Master Gardener program sign-ups are open | Mt. Airy News

2022-08-26 08:36:11 By : Mr. David Yang

Extension Master Gardener volunteers of Surry County awarded their annual $750 Scholarship to Laken Creed of Ararat on Aug. 10. She is a senior at Appalachian State University pursuing a degree in horticulture. More information about the scholarship can be found at

The Extension Master Gardener Volunteer program in Surry County is looking for volunteers interested in joining the program and doing volunteer work in the community.

The program began in North Carolina in 1979 and has grown to 88 North Carolina counties. Extension Master Gardeners Volunteers are trained to help connect North Carolinians with the reservoir of horticultural knowledge and research developed at North Carolina A&T University and NC State University.

Surry County Extension has an active Extension Master Gardener program. These volunteers help Surry residents learn more about a myriad of gardening topics, answer questions, conduct demonstrations and workshops, and help maintain the demonstration gardens at the Historic Courthouse in Dobson.

Once interns have completed their initial training, Extension Master Gardeners volunteer 20 hours of their time to the community every year. Beyond their initial training experience, they can attend lectures and workshops offered by state and national experts.

For anyone interested in applying to the program, the Surry County Extension Master Gardeners conduct a 13-week training program each year. The next program will be conducted from January through May in 2023. Classes are held once a week for three and one-half hours. Applications and more details can be found at The application deadline is Dec. 15.

Long-time Westfield journalist to be honored

Camp Med students visit SCC

The Surry County Master Gardeners volunteers will be holding two online Lunch and Learn sessions in coming weeks.

On Sept. 1, from noon until 1 p.m., the topic will be “Beware of These Invasive Plants.” The hour-long presentation will identify local invasive plants and offer recommendations to control their spread.

The link for more information and to register is Information can also be found on the group’s website at, under events.

The topic “Edible Landscapes” is featured in the Oct. 6 webinar, also from 12 to 1 p.m. This session will teach those watching how to create an oasis of edibles — even in small spaces.

For more information and to register, go to Information can also be found on the website at, under events.

Autumn is now only a month away. A row or bed of purple top turnips can be sown in the garden plot. Temperatures may be warm but the soil after sowing a turnip row or bed can be kept cool with the water wand by spraying water on the row or bed each evening. When sowing the turnip seed, place the seed in a three- or four-inch furrow and apply a layer of peat moss in the furrow before sowing the seed. Thinly scatter seed in furrow and cover with another layer of peat moss. Apply an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil on on both sides of furrow. Tamp down soil on top of the row for good soil contact. Keep turnip row or bed watered to cool the soil. The peat moss will absorb the moisture, and promote growth in the remaining warm days of the month of August.

Saint Bartholomew’s Day

Saint Bartholomew’s Day will be celebrated Wednesday, August 24. On his special day, something unusual occurs as the dews of summer mornings begin to become cooler and linger until the middle of the day. The fogs of August may contribute to the cooler dew, but also the fact that the days are getting shorter and late nights of August have a subtle nip that lets us know that autumn is on its way. Many leaves are seeing this subtle hint and have already developed tints of yellow and gold. Cold dew and subtle nip in the night air lets us know this is slowly paving the way for nippy air, Jack Frost, and falling leaves as we move closer and closer to a new season.

The Christmas cactus on the August porch

All four of the Christmas cactus are performing well on the front porch as they enjoy sun and summer as they bask in temperatures that will prepare them for blooms in December. They receive a drink of water each week and an application of Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month. They will be moved inside the sunny living room in late October.

Planting the colorful annuals of autumn

The pots and containers of summer’s annuals can now be replaced with the annuals of fall and winter such as pansies, mums and oriental cabbage and kale. When planting these annuals, add a layer of crushed leaves and water plants often so the leaves will stick to the soil and give added protection later on when temperatures get colder. The oriental cabbage and kale will survive through winter if they are kept out of the north wind in a protected area of the porch and cover with a towel or cloth on freezing nights. Mums will also need a small amount of cold weather protection. The pansies are tougher and will endure the extremes of winter.

Time to set out spring flower bulbs

Most hardwares, nurseries, garden shops, and Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and Walmart or Lowe’s Home Improvement now have displays and bins of spring flowering bulbs of jonquils hyacinth, tulips, daffodils, narcissus, and crocus. They can be planted from now and through the end of October. When you purchase bulbs of spring, choose from those in bins or mesh bags so that you can feel and inspect the bulbs for firmness and texture. You can buy hyacinths in individual and assorted colors. There are several types of jonquils but the King Alfred is most popular. Buy a bag of bulb booster and place a half handful under each bulb. Cover bulbs with a layer of peat moss and a layer of Flower-Tone organic flower food before covering with soil. Cover the area where the bulbs are planted with a layer of crushed leaves. Hyacinths come in the colors of red, pink rose, yellow, lavender, blue, and purple. They also have the sweetest scents of flowering spring bulbs.

Autumn care for the next azaleas

The beautiful green foliage of azaleas have performed well and we enjoyed their colorful blooms in spring. Their evergreen foliage is still lush and green. As August draws to a close they could use a bit of attention as we get closer to autumn. They can now be fed with Holly-Tone evergreen food to give them a boost. In September, a layer of crushed leaves can be placed around them. The foliage can also be trimmed and shaped. Give azaleas a drink of water every ten days.

Time to sow Siberian kale

Siberian Kale is the sweetest and best of all the greens. It can be used raw in a salad or cooked as a green or canned in pint and quart jars. It is sweet, crisp, tender, and quite different from turnip and mustard greens. It is winter hardy and will endure winter and produce all the way until spring. The leaves are a little larger than other greens. A great way to prepare Siberian Kale is to broil a pound of bacon and cut into half-inch chunks, boil Siberian kale in a pot until tender, chop it up after draining. Add mayonnaise to the kale and bacon and add two tablespoons of ranch dressing.

Lining the list of cool weather veggies

As we get well past the middle of August, it is time to plan the autumn garden plot. The seeds of turnips, Siberian kale, curly mustard, mixed greens, onion sets, and spinach can now be sown in the late summer garden. Plants of broccoli, cabbage, collards, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts can also be set out. Keep all cool weather vegetables watered with the water wand not only for moisture, but to cool down the soil.

Making a tasty roasted turkey loaf

When preparing a turkey, and you have any leftover turkey, make a special meal of turkey loaf with the leftovers. For a turkey loaf, you will need three cups of leftover turkey (run through the blender in “grate” mode), one small bag Pepperidge Farm cornbread dressing, one can Swanson chicken broth, small jar Heinz roasted turkey gravy, two large eggs, one envelope Recipe Secrets Beefy Onion Soup mix, one teaspoon poultry seasoning, one teaspoon celery seed, half teaspoon pepper, half teaspoon salt, one cup shredded carrots. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour the can of chicken broth over the Pepperidge Farm corn bread stuffing in a bowl and set it aside for fifteen minutes. Mix all other ingredients together in the bowl with dressing and broth. If too dry, add a little water. Form into a loaf or place in a loaf pan or baking dish. Bake for one hour or until loaf is firm. This loaf will serve six persons.

Keeping hummingbirds on the zoom

As the humming birds of mid-summer contend for space at the feeders and fight for domination, keep the feeders filled with nectar. They are now staying pretty active at the feeders and burning a lot of energy. The nectar in the feeders will boost their energy level. You can make your own nectar by mixing two quarts of water and three cups of sugar and several drops of red food coloring in a pitcher of water and pour into a half gallon plastic milk carton. Keep nectar in refrigerator and use as you need it.

August proves to be transition time

As we move through August, we see before us a transitional month with heavy dews, dense fogs, and a subtle hint of autumn in the air, along with the yellow tint in the maples and tiny berries forming on dogwoods. The annuals of summer are slowing down. Days are getting shorter every evening by a minute. The humidity is dropping a bit lower and the garden summer vegetable crops are reaching the harvest stage and some crops are slowing down. Thunder storms are not as frequent. The crickets are sounding off and katydids are less noisy in the mighty oaks. Slowly, silently the late days of August are fulling us into the approaching season of autumn.

“Toothy Sermon.” The pastor visited the dentist for a set of false teeth. The first Sunday after he gets the teeth, he preaches for only eight minutes. The second Sunday, he preaches for ten minutes. The third Sunday, he preached for two-and-a-half hours. As the pastor left the pulpit, many in the congregation asked him what had happened. The pastor replied, “This morning, I put in my wife’s teeth by mistake and I couldn’t shut my mouth up!”

“Return to Sender.” A son wrote a letter to his dad. “Dear Dad, Gue$$ what need most? That$ right. $end it $oon. Be$t wi$he$, Joey.” The father replied. “Dear Joey, NOthing ever happens here. We kNOw you like school, write aNOther letter soon. Mom was asking about you at NOon. NOw I have to say good-bye, Dad.”

“Dumbbells.”Professor: “If there are any dumbbells in the room, please stand up.” There was a long pause and then one student in the back of the stood up. The professor said, “Do you consider yourself a dumbbell?” Student, “Well, not exactly, but I hate to see you standing all alone.”

“The Last Supper” First husband: “When I am near death, I will ask my wife to cook my last meal.” Second husband: “Why would you went her to do that?” First husband: “Then I would feel more like dying!”

Making a homemade chicken creamy pie

This chicken pie is fairly easy because you use two frozen nine-inch pie shells and four boneless skinless chicken breasts. For this pie, you will need two nine-inch frozen pie shells, four boneless skinless chicken breasts, half can evaporated milk, one can Campbell’s cream of chicken soup, small jar Heinz chicken gravy, salt, pepper, half teaspoon poultry seasoning, one stick melted light margarine. Boil chicken until tender. While chicken is cooking, lay out the pie shells to thaw (this will be two shells for bottom and two shells for tops of the pies). De-bone the chicken breasts and place half in one shell and half in the other shell. In a bowl, mix the can of cream of chicken soup with jar of gravy and half can evaporated milk and stick of melted margarine, salt pepper and the poultry seasoning. Pour half the mixture on each pie. Cover pies with other two crusts, Pinch edges to seal the pies. Cut slits in tops of the pies. Bake pies on a cookie sheet in 350 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes. One plus of these pies is that you can freeze them.

Starting late tomatoes from seed

As August moves along, it is time to start packets of tomato seed to be transplanted to the garden in late August or early September. The best varieties for early autumn are the determinate varieties such as Celebrity, Mountain Pride, Marglobe, Rutgers, Homestead, and Better Boy. To start tomatoes from seed, use a fine-textured seed-starting medium such as Jiffy organic or Hoffmans. For each seed variety, use a quart flower pot filled with seed-starting medium and allow a handful per pot to cover the seed. Measure enough for each pot that you need. Mix the medium with enough water to moisten it. Scatter the seed over the medium and cover the seed, label each pot with variety of the tomato. Repeat process with each pot. Press down the medium with your fingers for good soil contact. Use a spray bottle such as window and glass cleaner comes in to mist the pots each evening. They will develop two leaves in eight to ten days and be ready to plant in individual pots.

The impatiens have been showing their color

The annual summer charm is the impatiens in containers and hanging baskets as they provide colorful blooms on the porch, deck and in the hanging baskets. They really perform well in hanging baskets as they cascade over the sides of the baskets. They bloom in colors of bright orange, red, white, salmon, pink and wine. With a bit of care they will bloom all the way until frost. The impatiens is also known as “Mary’s Earrings” which is a pretty name for such an unusual flower. The bees as well as the butterflies are attracted to them.

Hard to beat taste of fresh tomato

It was Lewis Grizzard, the Mark Twain of 20th century writers and syndicated columnist for the Atlanta Journal and constitution, who said, “It’s difficult to think any thing but pleasant thoughts when eating a home grown tomato.” These are true words from one of America’s best columnists of the 20th century. A vine-ripened freshly sliced tomato, placed on bread smothered with mayonnaise on both sides and a sprinkling of salt and pepper also on both sides of the bread elicit thoughts as pleasant as you can think.

Starting the seeds of broccoli and collards

As we move through August, the time is ideal for starting broccoli and collards from seed for transplanting to the garden in mid-September. Purchase a bag or two of seed. Starting medium which is especially formulated for starting seeds. Buy the varieties of broccoli and collards you prefer. Use two quart-sized flower pots to start the seed in. Measure out two pots filled with the medium and two handfuls to cover the seed with. Add enough water to moisten the medium. Fill the two pots to within half inch from top of pots. Sprinkle seed from broccoli over top medium and cover with handful of medium. Label the pot because all cole family seed look alike. Repeat the process with the collard seed. Pat soil over the top of medium for good contact with the soil. Use a spray bottle such as glass cleaner comes in and spray a mist on the medium each evening. Keep the pots out of direct sunlight and preferably in the carport or porch. The plants will sprout in eight to ten days. When they develop two strong leaves, transplant to individual pots and keep out of direct sunlight. By mid-September, they should be ready to transplant to the garden plot.

Something different about the month of August is the fogs that occur on many mornings that may send us a hidden message about the upcoming amounts of snow we may receive in the winter months. Rise early before the sun burns off the fog and record the density of the fog and the date and whether the daily fog was heavy, medium, or light. August has 31 days, so record the fog each morning. As winter arrives, check the snow amounts during winter with the amounts of the fogs of August.

Making a batch of smooth apple sauce

The first of the apple harvest is coming in and you can purchase them by the bushel. A warm summer afternoon is a fun time to sit on a shady porch and peel a bushel of apples and make some apple sauce. Peel the apples and drop them in a canner of cold salted water to prevent them from turning brown. Peel all the apples and allow them to soak in the salted water for fifteen minutes. Rinse the apples in the canner of fresh water. Pour apples into the sink and rinse them off. Cut into one-inch chunks and place in canner of fresh water. Boil apple chunks for 10 or 15 minutes until you can stick a fork through them. Remove from heat, drain, and run through the blender in “puree” mode for several seconds. Pour the pureed apple mixture into jars that are sterilized and process in hot water bath canner for 25 minutes. An easier way is to process them in a pressure canner at ten pounds pressure for five minutes.

Taking care of summer roses

The knockout roses of summer are so pretty and are still producing blooms and will produce until the first frost. Roses now need a boost as we move into the second half of the summer. Roses need a boost of Rose-Tone organic rose food once a month until the end of summer. Use the water wand in shower mode to the base of the roses. Cut back long canes and dead head all spent blooms. Spray for leaf mites and Japanese Beetles.

The dew on August mornings linger all the way until afternoon. The dew is a sticky moisture that is not good for mowers and weed trimmers because it sticks to the blades and housings of the mower as well as the feet. Never mow lawn when the dew is still on the lawn. Wait until the sun dries the dew even if it takes until mid-afternoon. Another summer factor is never mow a lawn after an afternoon thunderstorm even if you have to wait until the next day to mow.

An organic, smelly, cure for insect bites

There is nothing more irritating than an insect bite or bee sting whether you are in the garden or on the porch or deck. We have a remedy for the bites and stings if you can tolerate the smell of an onion. Use a half an onion sliced down the middle and rub it on the bite or sting. This is a double cure because first of all, it will relieve the bite or sting and the aroma will prevent another bite or sting.

A quick shot for controlling the weeds

No harmful chemicals are involved in this weed killer solution that works quickly and well on hot dry, summer afternoons, with no rain in the forecast. Just fill a spray bottle with apple cider vinegar and spray the mist on the weeds, while you avoid misting vegetable foliage.

“Men and other men.” There are two kinds of men who will never amount to much: those who cannot do what they are told, and those who can do nothing else.

“Twin Natures.” A man was in court for stealing from a department store. The man said to the judge, “Your Honor, I’m a Christian, I’ve become a new man who did wrong. But I have an old nature also. I was not my new man when I did wrong, but my old man.” The judge responded, “Since it was the old man that broke the law, we will sentence him to 60 days in jail. And since the new man was an accomplice in the theft, we will give him 30 days also. I sentence you both to 90 days in jail. This case is dismissed.”

“Fun Pun.” If a nickle knew what it was worth today, it would feel like a half-cent.

“Fun Pun.” Why did the Cyclops have to close the school? He had only one pupil.

Dog days will end August 11

As of next Thursday, August 11, Dog Days of 2022 will come to an end. This does not mean hot weather will come to an end, but only the humidity will drop a little. Even with departure of Dog Days, we still have plenty of hot weather in store as we have only reached the halfway point of summer.

Checking out the pesky morning glories

As we deal with August, keep a close eye on those pesky morning glory vines and don’t allow them to choke out summer vegetables. One morning glory flower can produce a seed pod with hundreds of seeds. Morning glory vines also have roots like drill bits that reach deep into the soil. Pull them up by their roots and out of the garden before they reach the flower stage.

There’s still time to plant a turnip row or bed

The days of August are the time to plant a row of purple top turnips and give them a great start for an autumn harvest. You can plant them in rows or beds as August gets on its way. Add a layer of peat moss to the furrow when sowing turnips.

On August 17 the cat nights will begin. Did you ever wonder why cats prowl at night — it’s because all day long they take cat naps. Cats are always on the prowl at night and the night seems to belong to them. Cats are sort of like the month of August, unpredictable, finicky, restless continually searching as well as mysterious. Cats at night seem to be in a state of transition and typical of the whole month of August that pours out a lot of heat in daytime and cold dew at night. It is a month that days get shorter and nights continue to get longer. Cats are hard to figure out and many August days are hard to figure out and are as unpredictable as my cat. My grandma in Northampton County had several cats, and she had an old saying that cats drew lightning and when a storm was brewing, she would make sure they were not on her porch or near the chicken house. One thing we know about Cat Nights is the fact that they will be hot!

Making a tomato bread pudding

With an abundant harvest of fresh tomatoes you can use some of the harvest to prepare a tomato bread pudding. My grandma and mother always used leftover homemade biscuits in their puddings but we use hot dog and hamburger buns that are leftover and you can also use Caesar salad croutons for a flavorful tomato bread pudding. To prepare a fresh tomato bread pudding, place ten or twelve fresh tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for half minute, remove and place in a bowl of cold water. Slip off the peelings and core, the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes into chunks and stew them until they break up and become soupy. Add one, stick light margarine to the stewed tomatoes, stir in one cup of sugar, half teaspoon salt, two beaten eggs, four hot dog or hamburger buns or one package Caesar salad croutons or break buns into small chunks one fourth cup light brown sugar, one teaspoon vanilla flavoring, half cup catsup, four drops Texas Pete hot sauce. Mix all ingredients together and pour into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan or dish sprayed with Pam baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Sprinkle top of pudding with finely grated parmesan cheese or a layer of cream cheese.

The season of August fogs

We hope you are keeping a written record of the size and number of the fogs each August morning. Check them each morning when you first get up especially before the sun begins to burn them off. The fogs tell the types of snowfall the winter will bring. It will be interesting to see if the August fogs have any bearing on the number and amounts of snow the winter will produce. According to my Northampton County grandma, a heavy fog meant a heavy show, a medium fog meant a medium-sized snow, and a light fog meant a dusting, trace, or very light snow fall. Keep up with the fogs during the 31 days of August and see what the winter brings in snowfalls and amounts

Tomatoes ripen quickly in the August heat

In the heat of the August sun, tomatoes will ripen fast, on days when the sun bears down and no rain or thunderstorm is in the forecast, use the water wand in shower mode and water the base of the tomato vines, and not the foliage to prevent blossom end-rot. During dry spells, birds will peck holes in tomatoes to obtain moisture. To prevent this, harvest tomatoes before they get fully ripe and place them on the porch or deck to finish ripening. Apply powdered lime to tomato vines and hill up soil on both sides of tomato vines. You can also mix lime and water in a sprinkling can (about two quarts lime per sprinkling can). Add water to can and pour around base of tomato vines.

Keeping sweet bell peppers harvested

Sweet bell peppers should be almost ready to harvest as the August sun shines down on them. Sweet bells are easy to process and freeze. All you have to do is cut off the tops, split them and remove the seed, and cut peppers into quarter inch cubes and place in pint or quart plastic containers. When you need them all during the year, pour what you need and place container back in freezer.

Starting a late harvest of strike green beans

Strike is the very best variety of green beans for late summer and an abundant production. A row that is planted this week will produce a harvest during late September and into October. Plant the strikes in a furrow about four inches deep and apply a layer of peat moss in the furrow after sowing the seed. Apply a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure and an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Hill Soil up on both sides of the furrow and tame down with the hoe blade for good soil contact. Once they develop two leaves, apply a side dressing of Plant-Tone and hill up soil to cover it up. Apply water with water wand in shower mode if no rain is forecast during the week.

Rainbow of colors in the zinnia bed

The zinnias of mid-summer are showing off a rainbow of colors and attracting an abundance of attention from yellow and black swallowtail butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, goldfinches, and the majestic Monarch butterflies. When all these floral masterpieces are on display along with the tapestry of butterfly wings, they combine to perform a spectacular show.

The moon reached its first quarter on Friday, August 5. The moon will be full on Thursday, August 11. This full moon will be named “Full Sturgeon Moon.” The moon reaches its last quarter on Friday, August 19. There will be a new moon on the evening of Saturday, August 27.

Preparing an apple sauce pound cake

This is a very easy recipe for an apple sauce pound cake that could be called semi-homemade. All you need to do is mix a box of Duncan Hines caramel cake mix or spice cake mix (caramel is best), one three ounce box Jello instant vanilla or butterscotch pudding mix, four large eggs, one pint of apple sauce, one teaspoon apple pie spices, half cup Crisco oil, half cup milk, one teaspoon vanilla flavoring. Mix all ingredients well. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a tube pan with Pam baking spray, Pour batter into the pan and bake forty five to fifty minutes. The cake will be done when it springs back when touched or when a toothpick comes out clean. Better yet, you can tell by the smell when this cake is done.

June started off on a cool note and a few temperatures in the cool 40s and the overall average temperature for the month was 72 degrees. This caused a lower number of firefly counts for the first week in June. On June 8, the firefly count was 80 and temperature was 74 degrees; June 9, the count was 175’ on June 12, the count was 237. The count was 325 on June 16. On June 23, the count was 320. For most of June the average count was 260 each evening between 8:50 to 9:25 p.m.

The record number was June 29, it was 606. On that evening, the temperature was 78 and the humidity was 65. On that evening the fireflies were observed from trees to the grass on the lawn and all areas in between.

The ideal nights for counting were dry nights, lower humidity and no wind. Peak viewing is between 8:35 and 9:35 p.m.. Their numbers seem to dwindle after that. As Dog Days started, the number averaged around 100 or less. Best counts were between 70 to 79. On rainy evenings the number dwindles. High humidity affects their numbers.

In July on the first day of the month, we counted 536 with a temperature of 74 and humidity of 79. July 2 was stormy and few fireflies. July 3 was clear, humidity 84 and a count of 236. July 4, the temperature was 78 and humidity 69 and the count was 326. On July 6, the count was 159 with humidity of 85 and temperature of 81. As we reached Dog Days, the average count slowed considerably each night with humid conditions and evening thunderstorms.

The katydids are singing songs of autumn

Even though Dog Days are still with us, as the month of July comes to an end the katydids in the tops of mighty oaks are singing songs of the up-and-coming autumn. These unusual insects make music by rubbing their legs against their sides. They resemble large green grasshoppers. Their song is the same each evening and they remind us how slowly and subtly one season paves the way into another. Soon, the dews will become wetter and sticky and the fogs of August will be another sign that the season of fall is sneaking up on us. The crickets will join the katydids in singing of the coming change of seasons.

This is the season to start compost pile

As the harvest of some vegetable crops reach maturity, the time to start a compost bin or pile has arrived. The heat will quickly warm a pile of compost. The residue of spent vegetable crops and stalks or vines are great compost ingredients. Run the mower over them to break the garden residue down to speed up the compost process. Add grass clippings to heat it up. Add some Plant-Tone organic vegetable food or Black Kow composted cow manure to build up heat in the pile. Add peelings, hulls, and garden waste to the compost and add some water once a week. Stir the pile or bin twice each week as you add the ingredients.

The sights and sounds of midsummer

The humming birds zoom around and contend for nectar at the feeders. The birds of summer are active at the feeders and bees visit the annuals and perennials on the porch and deck. Butterflies and finches visit the zinnia bed. Thunder sounds in the distance as a storm approaches. After the storm runs its course, the garden plot will be filled with the glow of fire flies. Humid days, pop-up thunderstorms, and fire fly evenings seem to be summer’s calling cards.

Checking the rose of midsummer

The roses have bloomed all the way through the spring and early summer. With some extra care, they will bloom until frost. To keep them blooming, dead head all spent blooms, spray foliage for mites, insects, and Japanese beetles. Feed with Rose-Tone organic rose food once each month. Water once a week if no rain is in the forecast. Keep long canes trimmed back.

A bit of Saint Lammas weather lore

Saint Lammas Day will be celebrated tomorrow. On this day, it is said the grain begins to ripen and dew’s begin to get heavy. A bit of lore on Saint Lammas Day says that if his day is hot and steamy, look for winter to be white and creamy. We can certainly look for Saint Lammas Day to be hot and steamy because after all, we still have several Dog Days remaining. Don’t count on winter being too white and creamy. Winter is still more than five months away, and a lot of hot, humid weather is ahead before we can even think about the white stuff. One sure thing we know about Saint Lammas Day is that the halfway point of summer has been reached.

Connecting August fogs with winter snows

Tomorrow brings the arrival of the first day of August. The month also brings the arrival of foggy mornings. Are the fogs of August harbingers of the coming snows of winter? My grandma in Northampton County always thought they did, and so did my mother. They kept accurate records of each August fog and if they were light, medium, or heavy. They rose early every morning so they were in good position to observe and record results of the fogs. A heavy fog represents a heavy snow, medium fogs represented a medium snowfall and light fog would mean a trace of snow or a dusting of snow or just a covering of snow. Some of their observations were about as accurate as some of today’s forecasts.

Weather lore as August begins

The last full month of summer begins Monday with almost two more weeks of Dog Days remaining. The last day of the Dog Days of 2022 will be Thursday, August 11. A bit of winter weather lore to begin the month of August says that if the first week of August be warm, winter will be white and long. With Dog Days still in progress, we could very well see some more hot weather. August has plenty of weather lore as you will see in today’s Garden Plot. Even though winter is still a long way off, surely this bit of winter lore can be taken with a grain of salt.

A bowl of colorful dressed up green beans

For this summer recipe, you will need one quart fresh or canned green beans, one large diced white onion, one teaspoon sugar, half teaspoon pepper, one two ounce jar of diced pimentos, one can mushrooms, one can Green Giant Lesueur peas, one stick light margarine and half cup catsup. Mix all ingredients except green beans and simmer for fifteen minutes. Add drained green beans and half stick margarine and simmer for twenty minutes.

Tomatoes ripen quickly in late summer heat

In the heat of the midsummer sun, tomatoes will ripen fast. On days when the sun bears down and no rain is in the forecast use the water wand in shower mode and water the base of the tomato vines and not the foliage to prevent blossom end rot. During dry spells, birds will peck holes in tomatoes to obtain moisture. To prevent this, harvest tomatoes before they get fully ripe and place them on the porch or deck to finish ripening. Apply powdered lime tomato plants and hill up soil on both sides of the plants or mix lime and water in sprinkling can and pour around base of tomato plants.

The monarch butterfly with orange wings trimmed and bordered in black and white have decreased in numbers of 25% to 50% percent over the past decade. A lot of their decrease in population has been caused by the shortage of milkweed which hosts the egg-laying monarch butterflies. Milkweed is in shorter supply because of habitat destruction by development expansion, commercial enterprises, urban sprawl, and careless land management. Most of the land where milkweed prospered has been gulped up.

We are not much for the propagation of weeds, but in the interest of the survival of the Monarch and the hidden benefits of the milkweed, we are going to plant more flowers, scout for some milkweed and transplant it to the garden or try to locate some milkweed seed. After all, milkweed is a perennial and has beautiful purple and lavender flowers. We think this is a worthwhile project and we hope we can find some milkweed or milkweed seeds. Here are a few factors about milkweed: 1) Milkweed is a perennial. Monarchs and their larvae and caterpillars love milkweed. 2) Milkweed can be propagated from cuttings, the milkweed also develops seed pods and can also be rooted. (3) If you can find seed, milkweed can be planted. 4) Monarchs are also known as milkweed butterflies. 5) Monarchs migrate 1,600 miles each year to the mountains of western Mexico.

Keeping bell peppers harvested to freeze

Sweet bell peppers should soon be ready to harvest as the midsummer sun shines down on them. Sweet bells are easy to process and freeze. All you have to do is cut off the tops, split them and remove the seeds and cut into half-inch cubes and place in quart and pint plastic freezer containers. When you need peppers for recipes all during the year, get a container and pour out what you need and place the container back in freezer.

Starting a late row of strike beans

Strike is the best of a green beans for late summer harvests and abundant production. A row that is planted this week will produce a harvest before mid-September and produce until end of the month. Plant the strikes in a furrow about three or four inches deep and apply a layer of peat moss on top of the seed and also a layer of Black Kow composted manure and then an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down soil over seeds in row with the hoe blade for good soil contact. Once the beans develop two leaves side dress with Plant-Tone organic vegetable food every 15 days. Apply water with water wand in ‘Shower” mode each week when rain is not in the forecast.

The rainbow of colors in the zinnia bed

The Zinnias of mid-summer are showing off a rainbow of colors and attracting an abundance of attention from yellow and black tiger swallowtails, bees, hummingbirds, sparrows, gold finches, as well as the majestic Monarch butterflies. These floral masterpieces are on display along with the tapestry of an array of butterflies, all performing a spectacular show of motion and beauty.

“Female football lover.” A man took his sweetheart to a football game. After the game, he asked her how she liked the game. She replied, “I like it, but I could not understand why the players fuss over twenty-five measly cents.” Her boyfriend said, “What are you talking about?” His sweetheart said, “Well, they were all saying get the quarter back!”

“Watered down.” A motorist, after being stuck on a muddy road, paid this farmer $50 to pull his car out of the mud. The motorist told the farmer, “At these prices you should be pulling people out of the mud day and night.” The farmer replied, “I can’t do that because every night I have to fill the hole with water!”

The Surry County Master Gardener’s next Lunch and Learn online webinar will take a look at “Cover Crops for the Home Garden.

“Discover the numerous benefits cover crops provide and how to incorporate buckwheat, crimson clover, mustard and radish into your home garden,” the organization said of the upcoming webinar. The Lunch and Learn will be on August 4, from 12- 1 p.m. on. For more information and to register go to the group’s Facebook page, Surry County Master Gardeners or follow the link at

Rising with the sun on a Dog Day morning

The Dog Day sun is still rising hot and early in the morning. Even the dog star Sirius rises with the sun and follows it across the sky all day long. Like Sirius, we need to rise before the heat of the Dog Day morning, do our chores and garden tasks and then take a nap in the heat of the day. We still have about two more weeks before the end of Dog Days plus the hotties of the rest of the month of August, so be prepared and deal with the heat.

The Dog Day sun shines down on the water in the birdbath and heats it up in the afternoon. It becomes distasteful to the thirsty birds on days especially when no rain is in the forecast. Empty the hot water from the baths each afternoon and refill with fresh cool water. They not only drink the water but they take cooling baths in it also.

During dry days in July when there’s not much rain and not much in mud holes, water may be difficult for birds to find. They will look for water in other sources. One source could be to peck holes in ripe tomatoes. You can avoid this situation by harvesting tomatoes and placing them on the porch or deck to finish ripening. Don’t place in the heat of direct sunlight because will cause them to ripen too quickly.

Making canned green beans taste fresh

Can and freeze all the green beans from the summer harvest so they can be enjoyed during the winter. In winter, you can prepare green beans to taste like fresh. All you have to do is open a quart jar of green beans, add one tablespoon white Karo corn syrup, one stick light margarine, half teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper, and half teaspoon of celery seed. Bring the green beans and all the ingredients to a boil, lower heat and simmer three minutes. Remember the beans are already cooked, and this was done when you processed them during the canning. All you are doing with the canned beans is enhancing the flavor.

The tropical colors of the portulaca

The huge container of portulaca on the deck has a new display of flowers every day in different displays and patterns. Each morning there is a different combination of colors with new array of flowers. The container is completely covered in foliage and flowers and cascades over the sides of the container. Colors of orange, red, yellow, white, burgundy, rose, tan, pink, wine, and coral. Every day that the sun shines the flowers open wide. On cloudy days, there are not as many flowers. On very warm afternoons, the container is a rainbow of colors. The portulaca has other names such as rose moss, cactus rose and desert flower.

Cooling down with a cucumber salad

Cucumbers are good at any meal during Dog Days and this recipe will cool off hungry diners. Peel and dice three or four cucumbers in half inch chunks. Dice three or four firm tomatoes into half inch chunks. Dice one medium onion into half inch chunks, or you can use four or five scallions. Dice a half cup of stuffed olives, one two ounce jar of diced pimentos (drained). For the dressing, mix half cup sugar, one fourth cup apple cider vinegar, half teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper, one fourth cup mayonnaise. Mix the ingredients together and pour over the salad ingredients and stir. Refrigerate for an hour or two.

Gems in the summer skies

Rainbows are glorious gems in the eastern sky on humid summer days. An afternoon thunderstorm brings relief from the heat and an extra bonus of a beautiful rainbow. The ribbon of seven bright colors of include red, orange, yellow, blue, green, indigo, and violet. These are all the colors of the prism, which are the products of light in this case, the light of the sun. The colors of the rainbow are the colors of the spectrum, and the spectrum is God’s great color wheel.

Canning squash for casseroles and sonkers

The squash of summer are now ready for a harvest. You can enjoy them fried with onions or in a casserole or sonker. Summer squash are easy to can and enjoy in winter in sonkers and casseroles. You can use the yellow crookneck or straight neck. To process for canning, scrub the squash with vegetable brush, wash them and cut the squash into half inch cubes. Place the cubes in sterilized one quart jars and fill to within half inch of top of jar. Seal with sterilized lids and rings. Place in a pressure canner and process at ten pounds pressure for 25 minutes, when using the canned squash during winter, drain water from jars before using.

Making a yellow summer squash sonker

This is a great recipe squash sonker and the ingredient that sets it apart is the use of real vanilla and not imitation, we certainly don’t know what the flavor of the very first sonker was, but it could have possibly been squash just because they are so plentiful during summer. They make a tasty sonker because they have plenty of moisture. Squash are also one of America’s oldest vegetable that can be traced back to Pilgrims in 1620. To prepare this sonker recipe simmer a quart of summer squash (preferably straight neck) or six of eight fresh squash. Mash or chop the cooked squash and drain, add one and a half cups sugar, two teaspoons real vanilla, one teaspoon pumpkin pie spices, half cup evaporated milk, two tablespoons corn starch, two teaspoons Log Cabin maple syrup. Mix (by hand) and set aside. For the crust, mix two cups plain flour, one teaspoon salt, two teaspoons sugar, two third cup Crisco shortening, ten tablespoons of ice cold water. Mix salt and sugar with plain flour, add Crisco shortening and mix with hands until crumbly, add the ice cold water and knead the dough until it forms a soft ball. Grease a 13×9×2 inch baking pan or dish with Crisco shortening and flour the pan. Spread the dough into the greased and floured pan. Pour the squash filling over the crust and pat top of filling with pats of light margarine. Bake at 375 degrees for one hour or more needed.

Hints of autumn all around us

The crickets and katydids have been singing their tunes about autumn for several weeks. Crows also have been making a racket about it also. The dogwoods have the evidence with plenty of red berries and more are turning red each day. The nandenna bushes have clusters of tiny green berries that may be pointing to autumn and possibly some harsh winter cold. Days are still getting shorter by a minute each evening. Many summer flowers are producing seed pods and weeds are trying to produce more seed as they try to prolong the weed population. Even with signs of autumn, there is still plenty of garden time left that we can take advantage of.

Perking up heat stressed tomatoes

In the heat of Dog Days, tomato vines sort of look pooped. They need a shot to perk them up and you can give them that double dose of pepper-uppers. First of all, fill a sprinkle can with water and two cups of lime (calcium carbonate powdered), stir and pour at the base of the tomato vines. Next, fill the sprinkling can with water and mix in proper amount of Alaska Fish emulsion according to directions on the bottle. Pour this solution around the base of the tomato vines. Next day, side dress the tomatoes with Tomato-Tone organic tomato food and hill soil up on each side of the row.

Sowing broccoli and cabbage seeds

With subtle hints of autumn in the air, it’s time to sow seeds of cole family vegetables such as broccoli collard, and cabbage seed to be transplanted to the garden plot in early September. Start seed of collard, broccoli and cabbage within the next ten days. Use three medium flower pots (one quart size). Fill the pots with seed starting medium and proper amount of water to moisten the medium and allow an extra handful of the medium per pot to cover the seed. Pour the medium into a bucket and mix with water until well- moistened. Fill the containers to within half inch from the top. Label each container with type of seed because all cole family seed look just alike. Scatter the seed in each pot and apply a layer of starting medium on top of seed and pat down with your fingers. Repeat process with other seed varieties. Use a spray bottle such as glass cleaner comes in and mist the containers each day. Keep pots out of direct sunlight and place in carport or porch. When plants develop two leaves, transplant seedlings to individual containers and spray or mist with water every day and protect from direct sunlight. Protect from heat of the sun. Plants should be ready to transplant to garden in early September.

“Strike up the sit down.” The company was having a problem with all its employees going on a sitdown strike. An intelligent CEO told the strikers they might as well be comfortable, so he provided them with blankets, chairs, and cases of bourbon. When they had consumed half the bourbon, the CEO sent in ten exotic dancers to entertain the strikers. Then he brought over the wives of the strikers. That was the end of the sitdown strike.

“A two-way bargain.” On the first day of the school year, the teacher sent this note home to every parent: “If you promise not to believe everything your child says happens at school, I’ll promise not to believe everything they say happens at home.”

“Double trouble.” A few years ago, a friend was in trouble and I helped him out. “I won’t forget you,” he said. He didn’t, now he’s in trouble again.

Setting out tomatoes for late harvest

As July reaches the halfway point, there is still a lot of summer left to produce a second harvest of late summer tomatoes. Many hardwares, garden centers, nurseries, Walmart, Lowe’s, Ace Hardware and Home Depot still have plenty of tomato plants in stock. Choose determinate varieties such as Celebrity, Rutgers, Marglobe, Homestead, and Better Boy. Place a layer of peat moss in bottom of the furrow to retain moisture as the summer heat bears down. Apply a layer of Tomato-Tone organic, tomato food before covering the plants with soil. Keep soil hilled up on both sides of tomato plants. Water base of the plants each week when no rain is in the forecast. Feed every 15 days with Tomato-Tone organic tomato food.

Another tale of a lazy Dog Day afternoon

Dogs seem to have the most common sense when it comes to coping with Dog Day afternoons, they just find a shady spot under a tree or inside the carport. They don’t seem to allow the heat to bother them and they certainly don’t experience heat strokes. Maybe this Dog Day tale will solve the mystery of why dogs can deal with the heat of Day Days better than most humans. Maybe it’s because they sometimes eat grass.

This Dog Day tale says that when a dog eats grass on a Dog Day morning, it will rain before the day is done. My Northampton County grandma always kept a few hounds around, and she always said dogs ate grass because they were sick (or maybe it was to keep them from getting sick). That made sense because in those days, most people, and we are sure most dogs, used their own remedies. Most people back then lived too far away and would not travel to a doctor or especially to a vet. They made do with what they had and so did the dogs.

As Dog Days move along, wet dew increases

As we reach past the half way point of July, the lawn is heavy, laden with dew and it lingers until mid-day. It is also unusual because it is very sticky. It is a sure signal that autumn is slowly on its way. Please do not mow the lawn when the dew is still on it because it will promote rust on the mower and blade, and also pile wet clippings on the lawn. Wait until later in the afternoon when the sun dries the dew. It will certainly be easier to mow and you will have a much better looking lawn.

Take advantage of the July corn harvest

Many gardeners don’t raise corn because they don’t have space and the long maturity time of 90 days or more to a harvest. Corn also produces a short harvest window and this prevents many gardeners from raising a corn crop. There are plenty of farms in our area that sell corn by the dozen ears or also a cabbage bag of twelve dozen ears. One such place is Smith Farms located on U.S. 601 between Boonville and Yadkinville. They will bring the corn out to your vehicle from their barn. Another location is Matthews Farm on Old U.S. Highway 421 near the Yadkin River Bridge. Both these farms offer corn for freezing. Call ahead to make sure corn is available and place your order so it will be ready when you arrive.

A fresh corn pudding is easy to prepare

This recipe is great when prepared with fresh corn, but can be made with canned cream- style corn and is great either way. Corn is a vegetable good in all seasons of the year whether fresh, frozen, or canned. For this corn pudding recipe you can use a 16 ounce can of cream-style corn or seven ears of fresh cut com from the cob (about one-and-a-half-to-two cups), Dice corn with a knife or food chopper, add half teaspoon salt, one cup of sugar, half teaspoon pepper, one teaspoon vanilla flavoring, three eggs one cup milk, two teaspoons corn starch, one stick light margarine. Mix all ingredients together until well blended. Spray baking dish or pan with Pam baking spray and pour the pudding mixture into the pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for fifty to sixty minutes. Stir pudding two or three times during the baking process. The pudding will be firm when done. To brown the pudding on top, place oven on low broil for a minute or so. Carefully watch to avoid burning. Great served warm or cold.

Investing in a durable corn silk brush

In talking about the season of fresh corn and freezing corn, a great investment that makes processing corn much easier is to always have a corn silk brush to make silking ears of com easier to do. You can purchase these brushes at Target, Walmart, houseware departments and kitchen specialty stores, as well as hardwares, from $3 to $5. A bottle brush works but not as well.

Dragon wing begonia has glossy foliage and colorful flowers

The Dragon Wing begonia fills the front with plenty of greenery and flowers as it cascades over its container. Just one potful overflows and is abundant with clusters of blooms. The leaves are oblong and glossy and the whole plant resembles a huge umbrella. The Dragon Wing will produce all the way until frost.

