The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

As we move into the month of September, the county fairs begin moving across the fairgrounds in most North Carolina counties and will climax with the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh in late October. Some great fairs in our area are the Stokes County Fair in King, the Surry County Fair in Mount Airy, Iredell County Fair in Statesville, Davidson County Fair in Lexington, Rowan County Fair in Salisbury, Alamance County Fair in Burlington, Central Carolina Fair in Greensboro, the Cabarrus County Fair in Concord, Caldwell County Fair in Hickory, and the Dixie Classic Fair in Winston-Salem. These fairs offer much more than rides and include weird and unusual foods, exhibits, agricultural products and animals, free entertainment, pig racing, food demonstrations and much of it is free. Take the kids and grandkids to a couple fairs in the area. Each fair has its own personality and traditions.

Tomatoes are slowing down but still in production – September has arrived in the garden plot and the tomato harvest has slowed down, but still producing quite a few tomatoes to eat and share. They still have a lot of season to produce. Tomatoes that are in bloom now have over 45 days before frost arrives. We have plenty of the Rutgers variety now blooming and they will produce light green tomatoes to harvest before the first killing frost arrives. We do believe Rutgers has proven to be one of the toughest and longest producing tomato variety in this area of the state. Homestead is another heirloom tomato that is a great producer. Big boys are good for the short season, but Rutgers in Homestead are hard to beat for the long term production.

Shorter days and longer nights arrive – September is now one week old in the season of autumn is only two weeks away. Days are getting shorter by one minute each evening and there is a bit of a nap in the evenings after sunset. Leaves of maples and dogwoods have a tint of color in them and still plenty of dews on the lawn every morning. Summer annual flowers are slowing down. The crickets are chirping an autumn warning and sunsets are more colorful as they harold autumns soon arrival.

Enjoying a full corn moon tonight – Actually the full moon of September was last evening, but you can enjoy it rising a little after sunset tonight. Corn is not such a major crop in Carolina as it is in the Midwest states of Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, in Nebraska. In these states corn grows by the miles and harvest is a big-time event. Most corn grown in the Midwest is used to feed livestock animals and most of the harvest is done with motorized harvesters and the crops are contracted out by farmers. The harvesters go from field to field mechanically harvesting thousands of acres of corn. Corn is a totally ecological crop in many areas of the Midwest, even corn cobs are recycled and used to produce many products. Surely the full corn moon will assist them just a tiny bit to complete the harvest!

Grandparent’s Day will be this Sunday – Sunday, September 10, 2017 will be celebrated as Grandparent’s Day. Always realize that grandparents can have a huge influence in the development in future well-being of grandchildren. You can even help them become gardeners by showing them around the garden and how to prepare soil and plant flowers and vegetables. You can educate them that a garden can be a pleasure, and not a task, and teach them the rewards of a garden plot. They will remember what you take the time, love and effort to show them.

Last opportunity to plant the turnip row – Turnips are root crops and require longer to develop a harvest then regular greens. They need to be planted this week to allow that time it takes to produce large turnips. An ounce of turnips cost around two dollars. Sew them sparingly so they will have plenty of space to produce a large turnip. As the season progresses, you can add a layer of crushed leaves for a blanket of warmth.

A lineup of autumn garden treats – Gardening in autumn is fun because of cool days, low humidity, not many insect pests. Many cool weather vegetables can be sewn and planted that will produce well into winter. You can plant broccoli and cabbage and collard plants, onion sets, mustard and mixed greens spinach kale and lettuce. As the crops progress you can prolong harvest by applying crushed leaves.

The almanac for month of September – Labor Day was celebrated Monday, Sept. 4. There will be a full moon on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017 and its name is Full Corn Moon. Grandparent’s Day is Sunday, Sept. 10. Patriot Day will be Monday, Sept. 11. The moon reaches its last quarter on Wednesday, Sept. 13. The new moon will be Wednesday, Sept. 20. Autumn’s first day will be Friday, Sept. 22. The moon reaches its first quarter on Wednesday, Sept. 27.

All-time county fair rides – “The Whip” – this was one of the first thrill rides that would jerk and twist riders and actually make some rather sick. The ride was on a track that was up, down, and all-around, spinning faster and faster as the ride gained momentum. It was a souped-up version of the tilt. The A-Whirl was a staple of the county fairs of the 1950s. Wonder how the fairs safety inspectors of today would ride this ride? We can say for sure that it had to be sturdy and durable to stay together and provide so many thrills and screams from riders.

Making a batch of piccalilli relish – Now that the tomatoes have slowed down, and plenty of green tomatoes are still on the vines as well as Kayanne in red and green bell peppers, it is a great opportunity to make a batch of piccalilli relish to use on mustard greens, kale, turnip greens and hotdogs and burgers. It’s also a good way to make use of the green tomato and peppers during Sept. Here is what you will need for a seven or eight point yield of piccalilli: three sweet green bell peppers, three sweet red bell peppers, 1 cup red and green Cayanne peppers, for medium onions, one medium cabbage, 16 to 20 green tomatoes, half a cup table salt, 3 cups apple cider vinegar, 1 pound box dark brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of chili powder, half cup of Heinz Carolina barbecue sauce. Finally chop all the vegetables in mixed with the salt. Let it sit overnight covered. Next morning, drain salt water by placing vegetables in a colander until water drains. In a pot, mix the vinegar, brown sugar, chili powder and 2 ounce bottle of McCormick pickling spice and the barbecue sauce. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring again and pour over the vegetable mixture. Let mixture simmer for 30 minutes. Pour into sterilized pint jars, seal lids and rings and process in hot water canner for five minutes or in a pressure canner. Bring pressure up to 10 pounds and turn off the burner. You can process tomatoes the same easy way! This recipe produces seven or 8 pints. If you don’t like it hot, substitute more sweet peppers instead of cayenne’s. If you like more red color for relish, add extra catch up or tomato juice.

Ray Baird

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