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Judy Isacoff
Morning glory with bumblebee, Sept. 19, 2017.

NATURE’S TURN: Marvels of a polyculture garden

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By Monday, Sep 25, 2017 Farm and Table

September 25 – October 8, 2017

Mount Washington — I’m looking into the pale pink cup of the first rose mallow to blossom. A bumblebee enters. Earlier, while I admired the extreme purple velvet of a fresh morning glory bloom, a bumblebee flew into its center. A few days ago, on my way to pick one of the last ears of corn for breakfast, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of a universe of dewdrops gathered on the feathery foliage of an asparagus plant; the plant, heavy with its droplets, drooped toward scarlet nasturtiums at its base. When the sun rose, nearby asparagus plants, also drenched in dew, lit up with sparkling crystal rainbows.

Asparagus plants with morning dew after rain, nasturtiums, Sept. 17, 2017. Photo: Judy Isacoff

Two weeks ago we were lamenting the effect that near freezing weather had and might have on crops. Although the leaves of cucumber plants are browning, more fruit has been gathered and pickled in a water brine with dill, garlic and coriander seed–all garden-grown–added to the concoction. Edamame plants, each a small shrub, are showing pods that just might fill out before killing frost. I am dousing all bean and cucumber plants with collected rainwater to encourage production while warm weather prevails. I am also watering newly seeded winter wheat and cold-weather greens planted during the cool period.

The biggest vole to ever live began to eat his way through my carrot beds. I pulled most of the carrots but left some, along with several peanut butter-baited traps. Adorable mice filed into the traps and carrots continued to show teeth marks the likes of a beaver. Then, an enormous vole with a mouse next to it, both dead, appeared in a path between the beds. Theories as to the cause of death? Carrots have been safe ever since.

Zuercher purple top turnips, Sept. 19, 2017. Photo: Judy Isacoff

Hidden from view, under cover of their own 2-feet-tall leafy canopy, robust purple top turnips awaited discovery. A mid-July planting of Three Root Grex beets and the Zuercher turnips fill a 5-feet-by-5-feet square that contains modest-sized beetroots and many fairytale turnips–5-inch-diameter rooted marvels. I’ll harvest these right away and store them in perforated bags in the refrigerator or buried in buckets of sand. The beets will grow a week or two longer.



Coriander seed, Sept. 17, 2017. Photo: Judy Isacoff

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