Week 26 (9/23/05)
It’s the first day of fall; my absolute favorite season of the year. Fall is for planting, so don’t even think about throwing in the trowel. There are things to be done and plants to be planted in the garden!
[Jiminy Cricket was the first Disney feature character to speak directly to the audience. He became one of Disney’s premier emcees, educators, and storytellers both on TV and in educational media. Cliff Edwards was Jiminy’s voice until 1971; Eddie Carroll has been Jiminy since then.]
*WHETHER IT’S THE WEATHER – As I write this newsletter, I’m hearing the forecast for showers tonight and tomorrow. All I can say is "I hope so". Besides regular irrigation systems running, I’m not seeing much additional watering going on inn neighborhood yards. It is dry folks. The soil is dry and so are your plants. Please make sure you are watering them as needed, especially before we go into the fall and winter.
[The word "cricket" comes from a French word, criquer, meaning ‘little creaker’. The Dutch call them ‘krekel’, and the Chinese call them ‘kwo kwo’.]
*WHAT’S BUGGIN YOU? – Nothing, besides the lack of rainfall. Spiders continue to dominate the gardens (and I’m talking some big dudes!), cool season mite activity has increased, and squirrel activity is increasing. And how about all these crickets we’re seeing? Man, they are everywhere! As I was writing this newsletter a big black one was sitting next to my foot. I guess he wanted to get my attention so I’d write about crickets!
[Cricket breeding and fighting was once a popular pastime in China. They have been kept in captivity for thousands of years as the singing of the adult males is considered pleasant by many people. Some believe crickets in the home will bring good luck.]
*SPRUCE SPIDER MITES ARE BACK! KEEP HOSING OFF THOSE ARBORVIATE AND ESPECIALLY THOSE ALBERTA SPRUCE! -Remember, a strong stream of water will blow mites right off the plants, and at the same time, you’re watering the evergreens as we head into the fall. Alberta Spruce owners, this is a must for you!
*QUESTIONMARK & THE MYSTERIANS – Here are a few gardening questions from this weeks emailed news bag:
"Is it too late to apply a weed killer to the lawn?" -Nope. As a matter of fact, weed killers work the best in the fall! October is a great time to apply them, especially if you’re going after some of the hard to kill broadleaf weeds. Use Bonide’s Weed Beater (Trimec). Remember, if you seeded this month, you must wait until the new grass has been mowed 3 times before applying a weed killer.
"Are the tubers produced by ornamental sweet potato vines edible?" -As long as the soil and plant has not been treated with a non edible pesticide, yes, they are highly edible. Not much flavor, but very edible.
"Is it true I should be adding Preen to my beds this late in the season?" -Yes! By applying Preen now (preen of course being a pre emergent herbicide stopping weed seeds from growing), you’ll help control annual weeds like henbit and chickweed, which germinate and begin to grow over the winter, and take over our landscape beds early next spring. As a matter of fact, keep after any weeds that pop up in the beds this fall, to keep your beds wed free now, and off to a cleaner start next spring. Use your Roundup where you can, or hand pull if needed. But don’t let the weeds grow this fall.
"I have straw on my new grass seed, and the grass is starting to grow. When can I take off the straw?" -As soon as you can rake lightly without pulling up the grass. It takes a while, so just experiment to see. Once you can, lightly rake of what you can (get as much as you can), and then when you mow, simply chop up what’s left and throw it back into the turf.
"Is now a good time to plant ornamental grasses?" -It certainly is! And right now, ornamental grasses are really coming into their own. Grasses can be used as specimen plants, screens, hedges, just so many ways to incorporate them into your landscape. Great foliage, great seed heads, and yes, when the wind blows, they add their graceful movement to the garden. Grasses certainly enjoy the sun, but if you’re looking for a grass that tolerates the shade, here’s the one. It’s called Japanese Forest Grass. It’s a clumping grass, gets about knee high, wonderful yellow foliage, and just loves the shade!
[The phrase "Jiminy Cricket" was used as an exclamation denoting surprise or bewilderment. In "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (made 2 years before Pinocchio"), the dwarfs exclaim "Jiminy Crickets!" when they return to their cottage and find the lights on.]
[The principle role for the males chirping is to attract females and mate. But there are also special songs for courtship, fighting, and sounding an alarm. And yes, there are formulas for determining the temperature, based on the frequency of cricket chirps! The number of chirps varies with the temperature (faster at higher temps) and range from 4-5 to more than 200 per second!]
[Crickets eat just about anything – they’re omnivorous. You’ll find them eating in the garden, eating other insects, eating each other, eating paper, eating clothes, and eating just about anything else they feel like eating. They’ll even eat some of Rita’s recipes!]
*FROM THE GARDEN TO THE KITCHEN / HEY "HURRICANE RITA", WHAT’S COOKIN? – ED, we’re expecting another grandbaby next Wednesday! So you can imagine how excited we are; so excited that I almost forgot to harvest the hot peppers and garlic from the garden! Thank goodness I remembered, though, because I needed both for the delicious recipes I’m sharing today.
TANDOORI CHICKEN ON A STICK - If you like Indian food, this is for you, Yardboy. Serve with chutney on the side. A great way to use those jalapeno chilies from the garden!
