Mayberry Days | Mt. Airy News

Pre-autumn weather lore

With autumn less than two weeks away, it’s time to stir up a bit of pre-autumn weather lore to boost the change of the season. When the hawk flies high, we can expect Carolina blue sky, but when the hawk flies low we can expect a blow. There are all kinds of hawks around the garden plot, the crafty chicken hawk is the most common. When he flies low, he can be a hard blow for the birds. Their activity stops and everything gets quiet. The birds have a weapon which is communication with each other and they also perform a disappearing act when the chicken hawk flies low. After all the birds get settled in their hideaways, several sentries will gather together and chase the hawk away in flight. After danger is past, the birds return to their activity and singing. It is amazing how tame they seem when a chicken hawk flies low. They place themselves in “fly and hide” mode when the chicken hawk is looking for a meal. They always have to stay a step ahead of the swooping chicken hawk.

Preparing for the long journey South

The hummingbirds are busy at the feeders as autumn gets ready to make its advent. They are on a mission as they arrive early at the feeders and visit often all the way until sunset. Keep plenty of nectar in the feeders so they will feel at home as the annuals of summer continue to slow down and a cool nip invades the twilight air. Your feeder of nectar will boost their source of nourishment. The hummers should be in our area until around the first week in October. It is then that cool temperatures will signal that their journey to winter in Mexico is imminent. Their long trip will take them across the Gulf of Mexico.

Broccoli performs better in winter

Broccoli can be raised in the garden in both early spring and autumn. Broccoli performs much better by far during the season of autumn because during the colder temperatures there are no cabbage butterflies laying eggs and hatching larvae and virtually zero insect pests. The heads last over a long season and don’t bolt into seed until late spring assuring a longer and productive harvest.

The varieties that produce multiple shoots over a long season such as Blue Comet, Premium Crop, Raab, Packman, De Cicco, and Lieutenant. Johnny’s Select Seeds has great varieties of broccoli that perform well in over-winter production such as Arcadia, Marathon, and Eastern Magic. You can order a catalog from them at Johnny’s Select Seeds, 955 Benton Avenue, Winslow, Maine 04901-2601. The Johnny’s catalog has one of the largest selections of greens in the country as well as herbs and bee balm seed. Set broccoli plants about three feet apart for winter production. Keep the heads and shoots cleanly harvested and they will continue to produce until early spring.

The season of the mum is with us

These colorful flowers are making their appearance in nurseries, hardware’s, garden centers, Home Depot, Lowe’s Home Improvements, Ace Hardware, and Walmart. Mums will endure through the harshness of winter with some protection such as keeping them towards the rear of the porch away from cold north winds and covering with a towel or cloth on freezing nights. Remove the cloth when the temperature rises above freezing. Mums come in colors of yellow, white, brown, maroon, pink, and wine. Feed them once a month with Flower-Tone organic flower food. Water them sparingly to prevent the medium in the container from freezing. Keep them towards the back of the porch all winter for protection from cold and freezing temperatures.

The first pie pumpkins are appearing

The pumpkins for cooking and canning are now appearing at produce and fruit markets and can be purchased for pumpkin pies or for canning to make pumpkin pies or desserts all year long. Home canned pumpkin is much better than canned store-bought pumpkin because commercially canned pumpkin has more water and not enough flavor, and has a lack of texture.

Here is how to make the very best canned pumpkin for pies and recipes. Select the pumpkins that are not round (these are strictly for decoration and jack o’ lanterns). Buy the pumpkins that are oblong or shaped like watermelons and may be very light orange, beige, or tan in color, but will be dark yellow or orange inside. Slice the pumpkins in half and remove the seeds. Divide pumpkin into slices and peel each slice and cut the slices into one-inch sized chunks. Place the chunks in a canner and cover with water and boil until tender. Drain all water from the cooked pumpkin. Run the pumpkin through the blender in grate mode or mash the pumpkin with a potato masher. Pour the grated or mashed pumpkin into sterilized pint jars, draining any excess water. Process in a pressure canner at ten pounds pressure for fifty minutes. One pint of this pumpkin will make two pies.

