by Joseph Sapia
Gardening: In Helmetta, Monroe, and Jamesburg
2016, August 7, Sunday, to August 13, Saturday
The gardening and yard references are to my house in the section of Monroe between Helmetta and Jamesburg in South Middlesex County. My yard is in a Pine Barrens outlier on the Inner Coastal Plain, the soil is loamy, and my neighborhood is on the boundary of Gardening Zones 6b and 7a.
HARVESTING: Cucumbers. Picked a cantaloupe, but I should have waited. So, holding off on picking more cantaloupes.
TO HARVEST OR NOT TO HARVEST: My tomatoes are not moving – they are not growing and ripening, plants are dying. I think the wildlife has been getting to them….
THE LAWN: Because of work and the weather not cooperating on my days off (that is, either raining or threatening thunder storms with lightning), I got way behind on cutting the grass. So,…
CUTTING THE GRASS IN THE HEAT: I jumped on a sunny, day-off opportunity to cut the lawn – in 95 degrees with a heat index of 114 degrees. I wet my straw hat, stayed hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and took breaks. It was a grind for this old (59) boy. Three wet T-shirts and one fear-of-lightning break later, I finished the backyard.
CUTTING DOWN THE GARDEN: I mowed over the area where the lettuce had been planted – and, now, considering planting a late crop of lettuce. I also mowed down for the most part the done-producing corn stalks.
WILDLIFE IN THE YARD: The raccoons continue to topple the bird-feeder if I do not get it in the garage early enough at night. And I came across a Fowler’s toad — easily identifiable by the several warts in the splotches –while cutting the lawn. And, yes, the toad urinated when I caught him. I let him go in one of the high-grass wildlife patches I keep in the yard. (Photo of the Fowler’s toad.)
ROSE THORN IN MY FOOT: Despite wearing sneakers, I got a rose thorn in the big-toe area of my right foot. Pulled that sucker out fully. Not like the thorn or whatever that I have/had stuck in the ball of my left foot for about three weeks. Just keeping an eye on it, making sure it is not infected, waiting for it to work itself out.
MOSQUITOES: NJ has had at least three cases of West Nile virus in humans – one in Camden County, according to the state; two in Monmouth County (Atlantic Highlands and the Spring Lake area), according to the county. I checked a barrel I keep with a combination of rain, gray water, and de-humidifier water and found mosquito larvae in it. So, I emptied some of it and put a top on the barrel of the remainder. Interestingly, I cannot recall one mosquito bite this season.
— Joseph Sapia
2016, August 13, Saturday,
Joe Sapia, 59, has lived his whole life in Monroe. He is, among other things, a Pine Barrens naturalist and a vegetable gardener. He gardens the same backyard plot as did his Italian-American father, Joe Sr., and his Polish maternal grandmother, Annie Poznanski Onda. Both are inspirations for his vegetable gardening. And he draws inspiration on the local Pine Barrens from his mother, Sophie Onda Sapia, who lived her whole life in the local Pines, and his grandmother.