Week 29 (10/20/05)
[If love is blind, how can we believe in love at first sight?]
*WHETHER ITíS THE WEATHER Ė As I finish writing this newsletter, the temperatures have dropped drastically, and a few rain showers have moved through the area. The plants are so dry right now, I swear you can hear them sucking up the small amounts of rain as it hits the ground. For the past 2 afternoons, I have had the sprinklers running in my yard to prepare for any rainfall we may get over the next few days, as well as generally watering some very dry plants. Itís been a hot and dry summer, and a hot and warm fall. I just hope youíve been watering, and will continue to water as needed through the rest of the fall.
[Why do they call it "getting the dog fixed", when afterwards, it doesnít work anymore?]
*WHATíS BUGGINí YOU? Ė Not much, although this cooler weather should really trigger the home invaders (clover mites, boxelder bugs, attic flies, face flies, elm leaf beetles, etc.) to begin to make their moves indoors. Make sure those cracks and crevices are sealed, door jams are tight, screens are repaired, etc.
[Wherever you go, thatís where you are.]
*QUESTIONMARK & THE MYSTERIANS Ė Here are a few gardening questions from this weeks emailed news bag:
"Iíve always had problems bringing ants into my house when I bring in my tropical plants for the winter. Got any suggestions?" -Definitely! Slide the plant out of the pot and look for ant nests / eggs and physically remove them. Also, a great way to get rid of most of those hitch-hiking pests is to fill a tub with water and submerge the plant, pot and all in the water for an hour or so. Everything either drowns or floats to the top of the water. Itís also a great way to soak the soil; just make sure you give it plenty of time to drain out before bringing them inside.
"Does deadheading my mums, Montauk daisies and asters now, help to promote new growth and more flowers, or am I wasting my time?" -Unfortunately, deadheading, or removing those spent flowers on those plants now does not promote new growth or new flower buds, but it does help them to look better as they give their fall show of colors. So itís not a waste of time
"I didnít get a chance to feed my lawn in September. Is it too late now?" -Absolutely not! Go ahead and feed it with a slow release high Nitrogen fertilizer now, and weíll do it again in about 6 weeks. Remember, these are the 2 most important feedings you can give your lawn.
" Iíve noticed that my white pines are starting to turn yellow. Iím afraid theyíre dieing. What can I do?" -This yellowing of needles on the inside of the plant is a natural process that happens at this time every fall. White pine looks the worst, as they can shed all the needles except the ones that grew this year. So itís very noticeable, and scary to the new homeowner. Many evergreens go through this fall process, but like the spruce with smaller needles and the fact that they shed needles from growth that happened 3-4 years ago, itís not as noticeable. Yellowing needles on the inside of the evergreen is normal. If it goes to the end of the branches, then youíve got problems!
"Have you heard of digging up your geraniums, shaking off the dirt, put them upside down in a brown paper bag, and storing them in the basement over the winter, then planting the dead looking sticks next spring?" -Sure! Thatís what Granny used to do to over winter her geraniums. And her cool damp cellar was the perfect place. Try to find a cooler place to do this if you try it, and check the geraniums to see if theyíre drying out. If so, mist lightly. Yes, theyíll look really bad next spring (some may die), so cut them back, replant, and see what happens. This isnít done much anymore, as youíll probably lose a few or many, and if they had any leaf diseases, you carry that over for the next season. Not a good thing! But, it can be fun giving it a try. Hey, it worked for Granny!
"My ornamental sweet potato vines have produced potatoes in the ground! Are they edible?" -Yep, as long as they havenít been exposed to non edible chemicals. A bland flavor and they look funny, but are very much edible.
"Iíve noticed a cone shaped area in the ground and swear Iíve seen a bug spinning around in it. Do you know what that is?" -Itís an ant lion. They create those cone shaped depressions, the ants fall in, and the ant lion is waiting at the bottom, buried in the loose soil, to eat the ant. Pretty cool thing!
"My hackberry leaves have warts all over them. What is that from?" -Hackberry psyllids; theyíre actually a bug inside that, which will hatch out very shortly as the leaves fall to the ground. These little nuisances then try to find cracks and crevices to over winter in. Unfortunately, many find your screened windows and the perfect place to hang out, and with their size, come right on into the house! A real pain in the you know what!
"Can you tell me how to force bulbs in containers?" -Sure. Here you go:
Spring Bulbs in Containers
You can light- up you yard next spring by planting spring bulbs now. But guess what? You can do the same thing, to light up your outdoor containers or to bring spring bulb colors inside your home. Instead of planting bulbs in the ground, simply plant them in a pot! Now hereís what youíll need for your potted spring bulbs project:
-8 inch or larger pots, with good drainage holes in the bottom
-Soil-less potting mix for our potting medium
-A little of Espomaís Bulb Food
-And the bulbs of your choice. Any of the spring flowering bulbs will work, so letís do some pots of tulips, daffodils, hyacinths for great fragrances, and a few minor bulbs, like these crocus, for early colors.
