Green for the winter garden – Mount Airy News
The Garden Plot
Green is the year round color in the winter garden
In the coldest part of the year, it is always great to have something green, alive and producing in the dead of winter. A pansy with dark green foliage and purple and yellow faces, dusty miller or coral bells as floral displays or Siberian kale, turnips, mustard greens, collards, onion sets and broccoli. The winter garden does not have to be drab and gray. With the aid of a bed of crushed leaves as a winter blanket, the greens of winter can prosper as well as produce a harvest in the cold, harsh, winter.
January is the month of hard freezes
On January mornings there can be a plenty of ice covering the mud holes as winter really gets down to serious business. A freeze that comes during January does the winter garden a favor because the frozen sod will kill wintering insects and their eggs as well as seeds of weeds and fungus in the soil. Cool weather vegetables will thrive because they are now hardened off to the cold spells of the icy breath of winter.
A cover for ornamental cabbage and kale
As we move into winter’s first full month, which is also winter’s longest month, pay a bit of attention to the containers of ornamental cabbage and kale. On cold winter nights, keep several towels handy and the cabbage and the kale containers close together so you can spread a towel over them for freeze protection. One towel should cover two containers. Whenever you water them, do not over water because this invites a freeze. When temperatures rise above freezing each morning, remove the towels and fold them up for the next evening.
A message from the mighty oaks
The mighty oaks have only a sparse amount of leaves remaining on them as we reach the second week of January. My Northampton County grandma always said that when oak leaves hung on to their limbs, “They were just hanging around waiting for a heavy snowfall to bring them down.” We may soon be receiving that first big snow and it will certainly be great news for kids of all ages. It will be great news for the garden plot because some weather lore says that when snow bends the limbs of the mighty oaks, we can expect bountiful crops in summer. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
Exercise on winter front porch
Don’t just keep a towel to protect the winter annuals on the front porch, but keep a warm blanket and toboggan also close by in the house so you can exercise your body on a cold morning on the front porch and enjoy the warmth of the winter sun as you sip a cup of hot coffee and remove towels from the winter annuals. The winter sun and the north wind will harden your immune system and toughen your body up to adjust to the cold temperatures as well as make you feel better as you begin the day. If winter mornings are a bit cold, you may want to keep a pair of warm gloves close by.
Putting together a no crust apple pie
No dessert in the cold of winter is as good as an apple pie hot from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. This is a simple recipe that has no crust, but plenty of flavor. You will need two beaten eggs, one cup of sugar, five tablespoons of plain flour, one a half teaspoons of baking powder, one fourth teaspoon salt, half cup of golden raisins, two cups diced apples, one teaspoon vanilla, one teaspoon apple pie spices, one stick light margarine. Mix flour, salt, baking powder and set aside. Mix sugar and beaten eggs together and add to the flour mixture. Add all other ingredients except margarine and mix well. Pour into a nine inch pie dish or pan sprayed with Pam baking spray. Dots with pats of margarine. Bake at 325 degrees until firm. Serve with whipping cream.
A crisp sound and the look of diamonds
As January blows in its winter winds, from the north or south, we look forward to seeing a fluffy white snowfall and feasting our eyes and ears on the snow of a cold winter’s eve and allowing it to “Speak” to us. There is a majesty, purity, and magic in a snowfall. On a cold evening of winter, the snow makes a crispy, crackling sound as the temperature drops and the street lights and bright moonlight shine down on the new fallen snow. It reflects on crystals and makes them shine like tiny diamonds. A gentle breeze blows making the world outside feel a tiny bit like a Klondike bar!
Keeping water in the birdbath
Birds are active all winter and they drink water in the winter also. We can make it easier for them to find water by emptying ice from the birdbaths and refilling with fresh water as the temperature rises above freezing each day. Repeat this activity and keep a close eye on the activity of the birds at the bath. Keep food in the feeders and refill as needed.
Watering winter plants and annuals
The annuals and perennials on the front porch and deck need water in the winter but not as much. Place your index finger in the medium in the containers and when they feel dry, water until they are damp, but not soaking with water. Watering too much will cause the medium to freeze and become harmful to the plants. A little water in winter goes a long way.
Enjoy good hot coffee on the winter porch
We are not referring to instant coffee, but freshly perked coffee that is hot, black, and strong that will wake and perk you up while basking on the winter porch. A great cup of coffee begins with a very clean stainless steel peculator with a proven brand of coffee, and fresh cold water, not poured in but measured by the cup with one full teaspoon of coffee for each cup of water. Sprinkle the coffee with salt to enhance flavor. Brew coffee until you can see it brown through the glass on the peculator, steam will be pouring through the spout with that aroma only perked coffee can produce. When drinking coffee, only hot is good. We remember a tough drill sergeant in Army basic training who said there were three things he hated in this order, and they were cold coffee, wet toilet paper, and trainees. He was tougher than a railroad spike, a good soldier and leader of men. He was tough, but always there for you.
Brighter days coming
It may not seem like it this early in the winter, but things are getting brighter each day, in fact by one minute brighter each evening. We have gained a quarter of an hour of daylight since winter began in late December. Birds of winter seem to have noticed it and they seem to be a bit more active at birdbaths and feeders.
Robins bouncing around in January
Robins seem to be with us all year and many of them appear all during the winter. We do believe most of them stay in our area and all that we see look well nourished, have plenty of bounce and color and definitely are not shivering. There are enough warm, sunny days and surely they are scratching up enough food. There are enough barns, sheds, outdoor buildings, eaves of houses, hollow logs, areas under buildings and even in piles of hay for them to find shelter, protection, and warmth, certainly there are enough insects wintering over to sustain them in the winter. We hope they live long and prosper because in winter, they are a welcome reminder and harbinger of spring.
Protecting the American Bee Balm
The American Bee Balm is wintering on the back of the front porch away from the cold winter wind. It has been trimmed so we can protect it with a cover on freezing nights. We have a layer of crushed leaves around the bottom of the container and feed it with a handful of Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month. On sunny days, we remove the cover and let it receive some sun. A small drink of water is all it needs. With only a small amount of winter protection, it will survive.
Pesky chickweed thrives during winter
Many weeds and grasses go dormant in winter, but chickweed survives all winter especially around the edges of the house and near where rosebushes grow. The biggest plus about chickweed is that it has shallow roots and can be easily pulled up and thrown out of the area.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“One for three.” Employee: “I’ve been here for 11 years doing three men’s work for one man’s pay. Now, I want a raise.” Boss: “Well, I can’t give you a raise, but if you tell me who the other two men are, I’ll fire them.”
Different types of sermons: Rocking horse sermon — back and fourth, back and fourth, but going no where. Mockingbird sermon — repetition, nothing new. Smorgasbord sermon — a little bit of everything, but nothing solid. Jericho sermon — March around the subject seven times.
Lunch is served. Cook: “Can I bring you lunch, sir?” Captain: “No, just throw it overboard and save time.”
Long winded. Jan: “My pastor is so great, he can talk on any subject for an hour.” Fran: “That’s nothing, my pastor can talk for a whole hour without a subject.”
State OKs $500,000 grant for hospital building
Surry County Most Wanted
December 26, 2021
Time for a halo around the moon
The air aloft is getting cold enough to form tiny ice crystals which are the elements for forming a halo around the full or near full moon. It is a beautiful sight especially during the season of Christmas. My mother and grandma in Northampton County would count the stars in the halo. The visible stars in the halo would determine the number of days before we would see a snow according to my grandma. On the other hand, my mother says in these visible stars the number of inches of snow we could expect. Both their predictions come to pass many times simply because when the air aloft forms crystals of ice which form the halo, it is also cold enough to produce snowfall. That is why sometimes it doesn’t have to be very cold to snow, but upper level temperatures can bring us snow.
Will January be a snow month?
As the New Year gets ready to begin will it bring us much snow? The possibility is great that the month could produce quite a few snows. January snow can be a benefit to the garden plot by freezing the sod, killing off the weed seed and wiping out insect pests, eggs, and larva. Snow can also add nitrogen to the soil as well as other trace nutrients. Snow will sweeten the turnip and the Siberian kale. Snow will beautify the winter landscape and make it look like a marshmallow world. Last, but certainly not least, it would make a lot of kids and grandkids very happy!
The green of anything is pretty in the winter
Even with the possibility of snowfall in January, there is plenty of green in winter’s garden that snow will not bother. Siberian kale can be harvested with a layer of snow on it as well as mustard, turnips, and broccoli. The benefits of cool weather vegetables is having a green garden full of life in the dead of winter.
A special late Christmas gift that still giving
This gift was opened on Dec. 21 and still being given each day in the form of an extra minute of daylight. We will continue to receive an extra minute each day until June 21. The difference may not be noticed until we reach Valentines Day.
Day of Epiphany will be Jan. 6
This day is known not only as the Epiphany, but Twelfth Night, Old Christmas, and the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas. It is the day King of King’s, Jesus, the Newborn Messiah was revealed to the Gentiles, the Magi Kings from the East. It is the day the light of the world is revealed to them after a long journey from the East. Their quest ended, not in Jerusalem or the palace of Herod, but at a house in Bethlehem. They arrived and worshipped the King of King’s and presented gifts unto him.
At Rodanthe, off the outer banks of North Carolina, Epiphany or Old Christmas is celebrated on Jan. 6 every year with an oyster roast, special music celebrations, and a visit from “Old Buck,” a legendary bull to highlight the event and bring gifts. This would be an interesting place to visit. You would not have to worry about a hurricane in early January, but you would have to worry about being on the lookout for “Old Buck.”
After December blooms, Christmas cactus needs a break
The Christmas cactus had plenty of blooms from Thanksgiving and well into the month of December. It is now time to pull off all spent blooms and feed them either with Flower-Tone organic flower food or a drink of Miracle-Gro liquid plant food once a month. Check moisture by sticking your index finger into the soil. If soil is not moist, use a sprinkle can and apply water but do not over water it. Check every eight to ten days for moisture. Check the foliage as the cactus winters over inside the home. If the foliage looks red, it is a signal that the cactus is getting too much sun. You can solve this problem by moving the cactus in the room to a less sunny location.
The front porch is place to be
The sun shines bright on the front porch in winter. In fact, the sun always shines bright, but people seem to avoid it in winter. They seem to forget it is a source of vitamin C that is free. The front porch in winter is a great place to start the day and breathe fresh air into the nostrils and strengthen your immune system, and move the germs out. A cup of coffee on the front porch tastes better and warms you from head to toe. Keep a blanket handy if the North wind is blowing, but don’t let the wind hinder you from getting the benefits of the sun in winter. Plants and vegetables need to be hardened off to bear up under cold extremes and so do we. Start your winter day by enjoying the sounds, color, and sights of winter and be aware of all the hidden beauty that winter affords. Winter air is easier to breathe with less pollutants, and another plus is no flies, gnats, or insects buzzing around.
Keeping snow shovel and de-ice ready
Several items need to be kept nearby on the porch or carport during the cold of winter and they are a can of de-icer, a snow scrapper (in the car and on the porch), a pair of gloves, a can of WD-40 oil spray, to oil the snow shovel. The oil spray prevents the snow from sticking to the shovel, a snow shovel , of course, and a toboggan to keep your ears warm, and last but not least, a gallon of windshield washer with de-icer solution in it. Keep the windshield washer reservoir filled every week.
Weeds are around during winter
Weeds do not take a break because its winter. We always say that when you see one in the garden plot, pull it up no matter what season of year it is. In winter, chickweed, Bermuda grass, wild onions, and other weeds continue to grow. Check your garden often and pull these noxious weeds up by the roots.
Feeding the birds of the wintertime
When the ground is frozen or snow is on the ground, keep the bird feeders filled. Birds will visit feeders and you will make their job of finding food a lot easier. They will also find that your home is a bird friendly place and they will continue to return. When water in birdbaths freeze during winter, empty the ice from the baths and refill when temperatures rises above freezing.
Cranking lawn and garden equipment
Check the lawn mowers, weed eaters, leaf blowers, and tillers each week in winter. Start them up and allow them to run for a minute or two. Keep fuel in them all winter so they are ready to start. We use mowers in winter to break leaves and the weed eater to trim wild onions so we want them to operate when we attempt to start them. A riding mower needs to run until it warms up. It would not hurt to drive it around the lawn a few times to keep parts running smoothly. Keep a can of fuel handy all winter and don’t allow machinery to run out of fuel in the winter. Keep plenty of fuel for two cycle engines ready also.
Pansies in the winter are things of beauty
Pansies are the winter hardy flower that adds greenery and color to the winter landscape. Their foliage stays green all winter and makes their blooms of yellow, white, purple, pink, and tan really stand out. Don’t water them too much in winter you don’t want medium in the containers to freeze. Feed them once a month with Flower-Tone organic flower food or pansy booster.
A pot of salmon stew warms winter
Salmon stew or chowder is great and will warm you up on a cold evening. It will only take a few minutes to prepare and it only has several ingredients. You will need one can of Double Q Alaska salmon, one stick and a half light margarine, one can of evaporated milk, three cups of milk, one teaspoon of Old Bay seafood seasoning, salt and pepper (to taste), two or three teaspoons of corn starch in a glass of water. Place the salmon and liquid in a four quart pot and mash up the salmon, add margarine and allow to melt on medium heat. Add the evaporated milk and three cups of milk. Bring to a boil on medium low heat. Add salt, pepper, and Old Bay seasoning. Mix three teaspoons corn starch in a glass or cup of cold water and stir until dissolved. While salmon mixture is slowly boiling, add corn starch mixture a little at a time until chowder is thick as you desire. Serve with crackers or oysters.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Half and half.” The lady was trying hard to get on the bus, and she snapped at the man in the back of her, “If you were half a man, you would help me get on this bus.” The man answered, “If you were half the lady, you would not need any help!”
“Newscasts.” Husband to his wife: “Should we watch the six o’ clock news and get indigestion or the ten o’ clock news and get insomnia?”
December 19, 2021
Enjoying the scent of Christmas candles
The scent and glow of candles in a dark room during Christmas is unforgettable. Candles have always been a part of the Christmas season and the subject matter of many Christmas cards. We remember seeing a fireplace mantel with six full white votive candles burning brightly in a darkened living room. The candles were adorned with boughs of holly with red berries. It was a beautiful sight and worthy of being on a Christmas card. Votive candles are worth what they cost because they burn slowly and brightly night after night for a long period of time. Many votive candles have scents such as bayberry, peppermint, wintergreen, pine, Douglas Fir, eggnog, cinnamon, apple pie, pumpkin pie, cedar, and spearmint. For a mantel of Christmas memories, take limbs of Douglas or Frazier Fir and spread across the mantel and place seven red or white tall votive candles across the mantel and adorn with gold or silver ornaments. When the candles are lit the light scent and heat of the candles combined with the aroma of the fir trims will quickly bring the spirit of Christmas past and present into the room.
Making a Christmas calico salad
This is a cool salad with the colors of Christmas that is simple and easy to prepare. You will need one package of 16 ounce baby lima beans, one 15 ounce can of Le sueer tiny green peas, one two ounce jar of diced pimentos (drained), two cups cooked sea shell pasta, half cup sour cream, one half cup mayonnaise, one fourth cup ranch dressing, one cup cherry tomatoes (cut in halves), half teaspoon pepper, and half teaspoon salt. Prepare lima beans according to package directions (and drain), cook pasta shells until tender (drain), drain green peas, drain pimentos. Add all vegetables except tomatoes to the sea shell pasta and mix well. Add salt, pepper, sour cream, mayonnaise, and ranch dressing. Slice tomatoes in half and add to the mix. Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for a few hours.
The longest night of the year will occur Tuesday as we welcome the first night of winter. Many children will disagree about this being the longest night of the year. To them, Christmas Eve will be the longest night of the year! All nights after Dec. 21, will become a minute shorter each evening and the days will become a minute longer each day, and this will continue until June 21.
Old fashioned chocolate drops
That cone-shaped dark chocolate mound filled with icy cream filling are mostly available only at Christmas season and this is why they are so traditional, like chocolate covered cherries. We always have the thought that they are so rich in sweetness and flavor that they are too unhealthy to consume all year! The best are sold at country stores and specialty candy shops simply because they are soft and creamy and they melt in your mouth and bring back plenty of Christmas memories. They were a special part of Christmas at our house and my father would buy a pound or two at the local hardware. Daddy thought they were so special, he kept them apart from the other treats that were also Christmas traditions. You can find them in historic downtown Mount Airy.
Making a festive Christmas salad
To make this Christmas colorful salad, you will need one large can crushed pineapple, one can whole cranberry sauce, two three ounce boxes raspberry Jello, small pack maraschino cherries, one small jar green maraschino cherries, one can mixed fruit or fruit cocktail. Drain the crushed pineapple and reserve the juice (for mixing with the Jello). Add enough water to the juice to make three cups liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil and add the Jello and mix, stir in the cranberry sauce. Pour into a large bowl and refrigerate for two hours. Stir in pineapple, pecans, cherries (drained), and mixed fruit (drained). Pour into a tube pan and refrigerate until very firm.
Enjoying old-fashioned Christmas candies
At Christmastime, it is great to enjoy a taste of the candy from Christmas past. At Virginia Carolina Produce on U.S. 52 across the state line, you can find a huge wonderland of old fashion confections displayed in wooden kegs. You can scoop these goodies out of the kegs into paper bags. You can also purchase them in plastic bags already priced.
The search for the candy of your childhood ends here on these aisles as scores of candy varities of generations past parade before your eyes like visions of sugar plums to whet your memory. They feature coconut bon bons, coconut macaroons, rainbow ribbon bars, orange slices, candy corn, creme pumpkins, spice and fruit gum drops, tootsie rolls in every flavor, root beer barrels, circus marshmallow peanuts in orange, pink, white and yellow, kits, B.B. Bats, peanut brittle, tootsie pops, Bit-O-Honey, caramel creams, chocolate covered raisins and peanuts, stick candy in every flavor you can name including lemon, peppermint, horehound, wintergreen, spearmint, all kinds of fruit flavors. They have several varities of assorted Christmas hard candies including ribbon mix, filled centers, and they have the round hard mix with trees, stars, Santa’s, holly, and other Christmas art in the center. They will fix a basket and place some of these special treats in it for you custom made to order.
In search of a candle lighter and snuffer
Surely the Baldwin sisters in the “Walton’s Christmas Homecoming” television series opener would have used a candle lighter and snuffer to light such a large spruce in their parlor on Christmas Eve on that Christmas in the early 20th century. These snuffers are rare and were mostly used to light and snuff chandeliers and yes, also to light candles on Christmas trees only on Christmas Eve. Most of them were made in the late 1800s and still around in early 20th century homes. What a great find it would be to discover one of them in an old attic or barn or antique shop? It would certainly be a curious heirloom to use near or on the Christmas tree for an attention getting decoration, or as a giant ornament.
Two 1950s wind-up toys
Wind up toys were hot items during Christmas in the 1950s. Two popular models made by Marx were the Honeymoon Express and the Marx climbing tank. The Honeymoon Express was colorful and unusual because it was circular with a train circling the track and an airplane flying around the train in a colorful background of scenery. Not many are found today because they were made to be played with. They became victims of being wound too tight by kids or just wore out from wear. We remember having one of them at Christmas, and most likely, we wore it out.
The Marx climbing tank was popular and featured rubber tracks and guns on each side that produced small sparks that were produced by spinning flints. We would place books on the floor and let the tanks run over them and add more books until the tank would finally turn over. What a tough toy this was. Not many are seen in antique toy shops because these tanks were meant to be played with.
The ugliest of all the Christmas trees
It was defiantly not Charlie Brown’s scraggly tree, but one from Jesse Allen’s Christmas tree lot in the northeastern North Carolina city of Roanoke Rapids in the mid 1950s. The Christmas trees of choice back then were red heart cedars and there were plenty of them that grew along the Roanoke River. Jesse Allen was a local peddler and a jack of all trades. At Christmas, his trade turned to selling Christmas trees he harvested from along the Roanoke River. He set up a lot beside the local Esso service station, and he did a booming business. Jesse had a huge drawing card which was a large cedar that he had sprayed hot pink. It drew people in to gawk and stare at the tree and they bought plenty of trees, but the pink panther had no takers. All during the week before Christmas, after delivering newspapers, we rode by and all the trees had been sold except the hot pink tree, it had served the purpose Jesse had in mind all along and that was selling the rest of his trees! What a great calling card that unusual tree turned out to be.
Hoe Hoe Hoedown
“A quick subject.” At the annual company Christmas banquet, there were several long-winded speakers who covered every subject except the kitchen sink. When yet another speaker arose, everyone was bored stiff, the speaker said, “It seems to me everything has already been talked about. But if somebody will tell me what to talk about I will be grateful.” From the back of the room, a voice shouted, “Talk about a minute.”
Merry Christmas to our readers!
We would like to wish our readers of the Garden Plot in the Sunday Mount Airy News Lifestyle section a wonderful Christmas filled with the blessings and gifts of love, joy, and peace. Thanks for reading the column every week and we hope your days of Christmas will be merry and bright and your families be richly blessed.
December 12, 2021
Christmas hard candy mix
The old fashioned varities of hard pieces of Christmas candies has been around since the days of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. These flavors of Christmases of long ago are still around. Flavors of peppermint, wintergreen, spearmint, horehound, grape, apple, lemon, raspberry, strawberry, lime, cherry, orange, and pineapple. Hard mixes in the forms of Christmas trees, Santa’s, candles, gingerbread houses, and ribbon shapes. Hard mixes of all kinds and flavors can be found at many candy stores, supermarkets, country stores, produce markets, and in historic Mount Airy along Main Street. At many old fashioned stores, you can scoop it up out of wooden kegs and place it in bags by the pound.
Making Christmas ornament dough
Making your own Christmas ornaments can be fun and you can make many Christmas memories with your children and grandchildren. To prepare this dough recipe, you will need three cups plain flour, one-and-a-fourth cups cold water, three fourth cup of salt, and one teaspoon of powdered alum. In a large bowl, combine the salt, flour, and powdered alum and mix well. Add water and stir until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball. Knead the dough on a lightly covered wax paper lined surface sprinkled with flour for 5 minutes until smooth. If dough is too stiff, sprinkle with water, or if it is too moist, sprinkle with flour. Form shapes of Christmas trees, Santa’s, snowmen, candles, stars, candy canes, and gingerbread houses with cookie cutters or by hand. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool and paint with acrylic paints. Extra dough can be stored in covered plastic containers. Use a nail to punch holes in the top of the ornaments for ornament hooks before baking. You can roll the dough into sticks and make candy canes for your old fashioned tree.
Making Christmas eggnog piggy pudding
Rice pudding is a whole lot like Old English “piggy pudding” (also known as figgy pudding) in English literature. Eggnog adds the Old English flavor to the recipe. It is an easy recipe to make at Christmas time. In a medium bowl, mix one pack of Minute or Success cooked rice, two large eggs and one cup of sugar, half teaspoon of nutmeg, one cup of eggnog (regular or low fat), one teaspoon vanilla, one cup golden raisins, two tablespoons plain flour, half teaspoon cinnamon. Mix all the ingredients and pour into a 13X9X2 inch baking dish or pan sprayed with Pam baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees until firm and golden brown (usually around an hour and maybe a bit more). You can substitute quartered red and green candied cherries instead of golden raisins for a Christmasy look. It is great served hot with ice cream but even better served cold.
Making some red peppermint julip
This is an interesting pepper-upper on a winter evening. Run a small bag of Starlight peppermints through the blender in grate mode and sit aside. Mix two packs of watermelon Kool-Aid, two cups of sugar, four cups of water, one teaspoon peppermint extract, one two liter bottle of Canada Dry ginger ale. Mix all together and pour in the grated Starlight mints.
Plenty of Christmas green in the garden plot
Part of our garden plot never goes to sleep in winter because green is our favorite color and we love something green and growing all winter long. Green in the winter garden is highlighted by the Carolina Jasmine, mustard greens, Siberian kale, collards, purple top turnips, broccoli, cabbage, and onion sets. It is always fun in every season to see something green in the garden.
Country stores and special places
The spirit of Christmas past and some of the present is alive at the country store or at some extraordinary stores near you. It is there you can experience the sights, scenes, and smells of Christmas that will take you back in time. There is Ronnie’s Country Store on Cherry Street in downtown Winston-Salem that features country ham. slabs of bacon, W.G. White old fashioned country ham, assorted candies, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, hoop cheese, and many Christmas traditional goodies. A little further up the hill at 516 North Trade street is Mast General Store where they feature old fashioned items, candies, special treats, toys, gadgets, dolls and other special items. In Kernersville, there is Musten and Crutchfield Market. They feature homemade pimento cheese, chicken salad, bottles of old fashioned soft drinks and fresh meats and vegetables. They are at 245 North Main Street. Across the state line in Cana, Virginia, there is Carolina Virginia Produce with wood floors and huge isles filled with wooden keys of old fashioned candies especially at Christmas. You can buy already mixed and weigh out candies in plastic bags or select your own varities from wooden keys. They also have jams, jellies, pickles, relishes, pickled eggs, assorted meats, vegetables and fruits by the bushel or pound. They have fruitcakes and hard to find items such as old fashioned dark chocolate drops, orange slices, ribbon hard Christmas candy, coconut macaroons, spice and fruit gum drops, and stick candy in all flavors as well as coconut ribbon candy and coconut bon bons. Historic Mount Airy has several blocks of wonderful specialty filled all year round and especially at Christmas time when Main Street is decked out in lighted snowflakes. You can visit the ice cream shops, old hardware’s, great dinning places, and enjoy a pork chop biscuit at Snappy Lunch. Many variety stores and specialty shops line Main Street. You can find hoop cheese, country ham, Jelly Bellies in all flavors, dill pickles from jar and many other extra special items that will pave the way to an interesting day of shopping and fun as well as dinning. Take the family on an old fashioned shopping adventure this Christmas season.
Buying a Christmas cactus as a gift
Give someone special a gift of Christmas cactus so they can enjoy it all during the Christmas season as well as for many Christmases to come. You can now purchase Christmas cactus in full bloom at Home Depot, Lowe’s Foods, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Walmart, Food Lion, and most nurseries. Buy a large bag of Miracle-Gro cactus potting medium and a large container and re-pot the cactus as soon as you bring it home. Rewrap the container in bright Christmas foil before giving it to someone special so they can enjoy the flowers.
The mystery and charm of mistletoe
One of the mysteries of the elusive mistletoe is just the fact that it exists. It is as charming today as it was to the ancients for centuries. It is also a mystery how it can propagate itself against such great odds even in this 21st century when many acres of oak and hickory trees are being bulldozed for real estate and business development. It is also a mystery how it evolved into a decoration at Christmastime.
Mistletoe is unique with its olive green thick leaves and semi-transparent white berries that are so dainty with their tiny seed in them. Mistletoe is a parasite that mooches off hickories, oaks, and other hardwoods to sustain itself. Mistletoe reproduces itself when birds peck or bury the tiny seed into the limbs and branches very high up in the trees. It is amazing that mistletoe always thrives at the tops of these mighty hardwoods protected by God from storms and humans.
The mistletoe revels itself to us in late autumn and early winter when leaves fall and reveal huge clumps of elusive mistletoe in the tops of these mighty oaks and hickories. This brings us to another mystery in the very fact that we didn’t break our neck trying to retrieve it as kids back in the 1950s when almost every oak had a clump of mistletoe tempting us because a kiss awaited if we could chase the girls at school and dangle the mistletoe over their head.
I now believe those sweet fourth grade girls realized the risk involved in retrieving that mistletoe and the rarity of seeing mistletoe or maybe mistletoe charmed them like it did the ancients over the centuries and maybe, just maybe, they really wanted a Christmas kiss! Every December, we look for elusive mistletoe in the mighty oaks in the forest and woodlands of Surry County and it still exists in the tops of oaks and hickories, but now out of our reach because we are old enough to not fool around in the tops of mighty oaks, but we are not to old to kiss under a sprig of mistletoe!
Time to dream about a white Christmas
As we move farther into December and winter is a little more than a week away, is there any possibility we could have some snow before Christmas? In 2017, we had a huge amount of snow the second week of December. It does not have to be cold to snow, or freezing, or not even very cold if conditions are favorable aloft. At Christmas, what better time for the dream of a white Christmas to come true.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Voices of reason.” When I see a Christmas cookie, I hear two voices in my head. One voice says, “You need to eat that cookie.” The other voice says, “You heard him, eat that cookie!”
“Pie crazy.” Diner: “Is this pumpkin pie or eggnog pie?” Waitress: “Can’t you tell by the taste?” Diner: “No, not really.” Waitress: “Well, then what difference does it make?”
December 05, 2021
Can December begin the snow season?
December could be the month when we see some measurable snowfall. In the past, we have seen some fairly decent amount of snowfall in December and also a few white Christmases. It is always great to be prepared for snow, no matter when it arrives. Keep the snow shovel ready. Keep a bottle of WD-40 oil spray handy to spray the snow shovel with and prevent snow from sticking to the shovel. Spray the shovel a few times as you shovel the snow. Your arms will thank you and we are sure your heart will.
Lighting a Moravian star in season of Advent
The season of Advent is here and time to prepare for Jesus first coming and his birth in Bethlehem. It is the season to light up the Moravian star and let it shine all night to light the way for the Christ child and welcome him into our homes and hearts. You can purchase Moravian stars at Gullians book stores and at Moravian book stores. They come boxed and are easy to assemble.
Pearl Harbor: “A day of infamy,” 1941
Tuesday, Dec. 7 will be Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. On a Sunday morning, 80 years ago at around 8 a.m., the Empire of Japan staged a surprise and unprovoked attack on the U.S. navel base at Pearl Harbor. It was a horrific attack that triggered the United States into World War Two. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the nation that evening and referred the event as “A day of infamy.” That same night, he urged Congress to declare war between the U.S. and the Empire of Japan. Two fateful days should never be forgotten in America and they are Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and Patriots Day, Sept. 11. “Remember Pearl Harbor?” “We shall never forget.”
Looking for natural Christmas decor
As December begins, there is an abundance of the most unusual places such as roadsides, woodlands, and probably as close as your own backyard or lawn to find natural Christmas decorations. Honey suckles stay green all winter and blend well with Advent wreathes along with sprigs of red heart cedar. We can almost be sure the early Moravian’s would have used these greens in their Advent wreaths as well as short leaf pine sprigs. Nandena and dogwood berries also make colorful decor. Pine cones and pine boughs make great mantel decor, and wreaths for candle displays. Pine cones also provide Christmas accents. Popcorn kernels can be strung with a needle and thread and used on mantels, window sills, table center pieces and coffee tables. When popping corn, use plain kernels that are purchased in one pound bags, not microwavable popcorn. It works better, is whiter, and has zero seasoning. Holly is still around even though you may have to search harder to find it. Natural decor and ornaments you gather produce an atmosphere of Christmas past, but also bring us the aromas of past Christmases. The smells at grandma’s house were always smells of cedar pine mixed with country ham and chicken dressing.
The fresh cut aroma of Douglas Fir
Nothing brings the smell of Christmas to the home like the scent of fresh cut Douglas Fir and candles burning on the mantel. You may not have a seven foot Douglas Fir to create this atmosphere, but the Christmas tree lots have plenty of trimmings from Douglas Firs. They will be glad to give you some of these cuttings, but please be sure to pay them well because the folks work long, hard, cold, freezing hours in ice, wet, snow, sleet, biting wind and weather. Tell them that you appreciate their labors during this season. Many work for free as fundraisers for churches and other charities and organizations.
The season of recycling
Christmas parties, gatherings, dinners, gift wrappings, reunions, banquets, boxes, as well as bottles, cans, and cartons. All these items are what many families place in their trash containers that makes its way to the landfills. All these items could be broken down, cleaned and placed in recycling bins. More than half the trash we generate could be recycled and kept from landfills with only a little concern and effort. Recycling is easy and you can recycle all cardboard boxes (broken down), glass containers, plastic soft drink bottles, soft drink cans, plastic milk cartons, metal cans, newspapers and plastic bags. To prevent a mess, clean all cans, remove all labels, remove lids from metal cans, place inside the cans and bend shut. Think twice before throwing something in the trash can that can be recycled.
Fruitcakes: most misunderstood desserts
Fruitcakes often get a bad reputation and give many people a bad fruitcake experience simply because that what they tasted was not a real fruitcake, but a concoction of citron peelings and a few dried raisins and prunes, very few nuts and a crumbly dry mixture with no moisture and stickiness to hold it together — probably cost $6! This is no fruitcake because it simply has no substance, this is a bad experience fruitcake because its ingredients are not really fruits. You get what you pay for and a great fruitcake with plenty of nuts and fruits costs much more than $6. What does a real fruitcake consist of? First of all, it has quality ingredients such as pineapple chunks, red and green half maraschino cherries, plump moist golden raisins, chunks of walnuts and pecans, and only enough flour, sugar, brown sugar, molasses, rum, brandy, vanilla, orange, and lemon flavoring to hold the cake together. A real fruitcake will be sticky with flavor, but will also have the quality of moisture from the ingredients. Judge a real fruitcake by the merits of the fruits, nuts, and unique ingredients that hold the cake together. Nothing is like the real deal and a real fruitcake is a work of art, and a joy at Christmas time, a real Christmas memory of a lifetime. Accept no imitations of substitutes, invest in a genuine, real, fruitcake. Create a Christmas memory of good taste, not a horrible fruitcake experience!
Christmas cherry pudding
Cherries are a great product for making a Christmasy desert and this is a simple recipe to kick off the month of Christmas. For this recipe, you will need one 16-ounce can of Oregon (this is the brand name) and there are red cherries (with juice), two sticks light margarine, half stick light margarine, two large beaten eggs, two and a half cups plain flour, four teaspoons of baking powder, one fourth teaspoon salt, one cup milk, one teaspoon corn starch, half cup of water, one cup sugar, and one half cup sugar. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drain the can of red cherries and reserve the juice. Set both aside. In a large bowl, cream the two sticks of light margarine with one cup of sugar, add the two beaten eggs, and set aside. In another bowl, mix together two and a half cups flour, one fourth teaspoon salt, and four teaspoons of baking powder. Add one cup of milk to the flour mixture. Stir and mix the margarine, sugar, egg mixture into the flour mixture. Spoon the batter into a 13X9X2 inch baking pan or dish sprayed with baking spray. Cover with foil and bake for one hour until firm. To make the cherry sauce, combine the cherry juice, half cup sugar, half cup water, half stick light margarine and one tablespoon corn starch. Heat mixture over medium heat until margarine melts and sauce thickens. If sauce needs to be thicker, add more cornstarch with cold water and thicken to consistency you desire. Pour over the cooled cake and spread the cherries over top of the cake. Serve with Cool Whip, Dream Whip, or dairy whipping cream.
Christmas tree lots greening up
Since the week before Thanksgiving, the Christmas trees have been sprouting on vacant lots of loads of trees are arriving each day. They come in all shapes, sizes, and heights. You can choose from Scotch Pine, White Pine, Frazier Fir, Douglas Fir, and Spruce. Here is what to look for in searching for the perfect tree: (1) The tree must smell and look fresh. (2) Test the tree by bending a few limbs; they should spring back. (3) Bounce the tree to see if needles stay on the tree, if any needles fall out, don’t buy that tree. (4) Buy the tree a day before you intend to decorate it. (5) Make sure the tree is full with no bare spots. (6) Prepare the tree before bringing it into the home by getting a worker at the lot to cut two inches off the bottom if they haven’t already done so. Place trunk in a tub of water for 24 hours before preparing it for the home. (7) Place tree in the support stand that allows you to water the tree. (8) A watered tree will last for 30 days in the home. (9) Never leave tree lights on inside the home when you leave.
Hoe hoe hoedown
The father gathered all his children together and said, “Kids, when George Washington knocked down the cherry tree, he told his father honestly that he did it. Now answer me honestly, who knocked down the outhouse?” Finally, the youngest son admitted to knocking it over. After this, he was well disciplined by his father. “It’s not fair,” said the youngest son, “George Washington did not get punished when he told the truth.” “Son,” replied the father, “George Washington’s father was not in the cherry tree when George knocked the tree down.”
“A cheerful giver.” On the way out of the church service 6 year old Jan told the pastor, “When I grow up I’m going to give you some money.” The preacher said, “Well thank you, but why do you want to give me your money?” Jan said, “Because my father said you are one of the poorest preachers we have ever had.”
The almanac for December
The new moon of December occurred on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 4. Pearl Harbor Day is Tuesday, Dec. The moon reaches its first quarter Friday, Dec. 10. There will be a full moon on the night of Saturday, Dec. 18. The moon will be named “Full Cold Mood.” Winter begins on Tuesday, Dec. 21. Christmas Eve is on Friday, Dec. 24. Christmas Day is Saturday, Dec. 25. The moon reaches its last quarter on Sunday, Dec. 26. New Years Eve is on Friday, Dec. 31.
November 28, 2021
November’s last week for planting pansies
Even though November has only a few days remaining, pansies can still be planted in pots and containers. They are tough and winter hardy with their dark green foliage and colorful flowers with faces. Most hardwares, garden departments, nurseries, Lowes Home Improvement, Home Depot, Walmart, and Ace Hardware still have pansies in six and nine packs. When you purchase pansies, buy a bag of pansy booster and place a half handful in each pot or container to give them a cool weather burst of energy. Water sparingly each week and not too much water to prevent the medium in the containers from freezing.
The colors of mother nature: November ends
Only a few more days and we end the month of November. Nature’s color wheel also changes as we move closer to December. We will see the gray and brown trunks of oaks and hickories and clumps of mistletoe in their top limbs. Plenty of red heart cedars and short leaf pines form a backdrop for an early Christmas card highlighted by the winding vines of honeysuckles and dotted by a few American hollies. All this change in the landscape will transform North Carolina for the arrival of winter later next month.
Poetry in late season
“The pumpkins are now big and round, and have turned to orange on the ground. All the earth is still; a hush is settled over all. Summer has gone and so has fall.” These words by Edgar A. Guest depict in poetry what late November is all about. It is truly the calm before the cold weather of the coming winter and the hustle and bustle of the Christmas rush, but also a time to reflect on the blessings of God and a time to thank God for a bountiful harvest, health, and strength to have enjoyed another year of blessings in our lives.
The last days November
“November’s last days are winter’s stairways.” The wintry world of snowy days actually begins with November’s browns, tans, and grays. The month paves the way from frost to hard freezes, and then to freezing rain, sleet, ice and snow and the advent of white landscapes. The woodlands, meadows, farms, and yes, the garden plot are on a journey of rest as the days are growing shorter and winter grows nearer. Every season has its share of beauty and the end of autumn and the ailing card of winter is no exception.
Keep bird baths and feeders filled
As temperatures drop, keep the bird baths and feeders filled with water and food. Birds are active in cold weather and your feeders and water will keep them returning in cold weather. Keep a watch for ice in the bird bath and as the day warms up, empty the ice and refill with fresh water.
Rose care for cold weather
Heavy frosts have finished most of the rose blooms. Late November and early December is the time to give rose bushes a little attention. Cut back long canes and deadhead all blossoms and rose hips. Dig around the base of rose bushes and apply a layer of Rose-Tone organic rose food and cover it into the soil. Add a handful of blood meal around the base of the rose bush. Apply a layer of crushed leaves around the bushes to protect from harsh temperatures and freezes of winter.
A warm blanket for purple top turnips
As December gets closer, apply more crushed leaves in between the rows of turnips to protect from ground freezes and prolong the harvest all winter. Apply a layer of crushed leaves around broccoli, collards, kale, and cabbage.
Thinking about the first snowfall of the year
Christmas is less than a month away and our thoughts are on when will we see our first snowfall of 2021. November still has a few days remaining and it does not have to be cold to snow if the air aloft is cold enough. A snow even during November is possible even though winter doesn’t arrive until Dec. 21. Most that could fall in November would probably not be much because the ground is still quit warm and any amount that falls would probably not stick around, but amount of November snow would excite kids as well as all snow lovers.
Plenty of red dogwood berries, acorns, and nandina bush berries
Nandina bushes are adorned with clusters of red berries that will make great Christmas centerpieces. Dogwoods have plenty of tiny red berries that remind us that Christmas is only a month away. The woodland floor is covered with acorns from the mighty oaks. My grandma in Northampton County had a large oak near her house and every November, she would always say, “A yard full of acorns pointed to yards full of snow in the winter.”
