Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy New Year: Be a Tiger

Now I tell ya, there's always a New Year somewhere!

Happy New Year and may it be the Best Ever.

2010 will be opened with a Blue Moon, something of a rather rare happening. The next Blue Moon will not happen again until August 31, 2012. And the next after that on July 31, 2015. Just for the heck of it, the next December Blue Moon will be on December 31st, 2028.
Many people will celebrate Chinese New Year on February 14th, which ushers in the Year of the Tiger. It could make for an interesting Valentine's Day. (and yes, I did double check, it is the Year of the Tiger, not the Rat).
Chinese New Year is a good time and is similar to our Christmas celebration; a time for family and friends, gift giving and plenty of good foods. Any friends who will be celebrating this New Year, feel welcome to comment(Sadeep, what can you say?).
I wrote an article about last minute Christmas Gift Shopping a week or so before the holiday. Then, after further thought, realized, the article is good for any and all gift shopping regardless of Blue Moons. So, I figured might as well plug it. Click here on gift ideas.
The Year of the Tiger on February 14th, a good day for florists and candy makers, is a time to start thinking about getting some plants started for the season. In a Zone 5, it is a tad early except for some pepper varieties which require a lot of time to reach maturity. But it is time to get potting soil, pots, and seeds together along with a garden plan.
The Year of the Tiger might be a good omen for backyard gardeners; be aggressive, adventurous and determined to get what you want.
On the subject of calendars. Not even the Mayan Elders believe the world will end in 2012. That's a nice money making story but hardly real.

Tomatoes can save money in the Year of Tiger

Tomatoes are easy to grow with few problems despite what happened last year with the late blight. With a few aggressive and determined gardening steps, tomatoes should be like zucchini, plentiful.
There are some common blights which can raise some problems; briefly, Septoria, Early and Verticillium. Basically, all three of these are marked by discoloration in the lower leaves. These are fungal diseases which can be controlled or eliminated.
The first step is to start out with home grown seedlings or seedlings purchased from a reputable grower. The fungal diseases mention can overwinter in the ground so it is best not to plant tomatoes where they grew last year; pick a new spot.
Give the plants the required space; don't overcrowd. Stake or cage the plants; sprawling on the ground tomato plants are an open invitation for trouble. Use mulch, preferably compost mulch and avoid overhead watering. The blight can splash up from the soil and on the plants.
Pay attention. At the first sign of trouble, get rid of the discolored leaves (burn them if possible or place in the garbage) and spray. Good sprays would be a mix of baking soda or manure tea. There are some good organic sprays available commercially.
A few simple, common sense gardening practices will result in huge yields of tasty tomatoes and perhaps, even enough to give away or sell for some extra cash.

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Where will the road lead in 2010?

New Years Resolutions for January 1st or February 14th or Both

There are a lot of ideas but how about a storm kit for the home. It's inexpensive to put a storm kit together and it could be life saving. With global warming comes more violent weather, so it is best to get prepared.
Plant native wild flowers this year and help out the bees, both the honeybee and native populations. They are in trouble from a number of diseases and the populations are declining. Honeybees are amazing and real work horses of the insect world. That we even have honey is a true feat.
Vincent di Fondi's new book Blessed Abduction, would be another good choice for a resolution. Vincent is now retired and enjoying life in Costa Rica. Or the books by Sam Hossler which portray the history of northwestern Pennsylvania. Sam now lives in Florida but was a long time resident of the Canadohta Lake area where enjoyed the winter weather.
Read more blogs like those listed below and if an ad catches your eye, click and find out more. Bloggers work hard and generally get paid when folks get interested enough to click an ad. No ads, leave a comment, your insights and observations are always welcome by bloggers.

Good Blogs

Vincent di Fondi - Vincent was also featured in the December issue of International Living Magazine. His book is available at Amazon and Indie Books.

On Your Way to the Top - Kathleen has a good, homespun blog. The latest post is about the family trip from upstate New York to Ohio for a family visit.

New York's Southern Tier - Kathleen also does a travel destination blog for Helium Zones which features many events in the western and central New York region. If your traveling in that area over the holidays, check it out.

Veggie Garden Blog - Dan in Ontario has some terrific photos and great veggie garden insights. He is feeding the birds this season and thinking hard about next year's bounty. Thanks, Dan and I forgot to send a Merry Christmas, so have the Best new Year Ever wish!

Simply Snickers - Linda writes an exciting blog here, well worth the visit. She is an avid and prolific writer and knows an awful lot about horses, just ask her in a comment section after you have enjoyed her writing. She also wears funny hats at times! (had to get that int here, Linda)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

May all the readers, both old and new, have a great and happy Christmas! I would also like to express my thanks to the many readers who have contributed to Koyote Hill over the past year. I know I have made many new friends and have received a lot of support from old friends.
The picture is an old wren's nest, I think. It was discovered during the just past Pennsylvania deer season (rifle). Some little creature, a chipmunk or maybe a squirrel, stored several acorns in the abandoned nest. We'll be watching to see if they hatch! That be a real Christmas miracle!

On the Subject of Miracles:

A nice whitetail from this past season shot by a good friend and neighbor. Some people have all the luck! Thanks for sharing Al and have a great Christmas. I know there'll be some good meals.

