So close to the sun, canted to receive the longest days. So little cloud cover—or even precipitation in the air. Crops, including tests here at Fordhook Farm, are slowly drying out: roots, trunks, stems, branches, leaves. Petals wave in slow-motion. No wind; so all the desiccation comes from high temperatures and dry air. Stillness is the only blessing the past week and the next few days. Were there wind, some of the newly planted species and cultivars might burn to death.

What to do?

Soak the smaller trees and shrubs, especially the newly planted (one year or less), as early in the morning as possible. Place the hose spout at the base of the tree or large shrub and let a medium flow soak the ground for an hour, or two if it’s a larger or newer transplanted tree.

Turn on the drip system or soaker hoses first thing and let them soak for up to an hour, depending on the genus. Watery plants—more water needed. Fruity plants or vegetables—more still. Do this everywhere every few days. If anything, go longer than shorter in time, especially in the peak of the heat wave.

Do not water mid-day—the plants have already been stressed for seven hours, and, most important, much of the water will evaporate. If that’s the only time you can do it, water even longer periods at a time than in the morning routine.

Do not spray foliage. The leaves have already shut down to conserve water inside them, so your water will simply evaporate on the leaf and, worse, fall off and evaporate on the warm ground. It feels good and makes you think it’s refreshing the plants, but it’s doing absolutely no good. Don’t do it. The roots are all that matter, especially at this time.

Unless you’re in Maine, Canada or the upper Pacific Northwest, your supplemental fertilizing time has passed. All vascular plants want now is water—roots are “ground zero” for their nutrients and air supply.

Finally, please mind that full sun gardens need more water than heavily shaded ones. But check your shaded herbaceous plants for signs of tree root water “theft”. You cannot always tell, since it changes as shrubs and trees grow. When you find noticeable flagging of stems or leaves, water heavily, as above. Since the soil is cooler from the shade, it won’t have to be watered as frequently or as much, as the full sun soil.

Repeat, as needed, or continue to more trouble spots, next morning or the morning after.

So, what to do midday, after weed patrol? FLICKS!

You want vampire movies? I give you them. ‘Near Dark’ started this last two decade-long update and extension of the “intelligent” fang-fest. And the actors! Lance Hendrickson, Bill Paxton, the incredible Jeanette Goldstein, Adrian Pasdar, Jenny Lee, along with all sorts of retread 70s actors as well as up and comers like Theresa Randle. And the odd Joshua Miller. A rollicking story, witty script and as dark a score as the southwestern night could conjure up. Great? No. Gory? Yes. Weird? You bet. Fun? Absolutely.

Then came, from the masterful John Carpenter, Vampire$. This took ‘Near Dark’ up several levels. Great action, gore, historical sweep and weirdness. But the humor and ensemble casting is very satisfying, and there’s even a bit of comedy. And few are better at music and editing than John Carpenter. Actors include Maxmillian Schell, John Woods, Sheryl Lee, Daniel Baldwin and the under-rated Thomas Ian Griffith as the “key” vampire, with a tribe of very grungy ghouls. Supporting players include Julia McFerrin as well as Tim Guinee and Mark Boone Junior as back-up for Woods’ leader of the sucker-hunters. All location shots are in New Mexico, and use student actors from Santa Fe. For the bit parts, so to speak.

Out in the big, cool box theaters, don’t miss ‘A-Team’ as well as ‘The Last Airbender’. One flick in the last century and the other moving fast into the future. It’s always good to see Liam Neeson, even in a popcorn-eater. The plot is compelling, action super energetic and camera work satisfying. As for ‘Airbender’, what’s not to like? The four elements at war! Weaponized magically by martial artists, young and old! Spectacular flick! Plus, it was filmed in southeast Pennsylvania, and we root for our own. At least some of us do.

The media-driven “race scandal” regarding the casting? Since the comics on which the series is based are Asian, and all the characters in Asian comics look like “hybrids” of Asian and non-Asian—as anyone can see—the director casted “hybrid” looking kids. There is no scandal. Unless being faithful to the source material is a scandal, but that would be news to me. It seems there are media scolds everywhere you turn these days, trying to “correct” everything politically, and failing miserably to do so. This is due to ignorance, carelessness or both. Go see ‘The Last Airbender’ it’s a great and glorious flick.

As for the Twilight series, the music is the part I enjoyed. Carter Burwell’s score, in the last one, was even better. But Howard Shore is very memorable.