Enjoying a pot of fresh Siberian kale
It is no surprise that kale is becoming the best green in America because it can be used raw in a salad and prepared as a pot of greens. It is the sweetest of all greens. Nothing adorns a garden plot in the winter more than a row or bed of Siberian kale popping its greenery through several inches of snow. A snowfall only makes Siberian Kale sweeter and more tender. Kale can be canned or frozen for meals all year long.
Making pumpkin butter for the holidays
Pumpkin butter is really great on toast and hot biscuits. Here is a simple recipe that will yield ten pints of pumpkin butter. You will need 8 cups of mashed pumpkin. You can use cans of Libby’s pumpkin or fresh cooked pumpkin that is drained and mashed. Add 2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice and two three-ounce boxes of Sure Jell fruit pectin. Mix all these ingredients well and heat on medium heat until it reaches a boil. Stir on medium heat until it reaches a boil and allow it to boil one minute, stirring constantly. Add one tablespoon lemon flavoring, stir and remove from heat. Pour the hot pumpkin butter into sterilized pint jars and seal with sterilized jar lids and rings. Process 15 minutes in a hot water bath caner. It will make a great Christmas gift simply because its unusual and homemade.
Ending the month of Thanksgiving with a pumpkin dump cake
Extend the season of Thanksgiving by retaining a heart that is filled with gratitude and thanksgiving. You can also prepare this pumpkin dump cake to remind your family that the thankfulness is always in season. This is actually a dump cake. Just dump the ingredients into a bowl and mix and pour into a 13x9x2 inch baking dish or pan sprayed with Pam baking spray, how easy is that? Mix a thirty ounce can of Libby’s pumpkin pie mix, one tablespoon orange flavoring, one tablespoon lemon flavoring, one cup sugar, half cup brown sugar, four large eggs, one box yellow cake mix, one can evaporated milk, one three ounce box Jello instant butterscotch pudding mix. Mix all ingredients together. spray 13x9x2 inch baking dish or pan with Pam baking spray. Pour cake mixture into pan. Bake at 350 degrees until firm (about fifty minutes).
Winter protection for American bee balm
There is a perennial that needs protection to endure the winter ahead. On the porch, move it to a position away from harsh winds and exposure to freezes, preferably ice and snow. The very back side of the porch is a good location. Water the balm sparingly. Cut back long stems. Fill container with potting medium feed now with Flower-Tone organic flower food. Cover the balm each night and remove cover as temperatures rise each day. They will endure for many years with this small amount of care. They can endure some cold but need insulation from extremes such as hard freezes and ice.
The curtain call of mystery mistletoe
As the season of the leaf harvest closes out, the mighty oaks and hickories have pulled off their leafy curtains and now reveal the mystery, elusive evergreen of the centuries, the mystic mistletoe. A mystery just because it exists and the mystery of its very existence. Only the birds of the air and God know the mystery of the mistletoe. The birds must dine on the seeds of the dainty white berries and in the process, the tiny seed are embedded in the crevices of the limbs. Growing high in the hardwoods, out of reach of most animals and almost a hundred percent of humans. The mistletoe is a paradise and gains its substance from the sap and nutrients of the hardwoods. All spring and summer it is hidden by the leaves but now as Christmas draws near, the leafy curtain is lifted and reveals mistletoe in all of its mystery.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Wanted”- The kindergarten class was on a trip to the local police station. While there, they saw mug shots of their ten most wanted men. One of the kids pointed to one of the men. The police chief said, ” the detectives want him very badly. We have lost track of where he is now.” One smart kid asked the chief, “Why didn’t you keep him when you took his picture?”
November 21, 2021
Thanksgiving is truly an American holiday
Thanksgiving as a holiday had its origins on American soil. In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on the shores of the New World and his first order of business was to thank God for sparing his life from life threatening storms at sea. One hundred and twenty eight years later, the pilgrims arrived after a rough Atlantic journey and landed near Plymouth, Massachusetts, and they also thanked God, and 401 years later in 2021, we are celebrating Thanksgiving. Even though the holiday can be traced to American origins, no other holiday is so taken for granted. Surely it should be a time to have thankful hearts and to count our blessings. We have so very much to be thankful for, and our lives should be constantly lived in a spirit of giving thanks.
Pilgrims gave thanks at Plymouth in 1620
Materialism is the biggest hindrance to giving thanks in America in the year 2021. Oh how far we have missed the mark since the time of the arrival of Columbus in 1492 after a stormy Atlantic journey and the pilgrims in 1620 after a rough journey across the Atlantic in winter and storms. To them, giving thanks was not a ritual, but a priority. Landing at Plymouth in the harshness of winter was not a good situation, but they gave thanks. They praised and worshipped the Lord for sparing their lives. Anyone can sing a song when the sun is shinning bright and the future looks good, but the pilgrims had a song in their heart in the dark of the night facing an uncertain future that seemed as dark as the night. Yet, they worshipped in thanksgiving and praise. Why can’t we in this land so blessed by God offer up praise, honor, and thanksgiving to God instead of preoccupying ourselves with materialism, self-seeking, satisfaction of appetites and watching sporting events and Christmas bargain hunting? The pilgrim fathers took nothing for granted in that winter of 1620, and neither should we in this year of our Lord, 2021. Like the pilgrims, in everything we should give thanks. Over 150 years ago when Abraham Lincoln wrote his proclamation of Thanksgiving as a national holiday, he made a statement: “How long will it be before we forget God’s blessings again? Can we follow Christ without grateful hearts?” How true his words are in this 21st century. Our real desire should be: “Open the eyes of my heart Lord. Everyday, give me a thankful heart so that I will pray and count all my blessings, and sing praises emitting from a grateful heart!” People that are more grateful are more likely to be more positive even when dealing with difficult situations. We need always to remember that gratitude is more a heart situation than a mind situation.
Apples from the Big Apple state
You can purchase apples from North Carolina, Virginia, Washington State, and other places but the very sweetest mellow, moist, tangy and tart, and colorful come from the Big Apple. New York state produces the world’s best apples. It may be the gray loamy soil, the cool spring days or mountain air. We really don’t know what it is about them, but they are unique in flavor and texture. You can choose from McIntosh, Jonathan. Ginger gold, Jona gold, Winesap, and Jona Mac. These are apples that would make Johnny Appleseed proud.
A bowl of turnips for Thanksgiving
The pilgrims may not have had them at their feast, but they can be a part of your Thanksgiving meal and add some contrast to the calorie rich foods that will fill the table. Turnips are one of the simplest vegetables in the cool weather garden plot and one of the most beautiful with their white bottoms and bright purple tops. The best way to prepare them is the way you prepare a bowl of mashed potatoes. All you have to do is peel the turnips, dice them into one inch cubes, cover with water, and boil until tender enough to stick a fork through them. Mash the turnips with a potato masher or use the mixer to whip them up. Add one stick of light margarine (melted), salt, pepper, a little sugar, paprika, and a few strips of broiled bacon (crumbled). Mix all together and add a little mayonnaise for texture.
Making a Thanksgiving dirt cake
This is a no-bake creamy cake that will melt your mouth. You will need one 32-ounce bag of vanilla Oreos or pumpkin Oreos if they are available, one stick light margarine, one eight-ounce pack of cream cheese (softened), one three-ounce box of Jello instant pudding or Jello instant pumpkin pudding mix, three and a half cups milk, one twelve ounce carton of Cool Whip, one teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Directions: Run the Oreos through the blender in grate mode and set aside. In a second bowl, mix the cream cheese and softened margarine together. In another bowl, mix Jello instant pudding mix, milk, and Cool Whip. Mix the two bowls of cream cheese mixture and Jello pudding mixture. Add pumpkin pie spice. In a 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish or baking pan add a layer of crushed Oreos (you will need three Oreo layers). On the first layer of Oreos, place a layer of the filling, add second layer of Oreos then layer of filling, add third layer of Oreos. Decorate top with cream pumpkins.
North Carolina sweet potatoes
In North Carolina, sweet potatoes have been a tradition at Thanksgiving much longer than turkey. This is because the state produces as many sweet potatoes as it does turkeys. Most of the sweet potatoes in North Carolina are raised in the coastal plain where much of the soil is loamy instead of acidic. From Tabor City to Whiteville and into the Sandhills and northeastern North Carolina, sweet potatoes thrive and are one of the country’s largest producers of sweet potatoes and many are exported to other countries. My Northampton County grandma had baked sweet potatoes in her wood stove oven almost every day in autumn and they were always warm because her wood stove never went out. As children, we would peel a baked potato about half way down the potato and leave the rest of peeling on the sweet potato and eat it like an ice cream cone. North Carolina sweet potatoes are best when bought from a local farm or produce stand on the way back from Myrtle Beach. Fresh-dug sweet potatoes have a dark brown sap that enhances their flavor. Most store bought sweet potatoes have been cured and are dry inside. Sweet potatoes can be fried, baked, made into biscuits, pies, cakes, and casseroles and custards and can be mashed like mashed potatoes, also made into puddings by grating raw potatoes by running through the blender in grate mode or scrapping raw potatoes across an old fashioned “tater” grater.
A simple, quick Thanksgiving dessert
If preparing the Thanksgiving meal is taking a lot of time, you can ease the work load with this simple pumpkin dessert with few ingredients and it requires only a few minutes of time. The recipe is titled, “Key ingredient pumpkin cake.” You will need to box of yellow cake mix, one sixteen ounce can of Libby’s pumpkin, one teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Mix cake mix, pumpkin pie spice, and pumpkin. Pour mixture into a 13x9x2 inch baking pan or dish sprayed with Pam baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Allow to cool and punch holes in the baked cake. Make a glaze of one and a half cups of 10x powdered sugar, four tablespoons of orange juice, half teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Mix until very smooth and pour over the cake. Simple as well as good!
Thank you for reading Garden Plot!
Our seasonal thanks for reading the Garden Plot each Sunday in the Mount Airy News Lifestyle section. May all of our readers be blessed and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Heaven bound!” An elderly and ailing man was concerned when he died, he would need money in heaven. The man asked his three grown children if they would each promise to slip a thousand dollar bill in his casket when his time came and each promised they would. The man died a few months later. The older son placed a thousand dollar bill in the open casket. Next the grieving daughter placed a thousand dollar bill in the casket. The other son who is nick-named “Slider,” wiped his face with a napkin, whispered goodbye, deposited a check for three thousand dollars in the casket and picked up the $2,000.
November 14, 2021
Entering the calm days of mid November
Thanksgiving is still nearly two weeks from now and we can enjoy the calm before the upcoming holiday season begins. We love the calm of early November as the garden turns from mid summer mode to the vegetable crops of autumn and winter. Nap time has visited the flower beds and pansies have become flowers of the month of November.
Nature is in a slowdown cycle as the only green in the forests and woodlands shine through in the holly, cedar, and pine trees. The nights of November are so calm you can almost hear the remaining leaves on the trees touch the lawn. Frosts are heavier and linger longer each morning. It is time to enjoy the best of seasons and prepare our hearts and minds for the season of harvest and Thanksgiving.
The artist of autumn turns lawn brown
The autumn lawn has a new color as the frosts of November have given the lawn many coats of crystal white and the lawn has a tan and brown tint as the result. The lawn looks even more brown with the coating of remaining leaves falling from trees. The leaves are now crisp which makes them easy to vacuum and blow to the garden area and composite bin and pile.
Season of the sweet potato
October is the season of the pumpkin, but November can be called the season of sweet potato especially in North Carolina. The coastal loamy soil of southeastern North Carolina in the Tabor city area makes itself North Carolina’s sweet potato capital. We grew up in northeastern North Carolina and Northampton County has its share of coastal loam and they also produce plenty of hefty sweet potatoes. My father and grandma raised plenty of sweet potatoes every year. They stored them in “potato hills” to have sweet potatoes all winter long. The potato “hill” was so simple but practical. It was a hill of soil lined with long leaf pine straw, bushels of potatoes, more pine straw, and hilled up with some more soil, with a stove pipe to gain access to the hill.
Yamming it up
Since this seems to be “sweet potato day” in the Garden Plot and also Thanksgiving Day less than two weeks away, we devote a little more attention to the sweet potato. This is a simple recipe for sweet and sappy candied yams. You can use fresh or canned sweet potatoes. Peel six or seven large sweet potatoes or use two large cans of potatoes. If you use sweet fresh potatoes, cut them into one inch chunks and boil in water until you can stick a knife through them. Drain the potatoes and place in 13X9X2 inch baking pan or dish. In a medium sized bowl, mix half cup dark brown sugar, one large six ounce box orange jello, one stick light margarine, half cup Karo syrup (dark), one tablespoon cinnamon, one tablespoon vanilla, and one cup chopped pecans. Heat ingredients together until margarine melts. Pour mixture over sweet potatoes and bake mixture at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Add a layer of miniature marshmallows and brown the tops of them until toasted.
Trimming the azaleas and evergreens
November is a great month to trim and shape azaleas and evergreens to prevent damage from the snow and ice later in the winter. Trimming and shaping them now while weather is fairly comfortable will make it easier to decorate them with strings of lights next month and also make them easier to install lights and also remove them after Christmas.
Sassafras trees: A tradition of childhood
Sassafras trees are a traditional tree of the southeast states. They are unique in their three perfectly round sections of leaves that turn red and bronze in autumn. The Sassafras tree usually grows in sunny open areas. My Northampton grandma knew the trees well and where she could find their roots which were the main ingredient of Sassafras tea, which is also the main ingredient of root beer along with the syrup, carbonated water, spices, and so fourth. When my grandma made sassafras tea, we don’t know if she made it as a tonic or for medical purposes or a beverage. We only knew she served it hot and in coffee cups with plenty of sugar. My mother always said we drank it because it had sugar in it! Grandma knew where the sassafras trees grew and would harvest the roots, not from the tree itself, but from the “shoots” that grew close to the tree. She would brush and clean the roots and place in a sauce pan full of water and boil. The water would turn deep red or bronze in color. She would place a lid on the pot until the tea got to the color she desired (hers was deep red, and probably as red as her morning coffee was black). If you wonder why sassafras tea is served hot, it is because it is like coffee, nothing is as bad as cold coffee. We remember as boys in northeastern North Carolina, we would harvest the roots in early autumn, chop it into small pieces, bag it up and take it to school and share it with other kids. We chewed it and it had a root beer taste.
A hefty presence of Jack Frost
Jack Frost visits us almost every morning in November, leaving his presence on the roof and lawn and white crystals on the Siberian kale. We love to go to the garden plot and gaze at the frosty crystals on leaves of turnips, mustard, broccoli, and kale. Surely the artist of autumn paid us a visit in the form of a late autumn hoary frost. God is in the rain, the frost, the snow, the crystals of ice on the Siberian kale, and he causes all things to grow.
Another interesting fact about oaks
In last week’s Garden Plot, we mentioned the mighty oaks and their harvest of acorns. Oak trees grow in many shapes, sizes, and heights all over the world. Worldwide, there are more than 600 types of oak trees. Some oaks produce acorns after two years of growth while other oak varities grow for 20 years before producing their first acorns. Most oaks enjoy long life, and some in America can be dated back to the Revolutionary War, shades of George Washington!
Colder temperatures, heavy frosts, and soon, we will experience hard freezes. Keep an eye on your containers of ornamental kale and cabbage and move them to the rear of the front porch and place a towel over them on freezing nights. Remove the towel when temperatures warm up the next day, but keep towels nearby to cover each night a freeze is possible.
Melt in your mouth great peanut brittle
21st century peanut brittle has better texture, taste, and less sticky than the 20th century peanut brittle. When we were kids, peanut brittle was packaged in bags and when you reached into the bag, several pieces would come out because the brittle stuck together, and in the process of getting it from the bag, it stuck to your hands, it was not “finger licking good,” but “finger sticking good.” 21st century know-how has produced a brittle that will not stick together and comes in one or two inch pieces, and not in bags but foil wrapped packs inside illustrated boxes. The very best brittle is made with eastern North Carolina and southside Virginia peanuts that are grown, processed, parched, and prepared near to where they are grown. The best of all is Old Dominion peanut brittle made in Norfolk, Virginia. You can purchase it in our area at Food Lion, Ingles, Dollar Tree, and most super markets and candy stores. You can find it in downtown Mount Airy along Main Street. Be careful, this peanut brittle is not only very good, but can be addictive.
Goodies for the Thanksgiving candy dish
These Thanksgiving candy dish treats have been around a hundred years and are still a tradition today. They are candy corn, creme pumpkins, Hershey’s Kisses, and M&M’s. They add a touch of Thanksgiving to any candy dish or dining room table. Hershey’s Kisses come wrapped in harvest colors of foil and M&M’s have a harvest mix. They have been made by Mars Candy for more than 100 years. The name M&M comes from the initials of Mars and Milky Way. That burst of chocolate in an M&M is so different than any other in the whole world. They are certainly worthy of any candy dish. Keep plenty on hand during Thanksgiving.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Drive on.” The truck driver drove up to this roadside truck stop in the middle of the night for a dinner break. Three wild looking motorcycle riders roared up with beards, nasty, filthy talking with black leather jackets. For no reason at all, they harassed the truck driver. One of the riders pored peppers on his head, another ate his apple pie, the third rider poured his hot coffee over the table. The truck driver never said one word but just went up and paid his bill and left. “That truck driver is not much of a fighter,” said one of the riders. “He doesn’t seem to be much of a truck driver either,” the waitress said. “He just run his truck over three motorcycles.”
“Family matters.” My wife read “A Tale of Two Cities’ and she had twins. She read the “Three Musketeers” and had triplets. I’m now worried because she is reading “Birth of a Nation.”
November 07, 2021
Plant colorful pansies this month
If you still have a few containers with nothing growing in them, you can fill them with colorful, green foilaged pansies which are still available at nurseries, hardwares, Walmart, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and Lowe’s Home Improvement. They are available in six and nine packs. You can choose from colors of white, bronze, yellow, purple, lavender, pink, rose, tan, burgundy, and others. To get pansies off to a great start in November, invest in a bag of pansy booster and apply a handful to each container. Water sparingly in November to keep soil medium from freezing.
Red berries on Carolina Dogwoods
As the crimson leaves begin to fall from the dogwoods, they reveal a harvest of tiny red berries which remind us that Christmas is getting closer and Thanksgiving is near. If the birds don’t eat all of them, the berries will make some colorful Christmas decorations. Dogwoods are favorite nesting places for birds, so we will be scanning empty limbs to find that perfect nest for the Christmas tree ornament, preferably one not filled with poop like the one Mary Ellen found on the Walton’s Christmas Story.
Enjoying the beautiful splendor of November
November is a month of calm seasoned with the colors of brown, gray, tan and beige highlighted by a Carolina blue sky and hints of green from red heart cedars, pines, holly, and honeysuckle vines. Newly fallen oak leaves are forming carpets on the forest floors and Carolina woodlands. Lawns are covered most mornings with crystals of frost. The gray trunks of trees with mostly bare limbs form a background for the sparse greenery of bunches of mistletoe’s in the hickories and oaks that remind us of the coming of Christmas next month. Most of it will remain safe because it is high up in the trees. Only the mighty oaks have a few leaves on them and they will most likely remain until the first snowfall of the year.
Christmas cactus: Endless beauty
As we begin November, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Walmart, Food Lion, Lowe’s Foods, hardwares, and nurseries will feature Christmas cactus in full bloom. A Christmas cactus is a floral investment that will thrive for many years and bloom every Christmas season if you take care of it. There is an advantage in purchasing them now because they are in bloom when you buy them and you can choose from colors of white, red, coral, and pink. You can purchase them in small or medium containers costing from $6 to $12. The first step in growing Christmas cactus is to go ahead and buy a larger container and a bag of cactus medium and transplant the cactus as soon as you bring it home. Place it in a semi sunny location in the house where it should remain all winter. Check it once a week for moisture and water lightly when needed. Feed once a month with Flower-Tone organic flower food. Keep cactus away from direct sunlight. A signal that a Christmas cactus is getting too much sun is the foliage will turn pinkish red. If this occurs, move the cactus to a less sunny location in the room. Use a drip tray under the container to keep water off the floor.
The autumn acorn crop
The mighty oak is a majestic tree that produces wood for floors, furniture, houses, and many wood products. They also produce a harvest of acorns every year that covers the forest floor and produces food for squirrels, raccoons, foxes, wolves, chipmunks, and rabbits. As a 10 or 12 year old boy, we harvested five gallon buckets of acorns for a hog farmer for a dollar per bucket. After school, it would take us until dark to harvest a bucket full, but a dollar was worth a dollar back in the 1950s. An interesting fact about acorns is that if times get too tough, acorns can be used as food. It is well known that during the Depression of 1920s, times were really tight and many families did not have finances to produce flour. So they gathered acorns, took shells off of them , ground the pulp and made meal from the acorn pulp. In the world of nature God created many wonders and provisions. He provided a table in the wilderness and also provided one in the forest.
The grass on the late autumn lawn
The lawnmower is almost ready for a long winter nap as far as mowing grass is concerned. The grass on the lawn is slowing down and turning a lighter shade of green and slowly beginning its change to light brown. The frost are getting thicker and whiter as the month moves along. Continue to use the grass clippings in the composite bin or pile to heat up the ingredients. Make sure the sun has dried the frost before mowing late autumn lawns.
Plenty of dark occurs in early November
Days are still getting shorter by a minute each day. As November moves along, we will continue to lose a minute each evening and continue to do so until winter arrives on Dec, 21.
Making a pumpkin maple bread pudding
Pumpkin is the highlight of Thanksgiving desserts and in November, there is an abundance of pumpkins. This recipe is different because it combines the flavor of pumpkin with brown sugar and maple plus it is simple to prepare. You will need one 16 ounce can of Libby’s pumpkin or one pint of pumpkin, four hot dog rolls, one three ounce box of butterscotch Jello instant pudding mix, three large eggs, half cup light brown sugar, one fourth cup Log Cabin maple syrup, one teaspoon pumpkin pie spices, one can evaporated milk. Run the hot dog rolls through the blender in “grate” mode and place in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Pour into a 13X9X2 inch baking dish or pan sprayed with Pam baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for fifty minutes. Cool and serve with Dream Whip or dairy whipping cream.
Making pilgrim centerpieces from turnips
Round purple-top turnips can be used to make pilgrim men and women centerpieces for the dinning room or coffee table. Wash the turnips and dry them. Cut off the leafy tops and the tip off the bottom so the turnip will be level. Use acrylic paints to design faces on pilgrim men and women with eyes, nose, and mouth. Use yarn to form hair and glue on top of turnips. Use construction paper in black and yellow to make hats with buckets for pilgrim men. Use light blue or tan paper napkins to make bonnets for pilgrim women. Use a bag of harvest mix Hershey’s Kisses to spread around the pilgrims. Circle the centerpiece with creme pumpkins. This is an edible centerpiece, so replenish the centerpiece with Kisses and creme pumpkins often.
Saint Martin’s Day weather lore
On Thursday, Nov. 11, Saint Martin’s Day is celebrated. On his special day, there is a bit of weather lore that says if the leaves are still on the grapevine, we can expect a cold winter. There are some leaves still remaining on the grapevines and most of them are yellow and ready to fall off. Leaves or not, we are looking for a cold weather with plenty of snow to enjoy and also cold to destroy the insects and weed seed, plus make the Siberian kale turnips, and collards sweeter. Saint Martin is right in one sense, winter is the season to expect cold weather.
Old fashioned sticky sweet potatoes
We tried to reproduce a recipe for old fashioned sticky, sappy, baked sweet potatoes that my mother and grandmother made when we were kids. The secret of the stickiness was the sweet potatoes were freshly dug from their potato vines and baked after harvest in their ovens until sap ran out of them. Most sweet potatoes in the stores have been dried before you purchase them and therefore they have zero sap. To reproduce the sappy sweet potato recipe of mama and grandma to adapt to 2021 standards, take six or seven large sweet potatoes, wash them and coat them with Crisco shortening. Bake at 4oo degrees until you can smell them and stick a knife through them. Remove from oven, cool and peel the potatoes, cut potatoes in half. Fry in a pan with a stick of light margarine. When lightly browned, top the potatoes with this mixture: mix three tablespoons of brown sugar (light), one stick melted light margarine, one quarter cup of light Karo corn syrup. Stir the mixture and pour over the potatoes. A taste of mama and grandmas kitchen in the 1950s.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Quiet please.” A patient in a mental hospital placed his ear to the wall in his room, listening intently. “Be quiet,” he whispered to an attendant as he pointed to the wall. The attendant pressed his ear to the wall and said, “I didn’t hear anything.” “I know,” replied the patient. “It’s awful, it’s been this way for many days.”
“Men at work.” Artist- “This is my latest painting. It is called ‘Builders at work’.” It is a piece of realism.” Art observer- “I don’t see any of the men at work.” Artist- “Of course not, That’s what’s real about the painting!”
The new moon occurred on Nov. 4. Daylight savings time ended today, at 2 a.m. The moon reaches its first quarter on Thursday, Nov. 11. There will be a full moon on the night of Friday, Nov. 19. The moon will be named “Full Beaver Moon.” Thanksgiving Day will be Thursday, Nov. 25. The moon reaches its last quarter on Saturday, Nov. 27.
October 31, 2021
Halloween and frost on the pumpkins
Halloween is here and we have already had several frost on the pumpkins and they have covered gardens, lawns, and roofs. These hefty frost have turned many lawns tan and brown and dotted the landscape with leaves. Pumpkins are tough and enjoy a long shelf life so frost will not affect them very much. Halloween is here, so use common sense and caution tonight and keep your eyes out for parents and children. Keep porch and carport lights on to let kids and parents know your home is kid friendly. Serve only treats that are safe and securely wrapped.
A pumpkin pudding to celebrate Halloween
This pumpkin pudding will melt in your mouth and fill your kitchen with a spicy aroma on Halloween. It is simple to prepare with easily available ingredients. You will need one can of Libby’s pumpkin or one pint of canned pumpkin, one three -ounce box of Jello instant pumpkin pudding or vanilla pudding mix, two large eggs, half cup brown sugar, half cup granulated sugar, one tablespoon pumpkin pie spices, one teaspoon vanilla flavoring, one stick melted light margarine, one can evaporated milk, one teaspoon orange flavoring, and four hot dog buns. Run the hot dog buns through the blender in grate mode, mix all other ingredients and pour into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish or pan sprayed with Pam baking spray. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until pudding is firm. Top with Cool Whip or French vanilla ice cream. You can also use a can of Duncan Hines cream cheese frosting to frost the pudding.
Benefits of Indian summer
As October comes to an end today, we are enjoying low humidity, Carolina blue skies, leaves gracefully falling from the oaks, poplars, hickories, and maples, as well as colorful sunsets painted in pink that matches well with the hues of the leaves of autumn. These pleasant afternoons provide opportunity to clean up the garden plot by removing vines, stalks, residue, tomato cages and stakes, harvesting leaves and preparing compost bins and piles.
Enjoying the aroma of autumn on All Hallow’s Eve
The sunsets early on the night of Halloween greeted by the smell of burning oak wood wispy smoke from chimneys of neighborhood homes as the scent kisses the air of the last evening of the month of October. This is the night of voices of excited kids as they move from door to door trick or treating. You can make their evening safe and enjoyable by keeping porch and carport lights on as well as having treats ready and wrapped for them as they arrive at the door. Keep treats in a bowl or dish so they can handle and choose their own treats. It would be nice to give the loving parents a treat too.
Celebrating all Saint’s Day tomorrow
All Saint’s Day is always celebrated on the first day of November which is the day after All Hallows Eve, also known as Halloween. This day is also known as Hallowmass.
An extra boost for roses
You can promote rose growth during the cold of winter by applying a layer of bone meal around the base of the roses and mix it into the soil and also a handful of blood meal. Both are organic products that will produce root growth during winter. Feed roses before cold weather arrives with an application of Rose-Tone organic rose food. Trim back long canes from roses to prevent damage from ice and snow.
Searching limbs for an empty bird nest
The leaves are falling from the trees leaving exposed empty limbs. On the trees that have low hanging branches, an empty bird’s nest should be easy to spot and carefully removed without disturbing its construction. You can prepare a sturdy bird’s nest and make an unusual Christmas ornament that will last for many years. After removing the nest, spray a couple of coats of clear varnish on the nest and allow to dry. Place nest on several sheets of newspaper before spraying the varnish. After nest dries, place nest in a small box lined with toilet tissue or paper napkins. At Christmas, you can find bird ornaments or a few miniature eggs and add them to the nest.
A sauce or gravy made from turnips
My Northampton County grandma always made “pot likker” when the purple top turnips were harvested from her cold weather garden. She would boil the diced turnips in water, fatback meat, pepper, and salt. It was a concoction served in a bowl with crackling cornbread on cool autumn nights (defiantly not recommended by any cardiologist!) We have discovered a better method to prepare this “pot likker” concoction and make it a sauce or gravy to pour over the purple top turnips, sort of like mashed potatoes and gravy. This method is to peel five or six turnips and dice them into half an inch cubes, cover with water, add salt and pepper, a few drops of Texas Pete and a stick of light margarine. Boil the turnips until tender. Drain the liquid and add one cup milk to the liquid and bring to a boil on medium heat. In a glass half full of cold water add three tablespoon corn starch until it is completely dissolved in the cold water. Pour a little at a time into the gently boiling turnip liquid until it gets as thick as you desire. Add a little sugar to flavor the gravy and add a few slices of fried or boiled crumbled bacon. Pour gravy over boiled turnips.
Checking out the stored green tomatoes
The cool weather garden plot is not only green, but productive with the growth of broccoli, cabbage, collards, Siberian kale, curly mustards, turnips, onion sets, as well as mixed greens. Keep the cool weather vegetables fed with Miracle Gro liquid plant food and Alaska liquid fish emulsion once a month. Keep the vegetables covered with a blanket of crushed leaves. Thin turnips so they can develop into larger turnips.
Protecting outside faucets from freezing
Hard freezes are not too far away with killing frost already in progress. Keep pipes from freezing during winter months by investing in a protective cover or two for your outside faucets. An isolated cover for outside faucets cost about$12 to $15. You can purchase them at Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s Home Improvement and at most hardwares. They are easy to install and bring piece of mind from freezing pipes. Always remember to remove hoses from outside faucets during winter months and store hoses in winter to prolong their useful life. Replace faucet covers after using water during the winter.
Shaping up evergreens for fall and winter
The end of October and the beginning of November is a great time to trim evergreens and azaleas to protect then from ice and snow and promote all around better appearance. It will certainly make them look better as we approach the up and coming Christmas decorating season. The weather in late October may carry over into early November and this will be an opportune time to accomplish this chore before freezing weather.
Celebrating season of All Saint’s Rest
We have already mentioned that tomorrow is All Saint’s Day, but the whole week that follows All Saint’s Day is known as All Saint’s Rest. It is a tradition that started in the 19th century in America. During this time of the year, they took a break from the harvest. It was like an early Thanksgiving and a reflecting on the blessings of the harvest, not just for a day, but for a whole week. It was the time before cold, ice, and snow or freezing temperatures. In the upcoming winter, life in America would become more difficult. They felt like this was an opportune time to be thankful for their blessings and not to take anything for granted. What an example these Swiss immigrants set back in the 19th century. In 21st century America, we can’t celebrate even one day without watching football, gorging ourselves, Christmas shopping, and feasting. Why can’t we take time to rest in the blessings and goodness of God and forget about ourselves for a whole day like these Swiss immigrants did for a week? We need to remember that when we become unthankful, we also become unholy, too.
The hard freeze warnings
The temperatures can get below freezing during the nights of November. Protect cool weather vegetables with crushed leaves. Keep a few rags and towels handy to cover flowers and containers on the porch.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Do it yourself lunch!”Bill: “Oh no, not again. A peanut butter sandwich. I cant stand them. Day in and day out it’s a peanut butter sandwich. This is just too much.” Will: “What’s the trouble, all you have to do is tell your wife to fix you something different.” Bill: “I can’t do that.” Will: “Why not?” Bill: “Because I fix my own lunch.”
“Wrong tree.” Single man: “Listen sweetheart, you’ve got to admit that men like me don’t grow on trees.” Young chick: “Sure, I know that very well, they swing from trees.”
“Wild doctors.” Louie: “Did you know that Daniel Boone’s brothers were all doctors?” Dewey: “How do you know this is true?” Louie: “Yes, haven’t you ever heard of the “Boone docs?”
October 24, 2021
The season of Saint Luke’s little summer
The weekend heralds Saint Luke’s little summer. This is a period of dry, crisp, warm days that feature Indian summer weather, a break from the colder days in the month ahead. We can certainly benefit from a few warm and comfortable days to finish the task of harvesting the autumn leaves and placing them in the middle of rows of cool weather vegetables, mulching around roses and spring flowering bulb beds as well as stocking the composite pile or bin. Saint Luke’s little summer is a fun time to relax on the front porch, listen to the crows, and enjoy a cup of coffee with a couple of cookies.
A bit of Saint Luke’s little summer lore
A bit of pre-Halloween lore as we celebrate Saint Luke’s little summer, it is said that during Saint Luke’s little summer, the pumpkins begin to go stale. We do not believe this simply because there are too many pumpkins around in supermarkets, fruit stands, produce markets, and roadside markets. Also especially with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas on the way — seasons wide open for the consumption of the pumpkins. Saint Luke’s little summer lasts only for several days, but the pumpkin has a long shelf life and will out live Luke’s summer by many months. Long live the pumpkin harvest, jack o’ lanterns, pumpkin pie, and all things pumpkin.
Making a pumpkin scarecrow centerpiece
A pumpkin scarecrow centerpiece for the dinning room or coffee table can be made from an orange pumpkin. Use a permanent black marker to outline a face on the pumpkin and color the details with acrylic paints. Color in the black and white eyes and details on the scarecrows face with pink cheeks. Use an old straw hat and pour a bag or two of Hershey’s autumn mix kisses around the base of the scarecrow. Add a few cream pumpkins for a finishing touch.
Sweetening up a stale jack o’ lantern
Earlier we mention Saint Luke’s little summer lore about pumpkins going stale on his little summer days, (surly we know this is only a lore), but you can sweeten a jack o’ lantern that has been lit on the porch for several nights and especially with Halloween so very near. To give your jack o’ lantern a spicy scent instead of a stale one, all you have to do is soak the jack o’ lantern in a tub of water for several hours, remove from water and rub the inside of the jack o’ lantern with a couple of teaspoons of pumpkin pie spices, replace the votive candle, light it up in the evening, and enjoy the aroma of a sweet, spicy, pumpkin.
Pumpkin crisp pie
To prepare this crisp dessert you will need two cups of canned pumpkin, one box Duncan Hines carrot cake mix, one can evaporated milk, one cup of granulated sugar, half cup brown sugar, one teaspoon pumpkin pie spices, three large eggs, two sticks light margarine (melted). Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish or pan. Line the pan with waxed paper and spray paper with Pam baking spray. Mix canned pumpkin, sugars, evaporated milk, pumpkin pie spices, and eggs. Pour the mixture in the baking pan or dish. Pour the box of carrot cake mix over the pumpkin mixture in the baking pan. Spread the two sticks of melted light margarine over top of carrot cake mix, sprinkle a cup of chopped pecans over the cake mixture. Bake at 325 for one hour. Cool the cake completely. turn cake out onto a cookie sheet. The pecan layer becomes the bottom crust. Make a frosting for the cake by mixing the eight ounce box of cream cheese (softened), two cups of 10x powdered sugar, and one tub of Cool Whip. Decorate with a few cream pumpkins.
The first killing frost can arrive any day
As month moves along, we can expect killing frosts to arrive anytime after Oct. 23. We have already experienced scattered frosts, but a killing frost will wipe out any reaming warm weather vegetables and cause leaves to turn to a shade of tan and brown, cause lawns to lose most of their green, and cover the roof and lawn with a layer of crystal white.
Carolina dogwood berries
The crimson berries on Carolina dogwood are now showing up as their leaves begin to leave the trees. Plenty of red berries adorn their limbs and are an attraction to birds. An abundance of dogwood berries may have a subtle message of a harsh and cold winter.
Still time to plant pansies
There are still plenty of pansy plants in six or nine packs at hardware’s nurseries, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, and Ace Hardware. They are still in full bloom and you can choose the color combinations you desire. Buy a bag of pansy booster to get them off to a great start. They will not only bloom through winter, but also produce plenty of green foliage. They perform well in containers and pots on the front porch.
Feeding the purple tops
The turnips in the cool weather garden plot should be well on their way to an abundant and long lasting harvest well into late autumn and winter. Assure a great harvest by applying an application of Garden-Tone or Plant-Tone organic vegetable food on each side of the row and hill up soil to cover the plant food. Then apply a layer of crushed leaves in middles of rows or bed. This will provide extra freeze and frost protection. As turnips begin to develop, harvest the smaller turnips to allow more space for other turnips to grow larger. As the season moves along, mix Miracle Gro vegetable food with proper amount of water in a sprinkle can and pour between the rows of turnips for an extra boost of food in cold weather.
Moving asparagus and panda ferns inside
The panda and asparagus ferns have spent spring and summer in a semi sunny location on the deck. As the first killing frost is on the threshold, it is now time to move them inside the living room to spend the rest of autumn, winter, and in to early spring. To prepare them for their move, we will trim them back, refill their containers with potting medium, and feed them with Flower-Tone organic flower food. We use a plastic drip tray under their containers to prevent water from leaking on the floor. They don’t need quit as much water in the winter. We stick our finger in the container to determine when they need water. They do not need to be in a sunny area of a room. Keep them trimmed back several times during winter.
Using Jack be little’s for Halloween
Jack be little pumpkins are about the size of your fist and cost a little over a dollar each. You can draw faces on them with a black permanent marker and spread a bag of cream pumpkins and candy or Indian corn around the base of the pumpkin for a table centerpiece.
A quickie bowl of Halloween tart punch
Here’s how to prepare a quick bowl of sparkling Halloween punch by just pouring and serving. All you have to do is mix one two-litter bottle of Fanta orange, one two-litter bottle of Cheerwine, one two-litter bottle of Canada Dry ginger ale, and one two-litter bottle of Mountain Dew. Pour a bag of crushed ice into a punch bowl and then pour in all the two litters of soda. Keep refilling the bowl as it runs out.
Staying ahead of the harvest of leaves
As we close in on the end of October, Halloween, killing frost, and the harvest of leaves, stay ahead of the leaf game by raking, blowing , or vacuuming them up to be used in compost mulch, coverings for cool weather vegetables, rose bushes, and bulb beds. When you run the mower over them or run through the blower to crush them up, they make great blankets to cover turnip beds and cool weather drops of cabbage, broccoli, onion sets, Siberian kale, collards, and greens.
Frosty is near — it will sweeten turnips
Frost may kill all warm weather crops, but it will sweeten the turnip because it is a root crop. All cool weather crops will thrive especially with a blanket of crushed leaves on them. If you have pumpkins on the porch, don’t worry to much about them, they are pretty tough gourds. If you lose any sleep thinking about them, just throw a towel over them when frost is in the forecast.
October is a season of color and beauty
Against the back drop of a Carolina blue sky, the colors of red, burgundy, gold, yellow, tan, and light green leaves contrast with pines, cedars, and climbing honeysuckle vines for a mixture of autumn finery. The golden rods mare at their peak and add some extra glow to the autumn scene.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“How to lose weight.” Lola: “Marty, let’s go jogging together.” Marty: “Why in the world do you suddenly want to go jogging?” Lola: “My doctor told me I could lose weight if I went jogging with a dumbbell!”
“Wrong apartment.” “For the last ten years, my mother-in-law has been living with my wife and me in the same apartment.” “So why don’t you tell her to get out?” “I can’t, it’s her apartment.”
“True.”- If there’s handwriting on the wall, there’s a kid in the house.
October 17, 2021
A trip to the pumpkin patch
The ideal pumpkin for the making of a jack o’ lantern has to be round, bright orange, with a sturdy brown stem on top to make a good lid for the carved out jack o’lantem. You can find the very best ones at a pick your own pumpkin patch or a fund raising pumpkin patch on the lawn of a local church in your area. This is an unforgettable experience for kids and grand kids and for them, there is nothing like picking out your own pumpkin on a sunny October Saturday. Top off all this fun with a trip to McDonald’s for a meal and an evening of carving pumpkins, is an event children will never forget.
Pumpkin carving kit a great investment and keepsake
Having the right tool to do any job makes the job a lot easier and much more fun. This true in the art of carving out a jack o’ lantern. A dull knife is a sure way to cut your finger and break your wrist. They say there are better ways and one way is to purchase a durable pumpkin carving kit that will last for many years and make pumpkin carving fun and easier. A quality carving kit has many blades and accessories. A good kit includes knives, carvers, blades and scrappers as well as other gadgets. You can buy a small kit for about $7 to $10, but a durable kit with all the “whistles and bells” cost around $14. You always get what you pay for, so go ahead and buy a durable and long lasting carving kit that will last longer than your lifetime. A great kit with all the attachments can be used to make watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe balls and watermelon baskets for parties and weddings.