Christmas Storm Approaches:

Be careful driving over the upcoming weekend. Already some readers are living through a pretty good winter storm. The Christmas is expected in northwestern Pennsylvania over the next several days. It is Christmas Eve night and already the winds are starting to howl here.
In case your snowed in,and the weather is ugly outside, here is some reading you might want to do. I write for Associated Content here and also write a blog for our local newspaper at GoCrawford. I have been following the bankruptcy story of Penn Traffic which operates Quality Market stores found in many small towns in western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania.

I also appreciate your comments, suggestions and insights, feel free to get in touch or comment.

Pumpkin Shortage

For weeks now, people have commented about how hard it is to find pumpkin pie filling for holiday pies. It seems that Morton, Ill., the proclaimed pumpkin capital of the world, suffered through a real rainy season and most of the pumpkin crop was destroyed. Learn more, here.
Pumpkins are relatively easy to grow and worth considering in next year's garden if you have the space. They do like to sprawl.
We'll pick back up on tomatoes and the blight next post.

Wildlife Photos These photos are from a very good friend who lives in Calgary and I thought I would share them with all. They were taken within the last several months about an hour away from that great city.
Thanks to Saskatoon Phil!

There has been a lot of writing about last minute Christmas shopping ideas. Even I wrote one, here. But then I got to thinking, we buy gifts all the time regardless of the season and these ideas can be used throughout the year. Check it out.

The Blogs

I wanted to thank the folks who also write blogs which I recommend on this site. A special Christmas wish to Vincent, Kathleen, Linda, and Dan. Scroll down to the next post for their links.

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Again, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Growing Season 2010

Growing Season 2010

Plants are part of the Christmas season just as much as the yule tree. Holly is one which comes to mind almost immediately, so does the Christmas cactus and the poinsettia.
Poinsettia plants have a lot of nostalgia but have a bad reputation as being poisonous; in reality though, that attribute is a big myth. Not even the family cat is going to croak after nibbling on a few leaves.
Mistletoe, however, is sort of an odd plant to use as a Christmas decoration. It is usually hung in doorways or from the ceiling. According to long held traditions, a person standing under it, can be freely kissed.
But the plant is a vampire of sorts, a parasite. It sucks the blood out of trees and shrubs. Granted it might be a good looking plant with pretty berries with an ancient history steeped in folklore, but it is a parasite.
Then there is the native Christmas Fern found in woodlands throughout much of northern North America. Perhaps, because they are not tropical or colorful, the Christmas Fern is often overlooked and forgotten today. Except for moss, the ferns are the only remaining green-ery in a woods in December and throughout the rest of winter.
Some ferns are still collected today and used for Christmas decorations; it was much more common, however in the early 1900's. So many plants were harvested from the woods back then that concerns were raised about over harvesting.
Today, the plants are readily available online, in many garden centers and nurseries. There are many landscaping possibilities around the home for the Christmas Fern because they are hardy (zones four through nine), evergreen and enjoy shady. moist areas. Additionally, for the most part, they are generally disease and pest free and are not eaten by deer or other wildlife.
Go native and plant a living Christmas decoration for the 2010 growing season.

A Plant with More Publicity for Growing 2010

The International Herb Association named Dill as the Herb of the Year for 2010. Dill is a nice garden plant and has more uses than just for pickles. It can be used in dips, salads, a seasoning for fish, lamb and breads.
Dill is attractive, somewhat ornamental and draws the attention of many beneficial insects. It is rather hardy, easy to direct sow and grow and is generally trouble free. Dill is a good choice for the 2010 growing season.
Dill attracts many good insects, like honeybees and other pollinators, to the garden. Dill can help the declining numbers of our pollinators which are in decline and necessary for food production. It is also a rich food source for the swallowtail caterpillar.
Dill is a good companion plant for onions and potatoes; however, it is not overly friendly with either carrots or tomatoes. There are smaller somewhat dwarf type plants which can be used in patio container gardens.
Next year (2011), the selected herb will be horseradish. Last year was bay laurel. Herbs, according to the Web site for the organization are chosen for their medicinal and culinary or decorative uses.

Looking for Ideas
See some of the ads for Christmas gifts at the end of this post for some ideas. Most are from local farms and organizations and there is no commissions or whatever. Just good items. The final ad is from Graden-Plantings. They contacted me about placing a link, since it is Christmas, I did. Thanks.

Tomatoes – 2010 Growing Season

Late Blight made for a troublesome year for tomatoes in the backyard. The fungal disease is fatal to both tomatoes and potatoes as way too many backyard gardeners discovered in rainy and cold 2009.
The good news is that late blight doesn't survive the winter; it needs living tissue to live. However, it can survive if the potatoes left in the ground were blighted or if infected plant material was added to the compost pile where it can stay warm.
If volunteer potatoes sprout during the 2010 spring weather get rid of them quickly. The late blight can spread rapidly from neighborhood to neighborhood.
Consider starting your own tomato plants this year or find a reputable grower in your area. Tomatoes are easy to start from seed as long as they have plenty of light and warm temperatures. Infected tomatoes from a large grower in 2009 were shipped north to many big box stores and were then purchased by many backyard growers. The infected plants and the cold and rainy weather in many areas created perfect conditions for the blight to spread rapidly.
If seeds were saved from 2009, they will not carry the blight. Your safe.
Some of the seed catalogs are already appearing in the mailbox. The five which have arrived so far did not contain any information regarding steps which can be taken to control not only the late blight, but also two other common blights which can diminish a tomato crop. There are actions that can be taken by home gardeners to control and manage next year's tomato garden. Those simple and inexpensive steps will be posted in the next several posts.
The 2010 growing season does not have to be a repeat.