Majestic monarchs visit zinnia bed

Not only do black and yellow tiger swallowtails visit the colorful Zinnia bed, but so do the brightly colored Monarchs. The glow of the majestic monarch graces the zinnias with colorful orange wings framed in black with white dots present a show piece of beauty and detail. Butterfly wings are truly works of art.

Slices of green at every summer meal

Cool as a cucumber on every hot Dog Day evening is what summer’s harvest of cucumbers is all about. Cucumbers add something special to every meal of summer. All you do is use the vegetable peeler, peel several and slice them and apply salt, pepper, and apple cider vinegar or ranch dressing to add something extra to every meal. Many gardeners like the unusual cumber sandwich with cucumber slices, plenty of mayonnaise, salt and pepper. We like the old fashioned way of peeling the cucumber and applying salt and pepper and the crunch.

Simple and easy to prepare blueberry sonker

This is a simple sonker recipe with fresh blueberries and a can of blueberry pie filling. The ingredients for the sonker are one stick light margarine, one cup sugar, two-and-a-half cups fresh blueberries, one can Comstock blueberry pie filling, one teaspoon vanilla flavoring, one cup plain flour, one teaspoon baking powder, pinch of salt, one cup evaporated milk. To make crust, mix together one cup plain flour, flour, one teaspoon baking powder, pinch of salt, evaporated milk, and three fourth cup of sugar. Mix all these ingredients together until it forms a smooth batter. Melt one stick of light margarine in a saucepan and pour into a 13x9x2 inch baking pan or dish. Pour the crust mixture over the melted margarine. For the blueberry filling mixture, bring the pie filling, fresh blueberries, sugar, and vanilla flavoring together and simmer for two or three minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour the blueberry mixture into pie batter pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes until light brown. The crust will be on top when sonker is finished baking.

An essential ingredient for hotties

As the hotties of Dog Days bear down making life a bit uncomfortable for dogs and people, consider also what the hot soil in the garden plot endures. You can improve soil conditions by applying a layer of peat moss under the soil of every vegetable you plant during summer months. Peat moss promotes moisture retention and improves soil texture as it adds organic matter to the soil. It acts as a sponge to absorb moisture and helps in the cooling of garden soil. A 3.5 cubic foot bale costs around twelve dollars and is a good investment for every garden.

-Dead news report. Employee: “Editor, your assistant just died, and I was wondering if could take his place.” Editor: “It’s alright with me if you can arrange it with the funeral director.”

-Return to Sender. Husband: “The bank returned the check wrote last week.” Wife: “Good, what shall we buy with it this time?

-No Sale Salesman. Sales manager: “Did you get any new orders today?” Salesman: “Yes, I got two orders.” Sales manager: “And what were they?” Salesman: “One was to get out and the other was to stay out!”

-Hard work doesn’t always pay. Teacher: “Kids, we can always learn a lesson from the ants. They work hard every day, and what happens at the end of the day?” Student: “Somebody steps on them!”

Freshness in a Dog Day afternoon thunderstorm

The sweltering sun bears down and heats up the Dog Day afternoon. The leaves on the mighty oaks, poplars, and maples flip their petticoats as they await the heat-relieving benefits of an afternoon thunderstorm. Even the hot foliage in the garden plot of summer vegetables fold open their green leaves to wait for the approaching thunder and lightning that heralds the up and coming refreshing thunderstorm, when huge raindrops will fall from dark gray clouds. The summer wind picks up and so do the torrents of rain. Temperatures fall as the leaves and garden foliage absorb the rain drops and both spread back their petticoats in thankfulness and even as the clouds clear out, the sky responds with a colorful rainbow at the close of a Dog Day afternoon.

The first tomato sandwich from garden

The joy of harvesting and excitement of the regular harvest of ripe tomatoes heated by the summer sun and that first tomato sandwich of the season is near. The very best tomato sandwiches are made with sun-heated tomatoes directly from the garden, sliced, placed in fresh slices of bread, sprinkled with salt and pepper on both sides and smothered with mayonnaise on both sides. We remember only one thing better and that was my mother and grandma’s cat head biscuits with a tomato the very same size as the biscuit and coated with Duke’s mayonnaise, salt and pepper. What a taste of heaven that was! One of the blessings of summer’s Dog Days is the rays of the sun bearing down on the rubies of the garden in summer.

A cool tomato treat in hot summer

Tomatoes from the summer garden brighten any meal and they enhance the flavor of any vegetable dish they become a part of such as fried corn, with diced tomatoes mixed into the corn. Lima beans with diced fresh ripe tomatoes mixed in them is also a special taste treat. This special recipe calls for fresh tomatoes combined with other ingredients to make a tasty tomato dish on a warm summer evening. To prepare this recipe, you will need eight medium-sized firm freshly harvested tomatoes. Cut off tops of the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and pulp and place the hollowed out tomatoes in a round glass plate. In a bowl, mix an eight-ounce pack of cream cheese (softened), three tablespoons mayonnaise, ten florets of fresh broccoli (diced), 12 strips of crispy fried bacon (diced), one peeled and diced cucumber. Mix all ingredients and spread into the hollowed out tomatoes. Cool in the refrigerator for an hour before serving. Garnish the tops of tomatoes with stuffed olives or tomato cubes.

Rainbow of color in the zinnia bed

The Zinnia bed is in full bloom with a rainbow of summer beauty and color. The swallowtail butterflies, bumblebees, goldfinches and sparrows visit the zinnias every afternoon as well as the majestic monarch butterflies. They all add extra color to the zinnias. As Dog Days get hotter, keep zinnias watered at the base of the plants with the water wand in shower” mode. Do not spray water directly on the foliage because this promotes powder mildew and cucumber mosaic. Soak the zinnia row or bed with a cool, drink of water to relieve the stress of Dog Day heat. As Zinnia blooms phase out, pinch off blooms to promote growth of new blooms. Drop spent blooms on ground outside the row or bed so the birds can peck the seeds from the died Zinnias.

Surry County blueberry harvest on way

The blueberry harvest is getting ripe in the Dog Day Sun. The best time to visit the blueberry fields and have a somewhat comfortable condition for picking several buckets of berries is to go early in the morning hours before the sun heats up the fields. Leave the kids at home with grandma simply because blueberry fields and kids do not combine well when your goal is to harvest a few buckets of blueberries. It really takes patience to pick blueberries. They have a taste and unique flavor that makes them well worth a journey to a pick your own blueberry farm.

Making a quickie blueberry cobbler

A combination of canned blueberry pie filling concocted with a mix of fresh blueberries and a crust made from two ready-made pie shells makes this cobbler easy to prepare. In a bowl, mix one can of Comstock blueberry pie filling, one and a half cups of fresh blueberries, two teaspoons vanilla flavoring, one and a half cups sugar, half cup water, one stick melted light margarine, two teaspoons corn starch. Mix all the ingredients together and pour into a 13x9x2 inch baking pan or dish, sprayed with Pam baking spray. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Break or cut two thawed pie crusts into pieces and spread over the blueberry pie mixture. Melt the stick of light margarine and spoon over the pie crust pieces. Bake for one hour or until the crust is golden brown. Serve with ice cream, Cool Whip, or it’s great as it is.

Saint Swithin’s Day will be July 15

Saint Swithin’s Day will be next Friday. Saint Swithin is known as the saint of the soakers. Swithin may not live up to his name simply because we are in the middle of the heat of Dog Days. This heat on the other hand, could generate some hefty thunderstorms and protect the saint’s reputation. A Saint Swithin tradition states that when it rains on his day, he is christening the season’s apple crop. Maybe he could throw in a colorful rainbow to top of his special day!

Canning summer squash for winter sonkers

The straight neck and crookneck summer squash should now be producing a harvest. Do not allow any of them to go to waste or get too large. Can them in quart jars to make squash casseroles and sonkers all winter long. To can the squash, wash and scrub the squash with a stiff brush. Cube the squash into half-inch cubes. Fill sterilized quart jars with the cubed squash, fill jars with hot water and seal with lids and rings. Place jars in a pressure canner and process at ten pounds pressure for 25 minutes. To use canned squash in winter, drain water from jar and use as you would fresh squash. Squash casseroles and sonkers in winter are a real treat.

Making a simple squash sonker

Squash sonker is a Surry County treasure and heirloom that includes some mystery on how it received its name and how it came to be an important part of Surry County history. Sonker is good simply because the ingredients are so simple and available almost every Surry County home. It includes no fancy ingredients, mixes, or gourmet items just ordinary, plain household ingredients. There are many sonker recipes and some may be secret family recipes. It does not take long to decode the sonker secret because any Surry County country cook that knows their way around the kitchen can do the math and figure out what a squash or other basic sonker consists of and put one together in their country kitchen. For the next two weeks, the Garden Plot will feature two simple sonker recipes and later a basic sonker crust recipe.

Supporting pepper plants from storms

Use cages and tomato stakes to support pepper plants and prevent them from blowing over during hefty thunderstorms. These supports will also keep peppers off the ground and easier to harvest later in the summer.

“Hair Raising.” While shampooing her 4-year-old son’s hair, his mother noted how fast his hair was growing and that he would soon need a haircut. Her son said,”Maybe we shouldn’t water it so much.”

“A short cut.” Church member: “Pastor, how did you get that cut on your face?” Pastor:”I was thinking about my sermon this morning, and wasn’t concentrating on what I was doing, and I cut myself while shaving.” Member: “That’s too bad. Next time, you should concentrate more on shaving and cut your sermon.”

“College Kick out.” Larry: “My college has turned out some great men.” Harry: “I didn’t know you were a college graduate.” Larry: “I’m the one they turned out!”

Enduring the hotties of Dog Days

Beginning next week we will begin to endure the hotties of Dog Days. They are usually the hottest days of the long hot summer. In summer, at grandmas Northampton County home, her hounds were nowhere to be found on the hot Dog Day afternoons. They would be under the house laying down on cool soil next to the foundation of the house. You would not see them until the sun went down and they came out to eat what was left over from the supper table. The explanation of Dog Days is they occur every summer from early July until into August. They are the days when Sirius, the dog star in Canis Major constellation follows the constellation of Orion across the summer sky from sunrise to sunset. Dogs may be mad because they are hot, but contrary to what grandma said, dogs do not go mad during Dog Days. Unlike humans, they don’t over do it, but discover a place where they can cool off on a sultry Dog Day afternoon. We should do what they do and find a place to cool off.

Cooling the birds on a summer afternoon

Spray the hot dogs with a hose and then dump water from the birdbath and refill them with fresh cool water every afternoon. Cool off hanging baskets and containers of summer annuals until water runs out of the holes in bottoms of the baskets and containers.

Benefits, relief in afternoon thunderstorms

Dog Day afternoons can also promote the arrival of some relief from the sultry heat in the form of a thunderstorm. An extra bonus is that the garden plot gets a cool down and harvest. Ground vegetables get a fresh drink of water from upstairs.

A search for wild blackberry patches

Usually after the Fourth of July, the wild blackberries harvest begins. They can be found along roadsides and fields in the Piedmont. Wild blackberries have that certain “wang” about them that makes them unforgettable. As kids growing up in eastern North Carolina, we would pick and sell them for a quarter a quart and neighbors would buy them quickly to make blackberry dumplings and preserves. We would take advantage of the berry harvest for several weeks to make a few dollars and fill a lot of tables with blackberries.

Tomato harvest is almost here

The week after the Fourth of July usually brings the first ripe tomatoes. The heat of Dog Day summer afternoons will promote the ripeness of the first of a long harvest. Keep the tomatoes side dressed and covered after applying an application of Tomato-Tone organic tomato food or Miracle-Gro liquid tomato food mixed with proper amount of water in a sprinkling can. Keeping soil hilled up to tomato plants will protect them from gusty summer storms and support them.

A quick remedy for blossom end rot

The heat can pave the way for blossom end rot on tomatoes as they begin to ripen. One way to prevent blossom end rot is to water the base of tomato plants with the water wand in spray mode. Another way is to mix two quarts of powdered lime (calcium carbonate) in a sprinkling can of water and apply it around the base of the tomatoes. Still another method is to side dress the tomatoes with Vigaro calcium enriched tomato food and then pull up soil on both sides of the row and spray a shower of water with the water wand around base of the plants.

Making a pan of fresh blackberry dumplings

With blueberries in season, a simple blueberry dumpling recipe will make a great dessert for a summer supper. You will need ten Hungry Jack biscuits cut into halves. Mix one quart of fresh blueberries, one stick light margarine (melted), one tablespoon vanilla, one tablespoon corn starch, half cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for two or three minutes. Place bottoms of biscuits in a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan or dish sprayed with Pam baking spray. Pour half of the blueberry mixture over the biscuit halves. Place the biscuit tops on the blueberry filled bottoms and pour the rest of the blueberry mixture over top of the biscuits. Bake at 350 degrees until biscuits are golden brown. Serve with ice cream, Cool Whip or dairy whipping cream.

Making nectar for hummingbird feeders

The heat will cause nectar to ferment in the hummingbird feeders in just a few days. Change the nectar at least once a week and try to keep the feeder out of direct sunlight. Don’t fill feeders completely but about half full and check how long it lasts. Honey suckles are finishing their cycle of blooms and hummers will be visiting the feeders more frequently. You can purchase nectar in half gallon plastic bottles ready mixed or in envelopes that is powdered and ready to mix with water with several drops of red food coloring. You can prepare several quarts at a time and store in the refrigerator.

Starting seeds for late autumn tomatoes

As the first of the tomatoes of summer reach harvest stage, it’s time to sow the seeds of tomatoes for the plants that will provide a harvest of late summer and mid-autumn tomatoes, and green tomatoes to store to ripen in the house or basement. The best tomato varities for a late tomato harvest are the determinate. Determinates are a bush type that require no cages or stakes or support and they produce most of their harvest over a shorter period. Indeterminate need cages and supports and produce a harvest over a longer time period which makes them ideal for summer gardens. Determinants are best for autumn and late summer because they produce tomatoes in a shorter amount of time. Some determinants are Better Boy, Celebrity, Rutgers, Marglobe, Homestead, Mountain Pride and Oregon Spring. Determinate seed started now will be ready to transplant into the garden in mid to late August.

Zinnia bed attracts butterflies and finches

The colorful zinnia bed is filled with multicolored blooms that attract a variety of butterflies, goldfinches, bumblebees and all types of birds. On hot Dog Day afternoons, the zinnias need a cool drink of water, but not the foliage because to water the foliage promotes powdery mildew and cucumber mosaic. Always water zinnias at the base of the plants preferably with the water wand so that you can place water at exactly where it is needed.

Attracting bees to cucumbers and squash

To attract bees and other pollinators to blooming squash and cucumbers, use a spray bottle such as window glass cleaner comes in, with four or five tablespoons of sugar mixed in the bottle and spray a mist directly on the foliage. This will attract more bees and other pollinators to the blooms and help produce a larger harvest.

Pinching off the spent rose blooms

The roses of summer are still in bloom and putting on a show of color and beauty. As the roses bloom and fade, keep pinching off spent blooms to promote new blooms as summer moves along. Water roses once each week if no rain falls. Feed every 15 days with Rose-Tone organic rose food. Spray to control leaf mites and Japanese beetles.

“Crazy is as crazy does.” Husband: “My wife talks to herself all the time, she must be crazy.” Psychiatrist: “That’s ridiculous, you wouldn’t be crazy just because you talked to yourself.” Husband: “Why not?” Psychiatrist: “Of course not, I talk to myself. Do you think I’m crazy?” Husband: “I wouldn’t say your crazy if you talked to yourself, but if you listened you would be.”

“Gift of cold hard cash.” The husband asked his wife what she would like for her birthday. After a moment of thought she said, “This year, I want some cold hard cash for a change.” The next day, her husband filled her request. He put $50 in quarters, dimes and nickles in a jar and filled the jar with water and placed it in the freezer. That night, he handed his wife the jar of cold, hard cash.

“Alarming.” Jan: “My father has everything, I don’t know what to buy for him.” Fran: “Get him a burglar alarm!”

Independence Day will be celebrated on Monday, July 4. The moon will enter its first quarter on Wednesday, July 6. There will be a full moon on Wednesday, July 20. This full moon of the month of July will be named “Full Buck Moon.” There will be a new moon on the evening of Thursday, July 28. The hotties of Dog Days begin on Sunday, July 3, and will continue until Thursday, August 11.

Purity and daintiness of Queen Anne’s Lace

The fields and meadows as well as the country roads of Surry County are adorned with tall strands of the dainty and tapestry of the magic of Queen Anne’s Lace. Queen Anne’s Lace is a native of Europe and has roots shaped like a carrot. We wonder how they arrived in America, and did the pilgrims bring them on the Mayflower? Another interesting question is: were the roots of the Queen Anne’s Lace edible? We do know that in England, it is also known as the “wild carrot.”

It grows wild over a large area of the United States and along the mainline in Milwaukee where the Milwaukee road “Hiawathas” used to run. All over the Mid-West the Queen Anne’s white lace flowers adorn the heartland. It is an heirloom across the southeast and used to adorn floral arrangements mixed with flowers from many flower gardens. My mother and Northampton County grandma gathered the lace with its long stems to use as fillers for their floral arrangements during summer to place on alter tables in their church. What a colorful combination of the tamed zinnias, marigolds, cosmos and dahlias adorned with the wild majesty and daintiness of the pure white Queen Anne’s Lace on a summer Sunday.

Summer thunder: message of the trees

In the heat of a summer afternoon, the heat of the sweltering sun bears down on the leaves of oaks and maples and they respond by turning their leaves over to show their petticoats and send a subtle message that they are ready for some rain in the form of an afternoon thunderstorm. Later, the sun hides behind the clouds, thunder rolls, lightning flashes and a hefty rain falls; the leaves flip over to receive the fresh raindrops, and after the rain, there is a cool, refreshing breeze. The leaves are fresh, green, lively as well as upright as if thanking the creator for a wonderful shower of blessing and refreshing.

Vegetables need food, not fertilizers

Organic plant, flower and vegetable food is beneficial to soil as well as vegetables. Organics will dissolve quickly into soil and are finely textured and not pelletized and this promotes nutritional results. You can choose from Plant-Tone organic vegetable food, Tomato-Tone organic tomato food, Garden-Tone organic plant food, Flower-Tone organic flower food and Holly-Tone organic evergreen and azalea food. It is available in four- and ten-pound zippered bags. The four-pound bags are easier to handle and apply and can be sprinkled into the furrows and mixed easily into the soil when sowing seed.

Hoping for few Japanese beetles

As the heat of June increases, we hope the population of Japanese beetles will not increase. As Dog Days draw nearer, we should know what kind of beetle year this will be. If you see them appear, the first measure of control should be to place beetle traps in areas away from the garden and affected areas. If there is a huge infestation, spray a mist of liquid Sevin mixed with proper amount of water in a spray bottle. Allow the sun to dry the mist into the foliage.

Peat moss and Black Kow elixirs

These two organic products will give the garden an extra boost. Both are totally organic and will work wonders in warm summer soil. Black Kow is composted cow manure and comes in 25- and 50-pound bags. A 25-pound bag costs about $6. Peat moss comes in 3.5 cubic foot bales and costs about $12 per bale. Keep a bale on hand and place on seed in the furrow before you hill up soil on both sides of the furrow.

Heat up compost with grass clippings

Using residue from garden harvests, grass clippings and peelings of vegetables and other crops add extra heat to the compost and help decompose and break down the materials by bringing on the heat. Grass clippings also provide great mulch for summer vegetable crops.

Days of summer getting shorter

The days of summer are now getting shorter by one minute each evening now that summer has begun. This will continue til Dec. 21. It will be a while before we can see any difference because summer has just got started and the days of summer are long.

Staying ahead of summer weeds

The weeds in the summer garden do not take a vacation, but will continue to grow and choke out vegetable harvests. The best way to control them is to pull them up by the roots and throw them out of the garden. Those weeds have deep roots and pulling them up by the roots is the best way to destroy them.

Watching out for the deck umbrella

The warm afternoons of summer can trigger a thunderstorm that generates high winds that can blow over the deck umbrella and take the deck table over with it. If a thunderstorm is in the forecast, remove the umbrella. If you go on vacation always do these two things for peace of mind and protection: Remove deck umbrella and store it and switch off the refrigerator’s ice maker and don’t forget to switch it back on as soon as you return home.

Warm temperatures pave way for tougher grass

Warm June temperatures pave the way for tougher grass and this will make mowing a little harder. Make sure grass is dry from morning dew or a sudden shower. Never mow grass that is wet, but wait until the sun dries out the grass. Make sure the blade is sharp and adjusted to keep from cutting grass too low.

Warm days and nights cause tomato plants to bloom and form green tomatoes as we end June. Feed the tomatoes by applying Tomato-Tone organic tomato food on each side of the tomato row and hilling up soil to cover up the Tomato-Tone. Water with the wand in shower mode each week at the base of the tomato plants to prevent blossom end rot. Apply a layer of calcium carbonate (powdered lime) on each side of tomato vines when green tomatoes appear. Cover lime with soil on each side of the row. Water each week when no rain is forecast.

Making a creamy ranch squash casserole

The summer squash are now in season and this casserole is a great way to use some of them. You will need two or three pounds of yellow summer squash, one cup of diced onions, three fourth cup mayonnaise, two slightly beaten large eggs, one envelope crushed saltine crackers, five slices toasted crushed bread, one envelope Hidden Valley buttermilk ranch dressing (dry), one eight ounce package of finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese, one stick melted margarine, half teaspoon salt and half teaspoon pepper. Cook squash and onions until tender and drain. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl mix mayonnaise, beaten eggs, and crushed saltines, and ranch dressing and the finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Mash the squash and onion mixture and add to the mayonnaise mixture. Pour into a casserole dish sprayed with Pam baking spray. Mix melted light margarine with the toasted, crushed bread crumbs; heat and sprinkle over the squash mixture. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until top is golden brown and bubbly.

Ethanol oil treatment on two cycle small engines

Ethanol is not good for two cycle small engines. When adding oil to the fuel, always add ethanol free oil treatment to the fuel to protect engines of weed trimmers, blowers and tillers as well as all small engines. You can purchase this additive at Home Depot, Lowe’s and most hardwares.

The blueberry harvest to begin

As June is at the close, the season of the blueberry is almost here and the harvest will run all the way into August. Unlike strawberries, it takes a lot of blueberries to compose a gallon, but their flavor in a blueberry pie or a cobbler or sonker makes them well worth the time and effort. Dog Days will soon be here, so the best thing to do is pick blueberries early in the morning before the sun heats things up. It takes patience to pick blueberries as well as a positive thinking attitude. A bit of wise advice — leave the kids with grandma because the patience of kids wear thin in the blueberry patch! One plus of blueberries is that they are easy to prepare and freeze. All you have to do is run cold in the sink. Pour a quart of blueberries in at a time in the water and remove the unripe berries that rise to the top with a tea strainer. Place berries in quart containers after draining the berries on a dry towel for a minute. Make sure berries are dry when placing in the plastic quart containers. Allow half an inch at the top of container before placing the lids. In winter, they will taste just like fresh berries.

Making a blueberry sweet dream dessert

This is a yummy recipe to think about when getting ready to make a blueberry picking visit worthwhile when you get back home. You will need one 21-ounce can of Comstock blueberry pie filling, one quart fresh blueberries, one eight ounce pack softened cream cheese, one tub of Cool Whip, two cups of graham cracker crumbs, one cup 10x powdered sugar, one cup sugar and two sticks light margarine. Run the graham crackers through the blender in “grate” mode and mix with two sticks of melted light margarine and spread in the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish or pan. Bake at 350 degrees for seven or eight minutes. Beat cream cheese and add powdered sugar. Spread over the graham crackers. Mix blueberry pie filling, fresh blueberries, one cup sugar and spread over the cream cheese mixture. Cover with Cool Whip or dairy whipping cream and serve. Keep refrigerated.

The heat and humidity of July’s Dog Days will begin in a few days. Now is the time to check out the Irish potato row or bed and see what’s under the vines. Dig under them lightly and don’t disturb the skins of the spuds. After harvest, spread a layer of powdered lime over the harvested potatoes to promote drying.

“Rock a bye baby.” Son: “Why is Dad singing so much to the baby tonight?” Mother: “He is trying to sing the baby to sleep.” Son: “If I were her, I’d pretend I was asleep.”

“Tailor made.” Customer: “I’m sorry, I wont be able to pay for this suit for two months.” Tailor: “Oh, that will be alright.” Customer: “When will the suit be ready?” Tailor: “In two months.”

“Fun pun:” “I’m going to put all my money into taxes — they are sure to go up.”

The first day of summer is only two days away and with the arrival of summer comes the expectation of evening thunderstorms that can be benefactors of the summer garden plot. Sometimes the thunderstorms on summer afternoons are the lifeblood of the garden and lawn during the heat and humidity of summer and the up and coming of Dog Days early in July. A summer thunderstorm has a certain aroma and freshness about it that perks up the garden and gives the lawn a sudden burst of energy. It gives the warm weather crops a boost as they head toward harvest stage. On a hot and humid day, after a thunderstorm, the air takes a turn for the better and is easier to breath.

Feeding the early roses of summer

The roses have bloomed all during the month of May and into June. They now need a boost of food to promote the blooms of summer. Pull off spent blooms and cut back any long canes. Feed the rose bushes with Rose-Tone organic rose food and water them to allow the food to soak into the soil. Water roses each week with the water wand in shower mode. Check roses for mites, insects and Japanese beetles and spray to control them.

Cucumbers hiding under the vines

The cucumbers are at harvest stage and they grow quickly in the warm temperatures of mid June. The foliage matches the color of the cucumbers as they hide under the spreading vines. Make a double effort to find them before they get to large to harvest and turn yellow. Use a rake to pull back the foliage and search under the leaves for the elusive cucumbers.

Feeding tomatoes for a harvest

Many tomato plants have already passed bloom stage and are forming tiny green tomatoes. Feed them now by side dressing them Tomato-Tone organic tomato food and hilling the food with soil on each side of the row. Water tomatoes at the base of the plants with the water wand in shower mode to prevent mildew when soil is dry and no rain is in the forecast. This will help prevent blossom end rot.

Grass clippings to heat up compost

Some vegetables have passed harvest stage and can be pulled up, mowed over or gathered up and placed in the compost bin or pile. Mowing season is in full swing and this is the time to save those clippings and add them to the compost bin to heat up and decompose garden residue. The summer sun shining down on the compost with the heat of the grass clippings will really make a huge difference in producing compost and mulch all summer long.

Protecting deck furniture from mildew

The thunderstorms of summer will promote mold and mildew on the deck furniture and table. You can prevent this from by mixing a half and half mix of water and chlorine bleach in a glass cleaner spray bottle and applying a spray directly on the deck furniture. Let the sun dry the mixture and the mold and mildew will disappear. You can also use this mixture on vinyl siding.

Use wisdom when watering zinnias

The days and nights of June are getting warmer and zinnias love this time of season. As the zinnias continue to grow and produce more foliage before they reach flower stage be careful when watering rows or beds. Do not spray the foliage because this causes powdery mildew on the leaves. Use a water wand and spray the base of the zinnias. This helps prevent the powder mildew and promote colorful flowers as the season progresses.

Making a creamy Moravian chicken pie

You will need a package of Pillsbury nine inch pie shells, four chicken breasts (cooked and de-boned and cut into chunks), two potatoes (boiled and cubed), one cup of chicken broth, two carrots (peeled, cooked and cubed), one teaspoon salt, three fourth teaspoon poultry seasoning, half teaspoon pepper, one fourth cup plain flour, one fourth cup evaporated milk and half stick light margarine. Mix all ingredients and pour into a pie shell and cover with the other pie crust, bind the edges and cut slits in top of crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. Pie will serve four.

Starting second crop of green beans

With the first crop of green beans ready to harvest it’s time to start the second crop. With June’s warm days and nights, the second crop will quickly grow and be ready for a harvest in mid summer. Not many vegetables are as productive as green beans. Choose from the bush varities of Derby, Top Crop, Tenderette, Strike, Kentucky Wonder Bush and Blue Lake Bush. You can expect a harvest in 65 to 70 days.

Lima beans will quickly grow in warm June soil

Lima beans are a vegetable that quickly thrives in very warm temperatures. You can choose from varities of Henderson Bush, Thorogreen, Fordhook 242 and Dixie Butterpea. Most will require a 70- to 75-day maturity date. Once the beans sprout, apply Plant-Tone organic vegetable food on each side of the row and hill up soil on both sides of the row to cover the plant food. Water every week when no rain is in the forecast.

A beautiful product of the days of summer is the rainbow that appears in the eastern sky after a summer thunderstorm. They are especially beautiful when they appear in a background of dark gray clouds that make the rainbow glow with a bright sunshine reflecting of the clouds and giving an unusual glow to the brilliance of the bow in the clouds.

Late June and the arrival of fireflies

What is as rare as a day in June, except a June night filled with fireflies? We are hoping for a bountiful summer of the firefly. These amber tailed insects are one of the highlights of summer nights. Some years are better than others for them and we hope this will be their very brightest year. At my grandmas house in Northampton County when we were kids, she lived in the wide open country where there were no city lights or street lights, but plenty of lights from many thousands of fireflies or lighting bugs as she called them.

Starting late tomato plants from seed

As we move toward July, it’s time to begin a packet or two of late, late tomato plants for an early and a late autumn tomato harvest. The seeds of autumn tomatoes should be determinate varities such as Celebrity, Marglobe, Rutgers, Homestead and Early Girl. Determinant mean varities that will produce without necessarily having to install cages, stakes or other supports. They are great for autumn because you can cover plants with layers of straw or grass clippings. To start late tomatoes, use two medium sized pots (one quart size) and a bag of starting medium. Measure out enough of the medium to fill the quart pots and allow a handful of medium per pot to cover the seed. Add water to moisten the medium and fill the two pots within a half inch from the top. In one pot, sprinkle the seed of one variety and in other pot the seed of another variety and label the pots with tomato varities. Sprinkle seeds in pots and cover with potting medium. Water seed with a mist of water from a spray bottle everyday. Keep tomatoes away from direct sunlight such as a carport. In about ten days, they will have developed two leaves. Transplant to individual pots and water each day. They should be ready to transplant in garden plot in mid August. Keep pots out of direct sunlight.

Keeping birdbaths filled with cool water

The days are getting warmer and birds are active finding food and building nests. The summer sun heats up the water in the birdbaths and evaporates a lot of it. Empty water in afternoon and refill with cool fresh water. With a fresh water supply the birds will return many times during the day.

“Pieces of thoughtfulness.” A tightwad was looking for a gift for a friend. Everything he saw was too expensive except for a glass vase that had been broken, which he could purchase for a small price. He asked the clerk to mail it to the friend, hoping the friend would think it got broken in the mail. The next week, he received a letter from the friend. The letter said, “Thanks for the vase, it was so thoughtful of you to wrap each piece separately.”

Trumpets and turmoil. A man complained to his landlord about renters in the apartment above him. Every night they stomp on the floor and shout until midnight. The landlord said, “Do they bother you?” The renter said, “No, not really, I practice on my trumpet until about that same time every night.”

Fireflies light the June nights

There is a new glow to brighten the nights as the arrival of fireflies give new light to the June night. The fireflies flutter on the lawn signaling with their tail lights. We hope this will be an abundant year for them. Some summers, there seems to be more fireflies than usual and we are hoping this will be that kind of summer. One factor that seems to increase the presence of fireflies is when afternoon thunder showers occur.

Still time to plant four o’ clocks

The colorful four o’ clocks can still be planted in the warm soil of June. You can purchase packets of four o’ clock seed from garden departments, super markets, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Ace Hardware. Packets of seed cost around $2 and come in colors of red, yellow, white, pink and wine. They thrive in all types of soil and will bloom all the way until frost. Use some Flower-Tone organic flower food to get them off to a good start.

Verbenas will perform in hanging baskets

The verbena produces well in hanging baskets and an unusual characteristic of the verbena is the way it cascades over the sides of the hanging baskets and fills the inside and outside of the baskets with colorful blooms and foliage. Verbenas come in red, white, pink, purple and blue. Set about three plants well spaced out in each basket so they will have plenty of room and not become root bound. Feed them once a month with Flower-Tone organic flower food and water each evening. They will bloom all summer long. Pinch off spent blooms to promote new blooms.

Investing in a part of American history

American bee balm plants are a part of American history and have been since the Revolutionary War. New England colonists used its leaves to make tea as a substitute after the Boston Tea Party when tea from England was thrown overboard into the Boston Harbor. American bee balm can be purchased from nurseries, hardware’s, garden departments as well as Lowe’s and Home Depot. If you buy one and re-pot it in a larger container, it will grow all summer long and produce plenty of leaves and pretty pink or lavender flowers. Perhaps you can make some bee balm tea from the leaves.

Time to purchase a durable weather wand

Hot, dry, humid days will soon be upon us as we move further into June. This means warm and dry soil and thirsty vegetable plants. Purchasing a durable water wand to use all summer long is a worthwhile investment that will really pep up your garden plot on hot summer days when no rain is forecast. An adjustable water wand has many settings such as stream, mist, spray, shower and pour. A wand can place irrigation in the exact place and amount without wasting water. The stream mode is a great way to water seed in the furrow before covering up seed with a hill of soil. A good water wand costs $12 to $14. The best feature of a water wand is you can place water where you need it and not waste water in the middle of the row.

Making a great moist chicken casserole

For this casserole, you will need four chicken breasts boiled until tender, remove skin, de-bone and cut into half inch chunks, one head or one pound bag of chopped broccoli, one large egg, one can Campbell’s cream of chicken soup, one eight ounce packet of parmesan cheese, one half cup mayonnaise, one fourth cup milk, small bag Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing. Cook broccoli until tender. Place cut up chicken chunks into a casserole dish sprayed with Pam baking spray and mixed with cooked broccoli. Mix cream of chicken soup, egg, parmesan cheese, mayonnaise and milk in a bowl and pour over the chicken and broccoli. Top casserole with the stuffing. Melt a stick and a half of light margarine and spread over the top of the stuffing. for at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Will serve five people.

Keeping an eye on Japanese beetles

As the days of June get warmer, it may pave the way for arrival of the Japanese beetles. We hope there will not be many of them this summer. Some years they are worse than others. They are enemies of roses, grapevines, green beans and foliage. Keep the beetle traps and liquid Sevin spray ready and control them as they make their appearance in your vegetable and flower garden. Place traps where they will draw the beetles to the traps and away from the vegetable and flower garden.

Planting portulaca in a tub or pot

It may be called desert rose, cactus flower, or rose moss. Whatever you call it, it is colorful and loves summer warmth. It blooms fresh and new every morning that the summer sun shines. The flowers are red, yellow, white, orange, pink, tan, wine, burgundy and bronze. It will be in bloom when you purchase it in six and nine packs. It can be planted in a large container or tub to produce a rainbow of color. As the foliage grows, it will cascade over the sides of the tub or container producing more flowers.

Impatiens also make colorful baskets

Of all the annuals of summer used to fill hanging baskets, impatiens make the best and most colorful as they cascade over the baskets and produce hundreds of colorful flowers. Plant only about three plants per basket to allow them to sprawl out. There are so many colors to choose from including red, white, pink, wine, salmon, bright orange and purple.

Taking care of the Christmas cactus

All the Christmas cactus are spending summer in a semi sunny location on the front porch. The containers are replenished with cactus medium and given a fresh drink of water each week. We feed them with Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month. If the cactus foliage turns reddish, this is a signal from the cactus that it is receiving too much sun and needs to be moved where it doesn’t receive to much direct sun.

Keep setting out a few tomatoes each week

To assure a harvest of tomatoes all summer long, set out a four pack of plants each week for as long as you can find healthy plants. Use calcium carbonate (powdered lime) in bottom of furrow when you set out the plants to prevent blossom end rot and feed with Tomato-Tone organic tomato food. Water base of the plants with the water wand on weeks when little rain is forecast. This will also prevent blossom end rot.

Stake or cage all peppers

All types of pepper plants will benefit from cages or stakes that will protect them from wind and summer storms. As peppers form, the cages and stakes will keep plants cleaner and easier to harvest.

Cooling off containers and the hanging baskets

The heat of the mid June sun shines down on the hanging baskets and containers all during the day, drying out the soil. Use the water wand in shower mode or a sprinkling can to apply water until it runs out the holes in the bottom of containers and baskets. Apply water in late afternoon or early evening.

Keep birds returning to the baths each day by refilling the baths with cool fresh water and emptying out the sun heated water from the all day sun. This keeps the water from being infested by egg laying insects and pollen and pollution as well as to provide fresh cool water to all types of birds.

Checking ferns of summer on the deck

The ferns are lush and green as they spend summer on the deck in a semi-sunny location. They need a drink of water each afternoon to refresh and cool them off. The panda and asparagus ferns need trimming each month to promote new growth. An application of Flower-Tone organic flower food each month gives them a boost.

“Pressing fact.” The husband came home and found his new bride crying. “I was pressing your new suit and burned a hole in the seat of your new pants.” “Forget it,” replied the husband. “Remember, I got an extra pair of pants for that suit.” “Yes, its lucky you have,” said his bride, “I used them to patch the hole!”

Doing the math. Duke: “How about lending me $50?” Luke: “Sorry, I can only lend you $25.” Duke: “But why not the $50?” Luke: “No, $25 only, that way its even, each one of us loses $25.”

The strawberry harvest grand finale

The strawberry harvest in Surry County is its the final days. There may still be enough time for one more visit to a field near you to pick some for shortcake or to freeze for next winter. Call before you go to make sure they still have berries available.

Pathway to summer harvest begins

The nights and days of late spring are warm and soil temperatures are ready for all warm weather vegetables. As we enter June, it is the ideal time to plant squash and cucumbers for a harvest in 65 days. They will sprout and grow quickly in warm June soil. Set out a few tomato plants each week for as long as you can find healthy plants and set out different varities for an extended summer harvest.

Warm nights and first fireflies of the season

As the nights continue to get warmer and the summer thundershowers appear each evening, conditions should improve for the arrival of fireflies to light up the sky at eventide. Perhaps this will be an abundant season for the fireflies. They seem to be more plentiful some years than others. Sometimes we wonder if light pollution causes many of them to migrate to wide open country. We notice that the best opportunity to see an abundance of fireflies is to ride down a country back road, turn off the vehicles lights and see a field swarming with fireflies. Nothing is more beautiful in summertime than an evening filled with fireflies. During all of the month of June this year, we are going to spend several minutes each evening doing a firefly count and record our findings for the month. We will let you know in the July Garden Plot the results of the count.

Planting seeds of late cucumbers and squash

As we move into June, the time to plant late crops of squash and cucumbers is now so you can enjoy a harvest in late summer. Great cucumber varities for late cucumbers are Marketmore 76, Poinsett 76, Straight Eight, Long Green and Ashley. Early Prolific Straight is the best late squash variety. Keep late squash and cucumbers watered with the water wand in shower mode on humid days with no rain in the forecast.

Enjoying a container of Dragon Wing begonias

The Dragon Wing is the most beautiful of all begonias. They have glossy, dark green oblong foliage and are adorned with clusters of hot pink or red blooms. The Dragon Wing sprawls out of its container like an umbrella and showers itself with massive clusters of colorful blooms. They continually bloom all the way until frost. You will need a large container of potting medium to accompany this high production, colorful begonia. Feed it with Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month for summer long beauty.

Prevent tomato blossom end rot

As tomato plants continue to grow, prevent blossom end rot by applying calcium carbonate (lime) on both sides of the plants and hill up soil on both sides of the row to cover the powdered lime and retain moisture. When you feed the plants, use Vigaro tomato food with enriched calcium. You can purchase it in two pound bags at Home Depot. Hill up soil on both sides of the row after you apply Vigaro with enriched calcium.

Feed your vegetables and flowers organic foods

Improve flower and vegetable production and growth with organic plant foods such as Plant-Tone, Garden-Tone, Tomato-Tone, Flower-Tone, Holly-Tone for evergreens and azaleas, Rose-Tone for rose bushes. These products are available in four- and ten-pound plastic zippered bags. The four-pound bags are lightweight and the zippered bags make them easy and clean to apply to plants and flowers. It is fine textured and the adjustable zipper allows you to apply the food right where you want it and the amount you desire right into the furrow with no excess or mess. These products have proven themselves organically in gardens for well over 130 years. The products have fine non pelletized texture and absorb quickly into the soil.

Starting a row of green beans

The very best and most productive of green bean varities is defiantly the Strike. They are a bush type that will produce a long harvest. The beans are pencil shaped and totally string-less and have a maturity date of about 65 days. The best feature of these beans is you can sow a couple of rows now and follow up with another row in July for late summer harvest. These beans are productive and will yield beans for several weeks. A pound will sow a 50-foot row or two 4×8 beds.

Setting out heat performance tomatoes

There are hundreds tomato varieties in all sizes, shapes, colors and types and a few of them perform and produce better than all the other hundreds, especially when it comes to performing in the heat and humidity of summer. When we were growing up as kids in eastern North Carolina, there were certainly not as many varities of tomatoes as there are today. My father only planted three varities and they were Homestead, Marglobe and Rutgers. He set them about two and a half feet apart, placed no cages or stakes around them but allowed them to sprawl. When they developed green tomatoes, he would apply long leaf pine straw around them so ripe tomatoes would not be muddy at harvest. He harvested bushels of tomatoes on a hundred foot row. These were not potted green house plants but tomato slips sold in bundles of a hundred at the local hardware, raised by local farmers. Good hot weather tomatoes are Homestead, Rutgers, Marglobe, Big Boy, Park’s Whopper, Mortgage Lifter and Celebrity. These tomato varities will endure the heat and humidity of summer and provide a late summer harvest. Feed late tomatoes with Tomato-Tone organic tomato food once a month and these proven tomato varities should produce a harvest late into summer. Use the water wand to keep base of plants moist.

