The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Mary Honrud
For The Courier 

Green Spaces in Rural Places

Corn Husks and Masked Bandits


Mary Honrud / For the Courier

Despite harvest and a bout with pneumonia, Honrud managed to get this shot of husk cherries.

Last week I talked about harvest interfering with my gardening. On top of that, I managed to catch pneumonia, which I know nobody wants to hear about. Even medical professionals only listen to one's litany of ailments because they get paid to listen. It just means that I haven't been able to take advantage of my couple hours each morning before I've had to head out to my "office" in the Trac.

Yesterday, one of my pretty maids (our eldest daughter, and now my copy editor) came up to visit us, with her friend in tow. After supper (they were served corn on the cob from the garden, along with other delectables), she and I took a stroll to see what might be available. She loves fresh produce, and went home with corn, onions, crookneck squash, garlic, and golden beets.

Right away, I noticed shredded corn cobs strewn about on the ground, near the corn stalks. Obviously, the raccoons were not deterred by the electric fence. Once I checked the fence, I discovered that someone had neglected to turn it back on. And I don't know who to blame, either. I know it wasn't me, as I've hardly been out there this past week. My husband had been out to harvest the ripe corn, and he swears he didn't turn the fence off. My mother-in-law had been out there to collect corn and tomatoes before Dennis. And my sister-in-law had been in and out several times, digging potatoes, getting onions, picking tomatoes, and getting cucumbers to feed us as we harvested our wheat. I can't be upset with any of them. We are lucky to have only lost the small, unfinished ears and not the whole crop of corn. But those furry masked bandits had better not develop a taste for tomatoes!

I did get all my onions dug before the rains, and before I felt too ill to care. I'd also pulled the garlic long before that. The garlic didn't do well this year. All the bulbs are small. I'll have to plant them in a different area next year. I know you're supposed to plant tomatoes in new ground each year, and make sure all the old leaves and plant material are removed from the ground before it's tilled. Perhaps garlic is the same.

I have several volunteer plants thriving in my garden. Most of those are flowers, but one is a novelty I tried several years ago. I'd made the mistake of reading a seed catalog in February that year. The people they hire to write descriptions of their offerings are quite good with words, and most persuasive. So I bought a packet of seed for husk cherries. The fruit develops inside a papery husk that turns from green to a yellowish brown as it ripens. Once ripe, it falls on the ground under the plant. Mice love it, so you have to check for the fruit every day. The fruit inside the husk is a smallish, round, yellow-green ball, and is sweet and tart at the same time. My pretty maid and her friend both likened it to a kiwi. Since I obviously missed collecting all the ripened fruit last year (and the mice missed a few), there were enough seeds left on the ground to give me several husk cherry plants again this year.

Many years ago, I also fell for the write-up on a couple of different raspberry plants. The one that had darker, almost black raspberries has died out, or been crowded out by my other raspberries. And that's ok, since the catalogue neglected to mention the nasty thorns it had. They were almost as bad as the thorns on roses. I do still have a couple canes of the other one I tried. Its berries are yellowish, and turn orange/peach colored when ripe. They taste a bit like apricots, but are not very big, and fall apart when picked. All of those go straight into me, never making it into the house.

The other volunteer plant I really like is the moon flower. I bought my first one from Patty's greenhouse in Glasgow. It has large white trumpet-shaped blossoms that open at night and close in bright sunshine. Yet the plant wants to be in full sun. When it goes to seed, the pods are hard and very prickly. I don't collect them, but let them lie where they fall. They get tilled into the soil in the spring, and pop up wherever. I suppose I could collect seeds, but as I've said before, I'm a lazy and procrastinating gardener. I may have to collect bean seeds though since those still haven't been picked, and won't be anytime soon.

The takeaway: Be willing to try new things. Give them a chance to grow. You may find new plants to be quite pleasing.


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