Vincent di Fondi

On Your Way to the Top

New York's Southern Tier

Urban Veggie

Simply Snickers

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Gift Ideas

Gift baskets from farms in the northwestern Pennsylvania can be purchased. These unique gifts are filled with all locally produced and crafted items. For more information, hunterfarm@yahoo.com
Two local brand new cookbooks are also available. One, The Meadville Marketplace Cookbook, features local recipes with historical footnotes and photographs. The proceeds go to the old Market House.
The other was produced the Col Drake Chapter of the DAR and the proceeds go to a scholarship fund. The Heritage Cookbook is another great source for recipes and historical insights. Some of the recipes included in the 150 page book include pumpkin fudge and red pickles. There is also a recipe for homemade gingerale which I listed in another blog I write for GoErie in the GoCrawford section found here. For more information, email cchsresearch@zoominternet.net at the Crawford County Historical Society. They also have other unique gifts including a great calendar.
One more gift ad:
Garden Fountains

Pictured are the gift baskets available from Hunter Farm

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Moon Mammoth and Whitetails

Deer Season:

Rifle white tail deer season is now open in many regions. Pennsylvania opened on November 30th; New York a week earlier. It is something of a major two week holiday for many, especially in this region. In Pennsylvania, upwards of 950,000 hunters will be out; I suspect the same numbers are true for New York and surrounding states.

Good hunters have been scouting for weeks and watching the signs, but it is important even during the season to pay attention to details in woods. For a link, read this article on buck rubs here.

Pictured above are Dan and Adam with a buck they helped their younger sister get in a swamp area near Corry, PA called Tamarac. All three were pretty happy. It was the young teenager's first buck.

It is always important for hunters to get permission from property owners about using their land for hunting. Often people post property because of disputes with unethical hunters, but sometimes I think, it is more because of family or neighborhood disputes. While there are some great public game lands, at least in Pennsylvania, open for hunting, about eighty percent of the land is owned privately.
Check with the landowners; many great friendships have resulted from getting acquainted. I don't like looking at the increasing numbers of no trespassing signs lately.

I also write a blog for GoErie at the GoCrawford section and recently wrote about some of the local hunting issues and other news items Here's the link.

Tye has been a friend for a good many years, though he grew up here he now lives near MN. He went hunting up there at Chippewa National Forest, not far from Remer, MN. There he, and Alicia, some other buddies, and his dog, Haze (hi, Haze), had some good times hunting grouse and snowshoe rabbits. Seems like they were luckier at the snowshoes.

No snowshoes around here except the kind you wear on your feet in deep snow. Not too sure I want to see another rabbit family around; it's getting costly and time consuming re-planting some things in a garden.
But thanks, for sending the photos and information.

Keep Up to Date on the Flu - not a virus to fool with

The Ice Age

Winter brings thoughts of the Ice Age every year and visions of woolly mammoths, plodding through the tundra. Not far from here, at a glacial lake, Lake Pleasant, the remains of a woolly mammoth were discovered.

Further to the south, at Conneaut Lake, upwards of five woolly mammoth remains have been discovered along with evidence of mastodons and primitive elks called wapiti. Conneaut Lake is perhaps 30 miles or thereabouts from Lake Pleasant.

Both of these lake, along with five others in northwestern Pennsylvania, are glacial lakes. They were formed as the last last glaciers, a mere 16,000 melted. Sometimes they are called kettle lakes.

Woolly mammoths can weigh a lot, up to an estimated 4 tons. The one discovered at lake Pleasant was determined to be 20 years old and a fully grown, adult male by researchers at the University of Michigan where the remains where shipped for study.

One of the theories about the Lake Pleasant mammoth is that it was sunk in the lake by early inhabitants to help preserve the meat, sort of like a giant cold storage refrigerator. There is evidence that large rocks were used to weigh the mammoth 20 feet down below the surface and there are hack marks on the bones which may indicate that it was hauled to the surface and the meat periodically chopped off.

Now even if this animal weighed two tons and was 20 feet under the water, it would require a whole lot of power (hungry people?) to get it back up to the surface. And I'd be fairly certain chains weren't around 16,000 to 10,000 years ago.

Read more about the “Moon” Mammoth and what science is learning at a short article I wrote last week. The link is here.

Read a Book
Learn more about woolly mammoths Check out your local independent book store.

Shop Indie Bookstores
Blogs to Read:
Urban Veggie Blog – Dan is getting awards and seed saving cucumbers.

On Your Way to the Top - Kathleen has some good thoughts in this blog after a short break from writing and a great article on Christmas presents, here. Guys, this is a good one to read.

Simply Snickers - A great poetry blog with links to a mouth watering pumpkin bread recipe and some hints for cooking the turkey.

