The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Searching for Natures Decorations – As November comes to an end, our thoughts turn to decorating for Christmas. A lot of decorations are as close as the front and backyard. The leaves are off of most trees and it will be easy to find a bird’s nest to adorn the Christmas tree. All you will need to do is spray a coat of clear varnish on it to keep it together. The dogwood trees have plenty of red berries and can be used in Christmas centerpieces. The Evergreen of Carolina jasmine can be used for the greenery on Christmas decorations as well as Cedar and Pine boughs. Acorns and pinecones also make for Christmas decorations.

Christmas Trees are Popping up on Nearby Lots – Since Thanksgiving, Christmas tree lots have quickly appeared in many locations. Take the kids and grandkids out this weekend to select the perfect tree for your home. Check these hints fir picking out a healthy tree. Make sure the tree has a beautiful green color. Make sure the tree is full and has no bare spots. Bounce the tree to see that no needles fall from it. Check the end cut on the trunk and see that it is not gray or black which means it has been cut for a while. A fresh tree will have a fresh-cut aroma. Ask the people at the lot to cut a couple of inches off the bottom of the tree. When you get the tree home, soak the bottom in the tub or large bucket of water for a day or two. After placing in the tree in a stand, fill the stand with water after you move it into place. Water the tree each day. A well taken care of tree should last more than a month and smell fresh.

Special Christmas Flavors of Ice Cream – Each Christmas, Turkey Hill offers several Christmas traditional flavors such as eggnog, pumpkin pie, red velvet and peppermint. Mayfield offers a special flavor called snow cream. These Christmas flavors also make great milkshakes.

North Hampton County Baked Sweet Potatoes – My grandma always had a large potato patch in her garden. In early November she dug the sweet potatoes and store them in a potato hill. She would gather pile of pine straw from the Longleaf Pines near her home and pack the potatoes on the straw and then apply another layer of straw and then stick a long section of stovepipe slanted to the side before covering the whole pile of potatoes in straw with layers of soil. All winter long, whenever she needed sweet potatoes she would reach through the stove pipe in harvest potatoes. She baked them in her wood stove oven and brown sap oozed from them. We would peel them except for the bottom peeling and eat them like an ice cream cone. This would be our afternoon snack. The woodstove was always warm. Northampton sweet potatoes are hard to top and only Tabor City potatoes come close.

An Aroma of Douglas Fir at Christmas – Even if you have an artificial tree this Christmas, you can enjoy the aroma of Douglas fir by using cut branches on mantle’s or coffee tables. Most Christmas tree lots have plenty of trimmings and will gladly give you some. Pay these hard-working people who work long hours in frosty temperatures day and night.

Christmas Cactus Make Great Gifts – Christmas cactus are now in full bloom and now is the best time to purchase one because you can choose the color you desire. The cactus come in small and medium containers and both have one thing in common – they will need to be transplanted to a larger container. A bag of cactus growing medium will help after you transplant it when you come home. This will assure long life for the cactus.

The Beautiful Northern Cross Constellation in Western Horizon After Sunset – In late November and through all of December, cold temperatures make stargazing a lot of fun. You can now observe the Northern Cross after sunset each evening as it moves farther west on the horizon each night. On Christmas Eve at 6 PM it will stand upright in the western horizon forming a cross. In order to get a perfect view, find an area outside and look toward the western horizon.

Eggnog Bread Pudding for a Christmas Taste – This desert resembles English piggy pudding and is easy to make. Just ground four hot dog rolls in the blender, add two eggs, 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of eggnog, 1 tablespoon vanilla, 1/2 cup raisins. Mix all together and pour into a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.

Ray Baird