Keep working with plants in the winter

Keep working with plants in the winter

Autumn has come

The pumpkin season is here

Orange pumpkins now adorn roadside markets, fruit stalls and collections on church lawns throughout Surry County. One of the positive attractions of the pumpkin is that they have a long shelf life and can be enjoyed over the long season from now until after Christmas. Their bright orange will decorate from now until Halloween and Thanksgiving and fill tables with puddings, pies and cakes for many weeks to come, as well as decorations, jack ‘o lanterns and fall and Halloween exhibits.

The best pie pumpkins

The round orange pumpkins with stalks on top are the best for cutting a jack o ‘lantern, but for pies and desserts the best pumpkins are the oblong varieties. These are not always orange on the outside, but tan or beige or bronze in color, and they are tender inside. With their elongated shape, they are easier to cut up, remove seeds and cut into pieces for cooking to a tender mixture and texture and then drain and run through the blender in grate mode or mash with a mashed potato. To cann the pumpkin, pour the mashed, drained pumpkin into sterilized pint jars (a pint will usually make two pies), wipe the edges of the jars with a paper towel, close the jars and tighten the lids. Leave half an inch on top of jars. Process in a pressure cooker at ten pressures for 50 minutes. Pumpkins are low in acid, so they require this long processing time.

Enjoying pumpkin bread

The crisp clear nights of October speak volumes to us about pumpkin bread in all its spicy goodness. Not too sweet, not too spicy, but just the right recipe for a sipped October night. Real pumpkin bread is moist in consistency and easy to prepare. For this recipe, use three and a half cups of plain flour, two teaspoons of baking powder, half a teaspoon of salt, a tablespoon of pumpkin spices, four large eggs, milk, a 15 ounce can of Libby’s canned pumpkin or a pint of canned pumpkin, half a cup of dark brown brown sugar, two cups of granulated sugar, half a cup of chopped golden raisins, half a cup of chopped pecans, a tablespoon of vanilla flavor, a tablespoon of orange flavor. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and pumpkin spices and set aside. Whisk the four eggs well in another large bowl, add the Crisco oil, milk and pumpkin. Mix these ingredients together, add the lemon and vanilla flavors, raisins and chopped pecans. Pour the mixture into two loaf tins, well greased with Crisco fat and flour. Put a piece of foil in the bottom of the bread molds and butter and flour also the fold. Bake for an hour, if not done, bake for a few more minutes. When the cake bounces back by touch, it is finished, or when a toothpick comes out clean. Cool bread in the pans for fifteen or twenty minutes. Run the knife around the edges of aluminum foil pans and sheets after wrapping. Place in Saran clear plastic wrap. This will keep the breads fresh and moist.

The mighty oaks produce two harvestss

Other trees have delighted us with a harvest, of colors in leaves of gold, yellow, bronze, red, tan, crimson and beige. We have used the vacuum cleaner, rake and blower to transfer them to the garden plot and the compost pile and bucket. The oaks now produce a double harvest of not only leaves but also a lot of noise from acorns bouncing off metal roofs on barn buildings and sheds. My grandmother in Northampton County lived in a house with a tin roof. At this time of year, we listened to acorns hitting the roof all night long. She kept a close eye on acorns falling from the trees, and she said, “If you go on acorns in October, you can expect to go on snow all winter.” As October progresses, we may have a hint as to which old man winter has up his sleeve for us.

Improving next year’s soil

Vines, stems, leaves, grass clippings and trimmings and garden remnants from the season behind us can be the reason for improved soil for next year’s garden. Lawn mowing helps warm up the compost, and you can also use Plant-Tone organic vegetable feed and Black Kow composted cow to heat and break down the ingredients in the compost bin or pile. When you build a compost heap or bucket, you create an ecosystem that feeds the bacteria that thrive on organic materials. Most households that have gardens generate more than 1,000 pounds of home lawn and garden waste per year, which could be converted into compost using very little space and effort. You can start a compost pile with only a pitchfork to stir in the pile once a week, or you can use several treated fence posts to form a trash can and both cheap and practical and useful.