Vincent di Fondi– Vincent is living in Costa Rica and has recently published his first novel, Blessed Abuduction. Vincent will be featured in the December issue of International Living Magazine; more on this next post if available. Read Vincent's insights into Coast Rica and click the ad below to purchase his book.
Shop Indie Bookstores

New York's Southern Tier - Kathleen has a great blog on New York's Southern Tier. So, if you are traveling that region for the holidays, be sure to check out what to see and do.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Thanksgiving Journey

The Wild Thanksgiving Turkey

This bird was harvested in the wild this yearby a friend whose proudly holding it. Wild turkey's are abundant in many areas this year. This one was taken near the PA – NY border in the western regions of both states. They are pretty good smoked, pan fried or oven baked for a traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner.
Myself, I'm glad Ben Franklin didn't get his way and have the turkey proclaimed the national symbol. The Bald Eagle works fine as a symbol and the turkey is just good eating.


Hard to believe it is almost Thanksgiving 2009. Turkey, parades, football, good foods, family, friends, snow- for a lot of us, deer season – for many. It is a time to share, laugh and remember.
There's a lot of quaint stories about the holiday, like the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving, with plates of goodwill and friendship, which really wasn't the first thanksgiving, nor was it all goodwill and peaceful.
The 1621 feast marked the beginning of a lot of treachery and bloodshed. Within a few short months, after the native Wampanoag people fed the starving immigrants, whose food crops failed, the Native People were called “heathens”. Soon, bloody skirmishes, murders and attacks were common place. The mislabeled 1621 first thanksgiving opened a not so pretty chapter in American history.

People long before the arrival of the colonists celebrated thanksgiving. There was no set date; thanksgiving depended on the harvest. There were centuries of dances and songs, periods of fasting and prayer, and great communal meals.
A new twist in the meaning of Thanksgiving happened during another bloody uprising in 1863, the American Civil War. Lincoln proclaimed a day of national Thanksgiving to be held every year, the fourth Thursday of every November. It was to be a day of prayer, reflection and feasting.
Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, also thanked the same Almighty and proclaimed a similar day of Thanksgiving. There wasn't much celebration though as the Confederacy was collapsing; the evil institution of human slavery in the New World, thankfully, was soon to be squashed.
In 1910, the Turkey Trot was the rage; the dance was controversial for many religious groups who attempted to ban it. The ban didn't work., many were thankful. The Macy's Day Parade marched for the first time in 1924 and the first NFL football radio broadcast was on the airwaves in 1934. The Chicago Bears won 19 – 16 defeating the Detroit Lions. Television followed in 1956.
Thanksgiving 1963 was somber as Americans grappled with the assassination of JFK on November 22.
Thanksgiving is a holiday on a long and varied journey, much, much more than a woodland feast in 1621. A hundred or so years from now, how will someone reflect on what we do for the holiday?
What are your thoughts - comments?

Support Your Independent Bookstore: Buy a Thanksgiving Book

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Thanksgiving Sweet Potatoes or Yams

I like both but probably prefer the sweet potato. Real sweet potato pie is one of the world's best delicacies, Thanksgiving or not.
Sweet potatoes and yams are two completely separate vegetables from completely different families. Often what is called a “yam” is actually a sweet potato, both terms are often intermingled.
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A, a three and ½ ounce serving provides twice the recommended daily intake for adults while containing only 141 calories. It is what we add to the dish that drives up the calorie count. The are a health food for more meals than just a Thanksgiving feast.
I grew sweet potatoes one year and the harvest was respectful. They are on the list for spring 2010 experiments. Sweet potatoes do require a growing season of 100 to 150 days, sort of long for a Zone 5, but it can be done. I am thinking of using an old bathtub or making a raised bed which can be easily covered during the famous “cold spells” around here during the summer growing season.
Plants can be purchased from online sources, while some garden centers will also have them available. It is also possible to start you own by taking cuttings from supermarket varieties. If peanuts grow in my garden, certainly tropical sweet potatoes should be able to make it. Peanuts are back on my spring list. Both are attractive and can be used as ornamental plants plants. Both can easily be grown in containers and are distinctive in hanging baskets.

Flu Information Stay informed by clicking the ad below and read Linda Nickerson's article on how to recover if you are suffering from the virus.

Thanksgiving Stuffing from the Backyard

Stuffing is one of the best reasons to grow sage, a perennial evergreen herb. Fresh sage is a world apart for the dried seasonings in cardboard boxes currently on sale in many supermarket chain stores. For some more information on how to grow the herb sage, click here.

Thyme is another good Thanksgiving herb. It is easy to grow, hardy and a good choice, like sage, for container gardening.

And Thanks for the Photo from Nepal

Sadeep posted and sent this photo of a Sahar fish taken from this scenic lake in Pokhar, Nepal recently. He says it is a colorful predator fish, well known in his home country. The fish is used in many popular dishes in the kingdom of Nepal. Thanks for sharing, Sadeep.


Happy Thanksgiving to all, followers, readers, new friends. Thanks for all the support, encouragement and insights. I'm thankful, very thankful for you all, it has been a good journey and more to come.

Blogs Thankfully Recommended.

Urban Veggie Blog – Dan is getting awards and seed saving cucumbers.

