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!
January 10, 2021
Red cardinals and frosty crystals on the winter lawn make winter colorful. The cardinals visit the feeders and birdbath every morning and add plenty of color to the winter landscape along with the crystals of frost lingering on the lawn. Even in winter, as January begins, robins are bouncing around the lawn looking healthy and searching for grubs or whatever they can scratch up. If seems most of them have remained here rather than fly south. This may be a sign that our winters are mild enough for them to remain here. We are certainly glad to see them around and in action on the lawn.
January can bring a mixed winter. Ice in mud holes, frosty mornings, frozen sod, icy winds and maybe some snow — this can be the recipe for January as we begin the second week of the month. January is winter’s longest month and we can look forward to some winter surprises. Even in January, we can have a few sunny days with blue skies and temperatures above freezing. We are lucky we don’t get feet of snow back-to-back like they do in the Midwestern states. In Minnesota when the last snow falls, some of the first snowfall of the year is still on the ground. A bit of weather lore for the Midwest is, “If the weather in January is frosty and gray, it will be winter all the way to May!”
Frosty turnips from the garden plot. Crushed leaves form a protective blanket for ice cold purple top turnips resting under the soil. A bowl of mashed turnips makes a welcome meal on a cold winter evening. Turnips are easy to prepare. You will need about eight to ten turnips, peeled and cut into half-inch cubes. Boil until you can stick a fork through them. Drain most of the water from them, add one stick of light margarine, one tablespoon of sugar, half teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper, half teaspoon paprika, two teaspoons of bacon bits. Stir and mash with a vegetable chopper or potato masher. For extra flavor, add a tablespoon of white Karo syrup.
Snow is good for our health and also the garden plot. Snow during the winter is good for our health because as snow falls, it has a cleaning effect and adds trace nutrients to our immune system and also helps us adapt to cold weather. It kills germs in the air that have influence on our bodies, it is good for our lungs to breathe in a fresh snowfall from above. Snow is good for the garden plot and the woodlands and orchards. Snow has nutrients that no other form of precipitation has, and the weight of the snow causes these beneficial nutrients to soak down into the garden sod. As snow melts and soaks down in to the soil, it kills germs, eggs, larvae and wintering insects. A bit of old fashioned garden lore says, “The Lord have mercy on a garden that has no snow in winter.” Winter snow — good for you, good for the garden, good for the woodlands, good for the orchard, and also good for kids and grandchildren.
Winter from the front porch. Avoid cabin fever and a lack of fresh winter-fresh air. Change your environment and scenery, bundle up if you have to, but get outside on the porch and remember that the sun also shines in winter. You can bask in its rays of ultraviolet light. It will work wonders in your immune system. It will alert your senses and change your attitude about winter and allow you to appreciate this season. Make yourself comfortable by covering yourself with a warm blanket, a toboggan, a pair of warm gloves, and a cup of black coffee or Mountain Dew. The time outside may kill a few germs inside your body and cause them to bite the dust.
A boost to the riding mower. If your mower is in an outside shelter or building, exposed to freezing temperatures, it is a great idea to start the mower once each week and allow it to run until the mower warms up. It would also be great to leave the blade disengaged and drive the mower around the lawn a few times. Keep plenty of fuel in the mower for easier starts. This really helps because in winter you may want to use your mower to run over leaves to break them down for the compost pile or bin, or mow down clumps of wild onions to ground level.
Watering the perennials of winter. We love anything green that thrives in winter weather, it is cool weather vegetables or the hardy perennial flowers on the porch and deck. When watering in winter, do not over water because too much water will cause soil to freeze and perhaps slow the growth if perennials.
Keeping birds of the winter fed. As January moves along, the birds are still active at the feeders during the day as they add color activity to the lawn, especially when cardinals and blue jays visit the feeders. As the sun causes temperatures to rise, empty ice from the birdbaths and refill with fresh water.
The upcoming season of hearts, flowers, chocolate, and love. Saint Valentine’s Day is less than a month away, and you can cure a lot of the blah’s of winter when your browse through the supermarkets, florist, Walmart, Target, and Lowe’s. Even Food Lion and Lowe’s Foods have Valentines cards, candies, gift cards and floral arrangements. It doesn’t cost anything to browse around. After all, you have one month to make the right choices. As you search for Valentine gifts, don’t overlook the pots of live floral arrangements like azaleas, carnations, tulips, roses, and other. Candy is a great Valentine even if it is only a small box attached to a larger gift. What is Valentine’s Day without the taste of dark chocolate or our favorite — York peppermint patties. Seed packets make practical Valentine gifts. Gift cards from restaurants, fast food, pizza shops, Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and hardware stores. Remember, if you give gift cards, tape the card onto a small box of chocolates and wrap in paper with hearts on it. This will make your gift love-oriented. Like mistletoe at Christmas, it may generate a kiss or hug!
Another benefit of snow. Snowfall in winter has many long-term benefits that produces plenty of positive results for the garden plot. An old saying states that, “A winter of snow produces a garden of plenty.” Snow has long-term effects on all four seasons of the year. We are firm believers that a productive garden is a four seasons garden plot with something green producing in every season. Surely snow benefits the garden in every season. Siberian Kale in winter looks twice as green and is sweeter after winter snow falls on it. Snow also enhances the flavor of collards. Snow is heavy and it produces many hidden benefits underneath the cold soil of winter. Yes we do believe snow produces four seasons of bounty and benefits.
Making the air inside much cleaner. In winter, the home is tightly shut up and air seems stuffy and hard to breathe. You can make a huge change in the air flow of your home by changing or cleaning the furnace filters once a month. Keep several new filters near your furnace. Write the size of the filter that the furnace requires on the door of the furnace with a black permanent marker. When you install a filter, write the date you replaced it on the new filter.
Making a broccoli cheesy macaroni casserole. This is a colorful casserole that will warm up your appetite on a cold winter day. You will need:
1 can Campbell’s cream of cheddar condensed soup
1 eight ounce pack of finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup milk
1 can Campbell’s cream of chicken soup
4 tablespoons light margarine
3 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 diced medium onion
2 ounce jar diced pimentos (drained)
eight ounces elbow macaroni (cooked and drained)
1 cup ranch croutons (crushed)
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
Combine cheddar cheese soup, finely shredded cheddar cheese, milk, and cream of chicken soup. Mix well. Melt twp tablespoons of light margarine and saute broccoli florets and onion four or five minutes, add diced pimentos. Mix with cheese mixture. Mix the croutons, remainder of the margarine into mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 55 minutes in a casserole dish sprayed with Pam baking spray.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “Deathbed confession.” Jason was on his deathbed. His wife Debra was by his side. With tears streaming down his face he said, “Debra, I want to confess.” Debra replied, “Hush, hush, don’t try to talk.” Jason replied, “No, I want to clear my conscience. I must confess that I have been unfaithful to you.” Debra replied, “Yes, I know. Why else would I have poisoned you?”
“Fun at the ocean.” Swimmer: “Are there any sharks along the beach?” Lifeguard: “It’s highly unlikely. The sharks don’t get along to well with the alligators.”
January 03, 2021
Wednesday, Jan. 6, is the Day of Epiphany. The Twelfth Night, Old Christmas, Epiphany, or The Day of Epiphany. It is the day that we celebrate the arrival of the Wise Men who followed the star that led them to Bethlehem to a house where they found the Newborn King of the Jews, who at this time may have been two years old. We do know according to the gospel of Matthew that they came to a house, not a cattle cave or manger. We don’t know how many Wise Men there were. Many think there were three base on the three gifts they presented to Jesus. The number is not as important as the fact they came after much searching and found the Christ Child.
Will January 2021 bring us much snowfall? Can we expect much of the white stuff in the month of January? There is always a great chance and the possibility that the new year can bring us several hefty snows. Snow in January has quite a few benefits and it will certainly brighten up the new year! It will also excite the kids and grand-kids and it will layer the garden plot with a blanket of white to kill off wintering insects and add nutrients to the soil as well as build up the water table. It would turn the January landscape into a marshmallow world and give us several whipped cream days!
After last month’s blooms, the Christmas cactus gets a break. All the cactus were beautiful as they bloomed in the sunny living room. We were especially proud of our new red one that bloomed in early December. As we move into January, we will remove all spent blooms and apply a layer of Flower-Tone organic flower food and check the foliage as the cactus continue to winter over in the living room, where they keep company with the panda and asparagus fern and snake plant. All they need is a drink of water each week and a layer of Flower-Tone once each month.
Even if we get January snow, the garden plot still has plenty of green in it. Even if we do get some snow in the month of January, the garden plot will still have plenty of greenery in contrast to the whiteness of snow. The green of collards, mustard, Siberian Kale, onion sets, broccoli, turnips, and cabbage will adorn the winter garden. They will pop through 10 inches of crushed leaves with no ill effects from the snowfall. Snow will only sweeten the green of the garden of winter.
An unnoticed begins in January. As January begins, the unnoticed gift of an extra minute of daylight is being received each evening. It is really too early to take note of the difference yet, but each day from now until June 21, we will receive an extra minute. By Saint Valentine’s Days, we will see some difference. It was just a subtle sign of spring even in winter’s longest month.
Red, white, and pink decking up the stores. Saint Valentine’s Day is a month and a half away, and signs of hearts, flowers, balloons, cards, and candies can be seen in Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, Food Lion and many other stores. Displays in florist shops hint that it is the season of the Valentine. The colorful displays are a welcome sight in the blahs after December and the cold of January. Spend a little time checking out Valentine’s displays this week.
Recycling Christmas boxes, bow, and ribbon. Now that all the Christmas decorations have been taken down and stored away, it is a perfect opportunity to gather all the boxes, bows, ribbons and containers that Christmas gifts were wrapped in and break them down and store them up to use during the year for birthdays, showers, as well as next Christmas. You can use a large box to store ribbons and bows as well as Christmas bags. If you have rolls of Christmas gift wrap, store these rolls in the same box along with the bows and ribbons. Many stores still have rolls of Christmas wrap for less than half price.
Weeds are a menace to the garden in all seasons. Many weeds do not take a break because of winter. Some weeds that thrive all year are chickweed, Bermuda grass, wild onions, nut grass, crab grass, and other weeds. Chickweed is easy to control because it has shallow roots that can easily be pulled up. Bermuda grass grows all winter and can be pulled up along its long root system. Be sure to toss it out of the garden so it won’t sprout again. As wild onions spike up in the lawn and garden, use the weed trimmer and cut them down to ground zero to slow their growth. The very best week control is the two hand and ten fingers that God gave you!
A recycling resolution for the new year. As the year of 2021 begins, make recycling one of your priorities in the new year. The task of recycling can prevent a lot of materials thrown in the trash carts from filling the landfills. You can do your part to protect the environment by recycling aluminum cans, plastic milk cartons, cardboard boxes, newspapers (bundled up), plastic bottles, foil plates, metal cans, glass jars, catalogs and phone books. Clean all cans and bottles and remove labels. Clean all cans and place lids in the cans and mash them shut for safety reasons.
Checking 2021 seed catalogs as new year begins. The 2021 seed catalogs have all arrived, and with the holidays over, we can have a look at what the seed offerings of the garden year of 2021. Almost every season we can be sure there will be several varieties of new tomatoes that may be worth experimenting with. The most important thing to remember about ordering from seed catalogs is to purchase only those varieties that you can’t find locally at seed stores, nurseries, and garden shops. Most seed catalog packets only have 20 to 30 seeds in them. You also have to pay shipping, handling, and sales tax fees. One thing that seed catalogs offer is a huge selection of cucumber and squash varieties as well as a great selection of flower seed. Never buy seed by looking at the pictures (like you would on any packet of seed you would purchase at a seed shop or hardware store).
Get your 2021 edition of Blum’s Almanac. One thing you can do as the new year begins, is to purchase your 2021 edition of Blum’s Almanac, which is their 193rd edition. You can buy them at local hardware stores, supermarkets, and book stores. The almanac has interesting articles, information, weather predictions, recipes, fishing calendars, moon phases, astronomy events, moon planting signs, eclipses of the sun and moon, sun rises and sunsets as well as moon rises and sets, the morning and evening stars and planets that are visible in the night sky. The whole year of helpful information in one book.
Making a chocolate chip cheesecake. This is an easy rich chocolate cheesecake and a great recipe to start the new year. You will need:
2 cups finely crushed Oreo chocolate cream cookies (run through blender)
1/4 cup melted Crisco shortening
3 eight ounce packs of softened cream cheese
14 ounce can Eagle Brand condensed milk
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup mini chocolate chips (divided)
1 teaspoon plain flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cookie crumbs and melted Crisco. Place in a nine inch pie pan and press down firmly to form the crust. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until fluffy, gradually beat in the Eagle Brand condensed milk until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Toss one half cup of mini chocolate chips into cheese mixture. Pour into the prepared pie crust, sprinkle the remaining chocolate chips on top. Bake for 55 minutes until center is firm. Cool and refrigerate several hours. Keep leftovers refrigerated.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “The right Miss Right” – Jamie: “Why are you going out with that plain Jane girl?” Wally: “Well, she’s a lot different from all the other girls I’ve met.” Jamie: “In what way is she so much different?” Wally: “The fact that she’s willing to go out with me!” “Biting the bullet” – Doctor: “What seems to be wring with little Mickey today?” Parent: “We think he swallowed a bullet!” Doctor: “Well for goodness sake, please stop pointing him at me!” – Policeman: “I clocked you doing 96 miles per hour sir. Is anything wrong?” Motorist: “Yes officer, I forgot to plug in my speed radar detector.”
The Almanac for January 2021. New Year’s Day was Friday, Jan. 1. The moon reaches its last quarter on Jan. 6. The Day of Epiphany is Jan. 6. Elvis Presley’s birthday is Jan. 8. The new moon of January is Jan. 13. Benjamin Franklins birthday is Jan. 17. Martin Luther King’s birthday is Jan. 18. The moon reaches its first quarter Jan. 20. There will be a full moon on Jan. 28 and the name of this full moon will be, “Full Wolf Moon.”
December 27, 2020
If you’re a child, you automatically love snow and the opportunity to enjoy a “snow day” off from school when you can go sledding, make a snowman or snow angels, enjoy some snow cream and even a snowball fight. These are all benefits of snow in the eyes of a child.
As gardeners and lovers of growing things, we need to open our eyes to the benefits of winter snowfalls. One is the fact that a layer of snow insulates vegetables, protecting them from winter’s cold breath. Snow is heavy, and as it melts it carries its moisture deep into the soil for deep, long-lasting moisture retention. Snow also deposits nitrogen and other nutrients into the soil for additional benefits. Most often the snow melts slowly, which makes it like a slow-release fertilizer. A layer of snow also kills insects that winter in the garden, also destroying their larva and eggs.
All of these benefits can have positive long-term effects on the growth of vegetables in The Garden Plot, and I’ve not yet mentioned the benefits for the sleeping lawn. An interesting fact is that not only do the warm rays of sunshine melt snow, but on cloudy days the sun’s radiation affects the melting of the snow.
The expectant earth seems to grow reverently quiet before and after a snowfall, especially when snow arrives before nightfall. Our own hearts beat a little faster as we get excited about the expectation of snow as well. After the snow falls, the earth becomes insulated and we can actually hear the snow, like the snap, crackle and pop of a bowl of Rice Krispies.
Sitting on the porch with a toboggan on, a blanket and a cup of hot coffee becomes a favorite winter sport for me. It’s good for the soul, good for the body and the immune system, for The Garden Plot and the sleeping lawn.
Out with the old, in with the new: Winter is in season as we enter a new year. We’re now in the process of receiving the gift of an extra minute of daylight each evening. The nights are getting colder. Keep yourself occupied; occupy the mind with things at hand to avoid the post-Christmas blues and wintertime blahs. Get organized. Store your Christmas décor and make a note to where things are stored to make next year’s decorating easier. Make a “to-do” list and follow through with it every week in this new year.
Light your Moravian Star: Even though Christmas is over, we are still celebrating the season of Epiphany. This is the time after Advent when we remember the journey of the three Wise Men to Bethlehem. An interesting note: Jesus was probably 2 years old by the time of the visit, and was in a house – not a cattle cave – by the time they arrived. You should light your Moravian Star each night through Jan. 6, the Day of Epiphany.
A sure sign of spring: The seed catalogs are arriving: Along with the holiday season, December brings the seed catalogs. They’ve piled up since the first of December. I keep mine stacked together so I can browse through them. Now the time is at hand to sit back and check out what’s new for the 2021 garden season. As usual, there will be new varieties of tomatoes to add to the ever-growing inventory already available. Catalogs make it easy, but only order seed that you have had good results with before, or those you can’t find in local shops.
Let greens brighten your new year: Fresh greens from the garden should not just be a tradition for New Year’s Day, but a habit during the winter. They’re full of vitamins, calcium and other nutrients. When cooking a pot of greens, sweeten the flavor by adding a few tablespoons of white Karo syrup and a little butter or margarine. And for extra taste, add some diced turnips. Use a food chopper to finely chop leaves and stems. A local product – Mrs. Campbell’s Chow-Chow relish – is made near Clemmons and available locally in hot or mild versions. It’s a great addition to your bowl of greens, a yummy product not only for greens but on hot dogs or hamburgers.
SOUR CREAM CORN BREAD
Speaking of greens, you have to have a square of hot cornbread. Here’s a simple recipe that goes well with greens:
1 cup yellow corn meal
1? cups sour cream
1 cup plain flour
? cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
? tsp. baking soda
? tsp. salt
2 large eggs
? butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine corn meal and sour cream. Let mixture “set” for about 10 minutes. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with Pam and set aside. Mix together the next five ingredients, then add the corn meal mixture and fold in beaten eggs and melted butter. Mix well. Pour mix into pan and bake about 25 minutes or until golden brown (until an inserted toothpick comes out clean).
Halos are small but have wonderful flavor. This recipe substitutes them for the usual Mandarins:
6-7 Halo oranges, peeled, separated
1 3 oz. box orange Jello mix (dry)
1 14 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
1? cup cottage cheese
1 tub Cool Whip
1 tsp. orange flavoring
2 Tbs. sugar
Slice the Halo sections in half and mix with all the other ingredients. Cover and refrigerate before serving.
Here’s an old English recipe to warm you up during winter:
? cup sugar
1 cup water
1 Tbs. apple pie spices
3 quarts orange juice
1 court cranberry juice.
Mix all ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes before serving.
December 25, 2020
North Carolina Surry County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers recently gathered — both virtually and in real time, to honor and celebrated the accomplishments of two of its long-time volunteers, Judy Bates and Robert Holder of Mount Airy.
The two were recognized during the group’s annual awards and recognition program, held via Zoom this year, followed by a drive-by, honk-your-horn, flash-a-sign pilgrimage in front of Robert and Judy’s houses by at least 10 members.
”It was a fun-filled experience for all who participated, thanks to Joanna Radford, extension agent and many of our members,” the group said in a statement about the event..
Bates and Holder have led Master Gardener Workshops for the past 25 years, educating area residents on how to send a soil sample to NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, teaching pruning and grafting of fruit trees, with other horticultural topics too many to recount in-between.
Since the pandemic, the Surry County Extension Master Gardeners have held virtual on-line meetings, but cancelled aplanned, in-person Gardening Symposium scheduled for last April along with and all in-person workshops. However, since September, five on-line horticulture webinars have been offered for viewing featuring topics: “Planting Spring Bulbs,” “Growing Garlic,” “What is a Master Gardener,” “Growing Exotic Spices,” and “How to Grow Apple Trees in your Backyard.”
Participants in the online audience have included individuals living in California, Australia throughout the Southeast.
December 20, 2020
Angels don’t wear halos or wings like we see on Christmas cards. In Bible times, when people saw angels they first thought they were other ordinary people and only after the encounter realized an angel had paid them a visit.