Plenty of time to set out spring bulbs

It is not too early to have thoughts of spring 2023 and start by purchasing the bulbs of hyacinth, jonquils, daffodils, crocus, tulips, and narcissus. Now hardware’s, nurseries, garden centers, Home Depots, Ace Hardware, Lowe’s Home Improvement, and Walmart have bulbs in stock. They also have bone meal and bulb booster to help get bulbs off to a good start. Purchase bulbs that are in individual bins or mesh bags so you can check for rot or mold. Bulbs can be planted from now until before the ground freezes.

When to expect autumn’s first frost?

With autumn less than two weeks away, when is the first frost of autumn expected? The chances are rare that we will see an early frost, in fact most of our first frosts occur the week before Halloween although Oct. 15 is the date frost can be possible. The first frost is usually just a dusting but not a killing frost which occurs around the first of November.

The September front porch is comfortable

The four o’clocks are still in full bloom. The crows are making their noise as well as the crickets and the humming birds are still on the zoom. The mid-summer roses are still in bloom and the zinnias are on their last leg of summer. The porch is comfortable as the sun begins to set and produce the colors that will end in a sunset pattern. There is a new season just beyond that horizon that will open in less than two weeks.

The first of autumn leaves turning

There is a red tint in the leaves of the dogwood and some yellow in the maples and a few leaves are already falling. As the leaves will soon be covering the lawn, remember that they are ingredients for compost, mulch, and a blanket for cool weather vegetable crops, and to protect rose bushes and azalea during the cold winter. Never burn leaves or let the wind blow them away, but put them to a good use.

Making a four layer Dirt Dessert

This is a no-bake, easy-to-make dessert that you can prepare in just a few minutes. You will need one package of chocolate Oreo cookies, two three ounce boxes of Jello instant chocolate pudding mix, one cup 10x confectioners powdered sugar, one eight ounce package of cream cheese, two eight ounce tubs of Cool Whip, one stick of light margarine. For the first layer: In a 13x9x2 inch baking dish, break the cookies and lay them on the bottom of the dish. Melt the stick of light margarine and pour over the cookies.

For the second layer: Mix the 10x sugar, one of the cartons of Cool Whip and the eight ounce pack of cream cheese (softened). Mix all together in a bowl and allow it to set until you mix the third layer and then spread this second layer over the cookies.

For the third layer: Mix the two boxes of instant chocolate pudding mix with two cups of milk and let it set to thicken. Spread over the second layer.

For the fourth layer: Spread the other tub of Cool Whip over the top of the chocolate pudding layer and run about eight Oreos through the blender in “grate” mode and sprinkle over the top of the Cool Whip.

September is time to plant perennials, evergreens

September provides the best opportunity of the year for planting evergreens and perennials because the days are getting cooler and the root systems of evergreens and perennials can establish themselves over the winter. They will suffer less transplant shock because perennials and evergreens are very cold hardy. We like the perennials of bee balm, columbine, bugle weed, creeping phlox, coral bells, dianthus, creeping jenny, and thrift. Planting in September will provide them a good start and you can enjoy green in winter for many years to come.

Hoe hoe hoedown

Two frogs were sitting on a log by the creek bank. One of them leaned towards the other and said, “Time sure is fun when you are having flies.”

Two desserts. Mom: “Today, we are having two desserts and you have a choice of good or evil.” Johnny: “What do

mean by that?” Mom: “Angel food and devil food!”

The bright night of Full Harvest Moon

The brightest full moon of the year will rise on the evening of Saturday, Sept. 10. If the night is cool, this moon will be a bright silver moon and shine down on corn fields filled with feed corn ready to harvest. It will shed its light on trees that are not far from shedding their leaves. Keep an eye on this moon each night before you go to bed as it sails along through the night. Think about farmers of the past who harvested crops by the light of a harvest moon or Bill Monroe or Eddy Amold singing the “Kentucky Waltz:” We were waltzing alone in Kentucky beneath the beautiful harvest moon. When I was a boy in Kentucky, it all ended too soon. I see your face in the moonlight and I long once more to see your face and the beautiful Kentucky Waltz.

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