2005 Newsletter Archive
Week 30 (10/27/05)
Its Halloween weekend (sort of). Its the last weekend of October, and that means changing the clocks Sunday morning at 2:00am (turn back 1 hour), changing the batteries in the smoke detectors, and getting ready for Halloween on Monday.
[What is a vampires favorite holiday? -Fangsgiving]
*WHETHER ITS THE WEATHER Cooler temperatures and good rainfall has made me (and the plants) one happy camper! Now, dont let this convince you that the season is over. Still plenty of time to plant plants, still plenty of grass mowing to do, and still time to get those fall gardening chores taken care of.
[Zombies like dead end streets the best.]
*WHATS BUGGIN YOU? Finally getting those reports of Asian Lady Beetles invading homes, but on a limited and pocketed basis. I cant believe how many attic flies have found their way into our ceiling light in the kitchen! Just where do all those things come from?
[Why do vampires need mouthwash? They have bat breath.]
*QUESTIONMARK & THE MYSTERIANS – Here are a few gardening questions from this weeks emailed news bag:
"What are the rose bushes Im seeing right now that are red and in full bloom this late inn the season?" -Knockout roses, and last year, a few still had flowers at Thanksgiving!
"When can I dig my cannas and dahlias up for the winter?" -Let the heavy frosts take out the foliage, then dig them up, clean them up, and store them in a dark, dry, cool place 45-50 degrees.
"Can I feed my hemlocks now?" -Absolutely! As a matter of fact, nows a great time to be feeding most all trees, shrubs and evergreens. For existing plants, use the Ross Root Feeder, or a granular fertilizer thats even (or close) in numbers like 10-10-10 or 12-12-12, or 5-10-10, 4-6-4, etc. For you tree spike (tree stake) fertilizer lovers, they can be used now as well. Determine how many youll need per tree, break them in half, and then distribute them around the tree for a better distribution of fertilizer.
"Its almost November; time to cut back my roses now?" -Absolutely not. Keep and eye out for late insect populations, rake up fallen leaves, but do not cut the roses back yet. Were still a long way from putting these roses to bed for the winter. Ill let you know when the time is right.
"When is the best time to cut back my Butterfly Bush, spring, or fall?" – Either way works. If you like what you see now, leave it alone for the winter and cut it back in the spring. If you dont want that look over the winter, cut it back later on this fall. Not now, its too early.
"Is it okay to let Mother Nature and her frosts take care of the weeds that are in my beds this late in the year? Im tired of pulling weeds!" -You can, but then theyll just be waiting to start re-growing next spring. Dont give up on weeds this fall, especially the tough ones. If theyre growing, you need to keep after them. Spray them with Roundup, and for even better action, add a little Spreader Sticker to it. This helps the Roundup stick right to the foliage for even better control. Keep them under control for a cleaner start next spring. And dont forget to use Preen one last time to keep those winter annual seeds like chickweed and henbit from ever getting started
"Hey Ron, I read the question from last weeks newsletter "Ive had problems bringing ants into my house when I bring in my tropical plants for the winter. Got any suggestions?" Just curious, has she tried leaving the door open and spreading a trail of sugar?" -Okay, smart _ _ _. Thats not exactly what she was looking for!
[Wrap a mummys favorite music.]
*MAKE SURE YOU PICK THE RIGHT PUMPKIN! – Its that scary time of the year. Time to get out and find that perfect pumpkin or pumpkins for Halloween. So I thought Id go over a few things to look for when youre making that important decision.
First, make sure your pumpkin has a stem. And hopefully one thats at least 2-3 inches long. Check the stem to make sure its not soft and falling apart, as well as making sure its firmly attached to the pumpkin. And never, ever, carry your pumpkin by its stem!
Next, go for the pumpkins with the darker orange color. These seem to last longer, and be a little tougher when getting shipped around. I also like to go for the ones with more ridges and rougher skin, rather than the lighter colored smooth skinned ones. Again, I think they last longer. And if youre looking for something different this year, check out the white and blue pumpkins. Theyre usually a bit smaller, but again, something different.