1.) Take your pots and place about an inch or so of soil-less potting mix in the bottom.
2.) Then, evenly distribute your bulbs in the mix, point up, and feel free to plant them a little closer than you would normally in the ground. For the tulips, place the flat side of the bulb to the outside of the pot.
3.) Cover your bulbs with more of your soil-less mix, sprinkle on a little bulb food, and then continue to fill the pot to the top, lightly compressing the soil as you fill.
4.) Water your potted bulbs thoroughly, and as needed through the fall.
5.) Now, hereís the secret. You must over winter your potted bulbs in a cold area, but protected from the extreme cold temps. So, once the temperatures outside have become very cold, consistently, move the planted bulb pots inside an unheated garage or shed, put them down in a window well, or actually heel them in the ground for the winter. Check to make sure they even moisture over the winter, and otherwise, just let them sit.
6.) Early next spring, when the bulbs start to grow, bring them in to the house, or place your potted bulbs in an outdoor planter, give them a light feeding, and let them do their Ďspring thingí. When theyíre totally finished, you can take them out of the pot, plant them in the garden and enjoy them for years to come!
[If Wiley Coyote had money to buy that Acme stuff, why didnít he just buy dinner?]
*FROM THE GARDEN TO THE KITCHEN / HEY RIAT WHATíS COOKINí? Ė
Ed, todayís a soup and biscuit kind of day Ė beautiful and sunny but a bit chilly. Iím making Speedy Vegetable Soup which I shared in a recent newsletter, and to accompany the soup, I canít decide whether to make my biscuits or your cornbread, so Iím sharing both recipes for our readers. Also, those green tomatoes from the garden will ripen nicely in the house if you leave them attached to some of the vine. Just think, youíll have vine ripened tomatoes well into November, just like the expensive ones at the store!
HIGH & LIGHT BUTTERMILK BISCUITS
A sticky dough creates more steam in the oven for very tender biscuits. Donít twist the cookie cutter when cutting out biscuits Ė youíll have uneven sides. And if you have some herbs left from the garden, chop them up fine and sprinkle on top right before baking.
4 cups self-rising flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2/3 cup butter cut into chunks
2 cups buttermilk or bit more if needed
Melted butter for brushing
Blend dry ingredients. Cut in butter. Pour in buttermilk and mix lightly. Mixture should be slightly sticky. On lightly floured surface, roll or pat into Ĺ "or so thickness. Cut with desired cutter. Brush with melted butter. Bake on sprayed cookie sheet 1" apart in pre-heated 400 degree oven for 15 minutes. Makes 12-18.
RONíS REAL HOMEMADE CORNY BREAD
Iím assuming, ED that the "greased square pan" listed below is an 8x8 or 9x9. If it is a 9x9 that the bread is baked in, it will take less time to bake. And I will caution to check after 40 minutes, since some ovens bake "hotter" than others and over baking will cause your corny bread to be dry instead of moist. Iím thinking that tossing a diced jalapeno or two from the garden would be a great substitute for the cayenne pepper. Blend everything together:
1-1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup milk
Ĺ cup creamed corn or corn with peppers
ľ cup Canola oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
Ĺ to 2/3 cup minced onion
Ĺ to ĺ teaspoon Cayenne pepper (opt but good)
Ĺ to 2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
Bake at 350 in sprayed or greased square pan for 45-60 minutes until golden brown or until toothpick inserted in center comes out relatively clean.
(Note from Ron: You can use the Jiffy Cornbread Mix as well, and add onion, corn and peppers, and cheese. Bake as directed on the package, but time will be a bit longer than suggested.)
TIPS FROM RITAíS KITCHEN:
-To test baking powder for leavening power: Put a pinch in some warm water. It should fizz right away; if not, pitch it out as it has lost the power to leaven.
-Buttermilk can be frozen! I donít use it for drinking, but frozen, thawed buttermilk is great for baking. Bring to room temperature and stir well before using.
-Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP / Macyís 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]
*YARDBOYíS PLANTS TO PONDER Ė This weekís plant to ponder is one of my absolute favorite plants. And in most cases, you either love it or you hate it. The reason I mention it this time of the year, is that I become very anxious as the leaves of this plant begin to fall. During the summer, itís just your typical large leafed large shrub (or in my case, mineís a single stemmed small tree, about 10 feet tall), whose leaves sometimes look like there stressed and need a drink. But once the leaves begin to fall, itís whatís on the inside that counts. The plant is comprised of corkscrew branches, and combined with itís interesting bark colors, is one of the most unique plants for late fall and winter characteristics. This weeks plant to ponder is Corylus contorta, or commonly known as ĎHarry Lauderís Walking Stickí. Truly one of my favorite woody plants!
[Why is it when a person tells you thereís a million stars in the universe you believe them, yet when someone tells you thereís wet paint somewhere, you have to touch it to make sure?]