Juice of one lime, about 2 tablespoons
4 large cloves garlic
1 knob ginger about 2" or so, chopped
1-2 jalapenos, diced
1 cup plain yogurt
Salt to taste
Puree juice, garlic, ginger and chilies. Add yogurt and blend until smooth. Trim about 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs and halve each lengthwise. Thread 4 chicken pieces on each of 4 skewers. Arrange in a nonmetallic dish. Pour marinade over and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally. Grill over high heat, covered, about 8-10 minutes.
SPAGHETTI SQUASH PASTA - Inside spaghetti squash are pasta-like strands. Poke a few holes into squash. Bake in a 350 degree oven until tender, about 35-45 minutes. Meanwhile, make a simple garlic sauce: sauté 2 teaspoons garlic in 1/4 cup olive oil. Add a shake of red pepper flakes if you like. After squash has baked and is cool enough to handle, cut in half. Scoop out seeds. Rake out spaghetti-like strands with a fork. Add to sauce in skillet and toss to coat. Serve with Parmesan cheese.
Tip from Rita’s kitchen:
-Winter squash are coming on, and they include butternut and acorn, among others. These squash have a very tough skin, too tough to try to cut through. Poke a few holes with a fork, then microwave on high a couple of minutes or so. Use potholders or towel to remove from microwave, as it will be hot! Let cool, and your knife will slide right through!
-"Hurricane" 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 / Part time Witchdoctor and maker of strange potions [email@example.com attn: Rita]
[On the same token, anything that is a meat eater will eat crickets; frogs, toads, snakes, birds, fox, skunks, raccoons, even people. That’s why they hide during the day and have long legs to help them escape predators. Ever try to catch one? They’re always "one jump ahead of you"!]
*Bringing Plants Indoors For the Winter - If you’ve been growing your tropical plants outdoors all summer, as summer fades and fall is on the horizon, it’s time to get them ready to go back inside the house for the winter. Begin this process in mid September, so the plants will be ready to go indoors before the weather gets too cold. And always keep an eye open for that early frost! Bringing Plants Indoors:
1.) The first thing to do is to move your tropical or non-hardy plants into a shady location outside, and leave then there for 10 days to 2 weeks. This helps acclimate them to the lower light conditions they’ll be receiving once inside your home. By the way, during this time, do be aware of possible cold temperatures and even frosts, where your plants will need extra protection!
2.) Just before bringing them inside, 3 things for you to do. Hose them off with a strong stream of water. You may even want to do this a couple times while they’re acclimating in the shade. This helps to blow off any insects that may be hanging out on the plants. Immediately before bringing them inside, give your plants a good spraying of insecticidal soap, making sure you spray tops and bottoms of the leaves, stems, trunks and all. Again, trying to get rid of any hitchhiking bugs! (If you do this the same day you’re bringing them inside, let the spray dry, then bring the plants indoors.) And one last thing; if possible, lay the plant on its side, slide it out of the pot, and inspect the root ball for any unwanted bugs or anything else that may be hiding in the bottom of the pot. Rodents, even snakes have been found hiding here, and we don’t want them in the house!
3.) Move your tropical plant indoors to a well-lit area, and away from heat vents and cold drafts. Place a saucer under the pot. As a general rule, water the plants well, let dry, water again. And never let water sit in the saucer. Use luke warm water for watering.
4.) Expect leaves to drop as the plants make their final acclimation to the indoor lighting. It’s natural. And do keep your eyes open for any flare-ups of insects on the plants. Keep insecticidal soaps, systemic insecticides, and whitefly traps on hand just in case.
5.) Reduce feeding to an occasional shot of a water-soluble fertilizer, which can be increased once the days start to get longer, come next spring!
Again, do expect leaves to fall once the plants are inside, as the sunlight just isn’t what it was outside. Stick with them, water only as needed, watch for outbreaks of insects and catch them early, and your tropical plants should make it through the winter, and be ready to get back outside late next spring.
*YARDBOY’S PLANTS TO PONDER – "FALL COLORS WITH OLD STAND-BYS"
Fall is for planting, and that includes an assortment of old stand-by’s for great fall colors:
Dianthus - a cold hardy annual that provides great fall colors in the ground or in containers. These will last right on through the fall season.
Stock - another cold hardy annual that loves the cool weather and loves to bloom like crazy this time of the year.
Ornamental Cabbage and Kale - cold hardy annuals, with great foliage (solid and cut leaf varieties) that keep getting more colorful as the temperatures get colder. What a great show for late fall!
Pansies - cold hardy biennial that when planted in the fall, not only provides great colors all fall, they may even peak a few blooms out over the winter, and then fire back up in the spring with great spring colors.
Asters - an old perennial that’s star like flowers certainly add a blast of fall colors. These can get large, so give them room in the sunny part of the perennial garden.
Montauk Daisies - another perennial that provides great succulent foliage in the garden during the growing season, followed by daisy like flowers mid to late in the fall season.
Garden mums - the number one semi-perennial sold in the entire United States and thee traditional plant for gracing fall containers and gardens with an outstanding assortment of fall colors. Used indoors and outdoors in containers, grown as a cut flower, and of course planted in our perennial gardens, this old stand by just can’t be beat for some of the best colors in the fall you’ll ever find. With all these old stand by’s to choose from, there’s no reason why your containers and landscape can’t have great fall colors right on into the month of November.
[I recently took up meditation. It beats sitting around doing nothing.]
That’s it for this week. Fall is here; enjoy it.