The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

The slick, shiny, beauty of the begonias – The thick shiny leaves of begonias with their tiny red, pink, and white flowers are very unusual and are an everlasting symbol of an old-fashioned summer. They will bloom all the way until frost and if you have the room for them, they can winter over in the house in a sunny location.

Harvesting first corn of the season – The very first corn of the season is now beginning to come in. Many gardeners do not raise corn because they don’t have enough room and also it requires a 90 day maturity date, but that should not hinder you from enjoying plenty of fresh corn to freeze and enjoy for a long period. You can buy corn for a very reasonable price at many farms in our area. Two of the most well-known locations to purchase corn for freezing or enjoying are the Matthews Farm on old Highway 421 (Yadkinville Highway) near the Yadkin River bridge. Another location is Smith Farm on US Highway 601 between Boonville and Yadkinville. They sell corn such as golden queen and silver queen by the burlap sack freshly picked each day and they sell tomatoes, cantaloupe, watermelon and other vegetables in season.

Enjoying the blueberry harvest in Piedmont – The blueberry harvest season is now here and there is a blueberry pick-your-own farm near you. It takes a lot of blueberries to make a gallon, but they are worth the time and effort. The best time to pick blueberries is very early in the morning before the Dog Day sun starts bearing down. Another helpful hint is leave the kids at home because they will get very impatient in the blueberry patch and also test your patience! You can purchase berries already picked, but they are much less when you pick your own though it is labor-intensive! They are worth it when you think of a blueberry cobbler on a winter evening.

Blueberries are very easy to freeze – Blueberries may require a while to pick a gallon, but one plus is they are very easy to freeze. All you have to do is place about a quarter or more at a time in cold water in the sink for a minute. Remove tiny or unripe berries that float to the top of the water, place berries on a towel to dry and then place in quart or pint plastic freezer containers. A great plus to frozen berries is they taste just like fresh and can be used directly from the freezer.

Frozen corn as good as fresh in winter – The way to prepare corn in water that is as good as fresh in the summer is too quickly freeze ears of corn as soon as you harvest or purchase it from a field or farmers market. Process the corn immediately after bringing it home. The clean and easy way is to shuck and silk the ears on the deck or porch and place shucks in the compost bin. Place about two dozen ears in the sink of cold water and let it stay for several minutes, remove and place in other side of sink filled with water for another minute or two. Remove ears and dry on a towel spread out on the kitchen counter for a minute. Cut kernels of corn from cob with a sharp knife into a deep pan and pour into a pot, add several cups of water. Boil corn for several minutes, allow to cool, pour corn into pint or quart plastic containers. When ready to use, thaw for an hour before cooking.

Investing in a durable corn brush – A good stiff bristle vegetable brush is a handy tool for removing silks from ears of corn and can be purchased in kitchen departments at Walmart, Target or department stores. They cost between 3 to 5 dollars and will last for many seasons. A bottlebrush also makes a good corn silk and cost a little less, but is not as durable as the vegetable brush.

Making a tart, tasty tomato putting – My mother and grandmother always made tomato putting every summer from fresh ripe tomatoes from the garden and also in winter from canned tomatoes. They are very easy to make and you can consider them either a vegetable or a dessert and you would be correct either way. If you use fresh garden tomatoes, place the firm, ripe tomatoes in a pot of water, use enough tomatoes to produce 1 quart which is about six or seven large tomatoes or 2 quarts of canned tomatoes. If you use fresh tomatoes, leave them in the boiling water for a minute and then place in a pot of cold water to remove peelings and core. Cook tomatoes until tender, about 10 minutes. Canned tomatoes are ready to use straight from the jar. Mix three hamburger buns or 10 slices of bread, 1 cup sugar, half a cup ketchup, one stick of lite margarine, three eggs, half a teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes until firm and brown on top. Good hot or cold. Crumble buns or bread into small pieces.

Enjoy the green slices of summer – The phrase cool as a cucumber is true in and very worthy statement. Cucumbers from the summer garden plot are as ready to eat as it gets. All you have to do is peel, slice and eat with two bits of salt and pepper and soaked in apple cider vinegar or made into a sandwich with sliced thick cucumbers, salt, pepper, mayo or ranch dressing. We like to eat a cucumber, peeled whole and sprinkled with salt.

Introducing the Saint of the Soakers – On Sunday, July 15, 2018 we celebrate Saint Swithin’s Day. Saint Swithin is known as the saint of the soakers and on his day we can expect a heavy downpour on a Dog Day afternoon which would be some relief from the heat. Another plus of his day, it is said that he christens the autumn apple crop.

Making a quick blueberry cobbler – Blueberries are now in season and ready for you to make an easy blueberry cobbler for dinner. Mix 1 cup of plain flour, 1 cup of sugar, three fourths cup of milk, 2 teaspoons of baking powder and a pinch of salt. Mix all these ingredients together in a medium bowl and set aside. Melt a stick of margarine in a small pot and pour the melted margarine into a 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan and pour the bowl of batter on the melted margarine in the baking pan and spread evenly. Mix 3 cups of blueberries and one cup of sugar and pour over the batter. Do not stir. Bake in a 350° oven until firm and golden brown. When cobbler is done, the blueberries will be on the top of the cobbler. Good served hot or even better cool with a layer of real whipping cream or some Cool Whip.

Ray Baird