My wife and I had such an encounter on Interstate 40 near Mocksville several years ago while returning from visiting friends near Statesville. The water pump failed on our vehicle and the temperature gauge topped out. There were no service stations along that stretch of interstate so we pulled off at a rest area. No sooner than we’d stopped another car pulled up right beside us. As our motor was steaming, the man asked if he could help. I told him I thought it was the water pump, and he opened his trunk and pulled out what looked like a gallon of antifreeze. (He said he always kept a gallon in his car.) He poured it into our radiator and then topped off our radiator with water. He told us to quickly drive home – not to worry about the speed limit or otherwise delay – and everything would be all right.
We thanked him and followed his instructions. When we pulled into the driveway, shut the engine off and got out of the car, to our surprise the driveway was filled with the water he had poured into the radiator at the rest stop.
The man told me he was from Gastonia, but to us, he was a Heaven-sent messenger.
Christmas is a time when lost things are found, broken things are fixed and our hopes are renewed. May your Christmas angel be real to you and bring messages of love, joy, peace, hope and good will.
A walk in The Garden Plot: On an early morning in the garden during the week of Christmas, you’ll see icy crystals on leaves that makes them look like garlands. The spikes of the green onions make them look like candles. Heads of broccoli covered with frost with the morning rays of sunshine reflecting off them looks like tiny Christmas lights. The tops of turnips look like purple ornaments this week. It’s all a thing of beauty.
Christmas candy dish: You can purchase 12-ounce bags of Christmas candy hard mix at most stores and markets. I like the ribbon types, or the round pieces with images of Santa, snowmen, candles, Christmas trees, all somehow made into the centers of the candy. (Even as a child back in the 1950s, I wondered how they could get pictures inside the candy!) These candies work tell in a dish, as they don’t stick together like they did when we were kids. It is both a taste and a “look” of Christmas.
A house full of pallets: Grandma’s modest shotgun house in Northampton County in eastern North Carolina was crowded, of course. Grandma had her feather bed in the living room and the two bedrooms had two beds each for other adults. The large kitchen floor was filled with pallets, making the whole house a sleeping quarters. Another issue to this situation was that there was no bathroom in the house. The outhouse was 50 feet from the house, a challenge for the kids. Most parents tried to solve this problem by making sure to take the children to the outhouse just before bedtime. It’s funny that in the 21st century when homes have multiple bathrooms, some of us forget how far we’ve come and how much we take for granted — hot water, running water, indoor plumbing, electric and gas heat, lighting, ranges, computers, television, appliances and gadgets that make our lives easier — the list is endless. One thing was for sure: with all those beds full of kinfolk and the floor full of pallets for the kids, everyone was close at Christmas!
The smells of Christmas, continued: Cedars are still the mainstay of eastern North Carolina Christmas trees because there are so many growing there. One unforgettable smell was a cedar tree adorned with Christmas lights that because warm enough to cause the tree to smell like a cedar-lined hope chest. The longer the tree was lit, the more intense the smell became.
Christmas in a cup: Egg nog was always a Christmas tradition when I was growing up, as my father would always keep some handy all through Christmas. I think the vest best is Sealtest, which is still popular in supermarkets. My father thought egg nog right out of the carton was too rich; he always mixed a fourth of a glass of egg nog with three-quarters of a cup of milk. This thins the egg nog but also provides a taste that brings memories of my father. My uncles liked egg nog with eggs from Grandma’s hen house and laced with Gasburg brandy from Brunswick County, Virginia. After Santa came, we would go out to the front porch, enjoy the quiet and sip a glass of egg nog.
An easy Christmas Rice Salad: Boil two bags of Minute Rice (or Success Rice) and then stir in eight ounces of cream cheese. After it cools, stir in a large can of crushed pineapple (drained), ? cup of sugar, two cups miniature marshmallows, a cup of seedless grapes, a small jar each of red and green maraschino cherries (drained), 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, a can of sliced peaches (drained), and ? cup of chopped pecans. Mix together, and add a pint of whipping cream. Refriderate overnight before serving.
May all be merry and bright: I hope all our readers have a joyful and merry Christmas and that all the blessings of love and happiness fill your hearts and your household. The gift of love is at the very heart of Christmas; of all the gifts, love is the vest best!
December 13, 2020
An “old-fashioned” Christmas is closer than you think: just find a general store or a country store. John Brown’s Store on Highway 66 north of King, for example, has a lot of traditional items that are hard to find in “big box” stores.
Our favorites include several on Main Street in Mount Airy, where there are hardware stores, candy stores, specialty shops and plenty of good eating places!
Further up Highway 52, across the state line at Cana, is Virginia Produce, an old country store where you can buy fruits and vegetables by the pound or box. Old-fashioned candies are displayed in wooden barrels and you can bag your own or buy it already packaged. (There is just something especially old-fashioned about picking them out from a barrel and dropping them into a brown paper bag!)
They have all the goodies that your parents and grandparents used to fill your Christmas goodie bags when you were a kid: orange slices, BB Bats, ribbon candy, bon-bons, gum drops, stick candy, Toosie Rolls, Root Beer Barrels — all the favorites that bring back Christmas memories.
There are two general stores in Winston-Salem, Mast General Store on Liberty Street and W.G. White (aka Ronnie’s Country Store) on Cherry Street (where there feature White Country Hams and other fresh-cut meats). And of course, area Cracker Barrel stores offer a lot of these old favorites.
The sights, sounds and smells make these special stores a place to bring kids and grandkids to let them see what an old-fashioned Christmas is all about. You may even find a bottle of soda pop that you can pull out of an ice box!
A little touch of green: Frost has not yet taken control of the garden in mid-December, so there is still plenty of production in The Garden Plot thanks to the blankets of crushed leaves you’ve provided for protection. The greens of Siberian kale, spring onions, turnips, broccoli, collards and curly mustard not only provide one of the colors of Christmas but also good tastes during winter. Another green bonus is Carolina jasmine, with its amber blooms. And as much as we dislike wild onions, we’ll leave them for now just because they add a welcome shade of green.
It’s great to have something green inside the house during winter. You can start a narcissus in December from a kit that can be found in most garden sections of local stores, with most everything you need in the kit. Amaryllis can also be purchased in kits.
For an extra touch of green, drop a sweet potato into a vase of water and let it sprout. If in a sunny spot in the house, they will run out over the vase.
Weather lore: There is a bit of weather lore that says “When winter stars don’t twinkle, snow will start to sprinkle.” Because of cold temperatures aloft, stars always twinkle in the winter months. In the summer, when temperatures are warmer, stars don’t seem to twinkle as much. Whatever the lore says, when the temperature is cold aloft, conditions are ripe for some serious snowfalls, like the hefty 14 inches we got in December 2018.
Natural Christmas décor: Decorations from Mother Nature often speak louder than store-bought, and certainly show a lot more thought and effort. Many can be found in your own backyard. Now that leaves are off most of the trees, bird nests can easily be spotted. Some make more artistic and durable decorations than others. The best seem to be the ones that are woven with straw and grass. Clean out the inside and spray the nest with several coats of clear varnish. (You might add a few plastic eggs from a hobby/craft store.) Other good choices are the red nandina berries, honeysuckle vines, pinecones, boxwood greenery, even large acorns.
The smells of Christmas, continued: On Christmas Eve mornings growing up, a wood fire of oak blazed under the huge black cast iron wash pot. In the pot was a Peanut City, Virginia, ham that would cook all morning. As morning turned to afternoon the ham would be removed from the pot to cool, and my father would fill the pot with fresh heads of collards from the winter garden. The “ham water” was the perfect seasoning for our collards. Christmas Even supper traditionally consisted of fried oysters, collards, cornbread and coconut cake; the ham was for Christmas Day!
This is a good recipe for Christmas and easy to prepare:
1 gallon apple or white grape juice
1 pack Kool-Aid, pink lemonade flavor
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 2-liter bottles Canada Dry Ginger Ale
Mix Kool-Aid and sugar in water, then add juice. Chill in the fridge overnight. To serve, add half of the juice mixture to one bottle of ginger ale. (If serving in a punch bowl you can make an ice ring by pouring a third bottle of ginger ale into a tube pan and freezing overnight.)
INSTANT HOT CHOCOLATE MIX
This recipe also makes a great gift idea for Christmas:
3 cups non-fat dry milk (such as Carnation)
2 cups instant cocoa mix (I use Nestle’s Quik)
? cup non-dairy coffee creamer (such as Coffee-Mate)
? cup sugar
Mix ingredients and pour into jars with an air-tight lid. To serve, mix one-third cup of chocolate mixture in a cup of boiling water. To make these into gifts, dress up the jars with bows. (Another neat trick is to place some miniature marshmallows into a zipper bag and attach to the jar with tape; that way your recipients can enjoy marshmallows in their hot chocolate if they choose. You can write out the serving instructions on the bag as well.)
December 06, 2020
Christmas trees are available now at lots and stores. When you shop for just the right tree for your home, take the kids along so they can receive a “learning experience” in selecting the ideal choice. Follow these hints:
● The tree should be cone-shaped with no bare spots, bright green in color.
● Bounce the tree against the ground and if needles fall off, don’t buy it.
● Bend a few branches down to see if they spring back.
● Make sure the tree has a fresh aroma, because this is what a live tree is all about.
● Check the cut end of the tree, which will tell you about how long it’s been since the tree was cut.
● Ask the folks at the tree lot to cut several inches from the bottom.
● When you get the tree home, soak it in a tub of water for 24 hours before anchoring it in its stand.
● Use a stand that will allow water to be added around the base of the tree.
● Never leave the tree lit when you are away from home.
● Be careful not to put presents too close to the tree (or on the branches).
The ugliest Christmas tree: Most people believe the Christmas tree decorated by the Peanuts gang on “A Charlie Brown Christmas” was the ugliest of all. But the ugliest I ever saw was at a service station on Roanoke Avenue in the eastern North Carolina town of Roanoke Rapids in the 1950s. It was in a lot set up by local peddler Jesse Allen, who sold a little of everything including the kitchen sink. His Christmas sideline was selling red-heart cedars that he had harvested along the Roanoke River. (The tree of choice in eastern North Carolina at the time was cedar; mama said only rich people could afford fir and spuce.) One tree caught my eye: the one he had sprayed with pink paint. We kept watch every day after school to see if he had sold that pink tree, but on Christmas Eve I saw Jesse loading that tree on the back of his truck. It should have made its way to the Ugly Christmas Tree Hall of Fame!
Holiday flavors of ice cream: At this time of year Turkey Hill always features several fun flavors of their ice cream, such as Egg Nog, Pumpkin Pie, Peppermint Stick or Red Velvet Cake. I’ve always wondered why Turkey Hill has not produced a peanut brittle flavor in its array of Christmas specialties (Maybe this year!). I remember peanut brittle being very sticky. In our Christmas goodie bags, the peanut brittle was always stuck to the oranges and apples. Today’s peanut brittle is more refined, with a fine dusting of flour that keeps it from being so sticky. Some of America’s best is made by Old Dominion in Norfolk, Virginia, which is near the Peanut Capital of Suffolk, Virginia. Find it at Ingle’s, Food Lion, Dollar General and other markets. But be careful, as it’s very addictive!
Christmas candies from yesteryear: Some of the candies I grew up with have survived into the Christmases of today: chocolate cream drops, peanut brittle, orange slices, coconut macaroons, rainbow ribbons, peppermint sticks and gum drops. Many are only around at Christmas time. Chocolate Creme Drops can be found at this time of year in a variety of stores, including Dollar General. It has always been a Christmas tradition to have some of these cone-shaped dark chocolate drops around, especially knowing it’s available for only a limited time.
A stick of winter green, an orange, and a blanket on the front porch — what a wonderful way to celebrate the beginning of the season of Advent. The air on the front porch has a certain nip to it, but the sky is Carolina blue. A blanket helps warm us up as we enjoy a foretaste of Christmas with a stick of wintergreen stuck into an orange with a cup of coffee. The wintergreen has a special Christmas taste that reminds us of our grandma, who received oranges and stick of candy in the early 1900s in the backwoods of Northampton County. The simple things of life are important, especially as Christmas approaches and many folks complicate simplicity.
Smells from Grandma’s kitchen: Grandma’s kitchen was always warm – summer or winter – because of her large wood-burning range. She never “warmed up” food, as she always kept something in the large warmer built into the top. Coffee was always available, and biscuits or cornbread, too. At Christmas time, the mixture of aromas like hens roasting, collards, bread, cakes and pies not only filled the kitchen but the whole house. One scene of Christmas was the fresh smell of Florida tangerines, which were the main item in each goodie bag and also the treat bags given out at our church on the Sunday night before Christmas.
Buying a Christmas cactus: Christmas cactus are now plentiful in garden sections. December is the best time to purchase one because at this time of the year they should be in full bloom and you can choose the color you want. Plan on re-potting as soon as you get your cactus home, as it’s most likely already starting to get rootbound. Buy a larger container and a bag of cactus potting soil. Keep your cactus in a semi-sunny location, and lightly water every 7-10 days. Fertilize with Miracle-Gro cactus food every 15 days. Then in late April you can move your cactus outside to a porch or deck.
Remembering Pearl Harbor: Monday, Dec. 7, is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Not only should we always remember the lives lost and families who suffered on that fateful “Day of Infamy,” we should resolve as a nation that we will never let our guard down or become complacent or apathetic. As I thought about President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s famous speech to Congress, I was reminded that he urged Americans to celebrate Christmas even in that very difficult time. The president had the White House decorated as usual to set the example. (Someone once said that “a leader must not only be tactful but truthful,” and that was President Roosevelt.)
December Almanac: Hanukkah begins tonight at sundown. There will be a new moon on Monday, with the full moon late in the month, on Dec. 29, called the “Full Cold Moon.” Winter officially begins Dec. 21, and Christmas Day is on a Friday this year.
November 29, 2020
A few days of calm after Thanksgiving. We know we have just celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday and the Christmas rush has started, but why can’t we retain the thoughts of Thanksgiving as well as thanksliving, at least while it is still November? We need the elements and attitude of gratitude and not take for granted all the blessings of our lives. Having a thankful heart is a factor that has the potential to add years of quality time to our lives.
An extra blanket on the turnip bed. Turnips are a root crop, and as we near the end of November, the soil around the turnips is getting colder and so are the turnips. Even though you may have some crushed leaves between the rows, it is a good idea to apply more leaves on top of them to assure the turnip harvest will last all winter without any danger of the turnips freezing. With this extra layer of insulation turnips should produce a winter-long harvest.
A bowl of turnip “pot licker” soup. Boil a pot of turnips for a break from the rich diet of the Thanksgiving table. Fix turnips like you would mashed potatoes. Peel and cut turnips into half inch chunks and boil until they are tender enough to stick a fork into easily. Drain off the liquid and reserve it for the “pot licker” soup or sauce. With the mixer, beat the turnips until creamy smooth, add sugar, salt, and pepper and light margarine to season the turnips. Add a little milk to moisten the mashed turnips. For the “pot licker” soup, bring the liquid from the turnips to a boil, add one cup milk, one stick light margarine, salt, pepper and a tablespoon of sugar. Simmer two minutes. In a glass of cold water, add three tablespoons cornstarch and stir until creamy. Pour an ounce at a time into the liquid until liquid gets as think as you desire (about the consistency of gravy). Pour over the mashed turnips or mix cornbread in the “licker.”
The aftermath of Saint Catherine’s Day. On Friday, Nov. 27, we celebrated Saint Catherine’s Day. There is a bit of weather lore of her day, and it says that on her day that if the weather is fair or foul, that’s the way the whole month of February 2021 will be. That sounds great, but November is a far comparison to the bitter cold of February. In November, we may have a few cold days, but no deep freeze nights or hefty snows that are a trademark of February. Catherine’s predictive lore sounds more like an old wives take than believable weather lore.
A Christmas cactus will make wonderful Christmas gift. The gift of a potted Christmas cactus would be a gift that keeps on giving. Christmas cactus are now showing up in garden departments at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, Food Lion, and Lowe’s Foods and at many nurseries. They cost between $5 and $10 depending on what size you purchase. If you would like to buy them as a gift, go ahead and purchase a larger container and a bag of cactus starting medium. Bring it home and transplant it to the larger container in a sunny location in the home. When you are ready to give it as a gift, wrap Christmas foil and a bow around the container. Water it once a week until you give it away.
A bit of extra greenery in your home as cooler weather arrives. Take a large sweet potato that you have left over from Thanksgiving and place the raw potato in a tall flower vase or wide mouth quart mason jar and keep it filled with water. The potato will soon sprout and send forth runners that produce dark green leaves sprawling from the vase or jar. They will give that welcome touch of greenery to a room as we approach the season of Christmas.
The simplicity of the Moravian star. Today is the first Sunday of Advent and no other Christmas decoration is as simple and beautiful as the Moravian star as it shines brightly on cold winter nights during the season of Advent. They should shine tonight and every night (preferably all night long) until the Day of Epiphany which is Jan. 6. Moravian stars are simple to assemble and can be purchased at Moravian Book stores, Gullian’s, Salem Gift Shop on Hanes Mall Boulevard in Winston-Salem. Invest in a star to be part of your Christmas decorations. They come in sturdy boxes and make great Christmas gifts especially for friends of relatives that live outside our area of the state. In keeping the Moravian star lit all night, you are symbolically lighting the way for the Christ Child.
A stick of winter green, an orange, and a blanket on the front porch. What a wonderful way to celebrate the beginning of the season of Advent. The air on the front porch has a certain nip to it, but the sky is Carolina blue. A blanket helps warm us up as we enjoy a foretaste of Christmas with a stick of wintergreen stuck into an orange with a cup of coffee. The wintergreen has a special Christmas taste that reminds us of our grandma who received oranges and sticks of candy in the early 1900s in the backwoods of Northampton County. The simple things of life are important, especially as Christmas approaches when many folks complicate simplicity.
A search for the decorations of nature. As we near the end of November, our thoughts turn to decorating the home for Christmas. Some natural decor can be found in your own backyard or garden. The dogwoods have plenty of red berries and so do the nandina bushes. Pine trees are loaded with cones and honeysuckle vines are filled with greenery as well as the Carolina Jasmine. The limbs of cedars and pines and boxwood’s can be used as greenery. You can also gather acorns and paint them red, white, and green. Pecans, peanuts, and walnuts can be used as decorations. In Colonial Williamsburg, they use plenty of apples and oranges as decor. Popcorn can be popped and thread on yard or sting and used to trim trees, mantles, and tables.
Hog killing time in Northampton County. The chill in the late November air signaled it was hog killing time in Northampton County in northeastern North Carolina. One of the by-products was the rendering of lard from the fat of the hogs. My grandma always did this chore outdoors in a huge black iron wash pot with an Oakwood fire under it. The task would take a half day as the lard was boiled from the rendered fat it was called, “cracklings.” At hog killing time, they were considered a treat even though they are loaded with cholesterol. Grandma always made crackling biscuits and cornbread and also scattered them around baked sweet potatoes from loamy Northampton County soil. These sweet potatoes had plenty of sweet, brown sap running out of a hot wood stove oven. As kids, we loved to eat them with a handful of cracklings.
Christmas traditional candies from yesteryear are still with us today. We are glad that some candies we grew up with in our childhood have survived into the Christmases of today. Treats such as chocolate cream drops, peanut brittle, orange slices, candy bons, coconut macaroons, Christmas hard and soft centered mixes, rainbow ribbons, sticks of peppermint, wintergreen, lemon, cherry, strawberry, spearmint, lime, and grape, spice and gum drops. Many are only around at Christmas time. You can find many of them at stores in downtown Mount Airy, most general stores in Winston-Salem, Ronnie’s County Store in Cana, Virginia, and at many special hardware stores.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “Day late, a dollar short” – A one dollar bill met a twenty dollar bill, “Hey where have you been? I haven’t seen you for awhile.” The twenty dollar bill answered, “I’ve been to the casinos, went on a cruise, been to a couple of Major League baseball games, went to the beach, and Niagara Falls-all that stuff.” “How about you?” The dollar said, “Oh you know, same old stuff, church, church, church.”