This is a easy pumpkin recipe with a lot of simple ingredients and it is delicious served with Dream Whip or vanilla ice cream. For this recipe, you will need one 30-ounce can of Libby’s pumpkin pie filling, one and a half sticks of light margarine, one can evaporated milk, one cup plain floor, one teaspoon of baking powder, one teaspoon vanilla flavoring, one teaspoon lemon flavoring, half cup light brown sugar, half cup granulated sugar, four beaten large eggs. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt margarine and pour into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan or dish and set aside. Mix together flour, baking powder, sugars, vanilla and lemon flavorings and enough milk to mix it together. Pour this mixture over the melted light margarine. Do not stir (this batter will rise while baking and form a crust) just spread it evenly over the melted margarine and set the baking dish aside. In a bowl, mix the four beaten eggs, the can of pumpkin pie filling, and the can of evaporated milk and stir to mix. Do not disturb the batter because it will rise as the pie bakes and form the crust. Bake until the crust forms (usually about 50 to 60 minutes until golden brown). Allow to cool an hour before serving. Top with Dream Whip, Cool Whip, dairy whipping cream, or vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of maple syrup or Log Cabin pancake maple syrup. Decorate with a few cream pumpkins.
The season for a display of orange
Without any carvings or decorations, a big orange round pumpkin speaks volumes on the front porch. You do not have to carve a pumpkin to make a jack o’ lantern. With a black permanent marker, you can draw a face on the orange pumpkin and use yellow acrylic paint to fill in the face. After Halloween, you can wash the pumpkin, peel it and dice it up, boil it until tender, mash it up and make pumpkin pie, cake, cobbler, pudding, or bread with nights still getting cooler, a pumpkin enjoys a longer life.
Small, decorative jack o’ little’s
They are only about the size of your fist, but great for coffee tables, dinning room tables with plenty of shape and color. Usually you can purchase them at supermarkets for about a $1 each and they can be the makings of wonderful harvest and Halloween displays. You can also paint faces on them with black permanent markers and color them with acrylic paints or make miniature scarecrows from them. Use cream pumpkins, candy corn, harvest M+M’s, Hershey’s Kisses, harvest mix around the base of your jack be little display.
Cream pumpkins, a Halloween tradition
Cream pumpkins are made from the same ingredient as candy corn, but oh so much more decorative on cupcakes and around punch bowels that are filled with orange punch. The tiny green “stems” just highlight them as they adorn candy dishes, decorative tables, and displays. We don’t know how long cream pumpkins have been around, but candy corn has been an autumn staple for well more than 100 years and we suspect cream pumpkins have been in households that long also.
Keeping an eye on squirrels and acorns
In all the Halloween related paragraphs, we failed to mention that acorns (washed, of course) also make great centerpiece decorations. Acorns are still falling from the mighty oaks and they may be sending a message of this winter’s calling card. Another sign of winter is squirrels harvesting acorns and storing them for winter.We don’t know if my Northampton County grandma took note of the busy squirrels in autumn and their harvest of them, but we can be fairly certain she did because there were plenty of squirrels in the boonies where she lived. She prepared plenty of squirrel stews to prove that fact.
Christmas cactus almost ready for move
The Christmas cactus only has a few more days before it will be moved to the living room where it will spend the autumn and winter months. The secret of getting a cactus to bloom at Christmas begins with their spending spring and summer on the porch in a semi-sunny location. In moving them to spend the winter in the house, the containers are filled to the top with cactus medium and some Plant-Tone or Flower-Tone organic plant food. In the living room they receive a drink of water every seven to ten days, checking often for moisture, but never over watering. Also, they need to be kept out of direct sunlight that causes foliage to turn red and stunts their growth. As we move toward the end of October and especially into November, Christmas cactus can be purchased at Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Lowe’s Foods, Food Lion, and many hardwares and nurseries. They are available in small and medium containers and cost between $7 and $11. To give them a great start, buy a large container and a bag of cactus medium and transplant the cactus as soon as you bring it home. Cactus are available in red, pink, corral, and hot pink. They will be in full bloom when you purchase them so you will know the color you are purchasing. Use a drip tray under the container to prevent water draining from the cactus while it winters over.
The harvest of late green tomatoes
The first frost of the season is around Oct. 15. This means we should keep an eye and ear on warnings of frost so that we can harvest the late, late, green tomatoes. Nights are already getting cooler, and tomatoes are slowing down. The vines are also slowing down and this signals the ripening process is slowing down. As the first date is predicted, gather up the green tomatoes, and wrap each tomato in a whole sheet of newspaper and place them in a single box lid (such as copier paper comes in) . Cover the tomato filled lids with full newspaper sections. Don’t place tomatoes in layers but a single layer in each lid. Place in a cool area or a lighted basement. Check for ripeness every other day. Some will ripen quicker than others. Place an apple or two in each box to promote ripening.
Only a week to sow spring bulbs
We are near the first frost of the season and a killing frost is not that many days away and that means hard freezes will soon be with us. Most hardwares, nurseries, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Walmart, and Tractor Supply still have a supply of spring flowering bulbs. You can choose from jonquils, narcissus, crocus, daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths. While purchasing bulbs, buy a bag of bone meal bulb booster to start the bulbs off. In the prepared bulb bed, apply a layer of peat moss in the bottom of the bulb bed, then set the bulbs, cover with another layer of peat moss, then apply bone meal or bulb booster and cover with soil. As October ends, cover bulbs with a layer of crushed leaves.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“A doggone fake!” Customer: “You told me this was a purebred police dog, but this animal is the mangiest, dirtiest, scariest mutt I have ever seen. How an you get the notion that he is a police dog?” Dog breeder: “He works undercover.”
“Catting around.”- Six year old Tommie sat on the front porch holding his cat. A little girl who lived down the street asked, “What’s your cat’s name?” “Ben Hur,” said Tommie. “How did you come up with that strange name?” Tommie said, “We use to call him Ben until it had five kittens!”
Canned with tomatoes: Customer: “Does the market manager know you turned over the whole skid of tomatoes?” Stock boy: “I think so, he’s underneath the pile.”
October 10, 2021
The season of the pumpkin is here
Orange pumpkins now adorn roadside produce markets, fruit stands, and fundraisers on church lawns across Surry County. One of the pumpkin’s positive attractions is that they have a long shelf life and can be enjoyed over the long season from now until after Christmas. Their bright orange will decorate from now until Halloween, and Thanksgiving and fill tables with puddings, pies, and cakes for many weeks to come as well as decorations, jack ‘o lanterns, and harvest and Halloween displays.
The best pie pumpkins
The round orange pumpkins with stems on top of them are the best for carving a jack o’ lantern, but for pies and desserts, the best pumpkins are the oblong varieties. These are not always orange on the outside but tan or beige or bronze in color, and they are tender inside. With their oblong shape, they are easier to slice open, remove seed, and cut into chunks for boiling into a tender mixture and texture and then draining and running through the blender in grate mode or mashing with a potato masher. To can pumpkin, pour the mashed, drained pumpkin into sterilized pint jars (a pint will usually make two pies), wipe the rims of the jars with a paper towel, seal the jars and tighten the lids. Leave half inch at top of jars. Process in a pressure caner at ten pressure for 50 minutes. Pumpkins are low in acid so they require this lengthy processing time.
Enjoying pumpkin bread
The crişp clear nights of October speak volumes to us of loaves of pumpkin bread in all of its spicy goodness. Not too sweet, not too spicy, but just the right recipe for a nippy October night. Real pumpkin bread is moist in texture and easy to prepare. For this recipe, you will need three and a half cups of plain flour, two teaspoons baking soda, half teaspoon salt, one tablespoon pumpkin pie spices, four large eggs, milk, one 15 ounce can Libby’s canned pumpkin, or one pint canned pumpkin, one half cup dark brown sugar, two cups granulated sugar, half cup chopped golden raisins, half cup chopped pecans, one tablespoon vanilla flavoring, one table spoon orange flavoring. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spices and set aside. In another large bowl, beat the four eggs well, add Crisco oil, milk, and pumpkin. Mix these ingredients together, add the lemon and vanilla flavoring, raisins and chopped pecans. Pour mixture into two loaf pans, well- greased with Crisco shortening, and floured. Add a sheet of foil to bottom of loaf pans and grease and flour the foll also. Bake for one hour, if not done, bake for a few more minutes. When cake springs back when touched, it is done or when a tooth pick comes out clean. Cool loaves in the pans for fifteen or twenty minutes. Run knife around edges of pans and sheets of aluminum foil, after wrap. Put in Saran clear plastic wrap. This will keep loaves fresh and moist.
The mighty oaks are producing two harvests
Other trees have been delighting us with a harvest, of colors in leaves of gold, yellow, bronze, red, tan, crimson, and beige. We have been using the leaf vacuum, rake and the blower to transfer them to the garden plot and the compost pile and bin. The oaks are now producing a double harvest of not only leaves but a lot of noise from acorns bouncing off metal roofs on barns buildings and sheds. My Northampton County grandma lived in a house with a tin roof. At this time of year, we would listen to acorns striking the roof all night long. She kept a close eye on the acorns falling from the trees and she said, “If you walk on acorns in October, you could expect to walk on snow all during winter.” As October wears on, we may have a hint about what old man winter has up his sleeve for us.
Improving next year’s soil
Vines, stalks, leaves, grass clippings, and trimmings and garden residue from the season behind us can be the makings of improved soil for next year’s garden. The lawn clippings will help heat up the compost and you can also use Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and Black Kow composted cow to heat and breakdown the ingredients in the compost bin, or pile. When you build a compost pile or bin, you are creating an ecosystem that feeds the bacteria that thrive on organic materials . Most households that have gardens generate more than 1,000 pounds of home lawn and garden waste per year that could be converted into compost using very little space and effort. You can start a compost pile with only a pitch fork to stir the pile once a week or you can use several treated fence posts to form a bin and both inexpensive as well as practical and useful.
Halloween candies and treats
Halloween has arrived in supermarkets and big box stores with colorful orange, yellow, and brown displays of all varieties of traditional candies for Halloween. Everything for the trick or treaters. The season brings several, varieties of candy corn including the old fashioned orange, white, and yellow combo as well as Indian corn in colors of orange, brown, and white combo and the fairly recent brown sugar combo of tan, white, and yellow. Peanut brittle in boxes begins appearing also before Halloween. Other Halloween favorites are the autumn mix of Hershey’s Kisses, Hershey’s miniatures, marshmallow pumpkins and ghost, Halloween packs of M&M’s, Three Musketeers and assorted candy bars. We always enjoy the display that Food Lion presents at the front of their supermarkets that attract our attention all during October.
The quiet of an October evening. The crisp autumn air at twilight whets the nostrils and the lower humidity makes the coming night air easy to breathe. The scent of the new fallen leaves also adds to the evening air. The graceful soft sound of leaves still falling completes the majestic experience of the autumn twilight.
Making a butterscotch pumpkin pudding
This pudding does not have a crust but you can use vanilla wafers for a crust if you desire or also use graham crackers. In a mixing bowl combine one can (15 0z) Libby’s pumpkin or one pint canned pumpkin, three large eggs, one three ounce box instant butterscotch pudding mix, one cup light brown sugar, one stick light margarine, one half teaspoon pumpkin pie spices one can evaporated milk one teaspoon vanilla flavoring, a pinch of salt, one teaspoon maple flavoring (optional), half teaspoon cinnamon. Spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan or dish and layer with vanilla wafers or graham crackers if desired or make the pudding without a crust. Mix all ingredients together and pour into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve with Cool Whip or Dream Whip.
Harvest festivals, Halloween parties, and chicken stews
October is the festive month for hayrides, haunted houses, chicken stews, harvest festivals, Halloween parties, trick or treating, and Halloween carnivals and costume contests as well as cake walks. Combine all these events with a hot dog roast and toasted marshmallows, s’mores, and a bon fire and you have the makings of a night of fun for all ages.
Keeping a close eye on late tomatoes
As we move closer to the middle of October, there is much chatter about the first frost of the season. It will not have any effect on cool weather vegetables. We know the calendar date for the first frost date says Oct. 15 but we don’t usually get a killing frost until later in the month. Even as‘October moves on, it’s wise to keep an ear and eye out for frost warnings. The late, late, tomatoes sown especially for a pre-frost harvest should be harvested before any frost arrives, wrapped in sheets of newspapers, stored in box lids, and covered with sections of newspapers and stored in a warm room or basement. They should be checked for ripeness once or twice a week. Place an apple or two in the boxes to promote ripening.
Last opportunity to set out bulbs
With the first frost date in just a few weeks, spring flowering bulb planting time is soon drawing to a close. You still have two weeks or more to set out the bulbs or spring flowers. Bulbs can be purchased at Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Walmart, Ace Hardware, most nurseries and hardware’s. Buy a bag of bulb booster or bone meal to get bulbs off to a great start.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Head of the class.” Teacher: “Johnny could you please pay a little more attention?” Johnny: “I’m already paying as little as I can!”
“Whoa buffalo.” Traveler: “I would like a ticket to New York State, please.” Ticket clerk: “Would you like to go by Buffalo?” Traveler: “No thank you, I’d rather go by bus.”
“Pie in the sky.” Diner: “Is this peach or apple pie?” Waitress: “Can’t you tell by the taste?” Diner: “No, I can’t.” Waitress: “Well, then what difference does it make one way or the other?”
“Drop outs.” Bill: “What school do you have to drop out of to be a graduate?” Jill: “Paratrooper school.”
2021 was a great firefly year
The landscape was aglow with fireflies in the summer of 2021. From mid-May until early July, there were great numbers as we moved into the month of June. Their most glorious display was on the evening Monday, June 21. We counted 169 fireflies glowing during a period of five minutes. We saw the first fireflies on the evening of Sunday, May 16. On that evening, we counted 49 in a period of five minutes. We did see a display almost every evening. They seemed to appear at twilight and reach their peak about nine o clock at night. With the number of fireflies over the summer, next year should produce even more fireflies.
October 03, 2021
Cool weather vegetables are fun to grow
There are many positives for growing cool weather vegetables. The best reason is because there is very few insect enemies, no beetles or cabbage butterflies, very few humid days, and virtually no dry spells. When you protect the cool weather vegetables from frosts, freezes, snow, and ice with a layer of crushed leaves, those vegetables can endure the harsh late autumn and winter temperatures and provide plenty of green in the cold and dead of winter.
Dark thirty coming earlier everyday
The sunsets are getting more colors and days getting shorter by a minute each evening. There is a little bit of a nip in the air at twilight time and more leaves and acorns are falling from the trees each day. There are still a few weeks until Jack Frost arrives.
Broccoli is a cool weather crop that will winter over
Broccoli plants are still available at hardware’s, seed shops, garden departments, and nurseries. They are available in six and nine packs. At this late date, check the plants carefully and purchase only those that are healthy and have healthy leaves and blue green stems. When setting them out, allow two to three feet between each plant so you can apply a layer of crushed leaves for protection from weather extremes. Apply an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food on both sides of the plants. Apply a layer of peat moss in the furrow before setting out the plants. Water each week with the water wand on “shower” mode when there is no rain in the forecast.
Planting a row or bed of Siberian kale
Siberian kale is truly the king of the winter garden and a real hardy survivor. Kale will grow quickly in the cool soil in early October. Most hardware’s feature several varities but the best and the sweetest is Siberian kale. Unlike many other greens, do not mix different varities of kale, but sow each variety separately for best results. Use Plant-Tone organic vegetable food in the furrow and cover seed with a layer of peat moss before hilling up soil on each side of the furrow. Side dress once a month with Plant-Tone or Miracle Gro liquid plant food mixed with proper amount of water in a sprinkle can and poured over the kale. Water every week with the water wand on “shower” mode when there is no rain in the forecasts.
You can still plant a row of onion sets
Onion sets are still available and can be set out as October begins. You can choose from red, yellow, or white sets. Plant in a furrow about four inches deep and three or four inches apart. Apply a layer of peat moss on the onion sets after setting them out. Add an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food on top of the peat moss. Hill up soil on each side of the furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade. Every two weeks, use a sprinkle can of water mixed with Miracle Gro liquid plant food and pour over tops of onion sets. Apply a layer of crushed leaves between the rows of onions.
Several more weeks remain for planting of flowering spring bulbs
Spring flowering bulbs can be purchased at Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Lowes Home Improvement, Walmart, garden shops, hardware’s, and nurseries. You can choose from daffodils, narcissus, jonquils, tulips, hyacinth, and crocus. Buy only bulbs in transparent see through mesh bags or individual bulbs. Check and do not buy soft or rotted bulbs. Purchase a bag of bone meal or bulb starter to get bulbs off to a great start. Invest in a bulb planter made of durable steel to make bulb planting easier. Place a layer of peat moss over the bulbs before applying bulb booster or bone meal and then cover with a layer of soil. At the end of October, cover with a layer of crushed leaves.
Helping hummingbirds prepare for their flight to Mexico
As we move into October, the hummers have an extra sense to know that their soon flight across the gulf is imminent. Cooler nights and a nip in the air are sending a subtle message to them. The fading annuals of summer are also sending them a message. As October arrives, so does their up and coming flight across the Gulf of Mexico. You can help them prepare for their journey by keeping nectar in the feeders and checking them out everyday. They will need to be at their best energy level as they fly nonstop across the golf.
The taste of autumn in a tart apple
The bite into a tart, mellow apple and to feel the juice sprinkle on your face is a touch of Heaven on earth. Only God can make something a tart and juicy as the autumn taste of a fresh apple. There are plenty of apples of all varities raised in many states in America. Each apple and their states and conditions they grow in reflects their taste, tartness, and mellowness. By far, the best tasting apples in America are a product of New York State where varities such as McIntosh, Rome, Jonathan, Jona Gold, Empire, York, and Winesap are produced. Whether its the gray loamy soil, heavy snows, late springs, pleasant summers or just the legacy of Johnny Appleseed. New York State apples are just hard to beat. Their tart, mellow, juicy texture is just outstanding, unique and incomparable!
Making a Macintosh apple casserole
Macintosh apples are the very best of apples because they are tart, mellow, and juicy. This makes them great for a casserole. For this recipe, you will need ten or more McIntosh apples, two tablespoons plain flour, one teaspoon salt, two sticks melted light margarine, one cup light brown sugar, one cup sugar, one tablespoon apple pie spices, one teaspoon vanilla, one teaspoon lemon flavoring, half cup Log Cabin maple pancake syrup. Peel, core, and cut apples into quarter inch slices and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, sugar, flour, apple pie spices, vanilla and lemon flavoring and maple syrup. Add the melted margarine, mix well. Spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan or dish with Pam baking spray. Arrange apple slices in the bottom of baking dish. Spread the brown sugar mixture over the apples. Cover pan or dish with foil and bake for one hour or until apples are tender.
Pansies are the gems of autumn annuals
With their dark green foliage and colorful flowers with faces that endure the crispness of autumn and the cold of winter. The brightness of pansies bring much color to the gray days of winter. On gray, snowy days of the winter they are true gems of the front porch. Each flower reflects its personality with its familiar face. We have seen them pop their faces up from a clump of fresh snow to perk up a gray day. You can still plant pots or containers of pansies or even a bed of pansies. Buy a bag of pansy booster to give the newly planted pansies a boost. they are still in full bloom at Home Depot, Lowes Home Improvement, Walmart, Ace Hardware, most hardware’s and nurseries. They brighten up any porch!
Checking out the late late autumn tomato
October is now here and the late, late, tomatoes should have green tomatoes hanging from their vines. As October nights get cooler, the frost date draws closer. The date of the first frost date on the calendar is October but we can usually expect frost around October 24. The late, late, tomatoes should be harvested before the first frost, wrapped in sheets of newspaper, and placed in box lids and kept in the house or basement, covered with sections of newspapers and checked twice a week for ripeness. They may not be as tasty as sun ripened, but better than hothouse.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Interesting conversation!”- Two factory workers were eating lunch one day. One worker said to the other, “My wife talks to herself a lot.” The other worker replied, “So does mine, but she doesn’t know it, she thinks i’m listening to her!”
“Needing help?”- A woman walked up to the manager of a department store. “Are you needing any help?”, she asked. “No” , the manager said, “We already have all the staff we need.” “Well, then would you send someone over here to wait on me?”, she asked.
The almanac for the month of October 2021
There will be a new moon on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 6. Columbus day is Monday, Oct. 11. The moon reaches its first quarter on Tuesday, Oct. 12. There will be a full moon on the night of Wednesday, Oct. 20. This moon will be named Full Hunters Moon. The moon reaches its last quarter on Thursday, Oct. 28. Halloween is Sunday, Oct. 31.
A report on the number of August frost
August 2021 was a relatively dry month and it affected the density and the number of the fogs of August. The month produced twenty fogs. There were four heavy fogs, eight medium fogs, and eight light fogs. This means winter may give us four snowman type snows, eight snows that cover the landscape, and eight dustings of snow or flurries.
September 26, 2021
The acorns on the mighty oaks begin their fall
The acorns on the mighty oaks are sounding off loud and clear as they bounce off the roof of a neighbor’s outdoor garage. We wonder if the acorn harvest this autumn will be an abundant one. My Northampton County grandma always said, “When the acorns in the autumn cover the ground, in winter, snow will be around.”
Another acorn legend says that when squirrels scurry to go around and store acorns, look for a winter of cold, ice, sleet, and plenty of snow. A more pleasant fact about mighty oaks is that they grow in almost every state in America and this is why the oak is considered our national tree. Oak trees enjoy a long life span with some of them living for centuries. Many oaks do not produce their first acorns until they are 50 years old while other varieties of oaks including Northern Red Oak, Chestnut Oak, Black Oak, Scarlet Oak, Pin Oak, English Oak, White Oak, Swamp Oak, Post Oak, and Bur Oak. No wonder that the mighty oak is Americas national tree.
Autumn 2021 has made its grand entry
Autumn is now officially here and the first of autumns leaf harvest is already reaching the ground as maples begin to unload their colorful leaves and other varities will soon follow. Don’t let them blow away or go to waste. Use the leaf blower, vacuum, or an old-fashioned rake to move them to the garden plot or the compost pile or bin. Run the mower over some of them to use for mulch and to place between rows or beds of cool weather vegetables and around turnip rows, broccoli, and cabbage beds, as well as collards. Add crushed leaves to the compost and place a layer of crushed leaves around azalea beds for winter protection.
Getting the American bee balm ready to winter over
American bee balm will endure winter if you give it a bit of care and attention. As we move into October, keep the balm well watered and feed with Flower-Tone organic flower food. In mid October, trim the balm to about a foot tall. Fill the container to the brim with new potting medium and top with a layer of peat moss for added winter protection. Water lightly during winter months. Keep balm on the back part of the front porch. Reserve a towel or rag and cover the balm on freezing nights. In daytime when the sun is out and temperatures are above freezing, remove towel but replace at night. Water lightly once each week.
Spicy apple breakfast cake
It is named “breakfast” cake, but can also be made for dinner and supper too. It is a simple recipe with most of the ingredients already in your kitchen. You will need three and a half cups plain flour, one and a half cups sugar, two teaspoons of baking powder, three fourths teaspoon salt, half cup of Crisco shortening, two eggs slightly beaten, one and a fourth cups milk, two and a half cups of peeled, cored, diced tart apples, boil in water until tender (and drained), two teaspoons of apple pie spices, three fourth cup of brown sugar, one stick melted light margarine, one teaspoon vanilla. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix flour and three tablespoons of sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat in the Crisco shortening, add eggs and milk. Mix to make a soft dough. Spread the dough in a well greased 13 x 9 x 2 bowl, mix the remaining sugar, boiled cubed apples, apple pie spices, brown sugar, vanilla, melted margarine. Spread this mixture over the dough. Bake for half hour or more if needed. Serve hot or cold. Great with ice cream or Cool Whip or just plain.
Red, gold, green, yellow, pink apples available at roadside markets and supermarkets in Surry County
A trip up U.S Hwy 52 from Mount Airy and onto Interstate 77 at the state line of Virginia is a feast of colorful apple displays in boxes and bushel baskets in all sizes and colors. Enjoy the season of the apple and purchase several colors and varities. Apples will continue to be a staple with us from now all the way through winter. Use them in recipes, salads, deserts, and snacks. For a real treat, wash and core an apple and fill the core area with Skippy peanut butter!
September the time to plant spring flowering bulbs
The time to set out the bulbs of spring flowers have arrived. The bulbs of the spring flowers are showing up at Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s home Improvement, Walmart, and at hardwares and nurseries. You can purchase spring bulbs in individual or assorted colors sold in singles or mesh bags. Spring flowing bulbs include daffodils, jonquils, narcissus, crocus, hyacinths, and tulips. Hyacinths come in colors of white, pink, purple, red, cream, yellow, blue, and lavender. Hyacinths are really a breath and fragrance of early spring and add one of the first bursts of color to the landscape of spring. When you buy spring flowering bulbs, buy a bag of bone meal or bulb booster to start the bulbs off. Prepare the bulbs bed and apply a layer of peat moss and sprinkle in some bone meal or bulb booster and cover with another layer of peat moss, add plenty of good soil. Water once a week. In early October, apply a generous layer of crushed leaves to the bulb bed. Continue to lightly water the bulbs each week in October.
Keep feeding the purple top turnips
The row or bed of turnips respond well to the cooler nights of late September. Side dress the turnip rows with Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and water the turnip row or bed with water wand in shower mode once a week if no rain falls.
Planting ornamental cabbage or kale
The cole family of kale and cabbage in ornamental varities add unusual hues of color to the cool weather porch. You can choose from color combinations of yellow, wine, pink, purple, mint green, cream, rose, maroon, and lavender plus light green and dark green shades. Place the cabbage toward the rear of the porch away from later harsh colder temperatures and shelter them from frost and freezes. Keep a few old rags or towels handy to cover them on very cold nights. Remove towels the next day when temperatures rise. Set only one cabbage per container. Feed once a month with Flower-Tone organic flower food. Lightly water each week.
Hints for purchasing spring bulbs
Here are some hints when purchasing the bulbs of hyacinths, jonquils, daffodils, crocus, and tulips. Buy single bulbs that you can see, feed, and touch to detect rot, softness, or unhealthy bulbs. Do not buy bulbs in paper wraps or bags that prevent you from seeing the bulbs and inspecting them. The best bulbs are those in see through mesh bags that allow you to see, feel, and inspect the actual bulbs. Another great way to purchase spring bulbs is to select them individually from bins.
Keeping an eye on the Christmas cactus
As we near the end of September, the four Christmas cactus that have spent the spring and the summer on the porch still have several more weeks there before their move to the sunny living room where they will spend the winter. Before moving them inside for winter, we will add more cactus medium to refill the containers and apply an application of Flower-Tone organic flower food. The secret to blooms on the Christmas cactus is their spending spring and summer on the porch in a semi sunny location.
Keeping hummingbirds fed in September
The hummingbirds are still visiting the feeders often as summer annuals fade away. Most hummers will be around until mid October. Keep feeders about half filled to avoid waste and check them every other day. Their appetite and consumption will determine how much nectar to place in the feeders.
Front porch air that is easy to breath
It is real therapy to breath in the fresh, cool, autumn, humidity-free breezes on the front porch. The quiet breezes are blowing the colorful leaves to the awaiting lawn. The sound of crows in the distance and leaves gracefully gliding to the ground makes the porch a great place to be on an autumn afternoon.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Digging new rows.” A farmer robbed a bank and was sentenced to prison. He received a letter from his wife that said, “Here you are in prison, smoking cigarettes from the state, eating their food and watching T.V while I’m at home alone. Who’s going to plow the fields so I can plant the potatoes?” The farmer wrote her back saying, “Don’t plow the field that’s where I buried the money.” A few days later she wrote back and said, “Someone must be reading your mail. The sheriff and his deputies came out yesterday and plowed the whole field. What should I do now?” The farmer wrote back and said, “Now you can go ahead and plant the potatoes!”
“Knowing the future.” Jackie: “My grandpa knew the exact day of the year and also the exact time of day that he was going to die and he was right about both.” Blackie: “Wow! That’s unbelievable, how could he know all that?” Jackie: “The judge told him!”
Reading and writing. Dad: “What did you learn in school today?” Daughter: “They taught us how to write.” Dad: “Wow! What did you learn to write?” Daughter. “I don’t know, we haven’t learned to read yet!”
September 19, 2021
A thunderstorm in September is not that unusual because we do have some warm and humid days that can produce a hefty thunderstorm even though they may not be as severe. September is in the midst of hurricane season and a hurricane off the coast can certainly spawn a few thunderstorms and produce a lot of rain. A bit of weather lore goes along with the thunder in the month of September, and some say it is a sign of abundant yields of vegetables and fruits in next years gardens. Rumble on, big boomers of September.
Season of color slowly arriving
The slow nip in September air is casting a hint of color in the leaves of dogwoods, silver maples, birch trees as well as elms. With a bright Carolina blue sky as a background, the color of the leaves standout like paints on an artist canvas. In less than a month Jack Frost will begin to touch some leaves and the season of raking and blowing leaves will begin.
Planting autumn seasonal vegetables
Now that we are in the middle of September, cool weather autumn vegetables should thrive in the garden plot. A few warm days will not bother autumn vegetables because there is now a small nip in the air as autumn is is less than a week away. There is still plenty of time to sow seeds of turnips but you must sow them this week. You can also sow mixed greens, spinach Siberian kale, curly mustard, onion sets, and plants of broccoli, cabbage, collards, and cauliflower. Sow the cool weather vegetables a little deeper and cover the furrow with a layer of peat moss before sowing seed and then cover the seed with another layer peat moss and then apply an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil on each side of the furrow, then tamp down with the hoe blade. Early frost will not have any adverse effect on cool weather vegetables. Water each week with the water wand to retain moisture. Side dress cool weather vegetables once a month with Plant-Tone and keep soil hilled up after each feeding. Keep crushed leaves between the rows of turnips because they are a root crop and the leaves will prevent ground freezes and prolong a long harvest.
Setting out onion sets
September nights are cooling down a bit and conditions are ideal for setting out a row of onion sets in colors of red, yellow, or white. The cool nights of September will cause onion sets to quickly sprout. A pound of onion sets cost around $3. They can be planted in rows or beds. Set onion sets about three or four inches apart in a deep furrow about four or five inches deep. Cover the sets with a layer of peat moss and a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure and top with an application of Garden-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil on each side of the furrow and tamp down lightly. When late October arrives, cover the onion sets with a layer of crushed leaves between the rows and use a sprinkle can of water mixed with Miracle-Gro liquid plant food poured over the onions every two weeks.
Starting a bin or pile of compost
As leaves begin to fall, the opportunity to start a batch of compost with the residue of stalks, vines and leftovers from summer’s garden plus leaves broken down by running through the blower or mowing over them, is here. Adding grass clippings to the compost will heat up the ingredients, as will Black Kow composted cow manure and Garden-Tone organic plant food. Temperatures in September will be warm enough to heat up compost.
Time to care for azaleas
Azaleas could use a little tender loving care as the cool temperatures of mid-September arrive. Azaleas may need a try to shape them up. You can feed azaleas with Holly-Tone organic azalea food sold in four pound zippered bags at Lowe’s Home Improvement or Home Depot, Ace Hardware, nurseries , and most garden departments. You can also use Miracle-Gro liquid azalea food mixed with proper amount of water in a sprinkle can. Dr. Earth also produces a slow release azalea food that feeds all winter. A layer of crushed leaves will protect azaleas from cold weather extremes.
From summer annuals to the cool weather annuals of autumn
The summer annuals are slowly fading with frost coming late next month. The way is now being paved for the annuals of autumn. The soil that your summer annuals are in can be recycled by pulling all summer annuals from the containers and adding them to the compost pile or bin. Dump the medium from the summer annuals containers into the wheelbarrow, stir it up and add 50% mix of new potting medium to the old medium and stir it together. Add several cups of Flower-Tone organic flower food to the medium along with some peat moss. Use a sprinkle can to moisten the recycled medium and fill the containers you are using to plant the annuals of autumn.
Pansies are most popular autumn annual
It is no wonder that the pansies are one of the autumns favorite annuals, with their colorful lavenders, royal purple, cream, yellow, bronze, maroon, pink, tan, and light orange flowers, each one each one of them with a familiar face on them. Dark green foliage all winter long is another feature of the pansy family. Pansies will endure winters temperatures with a little bit of preventive protection. Pansies can be purchased in six and nine packs and most are in bloom when you buy them so that you can choose the varieties and colors you desire. To get pansies off to a great start purchase a bag of pansy booster and mix into the potting medium and add some to the pansies every month. When planting pansies two to a pot, in containers and baskets, plant only three or four. This will prevent the pansies from becoming root bound. In winter, water the pansies but don’t over water because this may cause the medium in the containers to freeze. In winter when a hard freeze is forecast you may want to move pansy containers further inside the porch and cover over night with a sheet or a couple of towels. Placing a couple of handfuls of peat moss on top of the pansies in their containers will also help prevent freezes.
September is the gateway into autumn
We are on the threshold of autumn and the green and the warmth of the waning summer is fading away. This is the time of seasonal transition. It is not cool enough for a coat, but not warm enough to break into a sweat. Leaves of dogwoods are turning crimson and displaying their harvest of berries. some maples are already turning yellow and some trees are already beginning to lose their leaves. There is a welcome relief in the advent of autumn with a nip in the air and lower humidity and the added bonus of beautiful sunsets. It is a bittersweet time as we slowly lose the warmth of the lazy, hazy, days of summer.
Making an apple pie cheesecake
Celebrate the arrival of autumn next week with this apple pie cheesecake. You will need one cup of sugar, two eight ounce boxes of cream cheese, three large eggs, one teaspoon vanilla, one can Comstock apple pie filling, four tart apples, peeled, cored, cubed, and boiled until tender, half teaspoon apple pie spices. Two graham cracker pie crust. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, mix sugar with softened cream cheese, add the eggs, vanilla, and two tablespoon lemon juice. Mix with mixer on high speed until it is smooth. Pour into the pie crusts and bake for half hour. allow to cool. Mix apple pie filling, cooked apples, one cup light brown sugar, apple pie spices, and spread over the top of the cheesecake. Sprinkle top with a little more apple pie spices.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“A virus among us.”A man arrived back in the United States after a trip overseas. After getting of the plane, he was not feeling well so he went directly from the airport to the hospital. After many examinations and tests he woke up and found himself in a private isolated room. The phone by his bedside rang. He picked it up and heard his doctor say, “This is your doctor. We have discovered that you have an extremely contagious virus, so we have placed you in total isolation. We are placing you on a diet of pizzas, pancakes, and pita bread.” “Will that cure me?” the patient asked. The doctor replied, “Well, no, but it is the only food we could slip under the door.”
“The best man.” An 8-year-old girl was attending her first wedding. She leaned over to her mother and whispered, “Why did the lady change her mind?” the mom said, “What do you mean dear?” The little girl replied, “She went down the aisle with one man and left with another.”
Road crossing. What do you call a chicken crossing the road? Poultry in motion!
September 05, 2021
Plant that purple top turnip row
As we move into September, it’s time to sow a row or bed of purple top turnips so they will have plenty of time to develop large turnips. After all, they are a root crop and require quite a long growing season to produce a harvest. The garden soil of September is still warm so cool the soil after sowing the turnips to promote their growth. Water the turnips everyday with the water wand in shower mode when no rain or showers fall.
Gardening in autumn is comfortable, fun, and easier
The temperatures are comfortable, the humidity is lower, there are fewer weeds and insects, and the soil is more workable. The inventory of cool weather vegetables for autumn garden plots is remarkable. You can plant onion sets, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, collards, mixed greens, curly mustard, turnips, Siberian curly kale, spinach and lettuce. Best of all, you can prolong the harvest in cold weather by applying a layer of crushed leaves between the rows for warmth and protection from cold temperatures and frost as well as snow.
September brings a nip in the night air and a hint of color in the dogwoods and maples. There is also a slow down in the harvest of summer vegetables. Days are still getting shorter by a minute each evening. We see a bonus of extra color at sundown with a sunset of the blazing hues of red, yellow, purple, orange and royal blue glowing on the western horizon and signaling that the season of autumn is only weeks away.
Keep plenty of vegetable food for fall gardens
A garden is only as healthy as the products you use to feed the vegetables and enhance the soil with organic material. They are a cut far above chemical fertilizers and are worth the extra cost. You can choose from peat moss in 3.5 cubic yard bags, Black Kow composted cow manure in 25 and 50 pound bags, Plant-Tone and Garden-Tone plant and vegetable food in four pound bags. Tomato-Tone, Flower-Tone, Rose-Tone and Holly-Tone are organic foods. calcium carbonate (powdered lime) and Alaska Fish emulsion liquid vegetable food are good choices. All are good for vegetables, flowers, roses, evergreens, shrubs as well as your health, the environment, and the garden plot.
Time to set out cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli and collard plants
Cooler nights and cooler temperatures make September the ideal time to set out plants of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards and get them off to a great start. You can purchase plants at hardware’s, nurseries and garden shops in six and nine packs. Always check to make sure the packs have six and nine healthy plants. Healthy plants will have blue green stems, not tan or brown dried up stems which are a sure sign they are damped off. Healthy plants will be eight or nine inches tall, not legged out of their containers.
Making a simple fresh apple cobbler
Apples are now in abundance and there are so many ways to prepare them into unusual desserts. This apple cobbler is full of simple ingredients and a quickie to prepare. You will need nine or ten tart apples peeled, cored and cut into one inch chunks and soaked in salt water to prevent browning. Set the apples aside. Spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan or dish with Pam baking spray. Rinse chunks of apple in fresh water and spread in the bottom of baking pan or dish. Mix two cups of sugar, three teaspoons plain flour, two teaspoons apple pie spices, three teaspoons vanilla flavoring. Mix well and pour over the cubed apples. Add one cup milk and one cup water and stir into the cubed apples. Slice two sticks of light margarine into quarter inch pieces and set aside. Break or cut two frozen pie crusts into pieces and spread over the apple mixture. Spread margarine slices over the pie crust topping. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for one hour or until crust is golden brown. Cool and serve topped with Cool Whip or vanilla ice cream.
The season of the county fair is here
Last year, many fairs closed because of the COVID 19 virus. Hopefully, this will be a great season healthwise, weatherwise and otherwise. In almost every North Carolina county there is a county fair going on from late August all the way into early November. Hopefully the state will be bright and well lighted with midways of all sizes this autumn with plenty of rides, shows, fair foods, exhibits, entertainment and other attractions. Usually September begins with the Iredell County Fair in Statesville, Stokes County Fair in King, and Surry County Fair in Mount Airy, Davidson County Fair in Lexington, Rowan County Fair in Salisbury, Alamance County Fair in Burlington, Catawba County Fair in Hickory, Cabarrus County Fair in Concord, Central Carolina Fair in Greensboro, Carolina Classic Fair in Winston-Salem and the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh.
Taking care of asparagus and panda fern
The asparagus and panda ferns have made the journey on the deck through spring, summer and now into the month of September. As we begin to prepare them for a move to the living room to spend late autumn and winter in that environment. We will keep them trimmed and fed with Plant-Tone organic plant food and water them every other day. These ferns have been thriving for many seasons with very little care or attention.
Start a compost bin or pile
The crops of the summers harvest are winding their way down. This residue will provide vines, stalks, garden leftovers and grass clippings as ingredients for the compost pile or bin. All this paves the way to a harvest of ingredients for the preparation of the compost pile or bin. Mow over the garden residue to break it down to make the composting process easier. Keep saving the grass clippings to add to the compost to heat it up. You can also use Black Kow composted cow manure or Plant-Tone organic plant food to heat up compost and break it down. Add some water to the composite every week.
Sounds of autumn coming from the mighty oaks
The sound of acorns falling on the metal roof of a neighbors shed is a reminder that the days of autumn are drawing nearer. The frequency of the falling acorns may be a message of what sort of winter we are in for. We will be observing the squirrels because my Northampton County grandma said that when squirrels are busy storing acorns in September and early October, they are preparing for a rough and cold winter. She also said oaks that were filled with acorns were a sure sign of a harsh winter.
