Week 28 (10/6/05)
Looks like we’re in for the sudden change in weather again! Almost 90 degrees one day and down into the 60’s the next! Chili today; hot tamale! It’s fall; I’ll take the cooler temperatures. And hopefully, we’ll get some good rainfall out of this front! It is so dry out there, but I know you’ve been watering faithfully, especially those evergreens.
*NO NEWSLETTER NEXT WEEK! (Out of town, so you get a week’s break!)
[There have been 11 Triple Crown Winners since 1919, the last being ‘Affirmed’ in 1978.]
*WHETHER IT’S THE WEATHER – Nice weather, but what can I say besides "it’s dry"? It is dry. It’s too dry. It’s seriously dry. We need rain really bad, it’s so dry.
[‘Gallant Fox’ is the only Triple Crown Winner to sire another Triple Crown Winner – ‘Omaha’. Both horses were owned and trained by the same persons!]
[‘Smarty Jones’ was named after the owner’s mother –in – law whose nickname was ‘Smarty’.]
*QUESTIONMARK & THE MYSTERIANS – Here are a few gardening questions from this weeks emailed news bag:
"Can I still plant grass seed?" -Well, I’m not going to say no, but I will say the optimum time for seeding has past, the seeding window is closing, and risk factors are starting to set in. Yes, I did seed this past weekend in a few areas. Fescues and ryes are fairly quick germinators, but bluegrass takes about 21 days and that’s the end of October (just to germinate). It’s a crap shoot, but lots of folks enjoy gambling!
"What’s the fertilizer you said to use with new grass seed?" -A starter fertilizer. It’ll be lower in nitrogen, higher in phosphorus and potash. You’ll still use the high nitrogen fertilizer in November for the last feeding.
"Can I apply Preen now that I’m finished planting my spring bulbs?" -Absolutely. And do it again next spring. If the bulb foliage has appeared next spring when you’re ready to Preen, just keep it off the bulb’s foliage.
"Can I cut back daylilies and hostas that look absolutely terrible and brown?" -Yes, we’re late enough into the season to go ahead and do that if they’re more brown than green. Keep watering if needed.
"I saw you talking about berries on plants and whether they are poisonous or not. I have berries on my Japanese Yews, Blue hollies, and Hawthorn trees. Good or bad berries?"
- Well, for the wildlife, they’re all good berries, but they’re not so good for humans.
Hawthorn berries could be eaten, but are rather bland in taste and to be honest, I wouldn’t eat them. Holly berries, if several are eaten, can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. So leave them alone. On the Japanese yews, there are male and female Japanese yews, and of course, the berry is on the females. The outer fleshy part of the berry is actually edible; slimy and not tasty, but could be eaten (BUT DON"T!). It’s the black seed inside that is highly toxic if crushed. So bottom line is this - consider the entire berry on Japanese yews poisonous and do not eat them. As a matter of fact, the foliage is highly toxic, to all forms of livestock, so be cautious planting them if you own livestock. (Unfortunately, even thought they’re toxic to livestock, it’s one of the deer’s favorite landscape plants to munch on.) Again, bottom line is this - simply tell the kids "DO NOT EAT ANY BERRIES GROWING ON PLANTS." THAT’S THE SAFEST WAY TO APPROACH IT.
"I see 3 or 4 bagworms on my large Blue Spruce. Is this something to be concerned about?" -Absolutely! One bag, if a female is inside, could contain as many as 300 – 500 bagworm eggs, ready to hatch out on your evergreen next spring. One bag today means hundreds next spring, so pick them off as soon as you find them, and then smash or destroy them. Between now and next spring, inspect all your evergreens for these lone bagworms and pick them off.
"When should I prune my Knockout roses for the winter?" -If you have roses, including the Knockouts, just keep enjoying those flowers until the season ends. In another couple months or so, we’ll tell you how to put the roses away for the winter. But that’s 2 months away! (And you won’t be pruning that Knockout!)