Once you think youve found the right one, give it the complete go over, looking for cuts, scrapes, bruises and soft spots. Check the entire pumpkin, including the beige spot on the bottom. If you feel any soft spots, or see deep cuts or scrapes, find another pumpkin. Remember, the skins are a protection against moisture loss as well as getting infected with bacteria and fungus. Once the skin is punctured, the pumpkin rotting begins!
Now, here are a couple quick tips on preserving your perfect pumpkin until Halloween. 1.) Wash your pumpkin with soap and water. This cleans the skin and keeps the bacteria away longer. 2.) Handle it gently, so you dont cause any bruises. 3.) Protect your pumpkins from rodents, as squirrels love to chew on pumpkins to get at the seeds inside! And protect your pumpkins from frost and freezing as well. 4.) And dont carve your pumpkin until the night before Halloween. Remember, once the skin is punctured, the moisture is lost, and bacteria set in, decomposing your Halloween work of art in no time at all.
And if you want your pumpkin to last even longer, dont carve it, paint it. A painted pumpkin will last for a long time, scaring the neighborhood right up until Thanksgiving!
[Spelling something they teach at witches school.]
*FROM THE GARDEN TO THE KITCHEN / HEY RIAT, WHATS COOKIN?
As I say every year, Yardboy, this Halloween Im going Halloweening as myself: The Wicked Witchdoctor of the East! Just for fun, here are some easy and delicious Halloween goodies, perfect for toting to school or added to your own Halloween party table. So what are you going as, Yardboy? Yourself, as well?!
Easy Black Cat Cookies
1cup Crunchy peanut butter
1/3 c Water
1 pkg Chocolate cake mix
Red hots and popsicle sticks
Beat together peanut butter, eggs, and water. Gradually add cake mix. Mix well. Form dough into 1-inch balls. Place on sprayed cookie sheet leaving enough room between cookies for Popsicle sticks. Flatten balls with bottom of glass dipped in sugar. Insert Popsicle sticks into each cookie. Pinch out 2 ears at top of cookie. Press fork into dough to form whiskers.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. As soon as they come out of the oven, press in the candy corn for eyes and the red hot for the nose.
Makes 4 1/2 dozen.
Halloween Popcorn Balls
1 pk (4-serving size) orange Jell-o
1 c Light Karo syrup
1 c Sugar
Combine all ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over 5 quarts of popped corn. Form into popcorn balls with buttered hands. Place in a zip-loc baggie or insert a Popsicle stick in and then place in a sandwich bag. Makes 12. These are wonderful no-fail popcorn balls.
Caramel Marshmallow Apples
The caramels will unwrap easy if you freeze them for 10 minutes.
1 package (14 oz) caramels
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 tbsp. water
5 or 6 small apples
Line baking sheet with buttered waxed paper; set aside. Combine caramels, marshmallows and water in medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until caramels melt. Cool slightly while preparing apples. Rinse and dry apples. Insert skewers into apples. Dip each apple in caramel mixture, coating apples. Place on prepared sheet. Refrigerate until firm. For variety roll apples in crushed peanuts or drizzle with melted chocolate.
Halloween Snack Mix
1/2 c Blood drops (red hots)
1/2 c Cats eyes (blanched almonds) or (gum drops) 1/2 c cats claws (sunflower seeds) 1 c chicken toenails (candy corn) 1 c colored flies (M & M’s) 1 c butterfly wings (corn chips) 1 c ants (raisins) 1 c earthworms (cheese curls) 1 c cobwebs (Triscuits) or (Golden Grahams) 1 c snakes eyes (peanuts) 1 c bats bones (shoestring potatoes)
Mix together in a large bowl. Serve with several pints of blood (cherry punch).