Keeping an eye on the dogwood berries
There is a hint of crimson in the leaves of the dogwood trees and the berries on the limbs where the dogwoods bloomed earlier this past spring are now beginning to turn bright red. There seems to be a heavy yield of them this year. This could also be a sign of upcoming winter with plenty of ice, snow, and cold temperatures. We will just have to wait and see.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Cheap hearing trick”- A man walked into a business to buy a hearing aid, but he did not want to spend much money. “How much do they cost?” he asked the clerk. “That all depends,” said the salesman, “They could run anywhere from $2 to $2,000.” The customer said “Lets try the $2 model.” The salesman placed the device around the customers neck. “You just stick this outlet in your ear and run this black cord into your pocket.” the salesman instructed. “How does it work?” the customer asked. “For $2, it doesn’t work.” the salesman replied. “But people talk louder to you after seeing the cord!”
“Church snoozers”- If all the members who were stretched end to end they would be much more comfortable.
“Easy come, easy go!”- A woman was telling her friend, “It was I who made my husband a millionaire.” “And what was he before you married him?” asked the friend. The woman replied “A billionaire!”
The almanac for September
There will be a new moon on Monday, Sept. 6. Labor Day will be celebrated Monday, Sept, 6. Patriot Day will be Saturday, Sept. 11. Grandparents day will be on Sunday, Sept. 12. The moon reaches its first quarter on Monday, Sept. 13. Yom Kipper begins at sundown Wednesday, Sept. 15. There will be a full moon on the night of Monday, Sept. 20. This moon will be named Full Harvest Moon. The moon reaches its last quarter on Tuesday, Sept. 26.
August 29, 2021
A nip of Indian summer as August reaches its curtain call
The fog of late August mornings and the cool heavy dews have sent subtle warnings and the crickets and katydids also have been singing their songs about the autumn serenade. The days are becoming a minute shorter each evening and the air on the front porch has a certain nip just before dark. Mid August is certainly the advent of the transition of summer to autumn, slowly but very surely.
August fogs winding down
Only a few days remaining in the August count of fogs and their forecast of what winter snowfalls will be like. We hope you are recording the fogs of August and observe during winter if there is any accuracy in them. Even the weather forecasters are not always right, so the August fogs could help close the in the gap. At least the thoughts of snow and the results of the foggy predictions are “cool” thoughts and a pleasing state of mind on hot August days. My aunt Lessie always said as she sat under an oak tree, “It’s better to think about snow even in hot weather than keeping your mind on the summer heat.”
Late August rains pave way for the cool weather vegetables
Unlike July and a month of hot dog days, late August will bring us beneficial rain and relief from extreme heat. This will pave the way for sowing seeds of cool weather vegetables such as mustard greens, mixed greens turnips, collards, onion sets, Siberian kale, broccoli, cabbage, and spinach. Cooler temperatures at the end of August will signal late summer vegetables and hasten them to harvest. Cool temperatures and showers will cool the soil to prepare it for the vegetables of early autumn.
Starting a row of mixed greens or curly mustard greens
With only two days remaining in August, September and cooler temperatures will be arriving and pave the way for sowing curly mustard seed or get the hardware to mix several varities of greens and custom mix you a ratio of types of greens that you prefer. You can choose from a mix of mustard, rape, kale, broad leaf, tendergreen, turnip and others. Sow the seed in a shallow furrow about three or four inches deep, add a layer of peat moss to the furrow, spread the seed and add another layer of peat moss and an application of Plant-Tone organic plant food. Hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade. Add water with the water wand in shower mode when there is no rain in the forecast. When the greens sprout, side dress with another application of Plant-tone organic vegetable food.
Keeping late, late tomatoes watered and fed
We hope your autumn crop of tomato plants are off to a great start and well on their way to a harvest before frost. Side dress them with Tomato-Tone organic tomato food and pull the soil up on both sides of the plants for extra support and moisture retention. As the plants grow, remove the cages from spent summer tomatoes and plant them on the late tomatoes.
Quick apple dumplings
As we get closer to September, the apple harvest will soon be upon us. This is a quickie recipe for preparing apple dumplings that the family will enjoy. You will need about nine tart apples, cut five of them in half and remove the cores from them and set aside in a bowl of salted water (to prevent browning), cut the other four apples in half inch cubes and set aside in a bowl of salt water. Open a can of canned biscuits (you will need ten biscuits). Roll out each biscuit completely flat. Wrap half of each apple in a flattened biscuit. Place the ten apple wrapped biscuits into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan or dish sprayed with Pam baking spray. spread the mixture of cubed apples, one cup sugar, one tablespoon apple spices together and spread over the top of the apple filled biscuits. Sprinkle a half cup light brown sugar over top of the biscuits. Melt a stick of light margarine and drizzle over the top of the dumplings. Pour a cup of evaporated milk over the dumplings. Bake in a 350 degree oven until the dumplings are golden brown. Serve with Cool Whip or vanilla ice cream.
Starting a row or bed of Siberian curly kale
As September draws near, it’s time to sow a row or bed of Siberian curly kale for a cool weather harvest of sweet, tender healthy Siberian kale. Kale is rapidly becoming Americas most popular green and no wonder because it can be served as a vegetable or a salad and eaten raw or cooked. Kale is sweet, tender, and winter hardy. We have even harvested kale when snow was on the ground. With just a small amount of weather protection, kale will produce a harvest into spring. Sow kale seed in a shallow furrow about three or four inches deep, cover bottom of furrow with a layer of peat moss, sow the kale seed and cover with another layer of peat moss. Apply an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food, hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down with a hoe blade. Water with the water wand on days when no rain is in the forecast. When kale sprouts, continue to keep soil hilled up on both sides of the row. Side dress with Plant-Tone a month after kale has been sown.
Shorter days and a slight nip in the air
These are signs that autumn is on the way. Colorful sunsets are also a signal that we are approaching the season of autumn. A few maples already have some yellow leaves. summer vegetables are slowing down and the humidity is dropping as the month of August is coming to the end.
Starting a row or bed of cabbage, collard, broccoli, and cauliflower plants
September will be here in a few days and the hardwares and garden shops and nurseries have the plants of cabbage, broccoli, collards, and cauliflower in six and nine packs. The soil is still warm so cool the newly planted cole family plants with a drink of water from the water wand in “shower” mode on days there is no rain or thundershowers. Set plants of collards, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower about eighteen to twenty four inches apart. When setting out plants, place a layer of peat moss in the bottom of the furrow to help retain moisture in the soil. Apply an application of Garden-Tone or Plant-Tone organic vegetable or plant food in furrow before hilling up soil on each side of the furrow. In about two weeks when plants are established and well on their way, apply another application of Plant-Tone and hill it into the soil on both sides of the row. Continue to use the water wand in “shower” mode to cool down the September soil. Feed the plants with Plant-Tone and hill it into the soil once each month. As the weather cools later in the month, apply a layer of crushed leaves between the rows for protection later on when cooler temperatures arrive. One good thing about cole family vegetables in autumn and winter is you do not have to worry with white cabbage butterflies, worms, and other pests.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Surprise cure.” A 65-year-old woman went to the doctor’s office and was seen by a new young doctor and after about four minutes in the examination room she screamed and ran down the hallway. An older doctor stopped her and ask what was the problem. The woman explained the young doctor had her sit down and relax, he had some news for her. The older doctor rushed down the hallway to the younger doctor’s office. He said, “What’s the matter with you? Mrs. Matthews is 65 years old, has four grown children, and seven grandchildren, and you told her she was pregnant?” The young doctor smugly laughed, “It cured her hiccups didn’t it?”
“Right diagnosis.” A farmer asked his veterinarian for some advice. The farmer said, “I have a horse that walks normally sometimes, and at other times, he limps. What should I do?” The vet replied, “The next time he walks normally sell him.”
“Mellow old age.” As we age, it’s very important to remember which pocket has the coins and which pocket has the pills. Last week, a man had a chest pain, reached in his pocket and took three pennies.
August 22, 2021
Thunder, lightning, showers: a mid-summer blessing
Thunder, lightning, heavy showers all during the summer show the sources from which God sends us his blessings to flow down on our thirsty gardens. The electricity and majesty in a summer sudden thunderstorm are a blessing to a sweaty body, and a thirsty lawn, and a thirsty garden, and cornfields with their folded stalks and leaves with petticoats flipped and just waiting for the heavens to open. All of them breathe a sigh of thanksgiving after a refreshing thundershower.
Giving the panda and asparagus ferns midsummer attention
These two ferns are several years old and they thrive all summer on the deck. In late autumn, winter and into mid-April, they spend their winter in the sunny living room. In summer, they need a drink of water every other day and a handful of Flower-Tone organic flower food every three weeks. To keep them growing, trim their long runners back once a month.
Saint Bartholomew’s Day: Cooler midsummer dew
Saint Bartholomew’s day will be celebrated on Thursday. The legend on his day says the dew that falls on his day and each day afterword will get cooler. This is one of the subtle early signs of autumn and also a signal that we have reached midsummer. The August fogs are occurring and we hope you are keeping a record of them each morning and whether they are light, medium, or heavy or none. In winter, we will check to see how the fogs measure up to the snows of winter.
An interesting ice cold experiment
We do not recall our grandma in Northampton County recording the cold dew’s from Saint Bartholomew’s day and into September. She would have probably did it if she had known about his special day. We are going to try an experiment between Saint Bartholomew’s’s day and Sept. 15 and check each mornings dew before the sun dries it up. We will run our hand through the dew laden grass and write down the date and amount of dew whether light, medium, heavy, or none and also if the dew is warm, cold, or chilly or no dew at all. Then during winter when ice is in the forecast, we may get some idea of how much ice we will have. Our calculation may be as close as some of the meteorologists are. It will be a fun and interesting experiment. We may also establish a tradition for our grandchildren to practice and follow!
Adding long life to your water wand
Water wands have a spring loaded trigger which may shorten their life if you do not take care of it. You can protect the spring by always removing the wand from the hose when moving the hose from one area yo another. Never pull the wand when it is attached to the hose. In winter, store the wand in the house or basement, not an outside building, to protect the wand from freezing temperatures.
Keeping late tomato plants well watered, fed<
Mid-August can be hot and dry, so keep the water wand ready and keep tomato plants moist by watering the base of the plants. Keep them fed with Tomato-Tone organic tomato food and soil hilled up on both sides of the row after applying Tomato-Tone. As other tomatoes finish their season, remove their cages and stalks and place them on the late tomato plants. Keep applying Tomato-Tone every 15-20 days. Tomato-Tone is a great organic product that is calcium enriched and cost about $8 for a four pound plastic zippered bag.
Time to sow purple top turnips
Turnips are a root crop that requires a long season to produce large turnips and they should be sown soon so you can enjoy a harvest all during winter. Broccoli, cabbage, and collards can be planted in September because they are defiantly cold weather vegetables. Being a root crop, turnips need to be sown between now and the first week of September. For great results, plant turnip seeds by preparing a furrow about three or four inches deep, apply a layer of peat moss in bottom of furrow, sprinkle turnip seed lightly on top of peat moss and apply another layer of peat moss on top of that seed. Apply an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food on the peat moss and hill up soil on each side of the furrow and tamp down soil for good contact with seed. Once the turnips sprout, apply an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil after applying Plant-Tone.
Keeping the coleus (Josephs Coat) thriving until frost
The foliage on the coleus has been a colorful and beautiful display since late spring. To keep them colorful until frost, keep the lavender flowers pinched of before they produce seed. These seed pods send messages to the plants to slow down. By pinching off flowers, the coleus will continue to produce colorful foliage.
Checking the weeds
Weeds in mid August are making a last ditch effort to produce seeds for next season. The best way to get rid of noxious weeds is to pull them up by the roots and throw them out of the garden. You do not need any chemicals or herbicides- only the two hands that God gave you. Morning glories, not grass, Bermuda grass, lambs quarters and crab grass can easily be pulled up by the roots and thrown out of the garden before they produce seed that can winter over and cause problems in next year’s garden plot.
Cat nights are now on the prowl
Dog days are over and cat nights started last week on Tuesday, August 17. Cats prowl all night and August is a month on the prowl with heavy fogs, cold dews, quick storms, humid days, August, like cats are traditional. Cats have a completely different mission at night than they do in daytime as they prowl around. August itself is catlike in nature with plenty of daytime humidity and changing to dense fog and heavy dews at night. Trying to figure the conduct of August is about like trying to figure out a cats disposition!
Gambling with a late row of green beans
We still have a little more than two months of warm weather and maybe even more which is enough time to produce another row of green beans before frost. Most bush green bean varities have a maturity date of 65-70 days and this is plenty of time for the harvest before frost arrives in mid- to late-October. The best green beans for a late harvest are Crop Top and Strike. Use plenty of peat moss and maybe some black Kow composted cow manure when sowing late green beans and an application of Garden-Tone organic vegetable food. Keep the green beans watered with the water wand in “shower” mode when rain is not in the forecast.
Mid summer crows making noise
As we move farther into August, we see and hear more crows in the area. We believe they are getting more adapted to people and we even have them visiting the birdbath. As close as they are we expect they have roost and nest in the neighborhood.
Making a brown sugar pound cake
To prepare this cake, you will need a one pound box of brown sugar, one cup sugar, three sticks light margarine, five large eggs, three cups plain flour, half teaspoon baking powder, one cup milk, one teaspoon vanilla, one cup chopped pecans. Do not preheat oven. Cream the margarine and two sugars together. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg addition. Mix flour and baking powder in separate bowl. Add flour to other mixture. Slowly add the milk and vanilla. Fold in the chopped pecans. Baked in a greased, floured, and lined waxed paper in bottom of the tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees for one hour (more if needed). Cool for twenty minutes before removing from tube pan.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Young at heart.” The young man cried out to his parents, “I want adventure, excitement, money, romance, fun. I’ll never find it at home so I’m leaving. Don’t try and stop me!” With those words he headed toward the door, and his parents followed close behind him. “Didn’t you hear what I said, I don’t want you to stop me.” “Who’s stopping you,” said his parents, “We’re going with you!”
“Special delivery.” A country doctor went way out into the boondocks to deliver a baby. When he arrived at the country home, there was no electricity and no one was home but the mother in labor and her 5 year old son. The doctor needed a little help so he recruited the 5 year old to hold the lantern while he delivered the baby. The mother pushed and in a short while delivered the baby. The doctor lifted the newborn baby by the foot and spanked him on the bottom to get him to take his first breath. The doctor then looked at the 5 year old boy who said, “hit him again doctor, he shouldn’t have crawled up there in the first place!”
Tonight is the full Sturgeon Moon
As we enter the final days of August, the Full Sturgeon Moon shines down just an hour after sunset and brighten fields and roadways adorned with Queen Ann’s lace and fields loaded with the corn harvest. It will be the last full moon of summer. Next month, we will have a Full Harvest Moon on the first day of autumn.
August 15, 2021
Taking care of summer roses
Hank Williams always sang his song about “Faded love and summer roses,” love sometimes may be blind, but we can certainly do our part to keep the summer roses from fading. Some measures to promote colorful rose blooms all the way until frost is deadhead all spent blooms and rose hips as well as long canes. Spray the foliage with a mist of liquid Sevin mixed with the proper amount of water in a spray bottle such as window and glass cleaner comes in. Feed roses every 20 days with Rose-Tone organic rose food to give late roses a boost. Use a water wand in shower mode to water around the base of roses once a week or more if there is no rainfall during the week.
Deadheading the late zinnia bed
The zinnias of mid summer are still blooming, even during the heat of August days. To keep promoting of blooms, continue to deadhead flowers after the flowers fade out. Clip them down to the foliage level to promote the development of new blooms as we move into the remainder of summer. Continue to water the base of the zinnias with the water wand in shower mode to prevent powdery mildew.
Keeping the hummers fed
Many annuals of summer are slowing down and humming birds in hot weather could use your help at the feeders during the hot days of August. Change the nectar at least twice a week because summer heat may cause the nectar to ferment. Ants can also be a pest around feeders. Clean areas around the feeders when you replace the nectar. You can make your own nectar by mixing a cup of sugar to one and a half cups water and several drops of red food coloring. Keep nectar refrigerated. Use a half gallon milk container to store nectar in. You can purchase ready to use nectar in half gallon containers or in powdered form in envelopes. The powder comes in six or eight packs or envelopes or bags.
The Snow White majesty of the dainty Queen Ann’s lace
Along the country lanes and the byways of Surry County, we are graced with the simple majesty of Queen Ann’s lace which adorns Surry County fields, roadsides and meadows in pure snowy white. This wild perennial thrives in most of the United States. In Milwaukee, it blooms along the railroad tracks and beside the runways at the Milwaukee International Airport. It also thrives between miles of cornfields in Indiana and Illinois, and all the way into Iowa. My mother always loved Queen Ann’s lace and she adorned zinnia and marigold arrangements with the lace to place on the alter table each week during summer. The Queen Ann’s lace gave a regal touch to the floral offerings. Queen Ann’s lace is simple, but Queen Ann makes simple things of life better as well as pretty and dainty.
Cooling off the birdbath
As the sun shines its rays down on the water in the birdbath, it does not take very long to heat up the water. Change the water a couple times a day when the temperatures are in the 90s. This will enable birds to enjoy a cool drink as well as a bath.
Using Tomato-Tone to jumpstart late tomato plants
Tomatoes that will produce a harvest right before frost arrives should be well on their way by now in the garden plot. Sprinkle some Tomato-Tone organic tomato food on both sides of the row and hill up soil to cover the Tomato-Tone. The plants will quickly respond. Repeat again in two or three weeks.
Making a Bertie County old fashioned tomato pie
They have been making them in Bertie County in northeastern North Carolina for over three hundred years. They are about as famous as Bertie County peanuts. My grandma in Northampton County made them in her kitchen and baked them in her wood stove oven using her homemade biscuits for a filler. It was a simple recipe much like in 1650s Bertie County! All the ingredients to make this pie were most likely already in the pantry of their kitchen. You do not need homemade biscuits to make a tomato pie. hot dog rolls, burger rolls, and canned biscuits can be used. You can use fresh stewed tomatoes like many cooks in Bertie County in the 1600s. Today, you can use home canned tomatoes both make great pies.
Whatever types of tomatoes you use, measure out a quart. To make a pie with fresh tomatoes, cook the tomatoes and mash them up, add five or six hot dog, hamburger rolls or eight homemade biscuits crumbled into small pieces. Add a teaspoon of cinnamon, half teaspoon apple pie spices, half teaspoon nutmeg (optional), one and a half ups sugar, one tablespoon vanilla, one stick melted light margarine, two large eggs, half teaspoon salt. In most Bertie County recipes, they use cayenne pepper, but Texas Pete can be used or you can just leave the hot out (my grandma did not use the heat in her pies). Mix all ingredients together. Pour into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan or dish or two round pie dishes. Spray with Pam baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or more until firm and golden brown on top.
If you ever drive through Bertie County, buy a couple of pound bags of salted in the shell peanuts to munch on. Most small towns in Bertie County have cafes and dining places that feature tomato pie and almost every restaurant will have its own special recipe. If you make a tomato pie, your recipe will become special too !
Starting a row or bed of purple top turnips
Mid August is here and purple top turnips can be sown in beds or rows. In a furrow about 4 or 5 inches deep, apply a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure and a layer of peat moss. Sow the turnip seed thinly and cover seed with another layer of peat moss and then apply some Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and cover the furrow by hilling soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down soil with the hoe blade. As soon as they sprout, apply another application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food on each side of row and hill up soil to cover the Plant-Tone.
Some subtle signs of autumn
There are subtle hints of autumn as we reach the half-way point of August. The days are getting shorter by one minute each evening and we have lost 52 minutes since June 21. Dews are getting heavier each morning and the fogs of August are becoming trademarks. Even though autumn is six weeks away, leaves on some trees are showing signs of stress. Many flowers are producing seed pods and many crops are slowing down. Crickets and katydids are signaling us that autumn is closer than we think.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“No pain , no gain.” The lady went to her doctor and cried, “Doctor you have got to help me. No matter where I touch my body, I experience horrible pain.” “That’s impossible,” said the doctor, “Show me.” She took her finger and pushed on her elbow, screaming with pain. She pushed on her knee and screamed out again in pain. She pushed her ankle and screamed again. No matter where she touched her body, pain was present. The doctor examined her and said, “Your problem is not really as bad as you think, you see, you have a broken finger!”
“Advice from the waitress.” A man walked into a restaurant in a strange town. The waitress came over to take his order. The man said, “I’ll have meatloaf, potatoes, green beans and a kind word.” When the waitress returned with his order, the man replied, “Where is the kind word?” The waitress bent over and whispered into his ear, “Don’t eat the meatloaf!”
“A munchy bar.” Lonnie, “Have you heard about the new chocolate crunch bar called Jaws?” Bonnie, “No, but how much does it cost?” Lonnie- “An arm and a leg!”
August 08, 2021
August fogs: Harbingers of snows of winter
With the days of August, we also see the advent of foggy mornings. They are a subtle sign of what could be in store for us this winter. My Northampton County grandma believed fogs during August predicted the snows and amounts of snows that would fall during the coming winter. A light fog would predict a light snow and heavy fog predicted a heavy snow. She was an early riser so she would check the fogs each August morning. She would keep an accurate record of the date, and density of each fog whether light, heavy, or medium for each day of the month. At the end of August, she would tally up her number of fogs and compare her findings with actual snowfalls during the winter months.
Checking the hardware for a new snow shovel
With the mention of snow predictions, it’s not a a bad idea that we consider purchasing a new snow shovel. We know two things for sure and one is the fact that you will not have any problem finding a snow shovel at this season of the year and the other thing is they will not spoil.
The dews of midsummer getting wetter, thicker
The dew is hanging around longer during August’s mid summer mornings and lingers on the lawn until the afternoon. The dew of mid summer is also very sticky. As the month progresses the dews will not only get wetter but they will get cooler. On Saturday, August 24, we will celebrate St. Bartholomew’s Day and it is said that on his special day, the dew really starts to get colder each morning thereafter and it will continue to do so every morning until the frost arrives in October. This is one of the early signs of autumn.
Do not mow the lawn until sun dries the dew
August dew is sticky and lingers all morning and even into the early part of the afternoon. Never mow the lawn when dew is upon the grass. Wet dew will stick to your feet and cause you track grass clippings into the house. Wet dew will pile up under the mower’s housing and promote rust. This wet dew will also come out the chute and the cut grass will make a mess on the lawn that will cause extra labor in raking up wet grass clippings. Wait until the sun dries off the dew even if it takes all afternoon.
Crickets and katydids sing autumn serenades
From up in the mighty oaks the katydids strum with their legs a solemn song of the upcoming autumn solstice. The song gets louder each evening as they sense that a seasonal change is just over the seasonal horizon. the crickets on the lawn are also chirping their song in time with the temperature that drops a bit at night now that dog days will soon come to a close and dews get colder and heavier.
The final week of dog days 2021
Dog days will come to an end on Wednesday, August 11. The end of dog days marks the mid point of summer which means we still have plenty of hot days remaining even though the humidity may ease off a bit. The days of harvest are here and warm August days will help tomatoes turn red and make late green beans mature.
A cool thought
As the month of August started, we celebrated Saint Lammas. A legend of Saint Lammas says if the week of his day is steamy, we can expect winter to be white and creamy — a sober thought with a week of dog days remaining. We don’t buy into the prediction of Lamma’s creamy white forecast for winter of 2021, but we will cross our fingers for a white Christmas!
Handling the tomato harvest in August
During August, there may be some dry days without an afternoon thunderstorm. This can cause birds to peck holes in tomatoes in their quest for moisture. To prevent loss of tomatoes, harvest tomatoes just before they reach ripe stage and place them on the porch or deck to progress to the stage of ripeness you desire. If the heat of August causes the tomatoes to crack, harvest them when they are half ripe and allow them to ripen on the deck or the porch away from direct sunlight.
The sweet bell pepper harvest is ready
Sweet bell peppers are beginning to ripen and will continue to do so until frost. They are very easy to freeze and to use in salads, spaghetti, chili sauce and other recipes all winter. To freeze all you have to do is wash the peppers, cut off the tops, remove the seed clusters, cut into quarter inch wide strips and then dice into quarter inch squarer pieces and place pieces it pint or quart plastic containers and place in the freezer. In winter, you can enjoy what you need from a container and thaw them out for any recipe or for a recipe like chili, spaghetti, or chili and beans you can pour the frozen pepper into the pot of ingredients. For great spaghetti sauce, pour frozen peppers into the blender, place blender speed in “grate” mode, this works very well also in a meat loaf recipe.
Pickled sweet jalapeno peppers
This jalapeno recipe can be prepared and processed in pint canning jars. You will need jalapeno peppers, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt, minced dried onion flakes, celery seed, pickling spices, and dill pickle seed. Measure the number of pints of peppers, leaving half inch of stem on the peppers , wash the peppers. Hold the peppers by the stem and make slits in the sides of the peppers to absorb the vinegar mix. Holding the jalapenos by the stems while slitting them will prevent the burning of your hands by the peppers. Measure half vinegar, half water for each pint jar, add two tablespoons sugar, one teaspoon salt, one tablespoon minced dried onion, half teaspoon dill seed, half teaspoon celery seed, two teaspoons pickling spice for each pint. Boil the vinegar solution for four or five minutes. Place peppers in sterilized pint jars, add the vinegar mix to cover the peppers and seal the jars with rings and lids. Process in a hot water bath canner for five minutes.
Residue from summer harvest
After the harvest of summer vegetables, use the spent vines, stalks and other residue from the garden as ingredients for the compost pile or bin. Run the mower over the spent vines, stalks, and foliage before adding to the compost pile or bin. Add some Plant-Tone organic vegetable food, Black Kow composted cow manure, Alaska fish emulsion mixed with proper amount of water (make enough for a gallon). This will heat up the compost. Add water to the compost each week. Stir the compost twice a week.
Atale for the last of dog days
This dog day tale says that during the heat of the dog days , if on a morning during dog days, a dog eats grass, we can expect rain before the day ends. My grandma in Northampton County had several hounds that she kept an eye on during summer mostly because she put a little stock in the legend that dogs go mad during summer’s dog days. We don’t know what her thoughts were on dogs eating grass being a sign of rain later in the day, but we do know her thoughts on dogs eating grass and they were: Dogs eat grass because they are sick. That makes sense because in grandma’s day people used home remedies and rarely went to doctors. If they didn’t go to the doctor, surely they did not take dogs to the vet. They probably used home remedies on their dogs. When it didn’t work, the dogs would doctor themselves and eat grass. The Lord takes care of his creatures!
Making a peach crunch delight
This recipe is very easy for a dog day supper and it has only a few ingredients. You will need three one-pound cans of sliced peaches (with liquid), one cup sugar, one box yellow cake mix, one stick light margarine, one tub Cool Whip. Pour peaches mixed with one cup sugar into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan or dish. Sprinkle the cake mix over the top. Melt a stick and a half of light margarine and pour over the top of the cake mix. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until top layer is crunchy. Cool and top with a layer of Cool whip.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Something fishy.” A house wife walked into the fish market, peered into the display case and said, “I don’t like the looks of that fish.” “Well madam” said the clerk, “by the way he’s looking at you, he doesn’t like your looks to much easier!”
“All washed up.” The teacher assigned his class to write a composition on the subject of baseball. Most of the kids liked baseball and wrote a couple of pages on the subject. When the papers were handed in, the teacher was pleased with all of the compositions but one. One kid had written his composition with just three words: “Game rained out!”
“A glimpse into the future.” Matt-“Do you think its possible to predict the future?” Melody-“My mother can. She takes one look at my report card and tells me exactly what Dad is going to do to me when he gets home!”
August 01, 2021
Last call for the blueberry harvest
As we move into August, the 2021 blueberry harvest will soon be over. You still have enough time to make a visit to a field near you. It takes awhile to harvest a gallon of blueberries, but actually it takes more patience than it does time. Even if you do not have the extra time to pick blueberries, you can purchase them by the gallon ready picked for just a fraction more per gallon. Call ahead and most fields will have them ready for you to pick up.
The zinnia bed has visitors in the form of colorful butterflies
A real plus of summer is when the zinnia bed is covered with green foliage and a rainbow of zinnia blooms — large, small, medium — adorned with lush green foliage. Adding even more color is the daily visitation of yellow and black tiger swallowtails and the majestic Monarch butterflies plus a variety of small butterflies that also pay a visit. To keep zinnias in bloom over a long season, use a water wand to water only the base of the zinnias instead of spraying all of the foliage. In doing this , it will prevent the powdery mildews and fungus from infecting the leaves. As the season moves along, this process will pay dividends when the finches come to harvest zinnias for food.
The ferns of summer — a show of beauty and greenery
The asparagus and panda fern are sprawling over the sides of their containers and responding to Plant-Tone organic plant food as well as a daily drink of water. They have a semi sunny location on the back of the deck away from direct sunlight. We trim them back each month to promote new growth and also prepare them for winter over in the sunny confines of the living room in a semi sunny location. These ferns are ow beginning their seventh year of growth.
Broiling bacon for a BLT treat
In last week’s garden plot, we mentioned a B.L.T with McCormick bacon pieces. Today, we discuss the old fashioned broiled bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich with melt in your mouth bacon slices (not crunch, but golden brown). To prepare great bacon for a sandwich, start with a great brand of bacon. You may pay more for a great brand of bacon, but you also gets something that makes a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich extra special. Remember, you always get just what you pay for. Use an oven broiler pan that is sprayed with Pam baking spray. Separate the bacon into strips and spread on the broiler rack, broil on a low setting until golden brown, turn over and broil the other side. Place a pint of water in bottom of broiler pan before beginning the broiling process. When both sides of the bacon is golden brown, not crunchy, but stiff. There will not be much grease on the bacon, but remove and place on a paper towel for a minute or so, and then assemble the sandwich. Use a layer of mayonnaise on both sides of the bread or mayo on one side and Thousand Island dressing on the other.
Larger green sweet bell peppers
The best attribute of green peppers is that you can have an abundant supply and harvest them all the way until frost. Another of their attributes are that they are easy to freeze in pint or quart plastic containers. All you have to do is wash them, slice the tops off, remove the seed, and dice the peppers into quarter inch pieces, place in containers and freeze. In winter and all year long, keep a pint or quart handy for recipes such as meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, chilli and salads. To use in a meatloaf, place a half cup of frozen green peppers in the blender and place in “Grate” mode for a few seconds. Mix grated peppers with other meatloaf ingredients. You can enjoy larger bell peppers with this simple procedure. When you see the first white blooms on the pepper plants, mix three tablespoons of Epsom salts, found in the medicine department at Walmart, and at most pharmacies. Mix the Epsom salts in a sprinkling can and pour around the base of the pepper plants. Repeat process every ten days. The result will be larger peppers. This solution also works well on jalapeno, red cayenne, and banana peppers.
Another use for Epsom salts
Epsom salts can also be used as a preventative measure to keep rabbits and groundhogs from eating foliage and vines of your green beans. Mix two tablespoons of Epsom salts in a half a gallon of water and fill a spray bottle (such as window spay comes in). Spray a fine mist on the foliage and stems on a sunny, hot afternoon. sprinkle a few moth balls around the perimeter of the garden where any crop of the beans are planted and rabbits and groundhogs will vamoose! Last year, we had a groundhog under our barn. We threw a handful of moth balls under the barn the hog found another place to wallow all day.
Keep birdbaths filled twice a day
Dog day afternoons and the upcoming heat of August quickly heats up the water in the birdbaths. The baths need fresh cool water in the morning and again in late afternoon. A lot of the water birds use is for taking baths as well as drinking and also a place to cool off with a dip which splashes out a lot of water.
Four o’clocks put on a show
The four o’clocks look like a “Christmas in July and August” showpiece. Their dark green foliage forms a perfect background for the red, white, pink, yellow, wine, speckled and marbled blooms that resemble Christmas ornaments. With daylight savings time in progress, they could be named five o’clocks. Many times during the summer it is almost twilight when they finally open up, and their blooms will take their place tomorrow evening.
Promoting new foliage on coleus or Josephs coat
The beautiful red, cream, yellow, white, wine, mint green, and purple leaves of the coleus or Josephs coat can be prolonged all summer by pinching off the purple seed flowers as they form. Keep them pinched off and new foliage will keep forming. Feed coleus once a month with Flower-Tone organic medium. Water coleus twice each week until water runs out of the container.
Keeping hanging baskets cool
Not only does the dog day sun dry out the potting medium in hanging baskets but it heats up the baskets also. Not only does the soil in the hanging baskets need a drink of water but the basket itself needs to be cooled off. Every evening as the sun goes down use the water wand or the sprinkling can and apply plenty of cool water to cool the basket and flow through the holes in the bottom of the baskets. Use Flower-Tone organic flower food for hanging baskets, zinnia beds, containers of annuals, and flower beds. It is a totally organic product that comes in four pound zippered plastic bags. apply a handful to each container or basket and stir it into the potting medium and then give the flower a drink of water. Feed the flowers once a month.
A fresh tomato heated by the dog day afternoon
Nothing taste like a sun heated garden fresh red tomato. Take a knife and the salt shaker to the garden plot. Remove a fresh tomato from the vine, wipe it with a paper towel, cut out the core and enjoy the ruby of the garden. At grandma’s Northampton County garden, we remember taking her huge homemade biscuits to the garden, coated with Duke’s mayonnaise, salt, pepper and thick slices fresh from her garden. Nothing compare to a freshly harvested tomato.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Tale of the worm and the snail.” An earthworm and a snail decided to go on a trip. when they arrived at the airport, there were only two seats left, one aboard a plane and one aboard a helicopter. “You take the plane,” said the snail, “and I will go by helicopter.” “Absolutely not,” said the earthworm. “I cannot see what difference it makes” said the snail. “Plenty” said the earthworm. “The whirlybird always gets the worm.”
“Where is the pick pocket?” Father kangaroo,“Good grief! Where is the baby?” Mother kangaroo, “Oh no! My pocket’s been picked!”
The August almanac
There will be a new moon on the evening of Sunday, August 8. The moon reaches its first quarter on Sunday, August 15. There will be a new moon on the night of Sunday, August 22. The name of this moon will be “Full Sturgeon Moon.” The moon reaches its last quarter on Monday, August 30.
July 26, 2021
The NC State Extension Master Gardener volunteers of Surry County are sponsoring a Photo contest now through Sept. 30, featuring photos of ornamental plants, edible plants, and pictures of wildlife and insects in Surry County gardens.
The first place winner in each category will receive a $25 gift certificate that can be redeemed at a store in the community. The winning photos will be selected by a panel of judges and the winners will be notified in early October. The winning photos will be posted on the Surry County Master Gardener Facebook page after the winners have been notified.
The Contest guidelines are available at https://surry.ces.ncsu.edu/extensionmastergardenervolunteerprogramsurry/surry-county-garden-photo-contest-sponsored-by-extension-master-gardener-volunteers-of-surry-county/ .
July 25, 2021
Freshly harvested blueberries
As we move further into July, the Piedmont blueberry harvest is going strong. Pick a few gallons for great winter desserts as well as a cobbler or pie this week. Freezing blueberries are the easiest of all fruit to process. To freeze blueberries, never run water over them, but pour a quart at a time into a sink of cold water. All tiny and unripe berries will come to the top and float. Take a tea strainer and scoop out all these berries. Run strained berries into another sink of cold water. Place the berries on a towel on the counter to dry and drain. Process two containers of berries at a time before repeating the process. Date the containers before placing in the freezer. Two of the benefits of frozen blueberries is that they taste almost as great as fresh. Second of all, you can pour frozen berries directly while frozen into the mixing bowl when preparing filling for the blueberry cobblers or pies.
Blueberry sour cream pie
Creating this pie makes it worth the patience it requires to harvest blueberries. What better combination than blueberries and sour cream in a pie? To make this pie you will need a ten- or twelve-ounce jar of blueberry jam or jelly or a can of Comstock blueberry pie filling, two cups of sour cream (16 ounces), half cup sugar, one teaspoon vanilla, one and a half pints of fresh blueberries (or frozen), two baked nine inch pie shells. Bake the pie shells and sit aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small sauce pan, bring blueberry jelly or pie filling to a boil on low heat. Simmer for one minute until jelly is melted or pie filling dissolves and set aside. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, vanilla, and sugar and sit aside. Place the fresh or frozen blueberries in the pre baked pie crust, pour the melted jelly or blueberry pie filling over the fresh blueberries, then top with the sour cream mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for five minutes. Allow pies to cool on oven rack. Refrigerate remaining pie.
Grass clippings will heat up compost
The grass clippings from the summer lawn contain nitrogen that will help heat up compost. Combine that with a 25-pound bag of Black Kow composted cow manure and a couple of scoops of Plant-tone organic vegetable food for some real positive heat. Garden residue such as green bean vines, discarded, overripe vegetables, corn shucks, other garden residue, clippings from shrubbery will add bulk to the bin or pile. If the pile smokes, cool it down with the water wand on shower mode.
A durable garden hose
An inexpensive garden hose will not hold up well during the heat of the dog days. They don’t have enough material in them because they are light duty and roll up or bend in the heat of a dog day summer heat blast and this slows the flow of water. We always say you get what you pay for. For the long haul, it is always wiser to purchase something that will last longer and make a job easier and more dependable and also less frustrating on hot dog day afternoons.
An overture to a summer thunderstorm
An approaching thunderstorm heralds its arrival a while before it actually reaches us. Trees are the first to take notice by turning up the backside of their leaves in expectation of welcome precipitation. Usually trees are calm before a storm actually arrives, in fact, before most storms arrive, their is an unusual calm broken only by a rain crow in the distance calling out for rain in his “coo coo” voice. Other birds of all types fly to and fro in a flurry of activity and hustle and bustle making last minute rushes before the storm.
Another telltale sure sign of a storm is the pesky houseflies on the porch and carport sticking to your arms and flying restlessly around. There always seems to be an abundance of them before a storm arrives. The birds stop chirping and other activity and head for the trees to roost and ride out the storm. My Northampton County grandma always said, “God gave them common sense to get out of a storm.” Cats and dogs find shelter before the storm begins and they have a certain sense that a storm is approaching. My grandma had several hounds, and at the first clap of thunder, they were running under the house to hunker down and wait out the storm. Grandma would also let her house cat outside before a storm began because she firmly believed the old wives tell that cats drew lightning (my mother also believed this).
Respect summer storms
We remember when we were growing up as kids and spending time with cousins in South Hill, Virginia, at a back woods farm house. In the middle of the afternoon, we were all outside pitching horseshoes and it started to thunder. The cousins’ mother came to the front door and called us all inside even before the lightning and rain. Even though a child, I will never forget their reaction to the storm. First of all, they gathered around the large kitchen table. All lights were turned off, everyone (including adults) sat there, no talking, no moving, total silence while the storm rolled on outside. There was an unforgettable presence of safety and security in that kitchen in respect for the magnitude of the storm. In this 21st century, people ignore storms, discard warnings, have lost respect and common sense during a severe thunderstorm. Many are struck by lightning, swept by flood waters because they fail to heed today’s high tech early warnings. Thank God, that in South Hill, Virginia on that afternoon, a mother’s call from the front porch was all we needed to know, a storm was over the horizon!
Cucumbers hiding beneath green foliage
Many cucumbers are wasted because they hide among the vines of the cucumbers and are not discovered by gardeners. They grow too large and turn yellow and have to be thrown away, or out of the garden. To prevent this loss, after giving a search, go through the rows again, using a rake to pull back vines to find the elusive cukes. Rake both sides of the row to assure that you do not miss a single cuke.
Christmas in July
The Christmas cactus is enjoying summer in a semi-sunny location on the front porch. They are cascading over their containers and enjoying a cool drink of water twice a week. An application of Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month gives them an extra boost of energy. The secret of colorful blooms in late November and into December is the time they spend on the semi sunny porch all during the summer months.
Keeping eye out for Japanese beetles
The hot and humid temperatures of summers dog days attracts Japanese beetles to rose bushes, grapevines, green bean leaves and most all garden foliage. some years are worse than others for these pests. There are several methods to control the Japanese beetles. When you first see some on foliage mix some liquid Sevin in a spray bottle such as glass cleaner comes in and spray a mist on the foliage only on a hot, sunny day and allow the Sevin to dry on the foliage. Another way is to place beetle traps (the plastic kind, not the bag type). Place bait on the trap and then place the trap where it will draw beetles away from garden. To destroy the beetles, pour a pot of boiling water into a five gallon plastic bucket and dip the trap of beetles into the boiling hot water. Empty the dead beetles and water on the driveway for birds to eat. Do not pour the hot water on the lawn.
