As summer winds down, it’s time to enjoy the garden bounty
Almost as suddenly as it comes, summer begins to wind down with the “dog days” of August. These late-summer days are filled with the song of the cicadas buzzing and droning on – they almost drown out the bird songs. Vegetables are ripening and green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, and sweet corn are ready to harvest and enjoy.
Along the field edges and roadsides now the wild chicory is in bloom. Northwest Ohio, with its natural limestone deposits, is an ideal area for chicory to grow. The bright, blue, daisy-like flowers of the chicory are the color of a clear August sky and, because it is so commonly seen along roadsides, its German name “Wegewarte” meaning “watcher of the road” is very appropriate.
Chicory, though it grows wild, is not an American native plant but came to this country centuries ago from the Mediterranean area. The plant was originally used as a food crop for animals. Different varieties of the plant were also grown and used in salads and the root of “chicory sativum” was roasted, ground, and prepared as a beverage that is very similar to coffee.
Chicory root contains a carbohydrate called inulin, which is now used commercially as a sweetener and to add fiber to foods. Inulin acts in the body by slowing down the metabolism of sugars, which makes it a beneficial addition for those with blood sugar conditions. For centuries, chicory was used medicinally as a general tonic, cleansing remedy, and skin ointment. That starry, blue blossom growing wild along our byways has quite a valuable and useful reputation.
Summer squash and zucchini are ripening now and can be prepared for enjoying in so many different ways. Sliced raw the squash can be included in salads or served with raw vegetable platters with dips. Boiled, baked or fried, these “early squash” are delicious and a nice “change of taste” for this time of year.
Here are two summer squash recipes you may want to try:
Broiled savory summer squash – One medium squash will serve four; two medium will serve eight, etc.
Slice the squash in thin slices. If the skin is thin, do not peel. Arrange the slices in a greased oblong baking dish. Overlap the slices. Dot the slices with butter or margarine, sprinkle with one-quarter cup grated cheddar cheese and 3 Tbsp. grated onion. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and paprika over the top (to taste). Broil at about four inches from the broiler until the squash is golden brown and tender.
Baked zucchini casserole – Use one small zucchini and one tomato for each two people. Slice the zucchini thin and arrange in a layer in a greased casserole or baking pan. Season this layer with salt, pepper and paprika to taste. Dot with butter or margarine and sprinkle with grated onion. Slice tomato and arrange over the zucchini layer. Season this layer to taste with salt, pepper, paprika, grated onion and dot with butter or margarine.
Repeat these layers and season each until you have four layers of zucchini and four layers of tomato. On top of the last tomato layer sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and buttered bread crumbs. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
August garden tips:
Continue to deadhead annuals and perennials to keep them blooming.
Make sure that newly planted shrubs, trees and perennials receive a deep watering two to three times a week to help them establish healthy root systems before winter.
Begin to cut back on fertilizing plants and trees to give them time to harden off before the colder weather ahead.