Making a summer sweet apple sonker

This is an easy sonker with a crust made of raisin bread slices. Peel and core 10 fresh apples. Cut the apples into half-inch chunks, add a tablespoon of lemon juice to the apple cubes. Mix in one cup sugar and half cup light brown sugar to cubed apples. Add one teaspoon apple pie spices, half cup milk, one stick light margarine, two teaspoons of corn starch, one teaspoon vanilla flavoring and half teaspoon cinnamon. Boil the apple mixture until apples are tender and the mixture thickens. Spray the bottom of a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan or dish. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or more if necessary. Make a sauce for the sonker by mixing one cup milk, half cup sugar, one teaspoon apple pie spices, one teaspoon vanilla. Mix all ingredients together to a boil on medium heat. Mix half cup cold water in a glass with three teaspoons of cornstarch. Pour a little of corn starch mixture at a time into sauce mixture until sauce gets thick as you desire. Pour sauce over the sonker.

The sweet essence of honeysuckle perfume fills the air at twilight and the scent emits from the rear of the garden plot to the front porch. It is very easy to breath in this pleasing scent as it wafts its way into the nostrils. No other wildflower can compare to the essence of honeysuckles in the air of June, on a late spring evening.

The nights and days are now warm, pleasant and consistent. The Christmas cactus are now ready for a move from the sunny living room to the back deck to spend spring, summer and early autumn. The secret of blooms at Christmas time lies on the time spent outside in the warmth of spring and summer. Outside, they prefer a semi-sunny location with zero direct sunlight. They need water every 10 days and Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month.

“Marriage Rebate.” Groom: “Pastor, do you believe it is right for one man to profit from another man’s mistake?” Pastor: “Most certainly not.” Groom: “Good, then do you mind returning the hundred dollar bill I gave you for marrying me and my wife last year?”

A “grave” situation. A young man had a job with a company where he had to work late at night. In going home one late night, he found a shortcut through the graveyard that was near his home. One night when he was very tired, he accidentally fell into a freshly dug grave. At first, he was not very concerned until he realized he could not get out because the hole was too deep and he panicked. Finally he became exhausted, sat down in the corner of the hole and fell asleep. Shortly thereafter, another man decided to take a shortcut and fell into the same grave. He also went to a great effort to get out but could not. Then he moved around in the grave and stepped on the man who was asleep. The first man suddenly woke up and shouted to the other man, “you can’t get out of here,” but he did!

The almanac for the month of June 2022

Sunday, June 5 is Pentecost Sunday. The moon reaches its first quarter on Tuesday, June 7. There will be a full moon on Tuesday, June 14. The name of this moon is Full Strawberry Moon. Flag Day will be celebrated on Tuesday, June 14. Fathers Day will be celebrated on Sunday, June 19. The moon reaches its last quarter on Monday, June 20. The first day of summer will be on June 21. The new moon of June will occur on Tuesday, June 28.

Most varities of corn require a growing season of 90 days and should be planted early in June to assure a harvest by mid-August. You can choose from Golden Queen, Silver Queen, Kandy Corn, Early Sunglow, Butterfruit, How-Sweet-It-Is, Chief and Golden Bantam. Sow at least three rows for pollination from bees and wind. Make sure the three rows are the same variety. Sow seeds in furrows about four inches deep. Sow seed four per hill and 10 to 12 inches apart. Spread a layer of peat moss in the furrow and sow corn seed on top of the peat moss. Apply another layer of peat moss on top of the seed. Apply an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil on both sides of the furrow. Tamp down top of the row with the hoe blade for good contact with the soil. Allow enough room between rows to cultivate and control weeds and keep soil hilled up for support from the wind and storms. You will need room between rows over a 90-day period to control Japanese beetles and ear worms as the season progresses. Side dress the corn with Plant-Tone organic vegetable food every three weeks. When corn sprouts, thin to two plants per hill. Keep soil hilled up to the corn as it continues to grow week by week. Add some calcium carbonate (powdered lime) when corn gets a foot tall and hill soil over the lime.

Planting in June will keep garden in tune

All crops that love warm weather will thrive and survive in the warmth of the June garden plot soil. All vegetables will respond quickly to the warm days and nights. Set out tomato plants every week in small numbers for as long as plants are available and healthy. A four pack a week will extend the tomato harvest all summer long. Try as many different varities as you can find for a varied harvest. One of the best attributes of an abundant harvest of tomatoes is the opportunity to share their bounty with others.

Peppers are as tropical to the garden plot as vegetables can get. June is the absolute best time to set out pepper plants. Set out sweet bells such as California Wonder, Big Bertha, Keystone, Candy Apple, Great Stuff and Parks Whopper II, as well as Candy Bell, and least we forget, the famous Door Knob! Set the sweet bells out this week on a warm June day. Keep hot pepper varities a distance away from sweet bell peppers. Set peppers at least two feet apart. Stake and cage them for extra support and protection from thunderstorms and strong winds. Keep soiled hilled up around pepper plants for extra support and feed every three weeks with Garden-Tone or Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Water every week when rain is not in the forecast. Apply calcium carbonate when peppers reach one foot tall.

Lima beans also need warm days and nights to produce a mid-summer harvest. You can choose from Fordhook 242, Henderson Bush, Thurogreen and Dixie Butterpea. Sow lima beans in a furrow about three or four inches deep. Place peat moss in bottom of the furrow and sow seeds on top of the peat moss. Place peat moss on top of the seed and apply an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down soil on top of the hilled up soil for good contact with the soil. Feed the lima beans every three weeks with Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Hill up the soil on both sides of the row after feeding with Plant-Tone. Water top of row each week if no rain is in the forecast.

Setting out a full row of tomato plants

The main harvest of tomato plants should be set out in the next few days for a bountiful harvest. There are so very many to choose from including Big Boy, Better Bow, Early Girl, Oregon Spring, Marglobe, Rutgers, Homestead, Beefy Boy, Beefsteak, Mortgage Lifter, Parks Whopper, Cherokee Purple, Mountain Pride, Roma, Yellow Jubilee. Plant tomato plants in a furrow five or six inches deep. Add a layer of peat moss and a handful of Black Kow composted cow manure to the furrow, and then mix in an application of Tomato-Tone organic tomato food. Set the tomato plant and add another handful of peat moss before hilling up soil all around the tomato plant. When tomato plants are well established in about three weeks, apply Vigaro tomato food with enriched calcium on each side of the tomato row and hill up the Vigaro on each side of the row to cover it up. Every three weeks apply a layer of Tomato-Tone organic tomato food. Hill up soil on each side of the row after applying Tomato-Tone. When the plants reach one foot tall, apply calcium carbonate on each side o the row and pull up soil up on each side of tomatoes to cover the lime. Water around the base of the tomato plants with water wand in spray mode when there is no rain.

Adjustable water wand-a good investment

With warmer days and nights and some days without any raindrops in the forecast, an adjustable water wand is a good investment. A wand will pay rich dividends and boost production in the garden plot. They cost around $12 to $14 and have adjustable settings of spray, shower, mist and an off and on switch. Never drag the hose with the wand attached because you could break the spring attachment on the wand.

End of May brings fireflies

There are a few flickers of yellow in the backyard and on the edge of the garden plot as we get close to the end of May. As June makes its way to the scene, a few more warm evenings will bring an abundance of them. We hope this will be a bright and productive year for them. To really appreciate the glow of fireflies, you have to drive down a Surry County country lane where there is not much traffic and no street light. Stop, turn off the lights, and enjoy an extra special light show.

Get Japanese beetle traps ready

The nights and days are warming up and soon June will be here with the start of a few humid days and perhaps the arrival of the dastardly Japanese beetles as they make their appearance on lawns, rose bushes, grapevines and foliage of flowers and vegetables. We hope there will not be many this year. Now is the time to clean and prepare the traps and purchase a few baits and lures. As soon as you see the first beetles, place a trap away from where you see them to draw them to the traps. One advantage of beetle trap is to draw beetles away from garden, roses, grapevines and foliage and into the traps. If we have a large infestation, spray lightly with liquid Sevin. Use a glass cleaner spray bottle mixed with water and Sevin to apply a light mist. Kill beetles in the traps by boiling a pot of water, pour it in a bucket and dip the trap of beetles into the bucket of boiling water. Pour hot water and the beetles on the driveway to avoid killing grass on the lawn. Birds will eat beetles. Invest in a durable two-piece plastic trap with a screw on plastic container to catch beetles. Unlike the plastic bag traps that blow all over the place, the durable traps will last for years and you don’t have to replace those fragile bags or dispose of them.

The roses put on a show all during May and as we get ready to enter June, its time to feed them as they get ready for another round of blooms for summer. Pinch off spent blooms and feed the roses with an application of Rose-Tone organic rose food that you can purchase in four-pound bags with a plastic zip lock bag and loaded with an organic boost of nutrients to boost foliage. A little goes a long way.

Organic food for summer annuals

A four pound plastic bag of Flower-Tone organic flower food will provide flowers of all types a boost of vital nutrients. Apply several tablespoons in each container of annuals or perennials and stir into the medium. It is finely textured and absorbs and gives quick response. The zip block bags makes the food easy to apply. Feed the flowers once a month all summer long.

Late cucumbers should be planted now

To extend the cucumber harvest later into summer, a late row or bed should be planted within the next week. Best hot weather varities are Marketmore 76, Poinsett 76, Ashley, Long Green and Straight Eight.

Cooling off hanging baskets, pots

The flowers in hanging baskets, pots and containers are responding to the May afternoons. They quickly dry out in their containers as the sun heats up their pots as well as the soil inside them. Water them each evening before sunset and water until the water runs out the hole in the bottom of baskets and containers.

“Back seat driving.” A man was driving the car with his wife in the back seat. The car stalled on the railroad track. An Amtrak train was roaring toward the vehicle. The man’s wife screamed, “Go on, speed it up!” Her husband replied, “You’ve been driving all day from the back seat. I’ve got my end over the track, see what you can do with your end!”

A container, pot or tube of portulaca

The unusual and colorful portulaca, which is also known as cactus rose, desert rose, rose moss and cactus flower, features colors of red, yellow, pink, orange, tan, wine and white. The plants are small and will sprawl over the sides of their containers and you can plant them close together. They are sun-loving plants and absorb plenty of sunlight each day. On cloudy and rainy days, not many of them will bloom. Different flowers bloom each morning for a varied display of colors. For the portulaca, you can use cactus medium instead of fine potting medium. Feed them with Flower-Tone organic flower food each month and water them when rain is not in the forecast for several days. My Northampton County grandma always had a tub of rose moss on her front porch that bloomed all summer long.

The Irish potato row may have new potatoes

The Irish potato row or bed should now have plenty of lush green foliage and also some white blooms which may signal that there are some new potatoes under the vines at the bottom of the hills. Do not disturb the hills, but scratch around and harvest one or two from several hills. Don’t peel them but place in a pot and cover with water. Boil until you can stick a fork through them. Add salt, pepper and half stick light margarine. Serve with a bowl of green beans.

Strawberry harvest still in progress

The strawberry harvest in Surry County still has about two weeks remaining. There is time to harvest a few gallons of fresh strawberries to freeze for winter enjoyment. Don’t allow the season to pass by without freezing some strawberries. You can pick your own or purchase them already picked if you call ahead. Ready-picked costs about a dollar more per gallon. They are defiantly worth the time and effort.

Strawberries: ingredients of this crumble

For this recipe you will need one quart of fresh strawberries, capped and cut into quarters and coated with three-fourths cup sugar and one-fourth cup plain flour. Stir together and pour into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish or pan sprayed with Pam bakers spray. Mix the plain flour and one cup sugar and one stick of light margarine. Beat mixture until it is crumbly. Add one-fourth cup milk and a teaspoon of strawberry flavoring. Mix with a large spoon and spread over the strawberry mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, covering the baking dish or pan with a layer of aluminum foil. Remove foil after 30 minutes and bake until the crumbs are light brown. This recipe makes six servings.

Warm days and nights pave way for tomatoes

With days and nights beginning to warm up, a row of tomato plants can be safely set out. They will thrive in the warm May temperatures. When you purchase tomato plants, buy those that do not have blooms on them or that have very long stems, and please do not buy plants with green tomatoes already on them, they are born losers and have been pampered and already produced. Buy strong, healthy plants with olive green stems that will adapt well to your garden soil. Choose from proven varities such as Big Boy, Better Boy, Early Girl, Rutgers, Marglobe, Homestead, Mountain Pride, Celebrity, Parks Whopper, Beefsteak, Beefy Boy, Mortgage Lifter and Pink Girl. Use great organic plant foods like Tomato-Tone organic tomato food and Dr. Earth tomato food and Alaska Fish Emulsion. Add a handful of calcium carbonate (powdered lime) to each tomato plant to prevent blossom end rot as the plants develop. Set plants about 18 to 24 inches apart in a 5- or 6-inch deep furrow and hill up soil on both sides of the row. About every three weeks, side dress the tomato plants with Tomato-Tone organic tomato food. Apply a handful in the furrow when setting out individual tomato plants. You can also give tomato food with enriched calcium to prevent blossom end rot.

We are reaching further in the month of May and the days and nights are getting warmer and soil temperatures are getting ideal for planting and sowing warm weather vegetables. The risk of frost has passed and warm weather is consistent. Any vegetable related to warm temperatures can now be planted in the spring garden plot.

American history in a bee balm plant

The American bee balm is an important part of early American history that lives today in the form of the American bee balm plant. You can purchase open at most nurseries and garden departments. Buy a larger container to transplant it in a bag of fine potting medium because it will grow quickly in the warm weather of late spring. Some have pink blooms and the taller varities have lavender blooms. Birds will love their seeds and tea can be made from the leaves.

The front porch on a spring morning

The front porch on a spring morning with a piece of toast and a cup of coffee is a great way to start a day. The aroma of sweet honeysuckles and the first annuals of summer getting ready to bloom and trees greening up for a long summer. The birds are plenty active at the feeder and the birdbath and also searching for nesting materials. The sun warms up the Carolina blue sky. It is a great privilege to breathe in that fresh air of spring. Is there anything as rare and wonderful as a warm, sunny spring morning?

Planting a row or bed of cucumbers

Cucumbers love warm nights and also warm May soil to get them off to a good start. They perform well in beds or rows. You can choose from many varities. Choose from Ashley, Long Green, Straight Eight, Boston Pickler, Eureka, Goliath, Sweet Slice, Summer Dance, Muncher, Marketmore, Diva, Poinsett 76, Bush Pickler and Armenian. Most cucumber varities will produce a harvest in 60 to 70 days. Its a good idea to plant a row or bed now and another row or bed in about two weeks from now to extend your harvest. Sow cucumber seed in a furrow about four inches deep. Apply a layer of peat moss in the bottom of the furrow. Sow four seeds per hill about a foot apart. Cover the seeds with another layer of peat moss or Black Kow composted cow manure and then an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down soil on top of hill for good soil contact. When seeds sprout, they develop two leaves. Thin the plants to two per hill. Feed by side dressing every two weeks with Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Keep soil hilled up on both sides of the row after feeding. Water with water wand in spray mode each week if no rain is in the forecast.

Planting hills of summer squash

A row or beds of summer squash will produce a harvest in 50 to 60 days. Squash will produce a large harvest in a short period of time. We like to can plenty of them because in winter they make great sonkers as well as casseroles and squash fritters. You can choose from the straight neck or crookneck varities. We prefer the straight necks because they have smaller and less seed and are more suitable for canning. Another factor is they don’t have as much moisture in them as crooknecks and they are also much meatier which makes them ideal for sonkers. In squash varities, you can choose from yellow crookneck, Early Prolific Straight neck, Saffron Straight neck or Enterprise Straight neck. Plant squash in a furrow about four inches deep. Apply a layer of peat moss in the bottom of the furrow and sow seed on top of the peat moss. Sow four seeds per hill about a foot-and-a-half apart. Cover seed with another layer of peat moss and an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Hill soil up on each side of the row and tamp the soil on top of the hill down for good soil contact. When the squash plants develop two leaves, thin them to two plants per hill. Apply Plant-Tone or Garden-Tone organic vegetable food on each side of the row and hill up soil to cover the plant food. Water each week with the water wand on spray mode if no rain is in the forecast.

-“Last minute prayer.” The cruise ship was sinking and the captain shouted, “Does anybody on board know how to pray?” A minister on board said, “I do.” “Good,” said the captain, “You start praying, the rest of us will put on life jackets. We are one jacket short.”

-“May I have this dance?” A clumsy and rather awkward high school freshman finally got up enough nerve to ask a cute girl to prom. “I never dance with children,” said the cute snob. The freshman gave her a critical look and said, “Please forgive me, I did not realize you were pregnant.”

-“Getting your act together.” Patient: “Doctor, I’m worried, I think I’m a curtain.” Doctor: “Stop worrying, pull yourself together.”

Surry strawberry season now heads full steam

The warm morning of mid-May, the sweet perfume of honeysuckles, the sounds of the birds, plus the aroma of fresh red strawberries beckon us to that special strawberry field on a country road in Surry County. Several gallons of beautiful berries are waiting for us to pick! The is nothing quite like the red tint and sweet aroma of freshly picked strawberries on your fingertips. It is always fun to go berry picking in the morning when the air is fresh, the warm sun shines down and the scent of honeysuckles and strawberries fill the countryside. This seems to be the best time to pick with no distractions. If you don’t have time to pick berries, you can always call ahead and place an order and they will have them ready when you arrive. It costs about a dollar more per gallon if they pick berries for you, but still well worth the price.

Strawberry cappers make processing easier

With a strawberry capper, you can dig the cap out of the berry without any damage to the fruit. You can purchase one at a pick-your-own field for about a dollar or at most kitchen specialty shops. They are a great investment that makes processing strawberries easier as well as cleaner.

Freezing strawberries for year-round use

Strawberries are the easiest fruit to freeze and they taste almost as good as fresh in the winter. To freeze the berries, begin the process as soon as you bring them home from the field. For best results, always use plastic quart containers instead of bags to better protect and preserve the berries. Never run any water over the strawberries because this destroys the tiny seed on the berries and also makes berries mushy. Process one quart at a time, by capping the green caps and place in a one quart pan. Fill one side of the sink with cold water and gently place one quart of berries in the water and then drain them on a dry towel before placing the berries in a plastic quart container. Avoid pressing or mashing the berries. Make sure lids are tightly sealed to avoid freezer burn. Repeat process quart by quart and immediately place in freezer.

To make a strawberry refrigerator pie

This is an easy pie to prepare and is especially great while strawberries are in season. You will need one box of vanilla wafers, two sticks light margarine, one and a half cups 10x powdered sugar, one teaspoon vanilla, one tablespoon strawberry flavoring, two large eggs, one quart fresh cut up strawberries, one pint dairy whipping cream. Run the box of vanilla wafers through the blender in grate mode. In a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan or dish, spread half the vanilla wafers. Cream the 10x powdered sugar and light margarine. Add eggs one at a time and beat well, add vanilla and strawberry flavoring (and a little milk if necessary). Spread the mixture over bottom layer of grated vanilla wafers. Mix the quart of fresh chopped strawberries with half a cup of sugar (not powdered but cane sugar). Spread the strawberries over the top of the pie mixture. Sprinkle remaining grated vanilla wafer crumbs on top of the pie. Place in refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Cut pies in squares.

A step ahead of pollen

The dusty yellow tree pollen covers the driveway, carport, and vehicles and the porch. It reaches into nostrils and promotes sneezes and wheezes and makes a dusty mess as it sticks to everything it touches. Keep the leaf blower and water hose handy as well as a bottle of spray glass cleaner. Blow the porch, carport and vehicles off every day and rinse pollen off the vehicles. Clean the windshields with glass cleaner and wipe inside the doors of vehicles and wipe the engine with a spray of Armor-All. The pollen season will extend all the way into the month of June.

We are in the midst of Blackberry Winter

The season of Blackberry Winter is still in progress which means we may still have a few more cool nights to deal with. We celebrated Saint Dunstan’s Day last week, and he says that the cool nights of May are past and the norm will be warmer days and nights. If Dunstan is right, he will have to override Blackberry Winter. We believe Dunstan has been dead too long and Blackberry Winter is still very much alive and the blooms are still white. The nights are still cool because the fire flies have not arrived. Their flickering amber lights will let us know when warm nights are here to stay. It is then that all warm weather vegetables can be planted.

The sweet aroma of wild honeysuckles wafts its way across the fields, meadows and country roads of Surry County. What a sweet perfume they emit! Stop along a country lane in Surry County and gather a bunch and bring them home to place in a bud vase so that sweet scent can waft its way through the house and delight the nostrils and promote sweet dreams.

Awaiting the arrival of springs fireflies

Now that we have reached the halfway point of the merry month of May and almost the middle of Blackberry Winter the season of the glowing fireflies cannot be that far away. There are some years we see more fireflies than others. We believe wet summers and late springs have adverse effects on fireflies. We definitely don’t think it is global warming, but it could be the human factor of using too many pesticides and chemicals or sprays. We are hoping they overcome these situations and that this will be a great and a bright season for them. Their flickering tail lights are a welcome sign of spring and all God’s children need to know how to catch a firefly and also learn what they smell like.

Keep hummingbird feeders filled up

Even with the honeysuckles in bloom, it is a great idea to keep hummingbird feeders filled so that you can keep hummers in the area of your home and also they will have an alternative food supply of nectar for a quick sip. You can make your own nectar with one cup sugar and one and a half cups water and several drops of red food coloring. You can also buy ready-to-use nectar in half gallon bottles and a powdered mix in envelopes that you mix with water. Check the feeders every three days and fill with fresh nectar to avoid fermentation.

Rows or beds of green beans can be planted

Green beans are one of America’s most popular vegetables and their are so many varities of them to choose from. They can be planted throughout the spring and summer with a harvest date of 60 to 70 days to produce a crop. Green beans can be used fresh in many recipes and casseroles and be canned and frozen for meals from the garden all winter long. The most popular of green beans are the bush varities and you can choose them in varities of Derby, Top Crop, Strike, Tenderette, Blue Lake, Bush, Kentucky Wonder Bush and White Half Runners. You can also choose from pole varities that require a longer number of days until harvest. Plant green beans in a furrow about four inches deep. Fill furrow with a layer of peat moss and sow seeds on top of the peat moss. Apply an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure and hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down soil with the hoe blade for good contact with the soil.

The spring dynasty of weed is beginning

With the arrival of mid-May comes the debut of the season of pesky weeds in the garden plot as they begin their destructive task. You can stay ahead of the weed population by pulling weeds up by the roots and throwing them out of the garden. Get rid of morning glories while they are young and have not developed long root systems. Pull up Bermuda grass, nut grass, crab grass and lambs quarters before they get out of hand. Weeds deprive plants of vital nutrients and choke out their growth. Do not use harmful weed killers, but use your two hands to get rid of the weed population.

The beauty of the Full Flower Moon

The full moon of May will occur on Monday, May 16, and this full moon will be named Full Flower Moon. It will be eclipsed on the Sunday night before and also early that Monday morning, an event that will last four hours and 19 minutes in its entirety and begin at 9:26 p.m. Sunday, and end at 2:30 a.m. Monday.

Before the nights of May get warmer, we have to go through “Blackberry Winter.” This is the time when wild blackberries are white with blooms along the fields, meadows, and country roads of Surry County. As they bloom for the next two or three weeks, we can expect a few more chilly days and nights.

A trip to the Surry strawberry patch

The scent of the wild honeysuckle mingled with the sweet aroma of strawberries emitting from fields of pick-your-own strawberry farms in the rolling hills of Surry County on a May morning is an experience to remember. Whether you pick your own or buy them ready-picked, it is a fun place to visit. There is something extra special about picking your own berries and being close to them and getting the stain and aroma on your fingertips.

Total eclipse of moon is May 15-16

A total eclipse on the moon will occur on Sunday and Monday, May 15-16, and it is an event that will last from 9:26 p.m. Sunday until 1:55 a.m. Monday. The length of the lunar event will be four hours and 19 minutes. The eclipse will be visible all over North America and begins at 9:26 p.m. Sunday night, Eastern Daylight Savings Time, when the moon enters the penumbra and at 10:27 p.m. the moon enters the umbra. The moon leaves the umbra at 1:55 a.m. Monday. The moon leaves the penumbra at 2:50 a.m.. Totality will last one hour and 24 minutes. The eclipse ends at 2:50 a.m. Monday. In referring to the penumbra, which is the Latin word for “Shadow” or the darkest part of the shadow where the light is completely blocked. The umbra is the area not only some but all the light is blocked.

We kick of the 2022 season of the strawberry harvest with a strawberry cream salad. You will need two quarts of fresh strawberries, two three-ounce boxes strawberry Jello, two cups boiling water, one cup cottage cheese, one pint dairy whipping cream, one cup sugar, one teaspoon strawberry flavoring. Cap and cut strawberries into halves. Stir the berries into one cup sugar. Dissolve Jello into two cups water and one teaspoon of strawberry flavoring. Chill the Jello in refrigerator until it is slightly thickened. Stir in the strawberries and cottage cheese. Beat dairy whipping cream until thick. Fold whipped cream with tablespoon of sugar added to it and fold the whipped cream into the Jello mixture. Pour into a bowl sprayed with Pam. Chill in refrigerator until firm. Makes eight servings. Keep salad refrigerated.

The sweet perfume of honeysuckles

The first warm evenings of May evokes the fresh scent of the wild honeysuckles and their blossoms wafting in the twilight breezes. The white and coral blooms are things of beauty. In the twilight air of the deck, they are a treat to the nostrils. Pick a bud vase of honeysuckle blossoms and place them in the kitchen, den or bedroom for a sweet spring perfume.

The nights of May are now beginning to have a hint of warmth. This is good news for the warm weather vegetable crops. Frost danger should be a thing of the past. Green beans in such varities as the Top Crop, Strike, Tenderette, Kentucky Wonder Bush, Blue Lake Bush and Derby can now be planted. Wait another ten days to plant squash, cucumbers, pepper, tomato plants and egg plants. By that time, soil temperatures will be consistent and warm and so will the nights.

Starting a container or a pot of Coleus

Coleus or Josephs coat adorns any deck or porch with a coat of many colors. Coleus comes in colors of pink, cream, maroon, yellow, mint green, red, purple and lavender. The colors are framed in a mostly green border. As they continue to grow, they produce stems of very light purple flowers. When you continue to pinch these flowers off more leaves begin to form and you will have plenty of foliage till frost.

Planting summer squash for sonkers

If you live in Surry County, you are no stranger to sonkers because they are a tradition as well as a treat. My mother-in-law, a native of Surry County, made squash sonkers with a layer of biscuit dough and fresh summer squash, milk (evaporated), butter, vanilla, sugar and thickened with corn starch. It was unforgettable and we still remember its wonderful flavor. You can use many fruits and a few vegetables such as squash and sweet potatoes to make sonkers. We think squash make the best because they are so unique. The very first sonkers made way back when, were probably made from squash simply because they were so available and everyone had plenty of them. You can use canned squash to make them all year long. The season for planting summer squash is almost here with the soil warming up. Several varieties of summer squash make better sonkers than others. The best varities for sonkers are the straight-necks simply because they are meaty with less moisture. Several varities that meet these conditions are Early Prolific straight-necks, Saffron by Burpee Seed, Enterprise by Park Seed. These are all straight-neck varities and they can be split and seeds removed easily for a more tasty sonker, meaty, without seed or much water. Better squash make tastier sonkers. Long live the sonker!

Make waves with the wave petunias

Of all the petunias, the wave variety is the best, especially the hot pinks. These waves are available in several colors including white. They produce bountiful hanging baskets of continual blooms that cascade over the sides of the baskets. You can also set several out in large pots or containers. Feed them with Flower-Tone organic flower food once each month. As they finish their bloom stage, pinch of spent blooms to promote new blooms. As the season advances, trim off long runners to strengthen blooms for a longer season.

Warm soil will cause potato vines to grow and also attract Colorado potato beetles. If you detect any, spray a mist of Sevin spray directly on the foliage. Check soil underneath the vines to see if any potatoes are forming. Pull the soil up to the base of the plants on each side of the furrow.

Planting a piece of true American history

The American Bee Balm plant has been an important plant in our country’s history since before the revolutionary war. It’s leaves were used as a substitute for tea after British tea was dumped from their ships into the Boston Harbor in the Boston Tea Party. This act was done in protest to British taxation as well as British dominance. American colonist boiled the leaves of the bee balm to make a form of tea. It most likely was a common plant that grew wild in the New England woodlands. You can plant a piece of American history on your front porch and enjoy pretty pink or lavender flowers and mint green leaves all spring and summer and perhaps make some bee balm tea. Most nurseries, garden shops, hardwares, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement and Ace Hardware have it. Transplant them from the small pot they came in to a larger container filled with a fine textured potting medium. It will grow fast after being transplanted. Feed it with Flower-Tone organic flower food once each month. Some varities will grow taller than others. You can winter them over by trimming them back and move to a protected area on the porch and cover with a towel on freezing nights. We have one that is several years old and produces new foliage every spring. We believe the American colonists used the taller varities.

Setting out a few early tomato plants

It is still a little early for setting out the bulk of the tomato plants harvest because nights are still inconsistently cool, but a few varities such as Early Girl, Celebrity and Oregon Spring which are determinants can be set out for an early harvest. Set out only what you can cover for warmth at night. You will need just a few because in a few more weeks, you can set out the main harvest of tomatoes. You can stake the early tomatoes and cover with plastic bags (clear). Cut clear plastic bags and cover soil around base of plants to promote warmth in the soil. Anchor bags with a layer of soil. Feed with Tomato-Tone organic tomato food.

“Doing the math.” On the first day of school the teacher of the first grade said, “If anyone has to go to the bathroom, hold up two fingers.” A small voice from the back of the room said, “How will that help?”

“Not me.” The preacher said, “Prepare to meet thy maker. Every single member of this congregation is going to die.” One man in the congregation seemed to enjoy the preachers words, “What’s so funny?” the pastor asked. The man answered, “I’m not a member of this congregation.”

“Sign me up, sir!” Army recruiter: “What do you mean you want to join the army? You’re still in high school, you are only an infant!” Teenager: “Yes, sir, I want to join the infantry.”

Buds of wild blackberries prelude “Blackberry Winter”

The tiny buds on the wild blackberry vines along country roads in Surry County are a prelude that makes us aware that we are on the verge on an annual “Blackberry Winter.” This will be in full swing at the end of next week and be with us until almost the last week of May. This is sort of the last hoorah for cool weather and uncomfortable nights even though the heavy frosts and ground freezes are not a threat. Snow is certainly no threat. In a few more weeks, nights will begin to warm up and the weather will be warmer at nights and make sowing of warm weather vegetables favorable and safe.

Pollen season in full swing

The dusty yellow pollen of one tree variety after another fills the eyes and nostrils with the dusty substance. The pollen is so fine that it reaches the inside of vehicle doors and under the hoods of cars and coats windshields. Keep the hose and leaf blower handy. Rinse the car each day and blow the pollen from porches and carports to keep from tracking into the house. Wipe pollen from inside the vehicle door panels. Use glass cleaner to keep windshields front and back cleared of pollen.

Planting a packet of the amazing moon flower

The pure white blooms of the moon flower open and bloom at night. An amazing thing about the moon flower is that the flower will open while you are watching it at twilight time each evening and bloom for only one night. Ever night, new blooms will take their place. Many strange pollinators and night flying insects visit the flowers during the night. Packets of moon flowers cost around $2. Plant the moon flower seed in a large container of fine potting medium near a porch post or pillar so the flowers vine can climb up the post or pillar. They resemble a huge morning glory and emit an unusual aroma that attracts nighttime pollinators. Plant about four or five seed per container and thin to three when they sprout. Feed monthly with Flower-Tone organic flower food.

Don’t worry about any remaining frost

There may be a couple of scattered frosts, but nothing killing or even to be concerned about. May will bring some cool nights but not many freezing temperatures. Wait until closer to the end of the month of May to plant most warm weather vegetables. You can gamble with a few tomato plants and a row of green beans and a couple of hills of squash and cucumbers, but wait until temperatures become warmer and more consistent later in the month.

Starting a row or bed of early green beans

Its not too early to plant a row or bed of green beans to see if you can enjoy an early harvest. Top Crop or Strike are good varities to sow for an early row or bed. Plant seed in a furrow about 3 to 4 inches deep and apply a layer of peat moss, then sow the seed and top with another layer of peat moss. Apply an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil on both sides of the row and then tamp down with the hoe blade. In the “Blackberry Winter” soil of early May, green beans may take longer to sprout, but be patient with them, they will be worth waiting for.

Summer annual flowers can be planted

Summer annual flowers especially, those set out in containers and pots or hanging baskets, can now be planted in potting medium and will thrive because most of them will be on porches and decks and will receive some protection from the small amount of cooler weather we have remaining. If you plant flower seed, the soil will be warmer by the time the seeds sprout.

Ethanol oil additive in two-cycle engines

Leaf blowers, weed trimmers and weed eaters need ethanol-free fuel or ethanol-free oil treatment additive to add to the fuel. Gasoline with added ethanol can be a hazard to two-cycle engines and cause damage to these engines. If you don’t use ethanol-free gasoline in two-cycle engines, you can use ethanol fuel treatment that comes in three ounce bottles that you add to a gallon of gasoline. Most hardwares sell ethanol-free fuel in one gallon containers that is ready to use.

Moving ferns for spring and summer

The ferns have spent all fall and winter in the sunny living room and this week is the time to move them to a semi-sunny location on the deck. They will need a few handfuls of potting medium and a trim to get them on their way to a successful spring and summer. You can now purchase panda and asparagus ferns in small containers as well Boston ferns and transfer them to larger containers after you bring them home and allow them to grow outside during spring and summer and then bring them inside to winter over in a semi sunny location.

Keeping birdbaths and feeders filled

As we get more warm days and plenty of sunshine, keep plenty of fresh water in the birdbath and replenish the feeders often. Birds are building nests, searching for nesting materials, visiting the baths and feeders often. We hope they will build a nest near your home so you can watch them.

As we reach the first of May, the season of the Piedmont strawberry harvest is almost here. The season officially gets on the way the week after Mother’s Day and that is only a week away. A few fields have already opened and in Surry County, many will open in the next seven days. Plan now for a visit to a pick-your-own field near your area and enjoy strawberries all season long.

Kicking off the strawberry season with a strawberry-banana salad with simple and colorful ingredients. You will need two three-ounce boxes of strawberry Jello, one cup boiling water, one a half-quart of fresh strawberries, four bananas (diced with a few drops of lemon drops added), half cup chopped pecans, one carton of sour cream, one cup sugar. Dissolve the boxes of Jello in the boiling water, add the fresh strawberries (cut in halves), the diced bananas, sugar and chopped pecans. Pour half the mixture into a tube pan, chill in refrigerator until firm. Spread the sour cream and then cover with the remaining Jello mixture and chill in the refrigerator until firm. Makes six to eight servings. Keep refrigerated.

Do strawberries have caps or hulls?

The answer to this question is simple. Strawberries have caps. You do not hull strawberries, but you remove the little green caps from them. This is properly done with a strawberry caper which can be purchased where you buy your strawberries for around a dollar each. Kitchen departments at Target, Walmart and hardwares feature capers. They make capping berries much easier than using a knife and certainly not as messy. Every strawberry lover should have a couple of them in the kitchen drawer. They are a great investment. Buy several to give to friends and family.

Keeping an eye on blackberries bloom

The blackberries are now in full bloom along roadsides, fields and meadows as they cover Surry County with their snow white blooms. Mark and take note of the areas where they are abundant. During the next two months, they will develop green berries, then red, and around the last of June or the first of July, the berries will be black and ready to harvest. Many will be along country roadsides and easy to pick, just watch out for the briers, remember the other name for a wild blackberry is “briarberry.”

What’s that smell? Its the skunk coming out of hibernation and wondering around. No animal has such a long-range scent as a skunk that sprays the area. Even when a motorist hits one on the highway, the scent can be smelled for half a mile. We have an unusual recipe if by any remote chance your dog or cat or (heaven forbid), a family member gets a spray from a skunk. Grandma’s Northampton County recipe for skunk spray was tomato juice which is a mild remedy and not too effective. She used it on her hounds which was on rare occasions. It seems like the local paper mill out stank the skunk population! This surefire skunk deodorizer is a good scent remedy for dogs, cats and people. Mix one-fourth cup baking soda, one tablespoon dish detergent and one quart of hydrogen peroxide. Mix in a two litter bottle and shake gently to mix. Apply to the affected areas, avoiding the eyes. Do not place lid on bottle and mix only what you think you need. Discard the rest after application. Use it like you would soap and avoid direct sunlight. Lather up affected area, wait five minutes and have the animal or person, wipe and dry. A special note: The reason to avoid direct sunlight is the peroxide will bleach the hair of dogs, cats, and yes, people.

“Praying and driving.” One friend said to another friend, “You drive the car, and I will pray.” The other friend said, “What’s the matter, don’t you trust my driving?” The praying man said, “Don’t you trust my praying?”

“Clean sweep.” A wife came home from a political rally and told her husband, “Everything is going great, we are going to sweep the country.” Her husband said, “Why don’t you start with the kitchen?”

“Rev. Longwind.” “We call our pastor Reverend.” “What do you call yours?” “Neverend!”

Today, May 1, is known as May Day. Cinco De Mayo is celebrated on Thursday, May 5. The moon reaches its first quarter on Sunday, May 8. Mother’s Day is celebrated Sunday, May 8. A total eclipse of the moon will occur on the night of May 15, and will be viable in much of the United States including North Carolina. The beginning is around 9:30 p.m. and will last until 2:52 a.m. May 16. The moon will be full on Monday, May 16. The name of the moon will be “Full Flower Moon.” Armed Forces Day will be Saturday, May 21. The moon reaches its last quarter on Sunday, May 22. Memorial Day will be Monday, May 30. The moon reaches its new moon phase on Monday, May 30.

Dogwood winter reaches its end

The Dogwood winter has come to an end and the month of April has almost reached its end. Most of the dogwood petals have fallen from the trees like an April shower. As they have fallen, the trees reveal tiny green leaves and the tiny center where the flowers were will become red berries in autumn. Now that dogwood winter is over, so is the heavy frost mostly over. We may have a few scattered frosts and a few more cold nights, so don’t plant any warm weather vegetable crops yet.

Daphne’s do well as perennials in containers

We are glad that Daphne are perennials, not because their blooms are very beautiful, but so is their light green foliage. The variety named October Stonecrop produces rose pink flowers that enhance the grayish green foliage. They may need a layer container in a semi-sunny location away from direct sunlight for best blooms and foliage. It is beautiful in all seasons. You can purchase them at most nurseries and many garden shops and hardware’s. Transplant them to larger containers filled with fine textured potting medium as soon as you bring it home. Feed once a month with Flower-Tone organic flower food. Water once a week.

There are enough hummingbirds now arriving to fill the feeders. We think that by the end of next week most of them will be here. You can purchase nectar that is ready. Made in half gallon bottles or in packets and boxes that you mix with water. You can mix your own nectar with a half and half mix of sugar and food water with several drops of red food coloring. Change leftover nectar every five days. You can also use bottled water to make nectar.

Hilling up the row or bed of Irish potatoes

The crop of Irish potatoes is now up and own its way and as the month of May begins next week, you can side dress the row or bed of potatoes with an application of Plant-tone organic plant food and then hill up soil on both sides of the potatoes for support and feeding. Water with the water wand in spray mode every week when no rain falls. Keep an eye out for Colorado potato beetles.

Getting ready to plant summer annuals

The annuals of impatiens, petunias, begonias, portulaca, geraniums, zinnias, vincas, salvia, verbena, coleus, cosmos, poppies, marigolds, clown flowers, Japanese lanterns, bachelor buttons, sunflowers, and a host of others are ready to plant. Use one cubic foot bags of flower potting medium such as Sta-Green flower potting soil that is available in bright yellow one cubic foot bags at Lowe’s Home Improvement and Home Depot. Another good medium is Miracle-Gro flower soil in one cubic foot food bags. Great flower medium has no chips, bark, or sawdust in it. It has the ingredients to give hanging baskets, pots, containers and all annuals and perennials a good start.

Gambling on Early Girl tomatoes

As we move toward May, there will still be some cold nights, but hopefully no killing frosts. Tomato plants have been available at hardwares as well as garden departments for more than a month. At this time of season, a gamble on several tomato plants such as Early Girl are an acceptable risk worth taking. Don’t set out a whole row but only three or four plants that you can cover at night and uncover each day. Wait until after the middle of May to set out the bulk of the tomato crops when nights are warm and consistent.

The season to plant annuals in hanging baskets

As we approach the merry month of May, hanging baskets need to be started and some annuals perform much better than others in hanging baskets. The very best are those that grow over and not up in the baskets. When they cascade over the sides, they create a bouquet of blooms. Great choices for hanging baskets are impatiens, verbena, wave petunias, and the begonias. Place only two or three plants per basket to allow room for them to spread out. Water baskets often because the summer sun shines down on the baskets all day and dries them out. Water until water runs out of the hole in the bottom of the basket. Water them every evening at sunset.

Starting a container of Dragon Wing

We love this variety of begonia. It has proved itself the past five years. It is so different from all other types of begonias because of its oblong foliage that reaches four or five inches long, and they are in clusters with plenty of multiple blooms that grow among the shiny foliage. They spread out and cover the container all day long all summer long. Their blooms are deep pink and really highlight those oblong leaves with blotches of color.

A large container of portulaca

This colorful cactus-like flower is also known as desert rose, rose moss, and cactus rose. It is a distant cousin to the cactus family and performs well in larger containers and it can also be planted in a large tub with holes punched in the bottom. Most are in full bloom when you purchase them so that you can choose the color combinations that you like. The plants are so small that you can plant them close together for a real cluster of color all summer long. Plant them about five inches apart. One of their unusual features is they have new blooms each day, and on cloudy days, not as many will reach full bloom stage.

A row or bed of zinnias can now be planted

Packets of zinnias can now be purchased in every color of the rainbow except blue. They cost less than $2 per packet. Zinnias will thrive in all types of soil and will produce blooms until frost. They attract plenty of birds and butterflies. Dig a furrow about three or four inches deep. Apply a layer of peat moss in bottom of furrow, sow seed, cover with another layer of peat moss and apply an application of Flower-tone organic flower food and hill up soil on each side of the furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade for good soil contact.