Hoe Hoe Hoedown
Return to sender: Doctor, to patient — “That check you gave me last month came back.” Patient — “So did that allergy you treated me for!”
Runaway boy: Policeman — “Little boy, why do you keep running around the block?” Little boy — “I’m running away from home, but I’m not allowed to cross the street by myself!”
Hooty hoot: Mother owl — “I’m worried about Rowdy.” Father owl — “What seems to be the matter with Rowdy?” Mother owl — “He doesn’t seem to give a hoot about anything!”
Forked tongue: Snake number one — “I hope I’m not poisonous.” Snake number two — “What makes you think that you are?” Snake number one — “ Because I just bit my tongue!”
July 18, 2021
Corn harvest is now in the Piedmont
Almost everyone enjoys the sweet taste of fresh corn whether on the cob, fried, or in a pudding or casserole. The corn harvest is now going strong in the Piedmont, many gardeners don’t have the space to plant rows of corn, but that is no problem because many farmers like Smith farms on US 601 between Boonville and Yadkinville sell corn such as Golden queen, Silver Queen, and other varieties in mesh bags of twelve dozen ears ready picked for a reasonable price. It is harvested daily and all you have to do is drive by and pick it up, they will even load it for you. Buy a bag and enjoy fresh harvested corn as well as freezing some in quart plastic freezer containers.
Investing in a handy stiff bristled corn silk brush
A stiff brush comes in handy to silk corn after shucking the ears. You can purchase one in the kitchen departments at Walmart and many kitchen specialty shops. A bottle brush works well but not as well as a stiff brush with a durable handle. You can purchase a quality, long lasting brush for $3 or $4.
Preparing freshly harvested corn for freezing
The time to freeze corn is just as soon as possible after bringing it home. A good hint is to shuck and silk the corn outside on the deck or porch to avoid a huge mess in the kitchen. The shucks and silks can be cleaned up and hauled to the compost pile or bin. As you shuck and silk the ears of corn, place the ears in a tray and carry them into the kitchen and line them up on the counter. After finishing the shucking and silking, run cold water into two sinks. Place two dozen ears at a time in the first sink and use the silk brush again to check for lose silks, then place these ears in the second sink of water and then dry on a towel on the kitchen counter. Use a jagged edge knife to cut kernels from the cobs. Place cut corn in a large pot with water slightly covering it. Boil for several minutes until you can smell the aroma of the corn. Allow to cool, and pour into pint or quart plastic freezer containers, adding some of the liquids. Allow half an inch or more space at the top of the containers. In winter, when thawed and prepared, it tastes fresh.
Fried Mexican yellow corn
For this tasty corn recipe, you will need one green bell pepper, diced in quarter inch cubes, one two ounce jar diced pimentos, half of a diced white onion, one quart of frozen corn, or ten ears fresh yellow corn, one stick light margarine, eight slices of crispy broiled bacon (diced), two teaspoons of Karo corn syrup, salt and pepper to taste. Melt margarine in a frying pan and saute green pepper, onion, and drained pimentos until tender. Add corn and cook four or five minutes. Add broiled bacon to the corn. Heat one minute more. If it is to dry, add a little water or milk. Serve with diced fresh tomatoes.
The magic of the water wand
The water wand is a gift to the sweltering garden plot on dog day evenings when the garden looks like it is stressed out. A wand is also a blessing because it places a shower on the plants and not between the rows. When sowing seed, you can set the wand on stream mode and place water directly onto the furrow where you have sowed the seed. A durable wand with several settings cost between $12 and $15. A water wand is a great investment for many years to come. A bit of advice when using the water wand is to always remove the wand from the hose connection when moving the wand from one location to another because you may break the spring in the lever of the wand.
The katydids are singing of autumn
The katydids are rubbing their legs together as they sing each mid-summer night of shorter days, heavy dews, falling leaves and early nips in the up and coming later days of August. They know that the coming events of autumn are casting a shadow before them. The crickets are always singing, but their song is about the heat of the present July.
Butterflies adorn the colorful zinnia bed
The bed of zinnias is plenty colorful but when you add the yellow swallowtails and black swallowtail butterflies along with the bright orange monarch butterflies, the spectrum of summer color is complete. Many other smaller butterflies as well as gold finches combine to provide a rainbow of colors on warm, sunny afternoons.
Cool pasta ranch salad for a hot summer supper
A salad is always great on a hot summer evening and this pasta ranch salad would cool off any appetite. You will need an eight-ounce box of pasta shells, two cups of firm, fresh, diced tomatoes, one large red diced onion, one two-ounce jar of diced pimentos, shredded mozzarella cheese, four hard cooked eggs (diced), two cups shredded or diced lettuce, half cup ranch dressing, half cup mayonnaise, salt and pepper (to taste), two teaspoons sugar. Cook the pasta shells according to package instructions, cool pasta by running cold water over it and draining. Mix the other ingredients and add the ranch dressing and mayonnaise. Refrigerate.
Still plenty of time to sow rows of green beans for a late harvest
Green beans can still be planted and will produce harvest in about 75 days. You can choose from bush varities which will perform better as we move into late summer. Good bush choices are Strike, Top Crop, Tenderette, and Derby. Boost the green beans along by adding peat moss, Black Kow composted cow manure, and an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Hill the soil on each side of the furrow, tamp down with hoe blade for good soil contact, water with water wand when rain is not in the forecast. When seeds sprout and have two leaves, side dress every fifteen to twenty days with Plant-tone organic vegetable food.
Plenty of compost materials as we move to mid July
As the harvest begins, there will be residue in the form of spent stalks, vines, overripe tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and corn shucks as well as grass clippings and yard wastes. Run the mower over the materials to break them down and then dump it into compost bin. Heat the pile or bin with grass clippings, Plant-tone organic vegetable food, Black Kow composted cow manure or real cow manure. If the pile begins to smoke, this is a great sign that the material is heating up. If you think the compost is too warm, use the water wand in spray mode and cool down the pile.
An easy bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwich
You can make this easy bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwich without frying or boiling bacon in the pan or oven on a hot summer afternoon. All you need is fresh firm tomatoes heated by the summer sun, diced, shredded, or whole lettuce leaves, and a jar of McCormick bacon pieces and plenty of mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Spread plenty of mayonnaise on both pieces of bread, sprinkle salt and pepper on the bread, place tomato slices one side of the bread and lettuce on the other side of the bread. Combine both bread pieces and mash together. An easy BLT with zero grease.
The days of summer getting shorter
The days are getting shorter by a minute each evening. You cannot tell much difference yet, but since June 21 we have lost 24 minutes of daylight. We will continue to lose one minute each day until Dec. 21.
Hoe hoe hoedown
“Mealy Mail.” First mailman – “A dog bit me on the leg this morning.” Second mailman – “Did you put anything on it?” First mailman – “No, he liked it plain.”
“Long summer short winter.” Teacher: “Class, we learned that the heat makes things expand and the cold makes them contract. Jamie, would you give an example of this?” Jamie: “Yes, in the summer when it is hot, the days are longer. In the winter when it is cold, the days become shorter.”
“Simple question.” How can three kids go out under one umbrella and none of them get wet? When it is not raining!
July 11, 2021
Piedmont blueberries are in season
The harvest of pick your own blueberries in the fields of Stokes and Surry counties in now in progress. Unlike strawberries, it takes awhile to harvest a gallon of blueberries, but their unusual flavor and color will make the picking worthwhile. If you go to a field near you to pick your own or to purchase them already picked, head for the fields in the early morning hours before the dog day sun heats up the fields. Another thing to carry along with you is plenty of patience, keep your eyes on the berries and the bushes and not the bucket. Set the goal for how many berries you would like to pick and be determined to make a day of it. If you allow the time and energy, the effort will be well worth it because ready picked berries cost more if they pick them for you, but even then, the blueberries are still worth their price. An incentive while harvesting blueberries is to think about blueberry cobbler, pies, jams, jellies, and freezing of the harvest when you get back home. Play that mind game while in the blueberry fields on a Surry County dog day morning!
During the dog days of July and August, we have few rainy days unless a hurricane brews off the coast, and most of the precipitation we receive comes in the form of afternoon thunderstorms. They form the life blood of the summer garden as well as great relief on a dog day afternoon. Their is a certain amount of electric energy in a sudden afternoon thunderstorm with the lightning and thunder that accompanies the refreshing rain. It brings new life to the lawn, garden, and flower beds. The fresh aroma is an added bonus along with a drop in humidity, and this makes summer air easier to inhale. Usually after an early evening thunderstorm, the fireflies will respond in greater numbers with their display of their own “lightning.” Here’s to hoping they have many nights of glowing amber tail lights!
The four o’clocks have started
There is plenty of bright color in the flower beds adorned with four o’clocks as they reach full bloom in early evening. Their bright glow of red, white, wine, yellow, pink, and speckles of red, yellow, white, and purple are highlighted in their lush green leafy foliage. They seem to celebrate their own Christmas in July. They will continue their show of color all the way until the arrival of frost. They produce many seeds that resemble small black barrels. These seed will winter over and produce colorful flowers and foliage next summer. Not many annuals are as productive as the four o’clock. It is one of the few annuals that comes back each year.
Deadline for digging Irish potatoes
Temperatures will only get hotter as the month of July continues. If you have not done so yet, now is the time to dig up the Irish potatoes. The potatoes should be ready to harvest during the first part of July. Store harvested potatoes in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight. Dust them with a layer of powdered lime. clean out the row or bed and place the vines in the compost pile or bin after running the mower over them to break them down. Use the space where the potatoes were to plant a row of Strike or Top Crop green beans for a late summer harvest.
Sowing late summer green beans
After the harvesting of the Irish potato crop, you will have the ideal area to sow another row or bed of late summer green beans for a harvest in late August or early September. The best varieties that produce an abundant late harvest are Strike, Top Crop, Tenderette, or Derby which are all bush types. The most productive of all these are the Strike bean. Start beans in a furrow about four inches deep. Line the furrow with a layer of peat moss and sow the seed on the peat moss and cover seed with another layer of peat moss. Apply a layer of Plant-tone organic vegetable food and then a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure. Hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down soil with a hoe blade. If no rain is in the forecast or no thunderstorm, use the water wand in spray or stream mode and apply water on top of the green bean row. Apply moisture until seeds germinate. When beans sprout and have two leaves, side dress with Plant-Tone organic plant food and pull up soil on each side of row to cover the Plant-Tone. Feed green beans every fifteen days.
Making a Karo syrup blueberry cake
When the blueberry harvest is in full swing in Surry County, making a blueberry cake is another great reason to go out and pick some blueberries. To prepare this cake, you will need one cup white Karo corn syrup, one teaspoon baking soda, one teaspoon baking powder, three cups sugar, one teaspoon of vanilla, and one cup of milk. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl mix together two cups plain flour, one teaspoon baking soda, and set aside. In another bowl, combine three cups sugar, one tablespoon Crisco shortening, four large eggs, one tablespoon vanilla, one cup milk , and two cups blueberries. One cup Karo corn syrup. Fold in blueberries after mixing all other ingredients well. Grease and flour a 13x9x2 inch baking pan or dish, pour in the mixture and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Cool 45 minutes before serving.
Sights, sounds from summer porch
The fireflies flit across the front porch emitting their amber signals as twilight begins. The four o’clocks have opened and are displaying their colors. The birds are still refreshing themselves at the birdbath. Crows are flying over on their way to roost. The dog day evening is still warm but not as humid. Crickets are making their soft sounds, signaling the temperature is dropping a bit. Up in the mighty oaks, katydids are starting their sounds by singing their songs in harmony. They have a subtle message that even though we are in the midst of dog days, the cool days of autumn are not as far away as we may think.
Keep birdbaths filled with cool water
Birds not only consume a lot of water, but they bathe in the water and this splashes a lot of water from the baths in summer. Fill the baths morning and evening. Fresh water will also prevent “skeeters” from laying eggs in the water.
Summer squash harvest is ready
The golden yellow straight neck and crook neck summer squash harvest is ready. Both squash varieties are great but we prefer the straight neck for three reasons; 1) They have less seeds, and are more meaty, 2) They can be cubed into uniform pieces, 3) They have less moisture, even though both varieties have their share of water, when you bake or fry them, you do not have to add water. Just add light margarine, diced onion, salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar and fry until gold and tender. They are great fried, baked, made into a casserole or a squash sonker, a Surry County favorite tradition. Squash can also be canned for treats such as sonkers in the middle of winter as well as casseroles and other dishes.
Water summer ferns daily
The panda and asparagus ferns drink a lot of water so give them a fresh drink every morning to start their day. If the ferns spread out of their containers too much, use the scissors to trim back their growth to promote more greenery and new sprouts.
Swallow tails, monarchs at the colorful zinnia bed
The zinnia bed is a rainbow of color and also a haven for black and yellow tiger swallow tail butterflies, the majestic monarch as well as finches and bumble bees. A secret of lush foliage and beautiful blooms is to use the water wand on stream mode and apply a layer of water only to the bottom of the zinnias. This will keep mildew under control.
“Food for thought!”- If you are locked in a room with only a bed and a calendar, what do you eat ? Water from the bed springs and dates from the calendar!
“Batter up!”- Teacher: “Joey, tell me what your dreams are about.” Joey: “I dream about baseball.” Teacher: “Don’t you ever dream about anything else?” Joey: “Nope, just baseball.” Teacher: “Don’t you ever dream about girls?” “What? And miss my turn at the bat?”
“About training”- What is the difference between an engineer and a school teacher? One minds the trains, the other trains the mind.
July 04, 2021
Dog days are now with us
The month of the hotties of dog days has now arrived and will be with us for the next five weeks. These are supposed to be the hottest days of summer. Dog days receive their name because this time of year is when Sirius, the dog star in the constellation of Canis Major. Sirius is also the brightest star in the sky. During dog days, Sirius rises with the sun and follows it across the sky all day through the middle of August. My Northampton County grandma kept a close eye on her hounds because of the old wives tale that dogs went mad during dog days. The dogs may become “hot dogs” and become irritated and upset because of the hotties of dog days but this does not cause rabies.
Grin and bear the dog days of summer
Even though dogs don’t like them, they will have to grin and bear them just as we will. To make life easier during the hotties, rise a little early, get outside chores and garden work done before the sun rises high in the summer sky. Take breaks often and drink plenty of cool water. Take a nap in the afternoon and get respite from the heat, and by the way, hose down that hot dog.
Summer grass tougher to mow
The hot weather of summer causes grass to grow tougher and causes you and the mower to labor a bit harder. Make sure the lawn is dry and the morning dew has evaporated before mowing. Set mower blades a bit higher during the months of summer for a better looking lawn that will not yellow out.
Enjoying a tiny pun to kick off a dog day afternoon
The summers dog days are with us and we can enjoy them whether we are hot weather fans or not. The fact is that they will remain a part of summer for all of the month of July and almost half of August. This little “pun” will help you sweat your way through the next 45 days or so. During the dog days of July and August, if the weather does not boil, the month of September cannot fry us. A little bit of a more favorable note, cooler days are down the country lane a bit, so bear the heat, and listen out for the katydids.
Bluebird houses are a real hideout
Bluebirds are private birds and we see more of them around because gardeners are providing more birdhouses for them. Even though gardeners place birdhouses for them, they build their nest in the house, and if they come back to that house next season, they will clear out the old nest and build a new one. The bright blue tint on the bluebird wings seems to glow in the summer sun. If you place a birdhouse, keep it within sight, but also far enough from where people gather.
A cool pasta salad
A pasta salad with garden vegetables can be the main part of a hot weather relief meal and this salad is packed with the tastes of summer. You will need an eight-ounce box of pasta shells, two cups diced fresh tomatoes, one large diced white onion, one two ounce jar of pimentos, one eight ounce pack of finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese, two cups diced or finely shredded lettuce, half cup of ranch dressing, half cup of mayonnaise, half teaspoon pepper, small jar of Pace picante sauce, one tablespoon sugar. Boil pasta accordingly to package directions. Cool pasta in cool water and drain. Mix the vegetables with the pasta. Add the picante sauce, salt, pepper, sugar, ranch dressing, cheese, and mayonnaise. Stir well and keep in the refrigerator to chill for at least two hours. This salad will keep for several days in the refrigerator.
Good tomato varieties for a late autumn harvest
The time has arrived to start the late autumn harvest of tomatoes from seed. The best varieties are the determinate ones such as Celebrity, Rutgers, Marglobe, and Homestead. Unlike the indeterminate that produce a large harvest over a longer period of time, determinants produce their whole harvest in about three weeks. This is what we shoot for in an autumn harvest of late tomatoes. We seek for tomatoes that produce green tomatoes just before frost arrives.
A crop of late fruits that can be harvested, wrapped in sheets of newspaper, boxed, and stored in a warm, dry, area inside the house to slowly ripen after frost arrives. In autumn and into winter, they may not be as great as fresh but are better than store bought. Tomatoes that are sown from seed now will be ready to transplant to the garden in the first or second week of August.
Enjoying panda and asparagus ferns
The greenery of asparagus and panda ferns seem to make the porch and deck a few degrees cooler. They grow fast during the summer and can always use a drink of water each morning to start their day. Sprinkle the ferns with Plant-Tone organic vegetable food or Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month for lasting boost of energy. If they get taller, you can trim them back with clippers or scissors.
All the colors of the portulaca spectrum of early summer
It is named like Joseph’s coat of many colors. the official name is portulaca, but is also known as desert rose, cactus rose, and rose moss or desert flower. Unlike other summer annuals, you can place a lot more than three plants to a container. A large container makes a more spectacular display. They come in six- or nine-packs and are in full bloom when you purchase them so you will know the varieties of colors you are selecting. The amazing characteristics of portulaca is that each day different colors bloom for varied color combinations each day. Like sun flowers they follow the sun all day long. On cloudy or rainy days, not too many of them will bloom, but the next day they will more than make up for it. In summer, we start everyday by checking out the daily spectrum of colors the portulaca has in store for that day. With the colorful portulaca, everyday becomes a new and different day.
The unusual scent of the four o’clock
The lush green foliage and varied colors of the four o’clocks is unusual. They could actually be named five o’clocks because with daylight savings time, that is when they open for business. By twilight they have widely opened up and bloom all night long and then be followed next evening with a new array of blooms. Unlike most other colorful flowers, the four o’clock has an unusual scent, the scent resembles that of some type of herb or medicine. We believe this scent attracts unusual nighttime pollinates all during their night of blooms that is akin to the mystic moon flower with its pungent scent during mid summer.
“A run at the river”- A pastor was winding down his sermon on the dangers of alcohol and got plenty of response from the congregation. The pastor told the audience, “If I had all the beer in the world, I would throw it in the river.” The audience said, “Amen.” “And if I had all the wine in the world, I would pour it in the river.” Again the audience said, “Amen.” “And if I had all the whisky in the world, I would pour it into the river.” The audience responded “Amen.” After this, the pastor sat down. The music director stood up and announced, “The closing hymn is number 305, ‘Shall We Gather At The River?’”
The July almanac
Today is Independence day. The moon reached its last quarter on Thursday, July 1. There will be a new moon on Friday, July 9. The moon reaches its first quarter on Saturday July 17. The moon will be full on the night of July 23. This moon will be named “Full Buck Moon.” The moon reaches its last quarter on Saturday July 31.
It looks like a great year for fireflies. On Wednesday, June 9, at 9 p.m., we counted 69 fireflies in one minute in the back yard. This looks like a great year for the fireflies. Their peak display of amber light seems to occur between eight and 9;30 p.m. Keep a check on them and also inventory them for a minute or two each evening. Even a rainy night doesn’t hinder the fireflies. June also seem to be their peak season.
June 27, 2021
Knock knock. Are you ripe inside?
Forget about the old-fashioned process of thumping a watermelon to determine whether it is ripe. As a kid, we used to go down the corn row where they would also grow watermelons and plug them to pick a ripe one. This, too, is an old fashioned way that is defiantly not a sure thing. The “thump” is not a sure thing in determining a melons ripeness simply because a thump only produces a sound that can be uncertain when it boils down to the ripeness deep inside.
There is a more sensible method to confidently determine the ripeness of a watermelon that includes more than a small thump. This method will defiantly work whether the melon is in the supermarket, roadside stand, or in a field. It is not the “thump” method but the “knock” method, just like your knocking on a door. To do the melon knock, place one hand on the bottom of melon and with other hand, make a fist and knock on the watermelon. Solid sound which indicates the melon is ripe all the way through — it is not hollow sound or an empty sound, but an unmistakable solid vibration sound that you can feel with your hand. Another thing to check before “knocking”is if the stem is bright green, it could mean the melon is pink inside and not ready. Knocking is a foolproof method of selecting a ripe watermelon. It is also a way to spread good will and know how to others at the super market or produce stand by showing others how to select a ripe, red watermelon.
Late autumn tomatoes
As we approach the final days of June, it is time to start a packet of tomato seed to provide plants for a late autumn harvest and some green tomatoes to harvest and ripen in the house or basement after frost arrives. One of the best varieties for late, late tomatoes is Rutgers, a determinate variety with unique features — it ripens from the inside to the outside. This is beneficial for very late tomatoes. Being a determinate means these late tomatoes produce the bulk of their harvest over a few weeks. Many gardeners that can a lot like this variety because it produces a large harvest over a short period of time. Rutgers is also the best of late tomato varieties because it produces most of its harvest over a short period of time which becomes important in mid-October.
Start a seed packet of Rutgers at the end of June. In a medium flower pot or container, measure a container or pot of seed. Fill with starting medium and allow a handful of medium to cover the seeds. Mix enough water with the medium to moisten it. Place moistened medium in the pot or container, leaving at least a half inch at the top of the container. Place seed scattered in the medium and cover seed with reserved medium. Use a spray bottle of water to mist the container each day. Keep the container in a semi-sunny location.
In about ten days they will develop two true leaves and will be ready to transplant to individual pots. Mix the remainder of the bag of seed starting medium with the proper amount of water to moisten the soil and fill the containers. Punch holes in the medium with your index finger, place a plant in each hole and pinch soil up to each plant. Place containers of seedlings in a tray of water and mist the top of the tomato seedlings each day and keep water in the bottom of the tray. Keep out of the humid dog day heat. About 20 days after transplanting, they will be ready to transplant to the garden.
Our goal every summer is to have a ripe tomato by the Fourth of July. A warm or cool May usually determines what the outcome will be. No matter what happens between now and July Fourth, green tomatoes are now forming on the tomato vines, and that means red fruits are on the way.
Feeding tomatoes for a long harvest
As green tomatoes form on the vines, feed the tomatoes by side dressing the vines on each side of the row with Tomato-Tone organic tomato food with enriched calcium to help prevent blossom end rot. A four-pound bag costs around $8 or $9. A totally organic product; a little goes a long way and dissolves quickly into the soil and you will notice remarkable results.
Sweet potatoes harvest
Sweet potatoes are raised from sweet potato slips which are actually plants. Most sweet potatoes in North Carolina are raised in Eastern North Carolina where our state is one of the nation’s largest growers of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes thrive in the loamy soil of the coastal plain. An unusual method of growing a harvest of sweet potatoes without using a lot of garden space is to set out potato slips in wooden whiskey barrels, plastic tubs with a few holes drilled in the bottom. To provide rich growing soil for sweet potatoes, use bags of potting soil, Black Kow composted cow manure, peat moss, and stir in a cup or two of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and finish off with a bag of top soil. Plant slips about 10 to 12 inches apart in the containers. Keep watered and feed with Plant-Tone every 20 days. When potatoes are ready to harvest, reach down and gather the potatoes, add a little more rich soil and sow a barrel or bucket of purple top turnip seed for a harvest during cold winter.
The front porch is for all seasons
Porch sitting is not a pastime — it is a sport (year round). Porches and decks are nice amenities to any home. Unlike swimming pools that require a lot of expense and maintenance all year long and only provide seasonal enjoyment, a porch can be enjoyed in all seasons and adds a lot of charm and value to a house. The activity of porch sitting invites conversations and makes Dr. Pepper and hot coffee more enjoyable as well as a great place to watch activity of the birds, squirrels, butterflies, hummingbirds, and fireflies as well as a haven for admiring perennial flowers. At grandmas house in North Hampton County her front porch was large and had a swing and plenty of rocking chairs. Each evening it was a gathering place until bedtime. Porches have a way of drawing families together and ideal places to keep an eye on the kids. Its no wonder that porches are making a comeback. Only from the front porch can you enjoy the sound of a mourning dove, mockingbirds, cardinals, robins, crows, and even owls or whippoorwill’s. In winter you can feel snowflakes blown by wind and covering your face, and watch birds making tracks in the snow. Life is more meaningful from a view on the front porch. Even in the 1950s, grandmas North Hampton County house rated well — she had a front and back porch!
Lazy, hazy days of summer
Summer is in its first week. The hot and humid days of summer will be the norm for the next three months or more. The soil of the garden plot is warm and perfect for tomatoes, peppers, and green beans. As days continue to get warmer, rise early in the morning before the sun gets high in the sky and heats up the garden. Get garden chores done early in the day so you can relax in the shade of the afternoon.
A cool drink for the birds
The summer sun shines down on the birdbath and heats the water. Birds need a cool drink of water and also a bath. As you begin each morning, take time to empty the baths and refill with cool water. In late afternoon, stick your finger in the bath, if the water is hot, refill bath with fresh cool water.
Real vanilla homemade ice cream
Nothing is quite as cold and refreshing as a freezer of homemade old fashion real vanilla ice cream. There is no imitation or substitute for real vanilla whether its in a fruit cake or a freezer of real vanilla homemade ice cream. This recipe is not only simple and good, but also creamy. You will need one can of Eagle brand condensed milk, one can of evaporated milk, two cups sugar, four tablespoons vanilla extract (the real thing), enough milk to fill a four quart freezer. Mix all ingredients together and pour into a four quart ice cream freezer and crank it up.
Hoe Hoe Hoedown
Waiting for baby: “Just relax,” was the words the staff in the delivery room gave to the young father to be. The young father’s wife was in labor and was a nervous wreck. After what seemed like a whole day to the father and hospital staff, a nurse announced the happy news, “Its a girl!” The young father replied, “Thank the Lord. At least she wont have to go what I went through.”
June 20, 2021
Four o’clocks now in full bloom
The four o’clocks have been abundant with bright green foliage for the past month. Now they are adorned with colorful blooms of red, white, yellow, pink, and wine. With daylight savings time, they could be named five o’clocks. They are abundant with new blooms every evening. We have several varities that perennially return each year and several of them have white blooms with purple specks. When they are in full bloom they are a majestic display of beauty.
Tomorrow is the first day of summer
Tomorrow we begin the first day of summer and the days begin to get shorter by one minute each evening. The season of spring seems to be the shortest season of the year and it’s probably because in spring there is always plenty to do which seems to make days go by faster. With spring over, the days will be having more humidity and our metabolism will automatically slow down a couple of notches. The garden plot will experience some relief in the form of an afternoon thunderstorm and we will be rewarded by a colorful rainbow. If we go a few days without a thunderstorm, connect the water wand to the hose and water the base of all the vegetables in the garden, especially the tomatoes to prevent heat stress and blossom end rot.
Still time to plant a container or pot of geraniums
The summer season is still long and there’s plenty of time to start a pot or container of geraniums in colors of red, pink, and white. Not only do they have lush round green foliage but clusters of balls of blooms. After they bloom, you can pinch off old blooms to promote the growth of new blooms until frost. If you have space inside the home, you can winter a pot of geraniums over all winter long.
A summer thunderstorm brings a fresh aroma
On a steamy hot dog-day afternoon when sweat runs off your face and wets the back of your shirt, along comes an afternoon thunderstorm which brings a certain amount of cool relief to a sweaty condition and a pleasant aroma to the nostrils. The remedy is also seen in the fresh look of leaves on trees and the garden plot is also breathing its sigh of relief. Nothing compares to the comfort in the aftermath of the thunderstorm.
Keep hummingbird feeders filled
The honeysuckle season has wound its way down, and now more hummers are finding their way to the feeders. Warm dog day afternoons will attract more hummers with appetites. Hummingbirds may fight at the feeders as a sport, but they all have one thing in common and that is the fact that they are hungry. During warm June days, refill and replace the nectar at least twice each week to prevent fermentation.
Set out tomato plants each week
To assure a long harvest of tomatoes, set out plants (three or four each week) for as long as you can find healthy plants. At this time of season, purchase plants that you are assured are healthy and do not buy plants that are already in bloom or have small tomatoes on them. Also don’t buy tall plants that have legged out of their containers. Keep healthy tomato plants fed with Tomato-Tone organic tomato food that is sold in four-pound zipper lock plastic bags. This will help you produce a harvest of tomatoes in late August.
Feeding the roses during June
The roses had an abundance of blooms during May. As we reach past mid-June, they could use a drink of Miracle Gro liquid rose food or an application of Rose-Tone organic rose food applied around the base of the bushes and hilled up around them. Dog days may bring the arrival of leaf mites and other insect enemies. You can control them by filling a Windex window spray bottle with Sevin and the proper amount of water and mist it on the leaves.
A row of Strike green beans will perform well
Strike and Contender green beans will perform well in warm June soil and provide an abundant harvest by the end of July or beginning of August. When sowing green beans apply a layer of peat moss in the furrow before and after sowing the seed and then apply a layer of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food before covering and tamping down with the hoe blade.
Keeping an eye on morning glories
Weed season is on its destructive path and the most effective way to get rid of the weed population is to pull them up by hand and toss them out of the garden. The morning glory needs to be pulled up before it develops long roots that look like drill bits. Pull them up early in their growing cycle and never let them produce vines that choke vegetable plants and also defiantly do not let morning glories bloom because one flower will produce a seed pod with hundreds of seeds.
Making a Bavarian blueberry torte
This is an easy dog day afternoon dessert for a summer supper delight. You will need one half cup light margarine, one third cup sugar, one teaspoon vanilla, one cup plain flour, one eight-ounce package of cream cheese, one fourth-cup sugar, one large egg, one cup sugar, four cups fresh blueberries (mashed), and cream margarine. Mix in one cup plain flour. Spread the dough on the bottom and the sides of a greased or sprayed with Pam baking spray 13x9x2 inch baking dish or pan. Combined softened cream cheese, one fourth cup sugar, one teaspoon vanilla. Mix well and sit aside. Combine one cup sugar and mashed blueberries, mix well. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the dough in the baking dish or pan. Spoon the blueberry mixture over the cream cheese mixture. Bake at 450 degrees for ten minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees and bake 20 more minutes. Cool completely and top with Cool Whip and a few fresh blueberries.
Keeping birdbaths, hummingbird feeders filled
As dog days get more humid and dry, keep plenty of water in the birdbaths even if you have to do it twice a day. Even on humid days, the hummingbirds are quit active, and you can make life easier for them by refilling feeders every two or three days. You can prepare your own nectar by mixing two quarts of water with one quart of sugar and seven to ten drops red food coloring. Pour into a half-gallon plastic milk jug and store in refrigerator.
Pinching off spent rose blooms
The old spent rose blooms need to be pinched off or trimmed so that new roses can form. As we move closer to summer, feed the roses with Miracle Gro liquid rose food or Rose-Tone organic rose food stirred into the soil around base of the rose bush. This needs to be repeated every two or three weeks. Water rose bushes every week when no rain is in the forecast. Use the water wand to water roses. Apply water only at the base of the roses.
Blossom end rot on tomatoes
If your first tomatoes shows signs of blossom end rot, take an extra measure to control it by placing three cups of powdered lime in a sprinkling can of water and pour around base of the tomato plants.
Knocking off the Japanese beetles
We hope this will be a slow year for the “Kamikaze” of the summer vegetable and flower garden. Keep a sharp eye out for these dastardly pests. Their favorite meals seem to be grapevines and roses and green bean leaves. If you see signs of them on foliage or roses, mix water with liquid Sevin and place in a spray bottle and apply a mist to the foliage on a humid sunny afternoon. Place beetle traps facing away from garden area where beetles are spotted to draw them away from infested areas.
Hoe Hoe Hoedown
“Boy chaser” Eight-year-old Darlene told her parents that night at supper that Jonathan Duke had kissed her after school that day. “How in the world did that happen?” her mother asked. “It was not easy.” said Darlene. “It took three other girls to help me catch him.”
“Hi yo, Silver” If king Midas sat on a pile of gold, who sat on silver? The Lone Ranger of course.
“Eat your food, don’t play with it”- Mother lion: “Leo what are you doing?” Leo: “I’m chasing a hunter around a tree.” Mother lion: “How many times have I told you not to play with your food?”
Enjoying a full June Strawberry Moon
The full moon of June will rise in the Eastern Horizan after sunset on Thursday, June 24. It should be pinkish in color and a romantic moon filling the summer night with beauty and the perfume of honeysuckles pervading the night air on a Surry County country road. One thing to remember about the full Strawberry Moon is that the moon looks down and sees everything, so be careful what you do under this full moon!
June 13, 2021
The season of colorful rainbows is here
Warm afternoons and humidity pave the way for showers and thunderstorms that have pleasant results for the garden plot and for our eyes by filling the eastern horizon with a colorful rainbow in colors of red, orange, yellow, blue, green, indigo, and violet. Rainbows are produced when the eastern sky is filled with dark gray clouds with the sun shinning against them at the end of a summer thunderstorm producing a spectrum of colors from the rays of the sun. The rainbow glows in brilliance against the dark gray background in the eastern sky. An added bonus is the appearance of a reflected “ghost” rainbow above the original bow. The darker the clouds are, the brighter the rainbow will appear.
Observing leaves as they wait for a summer thunderstorm
As the days become hot and humid the ingredients develop for summer thunderstorms with lightning and refreshing rain. The leaves of oaks, maples, poplars, and hickories take note of the approaching storm to reveal their white “petticoats” in expectation of the arriving deluge. What a majestic sight as the white “petticoats” send a clear message that welcome precip is on the way, signaled by wind, lightning, and thunder. As the rain comes, the “petticoats” absorb every drop of precious moisture and gently reverse their skirts and provide another shower below the woodland floor as the leaves shed their excess raindrops.
Investing in a durable water wand
As we move closer toward the beginning of summer and possibly some dry weather, a durable water wand is a great investment that will pay rich dividends by placing needed moisture directly where it is called for and also save water throughout the growing season. A durable wand will have multiple settings from stream, to jet, to mist, to shower, to spray; feature an off-on valve and spring operated handles; and cost between $12 and $15. A great common sense practice is to never dry the hose with the wand attached because this may cause the spring on the wand to break. Also in winter, store the wand in the basement or a storage shed or a barn.
Keeping tomatoes fed with organic plant food
As June nights continue to get warmer, and days start to get humid, feed tomato plants by side dressing them with Tomato-Tone organic tomato food with added calcium that helps prevent blossom end rot. After applying tomato-Tone, hill up soil to cover the Tomato-tone. Another great tomato food is Dr. Earth’s tomato food which is also calcium enriched.
The strawberry field swan song
As we reach the mid point of June, the strawberry harvest is closing out. You may have a day or two more in the season. As school is now out, take the kids for a final adventure at a strawberry patch near you. Call ahead to make sure berries are still available.
Cooling off hanging baskets
The warm sun of June afternoons heats up the hanging baskets and quickly dries out the soil in the baskets. Each evening, use a sprinkling can or water wand to provide them a cool drink. Apply water until it runs out the hole in the bottom of the hanging basket.
Using pep sticks for annuals or hanging baskets
A package of Miracle Gro pep sticks cost around $2.50 20 sticks. Place two in each hanging basket or one in every container of annuals. They work well and dissolve slowly over a long period of time. Save money by purchasing larger packets. Another great food for annuals and hanging baskets is Flower-Tone organic flower food sold in three-pound zippered plastic bags which makes it easy to apply and a little goes a long way. A bag cost about $8 but will go a long way toward healthy long lasting flowers.
Tomato plants that will endure the heat of summer
Tomatoes can still be planted and healthy plants are still available. The tomatoes planted in June should be varities proven and time tested such as Rutgers, Marglobe, Homestead, Celebrity, and Better Boy. Most of these varities will tolerate heat better than many other varities. Keep tomatoes set out in mid June watered at their base each week when no rain is in the forecast. Keeping tomatoes watered at the base of the plant will prevent blossom end rot and promote healthy growth.
Determinate vs. indeterminate varities of tomatoes
Determinants are bush types of tomato plants. Their production period last between three to four weeks. They do not grow as tall as indeterminate varities and this somewhat limits their production period. A good suggestion for all tomato types and varities is to cage or stake all tomatoes. All tomatoes seem to benefit from stakes of cages as they grow. Indeterminate varities are vine tomatoes that continue to grow tall, thus producing more tomatoes over a longer period beyond the range of determinants. Some determinants produce for a little over a month but indeterminate will produce for more than two months.
A treat of fresh new Irish potatoes
The dog days of summer are less than a month away. Even though most of the potato harvest is around that period of time, new potatoes are forming under the vines and will provide a great late spring treat for the supper table. Feel under the vines and gather enough spuds for supper. Do not peel them just wash and brush them. Boil with the peelings on them. Melt a stick of light margarine over them and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Fresh Alaska green peas and noodles of dumplings
Fresh picked Alaska June green peas from the early June garden are an unforgettable treat. My mother always prepared June peas with homemade dumplings. You can use a package of Annie’s frozen dumplings and fresh June green peas instead of homemade dumplings to simplify things or you can use half a bag of wide egg noodles. Boil the peas until tender, add half bag of noodles, and a stick of light margarine salt and pepper (to taste) and a can of cream of chicken soup. Boil on medium heat until noodles are tender. For added flavor, add a few strips of crispy fried bacon broken into pieces.
Keeping birdbaths filled
The sun shines down on the bird bath and heats up the water. As the sun bears down and heats the bath in mid afternoon, empty the hot water and refill with fresh cool water. The birds not only drink the water but also splashes around in it for refreshing cool offs. A bath filled with cool water will attract plenty of birds to your lawn.
Keeping hummingbirds satisfied
Summer flowers are just before bloom stage so keep the feeders filled with nectar on warm June days. You can purchase nectar in half gallon bottles ready to use, or in powdered form in envelopes to mix with water or you can make your own, with two quarts of water, two cups of sugar, and eight or ten drops red food coloring. Pour into half gallon milk jug (plastic) and refrigerate.
A simple banana pudding
A cool banana pudding on a warm June evening is an unforgettable dessert. For this pudding you will need: Three 3-ounce boxes of Jello instant vanilla pudding mix, five cups cold milk, one tablespoon banana flavoring, one 8-ounce box cream cheese, two cartons Cool Whip, one box vanilla wafers, four bananas (sliced and sprinkled with lemon juice). Mix together the Jello instant pudding, milk, and banana flavoring and set aside. Mix the cream cheese and one carton Cool Whip and add to the pudding mixture. In a large 13x9x2 inch dish or pan, spread a layer of vanilla wafers and a layer of bananas and pour the pudding mixture over the bananas and vanilla wafers. Spread other carton of Cool Whip on top of the pudding. Refrigerate.
Hoe hoe hoedown
A starry question: “How do you put milk in the milky way?” Answer: “With the big dipper.”
The real shake up: “Why did your sister jump up and down before taking her medication?” Because the label said ‘Shake before using!’
June 06, 2021
A super productive sweet bell pepper
One of the best varieties of sweet bell peppers is the Keystone. Sweet peppers are tropical and will grow quickly in warm soil of the June garden plot. The Keystone bell peppers produces fist-sized peppers from mid-summer until early frost. You can choose from other sweet bells such as Door Knob, California Wonder, and Big Bertha. Set plants about a foot and a half apart in a furrow about the depth of the first two tiny leaves. Add peat moss to the bottom of the furrow and apply Garden-Tone organic vegetable food. Hill up soil all around the peppers. Cage or steak the pepper plants to give support from the wind or storms and to aid in a cleaner harvest. Feed with Garden-Tone and hill up soil to the peppers every twenty days.
Strawberry harvest is winding down
As the month winds down its first week, there remains only a few more days to visit a pick-your own strawberry patch near you. The season will be over in just a few more days. Buy enough to freeze several gallons for desserts during winter. Mornings in June are comfortable in mid spring and this makes picking berries a fun thing to do. If you do not have the time to pick, call ahead and order your berries ready picked for about a dollar more per gallon.
Time for the big guns of summertime
As we move into the months of summer, we can also look forward to the beginning of humid afternoons and the advent of pop up thunderstorms that the heat of summer often brings. A thunderstorm can be the lifeblood of the summer garden as they bring new life to the garden and lawn. The refreshing air after an afternoon thunderstorm is also refreshing after a humid day. A thunderstorm settles the dust and perks up flowers and gardens and livens up the leaves on the trees as well as lower the humidity.
