2005 Newsletter Archive
Week 32 (11/10/05)
Tomorrow, Friday, November 11, is Veterans Day. Our Veterans will never forget what they did for our country, and neither should we. To all the Veterans, we salute you.
*WHETHER ITS THE WEATHER Warm weather continues to linger and starting to get me a little nervous. Sorry, folks, but when November gets here, I want the temperatures to cool down and stay there. Its a lot easier on the plants! Please make sure youre watering those plants as needed.
[Every time a bell rings, my dog goes into the corner. Thats what I get for having a boxer.]
*WHATS BUGGIN YOU? Solitary yellow jackets keep showing up in the strangest places in our home! You just have to wonder where in the world these things came in from! This past weekend we visited the Clifton Gorge Mill (outside Yellow Springs, Ohio) and could not believe the number of Asian Lady Beetles on the porch, window sills, blinds, fence posts and rails, walls, tables; they were everywhere! Do you know how to distinguish an Asian from the other Lady Beetles? They have dots or black markings on the back of the head that form an "M". Look closely next time you see a Lady Beetle. Hey, did you know that the Lady Bug (or Lady Beetle) is Ohios state insect? There are over 450 species found in North America. Did you know that the Black Racer is the Ohio state reptile? Of course, you know "Hang on Sloop" is the state rock song, but do you know the state beverage? Its tomato juice!
[If your feet smell and your nose runs, it sounds to me like youre built upside-down.]
*QUESTIONMARK & THE MYSTERIANS Here are a few gardening questions from this weeks emailed news bag:
"Is it too late to plant a tree?" -NO! Now is thee best time to plant a tree, or to plant most plants! But now is thee best time!
"A bunch of flying things has appeared on some of my plants I brought inside. What should I do?" -Get them away from the other plants! Then, with the warmer temps, take them outside and hose them off. That chases away many of them. Immediately move the plants elsewhere and let them dry. Spray them well with insecticidal soap (undersides of the leaves too) and then when dry, bring them inside. Repeat the sprays every 5-7 days as needed. You may want to invest in a few white fly sticky traps to use as well. They do a great job physically removing them. Be persistent and stick with them.
"How close to an old stump can we plant a new tree?" -I guess you could say as close as you can dig the hole through the existing roots. Its best to have that thing ground out if you can, but if not, you can still plant right next to it.
"Concerning evergreens during the winter is WiltStop the same as dormant oil?" -No, not at all. WiltStop is an anti-desiccant that is applied to leafy and needled evergreens to help slow down transpiration (water loss) during the winter and help prevent winter damages. Dormant oil is applied to plants during the dormant period as an insecticide.
"I have moss growing on my landscape rocks. How can I get rid of it?" -Shady conditions may always provide a good place for the moss to grow, but it can be controlled by regular sprayings of Algae Moss Killers available at the garden stores, or by dissolving 1 small box of baking soda in 2 gallons on warm water. This spray will kill moss on the rocks, on soil, on plants, in the grass, etc, without harming the existing plants.
"I cut back my Endless Summer Hydrangea about 5 inches all around. The foliage looked spotty and ugly. Did I do a bad thing?" -Well, not really. Couple things here for you to remember; just because the foliage looks bad doesnt mean you should cut it back, especially on a woody shrub. Let the foliage fall naturally, and then its gone and you wont have to look at it any longer. Secondly, many flowering shrubs have already formed their flower buds for next spring. If you prune them now, you lose the flowers. Fortunately for you, this hydrangea flowers on old and new growth, which makes it so special, and it should flower next year no matter what you did this fall.
By the way, if youre not sure when to prune a hydrangea, we have a tip sheet for that. Just email me and Ill send you one.
"This is our first year for container gardening. What do we do to winterize our decorative ceramic planters that are too big to move?" Good question, and is the topic for one of our Local 12 TV spots for this week! Heres the copy from the tip:
Containers exposed to the winter elements will freeze and thaw and will probably crack. So for those containers waiting to be planted next year, you have a couple options.
-Place the containers in the garage or shed so theyll not be exposed to the rains and snow and severe ups and downs in the temperatures, which is what caused them to crack.
-If theyre too big to move, cover them with something to keep the moisture out, which should protect them from expanding over the winter and cracking. Black trash bags work great for this.
-Or, simply dump out the soil in a pile, and then store the totally empty pots away until next spring. Over the winter, the pile of soil will freeze and thaw, do a little composting, and then next spring, you can add new soil amendments to the pile, chop it all up, and refill your containers.
-For those containers that still have hardy plants growing in them, leave them outside until the plants have totally gone dormant, and consistent cold temperatures have settled in. Then, move the containers into an unheated garage or shed for the winter. Water well, and water once each month, just to keep some moisture in the soil. In early March, bring them back outdoors before the plants start to re-grow.
-For smaller containers, placing them down in covered window wells for the winter works nicely. Water as needed, and again, pull them back out in early March.
-And if those arent an option for you, dont forget you can always try to protect the pots outdoors by simply piling leaves around them as an insulator. Place plastic around decorative pots first, to protect them from staining, and cover the top to keep out moisture (if nothing is growing in them). Come early March, uncover and see how well your plants and pots have done.
"Can I still core aerate my lawn?" -Soil and air temperatures have stayed warm enough that grass roots are very much active right now, making it okay to core aerate. Do it soon, as it is getting late.
[You say Photons have mass? Heck, I didnt even know they were Catholic!]