Checking the Irish potatoes and spring onions

The Irish potato and spring onions are now thriving in the mid spring garden and both need an application of Plant-Tone organic plant food on each side of the row and extra soil hilled up on both sides of the row. They could use a drink of water from the water wand in shower mode on weeks when no rain is forecast.

Easy does it puffy sour cream muffins

This is a quick bread for a cool spring evening that the whole family will enjoy with only a few ingredients and easy to prepare. You will need two cups of Bisquick, one stick light melted margarine, one cup sour cream. Coat a muffin pan with Pam baking spray. Melt margarine, mix with Bisquick and sour cream and stir well. Spoon the bread mixture into muffin tin to make sure each is half full. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Will make about 12 muffins.

Something beautiful and something blue

Blue is an unusual color for flowers and all blue flowers are beautiful and unusual. Luckily, there are two blue varities that are both perennials and they are forget me nots and periwinkles and a close third to Veronica. Their tiny blue flowers stand out in a dark green background of foliage that closely resembles ground cover. They perform well in containers placed toward the back of the porch or deck away from direct sunlight. You can start them from seed, then transplant to small pots, and lastly to larger containers.

April has almost showered its way out

April 2022 has reached its grand finale with less than a week remaining. The season of Jack Frost will soon reach the back door also. We may have a few cool nights remaining in the month, but most of the heavy frosts are over for the season. Fickle April will soon have to make way for the consistent gardening month of May.

“Wrong song.” “I think we need a new song this morning,” the pastor told the song leader. “My sermon this morning is on gossip, and I don’t think ‘I love to tell the story’ is the appropriate song.”

“Footprint.” Teacher: “Joey, you have your shoes on the wrong feet.” Joey: “But these are the only feet I have.”

“Test for the teacher.” Student: “Would you punish someone for something they did not do?” Teacher: “Certainly not.” Student: “Good, because I did not do my homework.”

From now until the end of April, the bulbs of summer flowers such as glads, peonies, clematis vines, bleeding heart bushes can be set out. You can find the bulbs of summer at nurseries, hardwares, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Ace Hardware, and garden centers. When you purchase bulbs, buy a bag of bone meal and blood meal as well as peat moss to apply around the bulbs and corms. Feel the bulbs and corms before buying to make sure they are not rotten or mushy. Dig holes about three or four inches deep, place the bulbs and corms with root sides down. Place peat moss in bottom of the hole and cover with more peat moss, bone meal and blood meal before covering with soil and tamp down with hoe blade. Water once a week.

Season of the bird nests

Birds are active as April showers its way down. The birds are looking for secure places to build nests and lay eggs. They especially like areas near a food and water supply and also close to nesting materials. If you keep the feeders and birdbath supplied with food and fresh water, they will certainly find a nesting area near your home.

Organizing the shed, barn, or outbuilding

As the gardening season gets on the way, it’s time to organize tools, shovels, mowers, trimmers, and supplies. Place everything where you will know where to find it when you need it. Keep the barn, shed, or outbuilding swept out and sprayed once a month to protect from insects and critters.

Planing for a colorful four o’ clock year

Now is the time to purchase several packs of four o’ clocks for a season of dark green foliage and colorful flowers of red, yellow, wine, white, pink, and speckled and marbled blooms. You can find them in seed racks at Walmart, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, hardwares, and supermarkets for around $2 per packet. Four o’ clocks will thrive in any type of soil and will bloom until the first frost.

Red Hot Poker is one tough perennial

Red Hot Poker has a great name and when it blooms, it actually resembles a red hot poker. You will need an extra large container to grow one of these on the porch or deck. It thrives in all seasons and blooms in early spring and summer. It needs water once a week and feeding with Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month. The red hot poker is red but also available in bright yellow orange. They are definitely one of the most carefree of all perennials to grow and their blooms are beautiful as well as unusual.

Mowing season on the way

The season of mowing is now upon us as early spring is here. Make sure the lawn is dry before you mow. It is easier to mow when the lawn is dry and you have a sharp blade. Before mowing, spray the housing of the mower with a light oil spray such as WD-40 to prevent clippings from sticking to the housing and promoting rust. Oil the wheels and cables to make it easier to adjust. Check the oil before starting the mower and always fill mower with gas before starting. Mow preferably in the afternoon when the sun has completely dried the lawn.

Wild onions still part of the lawn

Wild onions will be with us until the warmer weather dries them up. Before you mow, use the weed trimmer to cut the onions down to ground level to stunt the growth. If dandelions are around use the weed trimmer to cut them down to ground level, destroying their yellow flowers.

Use a fine textured potting medium

Fine texture is the ingredient most important when you purchase potting medium for hanging baskets, pots, and quality medium has no bark chips, sawdust, but a fine mix of soil, peat moss and fine nutrients. A finely textured medium will retain the moisture in the heat of summer without drying out. The very best potting mediums come in one cubic foot bags and are especially formulated for flowers. Feel the bags and if you feel lumps and clumps, do not buy it. It is always better in the long run to pay a little more and get something worthwhile that will produce good results.

Ferns are investment in long term greenery

You can have greenery all year long when you take care of ferns. They will thrive on porches and decks outside in spring, summer, and early autumn. In late autumn before frost, you can move them inside the house for winter. You can choose from the Boston Fern, Panda Fern, or Asparagus Fern. You can purchase them in small containers and transplant them to larger containers filled with fine texture potting medium to grow all summer on the porch or deck. They can be moved inside to a semi-sunny room to winter over. All they will need in winter is a semi-sunny location in a corner of a room, a drink of water every ten days, and an application of Flower-Tone organic flower food every month. By being indoors, ferns will develop runners in the quest for sunlight. Trim these runners back to promote growth in winter.

Sunflowers perform well on the edge of the summer garden plot as they bloom and follow the sun all day long. Their seeded flowers attract goldfinches and other birds. A pack of seeds cost around $2. There are quit a few varities in short and tall species. You can plant one or two hills in the flower bed and the corners of the garden plot. They will certainly make your garden or flower bed bird friendly and full of activity.

Hoping for plenty of late April showers

Maybe if we keep the umbrella handy, it will coax an April shower as we move farther into the month. We always loved April showers because you can just walk in them without getting soaking wet and also enjoy their fresh aroma and breath in all that fresh air. We don’t seem to get as many now, but every one we experience is a welcome event.

Preparing an English green casserole

To prepare this pea casserole you will need two cans of Green Giant Le Sueur early June peas or one quart fresh or frozen green peas. If you use canned peas, drain them, one can Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, one third cup of milk, one two ounce jar of diced pimentos, one eight ounce pack finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese, one pack of Ritz crackers (crushed or run through blender in “grate” mode), four hard boiled eggs (diced), one stick melted light margarine, two beaten eggs. Mix the peas, Campbell’s soup mix, melted margarine, and milk. In another bowl, mix the diced eggs, pimentos, finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Spray a two quart casserole dish with Pam baking spray. Layer bottom with cheese mixture, and then a layer of the pea mixture, followed by another layer of cheese mixture and finally another layer of pea mixture. Top with the pack of grated Ritz crackers. Bake at 300 degrees for half hour.

“Turn off.” There is something about him that attracts woman to other men.

“Rainbow tie.” “That’s a beautiful rainbow neck tie you are wearing.” “What do you mean by a rainbow tie?” “Well, it has a big pot at the end of it!”

“Unusual proposal.” Wife: “I remember the night you proposed to me.” Husband: “Oh, yes.” Wife: “I was silent for a whole hour after that.” Husband: “That was the happiest hour of my life!”

“Strange craving.” “A pregnant woman and her husband were sitting in the waiting room. The wife looked at a lamp on a table and said, “That is a lovely lamp.” Her husband gave her a strange look and said, “Don’t tell me you’re starting to crave furniture!”

April showers and maybe snow showers?

April can bring all kinds of surprises and we hope one of them will be plenty of April showers. They don’t seem to be as common as they used to be. At one time, they were almost a daily occurrence in April. A bit of snow could also be a surprise element during the month of April. It may not be a five-inch snow but just any amount in April will bring excitement and melt the heart!

The fickle days of April can be tricky

April is moving along and even though April 15 is the supposedly the last frost date, do not be surprised to see some frost even into the early days of May. It is defiantly not the time to plant any warm weather vegetables. There are a lot of cold nights as we move through the rest of April.

The dogwood blossoms are now in full bloom and tiny leaves are beginning to form on the limbs. This is the time in April that is known as “Dogwood Winter.” It is a time of cool nights, damp soil and some light frost and maybe a dusting of snow. This cold spell will not have any effect on cool weather vegetables.

As we arrive in mid April, some hummingbirds are already showing up. Don’t wait until you see a hummingbird to place your feeder out. Place the feeder on the porch or deck and watch for the hummers. Fill the feeders only half full until you see how many of the hummers are showing up. There are not many flowers blooming at this time, so your feeder will be a welcome sight for them.

Getting Christmas cactus ready to move

The Christmas cactus has been inside the sunny living room since mid-October and as we reach the middle of April, it is time to prepare the cactus for its move to the front porch to spend spring, summer and early autumn. During their stay inside the house, they have been watered every ten days and fed with Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month. Before moving to the front porch, we trim them back to promote new growth. We place them in a semi sunny location on the porch. Their time outside prepares them for blooms in late November and into December. When properly cared for, the Christmas cactus will thrive and bloom for many years to come.

April may have plenty of cool days, but perennials thrive in all seasons of the year. As the month reaches the half way mark, most hardwares, nurseries, garden shops, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Ace Hardware and Walmart will have plenty of perennials in stock. This month is the ideal time to plant perennials. You can plant them in medium or large containers for a show of color and foliage for years to come with very small amount of care.

Looking ahead to next spring’s bulbs

The spring flowering bulbs of jonquils, narcissus, daffodils, hyacinths and crocus have finished their blooming cycle but their spikes and foliage are still thriving. Do not mow them down or trim them back, but allow them to grow until they turn brown and die. They are producing energy for the next season’s forming of bulbs and providing nutrients for them. Don’t mow them down but water them every week until they turn brown and fade out. Jonquils and other bulbs are heirlooms of the flower world.

The purity and beauty of the dogwoods

In a background of trees with their leaves awakening to early spring and highlighted by the petals of snow white dogwood blooms that pave the arrival of spring. dogwoods are the herald of warmer and more pleasant days over the horizon. They will feature their pure white blooms until April’s end and their petals will fall like snow to begin the merry month of May.

The season of summer annuals in mid-spring is now here. To recycle potting medium that the pansies and other winter annuals are in, pull out their plants and empty the old medium into the wheel barrow, stir it up, break it down and add a 50% mixture of new potting medium that can be purchased in one cubic foot bags at Lowe’s, Home Depot, most garden centers and Ace Hardware. Add some peat moss to the recycled potting medium to improve moisture retention. Stir the recycled medium and water to moisten the medium a day before you set out your annuals for the summer.

We know that Creeping Jenny is a great ground cover but it also works well as a container perennial and adds plenty of greenery to the porch or deck. The variety named “Goldilocks” performs well and cascades out of its container and resembles golden locks of hair. It does best in a semi sunny location and thrives in winter temperatures. As it grows out of its container, shoots can be transplanted to other containers. They do not need a lot of attention and only a drink of water each week. If they get too long, they can be trimmed back. They stay green all year.

American violets adorn garden plot

The heart-shaped leaves of American violets are now adorned with the royal purple and white flowers that are dainty and fragrant as they cover the edge of the garden plot. They add a burst of majesty, color, and beauty to the spring landscape.

Keeping birdbaths and feeders filled

The birds of spring are now active and all over the lawn as they search for grubs, worms, and insects. They are also scouting for nesting areas. Keep feeders and birdbaths filled and make your lawn a welcome mat for them. Empty the birdbath and replenish with fresh water every morning.

Making a party beefy chicken casserole

This is an unusual chicken casserole that features chicken, chopped beef, and bacon in a creamy sauce. You will need one package of chipped beef, one tray of chicken breast tenders or fillets, one pound of bacon, one can of Campbells cream of mushroom soup, half pint sour cream, one eight-ounce pack of finely shredded mozzarella cheese. Boil or fry the chicken until golden brown. Broil the slices of bacon. Place chipped beef in the bottom of a casserole dish. Place fried chicken pieces on top of beef chips, spread broiled bacon strips on the chicken. Mix mushroom soup and sour cream and pour over the mixture. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese over top of casserole. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes until firm and shredded cheese melts into the casserole.

Using a potting soil with fine texture

When you purchase potting medium for spring and summer annual flowers, always remember that you get what you pay for. Cheap, lumpy, and clumpy mediums filled with bark chips and other questionable materials is no bargain because it has no texture and nutrients and quickly dries out. Feel the bag and if it is lumpy, don’t buy it. Good medium comes in one cubic foot bags and is finely textured and consistent and will retain moisture.

“Higher gas!” A city woman was driving on a country back road late at night. She had not seen a town for miles and her gas gauge registered almost empty. Finally she saw a ramshackle country store in a small village. The light was on and an antique gas pump was in front of the store. The country store keeper assured her it still worked. She told the storekeeper as she filled up her tank, “This sure is a tiny village. What do you people do for a living around here?” The storekeeper replied, “We sell gas for $10 a gallon!”

“Not good enough!” New bride: “My husband is very good to me. He gives me everything I ask for.” Bride’s mother: “That only proves you are not asking for enough.”

“Tune ups.”- What is the difference between a bagpipe and a lawnmower? Answer: You can tune up a lawn mower!

Frost possible in late April

One important reason why warm weather vegetables should not be planted anytime soon is that frost is a possibility even past April 15, which is considered the last frost date. We can have frost anytime during the month of April. The nights are plenty cold and this means garden plot soil is much too cool for any warm weather vegetable crops to be started.

Plenty of wild onions and dandelions

As we enter April, the wild onions and dandelions are showing up on early spring lawns. They are both hard to control and get rid of because both have deep root systems. Rather than dig up the lawn to get rid of them, we use the weed trimmer and clip them off at ground level to stunt their growth. When warm weather arrives, they will slow down and be gone for late spring and summer.

Taking care of spring flowering bulbs

The blooms of daffodils, jonquils, hyacinths, narcissus and tulips have faded away. The foliage is still green and important. Do not cut or mow them, allow them to phase their way out. They are passing strength to what will be next season’s blooms and bulbs for next spring. Just let them run their course and fade on their own and pave the way for next year’s bulbs and blooms. They are the heirlooms of the flower world.

April is the time to sow carrots

April is the month to sow a row or bed of carrots. Carrots have a difficult time producing in acid soil of the Piedmont, but this problem can be solved by improving soil texture and add amendments to the soil that will promote a harvest of carrots. They require 90 days to produce a harvest, so be patient with carrots. Plant the long varities such as Danvers Long.

To prepare a bed that will be receptive to growth of carrots, add peat moss, Black Cow composted cow manure, bone meal, blood meal, a couple of bags of top soil and compost. Mix all together and sow carrot seed in a six-inch deep furrow. Sow seed thinly and cover with a layer of peat moss on top and bottom of seed. Apply a layer of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Hill up soil on both sides of the row and tamp down with the hoe blade. Feed once a month with Plant-Tone and as carrots grow, keep soil hilled up on both sides of the row. Water every week with water wand on spray mode when no rain falls. Thin the carrots if they are growing too quick.

With the arrival of April, we can soon see the arrival of a few early hummers. It is a good idea during April to have a feeder about half full of nectar, waiting and ready for these first arrivals. Most garden shops and hardwares already have hummingbird nectar in stock. You can choose from bottles of ready to go use nectar or packets and envelopes that you mix with water. If you want to make your own nectar, use half water and half granulated sugar and a few drops of red food coloring. You can purchase feeders that are tinted red and make nectar with only water and sugar.

Sowing beets in early spring

Beets are another cool weather vegetable that needs an early April start because they require a long growing season. Beet seed are hard and need to be soaked for several hours before you plant them. After soaking the seed, sow the beet seed in a furrow about 4 inches deep. Cover with a layer of peat moss and water the peat moss and seed in the furrow, apply an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and cover by hilling up soil on each side of the furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade.

Water often when rain is not in the forecast. Feed every 20 days with Plant-Tone or Miracle-Gro liquid plant food. When beets sprout, thin to three inches apart. Hill soil up to them every 10 days. Detroit Dark Red is a good variety. Beets will need a growing season of around 90 days and they demand a whole lot of patience.

Getting warm weather seeds ready

Seed for warm weather vegetables can be purchased now and stored in a cool dry place in a box or bag or drawer. Packages of seed including flowers can now be purchased including flower seed packets. Zinnias come in many sizes, varities and colors and can be purchased at hardwares, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Walmart and many supermarkets. Try to discover as many different colors and varities as you can find to make a colorful bed or row that will perform all summer long.

The fickle month of April

We are now into the third day of April and we can look forward to the last frost of April after the middle of the month, but we could see a little frost even in early May. Don’t be in any hurry to set out tomatoes, peppers or any warm weather vegetables. April is a month of fickle, unpredictable weather, definitely no time to gamble on warm weather crops. We can expect plenty of showers during the month and also a lot of cool days and nights. If you do gamble on a few tomato plants, set out only as many as you can cover up each night.

Don’t be fooled by fickle April weather

Everyone knows we celebrated April Fool’s Day last week, but in April, we can be fooled every day by unusual and changing, unstable weather with no two days being exactly the same. We can definitely expect to be fooled by April’s weather patterns, but don’t be deceived by a few seemingly warm April days. Wait until more stable weather in May to set out tomatoes, peppers and sow warm weather vegetables.

April snow possible, but only melt the heart

One of the ways we can be fooled during the month of April is the surprise of a few snowflakes on an April morning. Most snowfall in April doesn’t hang around and many old timmers say it only excites kids and melts hearts. It is just one of the many tricks fickle April could have laid up in store for us.

April showers seem fewer and fewer

We do not think it is global warming or cooler weather patterns or just weather extremes, but April showers in the 21st century seems to only be the words of love songs. We remember as kids in April, we walked to school almost every April day and walked home in an April shower. We still have a few but not as common as they were back in the 1950s. April showers bring May flowers, but they also bring an unforgettable fresh aroma as well as a breath of April fresh air. Maybe this will be a come back year for the rebirth of April showers!

Making a heavenly delight dessert

This is a dessert that lives up to its name and easy to prepare and the whole family will really like it. You will need two sticks light margarine, half cup light brown sugar, half cup chopped pecans, two cups plain flour, twelve ounces of softened cream cheese, two cups 10x confectioners powder sugar, two cups Cool Whip, one three ounce box Jello instant french vanilla pudding mix, one three ounce box of Jello instant cheesecake pudding mix and three cups of milk. Mix light margarine, brown sugar, chopped pecans, plain flour. Spread evenly in a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan or dish. Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Mix softened cream cheese, 10x sugar, and Cool Whip and pour over the cooled crust of chopped pecan mixture. Mix the pudding mixes and milk and pour over top of cream cheese mixture and top with Cool whip and refrigerate. A melt in the mouth dessert!

A lawn filled with robins

A flock of robins searching for worms and grubs on the lawn on a spring morning is a beautiful sight. They have been around during winter but now they are abundant. The April lawn is moist and they are finding plenty of food to satisfy them.

The deadline for setting out a row or bed of Irish potatoes is defiantly this week. They do need to be in the ground this week because they are a root crop that requires a 90-day growing period. Planting this week will assure a harvest before the Dog Days of heat in July. You can choose from Irish Cobbler, Yukon Gold, Red Pontiac or Kennebec.

An old preacher was on his deathbed. He sent a message for an IRS agent and a lawyer (both church members) to come to his home. When they arrived, they were ushered into his bedroom, and they sat on each side of his bed. for a time, no one said anything. The IRS agent and lawyer were surprised the preacher would want to see them in his final moments. They were also puzzled because he had never indicated he particularly liked either one of them. Finally, the lawyer asked, “Preacher, why did you ask both of us to come?” The old preacher said in a weak voice, “Jesus died between two thieves, and that’s how I want to go too!”

Almanac for month of April 2022

There was a new moon on Friday as we started the month with a new moon and will also end the month with a new moon on Saturday, April 30. All’s fool day was also celebrated on Friday. The moon reaches its first quarter on Saturday, April 9. Palm Sunday will be Sunday, April 10. Thomas Jefferson’s birthday will be Wednesday, April 13. Good Friday will be Friday, April 15. There will be a full moon on Saturday, April 16. This moon will be named “Full Pink Moon.” it is also named “Paschal Moon” and “Passover Moon.” Passover begins at sundown on Friday, April 15. Easter will be Sunday, April 17. Earth Day will be Thursday, April 22. The moon reaches its last quarter on Saturday, April 23. National Arbor Day is on Friday, April 29.

The first full week of spring past

Spring is now past its first week whether it feels like it or not. All cool weather vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, radish, broccoli, spring onion sets, Irish potatoes and greens will be untouched by cool days and nights of March. We will probably have plenty of cold days and nights through March and even through part of April, but not much danger of the soil freezing even though there could be some snow.

Plenty of buds on dogwoods for April blooms

One sure sign that spring is here is the emerging buds on dogwood trees. Most trees have produced plenty of buds so we can look forward to a great display of dogwood blooms in a few weeks. Some buds start forming in late winter, but swell up as we pass mid March when they become visible on bare limbs.

Spring birds active at the feeder and bird baths

Robins don’t eat at the feeders, but they visit the birdbath all during the spring days. Most of their diet comes from worms, grubs and insects on the lawn. At the feeders, sparrows, chickadees, cardinals and blue jays as well as juncos show up each day. During spring, keep feeders and baths filled as birds will soon begin to nest and lay eggs.

Planting roses for beauty all summer

Getting rose bushes ready for a season of blooms as well as planting new rose bushes is the order of business as we move further into spring. The roses that have come through winter now need some attention as they begin a new season. Trim back old growth and canes. Remove all spent blooms and hips. Pull out chickweed and other weed growth. Dig around the base of roses and apply several handfuls of Rose-Tone organic rose food and cover it up. Water the roses and allow the food to soak in. When planting new rose bushes, consider the varities of Mr. Lincoln, Peace and Tropicana as well as all varities of Knockout roses in colors of red, yellow, pink and white. They are bush type with no long canes and easier to care for.

Knockout roses come in their trademark light green plastic buckets and are easy to plant. Dig a hole for the roses twice the size of the container. Fill the hole with water and allow it time to soak into the soil. Add several quarts of peat moss into the hole and water. Carefully remove rose bush from the bucket and place in the hole. Water the rose bush. Mix soil and peat moss together and fill the hole. Water and allow soil to soak down around the rose bush. Add more soil and a little more water. Finish filling in with soil and tamp down. Water roses once a week. Feed with Rose-Tone after a month and once a month afterwards. Use a sprinkling can or water wand in spray mode to water the rose when needed.

When will the last frost of spring occur?

Spring may be here but Jack Frost can still be a possibility well into the month of April, and along with the frost some fairly cold nights. It is defiantly no time to plant or set out warm weather vegetables or tomato and pepper plants, unless you would just enjoy doing it all over again! My Northampton County grandma always said, “As long as you sleep with a blanket on the bed, it is too cold to plant or set out warm weather vegetables.” She did not have much education, but her words were wisdom worth listening to. She did not know horticulture but she knew a bit about agriculture and what made plants and vegetables tick and not tick.

Making a dish of cheesy bread

My mother always made cheese biscuits when we were kids. This is a form of cheese bread that is simple to prepare. You will need one beaten egg, one cup of Bisquick, half cup of milk, four tablespoons melt light margarine, one tablespoon sugar, one can cream style corn and eight ounce pack finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Combine corn, Bisquick, beaten egg, margarine, milk and sugar, mix well. Pour half the batter into a greased casserole dish or baking dish, cover with the shredded sharp cheddar cheese and top with remaining batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes until golden brown. Check occasionally to see if done. Serves eight.

Not too late to sow mustard or greens

Cool early spring nights are receptive for a row or bed of greens which will produce a harvest in around 50 to 60 days. Curly mustard produces a sweet green that is tender. You can also sow mixed greens that include Kale, rape, tender green, mustard, broad leaf, leafy turnip and spinach. The hardware will mix the seed in the ratio you prefer. Plant the tiny seed in a furrow about 3 or 4 inches deep and cover with a layer of peat moss and apply 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. One ounce of seed will plant a 4×4 bed or a 30 or 40 foot row.

Getting panda and asparagus ferns move ready

These ferns have spent winter in the living room in a semi-sunny location and are soon going to be ready for their move to the deck for spring, summer and early autumn. To get them ready, they will be trimmed and extra potting medium mixed with Flower-Tone organic flower food and a small amount of water to soak down the flower food. In winter, the ferns are trimmed back once a month to promote them to grow out instead of up. Inside the house, they develop runners because they are trying to get more light.

Irish potatoes should be planted during March

Irish potatoes are a vegetable that requires at least a 90-day growing season to produce a harvest. They should be planted by the end of March to assure a harvest in three months. Potatoes planted in March will be ready to harvest before the heat of Dog Days of July. Planting potatoes now will allow you to plant a warm weather vegetable such as green beans to follow the potato harvest. You can choose from Kennebre, Yukon Gold, Red Pontiac or Irish Cobbler. Always plant whole seed potatoes because when you cut the potatoes or split the eyes, you promote rot or mildew and mold. Place a layer of peat moss on top of the seed potatoes and apply Plant-Tone organic vegetable food before hilling up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade for good soil contact. Set seed potatoes about 10 to 12 inches apart. Apply Plant-Tone once a month and hill up soil on both sides of row as the potatoes grow.

The deep greening of spring azaleas

In late March the deep green foliage of the azaleas becomes much more lively. At this time of year it is time to give them an application of Holly-Tone evergreen organic food and a drink of Miracle-Gro liquid azalea food to boost them to a season of colorful blooms. We like azaleas because of their evergreen foliage and their impact on the landscape of the house all seasons long.

Bee population begins wake up

With the color and fragrance of Carolina Jasmine and American violets, jonquils and hyacinths, the bees are making early arrivals and stretching their wings. It is a sure sign that the warmer days of spring are not too very far away.

Snow is a possibility in late March

The chances are not great as we end March, but there is the possibility and it has occurred in years past. A snow at this time of spring may not be heavy, but it could drum up a lot of excitement. No matter the amount, it will not hang around long but melt away quickly and like a snow in early April, it will only melt our hearts. This may be a way March leaves like a lion.

Keeping a magic potion for garden on hand

The cool soil on early cool weather crops needs a pep shot in the early spring garden. A bale of peat moss is the magic ingredient of the garden in all seasons especially in early spring. A 3.5 cubic foot bale costs about $11 or $12 and is the best improvement you can make to the garden soil. It improves texture, promotes growth, retains moisture and improves the production of vegetables. It is a totally organic product that makes a difference in any garden row or bed. It is great for plants and flowers. It is one of the best investments you can add to the garden and pays off in better soil and produce. It adds to the garden instead of subtracting.

If it forms a ball, don’t till at all

This is the formula for dealing with the soil in the early spring garden plot. Soil can be hard to work in early spring even when it is only a little bit moist, wet or damp soil is impossible to work with and it does more harm to the soil by working it when wet. If soil sticks to your shoes, it is too wet to work. Ball the soil up and if it forms a wet ball don’t work or walk in it. When soil will crumble in your hands and fall apart, conditions are ideal for the working and planting in the soil.

“Good housekeeping.” One thing I can say for my wife, she’s a very neat housekeeper. If I drop my socks she picks them up. If I throw my clothes around, she hangs them up. Last night, I got up at three in the morning and went to the kitchen for a glass of milk. When I got back I found the bed made up.

“True Liar.” First wife: “Does you husband lie awake all night?” Second wife: “Yes, and he lies in his sleep too!”

“Hit the road, Jack.” First husband: “I think my wife is getting tired of me.” Second husband: “Why would you even think a thing like that?” First husband: “She keeps wrapping my lunch in road maps!”

“Cookie monster.” “Young man, there were two cookies in the cabinet this morning, why is there only one in there now?” The young man said, “It must have been so dark I didn’t see the other one.”

First full day of spring

The spring equinox is today, but the first full day of spring will be tomorrow. The first day of spring can be deceptive and feel like it is still winter. We do have more daylight with Daylight Savings Time and also a minute more daylight each evening. Wild onions are growing and the lawn is getting some green on it. Cool weather vegetables planted now will thrive even though the days are still nippy and the nights cold with frost still around.

Time to set out cabbage and broccoli

As we pass the middle of March, there is still time to set out cabbage and broccoli plants. They will thrive and produce a harvest before warm weather arrives and still allow enough time to produce a warm weather vegetable crop to follow behind them. Check the plants you purchase carefully at this time of the season. Make sure the stems are healthy and blue-green in color and not tan and damped off and also check that the plants have not legged out of their containers.

Making an emerald broccoli cauliflower salad

To end the week of Saint Patrick make this emerald green broccoli cauliflower salad to perk up the kitchen table and welcome the arrival of spring. You will need one three-ounce box of lime Jello, half teaspoon salt, one cup boiling water, three-fourth cup of cold water, one cup chopped broccoli, one cup chopped cauliflower, one small bunch of spring onions chopped, three teaspoons apple cider vinegar. Dissolve Jello and salt, one cup boiling water, three fourths cup cold water. Chill until very thick. Meanwhile, prepare and combine all other ingredients and marinate them for at least an hour. When Jello is firm, fold in the other ingredients. Pour into a loaf pan and chill until firm. Unmold and serve on a leaf of lettuce. Makes six servings.

American violets fragrant springs arrival

Their heart-shaped leaves are now a backdrop for dainty flowers of purple and white violets. They are one of America’s favorite wild perennials. They will bloom for over a month. They leave their mark as winter fades into spring. You can dig up a clump of violets and place in a container of potting medium and make them a porch perennial. They will endure on the porch or deck for many seasons to come.

Beautiful blue of Wandering Jew

This is another wild perennial that produces dainty royal blue flowers with amber centers and bright green leafy foliage. You can tame down the Wandering Jew by placing a bunch in a large container of potting medium or a mix of regular garden soil and some peat moss for added texture. As the plant begins to wander, you can trim it back or thin it down. It may slow down in winter, but it will bounce back in spring . The blue flowers thrive all spring and summer. Even they grow wild like American violets, they can be tamed to thrive in pots or containers and provide a free and natural perennial.

Late March time to start perennials

Most hardwares, garden shops, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Ace Hardware and nurseries have cool weather vegetables as well as pots and containers of perennials. Mid March is a great time to start containers or pots of perennials and there are so many to choose from. Some of the many varities are Diantus, Creeping Jenny, Daphne, Bugle Weed, American Bee Balm, Sea Thrift, Coral Bells, Sweet William, Veronica, Forget Me Nots, Dusty Miller, Hen and Chicks, Red Hot Poker, Periwinkle, Columbine, Candy Tuft, White Daisy, Creeping Phlox, Pink and Lavender Thrift. Perennials provide color, foliage and beauty in all four seasons of the year. March and April are the best times to plant perennials because there are so many available. The perennials require little care and put on a display all year long. Weed them once a month and feed them with Flower-Tone organic flower food and a drink of water each week when rain does not fall and they will thrive and perform all year long. Use a 25-pound bag of finely textured potting medium such as Miracle-Gro to start perennials on their way to long life.

Enjoying an American Bee Balm perennial

The American Bee Balm is truly a part of American history and has been for more than 250 years. Its leaves were used as a substitute for tea during the Revolutionary War shortly after the Boston Tea Party when tea was dumped from British ships into the Boston Harbor. American Bee Balm most likely grew wild in the Massachusetts countryside and must have been a common wildflower plant at that time. American Bee Balm plants can be purchased at nurseries, garden shops, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Ace Hardware and some florists. Most bee balm comes in small pots and containers and when you buy a pot of bee balm, go ahead and purchase a larger container and some medium so you can re-pot it as soon as you bring it home. It will grow fast and spread out when you re-pot it. It will thrive on the front porch in winter if you trim and protect it from winter extremes and cover with a towel or cloth during hard freezes and remove cover when temperatures rise above the freezing mark. Use fine textured potting medium to start the balm off in a new, larger container and feed with Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month. Most nurseries have bee balm in several varities (tall and short). The tall variety produces two- to three-feet tall plants with lavender blooms and large leaves. The short variety is about one to two feet tall and produces pink flowers. They prefer plenty of sunlight. To avoid powdery mildew, water once a week and water only the bottom of the plant. There are several varities of the bee balm that are resistant to powdery mildew such as Colrain Red, Violet Queen and Marshall Delight. They can be ordered from mail order nurseries and off the websites and may be in seed packets and not potted plants. Local nurseries may be able to order containers of bee balm for you and some nurseries may know where they can find you the ones you like. There are as many as ten or more species of bee balm. We wonder which variety of bee balm the American colonists used to make their bee balm.

Making American Bee Balm tea

When speaking of bee balm, it would also be interesting to know the 250-year-old recipe that American colonists used to prepare bee balm tea. Their recipe may have been similar to this simple one for a cup of bee balm tea. Place five or six fresh bee balm leaves in a cup (or six dried leaves), then pour boiling water over the leaves to steep for ten minutes. Remove leaves and sweeten with sugar or honey, a few drops of lemon juice or mint flavor. We wonder if they used a little brandy in it just for flavor? A little root beer could help flavor bee balm today. Somewhere, in a 250-year-old faded out recipe box is an authentic recipe for American Bee Balm tea!

Starting bulbs of summer’s flowers

As we move toward the end of March, bulbs of summer flowers are showing up at Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Walmart and many hardwares and garden shops. You can choose from dahlias, Rose of Sharon (hibiscus), clematis vines, peonies, gladiolas and Bleeding Heart bushes. These bulbs, tubers or corms come in mesh bags or are sold individually from bins at many hardwares. Check bulbs carefully and feel the mesh bags to make sure bulbs are firm, healthy and not soft or rotted. You can set out summer bulbs in containers or beds and by the time the soil warms up, they will be on their way to a colorful summer. As you plant them, cover with a layer of peat moss, a handful of bone meal and a layer of soil mixed with some peat moss. Tamp down soil with the hoe blade for good soil contact.

“Smokey Situation.” Wife: “My husband frightens me the way he blows smoke rings through his nose.” Doctor: “That is not unusual.” Wife: “But my husband doesn’t smoke.”

“Tale of the scale.” A very fat man and a very skinny man were in the hotel lobby. “From the looks of you,” said the fat man, “you might have been the victim of a famine.” “Yes, and from the looks of you explains the cause of the famine,” replied the skinny man.

“Rich food.” Ronda: “A chef says we are what we eat.” Wanda: “That’s great, let’s order something rich!”

Making a container of “fake” shamrocks

On the week during Saint Patrick’s Day, many florists and super markets feature small and medium containers of shamrocks from Ireland. You can produce your own if you have any clover growing in clumps in the garden area or lawn. Just dig up a clump and set it in a pot of potting medium and water it. Place a plate under the container to prevent it from leaking. Wrap the container in Saint Paddy’s wrap with shamrocks on it. A green candle in the container adds extra color to the pot. The shamrocks at Food Lion, Lowes, and Harris Teeter cost between $3 and $4.

An unusual green for Saint Paddy’s Day

In the Elvis Presley classic song, “Poke Salad Annie,” every day Poke Salad Annie would pick a mess of poke salad and cook it up. Poke weed is common and grows wild in most southern states, and it is edible especially in early and mid spring when leaves are tender and have no stems. My Northampton County grandma would pick tender leaves of poke salad and mix it with other garden greens and season a huge pot full with a slab of bacon. She would serve them with a cake of yellow cornbread. The “pot likker” the greens was cooked in was awesomely great with chunks of fried cornbread in it! Poke salad is great by itself without adding any other greens with it. If poke salad has gained a bad reputation, it is simply because its tiny purple berries are poisonous, but the leaves are not poisonous. The leaves do get tough as they grow larger and are only edible in early spring when leaves are tender. Best of all, they are free for the picking. “Who said there’s no such thing as a free lunch?”

Getting ready to plant Irish potatoes

Saint Patrick’s Day will arrive this week. Irish potatoes requires at least a 90-day growing season and are mostly a cool weather vegetable that reaches over into early summer around a Dog Day harvest in July. It performs well in cool weather because it is a root crop. By planting in mid-March, they will have plenty of time to produce a harvest and allow plenty of time to succeed them with a warm weather vegetable crop. Hardwares, seed and garden shops already have seed potatoes that include Red Pontiac, Yukon Gold, Irish Cobbler and Kemebec. Always set out whole seed potatoes and do not cut potatoes to divide the eyes because this may cause rot, mildew and mold as well as promote animal pests. Plant potatoes in a furrow about 7 or 8 inches deep and about 10 to 12 inches apart. Cover with a layer of peat moss and apply a layer of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food. Hill the soil up on both sides of the furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade. Before the potatoes sprout, cover between rows with a bed of crushed leaves. Feed every 15 days with Plant-Tone organic plant food and hill the Plant-Tone into the soil on both sides of the row. Hilling up potatoes will also give them protection and support.

Plenty of signs of spring

Spring is still a couple of weeks from now, but signs of spring are showing up all around us. The hyacinths, jonquils, and daffodils are showing up and glowing in their beds. Crows are making plenty of noise in the pines. birds are active and robins are searching the lawns for food. There is more daylight as Daylight Savings Time is with us again. Frogs are out of the hollow logs and singing their songs down by the creek bank.

A one-shot Alaska green pea harvest

One of the unusual late winter and early spring vegetables is the early June Alaska green pea. It requires no plant food because the peas themselves add nitrogen to the soil. Cold weather has no effect on them. They will produce their whole harvest in a two-week period. They have a maturity date of 52 to 60 days after sowing. You can choose from varities of Wando, Green Arrow, and Alaska. A pound will cover a 40 foot row. Sow them in a furrow about 3 or 4 inches deep and cover with a layer of peat moss and hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade.

Saint Patrick’s Day corned beef pie

As we prepare to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, a corned beef pie is a great way to celebrate the day of the Irish. This is a simple recipe that is easy to prepare. You will need one can of Libby’s corned beef, one cup diced onion, one cup diced potatoes, half cup diced carrots, four tablespoons light margarine, three large eggs (slightly beaten), half cup milk, half teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper, one cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese, one cup sour cream. Mash the can of corned beef and spread it in a nine inch pie plate and flatten it out like a pie crust. Fry onions in the margarine until tender but not brown. Spread onions over corned beef. Boil diced potatoes and carrots and spread and mix over the onions. Mix the beaten eggs, milk, sour cream, salt and pepper. Pour this mixture over the pie ingredients. sprinkle finely shredded cheddar cheese over the pie. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes until firm and set. Top with a few green stuffed olives.

The heart-shaped glossy American violet

A spring herald in the form of the heart-shaped American violet now adorns the edge of the garden and in several containers on the deck. Most of them will soon be purple and white with blooms as well as a sweet fragrance. We like them in containers because after they bloom, they spread their glossy leaves over the sides of the containers to form an umbrella like cascade of shiny leaves for several months.

Great drainage for annuals and perennials

If you have annuals and perennials that need to be transplanted into larger containers, you can provide great drainage for them by crushing a few aluminum soda drink cans and spreading them in the bottoms of containers before you fill them with potting medium. They perform well and are very light weight. They make the containers easier to move around.

The month of the lion and the lamb

In March we can experience a bit of lion-like and lamb-like weather, and a few days in between. Even some snowfall could be in the works. In speaking of the lion, the spring constellation of Leo the lion is rising each evening and is now well up on the Eastern horizon as it gets dark each evening. You can find Leo by locating the Big Dipper and then find the two stars in the end of the Dipper and follow them five times the distance between these two stars downward and you will find Leo the lion. Follow these same two stars upward five times their distance and you will find the North Star and the Little Dipper.

Adding a layer of medium to perennials

As we move closer to the first day of spring, give your perennials a new boost of energy by adding a layer of new potting medium to the top of the containers after applying a handful of Flower-Tone organic flower food.

“Fruity.” A little boy showed his teacher his drawing, entitled “America the Beautiful.” In the center was a huge airliner covered with pears, apples, oranges and bananas. “What is this?” the teacher asked, pointing to the airplane. “That,” said the little boy, “is the fruited plane.”

“Caution.” His teeth are so yellow that every time he smiles in traffic all the cars slow down to see whether they should stop or go.

-If a gardener has a green thumb, who has a purple thumb? A near-sighted carpenter!

Night of the Full Worm Moon

Next Friday, March 18 will be the evening of the Full Worm Moon as it shines down on mostly bare tree limbs and a mostly cold evening. It will be silvery in color and maybe greeted by the peepers down by the creek bank or perhaps a few snow flakes which could be a possibility as we reach mid-March.

March may produce lion and lamb days

March is now six days old and the whole month can produce some lion and lamb days and a few split personality days and also a few snows to make the month interesting. There is quit a bit of winter remaining in March. We need to recall that over the past years, there have been some hefty snowfalls in mid-March and even several back-to-back deep snows. The best thing of all about March snowfalls is that the cool weather vegetables already planted are tough enough to survive snow, freezes and cold temperatures.

March produces golden pathways and beds of jonquils that adorn sidewalks, pathways, into gardens and colorful beds in woodlands. They are one of the heralds of spring. There are many varieties of jonquils and they will display their colors throughout the month.

Jonquils are heirloom spring flowering bulbs and perennial. Some of the beautiful beds in the woodlands next to the Reynolda Gardens have been enjoyed every spring for generations. A trip through the countryside of Surry County depicts many old home places where ancient jonquil beds planted many years ago still make their appearance every spring in silent testimony to the occupants who planted them when the homeplaces were built by hand many years ago. An amazing jonquil display is one displaying its blooms on a vacant meadow where there is no homeplace but these golden jonquils are a memorial that a family once lived in this meadow and planted these beds of jonquils. We remember old graveyards where jonquils bloom to honor loved ones and family members. Who knows, the beautiful beds along Reynolda Road at Reynolda House in Winston-Salem may have been set out by the Richard Joshua Reynolds family themselves!