Nights that are warm with plenty of fireflies
On warm June evenings the lawn and garden are filled with the amber glow of fireflies and they flicker and signal across the deck and porch. We hope this will be a long season for them. To really enjoy a glorious display of fireflies, a trip down a lonely Surry County country road away from city and street lights and traffic will increase your odds of seeing great numbers of fireflies.
Checking the Irish potato crop
The Irish potato crop now has some white blooms which is a sign that tiny spuds are forming under their green foliage. Feel under the vines gently and you may discover a few small potatoes as an earnest of a crop that will be ready before dog days.
Feeding summer vegetables with organic vegetable plant foods
Vegetables do not need to be fertilized, they need to be fed with organic vegetable food such as Garden-Tone, Plant-Tone, and Tomato-Tone. Keep summer vegetables healthy and productive with these special organic blends for a great harvest.
Keep planting those green beans
Green beans are a 65- to 75-day crop and can be sown to succeed other crops and provide a harvest over the months of summer. You can choose from such varities as Strike, Top Crop, Contender, Tenderette, Blue Lake Bush, and Kentucky Wonder Bush. Green beans are one of the summer vegetable crops that can be continually planted for a harvest all summer long. Use peat moss in the furrows when sowing green beans in warm summer temperatures to retain moisture and improve soil texture. When green beans develop two leaves, apply Garden-Tone organic vegetable food and pull up soil over the plants after applying Garden-Tone organic vegetable food, repeat this every 15 to 20 days.
Be on the alert for dastardly Japanese beetles
They are the pest of every flower, plant, and vegetable in the garden. As soon as you see one, place the traps and locate the traps to draw beetles away from the garden or flower beds. Empty the traps often. Destroy the beetles by dipping the trap of Japanese beetles into a five gallon plastic bucket filled with a pot of boiling water. Empty the dead beetles on the driveway or sidewalk for the birds to eat. Do not pour on grass because the hot water will kill the grass.
Use Tomato-Tone organic food for great tomato production
Tomato-tone is a totally organic product and is available in three-pound bags that are zippered to make application easier and cleaner. This product is also calcium enriched to prevent blossom end rot. A bag may cost quit a bit, but it is effective and a little goes a long way. You can find it a most hardwares, garden shops, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware, Home Depot, and at many nurseries. The zippered bag makes the food easy to apply and it keeps it off your hands. It has a fine texture and will quickly absorb into the soil and feed tomatoes.
Sister products of Tomato-Tone are Plant-Tone, Garden-tone, Flower-Tone and Rose-Tone
These organic products are all available in three-pound zippered bags for the same price specially formulated for all flowers, tomatoes, roses and vegetables. They are all proven products that have been used by gardeners since 1929.
A dragon wing begonia in a large container
The dragon wing is a large blossoming begonia with long wing-shaped leaves. One of these hot pink blooming plants will quickly cascade over the sides of a large container and produce clusters of large flowers all summer. A dragon wing cost around five dollars and will need to be transplanted to a large container when you bring it home.
The fresh perfume of the honeysuckle
The essence of the perfume of the wild honeysuckle is heavenly as it wafts its aroma across the garden plot and winds its way to the porch and deck. It pleases the nostrils and sweetens the twilight. A drive on a country road in Surry County with the scent of honeysuckles emitting through the open window of the vehicle is a heavenly adventure!
Planting seed of determinate tomato seed now for an autumn harvest
As we move past the first week of June, it is time to start a couple packets of determinate varieties of tomato seed for transplanting tomato plants to the garden in mid July. As we move into July, tomato plants are harder to find which makes it wise and practical to propagate your own. For late summer, the determinants such as Celebrity, Rutgers, Homestead, Marglobe and Early Girl are best varities. Use a good seed starting medium such as Hoffmans or Jiffy by Ferry Morse for excellent results. Sow the seed packets in one pint or quart pots of seed starting medium and allowing enough medium per pot to cover the seed. Mix medium with enough water to moisten it. Place medium in pot to within half an inch from the top. Thinly spread one packet of seed on the medium and cover seed with a layer of medium and pat down for soil contact. Repeat process with second seed packet. Use a spray bottle of water and mist the seed each evening. Keep pots out of direct sunlight. In eight to ten days they will develop two leaves and will be ready to transplant to individual pots. Use the seed starting medium and place one plant in each pot, keep from direct sunlight and water daily. They will be ready to transplant to the garden in about three weeks.
Any vegetable planted in June will grow quickly
Any vegetable planted in the June garden plot will enjoy more than a 100-day growing season. Corn needs to be sown now so it will have the hundred days it to needs to produce a harvest. Continue to plant tomato plants for as long as you can find healthy plants so you can extend the harvest all summer.
Making a strawberry cobbler
You will need one quart fresh strawberries, one cup sugar, one stick margarine, two teaspoons baking powder, three fourth cup of milk, three fourth cup flour, pinch of salt, half cup sugar. Set oven to 350 degrees, slice and mash berries, add three fourth cup sugar, mix with berries and set aside. Melt stick of margarine and pour into a 13x9x2 inch baking pan or dish. Make a batter of half cup sugar, two teaspoons baking powder, three fourth cup flour, pinch of salt, three fourth cup of milk. Pour this mixed batter over melted margarine in the 13x9x2 inch pan. Pour mashed strawberries on top. Bake for one hour until batter rises to top and is crisp and brown.
Hoe hoe hoedown
A magic potion: Six-year-old Jody was curious as he watched his mother smooth beauty lotion on her face and asked, “Why do you do that Mom?” Jody’s mother said “To make myself pretty.” Jody’s mother began removing the lotion with a napkin. “Whats the matter?” said Jody. “Are you giving up already?”
The almanac for June
The moon reached its last quarter on Wednesday, June 2. There will be a new moon on Thursday, June 10. Flag Day will be Monday, June 14. The moon reaches its first quarter on Thursday, June 17. The first full day of summer will be Monday, June 21. There will be a full moon on the night of Friday, June 24. This will be named “Full strawberry moon.”
May 30, 2021
Fireflies zooming across the deck and porch
There are many fireflies as we come to the end of May. They are flying lower than usual which makes it easier to catch a few. At about 8:30 p.m., more of them seem to show up which is twilight time when you can actually see their flickering lights. Several times during a late May evening, we perform a two-minute firefly event to determine the number of fireflies we can observe during each hour of the evening. On a day there is a thunder shower, there seems to be more fireflies that evening. By observing the fireflies each evening, we can get the inventory whether this is an abundant firefly season.
Was it a fire in the farmers barn?
We remember this story as a third grade reader when we were in elementary school about fireflies. The story, (strictly fiction or fairy tale) was about the insects who are planning a spring party in the farmers barn on a warm spring Saturday night. As they planned the event, the crickets were going to provide the music. The chickens were furnishing the egg salad. The birds were using their wings to cool the barn. The mocking birds were performing the singing and the fireflies were providing the light. The bees were furnishing the honey. At midnight, the party was still going on. The farmer looked out his window and thought the barn was on fire. The fire alarm sounded, and the firemen came and sprayed the barn. The firemen were puzzled because after it was all over, they found no evidence of a fire. Like Elvis, the event was over and the insects left the building.
Keep visiting the strawberry fields
There is still plenty of time to visit the strawberry field near you and harvest. Strawberry for shortcake pies, cobblers, jams, jellies, and to eat in a bowl with fresh whipping cream on them and to stock your freezer. The harvest should last two more weeks.
Keep soil hilled up around pepper plants
As the warm May nights continue into June, the pepper plants will thrive in these temperatures. Apply an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food on each side of the pepper rows to feed peppers and hill up soil to cover up the Plant-Tone. Stake and cage peppers for support and protect them from winds and thunderstorms.
Enjoying a fresh strawberry yum yum
For this recipe, you will need one cup of Graham cracker crumbs, one stick light margarine, one cup sugar, two cups fresh strawberries (mashed), one three-ounce box of strawberry jello, eight-ounce pack of cream cheese, one envelope of dream whip, or pint of dairy whipping cream, half cup sugar for the fresh strawberries. For the crust, combine the Graham cracker crumbs, melted light margarine, cup of sugar, and mix well. Set crust ingredients aside. Whip the envelope of dream whip, and half cup cold milk until stiff, add the cream cheese and add one fourth cup sugar. Mix together and sit aside. Instead of dream whip you can use a pint of dairy whipping cream. Spread half of the Graham cracker crumb mix in a 13x9x2 inch baking dish or pan, then add one half of the cream cheese mixture. Spread the strawberry mixture over the cream cheese mixture. Spread the remaining cream cheese mixture on strawberry mixture on the cream cheese and refrigerate for one hour.
Keep garden magic ready all growing season
A garden plot is no better than what you use to promote it to grow and produce a harvest. Use these effective ingredients to promote healthy growth in your garden in all seasons. Use peat moss to improve soil texture and moisture retention. A bail contains 3.5 cubic feet and cost are around $11 to $12. Use Black Kow composted cow manure which is totally organic and so is peat moss. Another great product to boost growth of plants and vegetables and it too, is totally organic is Alaska Fish Emulsion, which is available in quart bottles that can be mixed with proper amount of water in a water sprinkling can.
The ferns of summer will help cool off porches and decks
The ferns on a porch or deck or even a carport offer cool relief from the heat of the late spring and early summer. The lush green of a Boston fern cascading over its hanging basket container makes a a porch or deck look much cooler. Along with the beautiful Boston fern, you can use asparagus ferns to add lush green color in large containers on the porch or deck in a semi sunny location. The old fashion panda fern can be grown in large containers. We have a panda fern and an asparagus fern that we winter over each year in the living room and place them on the deck in mid-spring. All types of ferns have different shades of green and all of them can be cut and trimmed to shape. My grandma in Northampton county had a panda fern that covered the wash tub with holes in it all during spring and summer on her huge back porch. Before winter arrived, she would get several grandchildren to move the fern-laden tub into her large pantry. We have one that has wintered over for over ten years in the living room.
Controlling the morning glory vines before they become pesky
With the warm days and nights of May, keep a very close eye on the emerging growth of all the pesky wild morning glory vines. Pull them up before they develop deep roots that will drain the strength from growing vegetables.Don’t allow the morning glorys to reach vine stage because then they will be hard to control. Pull them up when they are tiny by the roots, place in a bucket and toss them out of the garden plot to dry up in the warm sun of late spring. For goodness sake, do not let them get to bloom stage because one bloom has a seed pod with hundreds of seeds. If one does vine out and bloom, trace the vine back to the soil and pull up by the roots.
Making a simple shortcake for strawberries and whipped cream
With the strawberry season drawing to a close, this is a great and simple shortcake recipe without much sugar in it that will enhance the tartness of Piedmont strawberries and the creamy flavor of real dairy whipping cream. You will need one one cup and half cup plain flour, two and half teaspoons of baking powder, one fourth teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon vanilla, half cup of Crisco shortening, one cup sugar, two beaten eggs, and half cup of milk. Mix flour and baking powder, cream, shortening, and sugar. Add eggs and beat well, add vanilla. Add flour mixture to other ingredients. Add the milk and beat the whole mixture. Pour into a 13x9x2 inch baking pan or dish sprayed with Pam baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes and remove from pan. Mix one and half quarts fresh strawberries with one cup sugar and spread on top of shortcake. Top with a layer of dairy whipping cream (one pint stiffly beaten with added three tablespoons of sugar), or one envelope dream whip or one large container Cool Whip.
Hoe Hoe Hoedown
“Controlling The Loot”- A Sunday school teacher was teaching her class the difference between right and wrong. She said, “All right, children, let me give you an example: If I were to get into a man’s pocket and remove his wallet with all his money, what would I be?” Little 8-year-old Jonathan confidently raised his hand with a smile and said, “Its OK, you’re his wife!”
“Expensive sundae”- A gorilla walked into the ice cream parlor and ordered a $2 sundae and placed a $10 bill on the counter. The clerk thought to himself, “Gorillas don’t know that much about money,” and handed him back $5. The clerk said, “We don’t get many gorillas in here.” The gorilla said, “I can understand why at $5s a sundae!”
May 23, 2021
Having fun freezing fresh pickled strawberries
Strawberries have caps, not hulls. At most pick your own fields, you can purchase strawberry capers that will make taking the caps off fresh strawberries much easier. Never run water over strawberries because this makes them mushy and destroys their small seeds. Always run cold water in the sink and place a quart of capped strawberries at a time in the sink of water and then remove berries and place on a towel to drain. Gently place the whole berries in plastic quart containers until half an inch from top of container. Repeat the process with each quart. Do not pack berries tightly in the plastic containers. When you get ready for a quart of frozen strawberries from the freezer, they will taste almost like fresh.
Planting a row or bed of straight neck squash
You can grow squash in the straight neck or crookneck varieties. The straight neck is the best because they have less water, smaller seed and are much meatier and can be cubed into uniform chunks for better casseroles, frying with cubed onions, or for squash sonkers. Sow squash in a furrow about three feet deep. Apply a layer of peat moss in bottom of furrow and sow seed three to four each hill. Cover seed with another layer of peat moss. Allow a foot or more between each hill of squash. Apply a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure on the seeds and peat moss before hilling up soil on each side of the furrow and tamping down with the hoe blade for good soil contact. When the squash have two leaves, thin to two plants per hill. Side dress the squash every 20 days with Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil to cover the Plant-Tone. The hilled up soil will give extra support to the vines.
Starting a container of mixed coleus
The coleus is also known as Joseph’s coat and it will produce colorful foliage all the way into autumn. You can purchase four packs or six packs of assorted colors. As they grow, they will produce clusters of light purple flowers. To keep coleus producing more foliage, keep pinching off the flowers once a week. Plant all four assorted coleus plants in one pot for a lot of color all summer long. Feed coleus with Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month.
Impatiens make the prettiest of hanging baskets
Impatiens make great bordering displays and are beautiful in pots and containers, but are at their very best in a hanging basket. The spectrum of colors of impatiens is great including red, white, wine, pink, salmon, orange, purple, and hot pink. In a hanging basket, allow the impatiens plenty of room to spread out and never set more than three or four plants in a basket to provide space for them to cascade over the basket. Keep baskets watered daily until water runs from the bottom of the basket. Feed the baskets with Flower-Tone organic flower food every two weeks. Impatiens love plenty of sun and therefore need a fresh drink of water in late afternoon or early evenings.
Cucumbers perform well in beds or rows
Cucumbers love warm days and nights and when sown now, they will rapidly grow and produce a large harvest over quite a few weeks if you cleanly harvest them. Check them daily when they begin to produce because fruits can be hid under the vines and get to large to harvest. You can choose from many varieties including, Lony Green, Straight Eight, Poinsett 76, Ashley, Marketmore 76, Armenian, Pick A Lot, and Boston Pickler. Plant cucumbers in a furrow about two or three inches deep. Apply a layer of peat moss and sow seed four seeds to a hill about one foot apart. Cover seeds with another layer of peat moss and a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure and top with an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil on each side of the furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade for good soil contact. When cucumbers sprout two leaves, thin cucumbers to two plants per hill. Side dress every two weeks with Plant-Tone and hill up soil on each side of the row.
Making a simple fresh strawberry pie
After a visit to the strawberry patch, prepare this simple strawberry pie with only four ingredients. You will need two quarts fresh strawberries, box of vanilla wafers, one can Eagle brand condensed milk, and one large carton of Cool Whip. Cap, clean, and slice fresh strawberries in half, add a cup of sugar to berries. In a 13x9x2 inch pan or baking dish layer vanilla wafers, then a layer of strawberries, then a layer of cool whip. Repeat with another layer of vanilla wafers, strawberries, Eagle brand milk and Cool Whip. Refrigerate one hour before serving. Easy as one, two, three, four and oh so tart and wonderful!
A second crop of green beans can now be planted
One of the attributes of green beans is with their harvest date of 65 to 70 days, they can continually be sown in successive crops for harvest all during the summer and even into early autumn. Green beans are certainly one of summers most universal vegetables because they can be eaten fresh, and canned and frozen for year round use and many gardeners use them raw in salads. There are so many varities of green beans including, Strike, Top Crop, Derby, Contender, Tenderette, Blue Lake Bush, Kentucky Wonder Bush,and a lot of others. Start another crop this week for a harvest in late July. A pound will plant more than a 50-foot row.
Keeping the hummingbird feeders filled
The honeysuckles are now in a wind-down mode and other summer annuals are just now beginning to begin their bloom cycle. The days and nights continue to get warmer. The hummers will be visiting the feeders more often as the month winds it way down. As days get warmer, change the nectar twice a week to avoid hot nectar and fermentation. If the hummers are not consuming as much, fill feeders only half full to save nectar and avoid waste. You can make your own nectar by mixing one quart sugar to quart and a half of water and several drops of red food coloring. Keep the nectar in the refrigerator until ready for use.
Keep setting out tomato plants each week
For as long as you can still find healthy tomato plants, set out a four pack each week for a long tomato harvest. A wise choice at this time of season is to plant determinants such as Celebrity, Marglobe, Rutgers, Homestead, and Better Boy for late summer harvest in late July and through August.
Use calcium enriched plant food to prevent blossom end rot
Calcium in the form of powdered lime calcium carbondale or vigaro tomato food with enriched calcium as well as keeping the base of the tomato plants watered during dry spells will help prevent blossom end rot. Using Tomato-Tone organic tomato food will also give tomatoes a boost in preventing blossom end rot.
Keep Christmas cactus watered and away from direct sunlight
The Christmas cactus are enjoying summer outside on the porch. Feed them once a month with Flower-Tone organic flower food and a drink of water twice a week. If foliage looks reddish in color, move the plants away from direct sun.
Hoe Hoe Hoedown
“Smarter than you think!”- On their summer vacation to Walt Disney World, a mother drove the van past a large church in a southern city and she pointed it out to her children and said, “This is Saint Luke’s Church.” Her eight year old son said, “It must be a franchise, we have one of those in our town.”
The Full Flower Moon will be Wednesday
The full moon of the month of May will occur Wednesday, May 26. This moon will be named Full Flower Moon. The name surly fits this moon as many annuals are now being planted and honeysuckles now in full bloom. Enjoy this full moon after sunset and enjoy a whiff of honeysuckle blooms at the same time.
May 16, 2021
The sweet perfume of the wild honeysuckle
As we reach into mid -May, the sweet essence of the white and coral flowers of the wild honeysuckle emit their fragrance across the garden plot and onto the front porch and deck. No other scent except the rose and the Carolina Jasmine can hold a candle to the wild honeysuckle vines hanging from the trees and clinging to roadsides in the country roads of Surry County on pleasant spring evenings. Pick up several stems of wild honeysuckles and place them in a bud vase of water to bring that sweet essence into the house for a heavenly scent to refresh any room. The wild honeysuckle has a fragrance that you just wish you could bottle up to enjoy in the winter.
Old fashion tomato varieties are hard to top
There are hundreds varieties of tomatoes to choose from in all sizes and colors other than red, such as pink, yellow, orange, purple, gold, white, and a green that is developed just for lovers of fried green tomatoes. The very best of tomato varieties have endured the test of time and many generations have proved them over the years. The Marglobe, Homestead, Rutgers, German Johnson, Big Boy, and Mortgage Lifter are trusted and proven varieties with proven success records. Allow your garden plot to be endowed with these old fashion tomato varieties.
Lima beans will thrive in warm May soil
Lima beans are defiantly a warm weather, almost tropical vegetable. You can choose from Henderson Bush, Ford Hook 242 or Thorogreen Lima. The lima bean bush type requires about 75-80 days to produce a harvest. Sow seed in a furrow three to four inches deep and sow the seed thinly. Apply a layer of peat moss in the furrow before sowing seed then apply another layer of peat moss on top of the seed and then apply Plant-Tone organic vegetable food on top of the peat moss. Hill soil up on each side of the furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade for good soil contact. When the beans sprout and develop two leafs, side dress each side of the row with an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Feed with Plant-Tone by side dressing every 20 days and keep soil hulled up on each side of row after applying Plant-Tone. Be on the alert for insects and Japanese beetles and control them.
How to select healthy tomato plants
One of the “don’ts” of selecting tomato plants is to never purchase tomato plants with blooms or green tomatoes already on them, and do not buy plants that are tall in their four to six packs. Buy your plants in four to six plants that have healthy blue green stems. Make certain that the packs have four to six plants in them and that they are all healthy. Check to make sure the plants are watered and have been well maintained by the business you are buying them from. When transplanting tomato plants to the garden, apply water to the furrow with a water wand on “stream” mode before setting out the tomato plants. Apply a layer of Tomato-Tone organic tomato food around the base of plant and also an application of peat moss to retain moisture before hilling up plenty of soil on both sides of the furrow. Keep soil hilled up on both sides of tomato plants as they continue to grow. Side dress with Tomato-Tone every fifteen to twenty days as tomatoes progress to grown. Stake a few tomatoes in the row that also have cages on them for extra support on the row.
Peppers are as tropical as they get
Warm days as well as nights are essential for the growth of all types of peppers whether they are sweet or hot varieties. We are moving into the third week of May and this is the ideal time to set out peppers. The best varieties of sweet bell peppers are California Wonder, Big Bertha, Keystone, and Doorknob. Plant peppers in hills about two to three feet apart. Apply a layer of peat moss in the bottom of hill and then a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure and an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food around the base of the pepper plants. Hill up plenty of soil around the pepper plants. It is always a great idea to support peppers with cages or stakes for support from the wind and thunderstorms. Keep a distance between hot and sweet varieties of peppers in case bees and pollinators cross-pollinate them. Keep soil hilled up to pepper plants every week for extra support and wind and stream protection.
Warm May days and nights pave way for the main crop of tomato plants
Not only are the days of May warm but now that the nights are warmer, tomato plants will thrive and quickly respond to warmer, more consistent temperatures. You can choose from many varieties of tomatoes including Big Boy, Better Boy, Beefy Boy, Marglobe, Homestead, Rutgers, Early Girl, Celebrity, Park’s Whopper, Beefsteak, Golden Jubilee, Pink Girl, German Johnson, Mortgage Lifter, Beef Master and Roma. Set tomato plants in a furrow about four or five inches deep and set plants two and a half to three feet apart. Apply a layer of peat moss and and a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure in bottom of furrow and then apply an application of Tomato-Tone organic tomato food in the furrow and hill up soil on both sides of the furrow. Wait a few days until plants are established before installing cages or stakes. Keep soil hilled up on both sides of tomato plants. Feed with Tomato-Tone by side dressing every 15 days.
Fireflies dancing at twilight
As daylight changes into twilight magically and mystic, the fireflies appear their inviting lemon glow and flicker. They rekindle memories of grandmas house in Northampton County and the multitude of hundreds of fireflies each twilight evening on the saw dust pile in front of grandmas house. All you had to do was swing the palm of your hand and catch a firefly. In just a few short minutes, we would fill the bottom of a quart mason jar with fireflies. Before we went to bed, grandma would make us let the fireflies go, then scrub us with soap and water to get rid of that “lightning bug smell.” Even to this day, we like to catch and release a few to recall what grandma called “that lightning bug smell.” The name “firefly” sounds a bit more dignified and respectable, don’t you think?
The beautiful Columbine during the month of May
One of the prettiest of the perennials of spring is the dainty Columbine. This flower has a lavender star shaped bottom layer and a white top. Usually the whole container will be filled with colorful blooms. You can purchase a Columbine at most nurseries in small containers, ready to be transplanted to the larger containers or pots. They are tough and winter over on porches and decks and come into full bloom every year.
Making a strawberry pudding
To make this Carolina strawberry treat, you will need two quarts of fresh strawberries (capped, cleaned, and chopped), one three-ounce box strawberry jello, three-three ounce boxes of Jello instant vanilla pudding mix, vanilla wafers, one cup sugar, two large cartons of Cool Whip, three cups of milk, and eight ounce cup of sour cream.Mix together the fresh chopped strawberries, Strawberry jello, and sugar. Warm the mixture up to dilute the juice of the strawberries. Allow the mixture to cool. Pour the pudding packets into the strawberry mixture and add the milk. After pudding is dissolved, add a half a carton of Cool Whip and the sour cream to the mixture. You can now begin layering the pudding. Begin with a layer of vanilla wafers on the bottom, Jello-Strawberry pudding mixture, next cover with remaining Cool Whip. This will make quit a large pudding. Keep in refrigerator.
“Pastor gets earful” — An older pastor had a routine to visit the students this morning in the church elementary school. One morning, he walked into the fifth grade class, where the children were studying about the 50 states, and he asked them how many they could name. He told them that in his school days the students knew and named all the states. One kid in the class raised his hand and said, “Yes pastor but in those days there were only 13 states.”
May 12, 2021
Tomato plants are now ready to thrive and quickly respond to warmer, more consistent temperatures. Set the plants in a furrow about four or five inches deep and two-and-a-half to three feet apart. Apply a layer of peat moss and and a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure in bottom of furrow, then apply an application of Tomato-Tone organic tomato food and hill up soil on both sides.
Wait a few days until plants are established before installing cages or stakes. Keep soil hilled up on both sides of tomato plants. Feed with Tomato-Tone by side dressing every 15 days.
There are hundreds varieties of tomatoes to choose from in all sizes and colors other than red, such as a green that is developed just for lovers of fried green tomatoes. The very best of tomato varieties have endured the test of time and many generations have proved them over the years. The Marglobe, Homestead, Rutgers, German Johnson, Big Boy, and Mortgage lifter are trusted and proven varieties with proven success records. Allow your garden plot to be endowed with these tomato varieties.
One of the “don’ts” of selecting tomatoes is never purchase tomato plants with blooms or green tomatoes on them, and do not buy plants that are already tall. Buy plants that have healthy blue-green stems. Make certain that the packs have four to six plants in them and that they are all healthy. Check to make sure the plants are watered and well-maintained by the business.
When transplanting tomato plants to the garden, apply water to the furrow with a water wand on “stream” mode before setting out the plants. Apply a layer of Tomato-Tone organic tomato food around the base of plant and also an application of peat moss to retain moisture before hilling up plenty of soil on both sides of the furrow. Keep soil hilled up on both sides of tomato plants as they continue to grow. Side dress with Tomato-Tone every 15 to 20 days. Stake a few tomatoes in the row that also have cages on them for extra support.
Lima beans will thrive
Lima beans are definitely a warm-weather almost tropical vegetable. Lima bean bushes requires about 75-80 days to produce a harvest. In a furrow three to four inches deep apply a layer of peat moss before sowing seed thinly, then apply another layer of peat moss on top of the seed. Add Plant-Tone organic vegetable food on top and hill soil up on each side of the furrow and tamp down.
When the beans sprout and develop two leafs, side dress each side of the row with an application of Plant-Tone. Feed by side dressing every 20 days and keep soil hulled up on each side of row. Be on the alert for insects like Japanese beetles.
Peppers are as tropical as they get
Warm days as well as nights are essential for the growth of all types of peppers whether they are sweet or hot varieties. We are moving into mid-May and this is the ideal time to set out peppers.
Plant peppers in hills about two to three feet apart. Apply a layer of peat moss in the bottom of hill and then a layer of Black Kow and an application of Plant-Tone around the base of the pepper plants. Hill up plenty of soil around the plants.
It is always a great idea to support peppers with cages or stakes for support from the wind and thunderstorms. Keep a distance between hot and sweet varieties of peppers in case bees and pollinators cross polinate them.
The sweet perfume of honeysuckle
No other scent except the rose and the Carolina jasmine can hold a candle to the wild honeysuckle vines hanging from the trees and clinging to roadsides in the country roads of Stokes County on pleasant spring evenings. Pick up several stems of wild honeysuckles and place them in a bud vase of water to bring that sweet essence into the house for a heavenly scent to refresh any room. Honeysuckle has a fragrance that you just wish you could bottle up to enjoy in the winter.
Fireflies dance at twilight
As daylight magically changes into twilight, the fireflies appear their inviting lemon glow and flicker. They rekindle memories of grandma’s house in Northampton County and the multitude of hundreds of fireflies each evening on the sawdust pile in front of grandmas house. All you had to do was swing the palm of your hand and catch a firefly. In just a few short minutes, we would fill the bottom of a quart mason jar with fireflies. Before we went to bed, grandma would make us let the fireflies go, then scrub us with soap and water to get rid of that “lightning bug smell.” Even to this day, we like to catch and release a few to recall that smell. (“Firefly” sounds a bit more dignified and respectable than “lightning bug,” don’t you think?)
2 qt. fresh strawberries, capped, cleaned, and chopped
1 3-oz. box strawberry Jello mix
3 3-oz. boxes of Jello vanilla pudding mix
1 cup sugar
3 cups of milk
1 8-oz. container of sour cream
2 large cartons of Cool Whip
Mix together strawberries, strawberry Jello and sugar. Warm the mixture up to dilute the juice of the strawberries, then allow the mixture to cool. Pour the vanilla pudding packets into the strawberry mixture and add the milk. After pudding is dissolved, add half of a carton of Cool Whip and the sour cream. You can now begin layering the pudding. Begin with a layer of Vanilla Wafers on the bottom, then the strawberry mixture, then cover with Cool Whip. This will make quit a large pudding. Keep refrigerated.
May 09, 2021
The colorful and beautiful Columbine
During the cold winter days, the perennial Columbine certainly looks like it is dead, but when March arrives it produces small green foliage and continues to thrive until mid-April. At this time, it fills the container with greenery. As May arrives, the buds fill the foliage and as May reaches its second week, the Columbine reaches full bloom. You can purchase Columbine in containers at hardwares and nurseries. If you buy a large container and a bag of finely textured potting medium, you can re-pot it as soon as you bring it home. It may look rough at times in the winter, but it will bounce back in early spring. Their deep lavender blooms make the Columbine well worthwhile for the deck or porch. A great investment for years to come.
A bed of colorful zinnias will highlight a summer of beauty.
As we approach the middle of May, the time arrives to start a row or bed of zinnias in almost every color of the rainbow except blue. Zinnias will attract plenty of butterflies as well as birds that loves their seeds. Most zinnias seeds cost less than $2 per packet. The packets are available in individual or assorted colors. Zinnias will bloom from late spring all the way until just before frost.
How to avoid mildew of zinnias
To avoid the powdery mildew on the foliage of zinnias, water only the base of the plants preferably with a water wand that will place water only where it is needed. Do not apply water to any of the foliage but only water the base where the roots are.
Starting the warm weather garden plot with organic plant and flower foods
As the season of planting warm weather vegetables, flowers, and plants begins, do not fertilize but feed your vegetation with the following plant foods and soil nutrients. Build up the soil with peat moss which can be purchased in 3.5 cubic foot bales for #11 or $12 and also Black Kow mature cow manure (composted cow manure) which is available in 25- or 50-pound bags. Organic plant foods include Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Sold in four-pound zipper plastic bags that make the food easy to apply. You can also purchase Holly-Tone evergreen organic food for azaleas, and evergreens. Rose-Tone organic rose food, Flower-Tone organic flower food for annuals and perennials, Garden-Tone for vegetables and herbs, and Tomato-Tone organic tomato food. All of these are made by a company that has been in business since 1929. Vigaro tomato food, with added calcium is another tomato food with calcium added for good tomato production. Dr. Earth tomato food is another quick responding tomato food. It is available in three pound bags. A product with proven results is Alaska Fish Emulsion in one court bottles to be mixed with proper amounts of water and applied to the base of plants, vegetables, and flowers. Always use products that promote soil and feed plants.
Blackberry winter still in progress
With wild blackberries still blooming during the days of May, we still have a few more cool nights and days but nothing to be alarmed about and there should be no danger to seeds of warm weather vegetables that have already been sown. The blackberries still have ten or twelve more days of blooming and after that the days and nights should be turning warmer. Don’t let blackberry winter hinder the sowing of the warm weather vegetable seeds.
Strawberry season almost here
The strawberry season usually begins the week of Mothers Day in our area of the Piedmont. There are plenty of fields in our area where you can pick your own berries or purchase them already picked by the gallon. There is nothing like a trip to Surry County to pick your own strawberry field on a pleasant spring morning with birds singing, the smell of strawberries and the aroma of honeysuckles in the morning air. Call before you go to make sure berries are available if you go later in the day, or if you desire to order strawberries ahead of time .
Kicking off the strawberry season with a very strawberry pie
This pie is named “very strawberry” because it contains fresh strawberries as well as strawberry pie filling for rich strawberry goodness. You will need one 21-ounce can of Comstock strawberry pie filling, one quart fresh strawberries, one nine inch graham cracker pie crust, one eight ounce cool whip or pint of dairy whipping cream. Slice fresh strawberries in halves and place evenly (sliced side down) in bottom of graham cracker pie crust. Pour the can of strawberry pie filling over the fresh strawberries. Spread the cool whip or the whipping cream over the pie and refrigerate for at least one hour.
The season for planting seed of the warm weather vegetables arrives
The days and nights of the merry month of May have turned warm enough to sow the seed of all warm weather vegetables as well as pepper, tomato, and egg plants. They will grow quickly as the nights get warmer. The seeds of green beans, squash, cucumbers, lima beans, corn, and okra. You can sow squash and cucumbers from plants, but with the soil now warming up, the seed of cucumbers and squash sown now will rapidly catch up with the plants.
The corn crop needs to be planted soon
Most varieties of corn requires a 90-day growing season and should be sown soon to ensure an abundant harvest. The later in the season corn is sown, the more insect enemies you will have to deal with. The corn that is planted now can reach harvest stage before the heat of August arrives. You can chose from Silver Queen, Golden Queen, Candy corn, How Sweet It Is, Early Sunglow, Illini Chief, and Butter Fruit. Plant at least three or four rows for wind pollination and storm protection. Sow seed in a three- to four-inch furrow with four or five seeds per hill and allow eight to ten inches between hills. Add a layer of peat moss on top of the seed and then apply a layer of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade for good soil contact. When corn sprouts and is two inches tall, thin corn to two corn sprouts per hill and hill soil on both sides of the rows. Feed corn every 20 days with Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil on each side of row after feeding with Plant-Tone. Hill up corn every week for wind protection and added support. Check for Japanese beetles and other pests.
A colorful basket or container of Portulaca
Portulaca has different names in different areas of the country. In the Great Plains it is known as Desert Rose, in the Southeast, it is known as Rose Moss, in the Southwest, it is known as Cactus Rose, on the seed packet it is named Portulaca. This unique flower and foliage certainly must be near kin to the cactus family. You can purchase Portulaca in six and nine packs at hardwares, nurseries, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and Walmart. Most of them are in full bloom when you buy them and this makes it easy to select the colors you would like in your large pot or container. Portulaca is different than most annuals because you can plant it close together and they will not become root bound. They love full sun and on cloudy days, they don’t produce many flowers. They bloom everyday the sun shines and new flowers appear each day which paves the way for many color combinations. As they continue to grow, they will cascade over the pots and containers for even more colorful displays.
”A word to the wise!” – It doesn’t take much to make a mountain out of a molehill, just add a little bit of dirt!
“The wisdom of God” – A human baby does not learn to walk until they can reach their parents hand.
“Asleep at the pew” – A woman was embarrassed because her husband walked out on the pastor’s sermon. She replied to her pastor, “When my husband walked out, I hope you were not offended.” The pastor replied “No, but he did get my attention.” She said “It’s no reflection on you, he’s been walking in his sleep since he was 8 years old!”
Wishing all mothers a Happy Mothers Day
There are more than 81 million mothers in America and on Mothers Day, they receive an average of three gifts and more than 250 million cards with gifts in them. Children across America call their moms on Mothers Day and next to Christmas, it marks the most calls on a single day. On Mothers Day more families dine out at restaurants than any other day other than Thanksgiving. More than 20 million kids from 6 to 12-year-olds shop with the help of their parents to find the perfect gifts for their mothers and grandmothers.
How many cares does a mother’s heart know? Nobody knows but mother. How many joys from her mother’s love flow? Nobody knows but mother. How many prayers for each little bed? Nobody knows but mother. How many tears for babies she has shed? Nobody knows but mother. How many kisses for each curly head? Nobody knows but mother.” -Mary Morrison.
“All that I am and hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”- Abraham Lincoln
May 02, 2021
Getting an extra minute of daylight each day
We are continuing to receive an extra minute of daylight each day and will repeat it everyday until June 21, which will be the first day of summer. The extra minutes will aid in getting the garden ready to sow and plant the warm weather vegetable crops in the spring garden plot. Wait until the second week of the month of May to set out the bulk of your tomato plants. We still have almost two weeks remaining for cool nights and temperatures.
Straight-neck or crookneck? The choice is yours
In the choices of summer yellow squash varieties, you have two choices of summer straight-neck or yellow crookneck and both are heavy producers. We prefer the summer straight-neck simply because they are meaty and more uniform in size and have less seeds. Last year, Burpee introduced a new straight-neck variety named “Fort Knox.” We tried it and we were pleased with their size and production. Other good choices of straight-necks are Enterprise, Saffron, and Early Prolific straight-neck. If you like a squash with plenty of larger seeds and more moisture, the yellow crookneck is the variety for you. When squash ripen, check the harvest daily and don’t let them get to big. Pick clean so that more blooms will develop.
Planting a container of colorful Portulaca or Rose Moss
The beautiful Portulaca is known by the names of Rose Moss, Desert Rose, and Cactus Rose. They are defiantly cactus in their nature and unusual in their blooming habits. each day they have a new set of blooms and different patterns of floral designs. They feature a rainbow of light mint green foliage that is highlighted with flowers in colors of red, white, bronze, yellow, rose, pink, orange, wine, tan, and other colors. You can purchase Portulaca’s in six- and nine-packs. The plants come in full bloom so you can determine the assortment of colors you will be planting. Set out the plants in a large container of fine potting medium. Unlike other annuals, Portulaca can be planted close together for a display of color. You can plant them several inches apart and they will cascade over all sides of the pot or large container. Feed them once a month with Flower-Tone organic flower food. Keep them watered twice a week when there is no rain.
Feeding the Irish potato row or bed
The deep green of the Irish potatoes are now peeking their way from the warming soil of mid spring. They need to be fed with an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food every fifteen days and keep soil hilled up on both sides of the row. Steady feeding every fifteen days and keeping soiled hilled up to the potato vines will produce healthy spuds as we get closer to the dog days of the month of July.
The arrival of the three chilly saints
First, there was Dogwood Spring, then came Blackberry Winter which we are still in part of it, and next week on May 11-May 13 they will pose as the three chilly saints. They will make one last ditch effort to prevent warm nights from arriving. After these three chilly saints go marching off the spring scene, the nights and the soil will warm up and we can set out pepper, tomato, and egg plants and see our hopes for an abundant summer harvest.
Spring has tip-toed to the half-way point
Spring of 2021 has now reached the midway point and we can look for warmer temperatures and comfortable nights. After the three chilly saints mentioned earlier, we can confidently plant warm weather vegetables of squash, cucumbers, green beans, lima beans, peppers, tomatoes, and flowerbeds or annuals without any risk of frost. Spring now becomes serious business in the garden plot. We can jump start all warm weather vegetables and look for some rapid response and growth as soil warms up.
Investing in a durable water wand
Apply water only when and where it is needed, and do not water the middle rows that only promotes weeds. A durable water wand will zero in and apply just the right amount of water where it will be beneficial. A durable water wand has many different settings and adjustments from shower to mist, to stream, to pour as well as other settings that are designed to precisely apply water exactly where you need it without wasting water. A good water wand costs between twelve and fifteen dollars and will last for many years.
The first rose of the 2021 season
The first rose of the 2021 season are now reaching their bloom stage. As Mother’s Day is almost here, we are happy to welcome their color, fragrance, and beauty. May is a great month to plant rose bushes and they will provide many years of color and blooms if you treat them with tender, loving care. Remember that the “knockout” rose variety in the light green trademark containers are absolutely the best, most carefree, easier to maintain than any other rose on the market. We like them simply because they do not have long canes and are easy to shape and trim, and look much better even in winter.
Making a pizza cheeseburger pie
This is a pizza with an actual pie crust, it is plenty meaty and the crust makes it unusual. You will need one jar of pizza sauce, one and half pounds of ground chuck, one package of pepperoni slices (chopped), two cups finely shredded mozzarella cheese (two eight ounce packs), and two nine-inch pie shells. Brown the ground chuck and drain liquids. Add the pizza sauce to the ground chuck and allow to simmer for five minutes. Pour ground chuck mixture into the two pie shells. Top with mozzarella cheese and chopped pepperoni. Bake at 375 degrees until cheese melts.