On Your Way to the Top - Kathleen has some good thoughts in this blog after a short break from writing and a great article on Christmas presents, here. Guys, this is a good one to read.

Simply Snickers - A great poetry blog with links to a mouth watering pumpkin bread recipe and some hints for cooking the turkey.

Vincent di Fondi– Vincent is living in Costa Rica and has recently published his first novel, Blessed Abuduction. Vincent will be featured in the December issue of International Living Magazine; more on this next post if available. Read Vincent's insights into Coast Rica and click the ad below to purchase his book.
Shop Indie Bookstores

New York's Southern Tier - Kathleen has a great blog on New York's Southern Tier. So, if you are traveling that region for the holidays, be sure to check out what to see and do.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Veterans Day

Veteran's Day

Tragically, the events at Fort Hood last week, are a bloody reminder of the dangers and sacrifices faced by our military. The gruesome carnage unfolded a few weeks before one of America's most important days of remembrance. Veterans Day is Wednesday, November 11th.

Originally, the day was known as Armistice Day to mark the ending of World War 1. In 1954, under President Dwight Eisenhower and following action by the US Congress, the day was re-named Veterans Day to remember all of our veterans who fought to preserve our freedoms and liberty.

In many communities, it is a special day with memorial services, communal dinners, even parades. In some, it is the day when in a solemn ceremony the flags placed on graves during Memorial Day are burned.

In many communities, veterans organizations such as the American legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) are named after the first person from that region who was killed in action. In Union City, a small community in rural northwestern Pennsylvania, the American Legion Post, #237, is named after Lynn LeBarron, a 19 year old private, who was killed in France during World War 1.

The LeBarron Post is one of the largest and most active in a five county area. Hung on the interior walls are many photos of local service men and women, including a picture and a letter written by Lynn LeBarron. It's a likely scenario in towns and cities everywhere.

And there are many forgotten and nameless who sacrificed their lives or lived out their lives crippled and maimed. Older cemeteries with faded graves still decorated with planted heirloom flowers from another era are full of stories and sacrifice.

Wednesday is an important day to stop and reflect and then, do something.

Holiday Mailings to Our Troops

Nov. 13 -Parcel Post to military APO/FPO addresses.
Dec. 4 -First-Class cards and letters or Priority Mail to military APO AE ZIP 093 addresses.
Dec. 11 -First-Class cards and letters or Priority Mail to all other military APO/FPO addresses.
Dec. 18-Express Mail Military Service to all military APO/FPO addresses except APO ZIP 093.
Dec. 4 -Priority Mail and First-Class Mail to Africa and Central or South America International Mail locations.
Dec. 11 -Priority Mail and First-Class Mail to all other International Mail locations.
Dec. 12-Express Mail International to Africa and Central and South America.
Dec. 17 -Express Mail International to all other countries (except Canada, Dec. 18).
Dec. 19-Global Express Guaranteed to all countries (except Canada, Dec. 20

H1N1 Stay Up to Date:

Plant an Oak Tree

Oaks are majestic trees which symbolize strength. This year, the acorn crop is very heavy in some areas. It's easy to take a couple and plant them and grow your own oak tree. Why pay expensive prices at nurseries and big box stores?
Take the acorn and simply push it into the ground, just under the surface, where you want it to grow. Be sure to mark the spot. The acorn should sprout at the onset of warm spring weather.
The acorn can also be placed in a container with drainage holes and placed outside to endure the winter. It helps to cover the pot with screening or mesh to prevent a hungry critter from enjoying a mid-winter meal.
The growing seedling should be transplanted soon after it begins to grow in the pot. They develop are rather long tap root quickly. Once transplanted for the first year or two, I use tomato cages to protect the seedling from rabbits and deer. An oak seedling is a delicacy for some critters.
There are many different species of oak which can be identified either from the bark or the leaves. For wildlife, many chose to plant the valuable white oak, but a red oak is also a valuable wildlife food source and a majestic tree. For more information on how to grow an oak tree for free, click here.

Get Winter Reading Here, Support your Independent Book Store
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Send a Card attend a worthy benefit
This has been checked through Snopes and has been posted on Facebook by a number of different people. Noah Biorkman, five years old, has stage IV neuroblastoma. His family is planning on an early Christmas sometime in mid November. Noah wants Christmas cards. Cards would be appreciated: Noah Biorkman, 1141 Fountain View Circle, South Lyon, MI 48178
Locally there are two individual benefits at Mound Grove; onefor Dan “Mrytle” Merski, who is suffering from Crohn's disease; and another for JonPaul Sandusky, who was killed in a tragic automobile accident last week. Merski's benefit is November 21st at Mound Grove; Sandusky's benefit will be November 22.