“License Please” — Two young boys were fishing at their favorite fishing hole. The game warden came up behind them. One of they boys threw down his rod and ran through the woods with the game warden following behind him. After a half mile, the boy stopped to catch his breath, and the game warden caught him. “Let me see a fishing license,” the warden said. The boy pulled out his wallet and showed him his license. “Well, son, you must be dumb you have a valid license, there was no use to run.” The boy said, “Well, I do, but the boy back there doesn’t.”
November 24, 2020
We should always celebrate the whole season of Thanksgiving and not just the day itself. We should give daily thanks because giving thanks to God is always in season.
Thanksgiving began in America, not as a feast, but as an offering of thanksgiving by Christopher Columbus when he reached land on October 12, 1492 after a stormy journey across the Atlantic and the loss of one of his ships. Columbus offered prayer and praise to God.
In 1620, 128 years later, the Pilgrims thanked God for sparing their lives on a hard journey from England. On Nov. 11, 1620, 400 years ago this month, the Mayflower landed in present-day Massachusetts after leaving Southampton, England. The Mayflower carried 102 passengers and a crew of 26 plus the captain; of this number, there were 32 children. On this 66-day voyage, the Pilgrims stayed below deck. They could not use lanterns or candles so they were in darkness day and night. There were not able to take baths or change clothes. Most food was dried fruits, fish and hardtack, basically rock-hard biscuits. The second half of the voyage was stormy, windy and bitter cold. Their clothes were wet and beds were wet and clothes froze to their bodies. Many were sick because of the food and the harsh conditions.
Even after landing at Plymouth Harbor, the passengers had to remain on-board while leaders searched for a source of fresh water. In that first winter, 43 Pilgrims died.
We should never forget the Pilgrims and the conditions they endured, and what they went through to survive. When the Mayflower left the next spring, not one Pilgrim returned to England. No wonder that America is called, “Land of the Pilgrim’s pride.”
In both of theses events, God was given the glory. In 2020, our thoughts and minds should be on what really matters most. We need to think of who God is and what God has done for us, as well as the country we are privileged to live in. God bless America, God bless you and your family as we give thanks and celebrate.
Pumpkins at first Thanksgiving: The Pilgrim’s did not have pumpkin pie at their feast in 1621. We know they had deer and fish as well as corn, which was probably dried and boiled. (Today, we call it hominy.) Instead of pumpkin pie, pumpkins were used to make soup because they are members if the squash family. Another use for pumpkins was that they were hollowed out and used as bowls with lids. The table must have been bountiful because the feast lasted for three days!
Don’t let black Friday black out thanks: Friday has become known as “Black Friday” as it officially kicks off the Christmas shopping season. Many people will stand in line or camp out in front of a big box store for a chance to get a bargain. (The truth is there are not many bargains worth staying out in the cold all night. I wait until Monday when the crowds go back to work!) This year, businesses are spreading out their post-Thanksgiving sales, or focusing on online sales. So can stay home, enjoy the children and grandchildren and make the most of your holiday. Don’t allow Thanksgiving to become America’s most taken-for-granted holiday.
Grandma’s collard patch: Grandma’s collard row resembled a row of hedges when Thanksgiving rolled around each year. We had never seen anything quite like that until several years ago when we spent Thanksgiving at Myrtle Beach and on the way there on Highway 28, between Rockingham and Bennettsville, we saw a house with a hedge of collards landscaping the house. They were beautiful and reminded us of grandma’s collards.
On the day before Thanksgiving, she would scald the black wash-pot, rendered lard in it and ready it for collards, and also to boil a huge Peanut City ham in. Early that morning she had a fire under the pot with the ham inside. The aroma of smoked ham and oak wood was soon filling the air. At noon, she would test the ham for tenderness, remove it from the pot and add collard heads one by one until they cooked down. On Thanksgiving Day, all the families, kids, and grandchildren would be there and the table was filled with food and desserts, but nothing could top smoked ham with collards, corn bread and sweet tea.
Spice blends make Thanksgiving easier: Special mixes of spices make recipes easier without having a cabinet filled with seasonings and spices that you have to combine together. Many companies such as McCormick produce combinations of seasonings and spices that make it convenient and easier to prepare meals with a combination of spices in one container. For fried chicken and turkey dressing, you can use poultry seasoning. For spaghetti, you can use Italian seasoning, and for pies, there is pumpkin pie seasoning with cinnamon, nutmeg, and other blended seasonings, and apple pie seasoning with cinnamon and other spices combined. These special spices are convenient and save a lot of cabinet space.
For a great-tasting turkey, I mix 1 teaspoon pepper, 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning together. Spray the inside cavity of the turkey with Pam and then use your hands to spread the seasoning mixture there. Spray the outside of the turkey with Pam and sprinkle with poultry seasoning. Cover turkey with foil and roast in oven, and remove foil during last hour of cooking.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie:
The cream cheese layer really enhances the flavor of this pie.
For cream cheese layer:
1 8-oz. package cream cheese (softened)
? cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
For pumpkin layer:
1? cups canned pumpkin
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
? tsp. salt
1 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until very smooth, add egg and beat together. Pour into unbaked pie shell. For the pumpkin layer, mix pumpkin, sugar, spices, salt and vanilla, then add evaporated milk and eggs. Mix well and pour over the cream cheese layer. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and 10 minutes. After the pie cools and before serving, top with a layer of Cool Whip.
Mandarin Orange Cake
This is an easy fix for a holiday dessert with plenty of taste and color.
For the cake:
1 box of Duncan Hines yellow or orange cake mix
? cup water
1 can mandarin oranges (undrained)
1 Tbs. orange flavoring
? Crisco oil
1 3 oz. box orange Jello mix
? cup sugar
1 large can of crushed pineapple
1 packet orange Kool-Aid mix
1 tsp. orange flavoring
1 cup sugar
1 3-oz. box Jello instant pudding mix
1 carton of Cool Whip
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and pour into a 13x9x2-inch baking pan or dish sprayed with Pam. Bake until firm and golden brown, then remove from oven and allow to cool. Make a topping by mixing those ingredients together and spread over the cake. Refrigerate.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: A couple was enjoying dessert after Thanksgiving dinner at a family member’s home when the wife pinched her husband and said, “That’s the third time you have gone for dessert. They must think you’re a pig!” “I don’t think so,” the husband replied. “I told her it was for you!”
Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you to all readers of The Garden Plot in beautiful Stokes County. I hope the articles make your garden fun, easy and productive. It is also my hope that all of you have a blessed Thanksgiving, one filled with love.
November 22, 2020
Celebrating the season of Thanksgiving. We should always celebrate the season of Thanksgiving and not just the day itself. We should give daily thanks because giving thanks to God is always in season. Thanksgiving began in America, not as a feast, but as an offering of thanksgiving by Christopher Columbus when he reached the shores of the America’s on October 12, 1492 after a stormy journey across the Atlantic and the loss of one of his ships. Columbus offered prayer and praise to God who spared his life. In 1620, which was 128 years later, the Pilgrims thanked and acknowledged God for sparing their lives on a hard journey from England across the Atlantic. In both of theses events, God was given the priority and glory. In 2020, our mind and thoughts should be on what really matters most. We need to think of who God is and what He has done for us, as well as the country we are privileged to live in. God bless America and God bless you and your family as we give thanks and celebrate.
The 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims landing at Cape Cod. On Saturday, Nov. 11, 1620, 400 years ago, the Mayflower landed in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, after leaving Southampton, England, on Sept. 6, 1620. The Mayflower carried 102 passengers and a crew of 26 plus the captain. Of this number, there were 32 children. On this 66-day voyage, Pilgrims stayed below deck. They could not use lanterns or candles so they were in darkness day and night. They were not able to take baths or change clothes each day. Most food was dried fruits, fish, and hard biscuits. The second half of the voyage was stormy, windy and bitter cold. Their clothes were wet and beds were wet and clothes froze to their bodies. Many were sick because of the food and the harsh conditions. Added to these conditions was the crew of 26 harassing them in these overcrowded conditions. Even after a 66-day voyage, and landing at Cape Cod, they had to remain onboard while they searched for an area with fresh water, a river and land to build. The captain of the Mayflower described Plymouth harbor, they explored it and on Dec. 16, 1620, the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth Harbor. After all the hardships of that first winter, 43 of the Pilgrims died. We should never forget the Pilgrims and the conditions they endured to arrive in America, but what they went through to survive. When the Mayflower left the next spring, not one Pilgrim returned to England. No wonder that America is called, “Land of the Pilgrim’s pride.”
Pumpkins on the table at the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrim’s did not have pumpkin pie at their feast in 1621. We know they had deer and fish as well as corn which was probably dried and boiled. Today, we call it hominy. Instead of pumpkin pie, the pumpkins were used to make soup because they are members if the squash family. Another use for pumpkins was that they were hollowed out and used as bowls with lids. For dessert they made hasty pudding with dried ground corn, molasses, and meal mixed with eggs. Dried beans, dried fruit, and turnips found their place at the feast, as well as onions, barley, bread, greens. Butter was used to season many foods and a main ingredient of breads, puddings and soups. Whatever else that was on the table was bountiful because this feast lasted for three whole days. The meal was great but they gave thanks to God.
Don’t let black Friday black out your season of Thanksgiving. Next Friday has become known as “Black Friday,” as it officially kicks off the Christmas shopping season. Many people will stand in line or camp out in front of a big box store for a chance to get a bargain. The truth is there are not many bargains worth staying out in the cold all night for. Wait until Monday when the crowds all go back to work and aisles will not be crowded. Meanwhile, you can stay home, enjoy the children and grandchildren and make the most of the holiday. Do not allow Thanksgiving to become America’s most taken for granted holiday.
Grandma’s Northampton county collard patch. Grandma’s collard row resembled a row of hedges when Thanksgiving rolled around each year. We had never seen anything quite like that until several years ago when we spent Thanksgiving at Myrtle Beach and on the way there on highway 28 between Rockingham and Bennettsville, we saw a house with a hedge of collards landscaping the house. They were beautiful and reminded us of grandma’s collard row. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, she would scald the black washpot, she rendered lard in and readied it for large collard and also to boil a huge Peanut City ham in. Early Wednesday morning, she had a fire under the pot with the ham inside. The aroma of smoked ham and oak wood was filling the Northampton County country side air. At noon, she would test the ham for tenderness, remove it from the pot and add collard heads one by one as they cooked down. On Thanksgiving, all the families, kids, and grandchildren would be there and the table was filled with food and desserts, but nothing could top smoked ham with collards, corn bread, and sweet tea.
Making a three-layer pumpkin cream cheese pie for Thanksgiving. The cream cheese layer really enhances the flavor of this pie. For this pie, you will need a nine-inch unbaked pie shell. For the bottom cream cheese layer, you will need one eight ounce pack of cream cheese (softened), one fourth cup sugar, one teaspoon vanilla, and one egg. Mix the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until very smooth, add egg and beat into mixture. Pour into the unbaked pie shell. For the pumpkin layer, mix together one and a fourth cups canned pumpkin, one cup sugar, two teaspoons pumpkin pie spices, pinch of salt, one cup evaporated milk, one teaspoon vanilla, two eggs. Mix together the pumpkin, sugar, pumpkin pie spices, vanilla, and pinch of salt. Add evaporated milk and eggs. Mix all ingredients well and pour into pie crust over top if the cream cheese layer. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and ten minutes. After the pie cools and before serving, top with a layer of Cool Whip.
Watching for creepy crawlers in outdoor sheds and buildings. As the month of November grows colder, the creepy crawlers and four legged pests such as mice and rodents will be trying to slip into your barn or shed for winter. You can do quite a few tasks to keep them out. First of all, remove any seed that may be left over as well as any straw that may be on the floor. Sweep the floor and apply a handful of moth balls all around. Spray with a strong insect spray and spray once a month. If you see signs of mice and rodents, take measures to control them. Inspect outdoor buildings often during winter.
Observing the Northern Cross constellation as it appears on the western horizon. The Northern Cross is actually a part of the constellation of Cygnus, the Swan. It is now getting a bit closer to the westerns horizon each night when it gets totally dark. By Christmas Eve, it will be in a upright position early in the evening. The Cross can be seen above the tree line in the western sky each evening as it draws a little closer to the horizon. For a better view drive out on a Surry County country road, look westward above the tree line when the Cross can clearly be seen. The swan is a symbol of grace and it is fitting that God placed the Northern Cross in Cygnus the Swan. It is God’s Christmas card in the western skin as the heavens declare His glory.
Happy Thanksgiving to all readers. Thank you to all readers of the Garden Plot in beautiful Surry County and we appreciate your reading the Garden Plot every Sunday morning in the Lifestyles section. Thanks to the Mount Airy News for publishing the column and enhancing with their colorful graphics. We hope the articles make your garden fun, easy, and productive. It is our hope that you learn to live a richer and fuller life, and that all of you have a blessed and bountiful Thanksgiving filled with love.
November 15, 2020
There may be turnips under those greens. The cooler temperatures of November will promote the development of the root crop of purple top turnips. They should be thriving in the cool soil and provide a harvest on into the season of late autumn and winter. Feel under the leaves and check if there are any turnips large enough to harvest. Make sure you have a layer of crushed leaves between the rows to prolong and protect the soil and prevent it from freezing temperatures.
Spice mixes make Thanksgiving recipes easier to prepare. Special mixes of spices make recipes easier without having a cabinet filled with seasonings and spices that you have to combine together. Many companies such as McCormick produce combinations of seasonings and spices that make it convenient and easier to prepare meals with a combination of spices in one container. For fried chicken and turkey dressing, you can use poultry seasoning. For spaghetti, you can use Italian seasoning, and for pumpkin pies, there is pumpkin pie seasoning with cinnamon, nutmeg, and other seasonings combined together. For apple pies, there is apple pie seasoning with cinnamon and other spices combined. These special spices are convenient and save a lot of cabinet space. For a great tasting roasted turkey, mix one teaspoon pepper, two teaspoons salt, and two teaspoons poultry seasoning together. Spray the inside cavity of the turkey with Pam baking spray and use your hands to spread the seasoning mixture inside the turkey. Spray the outside of the turkey with Pam baking spray and sprinkle with poultry seasoning. Cover turkey with foil and roast in oven. Remove foil during last hour of cooking.
The calmness of the month of November. With Black Friday, and the beginning of the Christmas rush a little less than two weeks away, please do not let this interfere with the calmness that November provides. After all, this is a season of giving thanks for a year of bountiful blessings. This season of Thanksgiving should be a state of mind, and time to think of family, friends, children, grandchildren and what we have experienced all year long. For life itself, being a blessed people and living in a blessed land. Do not get bogged down in materialism at this time of year, but let your heart, mind, and soul by filled with Thanksgiving.
The Christmas cactus is ready to bloom. It was moved to the living room in mid-October and now has bud tips on them and looks like it may bloom after Thanksgiving. We have four containers of them and when they bloom, they put on an early Christmas display.
A roof and lawn covered with frost. We may not have much possibility of snow in November, but the rooftop and lawn can receive its share of frost early in November mornings. Frost sweetens the kale and collards and kills off remaining insect pests. It beautifies the curly mustard and broccoli plants and adorns them with icy crystals. If frost covers the windshield and windows of your vehicle, use the defroster and ice scraper to clear it off before you leave the driveway.
Can we have any snow in November? Yes, it is possible to have snow in November, but don’t count count on it and the odds are against it. There may be some flurries and a dusting in the mountains, but no measurable snowfall. If snow does occur, most of it will be short-lived because the November soil is still quite warm. Temperatures are cold at night but mostly not freezing. Last year, the ground froze only about three times in what we would consider hard freezes. It would be wonderful to see a dusting of snow as a surprise on Thanksgiving morning.
Enjoying a late autumn harvest. Broccoli that is grown in late autumn will provide a lot more heads than the broccoli planted in spring simply because it has almost zero insect pests as well as no cabbage butterflies. In the autumn-planted broccoli, it produces heads during late autumn and into winter and doesn’t bolt into yellow flowers and see like spring broccoli when it gets warm. Winter broccoli provides a much longer harvest. Collards are also winter-hardy and they can be harvested when covered with snow. Siberian kale is another winter tough green. Last year, we harvested two buckets the week before Christmas. Onion sets grow all winter long and can be harvested at any stage of growth.
Starting the riding lawnmower once a week. As cold weather sets in and November moves along, get into the habit of starting your riding mower once a week and letting it run until the engine gets warm. Keep plenty of fuel in the tank. This will assure a good start and also keep the mower ready in case you need to mow over some leaves to break them down for the compost bin or pile. It would also be beneficial to drive the mower around the house with the blade disengaged to allow all the moving parts to move and oil to circulate fluids in the mower. Start the weed trimmer and leaf blower and allow them to run for a minute.
Winding down the autumn leaf harvest. Most of the leaves have left the trees and the mighty oaks are now in the process of dropping their leaf harvest. On these days before Thanksgiving, when there is no wind, it is a great time to blow or vacuum leaves to the garden plot or compost area. Place layers between cool weather vegetable rows, around rose bushes and shrubs. You can also start a mulch pile for use next spring. Autumn leaves are a valuable natural resource and they have many ways they can be used for the garden as well as the landscape.
Thanksgiving is also recycling time.As we move closer to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s, it also becomes the season for generating trash. Much of what many call trash can be recycled and kept from landfills by recycling these items. We have the obligation to save the environment for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren by placing recycling items in recycle bins rather than trash carts. Items that can be recyclef are: metal cans, milk jugs, plastic and aluminum soft drink containers, cardboard boxes (broken down and folded up), glass bottles and jars, newspapers (bundled up), toilet and paper towel tubes, clean cans, remove labels from bottles before placing in the recycle bin. Educate your children and grandchildren to recycle also. We should all be guardians of the environment we live in. If you are a gardener, you especially should be aware of the environment we live in and be an example.
Making gardens look good in winter. As November reaches its mid-point, most vegetable crops have cycled their way out unless you replaced them with cool weather vegetables. You can make your garden look better as winter draws near by removing all vines and stalks, tomato cages, steaks and garden residue and mowing it down to place in compost bin or pile. Stack all tomato cages and stakes and store them in the shed or barn.
Making a mandarin orange cake. This is an easy fix for a Thanksgiving dessert with plenty of taste and color. You will need one box of Duncan Hines yellow cake mix (or better yet, a box of Duncan Hines orange cake mix), half cup water, one can mandarin oranges (with liquid), one tablespoon orange flavoring, half cup Crisco oil, one three ounce box orange Jello, one fourth cup sugar. Mix all these ingredients together and pour into a 13x9x2 inch baking pan or dish sprayed with Pam baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees until firm and golden brown. All the cake to cool. Make a topping of one large can of crushed pineapple, one pack orange Kool-Aid, one teaspoon orange flavoring, one cup sugar, one three ounce box Jello instant pudding mix, one carton of Cool Whip. Mix all topping ingredients together and spread over the cake, and refrigerate.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “Pass the dessert.” A couple was enjoying dinner at the home of another couple. At the end of the meal they were enjoying dessert. The wife pinched her husband and said to him, “That’s the third time you have gone for dessert. The hostess must think you are a hog.” The husband said, “I don’t think so, I told her I was getting it for you!” — “Steady Diet” My doctor told me that dieting would add years to my life. He was right, I feel ten years older.
November 08, 2020
The pansies of cool November are tough. As we move farther into November, the days are still getting shorter by a minute each evening. The colorful pansies with faces add a lot of brightness, beauty, and color to chilly November days. Their deep green foliage adds a lot to the deck and porch.
