The Garden Plot | The Stokes News

Saint Luke’s Little Summer is here – Today is St. Luke’s Day in this next week is known as “St. Luke’s Little Summer”. This means that for a week or so, we will have several warm, dry, sunny days before we reach the end of the month. We need to enjoy it while we can because November and the first hard freeze is on the way!

Giving evergreens an autumn shaping – As we near the end of October, it’s a great time to trim evergreens and azalea bushes and shape them up for the upcoming Christmas decorating season. With the last of Octobers warm days, this is a good opportunity to complete this important task.

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Indian summer is a beautiful season – An array of colors of leaves, crows cawing in the distant trees, the last roses blooming, and a cool nip in the air make Indian Summer a thing of beauty. Smoke curls from chimneys and the aroma of Oakwood feels the air. With daylight savings time gone, darkness comes quickly as well as a noticeable me up in the air.

Mustard greens and “Pot Likker” – The season of autumn and the first harvest of curly mustard seeds steaming in the pot on the stove leaves a distinctive odor in the kitchen. Later the greens will be done and drained from the pot leaving the liquid which is the main ingredient of pot likker. Unlike my grandma in North Hampton County made with country ham hocks, we use light margarine and a few bacon bits for flavor plus salt, pepper, and a dash of Karo syrup. Instead of fried corn bread, we use salad croutons in the “likker.” Croutons are a good product and have many uses such as making turkey dressing, bread pudding, salmon and crab cakes plus using instead of crackers and a bowl of soup as well as in “pot likker.” My grandma called “pot likker” Poor man’s stew, in my opinion, it’s just good eating.

How to buy the perfect jack-o’-lantern – Halloween is less than two weeks away and nothing speaks like the season more than a smiling, lit up jack-o’-lantern on the front porch. We have a few suggestions on selecting and carving a pumpkin into a jack-o’-lantern:

1. Select a pumpkin that is bright orange

2. Made very sure the pumpkin has a stem, which will be a handle for the jack-o’-lantern as well as a lid to keep all the light inside

3. Make sure the pumpkin is firm and solid with no yellow or rotten spots

4. Mark the pumpkin with a black permanent marker before carving it.

5. Cut a hole at stem of pumpkin and reserve the stem and top for a lid

6. Scoop Out pulp and seeds

7. Dry inside the pumpkin with several paper towels

8. Use a variety of knives to carve out the face of the pumpkin

9. Use a fat, votive candle inside the jack-o’-lantern for brighter, long lasting light

10. Always blow the candle out when leaving home

Painting turnips for Halloween décor – Over 100 years ago, turnips were a choice of Halloween decorating because they were a staple in every southern garden plot. Most pies back then were not pumpkin but sweet potato. Turnips are already colorful with white bottoms and purple tops and all they needed to do was paint a face with poster paint and use yarn for hair. You can paint a turnip or two for a table decoration and use acrylic paint instead of poster paint. A scarecrow hat can be made from construction paper. Candy corn, harvest Hershey kisses or creme pumpkins can be used, around the Decour. Used turn ups as a centerpiece. Keep plenty of sweets to replenish the centerpiece.

Protecting outside water faucet with a heavy duty cover – A hard freeze is about a month away. Buy a protective insulated cover for your outside faucets to prevent water pipes from freezing. You can purchase them at Lowes or Home Depot for $10-$12. They are easy to install and will last for many years. Always remove hoses from faucets in cold weather. If you use faucet water in winter, disconnect hoses and store them to prevent frozen hoses. Replace faucet cover after using water in winter.

Investing in a cover for outside air conditioner – The condenser outside unit on your air-conditioner needs protection from freezing weather. They cover made of protective waterproof vinyl can be purchased at Home Depot, Lowes or where you purchased your unit. They cost less than $20 and will last for many years. All you need to do is measure the size of the unit and purchased the size needed.

Candy corn, Creme pumpkins, and Kisses – All three of these products have been around for over 100 years and still a tradition today. Candy corn and creme pumpkins are related because both only have four ingredients, sugar, flavoring, milk and corn starch. Loaded with calories but unforgettable from Halloween all the way until Christmas. Hersheys kisses are over 100 years old and for years was only sold in silver foil but now change colors at Easter, Valentines, Christmas, and Halloween and Thanksgiving. They are as American as Chevy and apple pie!

Enjoying a full hunters moon – Wednesday, October 24, 2018, we can enjoy a full hunters moon rising in the evening and glowing all night on country lanes and meadows as well as open fields across North Carolina. At grandmas North Hampton Country home place, we remember a hunters moon shining down on freshly harvested peanut fields and cotton fields and hearing Hounds treeing coons, with no streetlights and no electricity. It made that moon seem 10 times brighter! Enjoy this moon by riding down a country lane where there is not any light except the moon.


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