"Could you ask Rita how to use the Stevia both fresh and dried? I’ve tried using it fresh, but it just gives me a "green’ flavor." -Certainly! Here’s Riat’s response: "I would powder the dried leaves in a coffee grinder. That way they are more easily penetrated through the food. It can be added directly to foods, but there is a point where the addition of the powdered leaf will turn some baked items green and a grassy flavor could predominate. To avoid this, don't add more than a tablespoon to baked goods. Some ideas: add to barbecue sauces, salad dressings, soups, stews, baked beans, anything where you'd normally add sugar but doesn't affect the chemistry of food (as in leavened cakes, etc). Use a bit in hot teas - some may settle to the bottom. Good with fruit salads, also and in batters and breads. Make a liquid extract (which dissolves much better in foods and drinks) by soaking 1/4 cup of dried leaves in 2 cups of distilled, hot water for 12 hours. Strain well and keep extract refrigerated. This won't be as sweet as the powdered leaf itself, but works well. It turns a blackish green, which is OK. I like to use this in teas and drinks and tisanes. Hope this helps!"
"My poinsettia has grown exceptionally well this summer outdoors. Now, how do in get it to turn colors for the holidays?" - Here is what you can do:
1.) Find a place in the house where your poinsettia will receive good bright light during the day, and have cooler temperatures - right around 68-70 degrees. Keep it away from hot or cold drafts, water as needed (don’t let them totally dry out), and give them a light feeding on a monthly basis. Our goal, obviously, is to keep it as healthy as we can, growing as a houseplant.
2.) Now comes the big question, "How do I get it to turn the holiday colors"? Well, the secret is this - poinsettias are a light sensitive plant, and as the days get shorter, and nights get longer, their leaves begin to react by turning colors. So, your goal is to give your poinsettia 10 hours of bright light each day, and 14 hours of total darkness each night. That’s total darkness, which means no light whatsoever, including lamps, overhead lights, outdoor night-lights, etc.
3.) You can achieve this by moving the plant each night into a closet, or placing a cardboard box over the plant. For larger poinsettias, extra large black plastic garbage bags work well. Simply cover the plant each night with the black plastic bag. Or your best bet is placing it in a spare bedroom that has a really bright window for sunlight during the day, but doesn’t get used at night. That way the plant stays cooler, has the sun it needs to grow and remain healthy, but yet receives no light for the 14-hour period. (And there are no hassles on your part!)
5.) You’ll need to keep this procedure going for about 8-10 weeks, or until the leaves begin to turn their holiday colors. Once they do, you can the procedure, and move them to where they can be enjoyed for the holiday season.
Now, all through this process, you still need to keep your poinsettia as healthy as possible, so keep up with the usual care. And after the holiday is over, well, you can start the entire process all over again for next year!
[To determine whether a horse races as a 2-3-4 year old, the "official" birthdates of all race horses is January 1st , no matter when they were actually born during that year. All foals born during the year 2005, will be considered one year old on January 1st, 2006. That’s why most foals (destined to race) are scheduled to be born between January 1st and March, June at the very latest. The closer to January 1st they are born, the older they will be when competing in their age bracket. So no matter when the official birthdate is, the following January 1st, all horses born that year are considered "1 year old". And yes, if a foal is born on December 31st, the next day it is considered a "1 year old" in the racing world. What a bummer that would be! Smarty Jones was born on February 28, 2001.]
*FROM THE GARDEN TO THE KITCHEN / HEY RIAT, WHATS COOKIN? –
Ed, my ginger plant is almost ready to harvest – perfect for the recipe I’m sharing with our readers today. When you know you’re going to have one of those non-stop days, Ed, bring out that crockpot. (And as far as the meat for the recipe, ask the butcher to cut it for you to save a step). Toss everything in and hours later you’ll come home to the wonderful aroma of Chinese takeout, only better, because homemade is always better than store bought!