*TAKE THE WORRY OUT OF CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR Dont let Christmas get you upset and frustrated. Since 1977, Americas Best has been a family holiday tradition with our fresh wreaths and greens, live and cut Christmas trees, custom decorations, and of course, our Americas Best grown holiday poinsettias. And, if youre not sure what to buy your favorite gardener this year, why not buy an America’s Best Gift Card? Available in any amount, and can be purchased at the stores or on Give us a call. Come see us this holiday season!
[I think its scary that doctors call what they do "practice".]
*THOSE LEAVES JUST KEEP FALLING – Now that the leaves are falling in our lawns, an easy way to deal with them is to just rake them up, bag them up, and send them off to the landfill. But before you do that, do us all a favor and try to use as many as you can right here in your own yard!
The first thing to do is to return a few right back into the turf. Its okay for the first 2 or 3 mowings to grind those leaves up along with the grass clippings and but them right back into the soil. This actually creates thin layer composting right in the turf! Mulching mowers do a great job finely grinding those leaves and clippings, but if you dont have a mulching mower, simply mow and throw those leaves and clippings inward, so that youll be re-mowing them again on the next pass. This just keeps grinding them up finer and finer as you keep mowing. Feel free to do this for 2-3 mowings. One note; if you have a newly seeded lawn from this fall, this method is not recommended for this year. It is best to collect the leaves on newly planted lawns for the first fall.
If you do collect the leaves, take those finely ground leaves and till them into the garden or areas where youll be planting next year. Again, use finely ground leaves, apply a nice layer, and till or spade them into the soil. Now, you can collect finely ground leaves by using a lawn mower bagging attachment. Or, if you dont have the attachment, rake and collect the leaves, whole, place them in an empty trash can, and then using a string trimmer, grind them up in the can, like using a food processor. Make sure you wear eye protectors, and do use caution doing this! But it does work!
You can also use these finely ground leaves to start a compost pile, or if you want, set them aside, and use them later as a winter mulch for over those roses, perennials or whatever may need a little extra mulching. And dont forget about the leaves in the gutters. Make sure you keep these cleared on a weekly basis, so your gutters wont get clogged when freezing rains and snow gets here. Please, try to use as many of your leaves as you can in your own yard, before shipping any out to the landfills. And, if youre lucky, youll get enough wind to blow them over into the neighbors yard, and then you wont have to worry about them at all!
[When cheese gets its picture taken, what does it say?]
*FROM THE GARDEN TO THE KITCHEN / HEY RITA WHATS COOKIN?
Yardboy, dont think Ive gone off the deep end here, but the recipes Im sharing today you cant eat. Nor can I, or any of our readers. So who can? The four-footed members of the family, thats who! Like your family dog Sami, your wifes cat Zoe, or your daughters "kids", Eddie the cat and the two dogs Jaxon and Lexy. (Ill tell you what; those are some sophisticated canine and feline names!) Anyway, Im sharing two recipes which I can vouch for being delicious oh, wait a minute, I mean, my dogs Max and Lady and our unnamed cat could vouch for them being delicious. But theyre not with us anymore, so you have to take their "word" for it. Seriously, though, making treats for your dogs and cats is so easy and the bonus is you know exactly what goes into them. And its a fun project for the little ones, too, as they can free form the biscuits.
CHEESE & FLAX MILK BONE BISCUITS: Our cats were known to munch on the crumbs the dogs left behind. Flax is an important ingredient in the popular "Missing Link" supplement for dogs and cats. Its great for their coat and all around good health.
1 pkg., 10 oz, frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained well
2 tablespoons flax seed meal
1 cup cheddar cheese, finely shredded, room temperature
2 sticks corn oil margarine
1 teaspoon dry parsley, rubbed between palms
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups whole wheat flour
½ cup dry milk
Water as needed
Preheat oven to 300. Mix spinach, flax, cheese, margarine, parsley and garlic together either in a food processor or by hand. Add flour and milk. Process until dough forms, adding water if necessary. Either roll out to about ¼" thickness and cut with bone shaped cookie cutter, or free form bones with your hands. Spray cookie sheets and bake 30-45 minutes or until golden and hard. Store at room temperature.
CAT COOKIES: Although the recipe above is good for both dogs and cats, if youre particular, try this:
1/4 cup soy flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon catnip (opt)
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1/3 cup powdered milk
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon molasses or honey
2 tablespoons oil
Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients together. I do this in the food processor. Mix egg, milk, molasses and oil together. Pour over dry ingredients and blend. If necessary add a bit of water to make a nice dough. Roll out and cut into small, cat bite size pieces. Bake 20-30 minutes. Store at room temperature.
TIPS FROM RITAS KITCHEN: How long to bake? Some dogs and cats like their biscuits crunchy, others, a bit chewy. Consult your dog or cat!
RITAS NEW BOOK IS OUT!
GIFTS WITHOUT RIBBONS is my latest book. It is available at book stores, Jungle Jims, and Susans Natural World. It contains my most requested food and spa gifts (over 100) from the kitchen and garden. Its the only book youll need for year round giving!
-Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP / Macys Regional Culinary Professional / Herbalist / Author / Local TV and Radio Cooking Expert / Adjunct Professor U.C. Clermont College / Community Press Papers / Part time Witchdoctor and maker of strange potions [firstname.lastname@example.org attn: Rita]
[I was getting my hair cut at the Mason Barber Shop, and asked my barber Gary when he thought my friend should bring in his 2 year old son for a hair cut. Gary stopped cutting my hair, looked at me and said, "When hes about 5 or 6."]
Thats it for this newsletter. Only two more weeks until Thanksgiving and 6 more weeks until Christmas; just keeping you on schedule. Now, do yourself a favor. Go out and make this the best weekend of your life.