To keep them thriving, keep them watered once each week. Feed the pansies with Flower-Tone organic flower food or pansy booster in one pound bags in garden departments and hardware stores. You can also feed pansies with Miracle-Gro plant food mixed with proper amount of water in a sprinkling can and poured around the base of the pansies.
Even in the month of November, pansies can still be planted. Pansy plants are still available at Walmart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and most nurseries and hardware stores. Pansies are tough and will bloom all the way into spring.
Caring for rose bushes in November. As November moves along, it’s time to give some attention to the rose rushes and prepare them for the season of winter which will arrive later next month.
Trim back all long canes that could cause ice and sleet damage during winter months. Remove all spent blooms and rose hips. Apply a layer of bone meal around the base of the rose bushes to promote strong root growth during winter. Add some Rose-Tone organic rose food and dig into the soil. Add a layer of crushed leaves to protect rose bushes during the months of winter. All these steps will prepare the way for great roses in 2021.
Preparing autumn leaves for a harvest table display. Leaves can be used along with cream pumpkins, jack-be-little pumpkins, Hershey’s autumn kisses and Indian corn to make a centerpiece along with pilgrim and turkey candles. To help make the leaves last through the season of Thanksgiving, melt a stick of beeswax and dip the leaves into the wax.
Still a week or two to trim the evergreens. The month of November is the opportune time to shape and prune the evergreens and azaleas. We have a month or so before it’s time for decorating outside Christmas trees and now is the best time to shape evergreens with an eye toward decorating. Trimming and shaping will also protect evergreens from snow and ice damage.
Plenty of juncos and chickadees at the feeders. As November days become chilly, the juncos, chickadees, and sparrows crowd the bird feeders looking for a quick meal. They are more active each day and your feeder will become a welcome addition to their food supply. They are also fun to watch from the front porch. The cardinals are active and certainly add a touch of early Christmas with their red color.
Fill the feeders daily and replenish birdbaths with fresh water. Empty ice from the birdbaths each morning after freezing temperatures.
Looking for a hidden Christmas ornament. Many leaves have fallen from the trees leaving bare limbs and branches exposed. They may reveal an artistic bird nest that can carefully be removed and made into an unusual Christmas tree ornament. Some birds make nests from twigs but the best ones for a Christmas ornament is a nest made from straw and grass, that look like it has been woven together.
When you find one, remove it carefully. Spray it with several coats of clear varnish and allow it to dry. Add several glass eggs to complete the ornament. Find a small box to store the ornament and wrap the nest in layers of paper towels or toilet tissue. The nest will last for many Christmases.
A little bit of extra greenery inside the house. It is always great to have something green inside the home during the months of winter and late autumn. There are two green items that will grow easily during the autumn and winter inside your home. If you have plenty of onion sets in the garden, place two or three sets in a container of potting medium and place container near a sunny window. They will grow quickly and tops can be cut and used in salads.
Another green item that is a producer of colorful flowers is the narcissus of paper white bulbs that can be planted in a container of potting medium and brought into the home. If planted this week of next, they will be in bloom by Christmas. As Christmas comes, you can adorn the container with red or green foil wrap.
Dark-thirty evenings are with us. With the ending of Daylight Savings Time and days getting shorter by one minute each evening, there is now plenty of early darkness, and it is hard to get adjusted to it. We now have four months of early dark-thirty.
A pumpkin butterscotch bread pudding. We are in the season when anything with pumpkin in it tastes great. A bread pudding recipe with plenty of simple ingredients is custom-made for an autumn evening meal.
You will need one 15-ounce can of Libby’s pumpkin, one 3-ounce box of instant butterscotch Jello pudding mix, two eggs, one cup light brown sugar, one tablespoon pumpkin pie spices, half-cup milk, one teaspoon vanilla, four hot dog buns or hamburger buns, and half-cup water.
Run the hot dog buns through the blender in “grate” mode. Beat eggs and pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices with the grated hot dog buns. Add other ingredients and mix well. Spray a 13x9x2 inch baking dish or pan with Pam baking spray. Pour the pudding ingredients into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until firm. Top with Cool Whip of Dream Whip when the pudding cools.
Cool splendor in month of November. November is the month of tan lawns, tress that have mostly bare limbs, crisp, cool wind, and Carolina blue sky scattered with puffy marshmellow clouds.
The color of green is apiece, and we see it in the cedars, pines, and honeysuckle vines and their color is enhanced by the background of the trunks and limbs of might oaks, maples, poplar, and birch, hickory, and the dogwoods.
The leaves that once covered the trees now form a blanket under them. The garden plot has its share of green from spikes of onion sets, kale, mustard greens, turnips, broccoli, and the collards.
November splendor reaches autumn glory and another season is on the way paved by the days of November.
The Christmas cactus investment that pays off year after year. Christmas cactus is the plant that keeps on providing color and beauty, year after year. They can be enjoyed in every season, and reward us every Christmas season with their dainty blooms of red, white, pink, and coral.
November is the time to purchase a Christmas cactus from most nurseries, hardware stores, Walmart, Lowe’s, and Home Depot. They cost between $5 and $10 depending on the size.
When you buy a cactus, go ahead and buy a bag of cactus potting medium and a larger container and re-pot the cactus as soon as you get home. The cactus you purchase now has a plus because it will be in full bloom and you will know the color you are choosing.
A bit of November “Mudhole Lore.” November can bring some cold weather, but we hope it is nothing like this bit of weather lore (or bore!). This lore says, “If a mudhole in the middle of November has ice that can support a duck, the rest of November will be nothing but sleet and muck.” We certainly hope this is only lore or bore. We would rather have sleet than muck!
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “Age has privilege.” An older woman was driving a big, expensive car that was brand new. She was preparing to back into a parallel park into the empty space. Suddenly, a young man in a small sports car zoomed into the space. The older lady charged out of her car and angrily wanted to know why he had done that when he could clearly see she was trying to park there. The young man’s response was, “Because I’m young and also quick.” When the young man came back a few minutes later, the lady was using her luxury car as a bulldozer against the sports car. Now, the young man was angry and asked her why she was bashing his car. The lady’s response was, “Because I’m older, I’m mad, and I’m also filthy rich!”
November 01, 2020
All Saint’s Day celebrated today. Today is known as All Saint’s Day. It is the day after All Hallows Eve (also known as Halloween). All Saint’s Day was started by Pope Gregory IV in 835 A.D. in honor of saints known and unknown. The event is also known as All Hallows day and Hallowmass. It is a feast day in the Roman Catholic Church.
All Saint’s Day is also a time when we can expect a change in the weather pattern from mild to cooler, from frost to freeze and killing frosts. A chunk of weather lore for All Saint’s Day says, “If acorns are dry inside the acorn on his day, expect a cold, hard winter. If acorns are wet inside, the winter will be wet, and cold.” It seems that the acorn lore is all about cold or wet winter as it refers to a hard winter and a wet winter. Wet could mean snow, sleet, ice, and frozen rain. No matter what the acorn lore is, we will have to wait and see what winter has in store when it gets here.
The loss of an old friend for seven months. This morning, at 2 a.m., we lost an hour of daylight and our friend, Daylight Savings Time for the next four-and-a-half months. It will take awhile to get used to losing that hour of daylight and you just don’t know a good thing until you lose it. We will just have to grin and bear the long, cold nights of winter ahead.
Indian Summer now comes to an end. It is said that at the end of Daylight Savings Time also signals the end of Indian Summer. The end of red, gold, and orange leaves, a background of Carolina Blue sky, hummingbirds getting their last boost of nectar for their flight south, the last of summer’s annuals, and with the arrival of All Saint’s Day, a small foretaste of winter with cooler nights as well as dark-thirty, bare limbs, and North winds. To everything there is a time and season.
Plenty of Jack Frost on the pumpkin. Now that November has arrived, we can expect plenty of frost on the pumpkin as well as the garden plot. These first few days of November, make sure all cool weather vegetables are covered with a heavy layer of crushed leaves for protection. Most pumpkins are already harvested and frost certainly will not bother them. They have a long shelf life and will be with us from now all the way through Thanksgiving and Christmas. Frost will be good for the turnips because they are a root crop and already have a layer of crushed leaves on them.
Enjoying the waning of the full Hunter’s Moon. Last night we enjoyed the blue moon which was the second full moon in the month of October. The waning Hunter’s Moon will rise a little later each evening this week and you can still enjoy it as it rises later each evening this week. Watch it each night in the eastern sky before going to bed.
Getting the birds ready for cold weather. Before the real cold weather comes in, move the feeders to a location where they will not be exposed to North winds, and continually feed them in that location so they will get used to it and come back all winter long. In late autumn and winter, your source of food supply makes it easier for birds to sustain themselves in cold weather. As you feed the birds, continue to fill the birdbaths with fresh water each day. If ice is in the birdbath, pour it out and refill with fresh water in the afternoon.
November evenings are a time for a pot of hot chicken stew. You do not have to prepare a wash-pot full of chicken stew to enjoy on a November evening. You can prepare a six- or eight-quart pot of stew on your range in the kitchen. Just use a tray of chicken breast in a four or six pack (bone-in for more flavor). Soak the chicken for fifteen minutes in salt water. Boil chicken until it is ready to fall off the bones. Save the broth. De-bone the chicken and remove skin and break chicken into one-inch pieces or chunks. Return chicken chunks or pieces back to the pot and add a can of Swanson chicken broth and a can of condensed cream of chicken with the broth from the chicken breasts. Boil on medium heat until chicken is in shreds.
Add two sticks of light margarine, one can evaporated milk, four or five cups milk, two teaspoons of poultry seasoning and one teaspoon celery salt. Bring to a boil on medium heat. Mix four or five tablespoons of of corn starch to a glass of cold water and mix until dissolved and creamy. On medium-low heat, stir a couple of ounces of corn starch at a time into the chicken stew. Add more until it reaches the thickness you desire. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper until it satisfies your tastes. Serve with crackers, bread, or oysterettes.
Pansies become colorful in November. The pansies planted early in October are thriving as November arrives. They love cooler temperatures. Their flowery faces and dark green foliage add a lot of color to the front porch. As November arrives, it’s not too late to plant a few six packs of pansies. Most hardware stores, Walmart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Ace Hardware as well as nurseries have plenty of pansies in six of nine packs. The pansies are tough and winter-hardy and will last into spring. Buy a bag of pansy booster to give the pansies a great start.
Making a Pilgrim from a pumpkin. If you have a pumpkin on the front porch that was used for a harvest or Halloween display, you have the main ingredient for a Thanksgiving Pilgrim display for the front porch. Take a black permanent marker and draw the face of a Pilgrim on the pumpkin and use acrylic paint to detail the face on the Pilgrim. Don’t forget to paint on some pale pink cheeks. Use care board to design a circle for the bottom of the Pilgrim hat and paint it black. Use a one pound metal coffee can and lid for the top of the Pilgrim hat and paint them black. Use a piece of cardboard painted yellow to form a buckle for the hat. If you have a plain bonnet, you can make a Pilgrim woman and use a ball of brown yarn for her hair. Both would make a wonderful Thanksgiving display.
A special Fanta orange harvest pie. You will need two eight-ounce packs of cream cheese, 24 ounces of Fanta orange soda, one envelope of Knox unflavored gelatin, a nine-inch graham cracker crust, one can mandarin orange slices, two tablespoons corn starch, one teaspoon orange flavoring. Pour one cup of Fanta into a sauce pan and sprinkle in the envelope of unflavored gelatin and stir. Heat and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved. Set aside until fully cooled. Cream together the cream cheese and half cup sugar. Stir in the cooled Fanta-gelatin mixture. Blend thoroughly until integrated and place in refrigerator until it begins to thicken. Pour the thickened mixture into graham cracker crust. Allow to chill for a few hours. Combine the remaining half cup of sugar and corn starch in a saucepan, add rest of the Fanta and heat mixture until it becomes clear. Add drained mandarin oranges and orange flavoring. Spread mandarin orange mixture on top of pie and spread a layer of Cool Whip on top.
The Almanac for month of November. Today is All Saint’s Day and also the day that Daylight Savings Time ends. Tuesday, Nov. 3, is Election Day. The moon reaches its last quarter on Sunday, Nov. 8. Veteran’s Day will be Wednesday, Nov. 11. There will be a new moon on Sunday, Nov. 15. The moon reaches its first quarter on Saturday, Nov. 21. Thanksgiving Day will be Thursday, Nov. 26. The moon will be full on Monday, Nov. 30. This full moon will be named “Full Beaver Moon.”
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: Thanksgiving Day was approaching and the family had received a card with a painting of the Pilgrims and their families on the way to church. Grandma showed the card to the young grandchildren, and told them “The Pilgrim children liked to go to church with their parents.” “Is that a fact,” the youngest grandson said, “So why is their dad carrying a gun?”
“Bad Luck Joe” A man looked up from his hospital bed and said to his wife, “You have always been with me in time of trouble. When I lost everything I had in an investment, when I was in a car wreck, when I got fired, you were always there. I’ve come to the conclusion that you must be bad luck.”
October 25, 2020
The New York state harvest of apples has arrived at supermarkets. The very best of all apples grown in America are now arriving at supermarkets. The rich, loamy soil of New York state as well as their cool springs are receptive to the most mellow, crisp and tart apples. Johnny Appleseed must have planted his best stock in that area! The varieties of MacIntosh, York, Jonathan, Jona-Gold, Winesap. With apples this great, it’s no wonder that New York is named “The Big Apple State.”
A bowl of sparkling orange Halloween punch. Add a harvest of color to your Halloween party or festival with a punch bowl of sparkling Halloween punch. Mix three packs of orange Kool-Aid, 3 cups sugar and 1 cup water and mix until sugar is dissolved. Add one 46-ounce can of pineapple juice and two 46 cans of water to the Kool-Aid mixture. Mix well and pour into 1-gallon plastic milk jugs and refrigerate overnight (this forms the base for the punch). For the ice ring for the punch bowl, mix one pack orange Kool-Aid, 1 cup of sugar, 2 quarts water. Pour into a tube pan and freeze overnight. Place two 2-liter bottles of Canada Dry ginger ale (regular or diet) and one 2-liter bottle of orange Fanta in the refrigerator overnight. To serve, slide the ice ring into the punch bowl, pour a mixture of half mixture from gallon milk jugs and half Sprite and one-fourth Fanta, mixing with punch base. Keep replenishing bowl with same ratio of base and soft drinks. Shake milk jugs before pouring. Decorate ice ring with creme pumpkins.
Making a golden glow pumpkin pie. To make this pie, you will need one 9-inch pie crust, one 16-ounce can of Libby’s canned pumpkin, three eggs, ? cup of sugar, half-cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spices, ? teaspoon salt, 1 can of evaporated milk. Beat the three eggs, add the can of pumpkin, pumpkin pie spices, evaporated milk, brown sugar, sugar, and salt. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pour pumpkin pie mixture into the 9-inch pie shell. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until crust is light brown and a knife stuck in the middle comes out clean. Serve with dairy whipping cream.
A great tool comes with a pumpkin carving kit. A deluxe pumpkin carving kit may cost a little more money, but it has more accessories. One attachment that makes it worth paying more for is the scooper that scrapes the seed from the pumpkin. In summer, it can be used to scrape seed from the honeydews and cantaloupes. The extra accessories will come in handy every season of the year.
Making the kitchen comfortable on a crisp autumn afternoon. A warm kitchen is a comfortable place on a crisp autumn afternoon. Make your kitchen a warm and welcome place when the family gathers for supper by using your oven to prepare whole meals. It will create an aroma that will give the kitchen a warm comfy feel.
Very last opportunity to set our spring flowering bulbs. The first killing frost is not very many days away and not long after, the hard freezes will be here. There are still a few more days to set out the flowering bulbs of spring such has hyacinth, jonquils, daffodils, crocus, tulips, narcissus, and snowdrops. When you purchase bulbs buy a bag of bone meal or bulb booster to give bulbs a boost as they head into the winter months.
Siberian kale in autumn and winter is a beautiful crop. Green in the autumn and winter garden is welcome as well as beautiful. The deep green of Siberian kale makes it a very special vegetable as a tough survivor of winter’s cold as well as a show-off in the dead of winter. When it has a bunch of crystals of frost on it, the kale looks like a Christmas card. Jack Frost actually sweetens the taste of a pot of kale.
Prolonging the late tomato harvest. With the frost of Oct. 15 long gone, a killing frost can not be too far away. The late, late, crop of green tomatoes should be harvested soon. There are actually two ways to prolong the tomato harvest. If you have a basement, you can pull up the vines with the tomatoes attached and place vines on nails in the floor joists in the basement. Check the vines all during autumn and harvest as they ripen. Another way to prolong the tomato harvest is to pull all green tomatoes in an individual sheet of newspaper, leaving a small opening at the top so you can inspect the tomatoes for ripeness. Place tomatoes in shallow cardboard box or box lids. Place an apple in each box to promote ripening. Place whole sections of newspaper over the boxes. Place in a dry place and check them two or three times a week.
Taking care of the collard row or bed. The collards love the cool nights of the month of October which prepares them for the approach of cold winter temperatures. Give the collard row or bed a bit of attention on this week before Halloween by hilling up soil on both sides of the row for extra protection and support. Apply a layer of crushed leaves for warmth. Apply a drink of Alaska fish emulsion mixed with proper amount of water and poured from the sprinkling can directly on the collards. The fish emulsion will quickly soak into the soil.
The season of the peanut brittle is here. Peanut brittle is a true staple of autumn. It is making its arrival at supermarkets as well as Dollar Tree, and they sell the Old Dominion brand made in Norfolk, Virginia, for one dollar a box. Many old-fashioned hardware stores feature peanut brittle. Old Dominion makes peanut brittle in several flavors including original and brown sugar.
A protective cover for the condenser on the air conditioner. The outside condenser on your central air conditioner is exposed to cold weather extremes of ice, sleet, snow and freezing temperatures all winter. Protect your unit with a vinyl cover. Measure the size of your unit and purchase a cover from the company that services your unit or from Lowe’s or Home Depot. They are a good way to protect your condenser.
Preparing the deck for winter season. Give the deck a bit of protection for the winter months ahead by cleaning the table with Windex window cleaner. Spray the chairs with a mixture of Clorox and water to prevent mildew. Clean the cushions with detergent and water. Store the deck umbrella and cover table and chairs with a vinyl cover, if you leave them outside. Nail down all boards and check all loose nails. If you have any pots of perennials, place several of these pots on the table cover to keep winds from blowing the cover off the table.
Second full moon of month of October will occur Saturday. A blue moon will occur Saturday night which also will be Halloween. This moon will be names “Full Hunter’s Moon.” This is unusual because the month began with a full moon named “Full Harvest Moon.” A harvest and hunter’s moon in same month is a rare event.
The swan song of Saint Luke’s little summer. October has less than one week remaining and these are the last days of “Saint Luke’s Little Summer,” which we have enjoyed since the middle of October. These few days of pleasant and mild days will end on Halloween (Saturday). November will soon begin and bring cold nights, bare limbs, heavy frosts, and a bit of north wind, but maybe Saint Luke will extend his favor and bring a few more mild pleasant days!
Indian summer is really a beautiful time. An array of many colors of leaves on the trees and on the ground and gracefully floating all around us. Crows are doing their calls in the distant trees. Roses are giving their curtain call. Carolina blue skies set the beauty of autumn aglow. The crisp autumn air enhances the beauty of Indian summer’s glorious days.
“Call me Snow White” – A little girl was sitting in the kitchen one afternoon, watching her mother wash dishes, when she noticed her mother had several strands of silver in her brown hair. Looking at her mother, she questioned, “Mommy, why is some of your hair white?”