SO GOOD SLOW COOKED CHINESE PEPPER STEAK
1-1/2 to 2 pounds round or sirloin steak, sliced into approx. 1/2" thick strips
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 medium onion (a good 1-1/2 cups)
1 generous teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ginger paste, powdered ginger or minced fresh ginger (use more of the fresh ginger, to taste)
2 bell peppers cut into thin wedges
4 tomatoes cut into wedges
Spray inside of crockpot. Place steak, soy sauce, onion, garlic, salt, pepper and ginger into crockpot. Stir. Cook on low 4-6 hours until meat is tender. Taste and if steak is flavorful enough, mix together 1/4 cup each cold water and cornstarch. If it needs more flavor, add 1/4 cup soy sauce to the water and cornstarch mixture. Stir into pepper steak mixture. Add peppers. Cook on high about 30 minutes or just until peppers are tender but still crisp. Stir in tomatoes. Serve over sesame rice. Serves 6-8.
Rita’s Easy Sesame Rice
1-1/2 cups rice (I like to use brown which is more nutritious than white)
3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 bunch green onions, sliced thinly, root ends included
Pure sesame seed oil
Cook rice according to package directions. Stir in scallions and shake in enough sesame oil to taste.
Tips from Rita’s Kitchen:
-Remember, Ed that nutrition starts in the root of veggies. That’s why I always use the green and white parts, of green onions.
-This is especially good sprinkled with sesame seeds (I grew my own sesame plants this year, Ed – so much fun. All I did was toss some sesame seeds into a small area of my herb garden and voila – Sesame plants with a beautiful pinkish flower and hundreds of seeds.)
-Sesame seeds contain calcium and should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer since they also contain a lot of natural oils, which can become rancid at room temperature. Be adventurous and try the black sesame seeds or natural, tan colored ones.
-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 [firstname.lastname@example.org attn: Rita]
[Smarty Jones lives in the same barn and same stall that the 1977 Triple Crown Winner ‘Seattle Slew’ lived in.]
*YARDBOY’S PLANTS TO PONDER – If you’d like to light up your yard next spring, fall is the time to do it! Now’s the time to be planting spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, crocus, hyacinths, minor bulbs, alliums, grape hyacinths, naked ladies (lychoris), snowdrops, spring iris and lot’s more. The many different colors and flowering times in today’s spring bulb world are outstanding; so do anticipate doing a little homework, to plan your assortment of spring colors as well as flowering times to extend the spring bulb season. Here are a few tips when planting spring bulbs:
-Check your bulbs for firmness to make sure they’re alive and well.
-Pick the larger bulbs, as they’ll typically flower better the first season.
-Most bulbs will require at least ½ day of sun, and generally prefer a well-drained soil.
Use Pine Soil Conditioner, if needed, to help amend the soil in the planting area.
-Plant the larger bulbs (tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, etc.) about 6-8 inches deep, pointed side up. Minor bulbs should be planted about 3-4 inches deep. And, unless your soil is lose and loamy, forget these hand bulb planters, Use a long handled bulb planter, solid trowel, bulb drill, or spade for planting those bulbs.
-Be sure to feed your bulbs now with a good grade bulb food, like Espoma’s Bulb Food. Feed now, and feed again next spring.
-And when you’re finished planting, water your bulbs well, and water every 7-10 days if we have a dry fall.
-One last tip about planting bulbs. Plant them in clusters or mass plantings. It will give your garden a much nicer, fuller show in the spring. Never, no never, plant your spring bulbs in a row like little toy soldiers!
-If rodents are a problem, try using rodent repellents, or try placing chicken wire over the planting areas to help prevent digging.
[Smarty Jones stud fee right now is about $100,000. That will go up if his offspring are winning horses! Right now, ‘Storm Cat’ is charging about $500,000 for his stud fee, due to the winners he has been producing.]
That’s it for this week. Don’t forget, no newsletter next week, but we’ll be back on October 20th.