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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