The mother replied, “Well, every time you do something wrong and make me unhappy, a hair turns white.” The little girl pondered this for a minute, and then she said, “Wow, you must have been a naughty little girl, Mommy, because all of grandma’s hair is white!”
“Costly self-treatment” – The patient said, “I’ve had a horrible case of indigestion for three days.”
The doctor said, “And what have you been doing for it?” “Taking an antacid twice a day and drinking two glasses of milk,” the patient said.
The doctor said, “Good, that’s exactly what I would have prescribed. That will be $100!”
October 18, 2020
The celebration of the special “Candy Corn Day.” On Friday, Oct. 30, we will celebrate “Candy Corn Day.” It is fitting that we have a special confectionery harvest delight that has been a success in the candy industry for well more than a century. It still has a taste of simplicity that it has endured through many years and generations. It has always been a staple at Halloween parties and celebrations. We see it in the Thanksgiving holiday and it was always a Christmas treat in stockings.
In the 21st century, there are several varieties of candy corn that include the traditional white, orange, and yellow combination, and the Indian corn variety that features brown, orange, and white. Another variety that is fairly new and produced by Brach’s is brown sugar candy corn in colors of tan, white, and yellow. It has the flavor of brown sugar. The candy corn is a simple concoction and contains few ingredients, mostly sugar, flavorings, corn starch and corn syrup. It will cure your craving for a sweet harvest treat and adorn the candy dish and centerpieces.
An unusual recipe that features candy corn. Many people don’t like candy corn simply because, let’s face it, the confection is composed mostly of sugar. This recipe will tone down the sugar in the candy corn. It originated in Saint Louis, Missouri, quite a few years ago. Some employees at the candy counter of Woolworth’s Five and Dime developed this recipe and sold it by the pound during the month of Halloween. All Woolworth’s in the Saint Louis area adopted the recipe and it became a Halloween tradition in Saint Louis.
Even though Woolworth’s is no longer in business, many folks in Saint Louis have kept the tradition and still make the Woolworth recipe named “Candy Corn Trail Mix.” It is so simple that even a child can make it. All you need to do is chop up a bag of candy corn into small pieces, chop a can of Planter’s roasted peanuts into small pieces, chop a large bag of pretzels into small pieces, and mix all ingredients together. Add a box of golden raisins or a six-pack of yogurt-coated raisins for extra flavor. Pour into a plastic pumpkin and place on the dining room table or the coffee table. Keep a Saint Louis tradition alive and share the recipe with friends and family members. Good stuff!
A ghost pumpkin to spook Halloween. Pumpkins at this time of year come in all sizes, shapes, and colors and blend in well with harvest and Halloween decor. A special and unusual pumpkin variety is the grayish-white oblong pumpkin which is “ghostly” in color. It would make an unusual attention-getting, cute, ghost pumpkin jack o’lantern.
To make a ghost pumpkin, pick an oblong gray-white pumpkin. Slice the bottom to make it flat so it will sit upright on a pie shell aluminum plate. Use a black permanent marker with a wide tip to design two big, round oval-shaped eyes and a round black nose, and very long oblong-shaped mouth (vertical). Place a white rag of towel around base of pan. You can use this unusual pumpkin indoors or outside on the porch or even on the lawn. Boo-oo-oo!
The furnace and air conditioner can experience a short breather. The mild temperatures of mid-October are providing a brief respite for the furnace and air conditioner. The crisp October air is comfortable and we may have only a few more to enjoy as frost will arrive along with cooler temperatures.
You can still plant a row or bed of onion sets. The nights are still getting to be cooler, but that should not hinder the setting out of a bed or row of onion sets. Most hardware stores and seed stores still have them in stock. They will have all winter to produce a great harvest and all you have to do is protect them from rare weather extremes like hard freezes by covering them with a layer of crushed leaves. Give them a drink of Alaska fish emulsion mixed with proper amount of water in a sprinkling can once a month. You can choose from white, yellow, or red onions.
Expecting the first frost of the season. A frost can be expected any day now although we usually see our first killing frost the last week in October. There may be a few scattered frosts and some cold nights. Even when a light frost is forecast, gather all warm weather vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers and wrap tomatoes in sheets or newspapers and store in a box inside the house or basement.
Last opportunity to plant flowering bulbs of spring. With the arrival of a heavy frost in a few days, freezing temperatures will not be far away. The bulbs of spring flowers such as crocus, hyacinth, jonquils, narcissus, daffodils, tulips, and snowdrops can still be planted. The best way to purchase spring bulbs is from bins of individual bulbs in varied colors or in mesh bags so you can see and feel the bulbs. You can also know the colors you are purchasing. Hyacinths come in colors of red, white, yellow, blue, purple, and lavender. Buy a bag of bulb-booster to apply around bulbs and also cover bulbs with a layer of peat moss before covering with soil and a layer of crushed leaves.
As autumn leaves fall, empty limbs may reveal an empty bird’s nest. A hidden Christmas ornament might appear before your eyes as autumn leaves fall and expose a bird’s nest. An empty nest can be carefully removed and sprayed with a clear coat of varnish and made into an unusual Christmas ornament. Place in a small box wrapped with tissue paper and it will last for many years.
Making a great pumpkin cheese-ball. A great centerpiece for any Halloween party or festival is this great pumpkin cheese-ball to be served with “Scoops” or crackers. You will need one eight ounce box of cream cheese (softened), one eight ounce pack of finely shredded sharp cheese, half cup of canned pumpkin, half cup of pineapple preserves or orange marmalade, half teaspoon pumpkin pie spices, four or two pretzels to make a stem or one stick of celery cut in half and placed together to form a stem. Beat cream cheese and finely shredded sharp cheese, add pumpkin pie spices and marmalade or preserves until smooth. Add a few drops orange food coloring. Refrigerate for three hours until it is firm enough to shape into a pumpkin. For the orange food coloring, you can use three drops red and three drops yellow food coloring.
Form the mixture into a pumpkin and use a knife to detail sectional lines on the pumpkin. Use a celery stick cut in half and placed together to form stem of pumpkin and stick down into the cheese pumpkin, or you can use five pretzels to form a stem. If you want to make the ball a jack o’lantern, use sliced American cheese to form eyes, nose, and mouth. Serve on a platter garnished with Scoops or Ritz crackers.
Checking out the turnip row. The turnips should be responding to the cooler October temperatures. Check them to see if turnips are beginning to form. Hill up soil to the sides of the row. Apply a drink of Alaska fish emulsion every fifteen days. Mix fish emulsion with proper amount of water in a sprinkling can and pour on top of the turnips. Make sure the apply a layer of crushed leaves between rows.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “Teaching dog an old trick” – Children walking home from school were watching the fire truck roll past them. The company Dalmatian dog was sitting on the front seat. The children began to discuss the dog’s duties. “They use him to keep back the crowds,” one kid suggested. “No, it’s just for good luck,” another kid said. Another kid ended the discussion when he said, “They use him to find the fire hydrant!”
October 11, 2020
The dogwoods of autumn have a harvest of red berries. The berries on dogwood trees are bright red and there seems to be a huge crop of them this year. Many of them will become food for the birds, but there seems to be plenty remaining to adorn the leaves and limbs with plenty of color. We wonder if the abundance of berries is a natural message of a harsh winter — only time will tell.
The trees are dumping their leafy harvest. The gentle breezes of October are unloading the harvest of leaves. They are a valuable resource for the garden compost bin or pile, mulch, and blanket for cool weather vegetable crops. They can be used to isolate shrubs as well as flower beds. Blow them to the compost pile or bin, vacuum them to spread between rows in the garden plot.
When will there be frost on the pumpkin? As the nights of October get cooler and we reach further into the month, the odds of the first frost of the season become a possibility. We can usually expect some frost after Oct. 15, but it is not usually a killing frost until near the end of the month. Keep your eyes on the late tomato crop and gather the green tomatoes in and wrap them in sheets of newspaper so they will ripen over a period of time in the house or basement. Keep green bell peppers harvested and dice them up and place in pint or quart plastic food freezer containers.
Investing in a durable pumpkin carving kit. You can purchase many kinds of pumpkin carving kits, but you get what you pay for. It is better to spend extra money and invest in a kit that will last for many years; a kit that has many blades and accessories that will make pumpkin carving a pleasure and an art. The same kit can be used the carve watermelon baskets, honeydew bowls, melon balls, as well as designs on unpeeled cucumbers. A durable, long-lasting kit includes knives, scoops, scrapers, and assorted attachments and gadgets. The best ones cost around $12 to $15 or less. A good kit will make it easier for the whole family to get involved in carving a few jack o’lanterns.
A traditional dish of Halloween candy. Several candy treats of Halloween have been around for more than a century and passed on from one generation down to another. Candy corn has endured for well over a hundred years. Creme pumpkins are another traditional favorite that is made from same ingredients as candy corn, and another favorite is circus peanuts with their orange color and banana flavor. Peanut brittle also arrives during the arrival of Halloween. Last year at Valentine’s Day, Brach stopped making conversating hearts. Wouldn’t it be nice if they made conversating pumpkins for Halloween as well as the old conversation hearts on Valentine’s Day. Keep the candy dish filled with Halloween favorites to keep traditions alive and well.
Keep your Jack O’Lantern bright as well as fresh. A votive candle lit in your lantern each night may cause your jack o’lantern to shrivel up and look puny. You can perk it up by removing the lid and candle and dipping the jack o’lantern into a tub of cold water and let it remain there for an hour or two. Remove the water, replace the candle and lid. Repeat this every three days for a bright and fresh looking jack o’lantern.
Making miniature Jack O’Lanterns from Jack-Be-Littles. The miniature Jack-Be-Littles make great centerpieces as well as jack o’lanterns. You can use black permanent markers to draw faces on these little pumpkins and use yellow acrylic paint to color the face drawn on the jack-be-littles. You can place them on the coffee table or dining room table. Place a layer of creme pumpkins, candy corn, or Hershey’s autumn mix kisses around the jack-be-littles. Replenish candies as needed. Add a few colorful autumn leaves to enhance the centerpiece.
Enjoying the crisp October nip in the air. Mother Nature has its own air conditioning system in October, and the nip in the autumn air makes the front porch a very special place. When the air is still, you can hear the leaves as they fall from the trees to the lawn. This is the ideal time to relax each afternoon and enjoy the crisp autumn air before the up and coming frost arrives along with cold nights, freezes, frost and later a snowfall to really clear the air.
Making a nutty pumpkin dessert. This is an easy no-crust dessert that is very simple and easy to prepare for a Halloween dish. You will need one large beaten egg, one teaspoon vanilla, one teaspoon baking powder, three fourth cup plain flour, three fourth cup sugar, one fourth cup light brown sugar, one fourth teaspoon salt, one cam pumpkin or one pint jar of pumpkin, one teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, half cup chopped pecans. Beat the egg, add the brown and white sugars, and vanilla and beat again. Add flour, salt, and baking powder and blend all together with mixer. Stir in pecans and pumpkin and the pumpkin pie spice. Pour the mixture into a 13x9x2 inch baking dish or pan and make sure dish or pan is sprayed with Pam baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until firm and done. Cool and slice into squares. Top with Cool Whip.
Green in the garden in all four seasons. The goal of every gardener should be to enjoy something green from the garden in every season of the year. You can do this because there are cool and warm weather vegetables and plenty of ways to prolong their season and make a harvest happen every month of the year. Cool weather vegetables thrive because they have few insects enemies and our winters are temperate. Last year, the ground only froze a few times and even then they were not very hard freezes.
Moving the panda and asparagus ferns inside for winter. With a frost not too far away, it is time to move the panda and asparagus from outside, as well as the Christmas cactus, inside the sunny living room to spend the winter. We have a snake plant that will also spend winter inside. All they will need is an application of Flower-Tone organic flower food and an extra handful of cactus potting medium and a drink of water each week.
The month of harvest festivals, Halloween carnivals and cake walks. The month of October features fall and harvest festivals, Halloween carnivals, chicken stews and bonfires with hot dog and marsh-mellow roasts. Festivals and carnival consist of cake walks, fish ponds with prizes, Bingo, door prizes, fun, foods, haunted trails, costume contests, a pumpkin decoration contest, a tub of witches brew and a hot dog stand. As nights get cooler, chicken stews in black cast iron pots are very popular.
Making a pumpkin perform a double task. If you would like to decorate a jack o’lantern, but don’t want to carve one, have your cake (pumpkin) and eat it too. You can have both by drawing a face on the pumpkin with a permanent black marker and fill the face in with a bottle of bright yellow acrylic paint, and place it on the front porch until Halloween is over. The cool weather of October will keep the pumpkin fresh. As November begins, you can cut the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds, and peel it after slicing it up. Cube the slices into half-inch sized pieces. Mash after boiling pumpkin until tender. Run the boiled pumpkin through the blender in “grate” mode or mash with a potato masher. You can make it into pumpkin pie or a batch of pumpkin bread.
“Multiple Babies” – Four expectant fathers were in the waiting room while their wives were in labor. The delivering room nurse arrived and told the first father, “Congratulations sir, you are the father of twins.” The father said, “That’s really a coincidence, I am a baseball coach for the Minnesota Twins.” A while later, the nurse returned and told the second father, “Congratulations, you are the father of triplets.” The second father replied, “What a coincidence, I work for Three M Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota.” An hour later, the nurse came and informed the third father that he was the father of quadruplets. The father said, “I don’t believe it! I work for Four Seasons Hotel.” After these multiple births, everyone’s attention turned to the fourth expectant father, who had passed out on the floor. As they got him to regain consciousness, they could hear him say repeatedly, “I never should have taken that job at Seven-Eleven!”
“Good News First” – The pastor stood in front of the church and announced some good news and some bad news. The pastor said, “The good news is we have enough funds to complete the educational complex. The bad news is that it still remains in your pockets!”
October 04, 2020
The season of the pumpkin is arriving. Orange is the color of the month of October and it is evident at roadside stands, produce markets, as well as supermarkets in the form of pumpkins in all sizes, shapes, and shades of orange. Pumpkins can also be found scattered on church lawns as fundraisers for many church organizations. You can also find pumpkins at pick-your-own pumpkin patches. This is a fun place to take kids and grandchildren to pick out their own personal jack o’lantern. Many patches have all kinds of fun things for kids to do such as hayrides, petting zoos, refreshments and treats. A trip to the pumpkin patch can be topped off with a trip to McDonald’s for a suppertime treat.
The pumpkin has a great shelf life. Pumpkins are tough and they have a long shelf life. Most pumpkins in the United States are raised in the Midwest and Illinois is one of the largest producers of pumpkins. At this time, most pumpkins for commercial purposes have been or are now being harvested. The pumpkin you place on your porch for harvest decor will endure all the way past Thanksgiving. Pumpkins are members of the squash family, so like the winter squash, pumpkins are pretty tough vegetables.
Jack-Be-Littles and ears of Indian corn. These are two great decorating materials for harvest, Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations and centerpieces. They are now featured in supermarkets and produce markets. Jack-be-Littles are about the size of your fist and bright orange in color. You can paint faces on them or make scarecrow faces and adorn them with tiny straw hats. Jack-be-Littles also make colorful table centerpieces. Indian corn is ornamental and comes in colors of purple, maroon, bronze, tan, and brown. Indian corn can be used as ears or shucked from the cob and scattered on centerpieces. Dried gourds and squash in all sizes and colors make great centerpiece additions.
Making a harvest pumpkin pound cake. Pumpkins make moist pound cakes and are also colorful from Halloween all the way into Christmas. Your family will enjoy this pumpkin pound cake that is easy to prepare. You will need one box of carrot cake mix, one cup water, half cup Crisco oil, four eggs, half cup light brown sugar, one teaspoon vanilla, one can pumpkin, one tablespoon pumpkin pie spices, half teaspoon lemon or orange flavoring. Mix all ingredients together for two minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a tube pan with Pam baking spray. Cut a piece of foil to fit in the bottom of the tube pan and spray it with Pam baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and cake springs back when touched or cake pulls away from sides of the pan. Cool cake before removing from pan.
A few Christmas cactus plants showing up. A few Christmas cactus plants are showing up at Walmart and Lowe’s and more will show up by month’s end. If you purchase one, go ahead and buy a larger container and a bag of cactus medium and transplant the cactus as soon as you bring it home. The cactus on the front porch have been thriving outside since late April and will be moved to the sunny living room in a few weeks. They should have blooms by late November.
Sounds of acorns falling from mighty oaks. They bounce off the roof of the neighbor’s outside building as the gentle breeze blows each afternoon in autumn. It reminds us of the tin roof at my Northampton County grandma’s house when we were growing up in the 1950s. The acorns were loud as we tried to sleep to the sounds of the acorns pelleting the roof above us. To my grandma, the acorns were a message about what the coming winter may bring. The amount of acorns that fall during autumn would determine whether the winter would be very mild, very hard, or a mixture of both — all depending on how many acorns covered the ground. As kids we harvested acorns in five gallon buckets and sold them to a hog farmer for $1 a bucket. Believe us, they were dollars well-earned!
The curly mustard greens producing the first harvest. The curly mustard greens are now producing their first mess of greens. Boiled until tender and chopped up and served with cornbread and a few shakes of hot pepper vinegar. My mother always seasoned her greens with country ham and made “pot likker” with the liquid from the greens. With chunks of cornbread dropped into the “likker” and it became a meal in a bowl. At our house, we season our greens with light margarine and add a couple of tablespoons of Baco-Bits. It may not have as many calories and fat as grandma’s, but a lot healthier, and you taste flavor of greens, not the grease!
Trimming evergreens in October. The month of October is the best month to prune evergreens and the ideal season to plant new evergreens. New evergreens will not have to contend with warm temperatures drying them out. They will have plenty of winter precipitation to boost them along. Remember that you do not prune evergreens but trim and shape them. Autumn is the best time to do this so they will be sturdy enough to support the strings of lights for the Christmas season.
Keeping a close eye on the turnip harvest. The nippy nights of October should be a good thing for the turnip row or bed. This is a great time to apply a layer of crushed leaves on both sides of the row or bed. Frost will soon be here so you need to cover the turnips with crushed leaves before frost arrives. Check under the foliage to see if small turnips are forming. Thin the turnips if they need thinning out.
Onion sets should be up and off to a good start. The sets should be spiking out of the cool October soil and shooting some green. Once they spike from the soil, apply a layer of crushed leaves between the rows. Feed the onions with liquid Alaska fish emulsion mixed with proper amount of water in a sprinkling can and pour over the onion sets. The onions will quickly respond to this healthy boost.
Cotton picking time in eastern North Carolina. It used to be called “King Cotton” years ago. It is still a big crop in the eastern part of North Carolina as a main crop. If you have traveled to Myrtle Beach during this time of year, you probably noticed many cotton fields along Highway 38. Most cotton is now harvested by machinery. In the 1950s, cotton was picked by hand. Every day after school, we pick cotton until dark for a local farmer. We learned it takes a lot of cotton to make a pound, more to fill a bag, and many bags to make a bale. We also learned a lot about cotton because grandma lived down the hill from a cotton gin, and we watched them gin (getting seed from the cotton) and baling the cotton. There are many materials in today’s fashion world but none like a cotton sheet!