Hyacinths add fragrance and color

Jonquils produce their golden glow to month of March, but the fragrance, beauty, dainty flowers, and colors of the awakening hyacinths on a March morning on the front porch makes any morning brighter. They are pleasing to the eyes and the nostrils. At this glorious time of the year, their fragrance is like the essence of perfume that lingers on the winds of a March morning. Their colors of red, white, yellow, pink, lavender, purple and blue pastels are a welcome sight on a cool March morning. Their wide green leafy foliage also adds depth to their display of blooms. They seem to emit more fragrance in the morning when the sun shines bright beams down upon them.

A Saint Patrick’s Day angel pie

Saint Patrick’s Day is only one week away. You can make an angel pie for Saint Patrick’s Day with a graham cracker crust ready-made or a nine inch pre-baked pie shell. The ready made graham cracker crust is defiantly the best. You will the need pie shell of your choice, one cup of crushed pineapple, one fourth teaspoon salt, six tablespoons corn starch, three egg whites, half pint dairy whipping cream, (beaten until stiff, one small jar green maraschino cherries (chopped), and a half cup sugar. Combine crushed pineapple, half cup sugar, one forth teaspoon salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Blend cornstarch with half cup cold water and add to crushed pineapple mixture. Cook on medium heat until clear and glossy (stirring constantly). Set aside to cool. Beat the egg whites until stiff, fold the beaten egg whites into the crushed pineapple mixture. Spread the mixture into the pie shell or crust. Beat the other half pint dairy whipping cream until stiff, add three teaspoons of sugar and stir. Top the pie with the whipped cream and sprinkle the jar of drained, chopped, green maraschino cherries over top of whipped cream topping. Keep refrigerated before and after serving.

The garden soil is workable and conditions are ideal for sowing a row or bed of curly mustard greens. They are sweet and tender and yes, they are curly. You can also sow mixed greens which can be mixed in any ratio you desire. You can choose from kale, rape, broad leaf, tender green, leafy turnip and spinach. The hardware or seed shop will mix the seed for you or have them pre-mixed in one-ounce bags. Spring greens perform well and produce a harvest in 50 to 60 days and in spring, they have very few insect enemies this time of year. Sow seed in a three-inch deep furrow, cover seed with a layer of peat moss and add Plant-Tone organic vegetable food before hilling up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamping down with the hoe blade.

Across the highways and byways of Surry County and into the Virginia foothills and all the way to the Sandhills, the peach trees are displaying their dainty pastel pink blossoms. Their shade of pink is like no other. Even backyards and small orchards glow with shades of blushing pink. We hope this will be a bountiful, abundant year for peaches.

A bowl of Saint Patty’s sparkling punch

It is not too early to enjoy a bowl of sparking Saint Paddy’s punch or prepare a bowl for Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations. This is an easy recipe and very green too. You will need three packs of lime Kool-Aid, one can (46 ounce) of pineapple juice, one 46 ounce can of water, two cups sugar, one two liter bottle green apple Fanta, one two liter bottle pineapple Fanta, one two liter bottle of Mountain Dew, one three ounce can of limeade concentrate. Mix the 46 ounce can of pineapple juice, one 46 ounce can water, two packs lime Kool-Aid, two cups sugar and three ounce can limeade concentrate. Mix well until sugar and Kool-Aid are dissolved and mixed. For an ice ring, mix one pack lime Kool-Aid and two quarts water. Mix and pour into a tube cake pan and freeze overnight. Refrigerate the two liter drinks over night and also the punch base. To serve, add ice ring to punch bowl, add half punch base and half Fanta green apple and Mountain Dew. Add this ratio to replenish the bowl as needed.

A row of spring onions

Most hardwares and seed shops have spring onions in stock in colors of white, red and yellow. A pound of sets will sow a 40foot row or a four-by-eight foot bed. They will perform well in cool March soil and cold temperatures and their growth will not be hindered. Plant the sets in a furrow about four inches deep. Place sets about three inches apart, cover with a layer of peat moss and then apply a layer of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food before hilling up the soil on both sides of the furrow. Be sure to set the onions with the root side down. Apply Miracle-Gro liquid plant food mixed with water on the sets once a month.

Peat moss is magical ingredient of garden

Peat moss is totally organic and not only improves texture of soil, but it also absorbs and retains moisture and promotes growth and health of both soil and plants. It produces its magic touch on flowers as well as vegetables and bulbs in all seasons of the year. A few handfuls in potting medium for containers of annuals and perennials work to maintain moisture and texture. A 3.5 cubic foot bag of peat moss costs about $11 or $12. It pays to apply peat moss on every growing thing you plant or set out. When planting rose bushes, fill bottom of the hole where roses are planted with peat moss and also mix peat moss with the soil you cover the roses with. In the drought of summer, the peat moss will help roses retain moisture.

Keeping an eye on the Christmas cactus

The Christmas cactus have been spending winter in the sunny living room. They get sun there, but not full sun. They are kept away from direct sunlight because direct sunlight causes the cactus to develop reddish foliage which is a warning the cactus is receiving too much sun. A move across the room will solve the problem. In the middle of April, the cactus can be moved to the front porch to spend spring, summer and early autumn. March is the time to prepare them for their move outside. During this month, water lightly every ten days. Add extra potting medium if the cactus needs it. Add Flower-Tone organic plant food to the medium. If any foliage is discolored or unhealthy, pull it off. Wait until all frost danger is over before transferring to front porch.

“Wrong coat.” A polite man at the restaurant touched the man who was putting on an overcoat. “Excuse me,” he said. “But do you happen to be Mr. Johnston of Mount Airy?” “No, I’m not,” the man said abruptly. “Oh, well,” said the first man, “I am Mr. Johnston and that’s my coat your putting on!”

“Weep no more, my lady,” A woman in church was weeping as she said goodbye to her pastor of several years. “My dear lady,” said the pastor, “don’t get upset, they will send a much better pastor to replace me.” “That’s what they said the last time,” said the woman.

The almanac for the month of March 2022

Mardi Gras is celebrated Tuesday, March 1, 2022. Ash Wednesday will be Wednesday, March 2, 20222. There will be a new moon on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. The moon reaches its first quarter on Thursday, March 10, 2022. Daylight savings time arrives at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 13, 2022. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on Thursday, March 17, 2022. The moon will be full on Friday, March 18, 2022. The first day of spring will be on Monday, March 21, 2022. The name of the full moon of March is “Full Worm Moon”. The moon reaches its last quarter on Friday, March 25, 2022.

Winter’s shortest month almost over

The shortest month of winter is not far from being over. There is still a lot of winter remaining. Even with the arrival of spring in late March, the possibility of snow, ice, freezing rain and cold days will be with us for quite a while. Don’t let cold weather hinder you from sowing seeds of mustard greens, spring onion sets, broccoli, cabbage, Alaska green peas, lettuce, radish and carrots. As long as winter soil is not frozen it can be worked and cool weather vegetables can be sown and planted.

Staying ahead of the wild onions

Cold temperatures cause wild onions to sprout on the lawn. They have deep roots and it is difficult to destroy their bulbs. You can help solve the problem without disturbing the lawn by using the weed trimmer to cut the onions to ground level every ten days. This will stunt their growth and improve the appearance of the lawn. The mower will help but will not cut onions down to ground level.

Still time to feed the dormant lawn

As February ends, there is still time to feed the lawn for healthy and greener grass this spring. Do not use any 10-10-10 fertilizer but apply a specially designed lawn food that will feed over an extended period of the growing season. Apply on a day when snow or rain is in the forecast for the week. Clean the spreader with fresh water when task is finished to prevent rust.

Repairing bare spots on the lawn

As February leaves us, it is an opportune time to repair bare spots on the lawn and sow new grass seed to improve the appearance of the lawn by reseeding and feeding bare spots. Dig around bare spots to loosen soil, apply lime and fertilizer and seed. Rake in the seed and apply a layer of hay on the spots. Water once a week when no rain falls.

Jonquils brighten the winter landscape

The golden blooms of jonquils, daffodils and narcissus glow in the late winter sun and brighten up the cold porch at the close of February. They are a beautiful sight that announces that spring is on the way. Combined with the fragrance of colorful hyacinths in colors of white, pink, purple and lavender, yellow, and red, we enjoy the color, aroma and also the brightness of spring.

Graceful buzzards fly on a winter day

When we were kids, we called these birds of prey “country airplanes.” They are defiantly not the most beautiful of birds, but they are certainly most graceful when in flight on a clear winter afternoon. They glide through the air and ride the currents of the wind, soaring higher and higher with seemingly no effort, searching for a meal or road kill as they sore.

Starting a row or bed of mixed greens

March is only two days away and the garden plot soil is workable enough to sow a row or bed of mixed greens or mustard greens for an early spring harvest. They will grow quickly in the soil of winter and produce a harvest in about 50 to 60 days. The hardware or seed shop will mix the greens or sell them to you already premixed. You can choose from rape, kale, curly mustard, tender green, Florida broad leaf, spinach, and leafy turnip. Dig a shallow furrow and sow the tiny seed and cover with a layer of peat moss and apply a layer of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food on top of peat moss. Hill up soil on each side of furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade for good soil contact. When greens develop two leaves, apply an application of Plant-Tone and hill up the Plant-Tone on both sides of the row.

Setting out a row or bed of spring onion sets

As February comes to end, a row or bed of spring onion sets can be set out in the cold winter soil and they will thrive in late winter. You can choose from white, yellow or red bulbs. A pound costs less than $3. Plant sets in a furrow about four or five inches deep and place sets about four or five inches apart with the root side down. Apply a layer of peat moss and an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food on top of the peat moss and hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade for good contact with the soil. They should sprout in about 20 days. Side dress with Plant-Tone once a month and hill up soil on both sides of the row.

Stocking up on plant foods for garden plot

You will notice we mentioned “food” not fertilizer. Gardens need more food (organic) than they do fertilizer (chemical). Chemical fertilizers are only shots in the arm, gardens need organic material. As cold weather is still the norm, most hardwares, garden shops, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement and Ace Hardware are well stocked with supplies and organic plant foods such as Holly-Tone evergreen and azalea organic food, Flower-Tone organic flower food, Plant-Tone organic vegetable food, Garden-Tone organic plant and herb food, Tomato-Tone organic tomato food, Rose-Tone organic rose food. Miracle-Gro liquid plant food, Alaska fish emulsion in quart bottles, Dr. Earth natural plant, vegetable and tomato foods. These foods are easy to apply and a little goes a long way because it is not filled with hard pellets, but finely textured plant food that quickly absorbs into the soil and provides quick response and results. The Holly-Tone products are available in four- and ten-pound bags.

Making a broccoli and rice casserole

There are a lot of broccoli casseroles and this one is good because it has a lot of flavorful ingredients. You will need an eight-ounce bag of finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese, one can Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, one stick light margarine, two cups Success minute rice, one envelope Recipe Secrets onion soup mix, one very large head of broccoli or a twenty ounce box of chopped frozen broccoli, two eggs. Cook rice according to the directions on box, boil broccoli until tender but not over cooked, melt margarine and set aside. Combine broccoli and rice and mix together. Add mushroom soup, shredded cheese, onion soup mix and two eggs. Mix all ingredients well. Spray a large casserole dish with Pam baking spray. Pour mixture into casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for half hour or until firm and golden brown on top.

Still plenty of snow opportunity remains

As we end February, the opportunity for snow is still promising. As we are on the doorstep of March, always remember that huge back-to-back snowfalls have occurred during March in past years with several dumping more than ten inches. We would certainly love to see several snows before the winter ends. Snow would be a great benefit to the dormant lawn and give a boost to the garden plot, add nutrients to the soil and build up excitement for the kids and grand kids as they await a snow day.

Signs of spring at the end of February

The cold month of February is almost at an end and the month of spring’s arrival will soon be here. Some signs are appearing including bees visiting Carolina Jasmines, buds forming on dogwood trees, jonquils and hyacinths ready to bloom, some trees already have tiny leaf buds forming, frogs are croaking down at the creek and days are getting longer by a minute per evening.

Ordering from the 2022 seed catalogs

As we approach March, it’s a great time to place your order for the seeds from the seed catalogs. Several important things to remember about ordering catalog seeds are: 1) Don’t purchase seed varities you can purchase locally. 2) Remember that most seed packets only contain 30 seeds or less. 3) Some seeds originate from other countries. 4) You have to pay shipping, handling fees and state taxes. 5) Most catalog seed costs more for less seeds. 6) Order only proven seed varieties that you have tried before and seed varieties you can’t buy locally.

-Hair-raising sermon. This pastor was well known for his long-winded sermons. One Sunday morning, he noticed a man get up and leave during the middle of his sermon. The man returned just before the service concluded. After the service, the pastor asked the man where he had gone. The man said he went to get a haircut. “But, why didn’t you get it before the service?” said the pastor. “Because I didn’t need it then,” the man explained.

-Self paying windows. A window salesman phoned one of his customers and said, “I’m calling because our company replaced all the windows in your home with triple glazed, weather tight windows more than a year ago, and you still haven’t sent a single payment.” The homeowner replied, “but you said they would pay for themselves in twelve months.”

-A horse of a different color. You can lead a horse to water and most folks can, but if you can get a horse to float on his back, then you are on to something.

Saint Matthew’s Day

Wednesday, Feb. 23, is known as Saint Matthew’s Day. On his special day, an important event occurs that is a harbinger of spring. It is said that on this day, the sap in the mighty oaks and the maples begin to rise up the trunks and into the limbs on a journey of life for another season of growth. As we speak of the journey of life, we also see it in the garden spikes of hyacinths, jonquils and daffodils as they start on their spring journey of life. The American violets are displaying their heart shaped foliage. In the dead of winter, we can see the hints of new life all around us.

Debunking the “First Snowfall” urban legend

There is an old urban legend that says you should not eat any of the year’s first snowfall. We definitely do not accept this legend simply because the first snowfall is no different than all the other snowfalls of the season. My mother who lived in northeastern North Carolina was the world’s greatest snow lover. Even though that legend was around in her day, it did not hinder her from making snow cream from the first snowfall to the last snowfall of winter. She would find where the snow had blown into drifts, dig down a few inches and scoop up the fresh clean snow and make a batch of snow cream. The first snowfall had no ill effects upon her and her four sons. She lived to be over 90 years old. We miss you mom and we keep the snow cream tradition alive each year by making snow cream from the first snowfall to the last snowfall. When we make snow cream and scoop up the fluffy white snow, you become very much alive in the windmill of our mind.

The plants of cabbage and broccoli can now be set out in the late winter garden. Most hardwares, seed shops, Walmart, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s Home Improvement and most nurseries have plenty of plants and varities to choose from. They come in six and nine packs. Check the plants and select plants that have blue-green stems that are straight. Don’t buy plants with dried stems or those that have legged out of their containers. Set plants about two feet apart. Apply a layer of peat moss under each plant and apply Plant-Tone organic vegetable food in the furrow. About two weeks later, side dress the plants with another application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and pull soil up around the Plant-Tone. Feed cole family plants once a month with Plant-Tone.

Wild onions on late winter lawns

With lawns dormant, tan and drab, the wild onions popping through are really a horrific sight as we move toward the last days of February. They will be with us until warm weather arrives. The only plus that they have is the fact that they are green. You can make them easier on the eyes by using a weed trimmer and trim them down to the ground. This will not get rid of them, but it will stunt their growth. You can trim them in the barren moon sign of Leo the Lion if you follow the almanac. It may not get rid of them, but it will slow them down. Believe it or not, mowing the grass on barren moon signs does keep grass from growing as fast as it does when you mow on a watery, fertile sign such as Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces. If you trim wild onions in the barren sign of Leo, it may not help, but it certainly will not hurt anything either. Even if it’s mind over matter, your going to mow and trim anyway, aren’t you? If it works, great, if not, what have you lost?

Frogs signal the coming of spring

The frogs down by the creek bank are leaving the hollow logs and making a bit of noise at February twilight time. They seem to sense that the season of spring will soon be here. Their croaks are a welcome sound and we are sure they will get louder and longer as spring draws nearer. Just the sound of frogs croaking makes winter seem hopeful and pleasant. They are a sign and a herald of the up and coming spring.

Hyacinths: One of springs early blooms

The fragrant hyacinths in dainty colors of red, white, pink, lavender, yellow and blue are now spiking and preparing to bloom. No other flower in late winter has an aroma as sweet as that of the hyacinth. They will continue to bloom for several weeks.

A lettuce bed for early harvest

A lettuce bed or row is a great way to start the garden season and a quick harvest in about 45 to 50 days. Lettuce is a quick growing winter and early spring cool weather vegetable. you can choose from so many varities that are available in packets for about $2 or less. You can sow lettuce now and it will not hinder the planting of seeds of warm weather vegetables later in spring.

Making 2022 a colorful four o’clock year

The seeds of four o’clocks are now available in hardwares, supermarkets and garden centers in seed racks. They come in packets of assorted colors and cost around $2 a packet. They come in red, yellow, white, pink and wine. They thrive in all types of soil and feature bright green foliage that really makes their blooms more colorful. They will bloom from mid-May all the way until the first frost. Burpee Seed features the speckled varities and Park Seed has the two-tone marbled four o’clocks. Several packets will produce a summer of beauty, greenery and color that will last all the way until the first frost.

English green peas are an unusual cool weather vegetable that produces its whole harvest in two weeks. They thrive in cold soil and require no plant food or fertilizer, In fact, they add nitrogen to the soil and produce a harvest in around 60 days which will allow you time to succeed them with warm weather crops. You can choose from varities of Wando, Alaska, Green Arrow and one pound will sow a 50-foot row. Even a winter snow will not hinder their growth. Sow seed in a furrow about four inches deep and lightly scatter seed in the furrow. Cover seed with a layer of peat moss and hill up soil on each side of the furrow and tamp down with a hoe blade for good soil contact. As the peas grow, continue to hill up soil on both sides of the row.

Baked chicken breast and chips bake

This is a great meal on a cold day. It is easy to prepare and a meal in a dish. You will need one four-pack of Tyson chicken breast (boiled until tender and debone and cut into chunks), two cups finely chopped celery, one cup mayonnaise, half cup chopped pecans, one envelope of Lipton onion soup mix, two tablespoons lemon juice, half teaspoon salt, one cup finely shredded mild cheddar cheese, two cups crushed potato chips, half teaspoon pepper, half teaspoon paprika. combine the boiled chicken chunks, celery, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, paprika. Spoon lightly into a casserole dish sprayed with Pam baking spray. Sprinkle top of casserole with shredded cheese and top with crushed potato chips. Bake at 425 degrees until firm and bubbly golden brown.

Cold, frosty, crisp, and gray

These words describe the winter garden in late February. Another word describes the winter garden, and that is “alive.” The collards have a blue gray tint to them after being nipped many times by frost, covered by ice and snows but still ready to harvest. Onion sets are dark green as they spike from cold ground. The soil does not freeze that much in winter and a coat of leaves protects them. Broccoli and turnips are still dark green and a contrast to the gray of the woodlands and the tan of the dormant lawn. Anything with a hint of green in it in the dead of winter is precious to behold.

Watering pansies, perennials, winter flowers

In winter perennials, pansies and flowers of the season need a drink of water, but not as much in warm weather. Use precaution when watering in winter. Use a sprinkling can to provide only a minimum of water. Too much water will cause medium in the containers to freeze. Water just enough to dampen soil.

“Dry sermon.” The visiting pastor at a country church asked one of the area farmers if he could use his barn to get away to where it was quiet and study his Sunday message. After several hours of study, the pastor left the barn for a walk. When he came back, he discovered the cow had eaten his sermon notes. The next day, the farmer complained to the pastor that his cow had gone dry.

“Less time, more pain.” Larry was having trouble with a toothache and decided to visit the dentist. “What do you charge to extract a tooth,” Larry asked. “One hundred and fifty dollars.” the dentist quoted. “One hundred and fifty dollars for two minutes of work?” complained Larry. “Well,” replied the dentist, “If you wish, I could extract it very slowly.”

“A hammy situation!” Where was deviled ham first mentioned in the bible? When the evil spirits entered the swine!

Saint Valentine’s Day is tomorrow

The day of hearts, flowers, candy and gift cards is just a matter of hours away. The sweet day will be celebrated tomorrow. Most stores and shops are still very well stocked and florists still have plenty of floral offerings although there may be a short supply of roses, but there are some still available if you search around. If you wait until the last minute, you can get a Valentine money card and slip some money in it or purchase a gift certificate from a favorite restaurant.

This is a colorful salad for Valentine’s Day that is simple to make as well as unusual. You will need one box (three ounces) strawberry jello, one cup water and (juice from pineapple), one can crushed pineapple, (drain and reserve juice), one cup boiling water, two cups strawberries (mashed), two small containers of strawberry yogurt. Combine strawberry jello, one cup boiling water, one cup cold water and reserved pineapple juice. Let stand until it starts to thicken. Add two cups mashed strawberries, strawberry yogurt and crushed pineapple. Stir, put in a bowl, refrigerate for three hours. top with dollops of Cool Whip.

For a sparkling bowl of punch on Valentine’s Day for a party or gathering, mix two bottles of strawberry Fanta, two cans red Hawaiian Punch, two bottles of Sprite, two teaspoons of strawberry flavoring. Make an ice ring of one two litter bottle of strawberry Fanta and one can of red Hawaiian Punch and pour into a tube pan and freeze overnight.

Siberian kale is winter’s best

The cold of February only makes Siberian kale sweeter and it can even be harvested with a layer of snow on it. Siberian kale can be chopped up finely and mixed with ranch dressing for an unusual salad. Unlike collards, curly mustard and other greens, Siberian kale has a certain sweetness a cut above other greens of winter. A covering of crushed leaves or grass clippings between the rows of kale prolongs the harvest well into winter and will make harvesting cleaner.

Mid-February time to prune fruit trees

In mid-February, grapevines and fruit trees are dormant which makes vines and limbs or branches bare and clearly visible and easier to see what needs to be pruned and trimmed. This will help the trees and vines bare more fruit and also make the harvest of fruits easier. Another plus is the trees and vines will look much better. Cut back limbs that rub against each other and limbs that grow too high to make the fruit out of reach for harvest. Cut back limbs at the very bottom so you can get under them to mow and rake. Usually there are a few pleasant days in February, so pick one of these days and trim and prune the trees.

Apply dormant oil spray to fruit trees

After pruning fruit trees and grapevines, add a finishing touch to the task by spraying them with a cast of dormant oil spray. This spray will coat trunks, limbs, branches, and vines with oil that protects the trees and vines against infestations of insects, borers and worms. This spray comes in bottles and is mixed with water according to directions on the bottle. Pick a sunny day with no wind to apply the spray. Cover trunk and limbs from bottom to top. Apply when no rain is in the forecast for several days. A good coat will cause limbs to look slick and shiny.

Starting a row or bed of lettuce

Lettuce is a tough winter vegetable that will produce a quick harvest in about 45 to 50 days and it will survive in cold weather and winter soil. You can purchase lettuce in packets for less than $2. There are many varities of lettuce that include, Iceberg, Black Seeded Simpson, Grand Rapids, Buttercrunch, Red Sails, Salad Bowl and Oak Leaf. You can sow seed in a small bed or a short row and a small area will produce a lot of lettuce. Sprinkle the seed lightly in a furrow about two or three inches deep, cover with a layer of peat moss and apply Garden-Tone or Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down with a hoe blade. Feed with Miracle-Gro vegetable food after seeds sprout.

Winter’s back will soon be broken

On Tuesday, Feb. 15, the back of Old Man Winter will be broken as we reach the halfway point of winter. There is still plenty of cold bite and icy breath, but on the calendar we are halfway through. Even with winter being at the halfway point, February is still the month of hard freezes and ice in the mud holes, as well as a few snow days to get everyone excited.

Seeing honeybees in winter is rare

Winter may be half over and most bees are balled up in hives or hollow trees keeping warm. This does not mean they are hibernating. On a rare day in February when the sun shines and warms above the freezing mark, some bees may venture out of the hive or hollow to activate their wings and scout around a bit. We have a fragrant Carolina Jasmine at the edge of the garden plot with bright yellow sweet smelling blooms and in February sometimes we see them around the jasmine blooms. We don’t think they venture too far from their hives during winter, but cabin fever could cause them to scout around quit a bit. A small bit of weather lore says that if you see bees buzzing about in mid February, it is also possible to experience cold wind as well as rain. Later they could zoom back and bring some snow to make things interesting! After all, half of winter remains.

Perennial flowers and cold weather vegetables enjoy the arrival of winter snowfalls, as well as kids and a lot of adults. We have a list of reasons why everyone should love snow, and the list is long: 1) snow is fluffy, white and beautiful, covers up all that is ugly and beautifies that which is already pretty. 2) Kids love snow and just the mention of snow excites them and they look forward to it. 3) Snow kills wintering insects, eggs and larvae, diseases and fungus. 4) Snow covers the lawn and garden in a blanket of white and adds nutrients to the soil. 5) Snow covers pots, containers, and perennials and makes them look like snow cones. 6) Snow is the main ingredient of Carolina snow cream. 7) Snow insulates pots and containers of perennials and protects them from winter extremes with a blanket of snowy white insulation. 8) Snow also boots business and the economy by creating a sudden craving for bread, milk, eggs, potato chips, dips, cold cuts, junk food, cereal and cookies. 9) We can not prove it, but we have reason to believe that winter snows subtly promote a response for seed and items for the upcoming garden season. 10) Snow makes the sun look brighter and the landscape look like tiny and sparkling diamonds. 11) An atmosphere with snowflakes is much easier to breath.

The sun is red like a pumpkinhead!

“The sun is red like a pumpkinhead, and it shines so your nose wont freeze.” This is from the Dean Martin song, “A Marshmallow World.” A red sunrise or sunset in winter with a snow on the ground is always a beautiful sight. Every day in the winter when the sun sets, we are gaining an extra minute of daylight. The sunshine melts snow even on a cloudy day, not because of heat, but from ultraviolet radiation. Yes, even in the marshmallow world of winter, the sun does its job.

Watering plants in sunny living room

The Christmas cactus, snake plant, asparagus and panda ferns thrive in the sunny living room all winter long. With a small drink of water each week and some Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month, they are very much alive. The ferns need to be trimmed every two weeks to promote new growth.

“Horseplay.” “Doctor, you’ve got to help my husband,” said the wife, “He thinks he is a race horse. He wants to live in a stable, he walks on all fours and eats hay.” The doctor said, “I’m sure I can help him, but it will cost a lot of money.” The wife said, “Money is no object, he’s already won two races!”

“Wrong seat.” A drunk driver phoned the highway patrol to report that someone had broken into his car and stole the dashboard, steering wheel, the brake, gas pedal and emergency brake. The highway patrol was puzzled and they sent an officer to the scene. Before the officer arrived, the drunk called back a second time, and said “Never mind, I got in the back seat by mistake.”

Full Snow Moon is Wednesday

A snow white full moon will rise in the eastern sky on Wednesday evening in a bare tree-lined horizon and possibly living up to its name of Full Snow Moon. It may even be adorned by a halo with stars inside of it. The night should be cold making for a silvery glow of moonlight.

Winter’s shortest month

We are already six days into winter’s shortest month and also what could be winter’s coldest month and that would make the month seem longer. We need a few hefty snowfalls during February to decrease the insects that are wintering over and also the weed seed and harmful organisms and fungal diseases that harbor in the soil. We need a February cold snap to tune up the garden plot and nothing will perform that like a snow covering the soil. Snow is heavy and when it melts it penetrates deeply into the soil. A February cold snap will promote a ground freeze which will also benefit the garden as well as the dormant lawn.

Thunder in winter can be snow sign

My Northampton County grandma always said that thunder in the month of February was a sure sign of snow in a few days. Winter thunder is different than spring and summer thunder that usually precedes an approaching thunderstorm or thundershowers. Thunder in winter is not a harbinger of a thunderstorm, but it thunders because of warm air aloft and colder air at the surface. My grandma was partially right when she would predict snow in a few days. Usually in winter, when it thunders, it will only thunder two or three times. Grandma would count the number of times it thundered and based her prediction on the number of times it thundered would be the number of days before we would see snow. She was right many times and wrong sometimes, sounds like today’s weather forecasters!

Checking out the wintering bulbs

As we move into February, the bulbs of spring flowers such as daffodil, jonquil, narcissus, crocus, hyacinth and tulips should be producing green spikes and tips popping from the winter soil. In winter, they are always a welcome sight. Once you see signs of life, apply a handful of bone meal or bulb booster around the green spikes.

Getting close to Valentines Day

Saint Valentines Day is only eight days away. You still have plenty of time to shop for that special Valentine for the wife, sweetheart, children or grandchildren. You can purchase gift cards from favorite shops and stores as well as restaurants. Flowers are always popular on Valentines Day and you can also buy floral arrangements such as azaleas and other flowers in pots or containers. The special Valentine cards with money inserts also make a gift that will please anyone on your list. Anything you do to remember your Valentine will be special.

In winter, your vehicle’s windshields take a lot of punishment with salt and slush from ice and snow removal equipment and passing traffic. Keep the windshield washer reservoir filled with fluid that contains de-ice solution once every week. Spray the windshield with window wash and wipe it clean. Clean the wiper blades from grime and salts from the road. Allow your vehicle’s defroster to do its job and it will prevent ice from forming during your drive time and cause wiper blades to last longer. Always keep a roll of paper towels in the vehicle along with a can of de-icer.

Planting something red on Valentines Day

The first seed to be sown in the 2022 garden plot should be a packet or two of red radish. They are available at seed stores, hardwares, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement and Ace Hardware. One of the qualities of radish is that you can expect a harvest in about 45 to 50 days after sowing the seed. They are not popular with many gardeners because there is not much you can do with them at the dinner table except place them in a salad bowl. A packet of radish will go a long way and you can choose from many varities such as Cherry Belle, Rover, Cherry Bomb, Cherriette, Easter Egg and Crimson Giant. When you sow radish, sow sparingly and cover with a layer of peat moss and feed with Plant-Tone organic vegetable food.

Winter grand tour of lawn and garden

The winter lawn is brown, tan and dormant and the garden plot is in slow mode or “nap” time. This paves the way for a scavenger hunt of the garden and lawn for limbs, sticks, rocks, and missiles that the lawnmower or tiller will run over. Use a bucket and pick up these objects before the lawn and garden season begin.

Lawn mower and tiller tune up time

While the lawn is dormant and the garden is in nap mode, the season of tuning and repairing the mowers, tiller, weed trimmers and blowers or vacuum’s is here. Don’t wait until the mowing season gets in full swing to get small engines tuned and prepared for mowing and tilling. Here in the off season, most repair shops will pick up equipment, service it and return it to you for a small delivery charge. Get them to check battery, tires and belts as they service your equipment.

Making a muffin pan of corn puffs

Corn puffs are something wonderful for a cold February evening to warm up the family. For this recipe, you will need two cups of creamed corn, two cups cracker crumbs, broken up (Or ran through the blender in “grate” mode), two large eggs, one cup milk or sour cream, one stick light margarine (melted), three teaspoons sugar, half teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper, half teaspoon paprika. Beat eggs until stiff, add remaining ingredients. Pour the mixture into muffin pans lined with cupcake holders. Bake at 300 degrees until firm (about 45 to 50 minutes).

Valentine color at the birdbath

Red is the main color at the season of Valentines. At the bird feeder and bath, that gets our attention in the form of colorful cardinals. The male is bright red and the female has only hints of bright red. They are both being “Valentines” at the feeder when the male feeds the female. We would like to declare cardinals the official birds of Valentines Day! They are already featured on many Valentines.

Opportune time to fertilize lawns

As February moves along, food and fertilizer can be applied to the dormant lawn. While lawns are dormant, this is the opportune time to apply both lime (calcium carbonate) and lawn food. There is a great possibility of some February snow that could cover the winter lawn after lawn food and lime are applied and this will soak the lime and fertilizer deep into the soil and into the roots instead of washing it away. Never use 10-10-10 fertilizer on lawns, but use specially formulated lawn food that is designed to feed lawns over a extended time period. If you use a spreader, clean the inside of spreader with fresh water after applying lawn food to prevent rust. Dry with a towel and spray with a coat of oil spray such as WD-40.

Making a Valentine cherry salad

This is a very easy salad to prepare on the days leading toward Valentines Day. You will need two three-ounce boxes cherry jello, one cup boiling water, one can Comstock cherry pie filling, one can (large) crushed pineapple, one can fruit cocktail (reserve juice), half cup chopped pecans. Dissolve jello in boiling hot water and let cool. Add other ingredients and mix well. Add some fruit cocktail liquid if salad seems to dry.

“A kids prayer,” A pastor asked one little boy in his church if he said his prayers every night. “Yes sir,” the little boy replied. “And do you always say them in the morning too?” the pastor asked. “Why, no sir,” the boy replied. “I ain’t scared in the daytime.”

“Happy hunting.” On Wednesday night, the deer hunting season ended. During the service that evening, the pastor asked the men of the church who had bagged a deer. Not a single man raised a hand. The pastor was puzzled and said, “I don’t get it. Last week many of you said you would not be at church because of hunting season. I had the whole congregation pray for your deer.” One hunter said, “Well, pastor it worked. All the deer are still safe.”

Winter’s longest month almost over

The swan song of January is almost here. Winter’s longest month will come to an end tomorrow. As we approach the February, some of winter’s coldest days may be ahead, but February is a month with only 28 days. When February arrives, we will have only 49 days until spring. That may seem like a long time in winter, but spring will be here before you know it. We celebrated Saint Hilary’s Day on Wednesday, Jan. 26, and it is said to be winter’s coldest day, but with February just outside the door we could be in for more cold weather than Saint Hilary could dish out. Hopefully, we can have a hefty snow or two in February.

Winter snow has a ton of benefits

Winter snow will blanket the garden plot, sweeten the Siberian kale, enrich the soil with nutrients, build up the water table, and enlarge the turnips. It soaks into the winter lawn, kills wintering insects, weed seeds, eggs and larva and harmful organisms in the soil, beautifies the landscape and excites kids. “Some are cold and a few are frozen,” but those who like snow are special and chosen. Snow makes it easy to inhale and exhale. It opens the nostrils and lungs and perks up the immune system, generates a sense of excitement, and brings an atmosphere of calm and excitement to a restless world. A winter snow will melt the heart and bring excitement to the soul. There is a certain amount of excitement in a forecast that says snow is on the way.

Looking forward, expecting a snow day

Whether you love snow or not, its something you have to deal with so why not deal with it before it occurs? Several items you will need ahead of time for a snow day to be easier to cope with are windshield washer fluid, a durable ice scraper and brush, several cans of de-icer, a snow shovel, a bag of ice melt, a small whisk broom, bread for sandwiches, some quick snacks and junk food items, evaporated milk for hot chocolate, a gallon of milk to make snow cream, plenty of sandwich material and frozen pizzas. No snow day is a success without these items.

Keeping snow and ice out of birdbaths

With ice and snow in the birdbath and other sources of water covered with snow, birds have a difficult time finding water. There is water on the streets but with snow removal, it has salt in it, and that may be hazardous to their health. On snowy or icy days or freezing mornings, empty ice or snow from birdbaths and refill with fresh water. Repeat later in the day.

Keeping an old fashioned oil lamp handy

Technology in the 21st century is good, but when it fails, an old fashioned quality oil lamp filled with lamp oil is a practical item to have in reserve when power goes out. They are handy when batteries are low and the heat goes off. Many hardwares feature quality oil lamps, with spare wicks, burners and lamp oils. A good lamp costs around $9 or $10. Instead of kerosene oil they feature lamp oil in different scents that burn clean. They are certainly a great investment for any season of the year. Webster Brothers Ace Hardware in Walkertown has a great selection of oil lamps, brass spare burners, wicks and an inventory of scented oils. Always use oil lamps on a solid surface and away from the reach of children. Always be present in the room where an oil lamp is lit.

A year of colorful four o’clocks

Plan for plenty of color in the year of summer 2022 flower garden with plenty of four o’clock bushes. Four o’clock bushes provide flowers in colors of red, white, pink, rose, wine, and yellow. They produce plenty of lush green foliage and will bloom from late May until early October. You can purchase them in packets from Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Ace Hardware, Food Lion, Lowe’s Foods and hardwares. The speckled and marbled varieties can be ordered from Park Seed and Burpee catalogs. They thrive in all types of soil. My Northampton County grandma had beds of them growing in the acid soil of her front yard. Four o’clocks will also thrive on the edges and corners of your garden plot for plenty of foliage and color. Buy seed now and store in cool dry place.

At the end of January, the Christmas cactus looks healthy in the sunny living room. As winter moves along, the cactus produces runners that need to be trimmed to promote new growth. They need a drink of Miracle-Gro liquid plant food mixed with proper amount of water once a month and to dampen them with water every seven to ten days. You can also feed cactus with Flower-Tone organic flower food every 10 days. If the foliage looks reddish in color, this is a signal from the cactus that it is receiving too much sun. Just move it further away from the sunny window and this should take care of that situation quickly.

Watching panda and asparagus ferns

As the asparagus and panda ferns spend winter in the living room, they too, develop runners that need to be trimmed back to promote growth and these runners need to be checked every week and trimmed so they will produce more foliage. Water once a week but only dampen the medium, do not over water. Use Miracle-Gro liquid plant food with proper amount of water. You can also use a handful of Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month. Check both the Christmas cactus and ferns by sticking your index finger in the medium to check for moisture content. Lightly water when needed.

Robins bouncing around on lawn

Plenty of healthy robins visit the lawn and birdbaths every day. When the ground is not frozen, they seem to find plenty of grubs and insects. They are not shivering and are spry in their movements. The robins may not be building nests or laying eggs and we believe they stay in hollow trees and logs, in woodpiles, or under outbuildings, sheds, and in attics eaves of houses or in and under barns. The ground doesn’t freeze that much in winter and our winters are quite temperate and the robins we see don’t seem to be suffering any ill effects from the cold. Maybe they can make a dent in the Japanese beetle population by eating their grubs! We wish them the very best.

Enjoying the perennials of winter

Perennials are one of the year-round blessings of the world of flowers. They put on a special show of life in all four seasons of the year with little upkeep. In winter, they don’t need much water and are tough enough to withstand ice freezes, frost, snow and sleet and freezes. On the porch and deck are the coral bells, diantus, bugle weed, sea thrift, creeping phlox, periwinkle, dusty miller, American violets, bee balm, hen and chicks and pink thrift. They all stay green and a few of them produce flowers in winter. All are great investments in foliage, color and beauty all year long. They perform well when you plant only one per container and allow them plenty of room to spread out.

Making brown sugar maple pies

For these two pies you will need one box (pound) light brown sugar, three tablespoons plain flour, three large eggs, half cup melted light margarine, one cup milk, one teaspoon vanilla, one teaspoon maple flavoring, one cup chopped pecans, two unbaked pie crusts. Mix brown sugar and flour, add eggs and beat well, add melted margarine and beat until light, add milk, vanilla and maple flavoring. Pour into two unbaked pie crusts. Bake at 325 degrees until slightly firm and set. You can add chopped pecans to the pie mixture or spread on top of pie. We prefer them in the pie.

Wednesday, Feb. 2 will be Groundhog Day or Candlemas as it is known in Pennsylvania Dutch Country and most of New England. Whether the groundhog sees his shadow or not, we still have at least six more weeks of winter and maybe more even into the month of April. A bit of Groundhog Day weather lore says “If Candlemas is stormy, it will carry Old Man Winter on its back.” We believe this is “groundhog wash” because we have too many calendar days of winter remaining!

-“Wabbit wabbit.” If carrots are so good for the eyes, how come we see so many dead rabbits on the interstate?

-Fat for the thought. The older you get the harder it is to lose weight because by then your body and your fat have become very good friends.

-Dieting is going some length to change your width!

Fragrance of spring in middle of winter

The Carolina Jasmine is the perennial that produces in all four seasons of the year. It is a combo of hedge, ornamental, floral, fragrance, and color from the dead of winter to the Dog Day heat of summer. It has fragrance from bright yellow flowers in late January and bonus blooms all during the year. The foliage is green in all seasons. The Jasmine can be trimmed and shaped in all seasons and tolerates all kinds of weather extremes. You can purchase them at nurseries and they come in two- and three-gallon containers. We have one on the edge of the garden that is 15 years old. They are definitely an investment in beauty, foliage, and fragrance especially in the season of winter. Their fragrance in winter is sweeter than honeysuckles of spring.

Waking up the sleeping lawnmower

The riding mower, push mower, tillers, leaf blowers, and weed trimmers and vacuums need to be started and run for a few minutes every week during the winter. Do not drain gas from this equipment but keep filled so you can start them and warm them up once a week. Keep plenty of two cycle fuel mixed for engine protection and easy starting. Start mowers and allow them to run for several minutes until the engine warms up. It is also beneficial to disengage the blade on the riding mower and drive it around the lawn several times to circulate fluids and moving parts. If you have a riding mower, you may want to invest in a canvas cover for extra cold weather protection. You can purchase them at Lowe’s or Home Depot for around $20.

Frozen sod good for winter garden

Frozen garden soil is not that bad of a thing for the garden plot because it will kill morning glory seeds, weed seed, wintering insects and other fungal diseases that hinder growth of productive plants in the spring garden. Most cold weather vegetables are covered with a blanket of leaves or mulch and will endure the blast of winter sleet, ice, snow, and north winds.

A cool thing to do on a winter afternoon

It is a good thing to stay active during winter. Whether it is spending an hour or so on the front porch with a cup of coffee or a Mountain Dew or watching the crows and squirrels or birds at the feeders and birdbath, or picking Siberian kale from the winter garden, harvesting a few turnips or shopping for a few Valentines for kids, grandkids, and special people or a sweet wife. A cold afternoon is a great time to check out the garden shops that are coming to life in hardwares, nurseries, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and Walmart. You can purchase vegetable and flower seed by the packet and store them for the spring garden. You can also purchase four-pound bags of Garden-Tone, Plant-Tone, Flower-Tone, Tomato-Tone, and Rose-Tone organic plant foods. Saint Valentine’s Day is only a few weeks away, so you can purchase gifts of stuffed animals, gift cards, flowers, money cards, candies, restaurant and fast food cards. Make the most of it and get exercise at the same time.