Kicking off the green bean crop
Green beans can now be sown in the early May garden. There are so many varieties of green beans to chose from including Top Crop, Derby, Tenderette, Strike, Contender, Blue Lake Bush, and Kentucky Wonder Bush. Sow seed thinly in a furrow about three or four inches deep, cover seed with a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure and then apply an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Cover the furrow by hilling up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamping down soil with the hoe blade. When beans sprout, side dress again with an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food.
Bulk of your tomato plants
We still have another week or so of cool nights. We may not have any frost, but certainly at least another week of cool temperatures. When the soil warms up at night, tomato plants at that time will quickly respond to the warmer soil temperatures that the second week of May will bring. Seed planted in warm soil will sprout in ten days. Patience is a virtue all gardens need.
”Kicking off the strawberry season”- A farmer was passing a mental institution with a load of cow manure. An inmate called to him through a window, “What are you hauling?” “Cow manure,” said the farmer. “What are you going to do with it?” asked the inmate. “Put it on my strawberries,” said the farmer. The inmate said “We always put whipping cream on ours, and they say we are crazy!”
The almanac for May
May day was celebrated yesterday, May 1. The moon will reach its last quarter Monday, May 3. Cinco de Mayo will be celebrated Wednesday, May 5. Mothers Day will be Sunday, May 9. The moon will be new on Tuesday, May 11. The moon will reach its first quarter on Wednesday, May 19. Pentecost Sunday will be May 23. There will be a full moon on Wednesday, May 26. The name of this moon will be Full Flower Moon. Memorial Day will be remembered Monday, May 31.
April 25, 2021
Still plenty of dusty yellow pollen floating around
As we move closer toward the end of April, we are still having to contend with plenty of pollen from trees, weeds, and grass. Keep pollen off the carport with the leaf blower and rinse it off the vehicles every day. Wipe it from the windshields and from around the door panels and dashboard. Rinse pollen from the vehicles each day.
Investing in a durable water wand
A water wand is a great start toward conserving water by placing water only where it is needed without wasting the water in the middle of the row. A good water wand with six or more settings from“stream shower, spray, pour, and other modes. A good wand cost around $12. A wand will apply an application of water in any desired mode directly where you need it. It can place a stream in a furrow on top of seeds after sowing them. A helpful tip about a water wand is to never leave the wand attached when pulling the hose from one location to another because you may damage the spring on the wand.
Starting a colorful container of Coleus or Joseph’s coat
The first container of summer annuals to start the warm weather flower season should be a container of Coleus. They come with foliage of rose, pink, cream, yellow, wine, mint green, red, and lavender. Coleus are available in six-, four-, and nine-packs. As the Coleus begins to produce lavender blooms, pinch them off to produce an abundance of foliage.
Here’s hoping for plenty of April showers to finish April’s fair well
What better way to condition the soil for the growing season of warm weather than ending the month of April with a few showers in all their glory and majesty, moisture and grace?
Frost is still possible during the remainder of April
Even though the frost date of April 15 is long past a possibility of frost is still possible. We still have some cold nights in the forecast and frost can still be in the forecast even into early May. All cool weather vegetables will endure a frost, but hold off on sowing or planting any warm weather vegetables until the first or second week of May.
Saving the mesh bags that oranges and onions come in
The three-pound mesh bags that onions and oranges come in at supermarkets are great pest control instruments for the garden plot all during the growing season. You can use them from keeping rabbits from eating green beans and foliage. Just take a fragrant bar of soap such as Dial and shave it into small chips and fill the mesh bag and hang it near the row or bed of green beans. Rabbits defiantly do not like the smell of soap. Maybe they associate the smell of soap with humans. When green beans are blooming, you can fill a mesh bag with some moth balls to keep nasty groundhogs (members of the rodent family) at a distance from the garden.
The art of building a sturdy bird nest
How does a bird know how to build a bird nest? They instinctively know how to construct a nest and how to discern what materials to use. We saw a robin earlier in the season with a piece of chewing gum wrapper in her beak. This seems like an odd building material, but somehow she visions it in the construction of her nest. Like all God’s creation, they are wonderfully made.
Starting off a few Early Girl tomatoes
April still has five days remaining and a few cold days in the month of May, but it’s worth a gamble to set out several Early Girl tomato plants to attempt an early harvest. The Early Girl meets conditions because it has a 60-65 harvest date from transplanting in the garden. The effort will be worth it if you can coax a harvest from a four pack of Early Girls by the end of June. They will need a little extra attention and care plus maybe covering on cool nights, but tomatoes and a harvest in late June of fresh tomato’s is worth extra effort.
Keeping hummingbird feeders filled with nectar
With the days of April drawing near an end, more and more hummers are making their way to the feeders. Fill the feeders half full of nectar several times each week and check on how much they are consuming. You can purchase nectar, ready made in two quart jugs or in powdered packets that can be mixed with proper amount of water. You can also prepare your own nectar with a half and half mixture of sugar and water and maybe twice as much water as sugar with a few drops of red food coloring.
Providing birdhouse for the bluebirds
The bluebirds are making a come back and you can invite them to your own backyard, lawn, or garden by placing a bluebird house a distance away from your home or garden. Bluebirds do not like to be to close to people, but a birdhouse properly placed a distance from the home or garden will draw them near enough for plenty of bluebird grazing.
Kicking off the warm weather vegetables growing season of green beans
The nights are still a bit cool but that should not hinder sowing a row or two of green beans such as Top Crop or Strike. These both are stringless, tender, and productive and produce two harvests when cleanly picked. Start a row or bed this week and another bed or two, two weeks from now. Cool weather should not hinder them because by the time they sprout it will be May and soil will begin to warm up. Wait until the middle of May to sow the bulk of the green bean harvest in 60 to 70 days. Sow green beans in a furrow about three or four inches deep. Apply a layer of peat moss in the bottom of the furrow, sow seed, apply another layer of peat moss and a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure and apply an application of Plant Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil on each side of the furrow and tamp down with a hoe blade. After they sprout, apply a side dressing of Plant Tone organic vegetable food every 15 days and pull soil up on each side of the row.
Patience with tomatoes, peppers, corn, lima beans, egg plants, squash, and cucumbers
The last nights of April will be cool and also the first ten days of May will feature some cold days and nights for all above mentioned warm weather vegetables. The soil is not warm enough for sowing warm weather vegetable seed or transplanting plants of peppers, tomatoes, and egg plants. For more dependable and sure results on warm weather vegetables, wait until the middle of May when soil is warmer and nights begin to be warmer. When soil is warmer, seeds will quickly sprout and plants will rapidly respond.
Making a rich dark brown sugar cake
To make this cake do not preheat the oven. Ingredients include one pound box dark brown sugar, one cup sugar, three sticks light margarine, five large eggs, three cups plain flour, half teaspoon baking powder, one cup milk, one tablespoon vanilla, one cup chopped pecans. Cream dark brown sugar, sugar, and margarine together. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and baking powder. Mix in milk and vanilla. Mix all ingredients well and fold in the mixed pecans. Bake in a well greased and floured tube pan for an hour and ten minutes at 325 degrees.Cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan.
Hoe hoe hoedown
God, the artist — The Sunday school teacher started the day’s lesson with a question; “Boys and girls what do you know about God?” A boy’s hand shot up in the air. “I know, I know, God is an artist,” said the little boy. “And how do you know that?” asked the puzzled teacher. The little boy replied, “You know, ‘Our father who does art in heaven.’”
Simple sermon — In the message one Sunday morning, the preacher said, “If absence makes the heart grow fonder, a lot of you must really love our church.”
Wife to another wife — My husband still has the first two loaves I ever baked him, he uses them for bookends!
Enjoying the full pink moon tomorrow night
Tomorrow night, a full pink moon can be enjoyed after sunset. It may actually look pink as it rises after the sun sets in the west. It will be an interesting contrast as it rises against a background of trees displaying a new coating of fresh green leaves. Enjoy the moon each night during the week as it rises a little bit later each night.
April 18, 2021
A quick growing row or bed of mixed spring greens. A tender green vegetable that thrives in cool temperatures of spring is a row or bed of spring greens that will sprout and grow quickly in cool April soil. You can expect a harvest in 50 to 55 days and quickly succeed it with a warm weather vegetable crop. The greens of early spring are sweet and tender. You can choose a mixture of curly mustard, broad leaf, tender green, kale, and turnip. The seed store or hardware will mix the seed in any ratio you desire. You can purchase them by the ounce. Sow the tiny seed in a furrow about two to three inches deep. Cover the seed with a layer of Peat moss and an application of Plant Tone organic vegetable food. Hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down with a hoe blade. As the greens sprout and grow, continue to hill up soil on each side of the row. Side dress with Plant Tone organic plant food every 20 days. Continually harvest until weather gets warm. Two ounces of seed will easily plant a 50-foot row of greens.
A few more days of “Dogwood Winter.” Dogwood winter is that short period when dogwoods fade and begin to lose the petals and cover the lawn and forest floor with white petals. It will last until their tiny leaves begin to show up. We can still have the possibility of frost throughout the fickle month of April.
Jump starting roses during mid-April. Mid-April is the ideal time to get the blooms of May roses off to a great start. The roses already have tiny leaves and are ready for some food. Give them a good helping of food in the form of Rose Tone organic rose food for a boost of energy and nutrients. Note that we referred to food, not chemicals or quick fixes. Roses, flowers, plants, and vegetables need food not chemicals and pellets that are dry and difficult to absorb into the soil and through the root systems. Apply a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure around the base of rose bushes to get roses off to a good start and a long season of blooms along with an application of Rose Tone once a month.
The front porch and the aroma of an April shower. An April shower has the power to wash dusty, yellow pollen from the trees and also keep it out of our nostrils to make room in our nose for that unmistakable aroma that only an April shower can bring, even though they are more rare than they use to be, for reasons unknown. When there is a gentle breeze some of the shower blows onto your face for a refreshing experience. The puddles of water on the driveway now become “yellow” from pollen of newly forming leaves, and they look refreshed and so do we as sip a Mountain Dew and enjoy the gentle shower on a spring afternoon. Never take for granted the simple treasures in our midst.
Knock out roses are a good choice. Of all the varieties of roses the knock out is one of the best. We love them because they do not grow tall or produce long canes and they are easy to trim and maintain. They produce blooms over a long season and come in colors off red, yellow, white, and pink. You can always distinguish a knock out rose by its light green container and the finely textured medium it comes packed in. A knock out rose is a long term investment in color and beauty and does not require as much growing space as many other varieties. May the knock out rose live long and continue to prosper — we love them!
A shot of magic to promote blooms on roses. As we approach the month of May, give your rose bushes a shot of magic to promote plenty of colorful blooms with a couple of handfuls of Epsom salts around the base of the rose bushes and stir it into the soil. Repeat this once a month for beautiful roses all summer long.
Organic plant foods proven for more than 130 years. Plants, flowers, and vegetables as well as flower bulbs will quickly respond to foods and nutrients and contents of organic materials. Plant Tone, Holly Tone, and Bio Tone have been produced by the Espoma company for more than 130 years. They are totally organic vegetable, flower, and plant foods sold with a money-back satisfaction guarantee. You can buy these products at most nurseries, hardwares, garden shops, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Ace hardware in three-pound or ten-pound bags. This food produces results over a long growing season and its fine texture causes quick response for all growing flowers and vegetables. It quickly absorbs into the soil. It comes in a zip block bag which makes it easy to handle and apply. You can also purchase Tomato Tone and Holly Tone evergreen food that are also totally organic. It has no lumps or clumps just great organic food.
Keeping Black Kow and peat moss handy for all spring planting. Two magic elixirs for every garden plot are peat moss and Black Kow composted cow manure. A handful of peat moss spread down the row or furrow before sowing seed or setting out plants and handfuls of Black Kow sprinkled on seed before covering with soil and tamping down with the hoe blade will jump start any vegetable or plant in the garden plot. You can also apply Plant Tone organic vegetable food on top of the peat moss and Black Kow.
An asparagus fern for lush cool spring and summer beauty on porch or deck. As containers of spring and summer annuals are displayed in garden departments at Lowe’s, Home Depot, hardwares and Walmart, pick up a container of asparagus fern and buy a larger container and a bag of potting medium to replant it in. When you transplant the fern it will quickly grow. By summer’s end, you can move it to a sunny spot in the living room where it can thrive all winter if you give it a drink of water each week and feed it with Flower Tone organic flower food once every 15 days.
Making a tangy lemon cheese pie. This is a easy recipe to prepare and the family will enjoy it on a spring evening. You will need two cups of sugar, one tablespoon plain flour, one tablespoon cornmeal, four unbeaten eggs, one-fourth cup melted light margarine, one-fourth cup milk, four tablespoons grated lemon rind, half cup lemon juice fresh or bottled, one nine-inch deep dish pie shell (chilled). Combine sugar, flour, corn meal, in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and beat until well blended. Pour in to a chilled nine-inch deep dish pie shell (unbaked). Place in preheated 375 degree oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes until firm.
Hoe hoe hoe down. “Loafing around:” The minister asked the young boy what his favorite Bible parable was. The boy replied “I like the one about the loafing and fishing.”
A small child was heard trying to recite the lords prayer: “Forgive us our trash passes as we forgive those who pass trash against us.”
April 11, 2021
Dogwoods dot North Carolina woodlands and roadways. As trees begin filling out with leaves, they form a background for the snow white petals of the dogwoods and also the hot pink of the Judas trees as they welcome mid-spring to the Piedmont. No other flower puts on such a spring show all during the month of April. The blooms should be with us all the way into the first days of May.
Beware of the fickles of the month of April. Plenty of cool days and nights remain in the fickle month of April, and don’t let the last frost date of April 15 fool you because we could have the possibility of frost into the early part of May. Don’t be in a hurry to plant warm weather vegetables of squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, or green beans until the month of May arrives. Cool temperatures of April soil will hinder their growth and in the cold soil, they may not sprout at all. The odds will be much better and there will be less risk if you are patient until early in May.
Dusty pollen, April showers, and umbrellas. Dealing with dusty yellow pollen as we move toward mid April is one of the chores of the month as we try to keep it from covering the vehicles and the carport. On a day when an April shower is in the forecast, move the car to the driveway in hopes that the shower will wash off some of the pollen. Keep brooms and leaf blowers handy to keep pollen blown and swept from the carport and prevent it from being tracked into the house. Keep an umbrella in the car in case you run into a sudden April shower. Here’s to hoping the month will produce an abundance of sweet smelling showers!
As jonquils and hyacinths finish blooming, allow foliage to remain. The jonquils, hyacinths, narcissus, buttercups, and daffodils reach the end of their bloom stage, the foliage is still green and it is there for an important reason. Please do not cut it or mow it because it sends nutrients to the bulbs to nurture them for next season’s growth. The foliage will dry up and brown out after it finishes its cycle. It will die back as we move into the month of May.
Still plenty of frost risk after April 15. Officially, and according to the calender, we experience the last frost date on April 15, but don’t risk planting any warm weather vegetables during the entire month of April. Even if there is no more frost, there will be plenty of cold nights. My Northampton grandma always said “Anytime you sleep with a blanket on the bed, it’s not the time to plant any warm weather vegetables in the garden.”
Keeping hummingbird feeders filled. As we reach toward the middle of April, The hummingbirds are arriving in greater numbers at the feeders. Some spring flowers have not yet reached bloom stage, so the hummers will certainly be visiting the feeders. Check your feeders and refill every three or four days. You can make your own nectar by mixing one cup sugar, one cup water, and a few drops of red food coloring. Use this formula to prepare the amount you need. You can purchase nectar in quart bottles or powdered packets that you mix with water.
Getting ready for the season of four o’ clocks. The season to plant four o’clocks is only two weeks away. You can purchase packets of four o’clocks at hardwares, nurseries, Walmart, Lowe’s, Home Depot and most supermarkets. Most packets cost around $2. You can choose from packets that include red, white, yellow, pink, and wine. They can be sown in rows, beds, or at the edge of the garden. You can not only enjoy colorful flowers all summer but also lush green foliage.
Starting a packet of early girl tomato seed. Early Girl tomatoes mature 62 days after transplanting to the garden which helps them live up to their name. A packet of Early Girl tomato seeds costs less than $2. It may be too early to plant tomatoes in the garden plot, but you can start a packet off Early Girl tomatoes from seed and they will be ready to transplant to the garden by the middle of May. Water the tomato seedlings each day and move plants inside at nights to protect them from cool spells.
Keeping birdbaths filled each day. Keep the birdbaths filled each day in April and dump remaining water from the bath. A fresh refill of water each day is necessary because of the pollen that builds up in the bath. This will attract more birds of all types to the baths and feeders. They can enjoy a fresh drink and not get a dusty pollen bath.
Verbenas make wonderful hanging baskets. Verbenas come in colors of red, blue, pink, purple, white and make a good choice for a long day. They make lasting hanging baskets of beauty, color, and greenery as they cascade over the baskets. You can mix several colors in each basket or use just one color. Do not use more than four plants per each basket. For more blooms, pinch off spent blooms as they finish their cycle. As the blooms cascade and reaches over the sides of the baskets, they showcase their colors.
Check the Irish potato row or bed. At this time in mid-April the foliage on the potato vines should be very dark green and spreading over the soil. Check the foliage for early insect damage and spray a mist of liquid Sevin on the leaves if you see any insects or Colorado potato beetles. Give the base of the potatoes an application of Plant Tone organic vegetable food every fifteen days and hill up soil after applying plant food.
Springtime on a cakeplate: Lemon daffodil torte. This dessert is a real sample of springtime. For this tart and tangy dessert you will need: one 14-ounce can Eagle brand condensed milk, half cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled), one teaspoon grated lemon rind ,one teaspoon yellow food coloring, two cups plain flour, one tablespoon baking powder, half teaspoon salt, one and a half cups sugar, 3/4 cup Crisco shortening, two teaspoons vanilla, one cup milk, and four egg whites. For the lemon filling, combine the Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk, half cup lemon juice, grated lemon rind, yellow food coloring. Mix together and chill in refrigerator.
For the cake batter preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix plain flour, salt, and baking powder in another large bowl, mix sugar, Crisco shortening, and vanilla until fluffy. Add milk to the flour mixture, alternatively. In a medium bowl mix the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold egg whites into the cake batter. Grease and flour two nine inch cake pans and pour batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until a tooth pick comes out clean. Cool cake for fifteen minutes. Remove from pans onto waxed paper and cool completely. Split each layer horizontally to make four layers. Spread the lemon filling mixture between the layers.
To make the creamy white frosting for the top and the sides of the cake, mix three cups of 10x powdered sugar, two third cup of Crisco shortening, two tablespoons milk, one teaspoon vanilla. Beat on low speed till smooth. Add additional milk if needed for desired consistency. Spread a can of flaked coconut over the top of the cake.
Hoe-hoe-hoedown. “Stick out you tongue.” Two snakes were crawling along when one snake asked the other, “Are we poisonous?” The other snake said, “Yes we are rattlesnakes. Why do you need to kno ?” The first snake replied, “I just bit my tongue!”
”Gently aging.” Son: “Dad, are you growing taller all the time ?” Dad- “No son, why do you ask ?” Son- “Because the top of you head is poking through your hair.”
April 04, 2021
Missing the power of an April shower. Oh for an April fresh shower every other day in the month of April! Nothing is quite as fresh as the smell of soil, grass, and gardens touched by an April shower-days when girls and women pop up umbrellas everywhere and create their own rainbows of color.
In April we always remember Patricia, a childhood sweetheart in the fourth grade. All it had to do was be cloudy on an April day and she would be toting her umbrella to school, expecting a shower. What fun it was to walk under that umbrella with her with raindrops falling and making sweet sounds while walking side by side down the country lane. We think of this event every April when showers come our way and gently beat on our umbrella heralding the sounds of growing up in the 1950s.
A month of fickle unpredictable month of the year. You can expect almost every type of weather in the month of April. Even though the last frost is predicted around April 15, we cannot be surprised to see the frost on any given morning during the month and also into early May. Snow can also be possible during April as well as a few April showers.
A snow in April will only melt the heart. Snow can be a possibility anytime during the month of April. Most snow in April dosen’t linger too long because of temperatures aloft are much colder which makes snow possible during April. On the other side of the coin temperatures are warmer at ground level, and in most events of April snowfall, whatever amount of April snows that falls melts quickly. All cool weather vegetables already planted will not be hindered by the effects of April snow.
Don’t be fooled into planting warm weather vegetable. As we begin the month of April, remember there are still plenty of cold days and nights and a lot of frost danger and cold soil all month long. There is just too much risk involved in planting warm weather vegetables or setting out any tomato plants although some are now appearing in the garden shops and seed stores. Do not be fooled by the fickle behavior of April.
A few hummingbirds are showing up at the feeders. We have placed a feeder on the deck in expectation of the early arrival of some hummers. A few brave hummers have already showed up. Keep one feeder half full of nectar and watch the feeder daily as more appear, keep adding more nectar.
April is the perfect month to plant pots and containers of perennials. Perennials are wonderful because they produce foliage, flowers and beauty in all four seasons of the year. There are so many varieties and colors to choose from and they are also very low maintenance. They can be enjoyed in season when annuals have cycled out. The selection of perennials is large and the ideal season to plant them is early April until mid-May. You can plant containers and pots of colorful perennials such as creeping phlox, Sweet William, Dianthus, bugle weed, coral bells, American bee balm, Daphne, Veronica, forget me nots, hen and chicks, red hot poker, Candy tuft, thrift, dusty miller, white daisy, creeping Jenny, sea thrift, columbine, lobelia, hellebore, and hosta. Start perennials off in large containers for best results. Fill the containers with fine textured potting soil and rainfall occurs. Feed once a month with Flower-Tone organic flower food.
Kentucky sawdust pie: A spring time delight. This is a favorite dessert at Patties’s Landing on the Ohio river outside Paducah, Kentucky. It is so simple and easy, but oh so, so, good! Just use seven egg whites (unbeaten), one and a half cups of sugar, one and a half cups of graham cracker crumbs, one and a half cups grated coconut flakes, two nine-inch unbaked pie shells. Mix all the ingredients together and stir by hand. Pour into unbaked pie shells. Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven about 25 to 30 minutes. Do not over bake. Serve warm or cold with cool whip or whipping cream.
Starting off a packet of early tomato seed to pave way for an early summer harvest. We always have a goal of enjoying having the first tomatoes of the summer by the Fourth of July each year. The best way to accomplish this is by sowing determinants like Early girl, Celebrity, Fourth of July, Oregon spring or Parks Early Sunglow (60 days). Starting them from seed and transplanting to the garden means a possible harvest 60 days after transplanting tomato plants to the garden plot with these early varieties.
Preparing hanging baskets and containers for summer annuals. As the month of April progresses, round up all the containers and hanging baskets and clean them up, replace wires and prepare them for starting the annuals of summer. If pots or containers are cracked or damaged now is the ideal time to replace them.
Dogwoods are now getting ready for a season of blooms. The buds on the dogwood are beginning to show signs of life and it appears to be a good blooming season on the way for them. In about ten more days they should be at their peak of the blooming season. The woodlands of the Piedmont will be covered with snow. White blooms.
Starting tomatoes from seed in April. Varieties of tomato seed for the summer garden can now be started so they will be ready to transplant to the garden plot in mid-May. You will need a bag of fine textured potting seed starting mix such as Jiffy or Hoffman. Start each packet of tomato seed off in a quart or pint -sized plastic flower pot. Measure out a pot of medium and enough medium to cover the seed. Mix the medium with the proper amount of water to moisten it. Fill the pot with medium to within one half inch from the top. Sprinkle the packet of seed over the top of the medium allowing space between each seed.
Use remainder of medium to cover the seed and press down with your fingers. Label the container and repeat process with other packets. Use a spray bottle to water the seed each day. In about 10 to 12 days, they will develop two leaves and be ready to transplant to individual pots. Use medium to fill each individual container after moistening the medium. Punch a hole with your index finger and transplant each tomato plant. Spray with light mist of water. Protect plants from cold nights by moving inside place in sun on warm days. Two and a half to three weeks later they should be ready for the garden.
HOE-hoe-hoedown. “Tough words to swallow.” Lanny’s girlfriend gave him a few very tough words as she said “Lanny, you are the salt of the earth but unfortunately, I need less sodium in my diet.”
“Light at the end of the tunnel!” Dottie went to see a psychiatrist about her husband. “Doctor, my husband has this problem, he thinks he’s a refrigerator.” The doctor said “That is not really a problem. Many people dream they are something or somebody or even something unusual.” Dottie whispered in the doctors ear, “But you see, doctor, it is a big problem for me. My husband sleeps with his mouth open, and that little light keeps waking me up all night.”
“End result.” Teacher: “We can learn a lot from the ants. They work very hard everyday. The ant works all the time and what happens to him?” Student: “Somebody steps on him.”
The almanac for the month of April
April fools day was Thursday, April 1. Good Friday was April 2. The moon reached its last quarter today. Easter is today April 4. The new moon of April will be on Sunday, April 11. Thomas Jefferson’s birthday will be Tuesday, April 13. The moon reaches its first quarter on Tuesday, April 20. Earth day will be Thursday, April 22. The moon will be full on Monday, April 26. This moon will be named Full pink Moon.
March 28, 2021
Bumble bees are welcome additions in early spring. The containers of pansies are colorful as we reach toward the end of March. The bumblebees visit the pansies every afternoon. Very few flowers are in bloom in late March and the bumblebees are attracted to the bright colors of the pansies. The pansies have been in bloom for most of the winter and are now a haven for the early bumblebees of spring. The pansies will have flowers until the end of April. It will be hard to pull them up to replace with the annuals of spring and summer. We will miss the pansies and their pretty faces but the bumblebees will be around to enjoy the summer annuals.
American violets now have a purple hue on edge of garden plot. The heart shaped leaves of the American violets are now filled with royal purple flowers. Most gardeners are unaware that violets have a fragrant aroma and long stems. They can be picked and placed in a bud vase for an indoor bouquet. Bees are also finding the violets as well as the jasmines. Remember that you can dig up a clump of violets and transplant them to a container of finely textured potting medium on the deck or porch and it will become a long lasting perennial for many springs to come.
Preparing for the soon arrival of the hummingbirds. April will soon be here, and that means the hummers cant be far behind. Buy a bottle of nectar or hummingbird food mixture, and clean out the feeders. As April begins, place a feeder half filled with nectar and keep an eye on it. When you see hummers visiting, fill up other feeders only half full to begin with. Fill completely when you see quite a few hummers coming to the feeders.
The Judas trees are beginning to display their pink buds. As we get near to the first days of April, the beautiful Judas trees are showing their first hints of hot pink. They are a sign that dogwoods and Easter will soon be following as we move toward April. Dogwood buds are also showing up and their season is only weeks away. Most maples have buds and pollen is beginning to make its appearance as trees, weeds, and grasses are unloading the dusty, yellow stuff.
Will March go out like a lion or a lamb? What kind of tricks does the month of March have in store for us in its last few days? Could it blow in a few surprises as it works its way out? Spring may be here as far as the calender is concerned, but we are still dealing with winter’s leftovers. March does have a split personality and it could just blow in a snowfall or even a few warm days as it winds its way down and out.
If early spring soil forms a ball, don’t till it at all. Soil in early spring gardens can remain wet for several days after a rain. Do a soil “feel test” which proves to be a good formula to determine whether garden soil is workable. If the soil forms a ball, don’t till it at all because it will be to wet. Wet or damp soil is impossible to work in and makes a mess. The very fact that it forms a ball is what it will do when when you run the tiller through it. When the soil dries out after messing with it while its wet will cause lumps in the soil when it dries out. Soil that is ready to till will break apart in your hands and also in the tines of the tiller. Never work in soil when it is wet.
Enjoying the benefits of raised bed. Raised beds are a benefit in early spring gardens because after rains, they will quickly drain and dry out. In a raised bed, you can add peat moss, organic materials, and top soil, Black Kow composted cow manure and other soil improvers. Ideal sizes for raised beds are 4×8 foot and 4×12 foot. Another benefit is not much soil is lost to erosion because of too much rain. Adding several buckets of Peat moss to raised beds when planting each season really adds texture to the soil and adds moisture retention, promotes drainage, and increases the productivity.
Honey bees in late March. The honey bees in late March are scouting and stretching their wings. The color and fragrance of the Carolina jasmines and American violets are attracting them as they sample the amber, fragrant, blooms of jasmines for some of the season’s first nectar.
Alaska fish emulsion is great organic food for vegetables and flowers, A great liquid and plant vegetable food for all seasons is Alaska fish emulsion. It can be purchased in quart bottles at hardwares, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Ace Hardware, and garden shops. It is very organic and can be mixed according to instructions on the bottle, poured into a sprinkling can and poured around the base of plants, vegetables and flowers. It definitely smells like fish, so pinch your nose while you are applying it. Plants respond quickly to an application of Alaska fish emulsion.
Saving spray bottles for summer growing season. When you finish using spray bottles of window cleaner, carpet spray, tire spray and other spray bottles, save the bottles and sprayers. After you clean them, you can use them to mist seedlings and plants or to use for just the right amount of mist or spray for insect pests on plants and flowers without getting it in areas where you don’t want it. The spray bottles can be labeled with a permanent black marker. You can use one for rose spray, another for water, and another for Japanese beetles, and one to spray tomatoes for wilt or blossom end rot. Keep a supply of spray bottles handy for all kinds of spraying chores and be sure to label all bottles. Keep spray ready mixed in the bottles and all you will have to do is have a bottle filled ready to shake up and use.
Trimming panda and asparagus ferns in prep to move outside. These ferns have been wintering over in the sunny living room during autumn, winter, and early spring. As we prepare them for a move to the outside dock in late April, they will need to be trimmed and shaped and feed them with liquid Miracle Gro plant food. Before their move outside they may need a quart of extra potting medium for an extra boost.
Making a chicken parmesan casserole. Finely shredded parmesan cheese enhances this chicken casserole and gives it extra flavor. You will need one four pack of Tyson chicken breasts, one package of Pepperidge Farms cornbread dressing, one eight ounce pack finely shredded parmesan cheese, one can Campbell’s cream of chicken soup, one stick melted light margarine, half teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper, one teaspoon poultry seasoning, one tablespoon mayonnaise. Boil chicken breasts until tender, skin and debone. Cut chicken into chunks. Place chicken chunks in a 13x9x2 inch baking dish or pan. Mix cream of chicken soup, parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, salt, pepper and poultry seasoning and spread over chicken chunks. Mix cornbread dressing with melted margarine and pour over the top of the casserole and spread over it. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.
Hoe-hoe-hoedown. “Looking good in mink.” A wife was trying on a floor length mink coat and she admired how she looked in it. ” If my husband dosen’t like it, will you refuse to take it back?”
“Happy Marriage?” The minister was visiting with a couple in his church. The minister asked how everything was going. The lady of the house replied “The devil is still giving me a hard time.” From the kitchen the husband’s voice rang out, “Now you just hold on, you’re not that easy to get along with yourself!”
Enjoying the full worm moon
The full worm moon of March will shine down tonight on trees with newly forming leaves and earth worms becoming active in the soil. It is also a Palm Sunday moon and spring’s first full moon.
March 14, 2021
Saint Patrick’s day: A great day for planting Irish potatoes. On Wednesday, we celebrate Saint Patrick’s’s day. A great way to celebrate his day is to set out a row or bed Irish potatoes to start the spring cool weather vegetable season. Irish potatoes need a long growing season of more than 100 days, so they need to be set out in early spring so you will have time to follow them up with warm weather vegetables. Also the potatoes can be harvested before Dog Days begin in early July. You can choose from several varieties including, Yukon Gold, Irish cobbler, Kennebec, Red Pontiac, Rio Grande Russet, and German Butterball.
Plant Irish potatoes in a furrow about two to six inches deep or more. Use whole seed potatoes and do not cut them because this causes rot, mold, or fungus. Apply a layer of Peat Moss in the bottom of the furrow, then place seed potatoes about a foot apart and cover with another layer of peat moss. Add an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food on top of the Peat moss and then hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down with a hoe blade. After potatoes sprout, feed with Plant-Tone organic vegetable food by side dressing and hilling soil up to the potatoes once a month.
Enjoying daffodils, butter cups, jonquils, and narcissus. The season of spring is near and gold is in abundance in flower beds and around trees and lawns in the glow of jonquil’s, daffodils, butter cups, and the narcissus. They move back and forth in the winds of March. There are so many varieties of these garden flowers, but our favorite is the king Alford with its light orange cup in the dish of golden petals. When these garden flowers finish their season of blooms and cycle out allow them to keep growing until they turn brown and fall over. This process allows next years’s bulbs to form and provide next year’s flowers. When you mow, weed eat around these flowers and foliage until they cycle out.
March can produce plenty of lion and lamb days. The month of March can have plenty of lion and lamb types of days and a mixed bag of both warm and cold days mixed in with sun, wind, and even some snow. An old farmers legend says, “A sunny day in March is as about unpredictable as a snake in the grass.” If we get several snows in March, they can be a blessing in disguise, because it will add moisture and nutrients to the soil, kill insect eggs, and wintering insects. The cool weather vegetables already planted will not be any worse off with a blanket of March snowfall. With March’s lion and lamb days, spring will soon blow it’s way in.
A container of shamrocks for Saint Patty’s day decor, Most floral departments at local supermarkets will feature foil-wrapped containers of shamrocks during the days leading up to Saint Patrick’s day. They cost between $3 and $4 and they will make pretty emerald green decor on the dinning room table. You can make your own by digging up a clump of clover from the back of the garden and place it in a container of fine potting medium and wrap container with a sheet of Saint Patrick’s day gift wrap and an emerald green bow.
A pot of Irish stew for Saint Patrick’s day. Celebrate the day of the Irish by cooking up a pot of Irish stew. You will need one and a half pounds of beef stew, one tablespoon of McCormick Bacon-bites, two cups of water plus an envelope of Lipton beef onion soup mix, half teaspoon black pepper, three large carrots (peeled and chunked into one-inch pieces) one large white onion (cut into one-inch chunks), three celery sticks (cut into one inch pieces), three large Irish potatoes (cut into one inch chunks), half of one small cabbage (cut into one inch chunks), half teaspoon of salt, (more later if you need it), two teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, one tablespoon sugar, one stick light margarine.
In a large stew pot, place the one-and-a-half pounds beef stew, two cups of water and the Bacon Bites. Boil on medium heat until beef stew is very tender (about one hour or more) add more water if needed, stir often. When beef is tender, add the Lipton beefy onion soup envelope and simmer two minutes on low heat. Add all other ingredients except cabbage chunks. Simmer for thirty minutes. Add Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper.
If the stew needs to be thickened, mix three tablespoons of corn starch in a glass of cold water (8 ounces), stir water and corn starch together, add a little at a time until stew gets as thick as you desire. The stew may already be thick enough without corn starch mixture. If stew is too thick, just add a little water.
Stocking up on packets of color for Zinnias for summer beauty. Seed racks in supermarkets, garden departments, Walmart, Lowe’s Hardware, Home Depot and most hardware’s have racks full of flower and vegetable seed. While you are shopping, pick up several packets of Zinnias each week and store in a box in a warn dry place. Zinnias come in all colors except blue and cost around $2 or less per packet. Zinnias attract butterflies, bees, humming birds, finches, and other pollinators. They will provide flowers all the way into early autumn.
Setting out a row or bed of cabbage plants. The cool days of March are ideal for setting out cabbage plants in the mid-March garden plot. You can choose from many varieties including Stonehead, Round Dutch, Bok, Jersey Wakefield, Savoy, and Red express. Most cabbage come in six and nine packs. Set the plants in a furrow about five or six inches deep and one foot apart. Apply a layer of Peat Moss in the bottom of the furrow then apply an application of Garden-Tone organic plant food and hill up soil after side dressing.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoe Down.“Right place. Wrong name.” Two men were walking home from work one night. Both were tired and decided to take a shortcut home through the graveyard. As they got to the middle of the graveyard, they were frightened by a tapping and scrapping sound coming from behind a gravestone. While they were scared out of their boots, they saw an old man with a hammer and a chisel walking toward them. One of the men said “Sir dark of night, you almost scared us to death!” The old man replied, “They misspelled my name.”
March 07, 2021
Will March have a lion or lamb behavior? The month of March is now a week old and the whole month can blow in a mixed bag of weather tricks. Even though this is the month of spring’s arrival, we still have plenty of winter in store and there can be plenty of hard freezes and ice in the mud holes and maybe a few snows. We can always expect some lion-like days during the month, but we can expect some lamb-like days also. Even if we have cold March days and a few snows, don’t let them hinder planting cool weather vegetables to start off the garden season.
A huge inventory of cold weather vegetables. The list of vegetables that are cool weather hardy is long and they can all be started now in the garden plot and they will thrive in the cool soil of the garden in March. The list includes Irish potatoes, spring onion sets, curly mustard greens, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, radish, carrots, kale, and cauliflower and Alaska green peas. If planted now, they will produce a harvest before warm weather arrives.
Can we expect much snow in March? Snows in the month of March are not that unusual and some of our biggest snowfalls over the years have occurred in March. It dosen’t have to be below freezing for measurable snow to accumulate, so this sets the stage for March to produce its share of snow. Snows in March are not all that uncommon and are beneficial to lawns, gardens, and the environment. It soaks the soil, adds nutrients, and kills harmful organisms in the soil and gets cold weather vegetables off to a great start.
An unusual Saint Patrick’s Day floral decoration. As March begins, Saint Patrick’s day can be kicked off with some extra greenery. You can concoct this green floral arrangement by taking two white carnations and placing them in a bud vase filled with water and several drops of green food coloring to the water in the vase. In a few days, the carnations will absorb the green water in the vase and produce green-tinted carnations for St. Patrick’s day decor.
The fragrance of the hyacinths of March. The cold air of March afternoons is now fragrant with the blooms of colorful hyacinths. They produce a sweet essence as March gets into full swing. Hyacinths are one of the most colorful harbingers of spring with their red, white, yellow, pink, purple, blue, and lavender blooms. Please remember that after hyacinths bloom, allow the foliage to completely dry up and die. This process causes bulbs for next season to form and mature and paves the way for next year’s display of hyacinths.
Sowing rows of green Alaska peas to start the month of March. The cool temperatures of the soil of early March makes the soil receptive to a crop of green Alaska peas. They are definitely a cool weather vegetable and frost, snow, or freezes will not hinder their growth. They have no insect enemies and they produce a harvest in 60 to 70 days. When you sow the peas, you can follow them with a cool weather vegetable in the autumn. Alaska peas are nitrogen-rich and add nutrients to the garden soil. Green Arrow and Wando are also other pea varieties.
Wild onions are spiking their way into the lawn of late winter. The only thing that wild onions have going for them is the fact that they are green. At this time of the year, they are spiking their way into the lawn. They have deep bulbs for roots which makes it difficult to get rid of them without destroying a lot of your lawn. We don’t have a cure-all for wild onions, but we have a way to control them. This method of control is to use the weed-trimmer and out them at ground level preferably in the barren moon sign of Leo, the lion in the month of March. It may not cause them to bleed to death as some folks say, but it will stunt their growth, control them, and make the lawn look much better. Setting the mower blade a little lower in the early spring will also help with the onion population.
Setting out a row of broccoli plants. March is the month to set out broccoli plants for a harvest beginning in the month of May and continuing into the month of June. You can purchase broccoli plants at most hardwares, nurseries, seed shops, and garden departments. The plants are available in six or nine packs. Make sure the plants are healthy and have blue-green stems. You can choose from Packman, Raab, Premium Crop or Green Comet or Lieutenant. Set broccoli plants three to four feet apart in a furrow about four or five inches deep. Apply a layer of peat mass in the furrow before placing plants in the soil and set plants into an application of plant-tone organic vegetable food before hilling up the soil on each side of the plants. Side dress the broccoli plants every 15 days with plant-tone.
Still time to set out a row of onion sets. It’s still plenty of time to set out a row of onion sets as we move on into the month of March. They are an effective cool weather vegetable and will quickly sprout in the cool March soil. You can select from white, red, or yellow sets and they cost less than $3 a pound. Plant onions in a furrow about three or four inches deep and three or four inches apart with root end down. Cover sets with a layer of peat moss and an application of garden-tone every 20 days. Keep soil hilled up to the onion sets as they grow.
American beauty adorned in American violets in early spring. A patch of royal purple on the back side of the garden is one of nature’s prettiest and dainty wild flowers. They are wrapped in a robe of royalty as they put on a show in front of us for free. Along with their colorful flowers is the glossy, dark green, heart-shaped leaves. You can make a perennial out of a clump of the American violets by digging up a clump while they are in full bloom and placing the clump in a container of fine potting soil and place on porch or deck.