The almanac for October. The month of October begins with a full moon and ends with a full moon. This is a “blue moon” month of two full moons. The first moon of the month occurred on Thursday, Oct. 1, and was names “Full Harvest Moon.” The moon will reach its last quarter on Friday, Oct. 9. Columbus Day will be on Monday, Oct. 12. There will be a new moon on Friday, Oct. 16. The moon reaches its first quarter on Friday, Oct. 23. The second full moon of the month (blue moon), is names “Full Hunter’s Moon,” occurring on Saturday, Oct. 31. Halloween is Saturday, Oct. 31. It is very unusual for a “Harvest Moon” and “Hunter’s Moon” to occur in the same month.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “Wrong Diagnosis!” — A man walked into the doctor’s office, and the receptionist asked him what he had, “Shingles” the man replied. The receptionist wrote down is name, address, medical insurance information, medical history, and weight, and told him to wait in the examination room. Half hour later, the nurse came in and asked him what he had. “Shingles” he said. So the nurse took his blood pressure, gave him a blood test and an EKG. Then she told him to remove his clothes and wait for the doctor. An hour later, the doctor came in and asked him what he had. “Shingles,” the man replied. The doctor said, “Where?” The man replied, “Outside in the truck, where do you want them?”
An update on the fogs of August. We have the update on the 2020 August fogs, their number and density in relation to snowfall predictions in connection with fog amounts. For our neck of the woods during the first week of August, we only had two light fogs but quite a lot of rain that may have been a factor. On Aug. 8 we had a medium fog, on Aug. 9 there was a heavy fog, Aug. 10 brought a medium fog, Aug. 14 there was a medium fog, Aug. 15 there was a heavy fog, Aug 16 there was a heavy fog, Aug. 28. there was a medium fog, Aug. 29, there was a heavy fog, and on Aug. 31 there was a light fog. For a total, we had five heavy fogs, four medium fogs, and three light fogs. That means according to fog amounts in August, winter will bring five heavy snowfalls, four medium snowfall, and three light snowfalls. According to the foggy predictions, the year will produce a lot of snow.
September 27, 2020
Caring for the row or bed of purple top turnips. All turnips should be up and growing by this time in late September. It is time to side dress with Vegetable-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil on both sides of the row or bed. Apply a layer of crushed leaves between the rows for extra protection from heavy frosts and freezes later on. You can also feed turnips on October with Alaska fish emulsion mixed with the proper amount of water in a sprinkling can and poured at the base of the turnips.
Broccoli and cabbage perform much better in autumn garden than spring. The cole family of broccoli and cabbage are much better producers in the autumn garden than spring. This is simply because they have more days to produce. In spring, broccoli and cabbage may not have enough cool days to produce over a longer growing season, broccoli and cabbage will bolt into yellow flowers that produce seed. The cabbage butterflies also hinder spring broccoli and cabbage. In autumn, there is cooler soil, less insect enemies, longer periods of cool weather and longer periods of production. A layer of crushed leaves will prolong the harvest well into winter.
Checking out the Christmas cactus. The Christmas cactus have been spending spring and summer on the front porch and now they are cascading over the sides of their containers. They still have about one more month to remain outside before moving them back to the sunny living room where they will spend the autumn and winter months. All they need before their move is an additional layer of cactus potting medium and a handful of Flower-Tone organic flower food stirred into the medium. Summer outside in a semi-sunny location paves the way for their production of blooms in late November and well into December. You can root cuttings of Christmas cactus by placing in a 16-ounce soft drink or water bottle filled with water and placed in a semi-sunny location where it will grow and develop a strong root system. In several months, you can transplant it to a pot or container of cactus potting medium.
The swan song of September. Autumn is here and September is down to its last three days. The nights are getting cooler and the lawn has more leaves to rake and vacuum every morning. The garden vegetables of summer are almost at the finish line with peppers and late tomatoes on their wind-down. Crows are cawing as they know of colder days on the way. The cool weather vegetables are on their way to a great start as they await a layer of crushed leaves.
Autumn is the very best time for planting fruit trees. The best varieties of fruit trees to buy are from nurseries and the reason is they have a description of the stock you a purchasing and they will only ship when the trees reach dormant stage, no matter when you order them. These trees will be healthy when you receive them. They will be in dormant condition when you receive and plant them and have the season of autumn, winter to remain in dormancy and be exposed to less danger of shock from transplant. Most established nurseries will include proper directions for planting their stock.
Checking out the furnace filter. As summer has ended, the furnace begins its season. Many furnaces have already flexed their muscles. It is always a good idea to start the heating season off by replacing the filter and also keeping a couple of new filters near the furnace to replace as needed. Write the size of your furnace’s filter on the door of the furnace with a black permanent marker so you will know at a glance the size to purchase. It is also good sense to have your furnace serviced before it gets cold weather.
Keeping an eye out for invading critters. As colder weather is getting nearer, the creepy critters such as crickets, spiders, lady bugs, and a host of other critters, bugs, and other insects will be trying to work their way into the house to spend the winter months. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to preventing them from entering your home. Several ways to keep them out is to open and shut doors quickly when you enter or exit. Do not keep pet food in bowls or containers outside. Spray around outside doors and entrances. Apply a few moth balls around carports and decks. Keep garbage bins tightly closed. Spray around basement walls and doors because crickets and other insects like cool, dark places. Keep lights on in basement day and night. Lights will also protect against mildew, mold, and dampness. Good sense does not cost anything but pays big dividends!
How to save energy and heating costs. There are many ways that you can cut energy costs and still stay warm. We mentioned earlier in the column about keeping furnace filters changed once a month during the winter. Other ways to save energy are: 1. Keep cabinet and closet doors closed to prevent drafts. 2. Keep kitchen doors closed while cooking to preserve warmth. 3. Keep curtains and drapes closed to keep warmth in the rooms where the sun doesn’t shine through the windows. 4. Keep hallway doors closed because they funnel air out of rooms. 5. Keep lights on in frequently-used rooms. 6. Wear warm clothes with sleeves, (not coats). 7. Set thermostats so everyone can be comfortable at same temperature. 8. Open and shut outside doors quickly when you enter and exit the house. 9. Always keep basement doors closed.
Making a fresh apple cobbler. This is an easy apple cobbler prepared with simple ingredients. You will need seven or eight tart apples such as Granny Smith or MacIntosh, one cup plain flour, one stick light margarine, half cup of milk, two teaspoons apple pie spices, two large eggs, one cup sugar, half cup light brown sugar, one teaspoon baking powder, one and a half cups water, half teaspoon salt, and one teaspoon vanilla. Peel, core, and dice apples into half inch cubes. Mix apples with one and a half cups water, half cup of milk, one cup sugar, half cup light brown sugar, two teaspoons apple pie spices. Place in a pot with a lid and cook in low heat or medium low until apples are tender. Stir apples often to prevent sticking. For the top of the cobbler, cream the light margarine, one fourth cup sugar, beaten eggs, one teaspoon baking powder, half teaspoon salt. Mix with half cup of milk, and beat until smooth. Spread on top of apple mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “Awesome Big God!” — A young man was having a conversation with God. “Dear God, how much is a million dollars worth to you?” he said. God replied, “To me, it would be worth but a penny.” Then the young man replied, “How much is a million years worth to you?” God replied, ” Why that would be only a second in eternity.” The young man paused to collect his thoughts; “Then God, can I have a million dollars please?” God answered by saying, “Wait just a second.”
Motorcycle Mania — This logo was printed on the back of a motorcyclists jacket: “If you can read this, my girlfriend fell off!”
September 20, 2020
Start planting the bulbs of spring time. From now until the end of October spring flowering bulbs can be planted for colorful beauty when spring arrives. You can plant the bulbs of hyacinth, crocus, jonquils, narcissus, and snowdrops. Most hardware stores have plenty of bulbs in mesh bags of assorted and individual colors and also bins of bulbs that you can select from. Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, and Ace Hardware have large selections. Hyacinths come in colors of red, white, yellow, pink, blue, purple, and lavender.
To start bulbs off, buy a bag of bone meal or bulb booster and broadcast it around the bulbs and add a handful or two of peat moss around the bulbs before covering with soil. As we move nearer to October, cover the bulb layer with a layer of crushed leaves. Next spring, the green spikes of the bulbs will pop through the leaves and be easy to spot.
September brings the season of the apple harvest. Most produce stands are adorned with bushel baskets of red, yellow, green, and bronze apples at this time of year with gallons of apple cider. There are so many varieties of apples to choose from as well as so many different tastes. The county’s biggest producer of apples is Washington state, North Carolina, Virginia, and New York state. Keep plenty of apples around for pies, cobblers, dumplings, dressings and just for a snack or Waldorf salad.
Making an apple casserole. In the above paragraph, we mentioned many uses of apples, but here we offer something unusual in the form of an apple casserole that is simple and very easy to prepare. The ingredients are nine or ten tart apples such as Granny Smith or McIntosh, three-fourths cup plain flour, one pack Ritz crackers, one cup light brown sugar, two cups or eight-ounce bags of finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese, one stick of light margarine, one tablespoon vanilla flavoring, one-third cup milk, one tablespoon apple pie spices. Slice apples into one-inch cubes after peeling and coring. Mix with apple pie spices and one third cup milk. Pour into a 13x9x2 inch baking dish or pan sprayed with Pam baking spray. Mix light brown sugar, flour, vanilla, and cheddar cheese and pour over the apples. Crush the Ritz crackers or run through blender in “grate” mode. Mix the crushed crackers with stick or melted margarine (add more margarine if you think it needs it). Bake at 350 degrees for half hour. Serve with Cool Whip if you desire.
The leaves are colorful and some are falling from the trees. They are beautiful in all their glorious colors and so graceful as they fall on the lawn and garden. Do not let them go to waste or blow away. Rake and vacuum them up to make ingredients for the compost pile of bin and mulch and a blanket for roses, cool weather vegetables, shrubs, and flower beds. They are one of nature’s most valuable resources.
Mowing the tough grass of early autumn. The grass on the early autumn lawn is in the last lap of a journey that started in the March. As we move past mid-September, the grass is tough because of rainy days and a series of heavy morning dews that linger until early afternoon, plus the fact that many types of grass are seeding out. When mowing the grass of autumn, make sure the grass is dry even if you have to mow late in the day. Keep the lawn smoothly cut, but don’t set the blade too close. In just a few weeks, Jack Frost will do his lawn work!
Keep feeding the hummingbirds. The mid-summer flowers are slowing down, but the hummers still have a month before flying south. Help them in their quest for food by keeping nectar in the feeders two or three times a week. You can make your own nectar by mixing half sugar, half water, and a few drops of red food coloring in a jar or container or purchase nectar in ready to use bottles or envelopes to mix with the proper amount of water. Use a funnel to pour nectar into the feeders.
The season of the mum is now upon us. Nothing speaks of autumn like several containers of colorful mums on the front porch. With just a bit of tender loving care, they will endure for a long season on the porch. You can chose from colors of white, bronze, white, pink, lavender, yellow, light orange, and wine. You can re-pot them in same containers that summer annuals were in. Keep them toward the back of the porch for added protection, also keep several towels or sections of newspaper to cover and protect from frost and freezes and they should last well into cold weather and frosty nights.
Weeds are making their last stand in the garden plot. The weed games are still in progress as they are trying to produce seed to next year. Only you can stop their cycle the old fashioned way by pulling them up by the roots and tossing them out of the garden. Pulling weeds up now will keep them from forming seed that will winter over to infest next year’s garden. As Barney would say “Always nip it in the bud.”
Keep watching the grapevines for a harvest. The scuppernogs, muscadines, as well as the Concords are reaching harvest stage. The birds are also watching them, so try to beat them to the punch. You will want to pick often so that you will not lose any to the birds. Pick the grapes often and process them for juice. Refrigerate the juice and reserve it for a later time. Keep saving juice each time you pick until you have enough to make jelly. Do not put sugar in the juice until you have enough to make jelly.
The mighty oaks are beginning to unload their acorns. The mighty oaks are now filled with a harvest of acorns and they are beginning to make their journey to the ground, lawns, and forest floor. Many weather prophets keep a close eye on the harvest of acorns that fall and predict the amount of the acorn harvest with the kind of winter we are in store for. My grandma always checked the acorns that covered the ground or that bounced off her tin roof each night and one of her predictions was when the ground was covered with acorns, the ground would be covered with heavy snows. Dogwood berries that stayed on the trees were a prediction of a long, cold winter ahead. Another of grandma’s winter weather observations was that when squirrels gathered up huge amounts of acorns and stored them, we could expect a cold and rough winter.
Sounds of thunder in September. A thunderstorm in the month of September is not all that unusual because we still have enough warm days and remaining humidity that can generate a thunderstorm. They may not be as severe and gusty, but a thunderstorm nonetheless. The month of September is the peak of the hurricane season and in this part of the state, they can generate thunderstorms. A bit of positive weather lore to add to September thunderstorms states that “Thunderstorms in September is a sign of abundant vegetables and fruits next year.” Into every life, some thunder must fall.
Keeping your eye on developing green tomatoes. The first frost of the season is about one month away. The late, late, tomato plants should be developing some small green tomatoes on the vines. Give the plants a feeding of Tomato-Tone organic tomato food and also mix a few quarts of powdered lime in a sprinkling can of water and pour around the base of the plants. This will pave the way for a harvest of green tomatoes before frost to store and ripen into the winter.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “The last laugh” – A gray-bearded man was sitting in a truck stop eating dinner. Three motorcycle bullies walked into the truck stop. The first cyclist walked over to the diner and placed his cigarette in the man’s lemon pie, and went and sat down at the counter. The second cyclist walked over and spat in the man’s glass of tea, and then walked over to the counter. The third cyclist walked over to the man and flipped over his plate and then went a say down at the counter. Without a word or action, the man at the table left the truck stop. One of the cyclist said to the waitress, “Was not much of a man, was he?” The waitress replied, “Not much of a truck driver either, he just backed his rig over three motorcycles!”
Bible Question: What excuse did Adam give to his children as to why he no longer lived in the Garden of Eden? Adam told them “Your mother ate us our of house and home!”
September 06, 2020
Celebrating September by sowing a row or bed of Siberian Kale. Siberian Kale is a hardy cole family cool weather vegetable that will produce greens from late autumn all the way until early spring. An ounce of seed costs around $2. Siberian Kale thrives in cold weather and the cool of September nights will surely give the Kale a jump start. Plant kale in a furrow and cover with a layer of peat moss, sow the the kale and top with a layer of Vegetable-Tone organic vegetable food for a real boost for a long, productive harvest. Hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down soil with the hoe blade. If there is not much rain in September, use the water wand in shower mode for a drink of water once a week. Side dress with Plant-Tone or Vegetable-Tone organic plant food every fifteen days.
Plenty to plant in the cool weather garden plot. Why put the garden to bed when you can enjoy something green from it in all four seasons? As September arrives, the list of cool weather vegetables is abundant. You can sow rows or beds of collards, broccoli, cabbage, mustard greens, Siberian Kale, onion sets, turnips (if you sow them soon), cauliflower can also be planted. The secret of cool weather crops is: 1. Keep soil hilled up on each side of the row. 2. Feed twice a month with organic plant foods such as Vegetable-Tone, Plant-Tone, and Dr. Earth vegetable food and not pelleted chemical fertilizers. Plants need food not fertilizer. 3. Cover with a layer of crushed leaves between the rows. 4. When sowing seed or transplanting plants, always apply a layer of peat moss or Black Kow composted cow manure (sold in 25- and 50-pound bags at most hard ware stores, Home Depot, and Lowe’s) Both these products will improve your soil and are totally organic, (in other words, they add something to the soil rather than subtract something from it). When gardening, it makes good sense to do the math!
Filling summer annuals with cool weather flowers. The containers and pots of summer annuals can now be replaced with autumn annuals such as pansies, ornamental cabbage and kale, candy tuft, and daphne. You can recycle the soil the summer annuals were in by pouring the old medium into the wheelbarrow and mixing it with 50% new medium which you can purchase in 25- and 50-pound bags. Add a bag of pansy booster when planting pansy plants for a quick response. Pansies are unusual because they have “faces” on them. There are several varieties of pansies in colors of burgundy, yellow, wine, white, lavender, cream, deep purple, tan, and brown. Place them where they can receive autumn and winter sun. You can purchase pansies in four, six, and nine packs already in bloom so that you can choose the colors you prefer.
September and shorter days will add up to colorful sunsets. September is the month of the arrival of autumn and continues to bring days a minute shorter each evening. The nights are cooling off and there is a certain nip in the air on the front porch that heralds the hint of autumn. September’s low humidity and cooler temperatures can add up beautiful sunsets that will only get brighter as the month wears on. The western horizon will be adorned with pink, red, orange, yellow, lavender, blue, and purple. If you said, twelve hours, you are partially right! The other difference is that at sunrise, the sun fades out the colors of the sunrise, but at sunset, the sunset fades out the sun. Enjoy September sunsets as they become part of the glories of autumn.
The leaves are displaying hints of autumn color. The Artist of Autumn has placed His hand on the maples, dogwoods, hickories, and poplars. The reds of the dogwoods blend well with the gold, bronze, and yellow of the hickory, poplar, and maple. The mighty oaks still have green color and it will take frost to turn them brown and gold and red. With a Carolina blue sky, lower humidity, colorful leaves and glorious sunsets, autumn glory is more intense and beautiful each and every day.
Spring bulb planting time is almost here. The spring bulbs of crocus, daffodil, jonquils, narcissus, snow drops, and hyacinths are showing up in hard ware stores, nurseries, Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s and seed stores. You can purchase then in individual colors from bins at hardwares or in packages or netted bags in multi-colors. The see through net bags are the best way to buy bulbs because you can see and feel the bulbs and know what you are buying. Hyacinths come in colors of red, blue, lavender, pink, purple, white, and yellow. You can buy them in mesh bags of three, six, or nine bulbs. To promote their growth, buy a bag of bone meal or bulb booster. Another great investment is a durable bulb planter to make the job of bulb planting easier. When you plant bulbs, use peat moss and Black Kow composted cow manure to get the bulbs off to a good start. Before frost and ground freezes, cover bulbs with a layer of crushed leaves.
September is the season to set out collards and cabbage. The Cabbage Collard is a favorite collard variety in eastern North Carolina. The Cabbage Collard heads like a cabbage. They are cold hardy and can be harvest when snow is on the ground. Bonnie Plant Farms distributes this variety and they are available at Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walmart and most hard ware stores. They come in six and nine packs. Set them about three feet apart to allow them room to head. My Northampton County grandma would throw shovels of soil up on both sides of heading collards during winter and place pine straw between the rows. Collards were always steaming on her table at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Keep collard plants fed with Vegetable-Tone organic vegetable food once a month during winter.
Early September is comfortable in the garden plot. There are not many insect pests, the humidity is lower, temperatures are comfortable, the sky is Carolina blue, the soil is workable, there are less weeds. There are plenty of cool weather vegetables just waiting to be sown and planted even while warm weather vegetables are still being harvested. It is a great time to enjoy the best of both garden worlds.
Making a dish of Monterey macaroni. This is a great dish for a crisp September supper. You will need one eight-ounce pack of finely shredded Monterey Jack shredded cheese, one pack Nathan’s beef hot dogs, one eight-ounce box of elbow macaroni, eight-ounce cup sour cream, one stick light margarine, half-teaspoon pepper, one pack Recipe Secrets Beef Onion soup mix, half teaspoon paprika. Cook elbow macaroni according to package instructions and drain. Spray casserole dish with Pam backing spray. Cut Nathan’s hot dogs into quarter inch pieces and stir unto macaroni. Add other ingredients and stir into macaroni. Pour into casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes until bubbly.
The Almanac for month of September. The full moon of September accrued on Wednesday, Sept. 2 and was named Full Corn Moon. Labor Day will be celebrated Monday, Sept. 7. The moon reaches its last quarter on Thursday, Sept. 10. Grandparents Day will be celebrated on Thursday, Sept. 13. There will be a new moon in the western sky at sunset on Thursday, Sept. 17. Autumn begins on Tuesday, Sept. 22. The moon reaches its first quarter in Wednesday, Sept. 23. Yom Kipper begins at sundown on Sunday, Sept. 27.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “A fishy tale” – Two men rented a boat and were fishing in a huge lake. The very first day, they caught 40 fish. As they were preparing to head back to shore, one man said to the other, “Let’s mark this spot so we will know to come back here tomorrow.” The next day when they drove up to rent the boat one man said to the other, “Did you mark the spot?” The man replied, “Yes, I put a big “X” on the bottom of the boat.” The other man said “That was a dumb thing to do!” What if we don’t get the same boat today?”