A half hour of extra daylight

Since the first of winter in December, we have now gained an extra half hour of daylight. We can say this is a sign of spring and the birds are the first to take advantage of the extra daylight. They seem to be a little more active at the feeders and crows are making more noise.

Pansies are colorful on the winter porch

The pansies in January are an extra bonus of winter flowers, colors, and foliage. Cold temperatures do not bother them very much, they just bloom and bear it. Their bright colors of purple, white, lavender, yellow, pink, and bronze brighten up the days of winter.

The mother of a cold winter storm

On a mild January day when the sky is blue and the temperature reaches 53, buckle your seat belt because a winter storm may be brewing. It is often said that a fair January day can be the mixing bowl for a brewing winter storm. This could well be true because in just a few hours a winter storm can blow in from the Gulf or Mexico or the North wind can blow in a cold and icy blast.

A bowl of Carolina strawberry snow cream

As the North wind blows, when will it blow in a heft snow? We don’t know, but it could be any day. Get things in order to make a bowl of Carolina strawberry snow cream to enjoy when the kids come in from sledding and making a snowman. To prepare this snow cream recipe, thaw a quart of frozen Carolina strawberries and mash them up or run through the blender in “grate” mode and set aside. In a medium bowl, beat three large eggs, add one and a half cups sugar, one tablespoon vanilla flavoring, two cans evaporated milk, two cups milk, the thawed, grated strawberries. Beat the eggs and add sugar and beat until creamy, add milk and all other ingredients and mix well and set aside. Find a clean, undisturbed spot of snow in the yard with no footprints anywhere, scrape off the top layer and scoop up a pan full of fluffy white snow. Keep adding the harvested snow to the large bowl of snow cream mixture until it reaches the consistency of ice cream. You can freeze what remains. Eat slowly because snow cream is very cold, but great! Memories are made of snow cream. My mother was a snow lover and it did not take much snowfall for her to make a batch of snow cream. Her very favorite spot to harvest snow for snow cream was the top of the coal pile in the backyard. She always made vanilla snow cream.

Rose bushes in the cold dead winter

Roses are very much alive in the dead of winter. As we move farther into winter, the rose bushes can use a little tender loving care. A fresh layer of crushed leaves for protection from winter extremes and a small drink of liquid Miracle-Gro rose food to give them a boost. Large canes and spent blooms as well as rose hips should be removed. If an ice event comes, take the broom and sweep and knock the ice from the rose bushes. If we have a heavy snow, sweep it off before it weighs down the bushes. As we move toward February, add a handful of Rose-Tone organic rose food to the bushes and then recover with crushed leaves.

Valentines Day only three weeks away

The day of hearts, flowers, and candy is only three weeks away. All the florists are decked out with roses, containers, and potted flowers. The big box stores are well-stocked with candies, potted plants, gift cards, money cards, jewelry, perfume, and other gifts. Restaurants also offer gift certificates that make great gift. If you run out of Valentines gift ideas, a plastic gift card for a certain amount will always be a practical gift.

Preparing for a heavy January snowfall

January has reached past the halfway point and we are looking forward to a huge January snowfall that covers the garden plot and cool weather vegetables, the lawn, the woodlands and countryside with a blanket of white. Nothing cleanses the air and beautifies the landscape like a January snow.

-“Stir Crazy.” Brad: “Remember you suggested I send that pretty girl at work some flowers and ask her over for a home cooked meal?” Chad: “Yes, I do remember that.” Brad: “Well, I did and I was totally shocked. She insisted on washing the dishes.” Chad: “And whats wrong with that?” Brad: “We had not started eating yet.”

-“Wrong cure!” Doctor (to mother): “I will need to see little Jonnie again in a month. But, you, mom, also need help. You are far too upset and worried about your son. Here are some tranquilizers, take them each day until I see you next month.” Mother: “Well, alright, if you really think I need them.” Doctor (one month later): “So, how is Jonnie doing?” Mother: “Who cares!”

-“True clue.” A rumor without a leg to stand on will usually find some other way to spread.

-In the garden. A gardener learns more from a bad harvest than a good one.

We saw a few robins on the lawn the week before Christmas and they looked active and healthy as they bounced around the lawn looking for insects and making a stop at the birdbath. We believe our winters are mild enough and they have adapted to our temperatures. Even though they don’t seem to be abundant, there are still plenty of them around to let us know they are tough and healthy. They have plenty of protection from the cold and find warmth in hollow logs, under outbuildings, inside sheds, under houses or bush piles. Some may still fly south, but more and more are seen here every winter. The robins that do fly south seem to return long before cold weather is over. We are glad to see them around in winter and they are a welcome addition to winter mornings.

As we move farther into January, the garden plot needs precipitation in the form of snow. Rain is great, but snow is heavy and soaks deep into the sod of the lawn and garden plot and adds nitrogen and trace nutrients to the soil. Snow acts as a blanket for the garden and causes the ground to freeze thus killing wintering insects, their eggs and larvae plus slowing down noxious weed populations. Deep down in their sweet hearts, the kids are desperate for a sledding, snowman type of snow to give a break from school and some snow activity and fun.

Season of hearts, flowers, and love

The season of Saint Valentine’s Day is only several weeks away. Many shops, stores, flower and garden shops are already decked out in colors of red, white, pink, and lavender. Walmart, Food Lion, and Lowe’s Home Improvement have large and colorful displays of Valentine floral arrangements, flowers, seeds, plant foods and potted plants, Walmart has gift cards of all kinds, and cards designed to insert money in, candies, heart boxes of candy, and potted flowers. Local florist have beautiful flowers with Valentine themes and they can now take your order for delivery on Valentines Day. Gift cards from favorite shops or restaurants or fast food restaurants make nice gifts. Whatever the gift you choose, remember to wrap it in special Valentine wrap to make the gift more meaningful and thoughtful.

Plenty of color at the winter feeders

The birds of winter are still active at the feeders all during the day. The red of the cardinals and the white and gray of the chickadees, along with the brown of the sparrows and the occasional appearance of a few blue jays are common sights. At different times of the day, the varities of birds change. All have one thing in common — they visit the feeder for a quick and easy meal.

Ice in the birdbath on cold days

Ice forms in the birdbath during winter nights. As the sun warms the temperatures, dump the ice and refill with fresh water and repeat this every day to give birds a source of water near the feeders.

Even though it is mid-January and freezing temperatures are the norm, hardware’s, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Ace Hardware, Walmart, and seed and garden shops and nurseries now have racks of colorful flower and vegetable seeds on display for the growing season. Buy a few packets each week and place them in a box for storage and add packets to the box each week. Store in a cool dry place. Keep a list of the flower and vegetable seed varities that you purchase.

Changing your furnace’s filter once a month during winter not only makes the air you breath in the home cleaner, but also helps your home to be more dust free and makes your heating system operate more efficiently. Check the size of the filter your furnace requires and keep a few on hand. Use black permanent marker to write the size of the filter on the filter door.

Adding a blanket to spring flower bulbs

As we move past the middle of January, give the spring flowering bulbs of jonquil, hyacinth, narcissus, daffodils, and crocus a blanket of crushed leaves for extra protection from winter freezes. Sprinkle handfuls of bone meal or bulb booster before applying the leaves to boost the bulbs along a bit because in mid-February, they will be spiking out of the cold winter soil.

A sign of the heart showing up in the garden

Glossy green leaves in the shape of hearts are showing up behind the garden plot and in several containers on the deck. They are a natural Valentine which are actually the leaves of the American violets that thrive as we move toward the month of February. Anything that is green in winter is a welcome and encouraging sight. We have several clumps of American violets in pots on the deck that are five or six years old and every year the leaves come back and produce plenty of beautiful violets. As the violets make their leafy appearance, fill a container with potting medium and transplant a clump of the American violets in the medium for a show of heart shaped greenery and violets during spring.

Trimming panda and asparagus fern

The panda and asparagus ferns are spending winter in the living room. As they enjoy their sunny location, they develop long runners as they seek more sun. As these runners grow, keep them trimmed back with scissors or clippers usually every ten days. Feed them once a month with Flower-Tone organic flower food or Miracle-Gro liquid plant food and lightly water every ten days. If they seem to be receiving too much sun, remove them farther from the windows. To check whether they need water, stick your index finger into the soil to determine if medium is still moist or needs water.

Controlling weeds in the winter garden

There are many weeds that thrive in winter including chickweed, nut grass, Bermuda grass and wild onions. They can be easily controlled by pulling them up by their roots and tossing them out of the garden. Anytime of the year that you see a weed is the time to get rid of it before it gets a head start.

A fair January day: Mother of a storm!

There can be some fair and pleasant days in the month of January, but it is good to look at them with caution. A bit of winter weather lore says that if there is a fair day with blue sky and a temperature of 55 degrees, beware because this can be the mother of a winter storm. All it takes is a shift in the wind to the north to change the course of a weather pattern. In January, we can look for sudden changes in the weather.

The cold and frosty garden

January days are cold, but a few are raw and frozen and the garden plot reflects it. The Siberian kale has a few ice crystals on it and the turnips feel like they come out of the deep freeze. The word that best describes the garden is “frosty.” The garden sod makes a crunchy sound when walking on it, but it is not all that bad because with a hard freeze, you know plenty of moisture is in the soil and this means that the freeze will have an effect on insects and weed seed and noxious fungus in the soil. There is a certain amount of beauty in a frosty garden.

Making a hash brown potato casserole

A hot potato casserole is great in the cold of winter especially when made with hash browns. For the casserole, you will need two pounds of frozen hash brown potatoes, one stick light margarine, one teaspoon salt, half teaspoon pepper, one can Campbell’s cream of chicken soup, two cups finely grated sharp cheddar cheese, half cup chopped onions, two cups sour cream, two cups crushed corn flakes, one half cup melted margarine. Thaw potato’s and mix all ingredients except corn flakes and melted margarine. Pour casserole ingredients into a 13x9x2 inch baking pan or dish sprayed with Pam baking spray. top with crushed corn flakes and one fourth cup melted margarine. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.

“Wrong kingdom!” During the Bible class, the lesson centered on the situation of King Herod offering up to half his kingdom to see the daughter of Herodius dance. The teacher said to the students, “Now, what if you had this problem, and you made the offer of anything she wanted, and the girl came to you saying, the head of John the Baptist, and you don’t want to give her the head of John the Baptist. What would you do?” One of the student replied, “I’d tell her that the head of John the Baptist was not in the half of the kingdom I was offering her!”

Full Wolf Moon occurs tomorrow

The full moon of January will be tomorrow night, as it rises in the eastern sky shining through the bare limbs of the mighty oaks. It will look silver and bright as it shines down on a cold clear sky (hopefully) or it could shine on the crest of a new fallen snow.

Green is the year round color in the winter garden

In the coldest part of the year, it is always great to have something green, alive and producing in the dead of winter. A pansy with dark green foliage and purple and yellow faces, dusty miller or coral bells as floral displays or Siberian kale, turnips, mustard greens, collards, onion sets and broccoli. The winter garden does not have to be drab and gray. With the aid of a bed of crushed leaves as a winter blanket, the greens of winter can prosper as well as produce a harvest in the cold, harsh, winter.

January is the month of hard freezes

On January mornings there can be a plenty of ice covering the mud holes as winter really gets down to serious business. A freeze that comes during January does the winter garden a favor because the frozen sod will kill wintering insects and their eggs as well as seeds of weeds and fungus in the soil. Cool weather vegetables will thrive because they are now hardened off to the cold spells of the icy breath of winter.

A cover for ornamental cabbage and kale

As we move into winter’s first full month, which is also winter’s longest month, pay a bit of attention to the containers of ornamental cabbage and kale. On cold winter nights, keep several towels handy and the cabbage and the kale containers close together so you can spread a towel over them for freeze protection. One towel should cover two containers. Whenever you water them, do not over water because this invites a freeze. When temperatures rise above freezing each morning, remove the towels and fold them up for the next evening.

A message from the mighty oaks

The mighty oaks have only a sparse amount of leaves remaining on them as we reach the second week of January. My Northampton County grandma always said that when oak leaves hung on to their limbs, “They were just hanging around waiting for a heavy snowfall to bring them down.” We may soon be receiving that first big snow and it will certainly be great news for kids of all ages. It will be great news for the garden plot because some weather lore says that when snow bends the limbs of the mighty oaks, we can expect bountiful crops in summer. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Exercise on winter front porch

Don’t just keep a towel to protect the winter annuals on the front porch, but keep a warm blanket and toboggan also close by in the house so you can exercise your body on a cold morning on the front porch and enjoy the warmth of the winter sun as you sip a cup of hot coffee and remove towels from the winter annuals. The winter sun and the north wind will harden your immune system and toughen your body up to adjust to the cold temperatures as well as make you feel better as you begin the day. If winter mornings are a bit cold, you may want to keep a pair of warm gloves close by.

Putting together a no crust apple pie

No dessert in the cold of winter is as good as an apple pie hot from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. This is a simple recipe that has no crust, but plenty of flavor. You will need two beaten eggs, one cup of sugar, five tablespoons of plain flour, one a half teaspoons of baking powder, one fourth teaspoon salt, half cup of golden raisins, two cups diced apples, one teaspoon vanilla, one teaspoon apple pie spices, one stick light margarine. Mix flour, salt, baking powder and set aside. Mix sugar and beaten eggs together and add to the flour mixture. Add all other ingredients except margarine and mix well. Pour into a nine inch pie dish or pan sprayed with Pam baking spray. Dots with pats of margarine. Bake at 325 degrees until firm. Serve with whipping cream.

A crisp sound and the look of diamonds

As January blows in its winter winds, from the north or south, we look forward to seeing a fluffy white snowfall and feasting our eyes and ears on the snow of a cold winter’s eve and allowing it to “Speak” to us. There is a majesty, purity, and magic in a snowfall. On a cold evening of winter, the snow makes a crispy, crackling sound as the temperature drops and the street lights and bright moonlight shine down on the new fallen snow. It reflects on crystals and makes them shine like tiny diamonds. A gentle breeze blows making the world outside feel a tiny bit like a Klondike bar!

Keeping water in the birdbath

Birds are active all winter and they drink water in the winter also. We can make it easier for them to find water by emptying ice from the birdbaths and refilling with fresh water as the temperature rises above freezing each day. Repeat this activity and keep a close eye on the activity of the birds at the bath. Keep food in the feeders and refill as needed.

Watering winter plants and annuals

The annuals and perennials on the front porch and deck need water in the winter but not as much. Place your index finger in the medium in the containers and when they feel dry, water until they are damp, but not soaking with water. Watering too much will cause the medium to freeze and become harmful to the plants. A little water in winter goes a long way.

Enjoy good hot coffee on the winter porch

We are not referring to instant coffee, but freshly perked coffee that is hot, black, and strong that will wake and perk you up while basking on the winter porch. A great cup of coffee begins with a very clean stainless steel peculator with a proven brand of coffee, and fresh cold water, not poured in but measured by the cup with one full teaspoon of coffee for each cup of water. Sprinkle the coffee with salt to enhance flavor. Brew coffee until you can see it brown through the glass on the peculator, steam will be pouring through the spout with that aroma only perked coffee can produce. When drinking coffee, only hot is good. We remember a tough drill sergeant in Army basic training who said there were three things he hated in this order, and they were cold coffee, wet toilet paper, and trainees. He was tougher than a railroad spike, a good soldier and leader of men. He was tough, but always there for you.

It may not seem like it this early in the winter, but things are getting brighter each day, in fact by one minute brighter each evening. We have gained a quarter of an hour of daylight since winter began in late December. Birds of winter seem to have noticed it and they seem to be a bit more active at birdbaths and feeders.

Robins bouncing around in January

Robins seem to be with us all year and many of them appear all during the winter. We do believe most of them stay in our area and all that we see look well nourished, have plenty of bounce and color and definitely are not shivering. There are enough warm, sunny days and surely they are scratching up enough food. There are enough barns, sheds, outdoor buildings, eaves of houses, hollow logs, areas under buildings and even in piles of hay for them to find shelter, protection, and warmth, certainly there are enough insects wintering over to sustain them in the winter. We hope they live long and prosper because in winter, they are a welcome reminder and harbinger of spring.

Protecting the American Bee Balm

The American Bee Balm is wintering on the back of the front porch away from the cold winter wind. It has been trimmed so we can protect it with a cover on freezing nights. We have a layer of crushed leaves around the bottom of the container and feed it with a handful of Flower-Tone organic flower food once a month. On sunny days, we remove the cover and let it receive some sun. A small drink of water is all it needs. With only a small amount of winter protection, it will survive.

Pesky chickweed thrives during winter

Many weeds and grasses go dormant in winter, but chickweed survives all winter especially around the edges of the house and near where rosebushes grow. The biggest plus about chickweed is that it has shallow roots and can be easily pulled up and thrown out of the area.

“One for three.” Employee: “I’ve been here for 11 years doing three men’s work for one man’s pay. Now, I want a raise.” Boss: “Well, I can’t give you a raise, but if you tell me who the other two men are, I’ll fire them.”

Different types of sermons: Rocking horse sermon — back and fourth, back and fourth, but going no where. Mockingbird sermon — repetition, nothing new. Smorgasbord sermon — a little bit of everything, but nothing solid. Jericho sermon — March around the subject seven times.

Lunch is served. Cook: “Can I bring you lunch, sir?” Captain: “No, just throw it overboard and save time.”

Long winded. Jan: “My pastor is so great, he can talk on any subject for an hour.” Fran: “That’s nothing, my pastor can talk for a whole hour without a subject.”

Time for a halo around the moon

The air aloft is getting cold enough to form tiny ice crystals which are the elements for forming a halo around the full or near full moon. It is a beautiful sight especially during the season of Christmas. My mother and grandma in Northampton County would count the stars in the halo. The visible stars in the halo would determine the number of days before we would see a snow according to my grandma. On the other hand, my mother says in these visible stars the number of inches of snow we could expect. Both their predictions come to pass many times simply because when the air aloft forms crystals of ice which form the halo, it is also cold enough to produce snowfall. That is why sometimes it doesn’t have to be very cold to snow, but upper level temperatures can bring us snow.

Will January be a snow month?

As the New Year gets ready to begin will it bring us much snow? The possibility is great that the month could produce quite a few snows. January snow can be a benefit to the garden plot by freezing the sod, killing off the weed seed and wiping out insect pests, eggs, and larva. Snow can also add nitrogen to the soil as well as other trace nutrients. Snow will sweeten the turnip and the Siberian kale. Snow will beautify the winter landscape and make it look like a marshmallow world. Last, but certainly not least, it would make a lot of kids and grandkids very happy!

The green of anything is pretty in the winter

Even with the possibility of snowfall in January, there is plenty of green in winter’s garden that snow will not bother. Siberian kale can be harvested with a layer of snow on it as well as mustard, turnips, and broccoli. The benefits of cool weather vegetables is having a green garden full of life in the dead of winter.

A special late Christmas gift that still giving

This gift was opened on Dec. 21 and still being given each day in the form of an extra minute of daylight. We will continue to receive an extra minute each day until June 21. The difference may not be noticed until we reach Valentines Day.

Day of Epiphany will be Jan. 6

This day is known not only as the Epiphany, but Twelfth Night, Old Christmas, and the last day of the Twelve Days of Christmas. It is the day King of King’s, Jesus, the Newborn Messiah was revealed to the Gentiles, the Magi Kings from the East. It is the day the light of the world is revealed to them after a long journey from the East. Their quest ended, not in Jerusalem or the palace of Herod, but at a house in Bethlehem. They arrived and worshipped the King of King’s and presented gifts unto him.

At Rodanthe, off the outer banks of North Carolina, Epiphany or Old Christmas is celebrated on Jan. 6 every year with an oyster roast, special music celebrations, and a visit from “Old Buck,” a legendary bull to highlight the event and bring gifts. This would be an interesting place to visit. You would not have to worry about a hurricane in early January, but you would have to worry about being on the lookout for “Old Buck.”

After December blooms, Christmas cactus needs a break

The Christmas cactus had plenty of blooms from Thanksgiving and well into the month of December. It is now time to pull off all spent blooms and feed them either with Flower-Tone organic flower food or a drink of Miracle-Gro liquid plant food once a month. Check moisture by sticking your index finger into the soil. If soil is not moist, use a sprinkle can and apply water but do not over water it. Check every eight to ten days for moisture. Check the foliage as the cactus winters over inside the home. If the foliage looks red, it is a signal that the cactus is getting too much sun. You can solve this problem by moving the cactus in the room to a less sunny location.

The front porch is place to be

The sun shines bright on the front porch in winter. In fact, the sun always shines bright, but people seem to avoid it in winter. They seem to forget it is a source of vitamin C that is free. The front porch in winter is a great place to start the day and breathe fresh air into the nostrils and strengthen your immune system, and move the germs out. A cup of coffee on the front porch tastes better and warms you from head to toe. Keep a blanket handy if the North wind is blowing, but don’t let the wind hinder you from getting the benefits of the sun in winter. Plants and vegetables need to be hardened off to bear up under cold extremes and so do we. Start your winter day by enjoying the sounds, color, and sights of winter and be aware of all the hidden beauty that winter affords. Winter air is easier to breathe with less pollutants, and another plus is no flies, gnats, or insects buzzing around.

Keeping snow shovel and de-ice ready

Several items need to be kept nearby on the porch or carport during the cold of winter and they are a can of de-icer, a snow scrapper (in the car and on the porch), a pair of gloves, a can of WD-40 oil spray, to oil the snow shovel. The oil spray prevents the snow from sticking to the shovel, a snow shovel , of course, and a toboggan to keep your ears warm, and last but not least, a gallon of windshield washer with de-icer solution in it. Keep the windshield washer reservoir filled every week.

Weeds are around during winter

Weeds do not take a break because its winter. We always say that when you see one in the garden plot, pull it up no matter what season of year it is. In winter, chickweed, Bermuda grass, wild onions, and other weeds continue to grow. Check your garden often and pull these noxious weeds up by the roots.

Feeding the birds of the wintertime

When the ground is frozen or snow is on the ground, keep the bird feeders filled. Birds will visit feeders and you will make their job of finding food a lot easier. They will also find that your home is a bird friendly place and they will continue to return. When water in birdbaths freeze during winter, empty the ice from the baths and refill when temperatures rises above freezing.

Cranking lawn and garden equipment

Check the lawn mowers, weed eaters, leaf blowers, and tillers each week in winter. Start them up and allow them to run for a minute or two. Keep fuel in them all winter so they are ready to start. We use mowers in winter to break leaves and the weed eater to trim wild onions so we want them to operate when we attempt to start them. A riding mower needs to run until it warms up. It would not hurt to drive it around the lawn a few times to keep parts running smoothly. Keep a can of fuel handy all winter and don’t allow machinery to run out of fuel in the winter. Keep plenty of fuel for two cycle engines ready also.

Pansies in the winter are things of beauty

Pansies are the winter hardy flower that adds greenery and color to the winter landscape. Their foliage stays green all winter and makes their blooms of yellow, white, purple, pink, and tan really stand out. Don’t water them too much in winter you don’t want medium in the containers to freeze. Feed them once a month with Flower-Tone organic flower food or pansy booster.

A pot of salmon stew warms winter

Salmon stew or chowder is great and will warm you up on a cold evening. It will only take a few minutes to prepare and it only has several ingredients. You will need one can of Double Q Alaska salmon, one stick and a half light margarine, one can of evaporated milk, three cups of milk, one teaspoon of Old Bay seafood seasoning, salt and pepper (to taste), two or three teaspoons of corn starch in a glass of water. Place the salmon and liquid in a four quart pot and mash up the salmon, add margarine and allow to melt on medium heat. Add the evaporated milk and three cups of milk. Bring to a boil on medium low heat. Add salt, pepper, and Old Bay seasoning. Mix three teaspoons corn starch in a glass or cup of cold water and stir until dissolved. While salmon mixture is slowly boiling, add corn starch mixture a little at a time until chowder is thick as you desire. Serve with crackers or oysters.

“Half and half.” The lady was trying hard to get on the bus, and she snapped at the man in the back of her, “If you were half a man, you would help me get on this bus.” The man answered, “If you were half the lady, you would not need any help!”

“Newscasts.” Husband to his wife: “Should we watch the six o’ clock news and get indigestion or the ten o’ clock news and get insomnia?”

Enjoying the scent of Christmas candles

The scent and glow of candles in a dark room during Christmas is unforgettable. Candles have always been a part of the Christmas season and the subject matter of many Christmas cards. We remember seeing a fireplace mantel with six full white votive candles burning brightly in a darkened living room. The candles were adorned with boughs of holly with red berries. It was a beautiful sight and worthy of being on a Christmas card. Votive candles are worth what they cost because they burn slowly and brightly night after night for a long period of time. Many votive candles have scents such as bayberry, peppermint, wintergreen, pine, Douglas Fir, eggnog, cinnamon, apple pie, pumpkin pie, cedar, and spearmint. For a mantel of Christmas memories, take limbs of Douglas or Frazier Fir and spread across the mantel and place seven red or white tall votive candles across the mantel and adorn with gold or silver ornaments. When the candles are lit the light scent and heat of the candles combined with the aroma of the fir trims will quickly bring the spirit of Christmas past and present into the room.

Making a Christmas calico salad

This is a cool salad with the colors of Christmas that is simple and easy to prepare. You will need one package of 16 ounce baby lima beans, one 15 ounce can of Le sueer tiny green peas, one two ounce jar of diced pimentos (drained), two cups cooked sea shell pasta, half cup sour cream, one half cup mayonnaise, one fourth cup ranch dressing, one cup cherry tomatoes (cut in halves), half teaspoon pepper, and half teaspoon salt. Prepare lima beans according to package directions (and drain), cook pasta shells until tender (drain), drain green peas, drain pimentos. Add all vegetables except tomatoes to the sea shell pasta and mix well. Add salt, pepper, sour cream, mayonnaise, and ranch dressing. Slice tomatoes in half and add to the mix. Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for a few hours.

The longest night of the year will occur Tuesday as we welcome the first night of winter. Many children will disagree about this being the longest night of the year. To them, Christmas Eve will be the longest night of the year! All nights after Dec. 21, will become a minute shorter each evening and the days will become a minute longer each day, and this will continue until June 21.

That cone-shaped dark chocolate mound filled with icy cream filling are mostly available only at Christmas season and this is why they are so traditional, like chocolate covered cherries. We always have the thought that they are so rich in sweetness and flavor that they are too unhealthy to consume all year! The best are sold at country stores and specialty candy shops simply because they are soft and creamy and they melt in your mouth and bring back plenty of Christmas memories. They were a special part of Christmas at our house and my father would buy a pound or two at the local hardware. Daddy thought they were so special, he kept them apart from the other treats that were also Christmas traditions. You can find them in historic downtown Mount Airy.

Making a festive Christmas salad

To make this Christmas colorful salad, you will need one large can crushed pineapple, one can whole cranberry sauce, two three ounce boxes raspberry Jello, small pack maraschino cherries, one small jar green maraschino cherries, one can mixed fruit or fruit cocktail. Drain the crushed pineapple and reserve the juice (for mixing with the Jello). Add enough water to the juice to make three cups liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil and add the Jello and mix, stir in the cranberry sauce. Pour into a large bowl and refrigerate for two hours. Stir in pineapple, pecans, cherries (drained), and mixed fruit (drained). Pour into a tube pan and refrigerate until very firm.

At Christmastime, it is great to enjoy a taste of the candy from Christmas past. At Virginia Carolina Produce on U.S. 52 across the state line, you can find a huge wonderland of old fashion confections displayed in wooden kegs. You can scoop these goodies out of the kegs into paper bags. You can also purchase them in plastic bags already priced.

The search for the candy of your childhood ends here on these aisles as scores of candy varities of generations past parade before your eyes like visions of sugar plums to whet your memory. They feature coconut bon bons, coconut macaroons, rainbow ribbon bars, orange slices, candy corn, creme pumpkins, spice and fruit gum drops, tootsie rolls in every flavor, root beer barrels, circus marshmallow peanuts in orange, pink, white and yellow, kits, B.B. Bats, peanut brittle, tootsie pops, Bit-O-Honey, caramel creams, chocolate covered raisins and peanuts, stick candy in every flavor you can name including lemon, peppermint, horehound, wintergreen, spearmint, all kinds of fruit flavors. They have several varities of assorted Christmas hard candies including ribbon mix, filled centers, and they have the round hard mix with trees, stars, Santa’s, holly, and other Christmas art in the center. They will fix a basket and place some of these special treats in it for you custom made to order.

In search of a candle lighter and snuffer

Surely the Baldwin sisters in the “Walton’s Christmas Homecoming” television series opener would have used a candle lighter and snuffer to light such a large spruce in their parlor on Christmas Eve on that Christmas in the early 20th century. These snuffers are rare and were mostly used to light and snuff chandeliers and yes, also to light candles on Christmas trees only on Christmas Eve. Most of them were made in the late 1800s and still around in early 20th century homes. What a great find it would be to discover one of them in an old attic or barn or antique shop? It would certainly be a curious heirloom to use near or on the Christmas tree for an attention getting decoration, or as a giant ornament.

Wind up toys were hot items during Christmas in the 1950s. Two popular models made by Marx were the Honeymoon Express and the Marx climbing tank. The Honeymoon Express was colorful and unusual because it was circular with a train circling the track and an airplane flying around the train in a colorful background of scenery. Not many are found today because they were made to be played with. They became victims of being wound too tight by kids or just wore out from wear. We remember having one of them at Christmas, and most likely, we wore it out.

The Marx climbing tank was popular and featured rubber tracks and guns on each side that produced small sparks that were produced by spinning flints. We would place books on the floor and let the tanks run over them and add more books until the tank would finally turn over. What a tough toy this was. Not many are seen in antique toy shops because these tanks were meant to be played with.

The ugliest of all the Christmas trees

It was defiantly not Charlie Brown’s scraggly tree, but one from Jesse Allen’s Christmas tree lot in the northeastern North Carolina city of Roanoke Rapids in the mid 1950s. The Christmas trees of choice back then were red heart cedars and there were plenty of them that grew along the Roanoke River. Jesse Allen was a local peddler and a jack of all trades. At Christmas, his trade turned to selling Christmas trees he harvested from along the Roanoke River. He set up a lot beside the local Esso service station, and he did a booming business. Jesse had a huge drawing card which was a large cedar that he had sprayed hot pink. It drew people in to gawk and stare at the tree and they bought plenty of trees, but the pink panther had no takers. All during the week before Christmas, after delivering newspapers, we rode by and all the trees had been sold except the hot pink tree, it had served the purpose Jesse had in mind all along and that was selling the rest of his trees! What a great calling card that unusual tree turned out to be.

“A quick subject.” At the annual company Christmas banquet, there were several long-winded speakers who covered every subject except the kitchen sink. When yet another speaker arose, everyone was bored stiff, the speaker said, “It seems to me everything has already been talked about. But if somebody will tell me what to talk about I will be grateful.” From the back of the room, a voice shouted, “Talk about a minute.”

Merry Christmas to our readers!

We would like to wish our readers of the Garden Plot in the Sunday Mount Airy News Lifestyle section a wonderful Christmas filled with the blessings and gifts of love, joy, and peace. Thanks for reading the column every week and we hope your days of Christmas will be merry and bright and your families be richly blessed.

The old fashioned varities of hard pieces of Christmas candies has been around since the days of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. These flavors of Christmases of long ago are still around. Flavors of peppermint, wintergreen, spearmint, horehound, grape, apple, lemon, raspberry, strawberry, lime, cherry, orange, and pineapple. Hard mixes in the forms of Christmas trees, Santa’s, candles, gingerbread houses, and ribbon shapes. Hard mixes of all kinds and flavors can be found at many candy stores, supermarkets, country stores, produce markets, and in historic Mount Airy along Main Street. At many old fashioned stores, you can scoop it up out of wooden kegs and place it in bags by the pound.

Making your own Christmas ornaments can be fun and you can make many Christmas memories with your children and grandchildren. To prepare this dough recipe, you will need three cups plain flour, one-and-a-fourth cups cold water, three fourth cup of salt, and one teaspoon of powdered alum. In a large bowl, combine the salt, flour, and powdered alum and mix well. Add water and stir until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball. Knead the dough on a lightly covered wax paper lined surface sprinkled with flour for 5 minutes until smooth. If dough is too stiff, sprinkle with water, or if it is too moist, sprinkle with flour. Form shapes of Christmas trees, Santa’s, snowmen, candles, stars, candy canes, and gingerbread houses with cookie cutters or by hand. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool and paint with acrylic paints. Extra dough can be stored in covered plastic containers. Use a nail to punch holes in the top of the ornaments for ornament hooks before baking. You can roll the dough into sticks and make candy canes for your old fashioned tree.

Making Christmas eggnog piggy pudding

Rice pudding is a whole lot like Old English “piggy pudding” (also known as figgy pudding) in English literature. Eggnog adds the Old English flavor to the recipe. It is an easy recipe to make at Christmas time. In a medium bowl, mix one pack of Minute or Success cooked rice, two large eggs and one cup of sugar, half teaspoon of nutmeg, one cup of eggnog (regular or low fat), one teaspoon vanilla, one cup golden raisins, two tablespoons plain flour, half teaspoon cinnamon. Mix all the ingredients and pour into a 13X9X2 inch baking dish or pan sprayed with Pam baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees until firm and golden brown (usually around an hour and maybe a bit more). You can substitute quartered red and green candied cherries instead of golden raisins for a Christmasy look. It is great served hot with ice cream but even better served cold.

Making some red peppermint julip

This is an interesting pepper-upper on a winter evening. Run a small bag of Starlight peppermints through the blender in grate mode and sit aside. Mix two packs of watermelon Kool-Aid, two cups of sugar, four cups of water, one teaspoon peppermint extract, one two liter bottle of Canada Dry ginger ale. Mix all together and pour in the grated Starlight mints.

Plenty of Christmas green in the garden plot

Part of our garden plot never goes to sleep in winter because green is our favorite color and we love something green and growing all winter long. Green in the winter garden is highlighted by the Carolina Jasmine, mustard greens, Siberian kale, collards, purple top turnips, broccoli, cabbage, and onion sets. It is always fun in every season to see something green in the garden.

Country stores and special places

The spirit of Christmas past and some of the present is alive at the country store or at some extraordinary stores near you. It is there you can experience the sights, scenes, and smells of Christmas that will take you back in time. There is Ronnie’s Country Store on Cherry Street in downtown Winston-Salem that features country ham. slabs of bacon, W.G. White old fashioned country ham, assorted candies, fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, hoop cheese, and many Christmas traditional goodies. A little further up the hill at 516 North Trade street is Mast General Store where they feature old fashioned items, candies, special treats, toys, gadgets, dolls and other special items. In Kernersville, there is Musten and Crutchfield Market. They feature homemade pimento cheese, chicken salad, bottles of old fashioned soft drinks and fresh meats and vegetables. They are at 245 North Main Street. Across the state line in Cana, Virginia, there is Carolina Virginia Produce with wood floors and huge isles filled with wooden keys of old fashioned candies especially at Christmas. You can buy already mixed and weigh out candies in plastic bags or select your own varities from wooden keys. They also have jams, jellies, pickles, relishes, pickled eggs, assorted meats, vegetables and fruits by the bushel or pound. They have fruitcakes and hard to find items such as old fashioned dark chocolate drops, orange slices, ribbon hard Christmas candy, coconut macaroons, spice and fruit gum drops, and stick candy in all flavors as well as coconut ribbon candy and coconut bon bons. Historic Mount Airy has several blocks of wonderful specialty filled all year round and especially at Christmas time when Main Street is decked out in lighted snowflakes. You can visit the ice cream shops, old hardware’s, great dinning places, and enjoy a pork chop biscuit at Snappy Lunch. Many variety stores and specialty shops line Main Street. You can find hoop cheese, country ham, Jelly Bellies in all flavors, dill pickles from jar and many other extra special items that will pave the way to an interesting day of shopping and fun as well as dinning. Take the family on an old fashioned shopping adventure this Christmas season.

Buying a Christmas cactus as a gift

Give someone special a gift of Christmas cactus so they can enjoy it all during the Christmas season as well as for many Christmases to come. You can now purchase Christmas cactus in full bloom at Home Depot, Lowe’s Foods, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Walmart, Food Lion, and most nurseries. Buy a large bag of Miracle-Gro cactus potting medium and a large container and re-pot the cactus as soon as you bring it home. Rewrap the container in bright Christmas foil before giving it to someone special so they can enjoy the flowers.

The mystery and charm of mistletoe

One of the mysteries of the elusive mistletoe is just the fact that it exists. It is as charming today as it was to the ancients for centuries. It is also a mystery how it can propagate itself against such great odds even in this 21st century when many acres of oak and hickory trees are being bulldozed for real estate and business development. It is also a mystery how it evolved into a decoration at Christmastime.

Mistletoe is unique with its olive green thick leaves and semi-transparent white berries that are so dainty with their tiny seed in them. Mistletoe is a parasite that mooches off hickories, oaks, and other hardwoods to sustain itself. Mistletoe reproduces itself when birds peck or bury the tiny seed into the limbs and branches very high up in the trees. It is amazing that mistletoe always thrives at the tops of these mighty hardwoods protected by God from storms and humans.

The mistletoe revels itself to us in late autumn and early winter when leaves fall and reveal huge clumps of elusive mistletoe in the tops of these mighty oaks and hickories. This brings us to another mystery in the very fact that we didn’t break our neck trying to retrieve it as kids back in the 1950s when almost every oak had a clump of mistletoe tempting us because a kiss awaited if we could chase the girls at school and dangle the mistletoe over their head.

I now believe those sweet fourth grade girls realized the risk involved in retrieving that mistletoe and the rarity of seeing mistletoe or maybe mistletoe charmed them like it did the ancients over the centuries and maybe, just maybe, they really wanted a Christmas kiss! Every December, we look for elusive mistletoe in the mighty oaks in the forest and woodlands of Surry County and it still exists in the tops of oaks and hickories, but now out of our reach because we are old enough to not fool around in the tops of mighty oaks, but we are not to old to kiss under a sprig of mistletoe!

Time to dream about a white Christmas

As we move farther into December and winter is a little more than a week away, is there any possibility we could have some snow before Christmas? In 2017, we had a huge amount of snow the second week of December. It does not have to be cold to snow, or freezing, or not even very cold if conditions are favorable aloft. At Christmas, what better time for the dream of a white Christmas to come true.

“Voices of reason.” When I see a Christmas cookie, I hear two voices in my head. One voice says, “You need to eat that cookie.” The other voice says, “You heard him, eat that cookie!”

“Pie crazy.” Diner: “Is this pumpkin pie or eggnog pie?” Waitress: “Can’t you tell by the taste?” Diner: “No, not really.” Waitress: “Well, then what difference does it make?”

Can December begin the snow season?

December could be the month when we see some measurable snowfall. In the past, we have seen some fairly decent amount of snowfall in December and also a few white Christmases. It is always great to be prepared for snow, no matter when it arrives. Keep the snow shovel ready. Keep a bottle of WD-40 oil spray handy to spray the snow shovel with and prevent snow from sticking to the shovel. Spray the shovel a few times as you shovel the snow. Your arms will thank you and we are sure your heart will.

Lighting a Moravian star in season of Advent

The season of Advent is here and time to prepare for Jesus first coming and his birth in Bethlehem. It is the season to light up the Moravian star and let it shine all night to light the way for the Christ child and welcome him into our homes and hearts. You can purchase Moravian stars at Gullians book stores and at Moravian book stores. They come boxed and are easy to assemble.

Pearl Harbor: “A day of infamy,” 1941

Tuesday, Dec. 7 will be Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. On a Sunday morning, 80 years ago at around 8 a.m., the Empire of Japan staged a surprise and unprovoked attack on the U.S. navel base at Pearl Harbor. It was a horrific attack that triggered the United States into World War Two. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the nation that evening and referred the event as “A day of infamy.” That same night, he urged Congress to declare war between the U.S. and the Empire of Japan. Two fateful days should never be forgotten in America and they are Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and Patriots Day, Sept. 11. “Remember Pearl Harbor?” “We shall never forget.”

Looking for natural Christmas decor

As December begins, there is an abundance of the most unusual places such as roadsides, woodlands, and probably as close as your own backyard or lawn to find natural Christmas decorations. Honey suckles stay green all winter and blend well with Advent wreathes along with sprigs of red heart cedar. We can almost be sure the early Moravian’s would have used these greens in their Advent wreaths as well as short leaf pine sprigs. Nandena and dogwood berries also make colorful decor. Pine cones and pine boughs make great mantel decor, and wreaths for candle displays. Pine cones also provide Christmas accents. Popcorn kernels can be strung with a needle and thread and used on mantels, window sills, table center pieces and coffee tables. When popping corn, use plain kernels that are purchased in one pound bags, not microwavable popcorn. It works better, is whiter, and has zero seasoning. Holly is still around even though you may have to search harder to find it. Natural decor and ornaments you gather produce an atmosphere of Christmas past, but also bring us the aromas of past Christmases. The smells at grandma’s house were always smells of cedar pine mixed with country ham and chicken dressing.

The fresh cut aroma of Douglas Fir

Nothing brings the smell of Christmas to the home like the scent of fresh cut Douglas Fir and candles burning on the mantel. You may not have a seven foot Douglas Fir to create this atmosphere, but the Christmas tree lots have plenty of trimmings from Douglas Firs. They will be glad to give you some of these cuttings, but please be sure to pay them well because the folks work long, hard, cold, freezing hours in ice, wet, snow, sleet, biting wind and weather. Tell them that you appreciate their labors during this season. Many work for free as fundraisers for churches and other charities and organizations.