Saint Patrick’s corned beef spread. Celebrate Saint Patrick’s day with this spread that is easy to prepare. You will need one can corned beef hash, one cup sour cream, one cup dill pickle relish, one cup diced green olives, one teaspoon mayonnaise, one eight ounce pack of cream cheese (softened). Mix all ingredients well and serve on crackers, scoops, or sandwiches.
Hoe-hoe-hoe down. “The kangaroo hop”- A kangaroo kept getting over the fence at the zoo. The keepers installed a ten foot fence. The kangaroo was outside the fence the next morning. The keepers installed a twenty foot fence and next morning the kangaroo was outside that fence. The keepers then installed a forty foot fence and the next morning, the kangaroo was outside. Next morning, a zebra asked the camel how tall did he think the keepers would go. The kangaroo replied “maybe a hundred feet unless they think to lock the gate at night!”
Almanac for March 2021. The moon reached its last quarter on Friday, March 5. There will be a new moon on Saturday, March 13. Daylight savings time begins at 2 a.m on Saturday, March 14. Saint Patrick’s day is Wednesday, March 17. The first full day of spring is Sunday March 21. The moon reaches its first quarter on Sunday, March 21. There will be a full moon on Sunday March 28, and this moon will be named “full worm moon.” Passover begins on Saturday March 27, at sundown. Palm Sunday will be Sunday March 28.
Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday. An extra hour of daylight begins for us Sunday morning at 2 a.m. and this to the minute of extra daylight each evening and this adds extra daylight to prepare the lawn and garden for spring plus enjoying that extra vitamin C on the front porch. It is a whole lot easier to get used to that extra hour of daylight than it is to losing it in the fall! After all, you can make hay while the sun shines.
February 28, 2021
Enjoying the gold of jonquils and daffodils. As the month of February comes to an end, the gold of jonquils, narcissus and daffodils adorn the landscape as they pave the way into spring. We always refer to jonquils, daffodils and narcissus as heirloom bulbs and flowers because year after these flowers continue to bloom long after those who planted them have passed on. A great example is the beautiful jonquil beds in the surround woodlands at Reynolda, the R.J. Reynolds homeplace on Reynolda Road in Winston-Salem where a sea of golden jonquils beds have greeted passing motorists for many years.
Enter March with a bed or row of broccoli. Broccoli is a cool weather vegetable that can be planted now. Broccoli plants are now in stock at most hardware stores and garden shops. You can choose from a variety of broccoli plants. Broccoli does well in cold temperatures and will produce heads before warm weather arrives. You can purchase plants in six and nine packs. Healthy plants should be six to seven inches tall with bluish-green stems and dark green leaves. Plant broccoli plants in a furrow about four to five inches deep. Apply a layer of peat moss to bottom of the furrow then mix in an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Set the plants about two to two and a half feet apart and hill up soil on both sides. Side dress with Plant-Tone every three weeks and keep soil hilled up on both sides.
Frogs are croaking down by the creek. As darkness comes each evening the frogs sing a harmony of spring down by the creek bank. They know that spring’s arrival is only a few weeks away. Even though they are cold-blooded, something within them signals that warmer days are not too far ahead. We have already enjoyed the sights well as hyacinths, but now we hear the audible sounds of spring serenaded by frogs and peepers.
Bees are scouting around as February ends. It may be cold weather, but bees are out scouting around and exercising their wings and checking out the surroundings. The Carolina jasmine has gold blooms and sweet fragrance that has lured them and rewarded their search. This must be great for them after being balled up in their hive or hollows all winter.
Mint green lettuce. Winter has reached past the halfway mark and the garden soil is still cold, but as long as the soil is not frozen a bed or row of lettuce can be planted in the garden. Lettuce is definitely a cold weather vegetable that thrives in winter soil. You can enjoy a harvest in about 50 days or less. There are many varieties and types of lettuce and you can set out plants or sow seed. You can also choose from leafy or heading lettuce. There are many varieties including Buttercrunch, Iceburg, Green Ice, Oak Leaf, Grand Rapids, and Salad Bowl. There are even more seed varieties of lettuce on seed racks at garden departments and supermarkets for around two dollars a packet. Sow lettuce in a row or bed about two inches deep. Add a layer of peat moss and sow seed sparingly in the furrow. Apply a layer of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil on both sides of the row and tamp down with a hoe blade.
Winter snow and strawberries. “That day of the season, little children, they know that morning may bring strawberry snow.” These words come from a Christmas album by Brenda Lee. To a child, strawberry snow would most likely be like sugar plums dancing in their heads. What child does not like snow? We would like to create “strawberry snow” mentioned in Brenda’s song in the form of strawberry snow cream. This recipe has only one requirement: there must be plenty of snow on the ground! To make strawberry snow cream, beat four eggs until fluffy, add two cups sugar and beat again. Add three cups whole milk and one can evaporated milk, mix well and add two pints strawberries (mashed or ran through blender in grate mode). Add one tablespoon vanilla flavoring and one tablespoon strawberry flavoring. Mix well, taste and add more sugar if needed. Gather clean, fresh snow, and continually add to the milk mixture until it gets thick and creamy as you desire. Eat it slowly because it will be cold, but also unforgettable and good. When the kids eat this, the next time a snow is forecast, they will dream of “strawberry snow.”
Positive news about Saint Matthew’s Day. Last Wednesday, Feb. 24, Saint Matthews Day was celebrated. A positive fact about his special day is that it is said that the sap under the roots of maple, poplars, and the mighty oaks begins the journey of life up to the trunks and into the limbs and branches. In another month, life will appear in the form of new leave as another season begins.
Debunking an urban legend about first snowfalls of winter. This urban legend was around when we were growing up and it said that you were not to eat any of the year’s first snowfall. My mother proved this legend to be false because she was the biggest snow lover in eastern North Carolina. It did not take a huge snowfall in eastern Carolina whether it was the first or the last for her to whip up a batch of “snow cream.” She would find snow where it had blown into drifts and dig down and find undisturbed fresh, clean snow. The first snowfall of the years did not seem to have any ill effects on her or her offspring. She lived to be over 90 years old and enjoyed life. Love you, mom, we remember you every time it snows, and we whip up some “snow cream.” You are still alive every season when we make snow cream.
The wonderful fragrance of the hyacinths. The freshness of the near approach of spring is emitted by the fragrance of the dainty blooms of the hyacinths. Their pastel colors of red, pink, blue, purple, lavender, white, and yellow stand out and salute the nearness of spring.
Cabbage can be planted now. Cabbage plants are now being sold at most hardware stores, seed shops, and garden departments. They can in six and nine packs. You can choose from many different varieties. Plant then in a furrow about three to four inches deep. Fill the furrow with a layer of peat moss and apply a layer of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Set plants about two to two-and-a-half feet apart. Hill up soil on both sides. Side dress with Plant-Tone every three weeks and hill up soil to cabbage.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “Downward spiral” – A man started up the stairs and he stopped about halfway up, and he could not remember what he was going upstairs for. He decided to sit down on the step until he could remember. After he thought for a while, he could not remember whether he was going upstairs or downstairs.
February 21, 2021
Waiting for a hefty white snow. We are ready and excited about the prospect of seeing a “snowman” type of snowfall as we move deeper into the month of February. We are sure the kids and grandkids are looking forward to a snowfall, some snow days, and as usual, a snow to sled in and build a snowman. The garden plot needs a snow to kill off wintering insects, soil fungal diseases and insect eggs and larvae.
Winter snowfall is great for overall well-being of the garden. Snow has positive effects on the garden soil by adding nutrients that are in the snow that soaks down into the soil. Snow and its cold also kill off organisms that have adverse effects on beneficial growing of things. An important element of nitrogen is contained in snow that soaks deep into the snow of winter. The snow also soaks the woodlands and forests floors forming a blanket and forming a blanket of nutrients to boost their root systems in preparation for saps to begin their annual awakening for upcoming spring. Snow is great prep for the garden, lawn, and all of nature.
Green in the winter garden is an extra special bonus. Just having greenery around in winter to feast the eyes upon is reward enough, but to enjoy a harvest on a cold winter day or to pick kale with snow on the ground, how great is that? In the middle of the winter, the Piedmont doesn’t experience that many days when the ground actually freezes, and this paves the way for a productive cold weather garden plot. Cool weather vegetables such as kale, turnips, collards, broccoli, cabbage, onion sets, and curly mustard greens will produce and only need a protective layer of crushed leaves to blanket them from winter extremes which are very rare.
A halo around a full moon may predict a February snow. Cold winter nights and a full or near-full moon could be the ingredients that produce a halo around the moon on a cold night in February. This halo is actually produced by tiny ice crystals that form aloft where the air is much colder than it is here on the ground. My grandma in Northampton County always counted the stars that were visible in the halo and she predicted that these stars were the days before we would experience a snowfall. On the other hand, my mother always said the starts inside the halo were the inches of snow we could expect. Both of them could be right-probably as right as some of today’s meteorologists are.
Siberian kale is winter’s best. Siberian kale is the sweetest, best, and tenderness of all greens. We have discovered they are just a great as canned, as they are fresh. Kale produces a harvest all winter so there is plenty to eat fresh and preserve several batches as well.
We like to can kale in pint jars. We wash freshly harvested kale in cold salt water twice, rinse it in fresh water and allow it to drain. Boil kale in a large canner or pot, continue to add kale to the pot as it boils down. When kale is cooked and tender, drain half the liquid and reserve the rest to pour into jars after filling with processed kale. Use a food chopper to dice the kale and stems. Pack into sterilized pint (or quart) jars and pour the reserved liquid over the kale in the jars. Process in a pressure canner for 55 minutes at ten pounds of pressure. Kale is a low acid vegetable that requires this lengthy processing time.
To serve canned kale pour into a frying pan with a stick of light margarine, a tablespoon of shopped, fried bacon or two teaspoons Baco-Bits, half teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper, one tablespoon Log Cabin syrup. Fry on medium heat until tender (about 10 or 15 minutes). You can also boil kale until tender — add water if needed.
Robins are abundant in February. “The North wind blows, and we shall have snow, and what will the poor robin do?” We think we know what many of them do — they make a home for themselves right here in the Piedmont. Robins don’t necessarily stay warm by staying in a barn, but they enjoy our winters by staying in hollow logs, staying under shed and outbuildings, under the eaves and vents of houses. If the ground freezes, it doesn’t stay frozen for long. Their food chain must be sufficient because most winter robins look colorful, healthy, and well-fed. None seem to shiver from the cold as they are very much active. Robins are a welcome sight all winter long and our desire is to be as tough and winter hardy as they are.
Building up your immune system on the winter porch. The ultra-violet rays of the sun shines on the porch in winter. My grandma always told her grandchildren to get out in the sun every day (and how right she was!). When the sun shines on winter days, take advantage of it and soak in some rays. If the North Wind blows, grab a blanket, a toboggan, some gloves, and a got mug of coffee and hit a chair on the porch. The sun and the coffee will warm you up and harden your body to withstand a cold spell as well as toughen your immune system.
Making a colorful vegetable macaroni salad. This is a great, colorful recipe for winter. You will need one box of cooked elbow macaroni (drained), one two-ounce jar diced pimentos (drained), one small jar Mount Olive sweet pickle cubes, one bunch spring onions (chopped), four boiled eggs (diced), one cup chipped broccoli, one cup finely shredded parmesan cheese, one cup mayonnaise, half cup apple cider vinegar, half cup sugar, three fourth cup Eagle Brand condensed milk, and two teaspoons of Ranch dressing. To the cooked and drained macaroni add the parmesan cheese and the chopped broccoli. In a separate bowl, mix the Eagle Brand milk, vinegar, sugar, mayonnaise, and ranch dressing and mix well. Pour this mixture over the macaroni mixture and mix together. Add sweet pickle cubes, pimentos, eggs, spring onions. Stir all together well. Refrigerate two and a half hours before serving. You can prepare this a day ahead. Keeps to several days in refrigerator.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: The mother caught little David feeding the pet dog that was under the dining room table at suppertime again. “David,” mother said, “You know very well you are not supposed to feed the dog with table food.” “Yes ma’am,” David said as he hung his head. David’s mother said, “Do you understand why we have this rule at our house?” Little David thought for a moment and said, “I guess it’s because if the dog did not like the food, it would end up on the floor and rot later on.”
Enjoying a Full Snow Moon next Saturday night. As we get ready to wind up the month of February, we can enjoy the full moon of the month which is named “Full Snow Moon.” We hope this moon lives up to its name and shines down on fields, farms, and meadows and fills limbs of trees with a blanket of snowy white. It will be good for the kids and for the garden plot and great for all snow lovers.
February 14, 2021
Today, we celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day. Even though today is the day of Valentine, it is not too late to pick out a special Valentine and the right gift is still there waiting for you to go and pick it up. As Saint Valentine himself said, “Remember your Valentine.”
Making a Valentine Cherry Yum Yum. A great dessert for a Sunday Valentine dinner is easy to prepare and also very colorful. This is a simple, easy, no-bake treat. You will need one-and-a-half cups of Graham cracker crumbs. You can make Graham cracker crumbs by running the crackers through the blender in “grate” mode, or purchase Graham cracker crumbs ready to use. You will also need one-and-a-half sticks of melted light margarine, one can of Comstock cherry pie filling, one eight-ounce box of cream cheese, one-and-a-half cups sugar, one cup of milk and two cartons of Cool Whip. Spread half the graham cracker crumbs in a 13x9x2 inch baking dish or pan. Mix all other ingredients except cherry pie filling for the cream cheese filling. Add half the cream cheese filling in the bottom layer or crushed Graham crackers. Then spread the cherry pie filling over the layer of cream cheese filling then add the other half of the remaining cream cheese filling. Top with remaining Graham cracker crumbs. Refrigerate an hour to two before serving. Top with Cool Whip if desired.
A boom of thunder in the season of winter. Thunder in the season of winter is not that unusual. Winter thunder occurs when temperatures aloft are warmer than they are on the surface. My Northampton County grandma was a weather guru and she observed strange weather occurrences. If winter thunder occurred, she kept count of the number of times thunder occurred. The number of booms of thunder would indicate the number of days before a winter snow would fall. My mother’s prediction of winter was a bit different, to her, winter thunder predicted by each boom the number of inches of snow that would be in the next snowfall.
A search around the dormant lawn in the dead of winter. With the lawn now tan and in a dormant mode, you can get some great exercise and sunlight by taking a walk around the winter lawn. This walk can be purposeful in picking up debris, sticks, limbs, rocks, litter, and objects that your lawn mower may later encounter, in a few weeks when mowing season begins. Remove and discard these objects now before they make their way into your mower’s blade.
Servicing mower and lawn equipment before mowing season begins. Now is the time to have mowers and lawn equipment such as trimmers and blowers serviced and tuned up before mowing season gets into full swing. Most lawn mowers and small engine shops are not as busy in February, and many service centers will pick up your riding mower, service it, and return it to your home for a reasonable fee. While we are on the subject of mowers, remember to start your mower every week during winter and allow it to run for a minute or two. You may also want to leave the blade disengaged and drive it around the lawn a few times. Keep plenty of fuel in the equipment and don’t let it go empty. This works well in winter because you may want to use the mower to run over leaves and break them down for mulch and compost.
Wild onions are spiking on the lawn. The pesky wild onions are now beginning to show up on the dormant lawn of winter. This is another reason to keep your weed trimmer fueled up and operating each week during winter. As the wild onions make an appearance, use the weed trimmer to cut the onion spikes down to ground level and improve the appearance of your lawn. You definitely will not get rid of the onions but you can keep them under control and make the winter lawns look neater.
Hyacinths, jonquils, daffodils waking up. As we reach the middle of February and the halfway point of winter, the jonquils, hyacinths and daffodils are now showing their dark green spikes through layers of mulch and crushed leaves. It is always great to see green in the middle of winter peeking through blankets of mulch. By the time March arrives, they should be reaching full bloom.
Celebrate Valentine’s week by sowing a bed or row or red radish. Radish are a quickie cold-weather vegetable that will thrive in cold soil of the winter garden and also produce a harvest in around 45 days. They will not take up much garden space, and a packet or two will be more than enough. There are many varieties to choose from including Cherriette, Rover, Crimson Giant, Easter Egg, Cherry Bomb, and Cherry Belle. They cost less than $2 per packet. You can find racks at hardware stores and garden departments. The most unusual rate is always 100% which means most of the seed will come up.
Heart-shaped leaves of American violets. Among the objects of greenery appearing during the bleakness of winter is the glossy, heart-shaped leaves of the American violets emerging on the edge of the garden plot. As they continue to grow, you can make a perennial out of one of them by digging up a clump and planting it in a container of fine potting soil on your porch or deck. Water and feed it with Flower-Tone organic flower food for Miracle-Grow liquid plant food. The violet will continue to grow year after year.
Siberian kale: sweet green of the cold winter. This green is gold, hardy, sweet, as well as long lasting and has zero insect enemies as it resists cold, snow, ice and freezes. It is packed with color, taste, sweetness, vitamins, variety, and just plain good nourishment. It is no wonder that kale is becoming the number one green in all of America! It is a great investment in any winter garden.
Seed now showing up. With Saint Valentine’s Day in the rearview mirror, seed racks are now adorning Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s and also supermarkets. You can purchase flower and vegetable sees packets each week as you shop. Place them in a box in a dry place in the house and label the packets so you will know what you have on hand when planting time arrives. Most stores have a huge selection to choose from right now.
Planning for a four o’clock summer. As we referred to the arrival of seed racks in supermarkets, hardware stores, and garden departments, you can now discover different varieties of four o’clocks among the racks of seed for less than $2. You can go ahead and buy a packet or two and be ready for a season of green foliage and colorful flowers. You can also order then from Burpee and parks in speckled, two tone, and marble varieties.
Sow a row or bed of lettuce. Lettuce is another cold-weather vegetable that can now be sown in a bed or short row. Packets of lettuce seed are less than $2. You can choose from many varieties. Sow seed thinly in a furrow two inches deep. Cover seed with a layer of peat moss and an application of Garden-Tone organic plant food. Hill soil up on each side of furrow and tamp down with a hoe blade. Lettuce has a harvest date of 45 to 50 days.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “A Valentine gift with unhappy returns” – When little Brady opened a Valentine gift from his grandmother, he was excited to receive a water pistol. He went to the bathroom sink to fill it with water. Brady’s mom was not very pleased and told her mother, “I’m surprised that you, of all people, would give him a water pistol. Don’t you remember how we kids used to drive you crazy with water guns?” The grandmother slyly replied, “Yes, I distinctly do remember and now it’s payback time!”
February 07, 2021
Reaching the halfway point of winter. On Candlemas, which occurred Tuesday, February 2, we reached winter’s halfway point. On this day in February, the Amish in Pennsylvania Dutch country burn a candle in the window all night to celebrate “hump night,” the midpoint of winter. They also checked out their supply of wood to determine whether they had enough to last for the remainder of winter.
Saint Valentine’s day is only a week away. The day of hearts, love, flowers, and chocolate is only seven days away. The choices for Saint Valentine’s Day are great and the stores are well-stocked. The florists and even supermarkets are filled with containers of flowers as well as rose bouquets. Early this week is a great time to order flowers for delivery on Valentine’s Day. There are plenty of alternatives that can replace floral offerings for Valentine’s Day. You can choose from huge assortments or chocolate, including heart-shaped boxes, gift cards from supermarkets, hardware stores, fast food restaurants, and any local business. Always get a small box of chocolates no matter whatever else you give for Valentine’s Day to make it special and romantic as well as unforgettable.
February is winter’s shortest month. With only 28 days, February is the shortest month of winter. Even though it is the shortest, it can also turn out to be the very coldest as we reach past winter’s hump. We can receive a few hefty snowfalls any time during the month. On the brighter side of the month, we can see robins bouncing around on the lawn and dark green spikes of jonquils and hyacinths peeping out of cold soil as well as Valentine’s Day coming at the midway point of the month.
The benefits of hard freezes during February. It seems that in the past few years, the ground does not freeze as many times as it did a decade ago. Maybe this February will bring a few hard freezes to kill of wintering insects and their eggs and larvae as well as wipe out many weed seeds, fungus and harmful organisms in the soil.
Long winter means keeping wiper blades and windshield’s clean. The winter weather surprises of the month of February make it difficult on your vehicle’s windshield and wiper blades. The salt, sand, brine, mud, as well as ice, sleet, and snow that splatter the windshield and windows and make visibility rough. Here are ways to make driving better during winter months. Keep windshield washers filled with deicer mix. Never leave home without cleaning the windshield and all the vehicle windows. Allow vehicle to warm up to prevent windows from fogging up. Clean the wiper blades often during winter. Keep a durable snow and ice scraper with a stiff brush at the other end of the scraper. Brush the hood and top of your vehicle before leaving the driveway. Keep a can of deicer in the glove compartment.
Tough robins of winter bouncing on the lawn. We have seen robins on the lawn all during the month of February with no signs that winter weather is having any ill effects on them. They seem to be doing what they always do-search for a meal. We think they have adapted well to our Southeastern winters where they find plenty of places such as hollow trees, junk cars, old sheds and barns, eaves of house, under outbuildings, in hollow logs. We do not believe it is global warming, but survival of the fittest. Robins have adapted themselves to the best of our winter wonderland.
The month of February is lawn care time. It may be cold, but the lawn of the month of February is dormant which means it is the opportune time to feed lawns before spring arrives next month. Never use 10-10-10 fertilizer on lawns because this is a garden formula. When feeding lawns, use a specially formulated blend just for lawns. There are several varieties designed just for lawns in the Southeastern area. Pick a day during February especially when snow is forecast in the area. Snow will soak the lawn food into the soil and prevent pellets from washing away. Real lawn food is named just that — food. You do not want to fertilize your lawn but feed it. Great lawn food may cost more, but it provides longer lasting results. Always remember, you get what you pay for.
Time to prune trees and grape vines. During February trees and grapevines are dormant. Limbs and branches can clearly be seen with no foliage and you can clearly see areas that need to be trimmed and pruned back. Pruning makes trees and vines look better, bear more fruit, as well as make harvesting easier.
Spraying dormant oil spray on all grapevines and fruit trees. After you have pruned the fruit trees and grapevines, pick a sunny day with no wind in the forecast and apply a layer of dormant oil spray. Mix the proper amount of water to the oil spray and pour into a sprayer. Spray trunk, branches and limbs from top to bottom until they are shiny. It works even better when no rain is in the forecast for several days.
Starting off the 2021 garden year with a bed of red radish. Radish are a tough cold weather vegetable with the shortest of maturity dates of about 45 to 50 days. They are one of the earliest vegetables that can be sown in the garden plot. There are many varieties including Cherry Belle, Easter Egg, and Solaris. Most seed packets say radish will mature in 30 days but we know this is just not true because they usually require two weeks to germinate, so a harvest can be more like 40 days. A packet of radish seed costs about $2 or less. Sow radish seed in a bed or short row about two inches deep and sow thinly. Cover the seed with a layer of peat moss and an application of Garden-Tone organic plant food. Hill up soil on each side of furrow and tamp down with a hoe blade.
Beef Stroganoff. To make this beef stroganoff, you will need one pound of round steak cut against the grain into quarter-inch strips. Cover strips with flour, salt, and pepper and lightly brown in three or four tablespoons of Crisco oil. Add two third cups water and a three ounce can of mushrooms (undrained), stir in one envelope of Lipton Beefy Onion Soup mix. Heat until mixture comes to a boil. Blend in one cup of sour cream and two tablespoons plain flour together. Add this to the beef mixture. Simmer and stir until the mixture thickens. Serve the stroganoff over a pack of cooked Minute or Success rice.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: An old man limped into the doctor’s office complaining that his knee hurt and he could hardly walk. The doctor checked him out from head to toe, paused and said, “How old are you?” The old man told the doctor he was 98 years old. “Just look at you,” the doctor said, “you are almost 100 and your knee hurts. What do you expect for your age bracket?” The patient replied, “Well my other knee is 98 years old and it doesn’t hurt!”
The Almanac for February. Groundhog Day was Feb. 2. The moon reached it’s last quarter on Feb. 4. There will be a new moon on Feb. 11. Lincoln’s birthday is Feb. 12. Valentines Day is Feb. 14. Presidents Day is Feb. 15. Mardi Gras begins on Feb. 16. Ash Wednesday is Feb. 17. The moon reaches its first quarter on Feb. 19. George Washington’s birthday is Feb. 22. The full moon of February will occur on Feb. 27. This moon will be named, “Full Snow Moon.”
January 31, 2021
Groundhog Day. On Tuesday we will observe Groundhog Day. We like to observe it because we don’t think it deserves a celebration. Groundhogs are rodents and we should treat them as such. Groundhogs are enemies of the garden and not weather prophets, even if they were, they would be false prophets. The reason we don’t see groundhogs in the daytime is because they sleep all day and eat your garden plants at night as well as dig holes in your lawn.
Here are three ways you can control these pesky critter: 1. Spray vegetable foliage with Epsom salts mixed with water and pour into a spray bottle. 2. While the leaves are still wet with the mist of Epsom salt, sprinkle red cayenne pepper on the foliage right from the can. 3. Scatter a few moth balls between the rows and let them get a snoot full to get them off and running. If all these measures fail, spray an application of groundhog repellent around the perimeter of the garden. You can purchase repellents at most hardware stores and garden shops.
Lettuce can be started in February. Lettuce is definitely a cold weather vegetable and with a little help from a protective plant cloth, you can enjoy a harvest of lettuce in 50 to 55 days. You can raise lettuce in a row or bed and it will thrive in the middle of winter. Packets of lettuce cost less than $2. You can choose from Iceburg, Buttercrunch, Grand Rapids, Green Ice, Oak Leaf, Red Sails, and many others. Plant the seeds in a furrow about two inches deep. Cover the seed with a layer of peat moss to retain moisture and apply a layer of Plant-Tone organic plant food and hill up soil on each side of the furrow and tamp down with a hoe blade. You can also set out lettuce plants and sow packets of lettuce seed in between the the lettuce plants for a double harvest of lettuce in the same row or bed.
Keeping vehicle windshields clean during winter months. You vehicle’s windshields take a beating all winter from road salt, slush, ice, snow, and grime. Make sure you keep plenty of washer fluid in the windshield washer. Use the kind that has deicer in it. Keep a durable scraper with a long handle and a brush on the other side under the seat to aid in keeping the windshield clear. Always clean the windows and rear vehicle window before getting on the highway. It is a great idea to keep an extra ice scraper in your vehicle in case the one you are using breaks. Once a week during winter, clean the wiper blades to remove debris from the road that builds up on the wiper blades.
Chicken salad casserole. This is an unusual casserole with great ingredients that the family will love. It has most of the ingredients that chicken salad contains and plenty of flavor. You will need:
1 cup of diced celery
1 cup of diced onion
1/2 stick light margarine
1 cup cooked Minute Rice
2 cups diced chicken breast
1 can diced mushrooms
1 cup sour cream
1 can Campbell’s cream of chicken soup
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 cup crushed corn flakes cereal
1/4 cup melted light margarine
Saute diced celery and onion in half stick margarine until tender. Cook chicken breast and dice. Add all ingredients except the corn flakes and 1/4 cup margarine. Pour into a large casserole or 13x9x2 inch baking dish or pan sprayed with Pam oven spray. Melt 1/4 cup margarine and mix in the corn flakes and sprinkle on top of the casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.
Filling feeders and checking birdbaths. The birds of winter are continuing to search for food and water. Water is extremely difficult for them to find in the dead of winter with many mud holes frozen as well as birdbaths. Keep the feeders refilled during the week and empty the ice from birdbaths each day when the temperature rises above freezing. Check them each day when ice forms in the baths. The source of water and food we provide will help them make it well through the cold winter.
Signs of spring in winter. Even with winter still with seven more weeks remaining, there are a few signs of spring in our midst. The heart-shaped leaves of the American violet are popping out of the cold winter soil. Hyacinths and jonquils are showing green spikes emitting from underneath layers of crushed leaves. The perennials on the porch and deck are showing signs of life and the Carolina Jasmine still has quite a few yellow blooms and the sweet fragrance of spring.
Grapevines and fruit trees can be pruned in February. Fruit trees and grapevines can be pruned in the month of February. Grapevines and fruit trees are dormant which will make shaping and pruning easier. Limbs, branches, and runners will be visible and pruning more effective. Pruning in February when trees and vines are dormant will promote a more productive harvest and quality fruits. Prune back all limbs that rub together and long water sprouts that reach out of the reach of a harvest. Try to choose a calm, sunny day with no wind to make the task easier.
Dormant oil spray. One calm and sunny February afternoon after fruit trees and grapevines have been pruned, apply a coat of dormant oil spray mixed with proper amount of water and placed in a sprayer. Spray the trees and vines from top to bottom until they are slick and shiny. Try to choose a day when no rain is forecast for several days to allow the oil spray to dry out.
February can be a month of hard freezes. Even with only 28 days, some of February’s nights and days can produce hard freezes, ice, and snow. This is not all that bad because a hard freeze will help kill off wintering insects and their egg and larvae as well as fungus and diseases in the soil.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “Supermarket gymnastics” — Americans are now getting stronger. Twenty-five years ago, it took two people to carry $45 with of groceries from the supermarket. Now a 5-year-old can do it!
“And God made” — In Sunday school they were teaching about God creating the heavens and the earth. Six-year-old Jody was interested about God making Eve from a rib of Adam. Later that week Jody’s mother noticed him laying on his bed as though he was sick. Mother said, “Jody, what’s wrong with you?” Jody replied, “I have a pain in my side. I think I’m going to have a wife!”
Definition of carsickness, it’s that feeling you get every month when the car payment comes due!
January 24, 2021
Saint Paul’s Day. On Thursday, Jan. 28, Saint Paul’s Day will be celebrated, of course we know him as the apostle Paul. There is some special weather lore on his special day that is just as interesting as the apostle Paul and also just as positive. This bit of lore says, “if Saint Paul’s Day be bright and clear, we can expect a green gardening year.” What a great piece of weather lore as we get ready to start the month of February!
A halo around the near-full moon in winter. This little poem says a mouthful, “In winter when you see a halo around the moon, look for some snow very soon. For the days until the snow, count the starts inside the halo.” This is a fairly accurate prediction for a winter snowfall. My Northampton County grandma went a step beyond the poem and her prediction was the number of visible stars inside the halo were the number of inches of snow that would fall. When the temperatures are colder aloft (where the halo is) than the temperatures on the ground can surely set the stage for some white stuff from above.
Two weeks until Valentine’s Day. At this time of winter as January is closing out and February is on its way, there is not much going in in the garden plot, but you can purchase packets of seed, plant food, garden supplies, or order seed from catalogs. Another interesting chore is searching for Valentine gifts for the family, kids, grandchildren and sweethearts. Most stores, flower shops, and supermarkets are well stocked. You can go ahead and order flowers now from florist to be assured of timely delivery. Many women love to have flowers delivered to their door! My father always arranged to send my mother a box of chocolates from the local drug store to be delivered on Valentine’s night. The inventory at most retailers is great and most stores are well stocked. You can choose from candies, gift cards, flowers, candles, fragrances, household gifts, gift certificates from restaurants, cards designed to place cash inside, garden supplies and seed, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, Target as well as gift cards from supermarkets. Just remember, all gift cards should be wrapped in a Valentine — decorated box to make the gift memorable and more meaningful – it’s a the little things that mean a lot.
Strawberry banana whipped cream pie. As the season of the Valentine draws near, this colorful and creamy pie will melt the heart. It is very easy to prepare and requires no baking. You will need:
1 21 ounce can on Comstock premium pie filling
2 bananas (sliced and stirred with lemon juice)
1 nine inch graham cracker pie crust
1 eight ounce container of Cool Whip
In a large bowl, combine the pie filling and the bananas and spoon into graham cracker crust. Spread the Cool Whip over the strawberry banana filling. Keep refrigerated.
Snow, ice, and icicles protection. In winter when it snows, a wet snow can be heavy and damage shrubs, bushes, and low-hanging limbs of trees. Keep a broom outside the door and brush off heavy build-ups of snow and ice from shrubs, bushes, and limbs. Another hazard of winter weather is when icicles form over the carport and porches as well as entrances and doorways. Knock them down with the broom before they fall on someone or damage your vehicle. An outside broom is also handy to brush off shoes, boots, and keep ice and slush from being tracked to inside the home.
Hard freezes as January reaches the last week. Hard freezes can be expected as we will reach January’s very last week. The garden plot needs hard freezes to kill off wintering insects and pests and decrease their population. Hard freezes will also destroy weed seed, fungus, and organisms in the soil. Hard freezes can also destroy many diseases deep in the soil.
Starting a very early vegetable in the winter garden. January is a cold month but on days when the ground is not frozen, you can sow a packet or two of radish seed. Radish is a vegetable that can withstand cold winter temperatures and produce harvest in about 45 days. You can choose from many varieties including Cherry Belle, Cherry Bomb, Cherriette, and Easter Egg. One good thing about radish is they have an almost 100% germination rate which is very unusual in the dead of winter. When planting radish in winter, cover the seed in a layer of peat moss and apply an application of Garden-Tone organic plant food in the furrow and hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade. Spread a plant cloth over the radish for a bit of protection.
Fog in January means a wet spring. This is a rare bit of winter weather lore that is almost as rare as a fog in January because the month is usually too cold for fog to develop. We hope it stays as such because a wet spring is usually what we don’t need when the soil is recuperating from sleet, snow, frozen rain, and ice.
Spring is eight weeks away. January has only seven day remaining. February has 28 days and spring arrives March 21. This means there are only 56 days until spring arrives. On several nights in January, we have heard frogs croaking down by the creek bank and letting us know the number of days until spring. The Carolina Jasmine already has some yellow blooms and a fragrance of spring emitting from them. Hyacinth bulbs are shooting out green spikes and a few wild onions are showing up on the lawn. Day continue to get longer by one minute each evening and this is a sure sign of spring.
A plant cloth is a good investment. As cold weather vegetables such as radish, lettuce, and greens are started in late winter, a plant cloth is a great investment for protecting early vegetables. You can buy cloths in 25 foot rolls that can be cut to fit over plants. Most hardware stores and garden shops sell the cloths by the roll. They can be cut to any size, recycled and used year after year. Rain water runs through them as well as providing protection from extreme weather.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “A pilling” — A patient visited her doctor and said, “Doctor, it’s been a month since my last visit, and I still feel horrible.” The doctor said, “Did you follow the directions on the bottle of medicine I gave you?” The lady says, “Yes, I did, the instructions were, keep bottle tightly closed.”
“Rare Appearance!” — The church service was over. The pastor stood at the door shaking hands. A woman came up and said, “I don’t think I’ll come back because every time I come, you sing ‘Silent Night’ or ‘He Arose.’”
Enjoying the Full Wolf Moon. The full moon of the month of January will occur on Jan. 28. The moon is named, “Full Wolf Moon.” As it rises above the bare trees it will look bright and silver if it is a clear winter night. If snow is on the ground, the snow will look like sparking diamonds.
January 17, 2021
The bulbs of springs are beginning to awaken. The spring bulbs of jonquils, hyacinths, daffodils, narcissus, and tulips are showing signs of life as the spike from underneath the layers of crushed leaves. Apply a layer of bone meal on them next week to get them off to a good start.
Spring seeds showing up in stores. There is a welcome burst of color in the hardware stores, garden departments, Lowe’s and Home Depot as well as Walmart. Many supermarkets also have racks of seed displays. We like to purchase a few packets of flower seed while we are shopping during the weeks of winter. We store them in a small box in a warm room. We place flower seed in one bundle and vegetable seed in another. We also make a list of the seeds as we purchase them.
Snow is heavy when it is a wet snow. There are two types of snowfalls; one is a wet snow and the other is a dry snow and is flaky, dry and easy to shovel. Then there is the wet, sticky variety that is heavy and harder to shovel because it has plenty of moisture in it. Wet snow makes good snowmen and snowballs, but rough to clean from driveways and sidewalks. Wet snow also makes better snow cream. On the other hand, dry snow is easier to clean from windshields, windows, and easier to remove from driveways. It has less moisture and can be blown out of carports and porches. When you shovel wet snow, don’t overload the shovel and take a breather often. When you clear wet snow from the windshield, allow you vehicle’s defrost to help do the work and melt the wet snow.
A snow shovel makes a great gift. No gift is as wonderful as one that is practical and useful. A snow shovel is that type of gift that may not be used every day, but is great to have on hand when you need it. The best time to buy a snow shovel is when there is no snow on the ground or in the forecast. The best snow shovels are those made of light aluminum which makes shoveling much easier. A durable snow shovel costs about $20.
Carolina Snow Cream. The next time we get enough snow to shovel, scoop up some clean snow and prepare a bowl of Carolina Snow Cream. It is easy to prepare and the very coldest treat you will ever eat. To make a bowl of snow cream you will beat four eggs until stiff, add a can of evaporated milk and beat it into the eggs, add two cups of sugar and beat into the mixture, add three and a half cups milk, a pinch of salt, two tablespoons vanilla flavoring. Beat all ingredients together. Prepare the snow for the snow cream by scraping off the top layer of snow, and scoop up clean snow that you know has not been disturbed and place in a large pot or bowl. Add the harvested snow to the prepared milk mixture until it is thick and creamy. If any is left, you can place it in the freezer. To make chocolate snow cream, add two cups of chocolate syrup and subtract half cup sugar and one cup milk. To make strawberry snow cream, add two cups strawberries run through the blender in “grate” mode, subtract one cup milk and add one tablespoon strawberry flavoring.
Blues on a day before a snowfall. By now, you know that this is a “snow day” column. This bit of winter lore says, a blue sky on a January day can suddenly become snowy gray. Another interesting bit of snow lore says, “a fair day in January can become the mother of a winter snowstorm.” Both of these are true bits of lore. A sudden change in the direction of wind from south to north or one cold blast brought in by the north wind or even a front from the Gulf of Mexico can quickly change a weather pattern from blue to gray.
Sweet, tender cold weather vegetables. Cold weather has a positive effect on the taste of Kale, collards, turnips, and curly mustard greens as well as broccoli. They have a certain color and crispness about them and also insects do not bother them in cold temperatures. We believe colder temperatures enhance the vegetables in the winter garden and give them an extra sweetness and flavor. Why shouldn’t the garden by a four-season event?
Robins in mid-January. All the robins don’t fly south in winter, many of them make themselves at home right here in the Piedmont of North Carolina. They seem very comfortable and why not? The ground freezes only a few times all winter and they find shelter in barns, shacks, stables as well as hollow trees and logs. Maybe even in the attics and eaves of homes. We don’t think it is a matter of global warming or weather extremes. Robins seem to have done the math and have added it all up that they can find a plentiful supply of food right here. All the robins we see are colorful, healthy, bouncy, and seem to be well fed. They definitely make winter more active and alive and they remind us of spring.
A container of fragrance in the home all winter. As we move closer to Saint Valentine’s Day, most garden departments in supermarkets, Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s will feature pots and containers of hyacinths in full bloom. A pot or container of these in your dining room or den will add a scent of spring and a burst of color inside your home. They cost less than $5 and worth it for the sweet fragrance they emit.
Jonquils and hyacinths are spiking. Green spies of hyacinth and jonquils are popping out of the beds of leaf mulch and are about a month away from full bloom. It is great to see them come to new life. We will soon be seeing more subtle signs of spring as we reach the end of the long month of January.
2021 the year of four o’clocks. Four o’clocks produce more flowers per packet over a longer season than any other flower as they bloom from late May all the way until frost. You can now purchase them at hardware stores, seed shops, garden departments, and supermarkets. A packet costs less than $2. Four o’clocks come in colors or red, white, yellow, pink, wine, and speckled and marble shades. Their lush green foliage blends well with their blooms.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “Getting a rundown!” — This man was walking along a country road and saw an Indian with his ear to the ground. The man went over and listened. The Indian said, “Large wheels, Ford pickup, red color, man driving with a German Shepherd, Oklahoma license tag, traveling 75 miles per hour.” The man was amazed at the Indian and said, “You can tell all that by putting your ear to the ground?” “Ear to ground nothing.” the Indian said. “That truck just ran over me!”
“Hopping to it” — Diner: “Waiter, come over here at once. Can you explain why there is a footprint in the middle of my food?” Waiter: “Yes sir, you ordered an omelet and told me to step on it.”
“The right diet” — The toughest part of a diet is not watching what you eat, but watching what other people eat!
© 2018 The Mount Airy News