Blogs I enjoy and Recommend

Vincent di Fondi

On Your Way to the Top

New York's Southern Tier

Urban Veggie Garden

Simply Snickers

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November 4th Full Moon: Thoughts to Ponder

How to Deal with the Late Tomato Blight in November

Just about everyone can agree, the back yard vegetable gardens did not do so well this past season. The late blight came early and ruined many tomato and potato crops. Infected plants from a large grower were shipped to many states and sold in big box stores.
The weather was also a major factor in the widespread outbreak. Cool, rainy conditions persisted through much of the summer, perfect conditions for a backyard disaster. While weather conditions are far beyond our control, there are some steps that can be taken to prevent a repeat performance.
If the tomatoes were blighted do not place them in the compost pile. The compost pile might be warm enough that the spores will live. It is best to pull the dead plants and burn them or bag them and throw away in the garbage after the bags have sat in the sun for a dew days. The late blight will not survive a northern winter in the soil.
The problem is with potatoes. If the potatoes were blighted, double check to see that they were all dug. Any volunteer sprouts that appear in the spring should be immediately dug and destroyed.
Another hiding spot for the blight spores can be in some weeds in and near the garden. It is best to yank them, burn or dspose.
Carefully select where you will purchase tomato plants next year or grow your own. Many farms and nurseries sell tomato plants in the spring and it is better to buy locally.
There are other blights which can harm tomatoes besides the always fatal late blight. Some of these blights can survive the winter. Prevent those problems by rotating crops every year.
There have been some reports that there will be tomatoes available next year which were bred to be resistant to the late blight. But the time honored favorite varieties will should be okay if the proper steps are taken now. More information on what to do now can be found here from Penn State.

November Thoughts for the Plan

Herbs can play an important role in vegetable gardens and even in flowers gardens. Herbs can attract many beneficial insects and are useful in cooking. Winter is a time to plan for next spring and what herbs to include.
Many herbs can be grown in containers like sage, parsley, thyme, oregano and even rosemary. One herb which probably won't work very well in a container is lovage; it can almost reach six feet tall and three feet wide. With an herb plant that large one or two will be enough.

Lovage can be used as a substitute for celery; it has a taste almost identical; the leaves even look similar to celery leaves and the seeds very similar to celery seeds. Even the roots of this herb can be used, generally in soups and stews.
Lovage, a perennial is winter hardy and isn't bothered by insects, rabbits or deer. While doing a little research on the herb, I discovered that it was a very popular herb in another century and it was often used for a cordial drink.
Another worthwhile plant is salsify. It isn't really an herb but a root crop which has a really mild oyster like flavor. Sometimes it is also called the oyster plant. This vegetable needs about 120 days to mature, but it can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked. It's a good veggie for anyone who wants to get a jump start on the season as soon as the snows melt.
Salsify, like lovage, are plants which were grown generations ago. They have sort of fallen by the wayside. Yet both are flavorful, healthy and easy to grow.

Learn and Keep Updated on H1N1

Click the ad for updates, click here about swine and the virus discovered in Minnesota and what it means.

November Turkey

Turkey season in Pennsylvania opened on Halloween. The bird pictured had an 11 ¼ inch beard and was taken at 9:50 am Halloween morning. Turkey are plentiful in the woods this year and the populations seem to be increasing every year. The wild birds taste a lot better than most of the factory farmed birds sold in supermarkets. The stuffing can be made from herbs grown in the garden; sage, lovage and parsley are good to use and the flavor will be nothing like the store boughten mix.
Thanksgiving is the 26th this year.
Seems everyone likes to mention something about Ben Franklin. Here's one of Ben's thoughts. Franklin was so impressed with the turkey that he suggested we use it as a national symbol instead of the eagle. Thomas Jefferson told Ben to go fly a kite on that one.
Wild turkeys can run fast - up too 25 miles per hour. They can fly even faster reaching a top speed of 55 miles per hour.
Today, November 4th is the Full Moon, called the Beaver Moon since in the early days it was a good time to set traps in the swamps. Beaver pelts were important for warm winter clothing. Many animals are more active during the Full Moon phases, including deer. Buck rubs are becoming more common in the woods indicating hunting hot spots. To read more, click here. Be careful driving during the full moon phases, deer can run pretty fast across the roads unexpectedly and cause a lot of damage, possible injuries or worse.

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For the Heck of it:

November 10, 1951 -This is amazing. On this day, the first coast to coast direct dialing system was available.
became available.
November 10, 1975 - The Edmund Fitzgerald sank.

November 11 is Veterans Day, an important and solemn day.

November 13 – Not so solemn and important but a fun day for some, Sadie Hawkins Day.

November 22 – John Kennedy, the youngest person ever elected US president was assassinated in Dallas, Texas in 1963.

Blogs Worth the Read

Vincent di Fondi

On Your Way to the Top

New York's Southern Tier

Urban Veggie Garden

Simply Snickers

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween with the Lily Family

Ancient Garlic - Vampires and Health

October is the month to plant garlic in many northern and cooler regions. It is one of the most important crops, and one of the most ancient crops ever cultivated, for the home backyard gardener. It certainly adds a zing to many meals and snacks and it's plain healthy. Homegrown garlic is like homegrown tomatoes, the taste is far superior.

The ancient world from China to Egypt was familar with garlic. The herb was cultivated and revered. In North America, the First Peoples were also familar with garlic. The Algonquin Nation had a name for garlic, “chicagaoua” which grew along the shorelines of Lake Michigan. Eventually, it became the name for a settlement in the early days, Chicago.

History aside, all the current evidence from hundreds of research studies points towards the age old wisdom that the herb is just plain and simply, healthy. It is widely believed garlic improves overall heart health, contains anti-bacterial and and anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic is flavorful, healthy and it is also easy to grow.

