The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

The night of the full Harvest Moon – Tonight is the night of the bright full Harvest Moon, an unusual event because this year it occurs in the month of October. It usually comes in September. This is the brightest moon of the year and should be even brighter tonight because the temperature should be cooler. It is named Harvest Moon because years ago, farmers used the light of this moon to harvest crops. Birds also migrate south during the Harvest Moon. We wonder if the hummingbirds navigate by the light of that silvery Harvest Moon.

The season of the pumpkin is here – Orange is everywhere in supermarkets, farmers markets and roadside fruit stands in the form of pumpkins in all sizes and shapes. Pumpkins have a long shelf life and will thrive on the front porch even until Thanksgiving. As the weekend approaches, take the kids and grandkids to a roadside market or produce stand, and better yet to a pick-your-own pumpkin farm. Some farms in our area will have hayrides to the pumpkin patch and allow kids to choose their own pumpkin. Finish the day by making their own pumpkin. Stop by McDonalds or Dario for a meal and an ice cream.

Investing in a durable pumpkin carving kit – Making a jack-o-lantern should be a family tradition and carving out a jack-o-lantern starts with a good, long lasting pumpkin carving kit. A good kit contains a knife with several varieties of blades, scrapers, scoops and tools. Invest in one that will last for many years and remember: you get what you pay for. You can buy one at Walmart with all the attachments for around ten to twelve dollars. They can be used in summer to decorate watermelon baskets and cantaloupe buckets or scoop out tomatoes.

Celebrating pumpkins during October – During the month we will be celebrating the pumpkin with a different and unusual pumpkin recipe each week in the Garden Plot. This week’s feature is pumpkin cobbler. The ingredients are: one and half cups of light margarine, one cup of self-rising flour, one cup granulated sugar, one cup of milk, one teaspoon of vanilla extract, two beaten eggs, fives ounces of evaporated milk, 30 ounces can of pumpkin pie filling, vanilla ice cream, Dream Whip or Cool Whip for topping if desired.

Step One: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut margarine into pieces in a 9×11 glass baking dish. Place dish in the preheated oven to melt the margarine. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, milk and vanilla. Remove the melted margarine from the oven and pour over the flour mixture into the glass dish. Do not stir. Set the mixture aside. Step Two: Break eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk them, add the evaporated milk and pumpkin pie mix. Stir to mix well and slowly, pour or spoon the pumpkin filling on top of the flour mixture in the glass dish. Do not stir (the batter will rise to cover the pumpkin mixture as it bakes). Step three: Bake until the crust is dark golden brown on the top (about 50 minutes to one hour). Let the cobbler rest for 20 minutes or up to an hour before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream or Cool Whip. Serves 8 to 10.

Checking out this year’s Acorn Harvest – The mighty oaks will soon be shedding their timely harvest. Some of them are already bouncing off neighborhood garages, sheds and carports. We can get a future glimpse of winter by seeing the number of acorns on the ground and the business of squirrels harvesting them. A huge crop of falling acorns heralds a harsh winter.

The evergreens during the month of October – October is the month to trim and shape evergreens and also the very best time of the year to plant evergreens. They will not be dried out by the sun and will have a winter of cold, moist precipitation to boost them to a great start. With the soon approaching Christmas decoration season, trimming and shaping evergreens will serve a dual purpose.

Christmas cactus almost ready to move inside for winter in two more weeks – The cactus will be moved into the sunny living room so it can bloom in late November. If you would like to purchase a Christmas cactus, they are now arriving at garden shops at Walmart. Lowes Food stores will soon have them in their floral department. Buy a bag of cactus potting medium and a larger container and repot it as soon as you bring the cactus home.

The almanac for the month of October – The full moon for the month of October occurs tonight and is named Full Harvest Moon. Columbus Day will be observed on Monday, Oct. 9, 2017. The moon reaches its last quarter on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. The new moon will occur on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. The moon reaches its first quarter on Friday Oct. 27, 2017. Halloween will be Tuesday, Oct. 31.

Visiting Halloween candy aisles – Plenty of trick or treats sweets will fill the shelves at many stores and supermarkets. The Food Lion on Main Street in downtown King, has a colorful display at the front of the store. Many of the favorites of Halloween are still a popular bunch of items today and they include candy corn, cream pumpkins, Hershey’s autumn kisses and Halloween M&M’s.

Harvesting acorns and picking cotton – We referred to the acorn crop for 2017 earlier in the column and it brought back a couple of childhood treasures from the box of memories. Some years mighty oaks produce more acorns than other years. When I was 12-years-old a hog farmer lived a mile or so from us and acorns were a special treat he fed his hogs. He paid a dollar for a five gallon bucket for harvest acorns. We would soon learn it was a well-earned dollar because there are a lot of acorns in a bucket. But then again, you do not know how very patient a 12-year-old boy can be when it comes to earning a buck.

Ray Baird