September 06, 2020
The autumn beauty of ornamental kale and cabbage. Both these ornamental cabbage and kale cole family florals will produce a colorful bit of porch decor throughout autumn and into winter. Keep them in containers near the rear of the porch for extra protection from wind and freezes and they will survive through the winter. Keep a towel handy to cover during hard freezes. They are available in colors of white, red, purple, yellow, wine, pink, and lavender as well as mint green. They can be planted in the same containers summer annuals were planted in. Ornamental kale also comes in the “curly” variety and in colors of light and dark green.
Using Flower-Tone organic flower food on autumn annuals. As you replace summer annuals with autumn annuals keep them fed with Flower-Tone organic flower food that you can purchase in three pound bags at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware and garden shops for around four dollars a bag. Spoon it onto the potting medium and stir it into the medium. Water autumn annuals once a week but not as much as you did summer annuals.
Still plenty of time to sew Siberian Kale, mustard, and mixed greens. A couple of ounces of kale, mustard, or mixed greens will sow a 50-foot row or bed or two 4×8 foot beds of greens. These greens will thrive until next spring in the cold weather garden plot. After the greens develop two leaves, apply a side dressing of Vegetable-Tone organic vegetable food and hill it on both sides of the row. Later in the season before cold weather settles in, cover between the rows with a layer of crushed leaves.
Setting out a row or bed of onion sets. Onion sets are still available and can be set out all during the month of September and will grow all during winter. You can choose from red, yellow, or white. Sow a furrow about four inches deep and three inches apart root side down. Apply a layer of peat moss in bottom of furrow, set onions, and then apply another layer of peat moss. Top with a layer of Vegetable-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil on both sides of the furrow. When onions sprout, apply a side dressing of Garden-Tone on both sides of the row and hill up soil to cover Plant-Tone.
Shorter days, longer nights is a part of September’s song. Autumn is less than two weeks away and we already see its calling cards. The days are getting shorter by one minute each evening, and crows are cawing all during the day. A few maples are beginning to drop their leafy harvest. When the sun goes down, there is more of a nip in the air. The dew lingers longer on the lawn each morning. A few acorns are beginning to fall signaling a later barrage on the forest floor a few weeks from now.
The summer garden plot is in slowdown mode. The nip in the September air has sent a slowdown message to the warm weather vegetables. They are still producing, but have slowed down quite a bit. The tomatoes are ripening slower, but still producing. The late summer varieties are blooming and have over a month to produce plenty of green tomatoes to store and ripen after the first killing frost. Bell and hot cayenne peppers are still producing a bumper of crop of fruits and they seem to always jump start themselves in mid-September.
Time to feed the turnip row or bed to prepare for a bountiful harvest. Turnips should now be on their way and displaying plenty of green leaves. Feed them this week by side dressing them with an application of Vegetable-Tone organic vegetable food on each side of the row and hilling up soil to cover the Vegetable-Tone. You can also use Alaska fish emulsion mixed with proper amount of water in a sprinkling can and pour on top of the turnip leaves.
Grandparent’s Day will be next Sunday. Grandparent’s play a big part in the lives of grandchildren. The things, even the small things they do for grandchildren, will be remembered by them forever. In today’s America, grandparent’s play an even bigger role in the lives of grandchildren simply because today’s grandparents live longer and have greater opportunity to teach grand-kids and encourage them and create fond memories with them and be an example for them to keep in their young minds. Fill your grandchildren’s hearts with your love that will never be forgotten by them.
The autumn leaves will soon be falling. There is a bit more color in autumn’s leaves every day as the sun shines down on them. With a certain amount of nip in the air, it won’t be long until the leaves begin to fall. Don’t let the leaves go to waste or blow away. Keep the leaf vacuum, blower, and rake handy and harvest them to use as mulch or a blanket on cool weather vegetables or ingredients for the compost pile or bin, or even construct a mulch pile. You can use crushed leaves on rose beds, shrubs, or flower beds.
Making a fresh tomato pie. This pie is made from fresh tomatoes in a partially baked nine-inch pie crust. You will need one nine-inch pie crust, five or six medium tomatoes (fresh from the garden), one finely diced onion, one fourth teaspoon celery seed, half teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper, one cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese, one cup mayonnaise, two tablespoons sugar, half stick light margarine (melted). Preheat oven to 350 degrees and pre-bake pie shell for three minutes, and remove from oven. Place tomatoes in a saucepan of boiling water for half minute, drain water, peel and cure tomatoes, slice the tomatoes or dice and line the bottom of the pie crust with the tomatoes. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and pepper, celery seed and onions. Mix the mayonnaise, cheese, melted margarine and pour on top of the pie. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until pie becomes bubble.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “Rich in Money, Poor in Love” – The girl was very rich, the young man was poor, but he was very honest. She liked him but that was all it was to it, and the young man knew that. One evening he felt romantic, and he said, “You are very rich.” “Yes,” she replied frankly, “I am worth $1 million and $500.000.” “Yes, and I am poor,” said the young man, “Will you marry me?” “No” said the girl. “I thought you wouldn’t” said the young man. “Then why did you ask me?” said the girl. “Oh, just to see how a man feels when he loses a million and a half in dollars,” said the young man.
August 30, 2020
The four o’clocks are still standing tall. The August heat and Dog Days may have slowed them down a little, but they are still showing off as we get ready for the arrival of September. No other flower seems to produce as many flowers over a whole season as the lowly four o’clock. It is no wonder that it was my Northampton County grandma’s favorite!
The season to make a batch of chow-chow relish. With the harvest of green and red bell peppers as well as plenty of green tomatoes on the vines, it’s time to make a batch of chow-chow relish to use on collard, kale, and mustard greens as well as pinto beans, ham, burgers, and hot dogs. The recipe is simple and so are the ingredients. All you need is eight to ten red bell peppers and green bell peppers, 40 green tomatoes, three heads of cabbage, and six onions. Chop up all the ingredients and run through the blender in the grate mode. Mix all the chopped, cubed, or grated vegetables together in a canner, add a full cup of salt, stir, and let set overnight. The next day, drain off the liquid and rinse vegetables in a colander and place back in the canner. In a large pot, combine four cups of apple cider vinegar, two and a half cups light brown sugar, four tablespoons pickling spices, and one cup water. Stir all and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for half hour. Pack into sterilized pint jars, seal, and process in a boiling water bath canner for fifteen minutes.
Curtain call for sowing a row or bed of purple top turnips. August has only one more day remaining. Make a practical use of that day to sow a row or bed of turnips. They are a root crop that needs to be sown before August ends. Plant turnip seeds by pinching two or three seed about three inches apart to allow room for the turnips to develop. Cover seed with a layer of peat moss and a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure and top with Plant-Tone organic plant food before hilling up soil on each side of the row. Once the turnips sprout, apply a side dressing of Plant-Tone every 15 days and hill up soil to the row. Water every week with the water wand when no rain falls.
Keeping records of August fogs. We hope you have been keeping a record of all the fogs and dews of August. Tomorrow is the last day of August. Keep the records and dates in a safe place. They may give a prediction of the kind of winter precip we get as we head into the months of winter.
Taking care of the roses of mid-summer. The roses of mid-summer are still beautiful and with a little bit of extra care they will continue to bloom until we have frost. Keep all spent rose blooms dead-headed. Check for beetle and mite infestation and spray to control them if necessary. Cut back long canes that do not produce any roses. Apply a layer of Rose-Tone organic rose food every fifteen days and water each week when no rain falls.
A freezer of homemade ice cream to end the heat of August. Homemade ice cream is good because nothing is as cold as homemade ice cream on a summer day. It is actually so cold, you have to consume it slowly to avoid a headache. Carolina peaches are great ingredients for a freeze of fresh peach ice cream. Use eight or ten fresh peaches, peeled, diced, and ran through the blender in puree mode, and set aside. In a large pot or mixing bowl, beat five large eggs until stiff. Add three cups sugar to the eggs and beat until creamy. Add two cans evaporated milk and one tablespoon peach flavoring or vanilla. Add the pureed peaches and mix well. Pour into a four-quart ice cream freezer container. Mix a layer of ice and a layer of rock ice cream salt, add a cup of water to bottom of freezer to prevent ice from jamming up in the freezer. Continue to add layers of ice and salt to the top of the freezer. If your freezer is electric, allow it to run until it stops. If you have a hand cranked freezer, turn the handle until you can’t turn it any more. You can “season” the ice cream by placing a towel over the top of the freezer for half hour if you have that much patience.
The crows of mid-summer are noisy and active. The crows of mid-summer are flying over the house every afternoon. They let us know we are there by cawing three times. There must be plenty of corn harvest going on and they are looking for the fields. They have plenty of roots in the area on the other side of the U.S. 52 and that’s where they seem to be heading each afternoon. One positive things is when you see a lot of crows, the chicken hawks go into hiding.
Plenty of residue from summer harvest provides compost materials. As the month of August ends, it’s time to start stirring up a bath of compost. The harvest of summer’s bounty has produced residue in the form of stalks, vines, foliage, grass clippings, and storm debris. All these ingredients will get a pile or bin started. The grass clippings will help heat up the compost. You can also use a bag or two of Black Kow composted horse manure or several sprinkling cans of Alaska fish emulsion mixed with proper amount of water and poured over compost bin or pile. Soon the first of the leaves will be falling and they can be added to the pile or bin after running the mower over them or vacuuming them up.
The scuppernongs will soon be ripening. The autumn harvest of scuppernong grapes, those bronze-hulled unusual tasting grapes will soon be here. Their tangy taste makes them a favorite for scuppernong jelly and grapehull preserves. My grandma always prepared several batches of grapehull preserves after using their juice to make jelly. On a winter morning in Northampton County, a huge cathead homemade biscuit filled with grapehull preserves would stick to your ribs!
Enjoying the majesty of the orange Monarch butterflies. The Monarch now frequents the zinnia bed every afternoon. They really highlight these flowers with their bright orange color highlighted by white dots on a black border. Soon they will be flying south to warmer climate and it is a wonderful sight to observe them in late summer in all their majestic beauty. You could say that God used his best art brush when He painted wings on butterflies.
Getting rid of choking morning glory vines. As we move closer to the month of September, weeds such as the morning glory are making a determined effort to produce a crop of tiny seed pods to produce next year’s infestation. One seed pod can produce hundreds of tiny seeds. Morning glory vines have deep roads and long vines. When you see one growing, trace the vine back to its origin and pull it up by the roots and throw it out of the garden.
The slowdown of fireflies of summer. As we close out the month of August, the fireflies are getting fewer. The lateness of August, the cool subtle nip in the air and August fogs may have gave them a signal. We will miss their lemon colored glow and flashes and certainly hope they laid many eggs for a great display of fireflies next season.
Tomatoes are the fast food of the garden. Tomatoes are one of the longest producing vegetables of the garden. You can take the salt shaker to the garden, pick a sun heated tomato, wipe it off, put salt on it, and eat right there in the garden. A great meal in a bowl consists of chunks of tomatoes, cucumbers, cubes of lettuce, ham chunks, or bacon pieces and mayonnaise or ranch dressing with salt and pepper.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “All in the Family Tree” – As Darla was getting to know Joey and his mom and dad, she was impressed by how much Joey’s parents cared for each other. “They are so thoughtful,” Darla said, “Your dad even brings your mom a cup of coffee in bed every morning.” After a month or two, Joey and Darla were married. On the way from the wedding, Darla again remarked about Joey’s caring parents, and the coffee in bed. “Tell me,” Darla said, “Does this run in your family?” “It sure does” said Joey, “and I take after my mother!”
August 23, 2020
The morning dew becomes cold on Saint Bartholomew’s Day. Tomorrow will be the day of Saint Bartholomew. He was one of Jesus’ twelve apostles. It is a legend that on his special day, the dew’s of summer mornings begin to turn cold. This is a solemn, subtle sign that autumn is sneaking up on us.
My Northampton County grandma who kept up with August fogs to calculate snows and their amounts was also in the mornings of August in the days after Saint Bartholomew’s Day. The number of cold dew’s would determine how much and how many ice and sleet events the winter would produce. The heavy dew’s of late August pave the way for the frosts in October and November, and farther down the road ice, sleet, and frozen mud holes. This must have been what grandma had in mind as she did the math on the dew’s during the month that followed Saint “Bart’s” Day.
Legend does say the dews of mid-August get heavier and cooler. We have to guess that her formula was the cooler and heavier the dews, the greater the odds of how much ice, sleet, and frozen precipitation we would receive. We are glad that on her busy day, she had time to check out the dew.
Keep feeding your late, late tomato crop. The late, late tomato plants are enjoying relief from the days of Dog Day heat that are now in the past. They still have a lot of warm days left to produce plenty of red and green tomatoes to ripen in the house after frost comes. Keep them watered with the water wand in shower mode when it does not rain for a few days. Keep late tomatoes fed with Tomato-Tone organic tomato food or Vigaro tomato food with calcium and pull up soil on both sides of the plants to cover the vegetable food.
Setting out a row or bed of onion sets. As we move toward the end of the month of August, the soil is ready for setting out a row or bed of onion sets for a harvest all the way until next spring. Most nurseries, hardware stores, and seed stores now have onion sets in white, yellow, and red for less than $3 a pound. Sow onions in a furrow about four inches deep and three to four inches apart. Set them root side down in the furrow and cover the sets with a layer of peat moss and then a layer of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Hill up soil on each side of the furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade. Water every five days when no rain falls. Side dress with Plant-Tone every 15 days. Once the onions sprout place a layer of crushed leaves between the rows to keep soil warm and protected from frost at a later date.
Planting a row or bed of mustard greens. As we near the close of August, it is the ideal time to sow a row or bed or patch of mustard greens or mixed greens for an autumn and winter harvest. Notice that we said a winter harvest. Yes; you can enjoy a winter harvest if you cover the greens with a layer of crushed leaves on both sides of the row or bed before a heavy frost or ground freeze. Crushed leaves will not be blown away by the winds and will insulate the sod in the row or bed. You can sow curly mustard in a row or bed by itself of you can choose from a mix of rape, mustard, kale, broadleaf, tendergreen, spinach and turnip. All these varities cost the same per ounce and can be mixed in any ratio you prefer.
Plant seed in a furrow and cover with a layer of peat moss, (this will give cool weather soil a good texture when the frost and freezes arrive). It will also provide better water retention. Cover peat moss with an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food before hilling up soil on both sides of the furrow. Side dress every fifteen days with Plant-Tine and hill up soil after each application. Apply the later of crushed leaves before a heavy frost arrives.
Late August rains have paved way for the cool weather vegetables. Not only are the dews of August heavy, but late August showers also helping ready soil for cool weather vegetable crops. Turnips can be sown as well as greens, onion sets, collards, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, Siberian Kale, and curly mustard. Place a layer of peat moss in all furrows when you sow or plant cool weather vegetables to improve soil texture, retain moisture and promote germination.
Use Black Kow on autumn vegetables. Black Kow composted cow manure cost a little more than $5 for a 25-pound bag and will work wonders on the cool weather vegetable crops. Just spoon it in the furrow on top of peat moss and seeds for quick response. It works well to promote growth of larger turnips. You can purchase this product in 50-pound bags but it is harder to handle and move around the garden plot.
Kale is now becoming America’s favorite green. Kale is becoming popular because it has so many uses. You can make a sweet salad with its leaves or chop or grate and grind it into slaw or cook it as a pot of greens. It is very winter-hardy and can be harvest when temperatures are freezing or even when snow covers them. The very best variety of kale is Siberian Kale but there are also several other varieties that are also good producers. An ounce of kale costs about the same as other greens. Sow in a furrow and plant as you would any other greens.
Keep feeding the cool weather turnip row or bed. If you haven’t already done so, turnips should be planted soon because as a root crop, they need time to develop large turnips. If your turnips have already sprouted, side dress them every 15 days with Plant-Tine organic vegetable food and hill up soil on each side of the row. You can also give them a drink of Miracle-Grow in a sprinkling can of water and pour around base of the turnip plants.
Christmas cactus thrive on the front porch. The Christmas cactus are thriving on the front porch in a semi-sunny location. They do not like direct sunlight because it will cause their foliage to turn red. These cactus are more than 10 years old. We have two new ones that are red in color that we rooted in December and are now in containers and hopefully on their way to blooming in late November.
You can root a Christmas cactus by placing a shoot in a bud vase or bottle filled with water and place where it is semi-sunny. Keep bottle or vase filled with water. It will sprout roots in about two weeks. Leave in bottle until roots reach out toward bottom. You can later transplant it into a container of Miracle-Gro cactus-citrus potting medium. The secret of blooms in November and December is to place cactus outside in a semi-sunny location and feed once a month with Flower-Tone organic flower food. Water once a week. Bring them back inside the house in late October before first frost arrives.
Harvesting the sweet and bell peppers and freezing them. During the late days of August and all the way until frost, the green bell peppers and hot cayenne peppers will be producing their harvest. Bell peppers are easy to prepare and freeze. They come in handy in winter for recipes such as baked beans, spaghetti sauce, chili beans, hot dog chili, and other recipes. All you have to do is harvest the peppers, wash them, cut open, and remove seeds. Cut into quarter inch or smaller pieces and place in quart or pint plastic containers and place in the freezer. Whenever a recipe calls for green peppers, shake the amount of peppers while still frozen into the recipe and close the container. For hot dog chili, you can run peppers through the blender in “grate” mode while peppers are still frozen.
Freezing peppers in summer will save a lot of prep time when you use peppers for recipes during winter. You can freeze hot cayenne peppers the same way but use latex protective gloves to prevent burning your hands. Another way to prepare cayenne peppers is the old-fashioned method of using a needle and thread and string the red cayenne’s one at a time on the string and hanging it in a dry lighted area.
Making a bowl of baked beans. You can make a meal with a bowl of baked beans on a mid-summer afternoon. This recipe is truly a meal in a bowl. You will need one pound of bacon, one pound of Jimmy Dean mild sausage or ground round, two can of Van Camp pork and beans, one large bell pepper (grated in blender), one stick light margarine, one two ounce jar diced pimentos (drained), one fourth cup light brown sugar, two teaspoons of yellow mustard, half teaspoon Texas Pete, three tablespoons catsup, half teaspoon apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon barbeque sauce.
Broil bacon until crisp and break into small pieces. If you use sausage, fry, drain and mash or break into small pieces. If you use ground round, boil until tender and mash into pieces. Melt margarine and fry the grated peppers and onions in the margarine. Mix all other ingredients, mix in the meats. Pour into a 13x9x2 inch baking dish or pan sprayed with Pam baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Sprinkle finely shredded cheese on top.
Hoe-Hoe-Howdown: “Senior Moments” While on a vacation trip, an elderly couple stopped at a restaurant on Interstate 77 to eat lunch. After they finished their meal, the wife left her glasses on the dining room table, but she did not miss them until they were several miles down the interstate. By that time, the husband had to drive another mile or two to exit. Her husband griped, fussed, and complained all the way back to the restaurant. He criticized his wife for her carelessness, forget-fullness, and thoughtless act. When they finally arrived at the restaurant, and the wife left the car to retrieve her glasses, her crow-eating husband said “While you are in there, get my hat!”
August 16, 2020
Keeping mid-summer coleus full of colorful foliage all the way until frost. The coleus of “Joseph’s Coat” has been producing an array of pink, yellow, red, white and lavender foliage since early June. As we reach mid-August, they have flower seeds which are lavender in color. To promote more leaves to grow, pinch off these flowers so that the strength of the coleus plant will be devoted to producing more leaves instead of flowers. Water the coleus every evening and feed with Miracle-Gro liquid plant food or a handful of Flower-Tone organic flower food every ten days. Pinch off all faded leaves.
