Publisher’s Corner: Harvest Time In The Suburbs

“JB Lester

I am pretty sure I just saw the last Monarch on our butterfly bush. They have left Webster Groves on their long migration to the Oyamel fir forest in central Mexico for the winter. Even though it has been a very warm September, October is sure to bring Autumn’s cooler weather and the end of the growing season. This year’s harvest in the Lester garden brought us many cherry and roma tomatoes. I thought it better to grow smaller more numerous fruit because I knew we would once again be sharing them with the neighborhood squirrel population. I don’t even try to build fences, cages or try to outthink the furry critters anymore. I just offer my sacrifices to the great squirrel god and move on. The good news is, we had some really cool ornamental gourds and even a pumpkin this year. You can see some of the harvest on the cover of this issue. All my pumpkins are the result of reusing existing seeds from last year’s bounty. I just dig a hole in the garden and plop the spent pumpkins in the ground. And come spring, the plants start to grow and grow and grow. Nothing grows more than a pumpkin vine. If you get enjoyment out of just watching something grow like I do, get some pumpkin or gourd plants going. But watch out, they could take over your entire garden and even stretch out into your yard. I know farmers who grow crops for a living probably don’t get the thrill from seeing that first bloom or fruit appear. But I still find it so worthwhile and somehow it touches a part of me that must be a gene from my farmer forefathers. Of course we suburbanites don’t really know how to live off the land. But if my garden is any indication of the highs and lows of a growing season, I can only imagine what my friends at Earth Dance and other farms go through each year. It was a good year for our insect friends in Lesterland. Our praying mantis family came back, we had plenty of fireflies to excite our grandson Jackson, and the cicada serenaded our summer evenings. The family of hawks kept watch from the large oak trees looking for a wandering chipmunk. We noticed many more blue jays this year, and a few toads and large caterpillars created some great nature conversations with my 5-year-old grandson. Of course it was a great summer for star gazing with many meteor showers, unique planet alignments and a blood moon. And it was stinking hot at times. The heavy rains showed a weakness in our roof and created a leak. It is time now for the goldfinches to snap up the dried purple cone flower seeds. The Japanese maple has already started to turn and cottonwoods and poplars have lost many leaves. It will be weeks and weeks before the oaks lose their leaves and I will have to rake two or three times to finish that annual chore. Summer is my favorite season. Even in St. Louis. I am a Leo, say no more. But I do like when the temperature drops and I can begin baking and roasting again. We try not to use the oven much in the summer. But October brings blueberry muffins and clam chowder, pot roasts, baked chicken, macaroni and cheese casseroles and many more family traditions. I am going to learn to bake bread this fall and I might even take a cheesemaking class from my friend Merryl Winstein (www.cheesemaking class.com). Is there anything better than artisan cheeses and artisan breads? OMG. I also want to give a shout out to our friends Debbie and Bob Hadley who have just opened a new Bed and Breakfast in Webster Groves. Appropriately named Hadley Garden Inn, this wonderful accommodation is located on the lower level of their historic home in Webster Groves. There is a bedroom, a living room, a kitchen and bath. Sliding glass doors take you out into the Hadley garden complete with koi ponds, garden trails, hammock and plants galore. Debbie is a landscape designer and all that knowledge is quite evident in what you will be able to enjoy. Give them a call at 314-303-8866. HadleyGardenInn.com.

Enjoy the Harvest Season!
JB Lester; Publisher