Christmas parties, gatherings, dinners, gift wrappings, reunions, banquets, boxes, as well as bottles, cans, and cartons. All these items are what many families place in their trash containers that makes its way to the landfills. All these items could be broken down, cleaned and placed in recycling bins. More than half the trash we generate could be recycled and kept from landfills with only a little concern and effort. Recycling is easy and you can recycle all cardboard boxes (broken down), glass containers, plastic soft drink bottles, soft drink cans, plastic milk cartons, metal cans, newspapers and plastic bags. To prevent a mess, clean all cans, remove all labels, remove lids from metal cans, place inside the cans and bend shut. Think twice before throwing something in the trash can that can be recycled.

Fruitcakes often get a bad reputation and give many people a bad fruitcake experience simply because that what they tasted was not a real fruitcake, but a concoction of citron peelings and a few dried raisins and prunes, very few nuts and a crumbly dry mixture with no moisture and stickiness to hold it together — probably cost $6! This is no fruitcake because it simply has no substance, this is a bad experience fruitcake because its ingredients are not really fruits. You get what you pay for and a great fruitcake with plenty of nuts and fruits costs much more than $6. What does a real fruitcake consist of? First of all, it has quality ingredients such as pineapple chunks, red and green half maraschino cherries, plump moist golden raisins, chunks of walnuts and pecans, and only enough flour, sugar, brown sugar, molasses, rum, brandy, vanilla, orange, and lemon flavoring to hold the cake together. A real fruitcake will be sticky with flavor, but will also have the quality of moisture from the ingredients. Judge a real fruitcake by the merits of the fruits, nuts, and unique ingredients that hold the cake together. Nothing is like the real deal and a real fruitcake is a work of art, and a joy at Christmas time, a real Christmas memory of a lifetime. Accept no imitations of substitutes, invest in a genuine, real, fruitcake. Create a Christmas memory of good taste, not a horrible fruitcake experience!

Cherries are a great product for making a Christmasy desert and this is a simple recipe to kick off the month of Christmas. For this recipe, you will need one 16-ounce can of Oregon (this is the brand name) and there are red cherries (with juice), two sticks light margarine, half stick light margarine, two large beaten eggs, two and a half cups plain flour, four teaspoons of baking powder, one fourth teaspoon salt, one cup milk, one teaspoon corn starch, half cup of water, one cup sugar, and one half cup sugar. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drain the can of red cherries and reserve the juice. Set both aside. In a large bowl, cream the two sticks of light margarine with one cup of sugar, add the two beaten eggs, and set aside. In another bowl, mix together two and a half cups flour, one fourth teaspoon salt, and four teaspoons of baking powder. Add one cup of milk to the flour mixture. Stir and mix the margarine, sugar, egg mixture into the flour mixture. Spoon the batter into a 13X9X2 inch baking pan or dish sprayed with baking spray. Cover with foil and bake for one hour until firm. To make the cherry sauce, combine the cherry juice, half cup sugar, half cup water, half stick light margarine and one tablespoon corn starch. Heat mixture over medium heat until margarine melts and sauce thickens. If sauce needs to be thicker, add more cornstarch with cold water and thicken to consistency you desire. Pour over the cooled cake and spread the cherries over top of the cake. Serve with Cool Whip, Dream Whip, or dairy whipping cream.

Christmas tree lots greening up

Since the week before Thanksgiving, the Christmas trees have been sprouting on vacant lots of loads of trees are arriving each day. They come in all shapes, sizes, and heights. You can choose from Scotch Pine, White Pine, Frazier Fir, Douglas Fir, and Spruce. Here is what to look for in searching for the perfect tree: (1) The tree must smell and look fresh. (2) Test the tree by bending a few limbs; they should spring back. (3) Bounce the tree to see if needles stay on the tree, if any needles fall out, don’t buy that tree. (4) Buy the tree a day before you intend to decorate it. (5) Make sure the tree is full with no bare spots. (6) Prepare the tree before bringing it into the home by getting a worker at the lot to cut two inches off the bottom if they haven’t already done so. Place trunk in a tub of water for 24 hours before preparing it for the home. (7) Place tree in the support stand that allows you to water the tree. (8) A watered tree will last for 30 days in the home. (9) Never leave tree lights on inside the home when you leave.

The father gathered all his children together and said, “Kids, when George Washington knocked down the cherry tree, he told his father honestly that he did it. Now answer me honestly, who knocked down the outhouse?” Finally, the youngest son admitted to knocking it over. After this, he was well disciplined by his father. “It’s not fair,” said the youngest son, “George Washington did not get punished when he told the truth.” “Son,” replied the father, “George Washington’s father was not in the cherry tree when George knocked the tree down.”

“A cheerful giver.” On the way out of the church service 6 year old Jan told the pastor, “When I grow up I’m going to give you some money.” The preacher said, “Well thank you, but why do you want to give me your money?” Jan said, “Because my father said you are one of the poorest preachers we have ever had.”

The new moon of December occurred on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 4. Pearl Harbor Day is Tuesday, Dec. The moon reaches its first quarter Friday, Dec. 10. There will be a full moon on the night of Saturday, Dec. 18. The moon will be named “Full Cold Mood.” Winter begins on Tuesday, Dec. 21. Christmas Eve is on Friday, Dec. 24. Christmas Day is Saturday, Dec. 25. The moon reaches its last quarter on Sunday, Dec. 26. New Years Eve is on Friday, Dec. 31.

November’s last week for planting pansies

Even though November has only a few days remaining, pansies can still be planted in pots and containers. They are tough and winter hardy with their dark green foliage and colorful flowers with faces. Most hardwares, garden departments, nurseries, Lowes Home Improvement, Home Depot, Walmart, and Ace Hardware still have pansies in six and nine packs. When you purchase pansies, buy a bag of pansy booster and place a half handful in each pot or container to give them a cool weather burst of energy. Water sparingly each week and not too much water to prevent the medium in the containers from freezing.

The colors of mother nature: November ends

Only a few more days and we end the month of November. Nature’s color wheel also changes as we move closer to December. We will see the gray and brown trunks of oaks and hickories and clumps of mistletoe in their top limbs. Plenty of red heart cedars and short leaf pines form a backdrop for an early Christmas card highlighted by the winding vines of honeysuckles and dotted by a few American hollies. All this change in the landscape will transform North Carolina for the arrival of winter later next month.

“The pumpkins are now big and round, and have turned to orange on the ground. All the earth is still; a hush is settled over all. Summer has gone and so has fall.” These words by Edgar A. Guest depict in poetry what late November is all about. It is truly the calm before the cold weather of the coming winter and the hustle and bustle of the Christmas rush, but also a time to reflect on the blessings of God and a time to thank God for a bountiful harvest, health, and strength to have enjoyed another year of blessings in our lives.

“November’s last days are winter’s stairways.” The wintry world of snowy days actually begins with November’s browns, tans, and grays. The month paves the way from frost to hard freezes, and then to freezing rain, sleet, ice and snow and the advent of white landscapes. The woodlands, meadows, farms, and yes, the garden plot are on a journey of rest as the days are growing shorter and winter grows nearer. Every season has its share of beauty and the end of autumn and the ailing card of winter is no exception.

Keep bird baths and feeders filled

As temperatures drop, keep the bird baths and feeders filled with water and food. Birds are active in cold weather and your feeders and water will keep them returning in cold weather. Keep a watch for ice in the bird bath and as the day warms up, empty the ice and refill with fresh water.

Rose care for cold weather

Heavy frosts have finished most of the rose blooms. Late November and early December is the time to give rose bushes a little attention. Cut back long canes and deadhead all blossoms and rose hips. Dig around the base of rose bushes and apply a layer of Rose-Tone organic rose food and cover it into the soil. Add a handful of blood meal around the base of the rose bush. Apply a layer of crushed leaves around the bushes to protect from harsh temperatures and freezes of winter.

A warm blanket for purple top turnips

As December gets closer, apply more crushed leaves in between the rows of turnips to protect from ground freezes and prolong the harvest all winter. Apply a layer of crushed leaves around broccoli, collards, kale, and cabbage.

Thinking about the first snowfall of the year

Christmas is less than a month away and our thoughts are on when will we see our first snowfall of 2021. November still has a few days remaining and it does not have to be cold to snow if the air aloft is cold enough. A snow even during November is possible even though winter doesn’t arrive until Dec. 21. Most that could fall in November would probably not be much because the ground is still quit warm and any amount that falls would probably not stick around, but amount of November snow would excite kids as well as all snow lovers.

Plenty of red dogwood berries, acorns, and nandina bush berries

Nandina bushes are adorned with clusters of red berries that will make great Christmas centerpieces. Dogwoods have plenty of tiny red berries that remind us that Christmas is only a month away. The woodland floor is covered with acorns from the mighty oaks. My grandma in Northampton County had a large oak near her house and every November, she would always say, “A yard full of acorns pointed to yards full of snow in the winter.”

Enjoying a pot of fresh Siberian kale

It is no surprise that kale is becoming the best green in America because it can be used raw in a salad and prepared as a pot of greens. It is the sweetest of all greens. Nothing adorns a garden plot in the winter more than a row or bed of Siberian kale popping its greenery through several inches of snow. A snowfall only makes Siberian Kale sweeter and more tender. Kale can be canned or frozen for meals all year long.

Making pumpkin butter for the holidays

Pumpkin butter is really great on toast and hot biscuits. Here is a simple recipe that will yield ten pints of pumpkin butter. You will need 8 cups of mashed pumpkin. You can use cans of Libby’s pumpkin or fresh cooked pumpkin that is drained and mashed. Add 2 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice and two three-ounce boxes of Sure Jell fruit pectin. Mix all these ingredients well and heat on medium heat until it reaches a boil. Stir on medium heat until it reaches a boil and allow it to boil one minute, stirring constantly. Add one tablespoon lemon flavoring, stir and remove from heat. Pour the hot pumpkin butter into sterilized pint jars and seal with sterilized jar lids and rings. Process 15 minutes in a hot water bath caner. It will make a great Christmas gift simply because its unusual and homemade.

Ending the month of Thanksgiving with a pumpkin dump cake

Extend the season of Thanksgiving by retaining a heart that is filled with gratitude and thanksgiving. You can also prepare this pumpkin dump cake to remind your family that the thankfulness is always in season. This is actually a dump cake. Just dump the ingredients into a bowl and mix and pour into a 13x9x2 inch baking dish or pan sprayed with Pam baking spray, how easy is that? Mix a thirty ounce can of Libby’s pumpkin pie mix, one tablespoon orange flavoring, one tablespoon lemon flavoring, one cup sugar, half cup brown sugar, four large eggs, one box yellow cake mix, one can evaporated milk, one three ounce box Jello instant butterscotch pudding mix. Mix all ingredients together. spray 13x9x2 inch baking dish or pan with Pam baking spray. Pour cake mixture into pan. Bake at 350 degrees until firm (about fifty minutes).

Winter protection for American bee balm

There is a perennial that needs protection to endure the winter ahead. On the porch, move it to a position away from harsh winds and exposure to freezes, preferably ice and snow. The very back side of the porch is a good location. Water the balm sparingly. Cut back long stems. Fill container with potting medium feed now with Flower-Tone organic flower food. Cover the balm each night and remove cover as temperatures rise each day. They will endure for many years with this small amount of care. They can endure some cold but need insulation from extremes such as hard freezes and ice.

The curtain call of mystery mistletoe

As the season of the leaf harvest closes out, the mighty oaks and hickories have pulled off their leafy curtains and now reveal the mystery, elusive evergreen of the centuries, the mystic mistletoe. A mystery just because it exists and the mystery of its very existence. Only the birds of the air and God know the mystery of the mistletoe. The birds must dine on the seeds of the dainty white berries and in the process, the tiny seed are embedded in the crevices of the limbs. Growing high in the hardwoods, out of reach of most animals and almost a hundred percent of humans. The mistletoe is a paradise and gains its substance from the sap and nutrients of the hardwoods. All spring and summer it is hidden by the leaves but now as Christmas draws near, the leafy curtain is lifted and reveals mistletoe in all of its mystery.

“Wanted”- The kindergarten class was on a trip to the local police station. While there, they saw mug shots of their ten most wanted men. One of the kids pointed to one of the men. The police chief said, ” the detectives want him very badly. We have lost track of where he is now.” One smart kid asked the chief, “Why didn’t you keep him when you took his picture?”

Thanksgiving is truly an American holiday

Thanksgiving as a holiday had its origins on American soil. In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on the shores of the New World and his first order of business was to thank God for sparing his life from life threatening storms at sea. One hundred and twenty eight years later, the pilgrims arrived after a rough Atlantic journey and landed near Plymouth, Massachusetts, and they also thanked God, and 401 years later in 2021, we are celebrating Thanksgiving. Even though the holiday can be traced to American origins, no other holiday is so taken for granted. Surely it should be a time to have thankful hearts and to count our blessings. We have so very much to be thankful for, and our lives should be constantly lived in a spirit of giving thanks.

Pilgrims gave thanks at Plymouth in 1620

Materialism is the biggest hindrance to giving thanks in America in the year 2021. Oh how far we have missed the mark since the time of the arrival of Columbus in 1492 after a stormy Atlantic journey and the pilgrims in 1620 after a rough journey across the Atlantic in winter and storms. To them, giving thanks was not a ritual, but a priority. Landing at Plymouth in the harshness of winter was not a good situation, but they gave thanks. They praised and worshipped the Lord for sparing their lives. Anyone can sing a song when the sun is shinning bright and the future looks good, but the pilgrims had a song in their heart in the dark of the night facing an uncertain future that seemed as dark as the night. Yet, they worshipped in thanksgiving and praise. Why can’t we in this land so blessed by God offer up praise, honor, and thanksgiving to God instead of preoccupying ourselves with materialism, self-seeking, satisfaction of appetites and watching sporting events and Christmas bargain hunting? The pilgrim fathers took nothing for granted in that winter of 1620, and neither should we in this year of our Lord, 2021. Like the pilgrims, in everything we should give thanks. Over 150 years ago when Abraham Lincoln wrote his proclamation of Thanksgiving as a national holiday, he made a statement: “How long will it be before we forget God’s blessings again? Can we follow Christ without grateful hearts?” How true his words are in this 21st century. Our real desire should be: “Open the eyes of my heart Lord. Everyday, give me a thankful heart so that I will pray and count all my blessings, and sing praises emitting from a grateful heart!” People that are more grateful are more likely to be more positive even when dealing with difficult situations. We need always to remember that gratitude is more a heart situation than a mind situation.

Apples from the Big Apple state

You can purchase apples from North Carolina, Virginia, Washington State, and other places but the very sweetest mellow, moist, tangy and tart, and colorful come from the Big Apple. New York state produces the world’s best apples. It may be the gray loamy soil, the cool spring days or mountain air. We really don’t know what it is about them, but they are unique in flavor and texture. You can choose from McIntosh, Jonathan. Ginger gold, Jona gold, Winesap, and Jona Mac. These are apples that would make Johnny Appleseed proud.

A bowl of turnips for Thanksgiving

The pilgrims may not have had them at their feast, but they can be a part of your Thanksgiving meal and add some contrast to the calorie rich foods that will fill the table. Turnips are one of the simplest vegetables in the cool weather garden plot and one of the most beautiful with their white bottoms and bright purple tops. The best way to prepare them is the way you prepare a bowl of mashed potatoes. All you have to do is peel the turnips, dice them into one inch cubes, cover with water, and boil until tender enough to stick a fork through them. Mash the turnips with a potato masher or use the mixer to whip them up. Add one stick of light margarine (melted), salt, pepper, a little sugar, paprika, and a few strips of broiled bacon (crumbled). Mix all together and add a little mayonnaise for texture.

Making a Thanksgiving dirt cake

This is a no-bake creamy cake that will melt your mouth. You will need one 32-ounce bag of vanilla Oreos or pumpkin Oreos if they are available, one stick light margarine, one eight-ounce pack of cream cheese (softened), one three-ounce box of Jello instant pudding or Jello instant pumpkin pudding mix, three and a half cups milk, one twelve ounce carton of Cool Whip, one teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice. Directions: Run the Oreos through the blender in grate mode and set aside. In a second bowl, mix the cream cheese and softened margarine together. In another bowl, mix Jello instant pudding mix, milk, and Cool Whip. Mix the two bowls of cream cheese mixture and Jello pudding mixture. Add pumpkin pie spice. In a 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish or baking pan add a layer of crushed Oreos (you will need three Oreo layers). On the first layer of Oreos, place a layer of the filling, add second layer of Oreos then layer of filling, add third layer of Oreos. Decorate top with cream pumpkins.

In North Carolina, sweet potatoes have been a tradition at Thanksgiving much longer than turkey. This is because the state produces as many sweet potatoes as it does turkeys. Most of the sweet potatoes in North Carolina are raised in the coastal plain where much of the soil is loamy instead of acidic. From Tabor City to Whiteville and into the Sandhills and northeastern North Carolina, sweet potatoes thrive and are one of the country’s largest producers of sweet potatoes and many are exported to other countries. My Northampton County grandma had baked sweet potatoes in her wood stove oven almost every day in autumn and they were always warm because her wood stove never went out. As children, we would peel a baked potato about half way down the potato and leave the rest of peeling on the sweet potato and eat it like an ice cream cone. North Carolina sweet potatoes are best when bought from a local farm or produce stand on the way back from Myrtle Beach. Fresh-dug sweet potatoes have a dark brown sap that enhances their flavor. Most store bought sweet potatoes have been cured and are dry inside. Sweet potatoes can be fried, baked, made into biscuits, pies, cakes, and casseroles and custards and can be mashed like mashed potatoes, also made into puddings by grating raw potatoes by running through the blender in grate mode or scrapping raw potatoes across an old fashioned “tater” grater.

A simple, quick Thanksgiving dessert

If preparing the Thanksgiving meal is taking a lot of time, you can ease the work load with this simple pumpkin dessert with few ingredients and it requires only a few minutes of time. The recipe is titled, “Key ingredient pumpkin cake.” You will need to box of yellow cake mix, one sixteen ounce can of Libby’s pumpkin, one teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Mix cake mix, pumpkin pie spice, and pumpkin. Pour mixture into a 13x9x2 inch baking pan or dish sprayed with Pam baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Allow to cool and punch holes in the baked cake. Make a glaze of one and a half cups of 10x powdered sugar, four tablespoons of orange juice, half teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Mix until very smooth and pour over the cake. Simple as well as good!

Thank you for reading Garden Plot!

Our seasonal thanks for reading the Garden Plot each Sunday in the Mount Airy News Lifestyle section. May all of our readers be blessed and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

“Heaven bound!” An elderly and ailing man was concerned when he died, he would need money in heaven. The man asked his three grown children if they would each promise to slip a thousand dollar bill in his casket when his time came and each promised they would. The man died a few months later. The older son placed a thousand dollar bill in the open casket. Next the grieving daughter placed a thousand dollar bill in the casket. The other son who is nick-named “Slider,” wiped his face with a napkin, whispered goodbye, deposited a check for three thousand dollars in the casket and picked up the $2,000.

Entering the calm days of mid November

Thanksgiving is still nearly two weeks from now and we can enjoy the calm before the upcoming holiday season begins. We love the calm of early November as the garden turns from mid summer mode to the vegetable crops of autumn and winter. Nap time has visited the flower beds and pansies have become flowers of the month of November.

Nature is in a slowdown cycle as the only green in the forests and woodlands shine through in the holly, cedar, and pine trees. The nights of November are so calm you can almost hear the remaining leaves on the trees touch the lawn. Frosts are heavier and linger longer each morning. It is time to enjoy the best of seasons and prepare our hearts and minds for the season of harvest and Thanksgiving.

The artist of autumn turns lawn brown

The autumn lawn has a new color as the frosts of November have given the lawn many coats of crystal white and the lawn has a tan and brown tint as the result. The lawn looks even more brown with the coating of remaining leaves falling from trees. The leaves are now crisp which makes them easy to vacuum and blow to the garden area and composite bin and pile.

Season of the sweet potato

October is the season of the pumpkin, but November can be called the season of sweet potato especially in North Carolina. The coastal loamy soil of southeastern North Carolina in the Tabor city area makes itself North Carolina’s sweet potato capital. We grew up in northeastern North Carolina and Northampton County has its share of coastal loam and they also produce plenty of hefty sweet potatoes. My father and grandma raised plenty of sweet potatoes every year. They stored them in “potato hills” to have sweet potatoes all winter long. The potato “hill” was so simple but practical. It was a hill of soil lined with long leaf pine straw, bushels of potatoes, more pine straw, and hilled up with some more soil, with a stove pipe to gain access to the hill.

Since this seems to be “sweet potato day” in the Garden Plot and also Thanksgiving Day less than two weeks away, we devote a little more attention to the sweet potato. This is a simple recipe for sweet and sappy candied yams. You can use fresh or canned sweet potatoes. Peel six or seven large sweet potatoes or use two large cans of potatoes. If you use sweet fresh potatoes, cut them into one inch chunks and boil in water until you can stick a knife through them. Drain the potatoes and place in 13X9X2 inch baking pan or dish. In a medium sized bowl, mix half cup dark brown sugar, one large six ounce box orange jello, one stick light margarine, half cup Karo syrup (dark), one tablespoon cinnamon, one tablespoon vanilla, and one cup chopped pecans. Heat ingredients together until margarine melts. Pour mixture over sweet potatoes and bake mixture at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Add a layer of miniature marshmallows and brown the tops of them until toasted.

Trimming the azaleas and evergreens

November is a great month to trim and shape azaleas and evergreens to prevent damage from the snow and ice later in the winter. Trimming and shaping them now while weather is fairly comfortable will make it easier to decorate them with strings of lights next month and also make them easier to install lights and also remove them after Christmas.

Sassafras trees: A tradition of childhood

Sassafras trees are a traditional tree of the southeast states. They are unique in their three perfectly round sections of leaves that turn red and bronze in autumn. The Sassafras tree usually grows in sunny open areas. My Northampton grandma knew the trees well and where she could find their roots which were the main ingredient of Sassafras tea, which is also the main ingredient of root beer along with the syrup, carbonated water, spices, and so fourth. When my grandma made sassafras tea, we don’t know if she made it as a tonic or for medical purposes or a beverage. We only knew she served it hot and in coffee cups with plenty of sugar. My mother always said we drank it because it had sugar in it! Grandma knew where the sassafras trees grew and would harvest the roots, not from the tree itself, but from the “shoots” that grew close to the tree. She would brush and clean the roots and place in a sauce pan full of water and boil. The water would turn deep red or bronze in color. She would place a lid on the pot until the tea got to the color she desired (hers was deep red, and probably as red as her morning coffee was black). If you wonder why sassafras tea is served hot, it is because it is like coffee, nothing is as bad as cold coffee. We remember as boys in northeastern North Carolina, we would harvest the roots in early autumn, chop it into small pieces, bag it up and take it to school and share it with other kids. We chewed it and it had a root beer taste.

A hefty presence of Jack Frost

Jack Frost visits us almost every morning in November, leaving his presence on the roof and lawn and white crystals on the Siberian kale. We love to go to the garden plot and gaze at the frosty crystals on leaves of turnips, mustard, broccoli, and kale. Surely the artist of autumn paid us a visit in the form of a late autumn hoary frost. God is in the rain, the frost, the snow, the crystals of ice on the Siberian kale, and he causes all things to grow.

Another interesting fact about oaks

In last week’s Garden Plot, we mentioned the mighty oaks and their harvest of acorns. Oak trees grow in many shapes, sizes, and heights all over the world. Worldwide, there are more than 600 types of oak trees. Some oaks produce acorns after two years of growth while other oak varities grow for 20 years before producing their first acorns. Most oaks enjoy long life, and some in America can be dated back to the Revolutionary War, shades of George Washington!

Colder temperatures, heavy frosts, and soon, we will experience hard freezes. Keep an eye on your containers of ornamental kale and cabbage and move them to the rear of the front porch and place a towel over them on freezing nights. Remove the towel when temperatures warm up the next day, but keep towels nearby to cover each night a freeze is possible.

Melt in your mouth great peanut brittle

21st century peanut brittle has better texture, taste, and less sticky than the 20th century peanut brittle. When we were kids, peanut brittle was packaged in bags and when you reached into the bag, several pieces would come out because the brittle stuck together, and in the process of getting it from the bag, it stuck to your hands, it was not “finger licking good,” but “finger sticking good.” 21st century know-how has produced a brittle that will not stick together and comes in one or two inch pieces, and not in bags but foil wrapped packs inside illustrated boxes. The very best brittle is made with eastern North Carolina and southside Virginia peanuts that are grown, processed, parched, and prepared near to where they are grown. The best of all is Old Dominion peanut brittle made in Norfolk, Virginia. You can purchase it in our area at Food Lion, Ingles, Dollar Tree, and most super markets and candy stores. You can find it in downtown Mount Airy along Main Street. Be careful, this peanut brittle is not only very good, but can be addictive.

Goodies for the Thanksgiving candy dish

These Thanksgiving candy dish treats have been around a hundred years and are still a tradition today. They are candy corn, creme pumpkins, Hershey’s Kisses, and M&M’s. They add a touch of Thanksgiving to any candy dish or dining room table. Hershey’s Kisses come wrapped in harvest colors of foil and M&M’s have a harvest mix. They have been made by Mars Candy for more than 100 years. The name M&M comes from the initials of Mars and Milky Way. That burst of chocolate in an M&M is so different than any other in the whole world. They are certainly worthy of any candy dish. Keep plenty on hand during Thanksgiving.

“Drive on.” The truck driver drove up to this roadside truck stop in the middle of the night for a dinner break. Three wild looking motorcycle riders roared up with beards, nasty, filthy talking with black leather jackets. For no reason at all, they harassed the truck driver. One of the riders pored peppers on his head, another ate his apple pie, the third rider poured his hot coffee over the table. The truck driver never said one word but just went up and paid his bill and left. “That truck driver is not much of a fighter,” said one of the riders. “He doesn’t seem to be much of a truck driver either,” the waitress said. “He just run his truck over three motorcycles.”

“Family matters.” My wife read “A Tale of Two Cities’ and she had twins. She read the “Three Musketeers” and had triplets. I’m now worried because she is reading “Birth of a Nation.”

Plant colorful pansies this month

If you still have a few containers with nothing growing in them, you can fill them with colorful, green foilaged pansies which are still available at nurseries, hardwares, Walmart, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and Lowe’s Home Improvement. They are available in six and nine packs. You can choose from colors of white, bronze, yellow, purple, lavender, pink, rose, tan, burgundy, and others. To get pansies off to a great start in November, invest in a bag of pansy booster and apply a handful to each container. Water sparingly in November to keep soil medium from freezing.

Red berries on Carolina Dogwoods

As the crimson leaves begin to fall from the dogwoods, they reveal a harvest of tiny red berries which remind us that Christmas is getting closer and Thanksgiving is near. If the birds don’t eat all of them, the berries will make some colorful Christmas decorations. Dogwoods are favorite nesting places for birds, so we will be scanning empty limbs to find that perfect nest for the Christmas tree ornament, preferably one not filled with poop like the one Mary Ellen found on the Walton’s Christmas Story.

Enjoying the beautiful splendor of November

November is a month of calm seasoned with the colors of brown, gray, tan and beige highlighted by a Carolina blue sky and hints of green from red heart cedars, pines, holly, and honeysuckle vines. Newly fallen oak leaves are forming carpets on the forest floors and Carolina woodlands. Lawns are covered most mornings with crystals of frost. The gray trunks of trees with mostly bare limbs form a background for the sparse greenery of bunches of mistletoe’s in the hickories and oaks that remind us of the coming of Christmas next month. Most of it will remain safe because it is high up in the trees. Only the mighty oaks have a few leaves on them and they will most likely remain until the first snowfall of the year.

As we begin November, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Walmart, Food Lion, Lowe’s Foods, hardwares, and nurseries will feature Christmas cactus in full bloom. A Christmas cactus is a floral investment that will thrive for many years and bloom every Christmas season if you take care of it. There is an advantage in purchasing them now because they are in bloom when you buy them and you can choose from colors of white, red, coral, and pink. You can purchase them in small or medium containers costing from $6 to $12. The first step in growing Christmas cactus is to go ahead and buy a larger container and a bag of cactus medium and transplant the cactus as soon as you bring it home. Place it in a semi sunny location in the house where it should remain all winter. Check it once a week for moisture and water lightly when needed. Feed once a month with Flower-Tone organic flower food. Keep cactus away from direct sunlight. A signal that a Christmas cactus is getting too much sun is the foliage will turn pinkish red. If this occurs, move the cactus to a less sunny location in the room. Use a drip tray under the container to keep water off the floor.

The mighty oak is a majestic tree that produces wood for floors, furniture, houses, and many wood products. They also produce a harvest of acorns every year that covers the forest floor and produces food for squirrels, raccoons, foxes, wolves, chipmunks, and rabbits. As a 10 or 12 year old boy, we harvested five gallon buckets of acorns for a hog farmer for a dollar per bucket. After school, it would take us until dark to harvest a bucket full, but a dollar was worth a dollar back in the 1950s. An interesting fact about acorns is that if times get too tough, acorns can be used as food. It is well known that during the Depression of 1920s, times were really tight and many families did not have finances to produce flour. So they gathered acorns, took shells off of them , ground the pulp and made meal from the acorn pulp. In the world of nature God created many wonders and provisions. He provided a table in the wilderness and also provided one in the forest.

The grass on the late autumn lawn

The lawnmower is almost ready for a long winter nap as far as mowing grass is concerned. The grass on the lawn is slowing down and turning a lighter shade of green and slowly beginning its change to light brown. The frost are getting thicker and whiter as the month moves along. Continue to use the grass clippings in the composite bin or pile to heat up the ingredients. Make sure the sun has dried the frost before mowing late autumn lawns.

Plenty of dark occurs in early November

Days are still getting shorter by a minute each day. As November moves along, we will continue to lose a minute each evening and continue to do so until winter arrives on Dec, 21.

Making a pumpkin maple bread pudding

Pumpkin is the highlight of Thanksgiving desserts and in November, there is an abundance of pumpkins. This recipe is different because it combines the flavor of pumpkin with brown sugar and maple plus it is simple to prepare. You will need one 16 ounce can of Libby’s pumpkin or one pint of pumpkin, four hot dog rolls, one three ounce box of butterscotch Jello instant pudding mix, three large eggs, half cup light brown sugar, one fourth cup Log Cabin maple syrup, one teaspoon pumpkin pie spices, one can evaporated milk. Run the hot dog rolls through the blender in “grate” mode and place in a large bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Pour into a 13X9X2 inch baking dish or pan sprayed with Pam baking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for fifty minutes. Cool and serve with Dream Whip or dairy whipping cream.

Making pilgrim centerpieces from turnips

Round purple-top turnips can be used to make pilgrim men and women centerpieces for the dinning room or coffee table. Wash the turnips and dry them. Cut off the leafy tops and the tip off the bottom so the turnip will be level. Use acrylic paints to design faces on pilgrim men and women with eyes, nose, and mouth. Use yarn to form hair and glue on top of turnips. Use construction paper in black and yellow to make hats with buckets for pilgrim men. Use light blue or tan paper napkins to make bonnets for pilgrim women. Use a bag of harvest mix Hershey’s Kisses to spread around the pilgrims. Circle the centerpiece with creme pumpkins. This is an edible centerpiece, so replenish the centerpiece with Kisses and creme pumpkins often.

Saint Martin’s Day weather lore

On Thursday, Nov. 11, Saint Martin’s Day is celebrated. On his special day, there is a bit of weather lore that says if the leaves are still on the grapevine, we can expect a cold winter. There are some leaves still remaining on the grapevines and most of them are yellow and ready to fall off. Leaves or not, we are looking for a cold weather with plenty of snow to enjoy and also cold to destroy the insects and weed seed, plus make the Siberian kale turnips, and collards sweeter. Saint Martin is right in one sense, winter is the season to expect cold weather.

Old fashioned sticky sweet potatoes

We tried to reproduce a recipe for old fashioned sticky, sappy, baked sweet potatoes that my mother and grandmother made when we were kids. The secret of the stickiness was the sweet potatoes were freshly dug from their potato vines and baked after harvest in their ovens until sap ran out of them. Most sweet potatoes in the stores have been dried before you purchase them and therefore they have zero sap. To reproduce the sappy sweet potato recipe of mama and grandma to adapt to 2021 standards, take six or seven large sweet potatoes, wash them and coat them with Crisco shortening. Bake at 4oo degrees until you can smell them and stick a knife through them. Remove from oven, cool and peel the potatoes, cut potatoes in half. Fry in a pan with a stick of light margarine. When lightly browned, top the potatoes with this mixture: mix three tablespoons of brown sugar (light), one stick melted light margarine, one quarter cup of light Karo corn syrup. Stir the mixture and pour over the potatoes. A taste of mama and grandmas kitchen in the 1950s.

“Quiet please.” A patient in a mental hospital placed his ear to the wall in his room, listening intently. “Be quiet,” he whispered to an attendant as he pointed to the wall. The attendant pressed his ear to the wall and said, “I didn’t hear anything.” “I know,” replied the patient. “It’s awful, it’s been this way for many days.”

“Men at work.” Artist- “This is my latest painting. It is called ‘Builders at work’.” It is a piece of realism.” Art observer- “I don’t see any of the men at work.” Artist- “Of course not, That’s what’s real about the painting!”

The new moon occurred on Nov. 4. Daylight savings time ended today, at 2 a.m. The moon reaches its first quarter on Thursday, Nov. 11. There will be a full moon on the night of Friday, Nov. 19. The moon will be named “Full Beaver Moon.” Thanksgiving Day will be Thursday, Nov. 25. The moon reaches its last quarter on Saturday, Nov. 27.

Halloween and frost on the pumpkins

Halloween is here and we have already had several frost on the pumpkins and they have covered gardens, lawns, and roofs. These hefty frost have turned many lawns tan and brown and dotted the landscape with leaves. Pumpkins are tough and enjoy a long shelf life so frost will not affect them very much. Halloween is here, so use common sense and caution tonight and keep your eyes out for parents and children. Keep porch and carport lights on to let kids and parents know your home is kid friendly. Serve only treats that are safe and securely wrapped.

A pumpkin pudding to celebrate Halloween

This pumpkin pudding will melt in your mouth and fill your kitchen with a spicy aroma on Halloween. It is simple to prepare with easily available ingredients. You will need one can of Libby’s pumpkin or one pint of canned pumpkin, one three -ounce box of Jello instant pumpkin pudding or vanilla pudding mix, two large eggs, half cup brown sugar, half cup granulated sugar, one tablespoon pumpkin pie spices, one teaspoon vanilla flavoring, one stick melted light margarine, one can evaporated milk, one teaspoon orange flavoring, and four hot dog buns. Run the hot dog buns through the blender in grate mode, mix all other ingredients and pour into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish or pan sprayed with Pam baking spray. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until pudding is firm. Top with Cool Whip or French vanilla ice cream. You can also use a can of Duncan Hines cream cheese frosting to frost the pudding.

As October comes to an end today, we are enjoying low humidity, Carolina blue skies, leaves gracefully falling from the oaks, poplars, hickories, and maples, as well as colorful sunsets painted in pink that matches well with the hues of the leaves of autumn. These pleasant afternoons provide opportunity to clean up the garden plot by removing vines, stalks, residue, tomato cages and stakes, harvesting leaves and preparing compost bins and piles.

Enjoying the aroma of autumn on All Hallow’s Eve

The sunsets early on the night of Halloween greeted by the smell of burning oak wood wispy smoke from chimneys of neighborhood homes as the scent kisses the air of the last evening of the month of October. This is the night of voices of excited kids as they move from door to door trick or treating. You can make their evening safe and enjoyable by keeping porch and carport lights on as well as having treats ready and wrapped for them as they arrive at the door. Keep treats in a bowl or dish so they can handle and choose their own treats. It would be nice to give the loving parents a treat too.

Celebrating all Saint’s Day tomorrow

All Saint’s Day is always celebrated on the first day of November which is the day after All Hallows Eve, also known as Halloween. This day is also known as Hallowmass.

An extra boost for roses

You can promote rose growth during the cold of winter by applying a layer of bone meal around the base of the roses and mix it into the soil and also a handful of blood meal. Both are organic products that will produce root growth during winter. Feed roses before cold weather arrives with an application of Rose-Tone organic rose food. Trim back long canes from roses to prevent damage from ice and snow.

Searching limbs for an empty bird nest

The leaves are falling from the trees leaving exposed empty limbs. On the trees that have low hanging branches, an empty bird’s nest should be easy to spot and carefully removed without disturbing its construction. You can prepare a sturdy bird’s nest and make an unusual Christmas ornament that will last for many years. After removing the nest, spray a couple of coats of clear varnish on the nest and allow to dry. Place nest on several sheets of newspaper before spraying the varnish. After nest dries, place nest in a small box lined with toilet tissue or paper napkins. At Christmas, you can find bird ornaments or a few miniature eggs and add them to the nest.

A sauce or gravy made from turnips

My Northampton County grandma always made “pot likker” when the purple top turnips were harvested from her cold weather garden. She would boil the diced turnips in water, fatback meat, pepper, and salt. It was a concoction served in a bowl with crackling cornbread on cool autumn nights (defiantly not recommended by any cardiologist!) We have discovered a better method to prepare this “pot likker” concoction and make it a sauce or gravy to pour over the purple top turnips, sort of like mashed potatoes and gravy. This method is to peel five or six turnips and dice them into half an inch cubes, cover with water, add salt and pepper, a few drops of Texas Pete and a stick of light margarine. Boil the turnips until tender. Drain the liquid and add one cup milk to the liquid and bring to a boil on medium heat. In a glass half full of cold water add three tablespoon corn starch until it is completely dissolved in the cold water. Pour a little at a time into the gently boiling turnip liquid until it gets as thick as you desire. Add a little sugar to flavor the gravy and add a few slices of fried or boiled crumbled bacon. Pour gravy over boiled turnips.

Checking out the stored green tomatoes

The cool weather garden plot is not only green, but productive with the growth of broccoli, cabbage, collards, Siberian kale, curly mustards, turnips, onion sets, as well as mixed greens. Keep the cool weather vegetables fed with Miracle Gro liquid plant food and Alaska liquid fish emulsion once a month. Keep the vegetables covered with a blanket of crushed leaves. Thin turnips so they can develop into larger turnips.

Protecting outside faucets from freezing

Hard freezes are not too far away with killing frost already in progress. Keep pipes from freezing during winter months by investing in a protective cover or two for your outside faucets. An isolated cover for outside faucets cost about$12 to $15. You can purchase them at Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s Home Improvement and at most hardwares. They are easy to install and bring piece of mind from freezing pipes. Always remember to remove hoses from outside faucets during winter months and store hoses in winter to prolong their useful life. Replace faucet covers after using water during the winter.

Shaping up evergreens for fall and winter

The end of October and the beginning of November is a great time to trim evergreens and azaleas to protect then from ice and snow and promote all around better appearance. It will certainly make them look better as we approach the up and coming Christmas decorating season. The weather in late October may carry over into early November and this will be an opportune time to accomplish this chore before freezing weather.

Celebrating season of All Saint’s Rest

We have already mentioned that tomorrow is All Saint’s Day, but the whole week that follows All Saint’s Day is known as All Saint’s Rest. It is a tradition that started in the 19th century in America. During this time of the year, they took a break from the harvest. It was like an early Thanksgiving and a reflecting on the blessings of the harvest, not just for a day, but for a whole week. It was the time before cold, ice, and snow or freezing temperatures. In the upcoming winter, life in America would become more difficult. They felt like this was an opportune time to be thankful for their blessings and not to take anything for granted. What an example these Swiss immigrants set back in the 19th century. In 21st century America, we can’t celebrate even one day without watching football, gorging ourselves, Christmas shopping, and feasting. Why can’t we take time to rest in the blessings and goodness of God and forget about ourselves for a whole day like these Swiss immigrants did for a week? We need to remember that when we become unthankful, we also become unholy, too.

The temperatures can get below freezing during the nights of November. Protect cool weather vegetables with crushed leaves. Keep a few rags and towels handy to cover flowers and containers on the porch.

“Do it yourself lunch!”Bill: “Oh no, not again. A peanut butter sandwich. I cant stand them. Day in and day out it’s a peanut butter sandwich. This is just too much.” Will: “What’s the trouble, all you have to do is tell your wife to fix you something different.” Bill: “I can’t do that.” Will: “Why not?” Bill: “Because I fix my own lunch.”

“Wrong tree.” Single man: “Listen sweetheart, you’ve got to admit that men like me don’t grow on trees.” Young chick: “Sure, I know that very well, they swing from trees.”

“Wild doctors.” Louie: “Did you know that Daniel Boone’s brothers were all doctors?” Dewey: “How do you know this is true?” Louie: “Yes, haven’t you ever heard of the “Boone docs?”

The season of Saint Luke’s little summer

The weekend heralds Saint Luke’s little summer. This is a period of dry, crisp, warm days that feature Indian summer weather, a break from the colder days in the month ahead. We can certainly benefit from a few warm and comfortable days to finish the task of harvesting the autumn leaves and placing them in the middle of rows of cool weather vegetables, mulching around roses and spring flowering bulb beds as well as stocking the composite pile or bin. Saint Luke’s little summer is a fun time to relax on the front porch, listen to the crows, and enjoy a cup of coffee with a couple of cookies.

A bit of Saint Luke’s little summer lore

A bit of pre-Halloween lore as we celebrate Saint Luke’s little summer, it is said that during Saint Luke’s little summer, the pumpkins begin to go stale. We do not believe this simply because there are too many pumpkins around in supermarkets, fruit stands, produce markets, and roadside markets. Also especially with Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas on the way — seasons wide open for the consumption of the pumpkins. Saint Luke’s little summer lasts only for several days, but the pumpkin has a long shelf life and will out live Luke’s summer by many months. Long live the pumpkin harvest, jack o’ lanterns, pumpkin pie, and all things pumpkin.