Do not mow grass laden with morning dew. With the dews of the month of August growing wetter and cooler means that it will be lingering around longer and the sun will take longer to dry it up. Never mow dew-laden grass not only because it is wetter and cooler but it is also stickier. It causes grass clippings to stick to the mower housing as well as to your shoes and clothes. It also piles up a mess of ugly clippings to rake up. Add all this with the promotion of rust and tracking wet clippings into the house. Wait until late afternoon for the sun to dry off the dew before mowing the lawn.
Cabbage, collard, and broccoli plants are in hardware and seed stores. The cole family of cool weather vegetables are now showing up in hardware, nurseries, seed stores, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Ace Hardware. You can purchase them in four, six, and nine-packs. You can plant them even though the nights and days are still very warm. The secret of their growth is to use the water wand to cool them down each evening after sunset to refresh and cool the plants and the soil. Use the spray mode on the wand and apply a light spray around base of the plants. Here are a few hints on setting our cole family plants for productive results:
– Use a layer of peat moss in the furrow to help retain moisture.
– Spray plants lightly with water wand each evening.
– Watch out for cabbage butterflies and sucking insects and control them with Sevin liquid mist spray.
– As plants grow, keep soil hilled up and side dressed with Vegetable-Tone organic vegetable food.
The Holly-Tone family of organic vegetable and flower foods. The Holly-Tone family of organic foods includes Holly-Tone for evergreens and azaleas, Rose-Tone for rose bushes, Flower-Tone for all varieties of flowers and containers, Plant-Tone for seeds and vegetables and plants, Tomato-Tone for all stages of tomato growth, Vegetable-Tone for sustaining vegetable crops during growth. Plant-Tone and all the Holly-Tone family of organics are fine-textured, totally organic and clean and easy to apply. It comes in three- and ten-pound bags (the three-pound bag is easier to use). A little of it goes a long way. The bags have zip-lock openers which makes it easy to apply to seeds and plants without getting on your hands or wasting by spills. It may stink, but it is effective. It has proven itself in gardens since 1929.
The impatiens are a colorful showoff in hanging baskets. Impatiens make the most beautiful of hanging baskets. The salmon colored impatiens are the prettiest of them all. Many people don’t grow impatiens because they say they develop many fungal diseases and wilt. Much of this is caused by watering them too much, and also by not feeding them the proper nutrients, and maybe, just maybe, too much sun. An organic food such as Flower-Tone organic flower food applied to the medium and stirred in around the base of their containers will give them the boost they need. Another way to have healthy impatiens is don’t plant more than three plants per medium basket or container to prevent them from being crowded and rootbound. In a hanging basket, impatiens have room to cascade and also have better drainage.
The curtain call of the summer of 2020. On Monday, August 24, we will celebrate Saint Bartholomew’s Day. This day is known as the curtain call of summer with other calls coming slowly but surely as they pave the way into the season of autumn. Each morning the dews will get cooler as well as wetter. These morning dews will also be sticky. The days are already getting a minute shorter each evening and we have lost an hour of daylight since June 21. Sunset comes a little earlier each evening and soon we will feel a subtle nip in the air on the porch. The warm weather vegetables of summer are already in slow-down mode as the cool August dew is sending them a message that their harvest will soon be over. August is truly a month of transition of one season paving the way into another. After Dog Days a lot of gardeners are looking forward to the cool season of autumn.
Starting a row or bed of purple top turnips. Turnips are a root crop that needs to be sown this month so they will have plenty of time to produce large turnips. The most popular turnip variety is the purple top. You can sow them in a row or bed or you can scatter or broadcast the seed to form a turnip patch. A patch can sometimes become a “no-no” because it makes it harder at the time of harvest. We like rows or beds because it makes harvest easier and you can thin out turnips to promote growth of larger turnips. Another plus is that you can apply a layer of crushed leaves between rows to protect against freezes and promote a longer harvest. Plant turnip seeds in a shallow furrow about two or three inches deep and thinly spread the seed in the furrow so the turnips will have space to develop. Apply a layer of peat moss on the seed and then an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Hill up soil on both sides of furrow and tamp down soil with the hod blade. Use the water wand to spray a mist of water on the turnip row every evening. Side dress the turnips with Plant-Tone every two weeks and hill up soil after side dressing with plant food.
Trimming and feeding panda and asparagus ferns. These ferns have made the deck seem like a much cooler place this summer. They have been outside in a semi-sunny location since the middle of April. We trim them once a month and shape them up to promote new growth. All they need is a drink of water every week and feeding with Flower-Tone organic flower food every fifteen days. They thrive all summer outside on the deck and spend autumn and winter in the sunny living room.
Making a crunchy cheesy broccoli casserole. There are many recipes for broccoli casseroles, but they all have one important ingredient and that is cheese. This casserole has just that – plenty of cheese. You will need one quart cooked broccoli, one can Campbell’s cheddar cheese soup, one cup finely shredded cheddar cheese, two eggs, three tablespoons mayonnaise, one stick light margarine (melted), one and a half cups crunchy Cheetos (crushed into quarter-inch pieces). Boil broccoli until tender, drain and place in a medium bowl, add melted margarine into broccoli. Add all other ingredients except the Cheetos. Stir all ingredients together. Break or chop Cheetos into quarter inch cubes and add to the mixture. Spray a casserole dish with Pam baking spray and pour broccoli mix into casserole and bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes until light brown on top.
Keep humming bird feeders filled with nectar. The flowers of late summer are slowing down production, but humming birds are still active in their quest for food. Keep your feeders replenished with nectar by keeping feeders half full to see how much they are consuming each week. Add more if they are consuming what is in the feeders!
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “Pass the gravy!” The mother had invited a host of guests for dinner that evening. At the dinner table, she asked her daughter who was 6 years old if she would like to say the blessing over the food. The daughter said, “I wouldn’t know what to say.” The mommy said “Just say what I would say.” The daughter bowed her head and prayed “Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”
“Meow Meow” Cat nights begin tomorrow night. Cats like these nights so well they call them by the name each night when they call out “meow meow.” Dog Days ended last week and now we have Cat Nights. Cats are creatures of the night and they nap all day so they have plenty of energy to prowl and curiously wander all night. August as the month itself, resembles the cat. On a humid August day, sometimes that desire to take a “cat nap” takes over our body. Just as cats are hard to figure out, so are the days of August as we transition into the very first signs of autumn, with plenty of daytime heat and cool dew at night. One certain fact about “Cat Nights” is we know they will be hot.
August 09, 2020
Dog Days will come to an end on Tuesday. The Dog Days of the summer of 2020 will end on Tuesday, but this does not mean the heat is over. The humid days of summer are still with us. The days are now getting shorter by a minute each evening and the dews are getting heavier, stickier, and linger longer each day. This, plus the presence of the mornings of fog, are all subtle reminders that autumn is much nearer than we think.
A perk-up for cut flowers of summer. To increase the life of cut flowers of summer mix two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide in a vase of water and place cut flowers in the vase. If flowers outside begin to look droopy, mix hydrogen peroxide with water in a sprinkling can and pour around base of flowers in pots and containers. This will give them a quick boost.
Cooling off the hummingbirds of mid-summer. Mid-summer is now officially here since Saint Lammas Day occurred last week that marked summer’s halfway point. We still have plenty of summer to deal with and also plenty of hummingbirds that we can help to cool off. Even though we have plenty of flowers for them to visit (and quite a few of them are red), they still like to visit feeders, and probably because we have spoiled them! Whether you have flowers or not, keep plenty of nectar in the feeders. You can make a gallon milk jug full of nectar with three-and-a-half quarts water, adding six cups of sugar and several drops of red food coloring. Funnel it into the milk jug and keep in refrigerator. Change nectar in feeders every three days. Clean the feeders to prevent ants or wasps.
Gambling on a row of Strike green beans. It is now near the middle of August with more than two months before the first frost date arrives, even though the first frost date arriving does not mean a killing frost. This fact builds up hope and faith that a pound of Strike green beans sown in the next week or so has much, much more than a chance at producing a harvest. By boosting them along with hand fulls of Garden-Tone organic vegetable food every two weeks and hilling it into the soil and placing a layer of peat moss on top of seed in the furrow when you sow them and tamping down the contact, we should be prepared to experience an early autumn harvest. This will certainly be a worthwhile gamble.
A green bean and white corn casserole. Let’s celebrate the odds of an October harvest of Strike green beans by preparing a green bean and white corn casserole. You will need two cans of cut green beans or one quart canned green beans, one can white corn (drained), one eight ounce cup sour cream or cream of mushroom soup, one pack of Ritz crackers or saltine crackers (run through blender in “grate” mode), one envelope Recipe Secrets Beefy Onion dry soup mix, one stick light margarine, two eggs, two tablespoons mayonnaise. Mix green beans and corn and pour into a casserole dish sprayed with Pam baking spray. Mix cream of mushroom soup, sour cream, shredded sharp cheese, mayonnaise, envelope of Recipe Secrets, two eggs. Mix in with green beans and corn mixture. Run packet of Ritz or saltines through blender in “grate” mode and mix with a stick of melted light margarine. Spread over top of casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. For color and flavor, add a two ounce jar of diced pimentos (drained).
Queen Anne’s Lace gives a dainty and majestic touch to mid-summer. There is a hidden amount if royalty in the lacy white flowers of Queen Anne’s Lace that graces the meadows and roadsides all through North Carolina from east to west. Queen Anne’s Lace grows in the Midwest in Wisconsin where it thrives on the roadsides near miles or corn fields and acres of pastureland. Iowa also has its share of the lace growing around barns, covered and meadows and fields and along the long stretches of wide open country roads. The most amazing display of Queen Anne’s Lace we have ever seen was along railroad tracks outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sprawling along both sides of the tracks on a late July afternoon. Queen Anne’s Lace was my mother’s favorite flower to brighten up floral arrangements of Zinnias to place on the alter table at church on a Sunday morning. Only a loving and caring God could create such a wild flower to look so pure, dainty and white!
The Katydids are singing a prelude to autumn. The mighty oaks are alive with the songs of the Katydids as they serenade us every twilight from the front porch. Their tune has a subtle message of autumn in it. It is not a serious melody or one of urgency, but one of warning that the season of autumn is slowly approaching. The crickets in the grass are chirping their over-tune to the approaching season of autumn also. It is a soft and low melody that will get louder as the month moves along.
August is certainly a month of transition. And now that Dog Days are over, we reach into the midst of August which can be considered the month of transition from one season to another. The crickets and Katydids are singing about it. The dogwood leaves have a hint of red and covered with tiny berries. Weeds are growing faster and have to be pulled up more often. The crow population is getting noisier. The morning dew’s are getting heavier and lingering around longer each day. Mother Nature is slowly pointing us in the direction of the upcoming season of autumn.
Extra care for the tomato plants of late summer. The tomato plants that will produce a late harvest of fruits and green tomatoes to harvest before the frost comes that will ripen indoors, need a little extra care as we move into the late part of August. Keep soil hilled up around both sides of the plants after side dressing both sides of the row with Tomato-Tone organic tomato food or Dr. Earth’s tomato food. Do not water the tops of the tomato plants, but use the water want in “spray” mode to apply water to base of the plants. Later, as we move into month of September, apply powdered lime (calcium carbonate) around bottom of the tomato plants. Use a quart of lime to a sprinkling can of water and pour around base of tomatoes.
Late rose blooms all the way until frost. With just a small amount of care, roses can produce blooms all the way until the first frost. Deadhead all spent roses that have passed bloom stage. Spray roses for mites and insects. Apply a plant food such as Rose-Tone organic rose food. Water base of roses every four days when no rain has fallen. Trim back long canes that suck the production from roses. One positive thing about roses is you can trim them when they need it.
A rainbow of color in the August sun. A large container of portaluca or desert rose, and also known as cactus rose or rose moss, has produced colorful flowers of red, orange, yellow, white, pink, tan, wine, and burgundy flowers since the middle of May. Every day that the sun shines, there are new blooms and cactus-like foliage that cascades over the sides of the container that produces even more flowers.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: “Operating Room?” A husband took his wife to a small town doctor’s office. The nurse escorted the wife to the examination room as the husband seated himself in the waiting room. For the next few minutes, he could hear the doctor barking out strange orders to his medical assistants. The husband heard, “Knife,” “Screwdriver,” “Pliers,” then “Sledgehammer.” The husband couldn’t stand the suspense any longer. He burst into the examination room saying, “Doctor, what is wrong with my wife?” The doctor replied, “We have no idea. Right now we are trying to open the medicine cabinet.”
“Try, Try, Again” Father: “You never know what you can do until you try it.” Son: “I guess you don’t know what you can’t do until you try either.”
What part if an automobile causes the most accidents? The nut behind the wheel.
August 02, 2020
The aftermath of Saint Lammas Day. Saint Lammas Day was celebrated yesterday. There are several interesting facts about his special day. We think the most important event of Saint Lammas Day is that it marks the halfway point of summer and in perfect timing because Dog Days will end in Tuesday, August 11.
Centuries ago in England, Saint Lammas Day marked a harvest celebration of summer’s first fruits. A weather lore a bit connected to Saint Lammas states that “if Saint Lammas be hot and steamy, we can expect winter to be white and creamy!” That thought should cool us off a little bit with Dog Days coming to an end next week. We don’t put much stock in that bit of “Lammas” lore. We still have half of summer, all of autumn, and part of winter to go before even thinking of snow, ice, and freezes, but what a thought during the swan song of Dog Days. Another fact about Saint Lammas is that at this stage of summer, corn ripens continuously during the day as well as during the night.
In the midst of a summer of four o’clocks. My Northampton County grandma’s favorite summer flower was the four o’clock. She had a flower garden in her front yard and it was lined with borders of four o’clocks all summer long. We remember her every summer when we plant packets of four o’clocks. We don’t make a border of them, but we plant them on the edge of the Zinnia bed and at the edge of the garden plot as well as a border on the front porch to attract butterflies and hummingbirds in late evening. Our favorite thing about four o’clocks is their longevity. They put on a colorful show from mid-spring all the way until frost.
Starting seed of broccoli, cabbage, and collards. As we begin the month of August and approach the end of Dog Days, it is time to start the cool weather vegetables of cabbage, broccoli and collards from seed to get them ready to transplant to the garden in September. This is a great week to select your seed from Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, or hardware stores. Seed packets cost less than $2 and a packet of each may be all you need. When you start your seed in individual pots, save the packet labels to stick on each pot because these seed all look alike. While you are purchasing seed, go ahead and buy a bag of seed-starting medium. Do not use potting soil because it is clumpy and just does not contain what seeds need for a great start. Buy especially formulated seed starters like Jiffy, Hoffman, or Holly-Tone for best results. To start seed, use a quart or pint pot for each packet of seed. Mix the pot with the medium and add an extra handful to cover the seed. Mix with enough water to moisten the medium. Spread the broccoli seed over the medium and cover with medium and pat down with your hand for contact with the medium. Use a spray bottle (such as Windex comes in), and spray a fine mist over the pot of seed each day. Keep out of heat of direct sunlight (preferably in the carport). Repeat process with cabbage and collard seed. In about 10 or 12 days, they will develop two leaves and be ready to transplant to individual containers of medium. After transplanting to individual containers, continue to spray with water daily. They should be ready to transplant to garden by mid-September or earlier. Continue to water with water want in shower mode daily after transplanting to garden. Side dress with Garden-Tone organic vegetable food every fifteen days. Hill up soil after side dressing with plant food.
Enjoying the Full Sturgeon Moon. Tomorrow evening, the Full Sturgeon Moon of August will rise after sunset in the eastern sky and shine down on a Dog Day late evening. It may be a lazy, hazy night, but a bright moon will shine its way down. Park on a dark Surry County country road and enjoy this bright moon.
Doing the math: August fogs compared to the snow of winter. My grandma in northeastern North Carolina always did the math when it came to comparing the fogs of August mornings with the number and inches of snow the upcoming winter would bring. She was an early riser and always up before the sun rose. Each day in August, she kept a close eye on the foggy mornings of August and whether they were thick or thin, and also the days of the fogs. She wrote down each fog and whether they were light or heavy. At the end of August, she did the math. Heavy fogs were heavy snows and light fogs were light snows. Her predictions were quite accurate for the 1950s. Certainly much more accurate than Saint Lammas and his “white and creamy” prediction mentioned earlier.
Time to go to the hardware and purchase a snow shovel. We are definitely not dreaming of a “White Christmas,” even though it is a cool thought! Now is a great time to purchase a snow shovel if you need one. One thing for sure is that there is no rush for them in the summer. The selection is great and they will not spoil. If you buy one at any season, make sure it is lightweight as well as durable.
Cooling off the birds by refilling bath. The summer sun quickly shines down and heats the water in the birdbaths. Refill the baths twice a day during the heat of August. Fill them in the early afternoon and again about five o’clock in the afternoon. When birds take baths, they splash water, making the remaining water heat up quicker as the afternoon sun bears down. Dump out the hot water before refilling with fresh cool water.
Keeping eyes on hot weather harvest of tomatoes. On hot summer days when we do not get a thunderstorm, keep a close check on ripening tomatoes. On hot days when no rain is in sight, birds in desperation will peck holes in ripe tomatoes to find moisture. To avoid this, harvest the tomatoes and place them on porch or deck in a semi-sunny location.
Making old-fashioned baked potato cakes. These potato cakes make a great meal on a summer night served with southern fried chicken and a plate of freshly sliced tomatoes and maybe some hot chicken gravy poured over these potato cakes. My mother always made potato cakes as a substitute for meat or would make them to serve along side hot dogs steamed with fried onions and homemade cole slaw. This potato cake recipe will make six cakes. In a sauce pan, cut up one large onion and dice into quarter inch cubes and lightly fry in a half stick light margarine until tender and set aside. In a large bowl, lightly beat one egg and add to the onions. Mix two cups of mashed potatoes, half teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper, half cup plain flour, one half teaspoon sugar. Mix all ingredients and shape into six patties. Lightly beat another egg and dip patties into beaten egg. Grease a cookie sheet heavily with Crisco Shortening. Bake at 375 degrees for twenty-five minutes, flip over and bake other side for five minutes until lightly brown. Place cakes on a plate lined with paper towels.
A repellent for summer’s pesky ants. When you finish grilling steaks and burgers, allow the charcoal to burn to ashes and let them cool overnight and pour them around the outside of the porch and house to prevent ants from entering the house. If ants get in the kitchen, mix water and vinegar in equal amounts in a small bowl and dip a paper towel in the mixture and wipe on counter tops, tables, and other surface areas. You can also use charcoal dust around roses to repel all kinds of crawling insects.
The Almanac for month of August 2020. The moon will be full on Monday night, Aug. 3 and will be named Full Sturgeon Moon. The moon reached its last quarter on Tuesday, August 11. There will be a new moon on the western horizon on Tuesday, August 18 and will reach its first quarter on Tuesday, August 15.
Hoe-Hoe-Hoedown: New neighbors moved into the neighborhood. A neighbor from down the street visited them. This neighbor is very concerned and told them that their dogs were up all night barking. The new neighbor said, “Don’t worry about them, they sleep all day long!”
“Under the Table” and “Going to the Dogs”: 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 from our table food.” “Yes ma’am,” David said as he hung his head. David’s mother said, “Don’t you understand why we have this rule at our house?” Little David thought for a moment, “I guess it’s because if the dog does not eat the food, the stuff will end up on the floor and rot later on.”
Don – “I’m starting a new diet the doctor prescribed.” Juan – “What inspired you to try this diet?” Don – “I’m sick and tired of being thick and tired.”