The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

Today is the day of infamy (Pearl Harbor) – Seventy-six years ago today, the empire of Japan carried out a surprise attack on the Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor. It was on a Sunday morning at around 8 a.m. The event triggered the United States into a state of war with Japan and was the beginning of World War II. Let us never forget that day the brave men and women, who lost their lives that day that was a day.

Displaying a simple Moravian star – With the season of advent now upon us, keep the Moravian stars glowing all night on the front porch. The star should shine every night of advent until the day of epiphany which will be January 6, 2018. You can purchase Moravian stars at the Moravian Book Store, Salem Gifts on Hanes Mall Boulevard and at Gullians Bookstores.

Barrels of old-fashioned Christmas candy at the country stores – The Christmas past is as close as the nearest country store or produce market or even at many farmers markets. At this time of year many are adorned with barrels and shelves of old-fashioned Christmas candies, fruit cakes, jams, jellies, pickled eggs, preserves, country ham and special treats found only at Christmastime. We are fortunate to have many country variety stores in our area and Main Street in Mount Airy has a street lined with such stores. Further down US 52 over the Virginia line is Virginia-Carolina produce with barrels of Christmas candy featuring all childhood treats from Christmas past. Further down US 52 are other old-fashioned produce markets packed with country ham, raisin clusters, nuts, fruits, baked goods. Other all-time favorites featured in these stores are ribbon hard candies, spice and gum drops, orange slices, circus candy peanuts, coconut ribbon bars, coconut bon bons, coconut macaroons, tootsie rolls and pops, strawberry kisses. Ronnie’s Country Store on Cherry Street in Winston-Salem is a longtime Christmas tradition dating back to the old W.G. White store and famous country hams. They have Christmas candies from yesteryear and they also feature fatback meat, fruits and vegetables. All these country stores sell fruits by the box or bag as well as all vegetables in season. Many of these will make specially ordered fruit baskets for you. All these stores offer one thing that is free and that is the “smells” atmosphere and feel of being in an extra special place for an old-fashioned Christmas. Take a trip back in time on a visit to enjoy the sights, sounds, looks and delights of a country store.

The tastes of Christmas, peanut brittle – Peanut brittle has the taste of an old-time Christmas. Years ago, country stores would sell it in brown paper bags and the candy was all stuck together in a lump. Welcome to the 21st-century where most brittle is sold in 1 pound boxes broken into small bite-size pieces, not sticky and melt in your mouth good! The very best peanut brittle made is made and packaged and eastern Virginia, which is the peanut capital of America. There is a huge buying station near Suffolk, Virginia and there’s a plant in Norfolk, Virginia that make some of the country’s best peanut brittle. It is thin and crisp and the parched flavor of the peanuts blends well with the caramel. It is sold at Ingles, Food Lion, and Dollar Tree. Be careful! It is addictive!

The 2018 seed catalogs now arriving – Even before the first day of winter arrives, the 2018 seed catalogs are arriving in the mailbox. They usually come before Christmas shopping season begins and there is a good reason for their arrival because the seed companies figure many customers will purchase seed and other products to give as Christmas presents. You may want to stack up these catalogs and browse through them after the Christmas season is over. They will provide something interesting to do when the New Year comes in.

Plenty of greenery in the December garden plot – The Carolina Jasmine is still evergreen with the look of Christmas especially when dusted with a layer of frost. There’s plenty of green in the beds of collards, broccoli, turnips, onion sets, mustard and kale. Honeysuckles crawl on the border of the garden and the lawn has a few wild onions to finish off the December greenery.

Decorating outside plants for Christmas – Pansy containers as well as ornamental kale and cabbage and perennials such as dianthus, forget me knots, coral bells, can be decorated with artificial silk poinsettias in colors of red, white and pink. They will add festive color to the porch or deck. Make sure the silk flowers have long stems so they can reach the bottom of the containers.

The almanac for December 2017 – The full moon of December occurred on Monday, December 3, 2017 and was named Full Cold Moon. The waning Full Cold Moon can be seen rising later each night this week. Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is today, Thursday, December 7, 2017. The moon will reach its last quarter on Sunday, December 10. Chanukah begins on Tuesday, December 12. Wrights Brothers Day is Sunday, December 17. The new moon of December occurs Monday, December 18. Winter begins on Thursday, December 21. Christmas Eve on Sunday, December 24 and Christmas Day is Monday, December 25. New Year’s Eve is Sunday, December 31.

Decorating with Christmas greenery – Nothing compares with the aroma of the Fraser fir, spruce and Douglas fir in the living room and family room. You can obtain limbs at most Christmas tree lots to use for decorating mantles and windows. Pay these Christmas tree lot workers well for their branches. They work long, hard cold hours.

Ray Baird