Halloween sweets and treats

Halloween has arrived at supermarkets and large checkout stores with colorful orange, yellow and brown exhibits of all kinds of traditional candy for Halloween. Everything for the trick or the therapists. The season offers several varieties of candy corn, including the old-fashioned orange, white and yellow combo as well as Indian corn in the colors orange, brown and white combo and the fairly recent brown sugar combo of tan, white and yellow. Peanut crisp in boxes is starting to show up even before Halloween. Other Halloween favorites are the fall mix of Hershey’s Kisses, Hershey’s miniatures, marshmallow pumpkins and ghosts, Halloween packages with M & M’s, Three Musketeers and various candy bars. We always enjoy the exhibit that Food Lion presents in front of their supermarkets that attracts our attention throughout October.

The silence of an October evening. The crisp autumn air in the twilight irritates the nostrils and the lower humidity makes the coming night air easy to breathe. The scent of the new fallen leaves also adds to the evening air. The graceful, soft sound of leaves still falling completes the majestic experience of the autumn twilight.

To make a butterscotch pumpkin pudding

This pudding does not have a crust, but you can use vanilla waffles for a crust if you wish, or also use graham biscuits. In a mixing bowl, combine a can (15 0z) of Libby’s pumpkin or a pint of canned pumpkin, three large eggs, a three ounce box of instant butterscotch pudding mix, a cup of light brown sugar, a stick of light margarine, half a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spices a can of evaporated milk a teaspoon of vanilla flavor, a pinch of salt, a teaspoon of maple flavor (optional), half a teaspoon of cinnamon. Spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch frying pan or dish and layer with vanilla waffles or graham biscuits if desired, or make the pudding without crust. Mix all ingredients together and pour into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve with Cool Whip or Dream Whip.

Autumn festivals, Halloween parties and chicken stews

October is the festive month for hayrides, haunted houses, chicken stews, harvest parties, Halloween parties, trick or treating and Halloween carnivals and costume contests as well as cake walks. Combine all these events with a sausage roast and roasted marshmallows, s’mores and a bonfire and you have the opportunity for an evening of fun for all ages.

Keeps a close eye on late tomatoes

As we move closer to mid-October, there is a lot of talk about the first frost of the season. It will have no effect on cool weather vegetables. We know the calendar date for the first frost date is October 15, but we usually only get a fatal frost later in the month. Even as’ October progresses, it’s wise to keep an eye out for frost warnings. The late, late tomatoes that are sown specifically for a frostbite harvest should be harvested before frost, wrapped in sheets of newspapers, stored in box covers and covered with sections of newspapers and stored in a warm room or basement. They should be checked for maturity once or twice a week. Put an apple or two in the boxes to promote ripening.

Last option to put bulbs out

With the first frost date in just a few weeks, the spring flowering of the onion planting season is soon drawing to a close. You still have two weeks or more to put out the bulbs or spring flowers. Bulbs can be purchased at Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvement, Walmart, Ace Hardware, most nurseries and hardware. Buy a bag of pear booster or bone meal to get the bulbs off to a good start.

how hoe down

“Class Leader.” Teacher: “Johnny, could you please be a little more attentive?” Johnny: “I already pay as little as I can!”

“Hov buffalo.” Traveler: “I would like a ticket to New York State, please.” Ticket Assistant: “Do you want to go with Buffalo?” Traveler: “No thanks, I’d rather take the bus.”

“Pie in heaven.” Diner: “Is it peach or apple pie?” Waitress: “Can’t you feel the taste?” Diner: “No, I can not.” Waitress: “Well, what difference does it make one way or the other?”

“Apostasy.” Bill: “Which school do you have to drop out of to graduate?” Jill: “Parachute Soldier School.”

2021 was a fantastic firefly year

The landscape was glowing with fireflies in the summer of 2021. From mid-May to early July, there were large numbers as we moved into the month of June. Their most glorious show was on the evening of Monday, June 21st. We counted 169 fireflies that glowed over a period of five minutes. We saw the first fireflies on the evening of Sunday, May 16th. That night we talked 49 in five minutes. We saw a screen almost every night. They seemed to appear in the twilight and reach their peak around nine o’clock at night. With the number of fireflies over the summer, next year should yield even more fireflies.

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