Double Eights

It’s finally starting to feel like summer here in western Pennsylvania. It never does until temps reach the high 80s (it was 88 today) and humidity levels hang around 60% or so. Not quite as bad as summers in Mississippi or Kentucky where July and August bring “humidity so thick you can lick it.”

The veggie garden is shaping up to be one of the best we’ve had in years. It was more work this year, what with having to replace a bunch of pest infected topsoil (overwintering cucumber beetles). We rotate, and it helps, but it don’t necessarily keep a veggie garden pest and/or disease resistant. Even buying “disease resistant” varieties is often no guarantee.

I roll with the punches. For instance, the Japanese beetles are having their way with some of my hollyhocks and roses, but at least we got to see most of the blooms on both and for the most part, the beetles are stayin out of the garden (Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! Beetlejuice! patrol). It’s a compromise I decided I’d live with when I chose to quit using chemicals (this is my fourth chemical-free season).

I think we’re beginning to see healthier soil since we stopped using pesticides and herbicides. And that’s well and good, and as it should be. We just pile on composted leaves and add a small truck load of mushroom compost every other year or so, Nature does the rest.

I hope y’all’s gardens are producing as you hoped. Enjoy your harvest, and if you have extra, share it with someone less fortunate.


Sweet Pickles (you’re the best cook and canner in the land hon!)



Ripening ‘Sun Gold’ cherry tomatoes.

Fruit or flower?

Can you identify this bug?

So, you want to be a school bus driver?

(Graphic artist: Mort Drucker)

By TC Conner

Pro hobbyist photographer, drone enthusiast, musician, husband and father.

14 replies on “Double Eights”

Hi Ms. Claudia! Better late than never is what I've been told. I hope your late garden does well.Hello Ms. Helen. I think it really felt like summer today because I was sweating out in the garden. I was tying tomatoes, afterwards I smelt like one. ;~P

Hey TC,We are finally getting summer too. Might as well, it is July. Good news about your soil. Good to be reminded we can stop and our land will heal. H.

I'm delighted your garden is shaping up! How lovely! We double dig and have found that next to soil temperature, soil quality makes all the difference.We've had such a weird wet year that our garden is almost 2 months behind. We're hoping for a late fall. But who knows!?

Hi Ms. Martha, I don't think I've seen you here before and I'm always thrilled to have new readers. I was just at your blog and can't remember if I've ever paid y'all a visit. Perhaps, and I've just forgotten about it. There's so many blogs out there now it's hard to keep up with all of the ones that interest me. I'm sure you're well aware of this too. School bus driving because of the hours; off during the summer gardening season, and during winter, I'm home after the morning run with plenty of time for writing.

Your pickles look wonderful! I'm jealous.We've had several days over 100 already so we are drowning in tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers – and so is everyone else.We've cooled down to 88 after an inch of rain.Why school bus driving?

Dave: Sorry to hear about your wilt! I'm all to familiar with that dreaded disease! You can find the sweet pickle recipe here: Tina: I am a saint! ;~PMs. Luisa: We tried melons here, but I didn't give them proper nutrition. I hear they're heavy eaters. Let me know how your's turn out.Ms. Marnie: Thanks for the compliments. Another reason we're having good cabbage is because of the cabbage moth being hit with a disease this year, populations are way below normal here in the mid-Atlantic states and that's a good thing.Ms. Susie: I find that I can't handle the high humidity like I once could. I'm kind of glad that summers here are rarely as humid as what you have to endure. Whew!Ms. Terri: Yes, we are always "mmmmming" out loud when we're eating fresh veggies from the garden. (I just love your creative genius when using the "Word Verification" word, and I thought I was pretty good at it. You've got me beat hands down!)Ms. W2W: You're right, the insect pictured is indeed a Lygus ineolaris, commonly called a tarnished plant bug. In Whitney Cranshaw's Garden Insects of North America we read: "Tarnished plant bug is an omnivore that also feeds on aphids and other small, soft-bodied insects, effecting some biological control of these pests that is considered beneficial" (224). I'm very sorry to hear that your garden isn't what it should be and I hope your fall plantings will make up for what didn't produce for you. I've never had a fall veggie garden, mainly because by the time my summer garden is done, I'm too pooped to start another one! And yes, I might be starting a career as a school bus driver. I start the actual bus driver training Wednesday where I'll be doing some driving (the bus will be empty of course, except for my instructor).

It's either a tarnished plant bug (Lygus lineolaris) or just a bum-ugly bug. I'm drooling over your luscious veggies and pickles. My summer garden is pathetic (the heat, bugs, lack of rain), and I can't wait to plant something for a fall garden. School bus driver, my hat's off to you!

No, I don't want to be a school bus driver! 🙂 Isn't fresh produce just about the best thing ever? Just be sure to share the wealth – don't be a garden "actzi" – it's bad karma!

Humidity? Oh my gosh, yesterday I was dripping and that was without moving a muscle. I think I'm getting too old to work in a garden nursery in the middle of a MS summer. I'm glad your garden is performing well. We went without rain for over 30 days and now we have had 3 in 7 days so I'm hopeful my tomatoes will start producing.

Hi TC, I agree, chemical free is the way to go. I've had rose fanatic friends who sprayed with everything but napalm and ended up with mites, and other pests that were resistant to chemicals. The jury is still out on the amount of damage the chemicals did to the gardener's health. Your veggies look great including those pickles.Marnie

Yes, finally it has been warm here as well. My peppers and melons are moving out of suspended animation. I hope we get some before the summer is over!

The garden is looking most good TC. All this rain may have helped a bit and that mushroom compost sure can't hurt. The pickles look good! Bus driver, heck no. I have one of those kids who rides and no thanks. You gotta be a saint to do it.

Those cucumber beetles have brought their verticulum wilt to my cucumbers, its just a matter of time before our cukes are done for. You should share the pickle recipe before we're all out of cucumbers!

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