Making a pumpkin scarecrow centerpiece

A pumpkin scarecrow centerpiece for the dinning room or coffee table can be made from an orange pumpkin. Use a permanent black marker to outline a face on the pumpkin and color the details with acrylic paints. Color in the black and white eyes and details on the scarecrows face with pink cheeks. Use an old straw hat and pour a bag or two of Hershey’s autumn mix kisses around the base of the scarecrow. Add a few cream pumpkins for a finishing touch.

Sweetening up a stale jack o’ lantern

Earlier we mention Saint Luke’s little summer lore about pumpkins going stale on his little summer days, (surly we know this is only a lore), but you can sweeten a jack o’ lantern that has been lit on the porch for several nights and especially with Halloween so very near. To give your jack o’ lantern a spicy scent instead of a stale one, all you have to do is soak the jack o’ lantern in a tub of water for several hours, remove from water and rub the inside of the jack o’ lantern with a couple of teaspoons of pumpkin pie spices, replace the votive candle, light it up in the evening, and enjoy the aroma of a sweet, spicy, pumpkin.

To prepare this crisp dessert you will need two cups of canned pumpkin, one box Duncan Hines carrot cake mix, one can evaporated milk, one cup of granulated sugar, half cup brown sugar, one teaspoon pumpkin pie spices, three large eggs, two sticks light margarine (melted). Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish or pan. Line the pan with waxed paper and spray paper with Pam baking spray. Mix canned pumpkin, sugars, evaporated milk, pumpkin pie spices, and eggs. Pour the mixture in the baking pan or dish. Pour the box of carrot cake mix over the pumpkin mixture in the baking pan. Spread the two sticks of melted light margarine over top of carrot cake mix, sprinkle a cup of chopped pecans over the cake mixture. Bake at 325 for one hour. Cool the cake completely. turn cake out onto a cookie sheet. The pecan layer becomes the bottom crust. Make a frosting for the cake by mixing the eight ounce box of cream cheese (softened), two cups of 10x powdered sugar, and one tub of Cool Whip. Decorate with a few cream pumpkins.

The first killing frost can arrive any day

As month moves along, we can expect killing frosts to arrive anytime after Oct. 23. We have already experienced scattered frosts, but a killing frost will wipe out any reaming warm weather vegetables and cause leaves to turn to a shade of tan and brown, cause lawns to lose most of their green, and cover the roof and lawn with a layer of crystal white.

The crimson berries on Carolina dogwood are now showing up as their leaves begin to leave the trees. Plenty of red berries adorn their limbs and are an attraction to birds. An abundance of dogwood berries may have a subtle message of a harsh and cold winter.

Still time to plant pansies

There are still plenty of pansy plants in six or nine packs at hardware’s nurseries, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, and Ace Hardware. They are still in full bloom and you can choose the color combinations you desire. Buy a bag of pansy booster to get them off to a great start. They will not only bloom through winter, but also produce plenty of green foliage. They perform well in containers and pots on the front porch.

The turnips in the cool weather garden plot should be well on their way to an abundant and long lasting harvest well into late autumn and winter. Assure a great harvest by applying an application of Garden-Tone or Plant-Tone organic vegetable food on each side of the row and hill up soil to cover the plant food. Then apply a layer of crushed leaves in middles of rows or bed. This will provide extra freeze and frost protection. As turnips begin to develop, harvest the smaller turnips to allow more space for other turnips to grow larger. As the season moves along, mix Miracle Gro vegetable food with proper amount of water in a sprinkle can and pour between the rows of turnips for an extra boost of food in cold weather.

Moving asparagus and panda ferns inside

The panda and asparagus ferns have spent spring and summer in a semi sunny location on the deck. As the first killing frost is on the threshold, it is now time to move them inside the living room to spend the rest of autumn, winter, and in to early spring. To prepare them for their move, we will trim them back, refill their containers with potting medium, and feed them with Flower-Tone organic flower food. We use a plastic drip tray under their containers to prevent water from leaking on the floor. They don’t need quit as much water in the winter. We stick our finger in the container to determine when they need water. They do not need to be in a sunny area of a room. Keep them trimmed back several times during winter.

Using Jack be little’s for Halloween

Jack be little pumpkins are about the size of your fist and cost a little over a dollar each. You can draw faces on them with a black permanent marker and spread a bag of cream pumpkins and candy or Indian corn around the base of the pumpkin for a table centerpiece.

A quickie bowl of Halloween tart punch

Here’s how to prepare a quick bowl of sparkling Halloween punch by just pouring and serving. All you have to do is mix one two-litter bottle of Fanta orange, one two-litter bottle of Cheerwine, one two-litter bottle of Canada Dry ginger ale, and one two-litter bottle of Mountain Dew. Pour a bag of crushed ice into a punch bowl and then pour in all the two litters of soda. Keep refilling the bowl as it runs out.

Staying ahead of the harvest of leaves

As we close in on the end of October, Halloween, killing frost, and the harvest of leaves, stay ahead of the leaf game by raking, blowing , or vacuuming them up to be used in compost mulch, coverings for cool weather vegetables, rose bushes, and bulb beds. When you run the mower over them or run through the blower to crush them up, they make great blankets to cover turnip beds and cool weather drops of cabbage, broccoli, onion sets, Siberian kale, collards, and greens.

Frosty is near — it will sweeten turnips

Frost may kill all warm weather crops, but it will sweeten the turnip because it is a root crop. All cool weather crops will thrive especially with a blanket of crushed leaves on them. If you have pumpkins on the porch, don’t worry to much about them, they are pretty tough gourds. If you lose any sleep thinking about them, just throw a towel over them when frost is in the forecast.

October is a season of color and beauty

Against the back drop of a Carolina blue sky, the colors of red, burgundy, gold, yellow, tan, and light green leaves contrast with pines, cedars, and climbing honeysuckle vines for a mixture of autumn finery. The golden rods mare at their peak and add some extra glow to the autumn scene.

“How to lose weight.” Lola: “Marty, let’s go jogging together.” Marty: “Why in the world do you suddenly want to go jogging?” Lola: “My doctor told me I could lose weight if I went jogging with a dumbbell!”

“Wrong apartment.” “For the last ten years, my mother-in-law has been living with my wife and me in the same apartment.” “So why don’t you tell her to get out?” “I can’t, it’s her apartment.”

“True.”- If there’s handwriting on the wall, there’s a kid in the house.

A trip to the pumpkin patch

The ideal pumpkin for the making of a jack o’ lantern has to be round, bright orange, with a sturdy brown stem on top to make a good lid for the carved out jack o’lantem. You can find the very best ones at a pick your own pumpkin patch or a fund raising pumpkin patch on the lawn of a local church in your area. This is an unforgettable experience for kids and grand kids and for them, there is nothing like picking out your own pumpkin on a sunny October Saturday. Top off all this fun with a trip to McDonald’s for a meal and an evening of carving pumpkins, is an event children will never forget.

Pumpkin carving kit a great investment and keepsake

Having the right tool to do any job makes the job a lot easier and much more fun. This true in the art of carving out a jack o’ lantern. A dull knife is a sure way to cut your finger and break your wrist. They say there are better ways and one way is to purchase a durable pumpkin carving kit that will last for many years and make pumpkin carving fun and easier. A quality carving kit has many blades and accessories. A good kit includes knives, carvers, blades and scrappers as well as other gadgets. You can buy a small kit for about $7 to $10, but a durable kit with all the “whistles and bells” cost around $14. You always get what you pay for, so go ahead and buy a durable and long lasting carving kit that will last longer than your lifetime. A great kit with all the attachments can be used to make watermelon, honeydew, and cantaloupe balls and watermelon baskets for parties and weddings.

This is a easy pumpkin recipe with a lot of simple ingredients and it is delicious served with Dream Whip or vanilla ice cream. For this recipe, you will need one 30-ounce can of Libby’s pumpkin pie filling, one and a half sticks of light margarine, one can evaporated milk, one cup plain floor, one teaspoon of baking powder, one teaspoon vanilla flavoring, one teaspoon lemon flavoring, half cup light brown sugar, half cup granulated sugar, four beaten large eggs. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt margarine and pour into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan or dish and set aside. Mix together flour, baking powder, sugars, vanilla and lemon flavorings and enough milk to mix it together. Pour this mixture over the melted light margarine. Do not stir (this batter will rise while baking and form a crust) just spread it evenly over the melted margarine and set the baking dish aside. In a bowl, mix the four beaten eggs, the can of pumpkin pie filling, and the can of evaporated milk and stir to mix. Do not disturb the batter because it will rise as the pie bakes and form the crust. Bake until the crust forms (usually about 50 to 60 minutes until golden brown). Allow to cool an hour before serving. Top with Dream Whip, Cool Whip, dairy whipping cream, or vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of maple syrup or Log Cabin pancake maple syrup. Decorate with a few cream pumpkins.

The season for a display of orange

Without any carvings or decorations, a big orange round pumpkin speaks volumes on the front porch. You do not have to carve a pumpkin to make a jack o’ lantern. With a black permanent marker, you can draw a face on the orange pumpkin and use yellow acrylic paint to fill in the face. After Halloween, you can wash the pumpkin, peel it and dice it up, boil it until tender, mash it up and make pumpkin pie, cake, cobbler, pudding, or bread with nights still getting cooler, a pumpkin enjoys a longer life.

Small, decorative jack o’ little’s

They are only about the size of your fist, but great for coffee tables, dinning room tables with plenty of shape and color. Usually you can purchase them at supermarkets for about a $1 each and they can be the makings of wonderful harvest and Halloween displays. You can also paint faces on them with black permanent markers and color them with acrylic paints or make miniature scarecrows from them. Use cream pumpkins, candy corn, harvest M+M’s, Hershey’s Kisses, harvest mix around the base of your jack be little display.

Cream pumpkins, a Halloween tradition

Cream pumpkins are made from the same ingredient as candy corn, but oh so much more decorative on cupcakes and around punch bowels that are filled with orange punch. The tiny green “stems” just highlight them as they adorn candy dishes, decorative tables, and displays. We don’t know how long cream pumpkins have been around, but candy corn has been an autumn staple for well more than 100 years and we suspect cream pumpkins have been in households that long also.

Keeping an eye on squirrels and acorns

In all the Halloween related paragraphs, we failed to mention that acorns (washed, of course) also make great centerpiece decorations. Acorns are still falling from the mighty oaks and they may be sending a message of this winter’s calling card. Another sign of winter is squirrels harvesting acorns and storing them for winter.We don’t know if my Northampton County grandma took note of the busy squirrels in autumn and their harvest of them, but we can be fairly certain she did because there were plenty of squirrels in the boonies where she lived. She prepared plenty of squirrel stews to prove that fact.

Christmas cactus almost ready for move

The Christmas cactus only has a few more days before it will be moved to the living room where it will spend the autumn and winter months. The secret of getting a cactus to bloom at Christmas begins with their spending spring and summer on the porch in a semi-sunny location. In moving them to spend the winter in the house, the containers are filled to the top with cactus medium and some Plant-Tone or Flower-Tone organic plant food. In the living room they receive a drink of water every seven to ten days, checking often for moisture, but never over watering. Also, they need to be kept out of direct sunlight that causes foliage to turn red and stunts their growth. As we move toward the end of October and especially into November, Christmas cactus can be purchased at Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Lowe’s Foods, Food Lion, and many hardwares and nurseries. They are available in small and medium containers and cost between $7 and $11. To give them a great start, buy a large container and a bag of cactus medium and transplant the cactus as soon as you bring it home. Cactus are available in red, pink, corral, and hot pink. They will be in full bloom when you purchase them so you will know the color you are purchasing. Use a drip tray under the container to prevent water draining from the cactus while it winters over.

The harvest of late green tomatoes

The first frost of the season is around Oct. 15. This means we should keep an eye and ear on warnings of frost so that we can harvest the late, late, green tomatoes. Nights are already getting cooler, and tomatoes are slowing down. The vines are also slowing down and this signals the ripening process is slowing down. As the first date is predicted, gather up the green tomatoes, and wrap each tomato in a whole sheet of newspaper and place them in a single box lid (such as copier paper comes in) . Cover the tomato filled lids with full newspaper sections. Don’t place tomatoes in layers but a single layer in each lid. Place in a cool area or a lighted basement. Check for ripeness every other day. Some will ripen quicker than others. Place an apple or two in each box to promote ripening.

Only a week to sow spring bulbs

We are near the first frost of the season and a killing frost is not that many days away and that means hard freezes will soon be with us. Most hardwares, nurseries, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Walmart, and Tractor Supply still have a supply of spring flowering bulbs. You can choose from jonquils, narcissus, crocus, daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths. While purchasing bulbs, buy a bag of bone meal bulb booster to start the bulbs off. In the prepared bulb bed, apply a layer of peat moss in the bottom of the bulb bed, then set the bulbs, cover with another layer of peat moss, then apply bone meal or bulb booster and cover with soil. As October ends, cover bulbs with a layer of crushed leaves.

“A doggone fake!” Customer: “You told me this was a purebred police dog, but this animal is the mangiest, dirtiest, scariest mutt I have ever seen. How an you get the notion that he is a police dog?” Dog breeder: “He works undercover.”

“Catting around.”- Six year old Tommie sat on the front porch holding his cat. A little girl who lived down the street asked, “What’s your cat’s name?” “Ben Hur,” said Tommie. “How did you come up with that strange name?” Tommie said, “We use to call him Ben until it had five kittens!”

Canned with tomatoes: Customer: “Does the market manager know you turned over the whole skid of tomatoes?” Stock boy: “I think so, he’s underneath the pile.”

The season of the pumpkin is here

Orange pumpkins now adorn roadside produce markets, fruit stands, and fundraisers on church lawns across Surry County. One of the pumpkin’s positive attractions is that they have a long shelf life and can be enjoyed over the long season from now until after Christmas. Their bright orange will decorate from now until Halloween, and Thanksgiving and fill tables with puddings, pies, and cakes for many weeks to come as well as decorations, jack ‘o lanterns, and harvest and Halloween displays.

The round orange pumpkins with stems on top of them are the best for carving a jack o’ lantern, but for pies and desserts, the best pumpkins are the oblong varieties. These are not always orange on the outside but tan or beige or bronze in color, and they are tender inside. With their oblong shape, they are easier to slice open, remove seed, and cut into chunks for boiling into a tender mixture and texture and then draining and running through the blender in grate mode or mashing with a potato masher. To can pumpkin, pour the mashed, drained pumpkin into sterilized pint jars (a pint will usually make two pies), wipe the rims of the jars with a paper towel, seal the jars and tighten the lids. Leave half inch at top of jars. Process in a pressure caner at ten pressure for 50 minutes. Pumpkins are low in acid so they require this lengthy processing time.

The crişp clear nights of October speak volumes to us of loaves of pumpkin bread in all of its spicy goodness. Not too sweet, not too spicy, but just the right recipe for a nippy October night. Real pumpkin bread is moist in texture and easy to prepare. For this recipe, you will need three and a half cups of plain flour, two teaspoons baking soda, half teaspoon salt, one tablespoon pumpkin pie spices, four large eggs, milk, one 15 ounce can Libby’s canned pumpkin, or one pint canned pumpkin, one half cup dark brown sugar, two cups granulated sugar, half cup chopped golden raisins, half cup chopped pecans, one tablespoon vanilla flavoring, one table spoon orange flavoring. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spices and set aside. In another large bowl, beat the four eggs well, add Crisco oil, milk, and pumpkin. Mix these ingredients together, add the lemon and vanilla flavoring, raisins and chopped pecans. Pour mixture into two loaf pans, well- greased with Crisco shortening, and floured. Add a sheet of foil to bottom of loaf pans and grease and flour the foll also. Bake for one hour, if not done, bake for a few more minutes. When cake springs back when touched, it is done or when a tooth pick comes out clean. Cool loaves in the pans for fifteen or twenty minutes. Run knife around edges of pans and sheets of aluminum foil, after wrap. Put in Saran clear plastic wrap. This will keep loaves fresh and moist.

The mighty oaks are producing two harvests

Other trees have been delighting us with a harvest, of colors in leaves of gold, yellow, bronze, red, tan, crimson, and beige. We have been using the leaf vacuum, rake and the blower to transfer them to the garden plot and the compost pile and bin. The oaks are now producing a double harvest of not only leaves but a lot of noise from acorns bouncing off metal roofs on barns buildings and sheds. My Northampton County grandma lived in a house with a tin roof. At this time of year, we would listen to acorns striking the roof all night long. She kept a close eye on the acorns falling from the trees and she said, “If you walk on acorns in October, you could expect to walk on snow all during winter.” As October wears on, we may have a hint about what old man winter has up his sleeve for us.

Improving next year’s soil

Vines, stalks, leaves, grass clippings, and trimmings and garden residue from the season behind us can be the makings of improved soil for next year’s garden. The lawn clippings will help heat up the compost and you can also use Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and Black Kow composted cow to heat and breakdown the ingredients in the compost bin, or pile. When you build a compost pile or bin, you are creating an ecosystem that feeds the bacteria that thrive on organic materials . Most households that have gardens generate more than 1,000 pounds of home lawn and garden waste per year that could be converted into compost using very little space and effort. You can start a compost pile with only a pitch fork to stir the pile once a week or you can use several treated fence posts to form a bin and both inexpensive as well as practical and useful.

Halloween has arrived in supermarkets and big box stores with colorful orange, yellow, and brown displays of all varieties of traditional candies for Halloween. Everything for the trick or treaters. The season brings several, varieties of candy corn including the old fashioned orange, white, and yellow combo as well as Indian corn in colors of orange, brown, and white combo and the fairly recent brown sugar combo of tan, white, and yellow. Peanut brittle in boxes begins appearing also before Halloween. Other Halloween favorites are the autumn mix of Hershey’s Kisses, Hershey’s miniatures, marshmallow pumpkins and ghost, Halloween packs of M&M’s, Three Musketeers and assorted candy bars. We always enjoy the display that Food Lion presents at the front of their supermarkets that attract our attention all during October.

The quiet of an October evening. The crisp autumn air at twilight whets the nostrils and the lower humidity makes the coming night air easy to breathe. The scent of the new fallen leaves also adds to the evening air. The graceful soft sound of leaves still falling completes the majestic experience of the autumn twilight.

Making a butterscotch pumpkin pudding

This pudding does not have a crust but you can use vanilla wafers for a crust if you desire or also use graham crackers. In a mixing bowl combine one can (15 0z) Libby’s pumpkin or one pint canned pumpkin, three large eggs, one three ounce box instant butterscotch pudding mix, one cup light brown sugar, one stick light margarine, one half teaspoon pumpkin pie spices one can evaporated milk one teaspoon vanilla flavoring, a pinch of salt, one teaspoon maple flavoring (optional), half teaspoon cinnamon. Spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan or dish and layer with vanilla wafers or graham crackers if desired or make the pudding without a crust. Mix all ingredients together and pour into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve with Cool Whip or Dream Whip.

Harvest festivals, Halloween parties, and chicken stews

October is the festive month for hayrides, haunted houses, chicken stews, harvest festivals, Halloween parties, trick or treating, and Halloween carnivals and costume contests as well as cake walks. Combine all these events with a hot dog roast and toasted marshmallows, s’mores, and a bon fire and you have the makings of a night of fun for all ages.

Keeping a close eye on late tomatoes

As we move closer to the middle of October, there is much chatter about the first frost of the season. It will not have any effect on cool weather vegetables. We know the calendar date for the first frost date says Oct. 15 but we don’t usually get a killing frost until later in the month. Even as‘October moves on, it’s wise to keep an ear and eye out for frost warnings. The late, late, tomatoes sown especially for a pre-frost harvest should be harvested before any frost arrives, wrapped in sheets of newspapers, stored in box lids, and covered with sections of newspapers and stored in a warm room or basement. They should be checked for ripeness once or twice a week. Place an apple or two in the boxes to promote ripening.

Last opportunity to set out bulbs

With the first frost date in just a few weeks, spring flowering bulb planting time is soon drawing to a close. You still have two weeks or more to set out the bulbs or spring flowers. Bulbs can be purchased at Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Walmart, Ace Hardware, most nurseries and hardware’s. Buy a bag of bulb booster or bone meal to get bulbs off to a great start.

“Head of the class.” Teacher: “Johnny could you please pay a little more attention?” Johnny: “I’m already paying as little as I can!”

“Whoa buffalo.” Traveler: “I would like a ticket to New York State, please.” Ticket clerk: “Would you like to go by Buffalo?” Traveler: “No thank you, I’d rather go by bus.”

“Pie in the sky.” Diner: “Is this peach or apple pie?” Waitress: “Can’t you tell by the taste?” Diner: “No, I can’t.” Waitress: “Well, then what difference does it make one way or the other?”

“Drop outs.” Bill: “What school do you have to drop out of to be a graduate?” Jill: “Paratrooper school.”

2021 was a great firefly year

The landscape was aglow with fireflies in the summer of 2021. From mid-May until early July, there were great numbers as we moved into the month of June. Their most glorious display was on the evening Monday, June 21. We counted 169 fireflies glowing during a period of five minutes. We saw the first fireflies on the evening of Sunday, May 16. On that evening, we counted 49 in a period of five minutes. We did see a display almost every evening. They seemed to appear at twilight and reach their peak about nine o clock at night. With the number of fireflies over the summer, next year should produce even more fireflies.

Cool weather vegetables are fun to grow

There are many positives for growing cool weather vegetables. The best reason is because there is very few insect enemies, no beetles or cabbage butterflies, very few humid days, and virtually no dry spells. When you protect the cool weather vegetables from frosts, freezes, snow, and ice with a layer of crushed leaves, those vegetables can endure the harsh late autumn and winter temperatures and provide plenty of green in the cold and dead of winter.

Dark thirty coming earlier everyday

The sunsets are getting more colors and days getting shorter by a minute each evening. There is a little bit of a nip in the air at twilight time and more leaves and acorns are falling from the trees each day. There are still a few weeks until Jack Frost arrives.

Broccoli is a cool weather crop that will winter over

Broccoli plants are still available at hardware’s, seed shops, garden departments, and nurseries. They are available in six and nine packs. At this late date, check the plants carefully and purchase only those that are healthy and have healthy leaves and blue green stems. When setting them out, allow two to three feet between each plant so you can apply a layer of crushed leaves for protection from weather extremes. Apply an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food on both sides of the plants. Apply a layer of peat moss in the furrow before setting out the plants. Water each week with the water wand on “shower” mode when there is no rain in the forecast.

Planting a row or bed of Siberian kale

Siberian kale is truly the king of the winter garden and a real hardy survivor. Kale will grow quickly in the cool soil in early October. Most hardware’s feature several varities but the best and the sweetest is Siberian kale. Unlike many other greens, do not mix different varities of kale, but sow each variety separately for best results. Use Plant-Tone organic vegetable food in the furrow and cover seed with a layer of peat moss before hilling up soil on each side of the furrow. Side dress once a month with Plant-Tone or Miracle Gro liquid plant food mixed with proper amount of water in a sprinkle can and poured over the kale. Water every week with the water wand on “shower” mode when there is no rain in the forecasts.

You can still plant a row of onion sets

Onion sets are still available and can be set out as October begins. You can choose from red, yellow, or white sets. Plant in a furrow about four inches deep and three or four inches apart. Apply a layer of peat moss on the onion sets after setting them out. Add an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food on top of the peat moss. Hill up soil on each side of the furrow and tamp down with the hoe blade. Every two weeks, use a sprinkle can of water mixed with Miracle Gro liquid plant food and pour over tops of onion sets. Apply a layer of crushed leaves between the rows of onions.

Several more weeks remain for planting of flowering spring bulbs

Spring flowering bulbs can be purchased at Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Lowes Home Improvement, Walmart, garden shops, hardware’s, and nurseries. You can choose from daffodils, narcissus, jonquils, tulips, hyacinth, and crocus. Buy only bulbs in transparent see through mesh bags or individual bulbs. Check and do not buy soft or rotted bulbs. Purchase a bag of bone meal or bulb starter to get bulbs off to a great start. Invest in a bulb planter made of durable steel to make bulb planting easier. Place a layer of peat moss over the bulbs before applying bulb booster or bone meal and then cover with a layer of soil. At the end of October, cover with a layer of crushed leaves.

Helping hummingbirds prepare for their flight to Mexico

As we move into October, the hummers have an extra sense to know that their soon flight across the gulf is imminent. Cooler nights and a nip in the air are sending a subtle message to them. The fading annuals of summer are also sending them a message. As October arrives, so does their up and coming flight across the Gulf of Mexico. You can help them prepare for their journey by keeping nectar in the feeders and checking them out everyday. They will need to be at their best energy level as they fly nonstop across the golf.

The taste of autumn in a tart apple

The bite into a tart, mellow apple and to feel the juice sprinkle on your face is a touch of Heaven on earth. Only God can make something a tart and juicy as the autumn taste of a fresh apple. There are plenty of apples of all varities raised in many states in America. Each apple and their states and conditions they grow in reflects their taste, tartness, and mellowness. By far, the best tasting apples in America are a product of New York State where varities such as McIntosh, Rome, Jonathan, Jona Gold, Empire, York, and Winesap are produced. Whether its the gray loamy soil, heavy snows, late springs, pleasant summers or just the legacy of Johnny Appleseed. New York State apples are just hard to beat. Their tart, mellow, juicy texture is just outstanding, unique and incomparable!

Making a Macintosh apple casserole

Macintosh apples are the very best of apples because they are tart, mellow, and juicy. This makes them great for a casserole. For this recipe, you will need ten or more McIntosh apples, two tablespoons plain flour, one teaspoon salt, two sticks melted light margarine, one cup light brown sugar, one cup sugar, one tablespoon apple pie spices, one teaspoon vanilla, one teaspoon lemon flavoring, half cup Log Cabin maple pancake syrup. Peel, core, and cut apples into quarter inch slices and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, sugar, flour, apple pie spices, vanilla and lemon flavoring and maple syrup. Add the melted margarine, mix well. Spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan or dish with Pam baking spray. Arrange apple slices in the bottom of baking dish. Spread the brown sugar mixture over the apples. Cover pan or dish with foil and bake for one hour or until apples are tender.

Pansies are the gems of autumn annuals

With their dark green foliage and colorful flowers with faces that endure the crispness of autumn and the cold of winter. The brightness of pansies bring much color to the gray days of winter. On gray, snowy days of the winter they are true gems of the front porch. Each flower reflects its personality with its familiar face. We have seen them pop their faces up from a clump of fresh snow to perk up a gray day. You can still plant pots or containers of pansies or even a bed of pansies. Buy a bag of pansy booster to give the newly planted pansies a boost. they are still in full bloom at Home Depot, Lowes Home Improvement, Walmart, Ace Hardware, most hardware’s and nurseries. They brighten up any porch!

Checking out the late late autumn tomato

October is now here and the late, late, tomatoes should have green tomatoes hanging from their vines. As October nights get cooler, the frost date draws closer. The date of the first frost date on the calendar is October but we can usually expect frost around October 24. The late, late, tomatoes should be harvested before the first frost, wrapped in sheets of newspaper, and placed in box lids and kept in the house or basement, covered with sections of newspapers and checked twice a week for ripeness. They may not be as tasty as sun ripened, but better than hothouse.

“Interesting conversation!”- Two factory workers were eating lunch one day. One worker said to the other, “My wife talks to herself a lot.” The other worker replied, “So does mine, but she doesn’t know it, she thinks i’m listening to her!”

“Needing help?”- A woman walked up to the manager of a department store. “Are you needing any help?”, she asked. “No” , the manager said, “We already have all the staff we need.” “Well, then would you send someone over here to wait on me?”, she asked.

The almanac for the month of October 2021

There will be a new moon on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 6. Columbus day is Monday, Oct. 11. The moon reaches its first quarter on Tuesday, Oct. 12. There will be a full moon on the night of Wednesday, Oct. 20. This moon will be named Full Hunters Moon. The moon reaches its last quarter on Thursday, Oct. 28. Halloween is Sunday, Oct. 31.

A report on the number of August frost

August 2021 was a relatively dry month and it affected the density and the number of the fogs of August. The month produced twenty fogs. There were four heavy fogs, eight medium fogs, and eight light fogs. This means winter may give us four snowman type snows, eight snows that cover the landscape, and eight dustings of snow or flurries.

The acorns on the mighty oaks begin their fall

The acorns on the mighty oaks are sounding off loud and clear as they bounce off the roof of a neighbor’s outdoor garage. We wonder if the acorn harvest this autumn will be an abundant one. My Northampton County grandma always said, “When the acorns in the autumn cover the ground, in winter, snow will be around.”

Another acorn legend says that when squirrels scurry to go around and store acorns, look for a winter of cold, ice, sleet, and plenty of snow. A more pleasant fact about mighty oaks is that they grow in almost every state in America and this is why the oak is considered our national tree. Oak trees enjoy a long life span with some of them living for centuries. Many oaks do not produce their first acorns until they are 50 years old while other varieties of oaks including Northern Red Oak, Chestnut Oak, Black Oak, Scarlet Oak, Pin Oak, English Oak, White Oak, Swamp Oak, Post Oak, and Bur Oak. No wonder that the mighty oak is Americas national tree.

Autumn 2021 has made its grand entry

Autumn is now officially here and the first of autumns leaf harvest is already reaching the ground as maples begin to unload their colorful leaves and other varities will soon follow. Don’t let them blow away or go to waste. Use the leaf blower, vacuum, or an old-fashioned rake to move them to the garden plot or the compost pile or bin. Run the mower over some of them to use for mulch and to place between rows or beds of cool weather vegetables and around turnip rows, broccoli, and cabbage beds, as well as collards. Add crushed leaves to the compost and place a layer of crushed leaves around azalea beds for winter protection.

Getting the American bee balm ready to winter over

American bee balm will endure winter if you give it a bit of care and attention. As we move into October, keep the balm well watered and feed with Flower-Tone organic flower food. In mid October, trim the balm to about a foot tall. Fill the container to the brim with new potting medium and top with a layer of peat moss for added winter protection. Water lightly during winter months. Keep balm on the back part of the front porch. Reserve a towel or rag and cover the balm on freezing nights. In daytime when the sun is out and temperatures are above freezing, remove towel but replace at night. Water lightly once each week.

It is named “breakfast” cake, but can also be made for dinner and supper too. It is a simple recipe with most of the ingredients already in your kitchen. You will need three and a half cups plain flour, one and a half cups sugar, two teaspoons of baking powder, three fourths teaspoon salt, half cup of Crisco shortening, two eggs slightly beaten, one and a fourth cups milk, two and a half cups of peeled, cored, diced tart apples, boil in water until tender (and drained), two teaspoons of apple pie spices, three fourth cup of brown sugar, one stick melted light margarine, one teaspoon vanilla. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix flour and three tablespoons of sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat in the Crisco shortening, add eggs and milk. Mix to make a soft dough. Spread the dough in a well greased 13 x 9 x 2 bowl, mix the remaining sugar, boiled cubed apples, apple pie spices, brown sugar, vanilla, melted margarine. Spread this mixture over the dough. Bake for half hour or more if needed. Serve hot or cold. Great with ice cream or Cool Whip or just plain.

Red, gold, green, yellow, pink apples available at roadside markets and supermarkets in Surry County

A trip up U.S Hwy 52 from Mount Airy and onto Interstate 77 at the state line of Virginia is a feast of colorful apple displays in boxes and bushel baskets in all sizes and colors. Enjoy the season of the apple and purchase several colors and varities. Apples will continue to be a staple with us from now all the way through winter. Use them in recipes, salads, deserts, and snacks. For a real treat, wash and core an apple and fill the core area with Skippy peanut butter!

September the time to plant spring flowering bulbs

The time to set out the bulbs of spring flowers have arrived. The bulbs of the spring flowers are showing up at Home Depot, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s home Improvement, Walmart, and at hardwares and nurseries. You can purchase spring bulbs in individual or assorted colors sold in singles or mesh bags. Spring flowing bulbs include daffodils, jonquils, narcissus, crocus, hyacinths, and tulips. Hyacinths come in colors of white, pink, purple, red, cream, yellow, blue, and lavender. Hyacinths are really a breath and fragrance of early spring and add one of the first bursts of color to the landscape of spring. When you buy spring flowering bulbs, buy a bag of bone meal or bulb booster to start the bulbs off. Prepare the bulbs bed and apply a layer of peat moss and sprinkle in some bone meal or bulb booster and cover with another layer of peat moss, add plenty of good soil. Water once a week. In early October, apply a generous layer of crushed leaves to the bulb bed. Continue to lightly water the bulbs each week in October.

Keep feeding the purple top turnips

The row or bed of turnips respond well to the cooler nights of late September. Side dress the turnip rows with Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and water the turnip row or bed with water wand in shower mode once a week if no rain falls.

Planting ornamental cabbage or kale

The cole family of kale and cabbage in ornamental varities add unusual hues of color to the cool weather porch. You can choose from color combinations of yellow, wine, pink, purple, mint green, cream, rose, maroon, and lavender plus light green and dark green shades. Place the cabbage toward the rear of the porch away from later harsh colder temperatures and shelter them from frost and freezes. Keep a few old rags or towels handy to cover them on very cold nights. Remove towels the next day when temperatures rise. Set only one cabbage per container. Feed once a month with Flower-Tone organic flower food. Lightly water each week.

Hints for purchasing spring bulbs

Here are some hints when purchasing the bulbs of hyacinths, jonquils, daffodils, crocus, and tulips. Buy single bulbs that you can see, feed, and touch to detect rot, softness, or unhealthy bulbs. Do not buy bulbs in paper wraps or bags that prevent you from seeing the bulbs and inspecting them. The best bulbs are those in see through mesh bags that allow you to see, feel, and inspect the actual bulbs. Another great way to purchase spring bulbs is to select them individually from bins.

Keeping an eye on the Christmas cactus

As we near the end of September, the four Christmas cactus that have spent the spring and the summer on the porch still have several more weeks there before their move to the sunny living room where they will spend the winter. Before moving them inside for winter, we will add more cactus medium to refill the containers and apply an application of Flower-Tone organic flower food. The secret to blooms on the Christmas cactus is their spending spring and summer on the porch in a semi sunny location.

Keeping hummingbirds fed in September

The hummingbirds are still visiting the feeders often as summer annuals fade away. Most hummers will be around until mid October. Keep feeders about half filled to avoid waste and check them every other day. Their appetite and consumption will determine how much nectar to place in the feeders.

Front porch air that is easy to breath

It is real therapy to breath in the fresh, cool, autumn, humidity-free breezes on the front porch. The quiet breezes are blowing the colorful leaves to the awaiting lawn. The sound of crows in the distance and leaves gracefully gliding to the ground makes the porch a great place to be on an autumn afternoon.

“Digging new rows.” A farmer robbed a bank and was sentenced to prison. He received a letter from his wife that said, “Here you are in prison, smoking cigarettes from the state, eating their food and watching T.V while I’m at home alone. Who’s going to plow the fields so I can plant the potatoes?” The farmer wrote her back saying, “Don’t plow the field that’s where I buried the money.” A few days later she wrote back and said, “Someone must be reading your mail. The sheriff and his deputies came out yesterday and plowed the whole field. What should I do now?” The farmer wrote back and said, “Now you can go ahead and plant the potatoes!”

“Knowing the future.” Jackie: “My grandpa knew the exact day of the year and also the exact time of day that he was going to die and he was right about both.” Blackie: “Wow! That’s unbelievable, how could he know all that?” Jackie: “The judge told him!”

Reading and writing. Dad: “What did you learn in school today?” Daughter: “They taught us how to write.” Dad: “Wow! What did you learn to write?” Daughter. “I don’t know, we haven’t learned to read yet!”

A thunderstorm in September is not that unusual because we do have some warm and humid days that can produce a hefty thunderstorm even though they may not be as severe. September is in the midst of hurricane season and a hurricane off the coast can certainly spawn a few thunderstorms and produce a lot of rain. A bit of weather lore goes along with the thunder in the month of September, and some say it is a sign of abundant yields of vegetables and fruits in next years gardens. Rumble on, big boomers of September.

Season of color slowly arriving

The slow nip in September air is casting a hint of color in the leaves of dogwoods, silver maples, birch trees as well as elms. With a bright Carolina blue sky as a background, the color of the leaves standout like paints on an artist canvas. In less than a month Jack Frost will begin to touch some leaves and the season of raking and blowing leaves will begin.

Now that we are in the middle of September, cool weather autumn vegetables should thrive in the garden plot. A few warm days will not bother autumn vegetables because there is now a small nip in the air as autumn is is less than a week away. There is still plenty of time to sow seeds of turnips but you must sow them this week. You can also sow mixed greens, spinach Siberian kale, curly mustard, onion sets, and plants of broccoli, cabbage, collards, and cauliflower. Sow the cool weather vegetables a little deeper and cover the furrow with a layer of peat moss before sowing seed and then cover the seed with another layer peat moss and then apply an application of Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil on each side of the furrow, then tamp down with the hoe blade. Early frost will not have any adverse effect on cool weather vegetables. Water each week with the water wand to retain moisture. Side dress cool weather vegetables once a month with Plant-Tone and keep soil hilled up after each feeding. Keep crushed leaves between the rows of turnips because they are a root crop and the leaves will prevent ground freezes and prolong a long harvest.

September nights are cooling down a bit and conditions are ideal for setting out a row of onion sets in colors of red, yellow, or white. The cool nights of September will cause onion sets to quickly sprout. A pound of onion sets cost around $3. They can be planted in rows or beds. Set onion sets about three or four inches apart in a deep furrow about four or five inches deep. Cover the sets with a layer of peat moss and a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure and top with an application of Garden-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil on each side of the furrow and tamp down lightly. When late October arrives, cover the onion sets with a layer of crushed leaves between the rows and use a sprinkle can of water mixed with Miracle-Gro liquid plant food poured over the onions every two weeks.

Starting a bin or pile of compost

As leaves begin to fall, the opportunity to start a batch of compost with the residue of stalks, vines and leftovers from summer’s garden plus leaves broken down by running through the blower or mowing over them, is here. Adding grass clippings to the compost will heat up the ingredients, as will Black Kow composted cow manure and Garden-Tone organic plant food. Temperatures in September will be warm enough to heat up compost.

Time to care for azaleas

Azaleas could use a little tender loving care as the cool temperatures of mid-September arrive. Azaleas may need a try to shape them up. You can feed azaleas with Holly-Tone organic azalea food sold in four pound zippered bags at Lowe’s Home Improvement or Home Depot, Ace Hardware, nurseries , and most garden departments. You can also use Miracle-Gro liquid azalea food mixed with proper amount of water in a sprinkle can. Dr. Earth also produces a slow release azalea food that feeds all winter. A layer of crushed leaves will protect azaleas from cold weather extremes.

From summer annuals to the cool weather annuals of autumn

The summer annuals are slowly fading with frost coming late next month. The way is now being paved for the annuals of autumn. The soil that your summer annuals are in can be recycled by pulling all summer annuals from the containers and adding them to the compost pile or bin. Dump the medium from the summer annuals containers into the wheelbarrow, stir it up and add 50% mix of new potting medium to the old medium and stir it together. Add several cups of Flower-Tone organic flower food to the medium along with some peat moss. Use a sprinkle can to moisten the recycled medium and fill the containers you are using to plant the annuals of autumn.

Pansies are most popular autumn annual

It is no wonder that the pansies are one of the autumns favorite annuals, with their colorful lavenders, royal purple, cream, yellow, bronze, maroon, pink, tan, and light orange flowers, each one each one of them with a familiar face on them. Dark green foliage all winter long is another feature of the pansy family. Pansies will endure winters temperatures with a little bit of preventive protection. Pansies can be purchased in six and nine packs and most are in bloom when you buy them so that you can choose the varieties and colors you desire. To get pansies off to a great start purchase a bag of pansy booster and mix into the potting medium and add some to the pansies every month. When planting pansies two to a pot, in containers and baskets, plant only three or four. This will prevent the pansies from becoming root bound. In winter, water the pansies but don’t over water because this may cause the medium in the containers to freeze. In winter when a hard freeze is forecast you may want to move pansy containers further inside the porch and cover over night with a sheet or a couple of towels. Placing a couple of handfuls of peat moss on top of the pansies in their containers will also help prevent freezes.

September is the gateway into autumn

We are on the threshold of autumn and the green and the warmth of the waning summer is fading away. This is the time of seasonal transition. It is not cool enough for a coat, but not warm enough to break into a sweat. Leaves of dogwoods are turning crimson and displaying their harvest of berries. some maples are already turning yellow and some trees are already beginning to lose their leaves. There is a welcome relief in the advent of autumn with a nip in the air and lower humidity and the added bonus of beautiful sunsets. It is a bittersweet time as we slowly lose the warmth of the lazy, hazy, days of summer.

Making an apple pie cheesecake

Celebrate the arrival of autumn next week with this apple pie cheesecake. You will need one cup of sugar, two eight ounce boxes of cream cheese, three large eggs, one teaspoon vanilla, one can Comstock apple pie filling, four tart apples, peeled, cored, cubed, and boiled until tender, half teaspoon apple pie spices. Two graham cracker pie crust. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, mix sugar with softened cream cheese, add the eggs, vanilla, and two tablespoon lemon juice. Mix with mixer on high speed until it is smooth. Pour into the pie crusts and bake for half hour. allow to cool. Mix apple pie filling, cooked apples, one cup light brown sugar, apple pie spices, and spread over the top of the cheesecake. Sprinkle top with a little more apple pie spices.

“A virus among us.”A man arrived back in the United States after a trip overseas. After getting of the plane, he was not feeling well so he went directly from the airport to the hospital. After many examinations and tests he woke up and found himself in a private isolated room. The phone by his bedside rang. He picked it up and heard his doctor say, “This is your doctor. We have discovered that you have an extremely contagious virus, so we have placed you in total isolation. We are placing you on a diet of pizzas, pancakes, and pita bread.” “Will that cure me?” the patient asked. The doctor replied, “Well, no, but it is the only food we could slip under the door.”

“The best man.” An 8-year-old girl was attending her first wedding. She leaned over to her mother and whispered, “Why did the lady change her mind?” the mom said, “What do you mean dear?” The little girl replied, “She went down the aisle with one man and left with another.”

Road crossing. What do you call a chicken crossing the road? Poultry in motion!

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