Archive for September 4th, 2009


Late summer is Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) season. The plants are plentiful around this area, especially in moist, shaded sites. Unlike many weedy plants that have tough, fibrous stems, Jewelweed has a tender appearance. The bushs can get to be quite large, sometimes reaching 150 centimeters in height. The bright orange flowers, scattered in open clusters over the plant, are clearly the source of the name Jewelweed. The bright orange blossoms seem to shine. The mashed leaves of the Jewelweed plant have been used as a salve, applied externally to soothe rashes caused by plants such as stinging nettle and poison ivy.


Jewelweed flowers are designed to attract hummingbirds, who can probe the tubular blooms with their long beaks to collect the nectar. Several plants have sprung up in the garden outside the kitchen window and I left them there so that I can enjoy seeing the hummingbirds making their rounds of the flowers. Above, a pollinator has wiggled his way into the bloom to collect the sweet reward.


Larger insects may act as nectar thieves, chewing through the back of the flower to steal the nectar without providing the benefit of pollinating the flower. Jewelweed is also known as Spotted Touch-Me-Not. The term “touch-me-not” is a reference to the seed pods. When they are full and ripe, the slightest touch will cause the pods to ‘explode’, shooting their seeds out in all directions. Below, an immature pod can be seen developing to the left of the flower. Thanks to Birdgirl for kindly providing these fine photographs.


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The Corn Moon

The September full moon is called the Corn Moon. That fits the season perfectly here, where fresh, sweet corn can readily be purchased at markets and roadside stands throughout the area. RailGuy and I experimented with growing our own corn many years ago, but it is so easily available at this time of year, fresh picked from the field, it didn’t seem worth growing it ourselves. You can buy cobs of corn through the winter in supermarkets here too. But what would be the point? Corn is best when eaten as close to the moment it was harvested as possible. Clearly, there is a significant delay when corn is shipped in from the south in the middle of winter. We just wait till September and enjoy local corn while it is in season.

When we were growing our corn, Seneca Chief was a popular variety. Now it is considered an heirloom variety. About 30 years ago, “Peaches and Cream” began to make its way onto the market, and soon consumers wanted nothing but yellow-and-white corn. Peaches-and-cream has come to mean any yellow-and-white corn variety, but in fact, there are a number of bicolour corn varieties. I checked my Veseys seed catalogue and found they list 18 varieties of sweet corn. Seven are yellow and 11 are bicolour.

I miss my grown kids, who have all now left home and established their own households. However, some things are easier without kids to cater to. Like making dinner. We had a modest budget and didn’t use a lot of frozen pre-packaged dinners, eat out, or indulge in expensive cuts of meat or gourmet items. Still, we always ate good food. For years and years, every night I made dinner for everyone, day in, day out, week in, week out, month in…well, you get my drift. It seemed there was always someone who didn’t care for this or that, or was nicknaming one of my own favorite dishes “Crap on Rice”. When corn season rolled around, if I served corn a few nights in a row, someone was sure to object “Not corn AGAIN!” But now they’re gone. RailGuy and I love corn on the cob. We have it often. And no one says “Not corn AGAIN!” We enjoy every kernel.


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