Garlic bulbs are readily available from numerous online gardening Websites. In almost all regions, garlic can be purchased from local farms and roadside stands. Local garlic is already adapted to the general weather and soil conditions of your neighborhood or region.

Supermarket garlic is usually shipped from California which supplies 90 percent of the US market. It is generally the “soft neck” variety which is more conducive to commercial growing conditions. Hard neck garlic is most often grown on homesteads and farms; it form a scape in June.

China also does a brisk garlic trade; 75 percent of the world's garlic originates in China. Garlic is used in cooking and medicine world wide; it really belongs to everyone.

Garlic planted in October, or even into November depending on the weather, will be some of the first green to appear in the spring after the snows melt. Then on April 19, with the garlic growing for taste and health, you can celebrate National Garlic Day. Besides, the vampires and all sorts of other nasty things will stay away if the garlic is planted before Halloween.

H1N1 - Keep Informed and Eat Healthy


Asparagus is another healthy vegetable which is flavorful, easy to grow, and can save some money in the kitchen. October is a great time to get an asparagus bed ready for the spring planting.

Asparagus is a perennial which can produce for decades. Since asparagus can be around for a long time, it is important to get the soil area for the asparagus in top notch condition before it is planted in the spring.

Asparagus does best in full sun, well drained, loamy soil, with sufficient compost. Asparagus roots can be planted about as early as the soil can be worked in the spring. Seeds can be started indoors and placed in the new asparagus area when the danger of a heavy killing frost has past in the spring.

Asparagus is a spring vegetable but the harvest season can be extended to last well into summer, more information on extended season can be found here. Plan on about twenty plants per person for fresh eating and later storage for table use later.

Because asparagus can be harvested throughout the summer and for decades, it is a smart choice for the home vegetable gardener. It is easy to grow and is not bothered much by any pests or vampires and bats.

The Lily Family

Both garlic and asparagus are members of a huge family of plant, the Lily Family. Other members include: onions, shallots, yams, lilies, yucca, aloe,tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths.

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Crawford County Grange News

Applications for the college scholarship fund are due November 1st. More information use the comment section below.

For the Heck of It:

Bats always turn left when exiting a cave – something to know just in case.
November 1 is a huge celebration for many, Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.
Cabaaza En Tacha, or candied pumpkin is a popular dish during the celebrations. It is similar to candied yams. Portions of the dish are placed on family altars for dead relatives and friends.

Blogs to Read:

Vincent di Fondi

On Your Way to the Top

New York's Southern Tier

Urban Veggie Garden

Simply Snickers

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Snow Stories and the Indian Summer

First Snow – the Coming of Indian Summer

A mid-October snowfall is common in this region. It fell October 15th and 16th and when it was over, the ground had about four inches here. It was a pretty and ugly wake-up call. There are still projects to get done before the serious stuff gets here; although some serious snow fell, measured in feet, October in 1997 in Buffalo, New York and basically shut down the city.

Snow does have an upside. For the yard and garden, snow does has positive benefits. It is weather's way of providing necessary mulch to help protect and insulated the soil from severe cold and cycles of thawing and freezing. Snow also helps to retain soil moisture in the ground, important for both yard and the water well.

Snow also helps to put an end to some pesky insects such as flies and mosquito's, a point to recall with a snow shovel in hand.

This week will be an Indian Summer week if the forecasts are true. (Read about Ebenezer's contribution in 1794 below.) It will be a good week to mulch with other material before the next arrival. Leaves, grass clippings compost and other organic material can be placed in garden and around trees and shrubs to help the snow work it's benefits. There is always something to do in yard or garden

Snow Brings Wood Ash

The cold weather brings wood ashes for many, even during an Indian Summer, the nights can be frosty. The common belief is that the ashes are good for the vegetable or flower garden. But there are several qualifiers.

Wood ash does contain potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. However, the levels of each depend on what wood is burned; hard woods will have higher levels than soft woods. Wood ashes can help neutralize the soil similar to lime; however in general, it takes about twice as many wood ashes to reach the same levels as lime. Wood ash can be used successful for the vegetable garden except areas where potatoes will be planted.

The generally accepted amount for vegetables is one gallon of ashes per square yard. Lesser amounts can also be used successfully around trees, particularly fruit trees and shrubs and flower beds. If wood ashes will be saved throughout the winter, they need to be kept dry, once one is certain all the hot embers have been extinguished. A better idea, and safer, is to just sprinkle the ashes on the snow or frozen ground. One chord of wood, according to estimates will produce about sixty pounds of wood ash.

Coal ash should never be used, nor should treated lumber. Fireplace logs and other commercial fire starters should not be used in the garden; nor should the ashes from a fire which contains plastic or rubber products.

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PA Snow for Squirrel Season

In many area it wasn't a good day for hunting squirrels as the season opened in many regions. The heavy wet snow fell in the woods most of the day off of the many leaves which remain on the trees; branches snapped and fell. Even the golden rod fields were flattened by the wet heavy snow. This week, and hopefully, next, the Indian Summer weather will remain and bring better days.

But this black squirrel was harvested. Black squirrels are not as common as many others. At one time in the early days, there were more plentiful and abundant. A black squirrel is actually a gray squirrel but wears a different coat.

