefer it in the mornings. Remember to always water the soil, not the plant itself. Water on leaves can cause disease and if you do it later in the day, it can cause the leaves to sunburn.
Those of you with a history of blossom end rot on your tomatoes should be adding plenty of calcium to the soil to help the plant fight it. Egg and oyster shells both work. Just lightly fork it into the top layer of soil around the stem.
Now, get to work. You should be pickin’ and grinnin’ in the garden, harvesting the fruits of your labors. Pull out the ice chest and cool down a watermelon.
After a hot day of hard work, there is hardly anything that tastes better than an ice-cold slice of sweetness, even if it does dribble down your chin.
Happy growing.