The Wilderness Flourishes In The Hoosier Humidity

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

It has been a while since I updated you on life in the wilderness. And since many of you have personally commented that you enjoy reading of my escapades in the wilderness, here is the Cliff Notes Summer Summary: more than ample rain and hot & humid weather which makes the clean up from the more than ample rain most uncomfortable.

I quit counting the total number of inches of rain because my rain gauge got washed into the lake. But if I measure the depth of the ruts in the lane and multiply the number of times I have graded and re-graded the rock (now sandy dirt) so that my eye-teeth are blinded when I drive the lane…well there has been a lot of water fall here.

In addition to the almost constant work on the lane, trees that were made unstable by wet soil coupled with the added weight of water on leaves toppled into the meadow. So the past couple of weekends my activity has been to cut up trees and chip up the limbs for mulch in the coming years.

Fortunately, I burn wood in the fireplace in the winter. Unfortunately, I have not cleared up down trees from storms two years ago. So if anyone has a hankerin’ to cut some wood, please get in touch with me. I will warm you up.

Like many gardens in town, my compact fenced garden in the wilderness languished up until mid-July. There was plenty of green growth and moisture but the heat degree-days prevented much fruiting and ripening.

Boy Howdy has that changed.

Before school was out, I bought a number of garden vegetable plants from the school greenhouse. If I could offer some advice to our student horticulturalists: please label all plants correctly.

What I bought as green peppers turned out to be jalapeño and chilies. But there is only so many of the spicier peppers my digestive tract can stand before I begin to know how Johnny Cash was inspired to write ‘Ring of Fire’.

What I bought as heritage tomatoes may not be the non-hybridized tomato. I don’t know because the fruiting has just started now that it is hazy-hot-&-humid in the Hoosier wilderness.

The marigolds I companion planted with my garden as an insect deterrent, aren’t keeping the stink bugs away which are devouring the tomatoes just as they begin turning from green to a shade of yellow-orange.

The one tomato that seems to be doing well is the one I planted next to my front sidewalk…because there was no room in the garden. Like the oak, sassafras and poplar in the wilderness, this tomato is like a tree and, while supported by stakes, is slightly taller than me but producing some tasty red and orange stripe tomatoes.

I broke my own rule for zucchini. I usually plant two and hope one dies. But I planted a traditional and a “cueball” round zucchini which works on the barbecue grill better.

However, with the hot temperatures my traditional zucchini overnight are the size of small watermelons and the cueballs have reached softball status.

So I have been making a lot of zucchini bread and freezing it for holiday gift giving. Won’t my family and friends be surprised by my culinary thoughtfulness?