The Garden Plot

Ray Baird
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Cool news concerning Saint Bartholomew – Saint Bartholomew‘s Day will be celebrated on Saturday, August 24, 2018. On his special day, it is said that the dew that falls every night becomes colder and heavier. There have been plenty of dews and fogs during August thus far, and we already know what the fogs of August mean. We wonder if the heavy dews of late August predict ice storms for the upcoming winter? Maybe we should record them and check it out!

Thinking snow means think snow shovel – The time to think about snow shovels is when it is not snowing because that is when you can find plenty of them with no rush season. Plenty are now available, and they will not rust or spoil if you purchase one now and set it aside for the snows of winter.

An interesting product made from the scuppernong or muskedine grapes – A product you will definitely not find in grocery stores and supermarkets is grape hull preserves made from scuppernong grape hulls. It is good on hot biscuits and all you need is grapes, hulls, sugar, and water. To prepare this preserve, mash the pulp and seeds from grapes. Use the pulp to make a batch of jelly, then measure the hulls and place in a pot. Add the same amount of sugar, cover bottom of pot with a quart of water. Boil or simmer on medium heat until it forms a syrup. You will know when it is ready when a drop in the cup of cold water forms a soft ball. Pour into sterilized jelly jars, seal and place in a pressure cooker at 5 pounds pressure. When the pressure is 5 pounds, turn off heat and let cool. You can also process a hot water bath for five minutes.

Starting a row of heading collards – The cabbage collard is the best and most cold tolerant variety of collards and they can be set out in the garden. Most hardwares carry the cabbage collards and they come in six and nine packs. Set them about 2 1/2 to 3 feet apart so they will have room to head. Water them each evening in August to cool the soil and promote their growth.

Making a few jars of pear preserves – As August moves towards its last full week, the season of ripe pears is in progress and their harvest is a time to make some pear preserves unlike any that you purchase in any supermarket. It is easy to prepare and all you need is pears, sugar, water, time and some patience. The recipe is simple, just peel the pears and cut them into 2 inch chunks and drop them into a large pot or canner of salted water. This prevents pears from turning brown, use about half a cup of salt. Let the pair soak about five minutes in the salt water. Drain the salt water and rinse the pears and fresh, cold water and soak in freshwater for five minutes. Measure pears in a canner or large pot. For every cup of pears, add a cup of sugar. Add 2 quarts of water to the pears. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, stir the mixture often until it becomes syrupy, reducing heat to avoid sticking, stirring and keeping a close eye on the mixture. Dip a spoonful out every few minutes to check for thickness. As it begins, it will turn a golden brown. As it thickens, place a drop of the syrup and a cup of cold water. When the syrup forms a sticky ball in the cold water,

pour the mixture into pint mason jars or jelly jars. Seal, place in a hot water bath canner and process for five minutes or in a pressure cooker at 5 pounds pressure until it reaches 5 pounds pressure and then turn off the pressure cooker.

The season to plant containers of pansies – A sure sign of autumn being about a month away is the arrival of six or more packs of pansies im hardware‘s, seed shops, and garden departments. And the unusual flower has a face like a teddy bear! Pansies have many colors that include yellow, lavender, white and purple. The royal mix has burgundy, wine, cream, maroon and gold. They will bloom in winter if you shelter them from direct exposure to frost and hard freezes. Usually an area toward the back of the porch away from the harsh winds and blowing snow. When you set out pansies, buy a big bag of pansy booster to get them off to a healthy start.

Recycling potting soil from summer annuals – As the annuals of summer wind down their cycle, you can plant autumn annuals to replace them and recycle the soil in their pots and containers. Just empty the old potting soil in a wheelbarrow and add the same amount of new potting soil. Add a little water at a time to moisten texture to the mixture before planting annuals for fall.

Planting a row or bed of autumn greens – As August winds its way to a close, the season to plant mixed greens and mustard greens is here. If planted this week by the time that September arrives, they will be up and growing as temperatures drop and September moves along. You can plant curly mustard by itself or you can sow a mix of kale tender green, broadleaf, or turnip. Most hardwares sell it ready, mixed or they will mix it for you in any ratio you desire.

Keep recording the fogs of August – We still have nine more days in the month and hopefully you are recording all the fogs of the month whether light or heavy, just to see what they add up to this winter.

Watching the full sturgeon moon – The full sturgeon moon will fill the night sky of Sunday, August 26, 2018 and will be summer’s last full moon. With Dog Days over and a lot of summer gone, the moon should be bright as it crosses the August sky. It will rise above the eastern horizon an hour or so after the sunset.

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Ray Baird