Week 24 (9/8/05)
*WHETHER IT’S THE WEATHER – Low 80’s during the day, 60’s at night with low humidity certainly isn’t bad, but once again, we’ve reached a situation where the lack of rainfall is becoming an issue. Please don’t let the showers from Katrina fool you into thinking we’re okay with soil moisture. We’re not, and you need to be watering. Once again, your plants are thirsty. Join them for a drink.
By the way, Fall is thee best time for planting most trees, shrubs, evergreens, perennials, roses, and of course, spring blooming bulbs. Plants transplant better, re-root yet this fall, get a head start on next year, and with the cooler temperatures, it’s easier on us! And, hopefully Mother Nature will bless us with her ‘natural’ rainfalls, but if not, that’s right, it’s up to you.
[Shin – a device for finding furniture in the dark.]
[The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the ability to reach it.]
*QUESTIONMARK & THE MYSTERIANS – Here are a few garden questions from this weeks emailed news bag:
"We’re new homeowners, and have noticed our plants and lawn are covered with spider webs. What spray do you recommend to get rid of them?" -None! I know it’s hard to accept, but the spiders in the garden are our friends. They’re the good guys. They’re predators, and right now, they’re doing a fine job reducing the bug populations in our yards. So we do not recommend spraying for spiders in the garden. If the webs bother you, feel free to eliminate them with a broom or strong stream of water, but please don’t spray to kill them. Leave the outdoor spiders alone.
"This year, my junipers have developed berries. I have kids and pets and was wondering if those berries were poisonous?" -Well, let’s just say it’s probably best if the kids and pets don’t eat them. They are bitter and not very palatable, but never the less, shouldn’t be eaten. Now, juniper berries are actually used for many things, and have been for centuries, including aromatherapy, soaps, food flavoring, and of course, the flavoring for Gin. But it’s also used as a diuretic, and eating the berries will cause severe increases in urinating, diarrhea, and intestinal pain. So, show the kids what they are, and tell them to look but don’t eat.
On that same token, some Taxus (Japanese yews) will also produce berries that are a bright red and very fleshy. Do not eat these berries. The fleshy fruit on the outside actually is edible, but the seed on the inside is highly poisonous. Birds can eat them and be okay, as they do not crush the seed and it passes through them. But, it’s not the same story for others. Do not eat the berries from Japanese yews!
"What is the big flower I’m seeing right now growing along the roadsides, with the large purple flowers on top? Is it a weed or can it be grown in the garden?" -Well, it actually is a weed; Joe Pye Weed that is. And yes, its domesticated cousins are available for you to plant in the perennial garden. Joe Pye Weed is a bold tough perennial that you can count on for great hardiness and late summer colors.
"I have a bluegrass lawn and would like to start working in the tall fescues. Which do you recommend I start with?" -I don’t. Tall fescues are stand alone grasses. They grow with other tall fescues and that’s it. You’ll need to stick with bluegrasses or bluegrass / perennial rye mixes, but not the tall fescue. If you want tall fescue, you’ll need to kill the bluegrass, and then reseed with the tall fescues. Sorry.
"Is it just me, or are we seeing more grasshoppers than usual this year?" -It’s not just you. And yes, we are seeing more and more species than we’ve seen in a long time. It's not unusual for one species to do well, but it appears several are appearing in high numbers. We are speculating that given the droughty conditions this summer, we could really be in trouble next year. Grasshopper eggs do poorly in wet soils - they succumb to fungi and nematodes that are supported by the wet conditions. While we are on the extreme eastern edge of "grasshopper county," there are records of some pretty serious outbreaks in western Ohio in years following droughts."
NOTE: I wanted to remind those of you who anticipate using a slice seeder for new or over seeding the lawn, be sure to slice seed at least 2 different directions. Take ½ of your seed and slice seed north to south. Then take the other ½ and slice seed the same area east to west. Some folks will even go ‘thirds’ and slice seed diagonally 3 different ways.
Also, you will need good moisture in the soil for the core aerator and slice seeder to work properly. So, watering 2 days in advance will be needed unless we get some good rainfall!
[Warning: Dates in calendar are closer than they appear.]
*FROM THE GARDEN TO THE KITCHEN / HEY RITA WHAT’S COOKIN? – The blueberries are in abundance right now. And talk about good for you: blueberries are full of anti-oxidants, good for your eyes, memory and your motor skills. And we can all use a boost there. When freezing blueberries, don’t wash them ahead of time. Simply pour onto a cookie sheet and freeze hard, uncovered. Then pack into freezer containers. When you’re ready to use the berries, just rinse them in a colander with cool water and they’ll thaw just enough to use in your cooking without getting mushy.
LEMON BLUEBERRY SYRUP (Note the range in sugar. Depending upon the sweetness of the berries, you may need the whole cup. For special diets, use a sugar and butter substitute.)
½ stick butter or margarine
½ to 1 cup sugar
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Place butter, sugar and berries in pan. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until berries pop. Combine lemon juice and cornstarch and stir into sauce. Cook until thickened, about 3-5 minutes. Makes about 3 cups. Store in refrigerator. Can warm up before serving.
SPICED BLUEBERRY ORANGE MARMALADE (This is a soft set marmalade and easy enough for kids to make.)
1-1/2 cups sugar
½ (one half) cup orange juice
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed
3-1/4 cups orange marmalade or to taste
½ to 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (opt)
Combine sugar and juice in pan. Cook over low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to boil and add berries and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Add marmalade and spice. Boil, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. Spoon into jars and store in refrigerator. Makes 4 cups.
-Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP / Macy’s Regional Culinary Professional / Herbalist / Author / Local TV and Radio Cooking Expert / Adjunct Professor U.C. Clermont College / Community Press Papers [email@example.com attn: Rita]
Ed’s PLANTS TO PONDER – As summer winds down and fall approaches, our gardening thoughts have always turned to garden mums, ornamental cabbage and kale, asters and pansies to provide our containers with some great fall colors. Add a little of this ‘Fall Magic’ to your home!
[Egotist – someone who is usually me-deep in conversation.]