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.

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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.

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