Tips from the Witchdoctors Kitchen: Keep those Jack-O-Lanterns jaunty: Theyll stay unpuckered if you mix 2 tablespoons vinegar and a teaspoon of lemon juice into 3 cups of water. Brush over carved areas.
-Rita Nader Heikenfeld, CCP / Macys Regional Culinary Professional / Herbalist / Author / Local TV and Radio Cooking Expert / Adjunct Professor U.C. Clermont College / Community Press Papers / Part time Witchdoctor and maker of strange potions [firstname.lastname@example.org attn: Rita]
[How do you know if a female vampire is flirting? She bats her eyes.]
*LIGHT UP YOUR HOLIDAYS! Weve looked at lighting up your yard with spring bulbs, lighting up the indoors or planters with container grown spring bulbs. So today, lets take a look at how you can light up your holiday and the winter season, with, you guessed it, container grown holiday bulbs.
Amaryllis and paperwhites, to be exact, and both bulbs are now available at the garden stores. These bulbs are well known for their holiday colors and fragrances, but with the right planning, can provide you with the same color and fragrances all winter long.
Amaryllis bulbs come in many different colors, single and double flowers, and give one outstanding show when in bloom. When buying your amaryllis bulbs, the larger the bulb, the more flower stalks youre likely to have when it flowers. And buy several. That way you can stagger the planting times, so youll have indoor colors not only for the holidays, but throughout the winter as well. It takes about 6-8 weeks for these bulbs to flower once they start growing, so plan accordingly.
Plant your amaryllis bulbs using a 6-8 inch pot, good drainage, and use the soil-less potting mix. Plant your bulb so that its buried to just below the neck of the bulb. Place your bulb in a warm, well lit area, water sparingly at first, then water as needed as it grows, and in 6-8 weeks your amaryllis will be in full color. Its as easy as that.
Paperwhites not only add great colors, but also a wonderful fragrance. Now, planting your paperwhites is a little different than the amaryllis, as well use saucers and small gravel to plant in. Fill your saucer with the gravel, and then nestle the paperwhite bulbs down into the gravel. Add water, so that the water is barely touching the bottoms of the bulbs. Place in a warm, well lit area, add water as needed, and watch them do their thing! Again, buy extras, stagger the planting, and youll have paperwhites flowering off and on all winter long.
Now, once the amaryllis is finished flowering cut off the flower stalk and let the foliage continue to grow. Well get these to re-flower next year. As for the paperwhites, well theyre a one shot deal. Once they flower, theyre finished; throw them away. And one last note, if you want to keep your paperwhites shorter, add a splash of Gin to the water. It really works!
[Why was the skeleton afraid to cross the road? He had no guts.]
*ITS HONEY DO THIS AND HONEY DO THAT If you didnt feed the lawn in September, theres still time to do so now, keep mowing at a higher level, never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade when you mow, change directions each time, throw those clippings back into the turf, as well as those early falling leaves, and keep that mower blade sharpened, wait for the frost to kill the tops on summer bulbs, then dig, clean and store them away for the winter, have your soil tested so adjustments can be made over the fall and winter, nows a great time to begin feeding your larger trees, either by using a Ross Root Feeder, or by vertical mulching, keep collecting diseased leaves and throwing them away, start a compost pile if you dont have one already, plenty of time to be planting new trees and shrubs, evergreens and perennials, spring bulbs, etc., still time to be sodding new lawns, still time to core aerate the lawn, remember that technically, our final winter mulching should happen after the ground has received a good freeze, keep those gutters cleared from fallen leaves, place a netted covering over your pools and ponds to keep out falling leaves and other debris, keep falling leaves off newly seeded areas, still time to transplant and or divide most perennials, and by all means, make sure you do get out to enjoy the wonderful fall festivals, what fall colors well be seeing, and this absolutely great time of the year!
[Know why skeletons dont go out on the town? They have no body to go out with. ]
Thats it for this week.