Swimming in sky water.

It’s been raining for days. Thunder in the night that gasps me awake if I’m lucky enough to be asleep. Storms that water fond memories of childhood sleep undisturbed by earthquakes and dynamite.

The earth, parched in winter as it often is here, gulps down each cloudfull before the bursting winds carry off the empty buckets above and usher in the next round.

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I stole a few soaked moments this morning while my coffee steeped to puncture holes in the bottom of the tomato cups and rescue the pepper pots from the overflowing trays.

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The drops paused long enough this evening for a few fleeting shots of the drenched promises of future garden spoils.

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Here’s hoping for perfect shoveling weather coming soon, as a “biiiiiiig druck” (we have quite the budding machinery expert in the house) will be dropping four yards of compost tomorrow for my most lovely partner in life to dole out to the remaining empty beds.

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Pepper lessons, basil confusion, and a landscape raspberry.

I spent a four-day weekend on a business trip and arrived home just in time to do some more work before ordering some take-out and hitting the gardens. The light was fading fast, and the insects were emerging with even greater speed. The fire ants had once again relocated, and I had once again been too stubborn to don real shoes and received two more bites for my troubles. I had remembered to leave the bug spray in the car though, and escaped with nary a mosquito bite. DH managed only one fire ant bite, no mosquito bites, but took the cake with a mean mystery bite on his back.

We were once again rewarded with pound after pound of fresh heirloom tomatoes! DH struck up an easy conversation with a neighboring gardener, and we managed to send her home with a few of his heaping double handfuls of the smaller varieties. She’s raking in buckets of apple-sized tomatoes herself (we politely declined any.)

What about non-tomato news?

Things I’ve learned about peppers this year:

  • Two cayenne plants is more than enough to make an attempt at a ristra for the first time
  • Two jalapeno plants is not enough for DH’s appetite.
  • One fish pepper plant will make more fish peppers than you know what to do with (assuming you know what to do with a fish pepper, which…I don’t yet.)
  • Two Anaheim pepper plants is perfect.
  • Two poblano plants is half as much as necessary for prepping portions to make chili with in the winter.
  • One Chinese Five Pepper is one too many (apparently something likes to devour every last bit of leaf on the poor thing as soon as the peppers are close to ripe! That, and I’m not sure if they’re ripe when they’re purple (their first color), white (their second color), or if I’m supposed to wait until they’re dried and shriveled and orange…)
  • We both miss the magic of the Czechoslovakian Black Pepper.
  • Purple and orange bell peppers are magical when combined in a dish. One of each is not nearly enough!

Things I still don’t know enough about to help thrive? Basil tops the list. I can get it to germinate. I can get it about two inches tall. I can keep it alive if I buy it…until it gets mealy bugs, gets woody, keeps over, or bolts immediately.

In the “bolts immediately” category is this lovely African Blue Basil. Not a week after planting it in the backyard bed (under a shade cloth!) it flowers. It’s lovely to look at, and perhaps I should reconsider basil as a landscape plant for the bees instead of a seasoning for us.

Speaking of landscape-plants-that-I-would-like-to-some-day-eat-from, my raspberry is happier this year (it’s third year) than last!