The mast crop in some areas is heavy, while in others, scarce. The squirrels will simply move, like many animals, to the areas which have plenty of food.

While the cold rainy and snowy weather made for hard conditions in the woods, the Lake Erie Steelhead Trout have been moving up the creeks and fishing for them has been good.

They can be fighters. This steehead was taken from Sixteen Mile Creek in Erie County.
Check out my recently published content on AC:

Steelhead Journey in Lake Erie

Stay up to Date on H1N1 and the Flu Season.

Snow Brings the “First” Indian Summer

Major Ebenezer Denny wrote one of the first known occurrences of the term “Indian Summer” on October 13, 1794 in a journal he was keeping. Ebenezer was at a small military garrison at Fort LeBoeuf, known today as Waterford, Pennsylvania, located in northwestern Pennsylvania.

No one however is quite sure of the origin of the term and exactly what the term's relationship with the Native Americans. What is known is that it is period of dry unseasonably warm weather following the first outbreak of frosts and snow. Some years can have several periods of Indian Summer, some will not.

Remember this? - Starting on Friday, October 13, 1997 Buffalo, New York was buried under feet of snow following a Lake effect snowstorm which lasted days. The snow closed the city and hundred of thousands were left without power.

Good Blogs to Read:

Vincent di Fondi

On Your Way to the Top

New York's Southern Tier

Urban Veggie Garden

Simply Snickers

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Autumn Harvest: More than Garden Vegetables

Autumn Harvest: More than the Vegetables

October is a busy harvest month if you burn firewood especially if it's been a hectic summer. It is an awesome time to be able to enjoy the outdoors. In northern climates, it is also the month to get busy for winter's certain arrival besides last minute yard and garden work. It was so here the last couple weeks but the wood is getting cut and split and hopefully out of the woods before the first snow. Another good reason for being in the woods for hunters are buck rubs and other whitetail deer signs. Paying attention to the early signs of the buck is important for a successful harvest.

October is a good month to get the garlic cloves in the ground and next on the agenda; it was harvested in early August and the beds re-seeded with buckwheat. The buckwheat harvest came last last week just before the first frost. Buckwheat is a natural and excellent soil conditioner. It is good for the soil organisms needed for healthy plants, provides food for the bees and the birds will enjoy a couple fillings at the bird seeder.

The Snake and Global Warming

One bright and warm October day this red belly racer was a little mad for being disturbed. But the snake just slithered away for all the activity. It was probably one of the last days he was able to harvest some sunshine before next spring.

Red Belly Racer snakes are native to many areas of North America but according to a recent US Geological report, non-native snakes are on the move. Thousands of snakes are now living in the southern states which were imported generally as pets, and then eventually released back into the wild.

The concern with the non-native snake population is their impact on our native snakes and wildlife. Pythons and the like harvest just about anything that moves although there is little chance it could be a person. But it does happen. The non-native snakes are expected to migrate into more northern states with milder temperatures expected with global warming.

A recent report issued by Penn State predicts warmer winters. Less snow and more mild winters for Pennsylvania within the next several decades. It could make for some dramatic changes in the woodlands as many trees need a period of cold and freezing temperatures.

The sugar maple is one quick example of a tree which could suffer from increased warming weather. Many family farms still harvest the sap from the trees during the opening days of spring and it remains an important source of income in many small communities. Besides, big eight foot snakes on a warm summer yard work day could be a memorable and unpleasant experience.

Big Fish - the Steelhead Harvest

The steelhead are moving into the tributaries in the Lake Erie region. The run attracts anglers from across the country and there is hardly standing room along many of the creeks. It is not at all uncommon to harvest a steelhead which weighs between ten and 15 pounds.

The steelhead harvest usually begins in late September and really gets going in October and November. Anglers can try to harvest the fish, even while ice fishing. Normally, the fish are near the lake shore and tributaries until the warmer spring weather. For more information, click here.

Flu Season and H1N1- Stay Informed, Click the Ad for the Latest Updates

The Stump Harvest

September and October are also good months to harvest wild stumpy mushrooms (a break from cutting firewood). Be certain you know what you are picking, ask someone with the knowledge. There are some bad fungi that grow in the forests that can make a person very sick or worse.

Stumpy's usually grow on old tree stumps, like beechwood or on the woodland floor. They are tasty and make a great wild mushroom soup. Good advice, besides getting acquainted with a mushroom picker, is get a couple books and learn about them and double check before harvesting anything.

Many of the same areas where stumpy's can be found will be areas to harvest leeks in the spring. Leeks are a lot safer to harvest and are flavorful as well.

Buy a Book

Support your local Independent bookstore for some extra reading this winter or for Christmas presents. Learn more about mushrooms, steelhead or snakes. Or for some good reading Vincent di Fondi's book, Blessed Abduction. Just click the ad, it is pretty simple.
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Grange News

The Crawford County Grange $500 scholarship deadline is November 1st. Any student who has completed at least semester, is under 25 and who has a family member in a Crawford County Grange can apply. For more information, use the comment section found below.

Recommended Blogs:

Vincent di Fondi

On Your Way to the Top

New Yorks Southern Tier

Urban Veggie Garden

Simply Snickers


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