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From Lallah’s Garden

I like to say “a wonderful month.” This time I’m saying, “What a wonder a garden survived the hot dry weather.”

The month started with very low humidity and temperatures climbing to 100-degrees plus. That was very hard on trees and plants. Most of us don’t have water enough to save all our plans. Kale and okra are looking good, also sweet potatoes. I spent extra time caring for tomatoes and cucumbers.

We now have humidity, which makes it possible for most plants to survive, the temperature still climbs to 100-degrees plus.

Friends gave me a window box with flowers and vines of purple wandering jew. I trimmed the vines added the trimmings to my compost. Three days later, I took other things to the compost. Those vines had not even wilted lying in that hot sun. I felt so terrible; I picked them up, watered them, and potted them. From now on, I plan to use them to add color by our entrance. The sun shines hot there.

I really like my chickens. Their sounds add joy to my early day. I must say, the early day is cool. It’s wonderful to be outside. Sometimes, animals will come in to hurt my chickens. Their sounds tell you if they are happy, scared, or in pain, “come quick.” The other day, my hen was saying, “come quick.” She had been wanting to set. Sometimes the rooster, Jerry, would insist she should get off the nest. I thought that was what I would find. I found her out of her nest upside down on the floor. Jerry was standing over her, I saw him pecking her, and then jumping back. I got him away and turned her over. I then saw she was dragging a snake! It was long, slim, and black and it was wrapped around her. I tried to reach a hoe just outside the door, but as she passed me and jumped down to the ground, the snake got its long tail around my ankles. I fell out the door. The snake turned me loose but stayed on the hen. Other hens and Jerry were pecking it. Eventually it turned her loose and headed into the woods.

I’ve never seen anything like that before. I have seen black snakes in the chicken house, they get eggs. She had four eggs in her nest. I tried to save my pet hen, but she was crushed inside. Have any of you known of a snake like that?

I will continue through the alphabet listing good food that we enjoy growing, eating and juicing.

Quince: Have you ever had a ripe quince to eat? We had a quince tree in Connecticut. The fruit has lots of pectin, kind of like a crab apple in taste when real ripe. I like them. We used the juice mixed with other fruit juice to make jelly. Sometimes a flowering quince will make fruit.

Radish: We are all familiar with them there are several kinds, all are very good for you; your teeth, gums, nerves, hair and nails. They are low in calories, high in Vitamins A, B and C. Black radishes are very cleansing for the entire body. We use them in salad eaten raw.

Black raspberries: I’ve been hearing on TV about super health benefits from eating them. They also said the only place you can get them is in Oregon. A friend brought us plants from his patch near Clinton. They grow well and taste delicious. Even the leaves make tea that is nutritious. To make the tea, pick a small handful of tea leaves, put them in a cup, fill cup with boiling water. Cover steep for at least seven minutes, you can sweeten with honey. Delicious!

Brown rice: An easily digested starch food, it provides all the necessary carbohydrates requirements. It has Vitamins B and K, also B5, which is pantothenic acid. It is a nourishing and body-building food. It supplies you with important nutrition for hair, nails, teeth, muscles and bones. We measure 1 cup rice, 2 cups water, gently cook. It will swell and absorb all the water. I add a pat or two of butter, a little salt. Turn off the heat. We use it as cereal, with milk, cinnamon, and honey or add it to our stir-fry after the vegetables are done. We enjoy that.

Sesame seed: These seeds are very nutritious; they are from an East India herb. We sprinkle on salad dressing, also sprinkle on our stir fry before serving. The Vitamin E content strengthens the nerves and heart. It is said that if often cures liver ailments. The oil can be used to cook with, also, to message into our skin to remove wrinkles. Sprinkle on rolls or cookies before baking. After baking it tastes like almonds.

I will have to say this has been a “wonder” early July day. Listening to the birds wake up and sing. Jerry saying over and over: cock-a-doodle-do!

We look forward to a beautiful fall garden.

Lallah Lee Ostergren has been an organic gardener for more than 35 years. Send your questions for her to the Van Buren County Democrat, P.O. Box 119, Clinton AR 72031.

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