I have to give the writers credit for dealing with the desire for immortality in a new way, if only stylistically. But there’s also a return to the “real” romance—the Christian subtext that is linked here and there, like a bit of code. Faust as a young girl? It will be interesting to see where the series goes.

For a fantasy of a Biblical theme, check out ‘Book of Eli’. Now there is a film with character. These two Iranian and African American twin brother directors bolted out of the blue with ‘From Hell’—a spectacularly good Ripper retelling—and this is their first new film in almost ten years. Johnny Depp, a breathtaking Heather Graham and Ian Holm played there, while Denzel Washington, Mila Kunis and Gary Oldman fill the ranks here, with moving performances by Ray Stevenson and Jennifer Beals.

At the outset, a spear slowly flashes across the screen—Iliad-like—and you know you’re in mythic space and time. Hercules-Appollo-Eli has quite a task and journey ahead. Washington’s great, and the supporting cast are superb. A genuine surprise ending makes this a keeper.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 at 4:20 pm and is filed under Original Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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15 Responses to “Bake-Off/Flicks”

  1. nancy said:

    Thanks, I needed this advice. I have a newly planted garden; we are going through a heat wave and it is very hard to keep things watered. I have been using a sprinkler, but will now remove it and just water the roots with the hose.

    • George said:

      Sprinklers are useful for lawns, but in my opinion not much else. Some folks use them for mixed beds or hard-to-water areas such as set-back beds. Others simply have no free time to water by hose. But, if you can work out a soaking rotation routine, hoses don’t gobble up time. However, you can’t leave them for long or put them on timers. None I’m aware of. Thanks for posting.

  2. Siddhartha Banerjee said:

    Mr. Ball,

    Once not so long ago, I walked through the house at Fordhook during an “Open Day” and noted a living room full of the most delightful variety of books. Impressed, I wondered who this prolific reader was. I think I know now.

    I have wondered since how you manage to be so well-read, keep up with the “flicks,” and still find time to run Heronswood/Burpee. I do nothing of the kind and struggle every day with organizing my time.

    Siddhartha Banerjee
    Oxford, Pennsylvania

    • George said:

      I don’t spend much time writing. One or two drafts at most, and I write quickly, having worked out things in my head, which I do as I work at unrelated stuff. Function of age, or practice perhaps. Thanks.

  3. cliff said:

    A bit poetic but useful

    • George said:

      Thanks, Cliff.

  4. BB said:

    -Usually great – but sometimes gets side-tracked – this is an example:
    I don’t read it for movie reviews!!

    • George said:

      Thank you BB. Sorry you don’t like my movie reviews. More can be found under the following posts: Flicks, Pint of View and Moment of Silence.

  5. Jae said:

    Thank you for these tips!

    • George said:

      You’re welcome, Jae.

  6. mpd said:

    It is a cool mist in the California redwoods and below. Just drove all the coast on hiway 1 to Santa Monica.Berkeley brought fog for the fourth festival and beyond Carmel to Julia Pfeiffer State Park. We are at 61 degrees here in Santa Monica.

    • George said:

      Wow. You folks in coastal California are lucky. I am particularly fond of the San Francisco Bay area climate. The fog is like a dream. My experiences of California have been 99% inland, much like my distant Appalachian relatives who actually moved out there. You might enjoy The Lompoc Connection and The Golden State as well as William Rein’s California conference journals here, here and here.

  7. Carol said:

    Loved the mail message. I’ve put down soaker hoses this year and have had tremendous success with them as the water is directed where needed. Also find I can run the soaker later in the morning and earlier in the evening and get good results.
    Thanks for the tips on Flicks! I “forget” about the down time that summer can (and should) offer. Another post mentioned your library. Any books you can recommend? I love to read, but so often have trouble finding a really good book.
    P.S. Also love your catalog.

    • George said:

      Thank you for the compliment. I shall try out your suggestion about using the soaker hoses.

      I suppose that any of the books by Lee Child make good thriller reading for the beach. Also I suggest Max Weber for heavier reading. His book about Protestantism and the rise of capitalism is a foretelling of the world we inhabit. If you like well written, light weight fare in the area of popular history anything by Simon Winchester is good, especially his books about China.

      Thank you for posting.

  8. ZX1400 owner said:

    A metaphor is like a simile.

    Sent via Blackberry

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