gardenphyllisophyBy Phyllis Galowitz

The weather has been perfect these last couple of days. The dahlias that should have started blooming last month have just awakened, and their red-violet color is practically the only color left in the perennial bed. Black-eyed Susans linger on but the phlox are finished and I miss their gaudy display. Frost is on its way and the perennial garden will be gone.

I love picking the tomatoes and anything else I can use for our dinner. Though others harvest more than they can possibly consume, the few green beans, sugar snap peas, zucchini, and tomatoes that I pick each day are enough for us. Sautéed with a little olive oil and garlic, they make a colorful, delicious, and healthy addition to our menu, and I freeze what I can’t use.

One day last week, taking our walk up Crescent Hill, we stopped to admire the landscaping of George and Paula Montecalvo’s house. The long driveway is lined on both sides with lush evergreens that are beautiful all year round. They carry your eyes to its end, and before the drive makes a right to the garage, the greenhouse stands, where they get a head start on planting in the spring, and behind it, the vegetable garden and the compost bin. George and Paula, seeing us standing there, invited us to see it.


Garden of Paula and George Montecalvo

They have made raised beds and filled them with good, rich topsoil. Sun pours down on them all day in this open field. There is a wire fence around it to keep the animals out. Raccoons do manage to climb over the fence but seem to be satisfied with the corn crop and haven’t touched anything else. I’m sure it’s disappointing to the Montecalvos, though, not to have been able to even get a taste of their corn.

Pumpkins are peeking through their large leaves and yellow blossoms. You really have to look for them. What a surprise it is when you find them. Beets are pushing themselves out of the ground, saying, “I’m ready. Take me!” Tomatoes of all shades of yellow to bright red are covering the vines. Both curly and flat-leafed parsley make enormous bouquets and the garden is surrounded by lush, colorful marigolds, that help to keep pests out. Small plastic containers filled with beer are inserted in the ground every few feet to lure and drown slugs. (Poor things!)

The ground is covered with black landscape fabric that keeps the garden neat, the vegetables clean, and eliminates the weeding chore; a border of the fabric surrounding the garden keeps grass and weeds from creeping in.

Paula invited us in to her kitchen to see her canning project. She’s been busy all day, every day now, harvesting green beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers, and canning. It’s a race against the coming frost. The kitchen is lined with cartons containing her jars of canned vegetables, pickles, and sauces, ready to be stored for the winter.

I imagined the wonderful aromas as Paula mixed all those lovely ingredients to make the jars of sauce with everything from their garden, as we walked back down the hill, laden  with her gift of ripe red tomatoes and cucumbers. ~