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Friday, May 13, 2011

Sleep, Creep, Leap and a Bit of Sweet

I must apologize for my lack of posts and visits lately. The culprit, Fishing Creek Greenhouse. Remember this picture from way back in March?

Now, feast your eyes upon this!

And this!

Yes siree "Bob", We're a bloomin', Bigtime! Well, Fishing Creek is anyway. Me? Not so much.

Mound October 2010

You see, last year I decided I wanted to plant a simple flower garden; my first. Although I have planted quite a few larger flower gardens in my time, I've never actually had one of my very own. I've designed herb gardens and perennial gardens and even one knot garden for others, just as a hobby, but personally, except for a few decorative accents, I've always gone by the way of a veggie garden. Now that I live in "farm country," here in Central PA, and don't actually have to do farm work, I'm delighted to visit the neighborhood stands for the fresh produce of the day.

I haven't learned the seasonal calendar quite yet but I don't mind, surprise crops excite our menu. I have, discovered however that the season begins with baked goods. All kinds of goodies!

My approach to my new flower garden was rather cavalier. Oh, mind you, I drew sketches and graphs and wrote little note cards just like normal but, I pretty much tossed them mid stream. Figuratively that is. You see, I'm a clipper. If you spy me snooping about one of your plants or trees, don't be too alarmed until, you see this.

These are my trusty scissors. They are with me at all times. (not on my trips to Idaho of course:) I can whip them out in a moments notice if something strikes my fancy.

For instance, see this Red Twig Dogwood? I call it my Pizza Hut plant. Two years ago last December, when I was still living in New York, I made my usual 5 hour trek up to PA to check on the house. Alone and hungry, I decided to pick up something to nibble at on my way home. As I pulled into the Pizza Hut parking lot, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but this blazing red twig of a thing resting on a blanket of snow. I'm not sure if it was the way the neon sign was glowing or if my tired eyes were playing tricks on me but I immediately knew I had to have a piece. Plant piece not pizza piece, yet:) Out came my trusty scissor. Ever so gingerly I plowed through the snow bank, looked left, then right and then, SNIP! It was mine. Little did I know what it was and little did I care. I liked it and that, was That. The personal pan pizza supreme, not too much. There are many more clipping stories but I'll spare you, this time:)

Besides my clipping escapades, I'm also a seed snatcher. One morning late last summer, when I stopped at the local post office, I noticed the prettiest Marigolds caressing the cool white limestone. I always had Marigolds growing in the vegetable garden, it's one of the best companion plants there are for keeping aphids away. However, I don't think I ever appreciated them for their simplistic beauty. The post office Marigolds, that's what my labels read on my seedlings that are beginning to sprout, were a must have. La de la de la, with scissor in pocket, I slip into the post office to drop off my package. Dum dee dum dee dum, I lean over, dead head a few pretty marigolds and drop them in my pocket and quietly drive away.

Of course, I also enjoy actually buying plants too. That's when I met Katie. Katie has expanded her growing selections quite a bit this year. For one thing, this year she's growing Cockscomb. Yes, there's a story. I bought this Cockscomb flower head at a local flea market back in 2009. It stayed a striking bright red for months and months. As it began to fade, I noticed these teeny tiny seeds flaking around the bottom of the vase. Gee, I wondered, could they really be viable seeds. Will they grow? The answer dear readers is YES! You see that fuzzy trim near the top of the stem? The specks are hidden inside. How cool is that?

Well, as you can imagine, I managed to collect quite an assortment of seeds and twigs. I also bought way too many plants as the season progressed. Not knowing which would reproduce and which would not, I carefully labeled the seeds I was sure of and slipped them into envelopes. The seeds and twigs I wasn't so sure of I simply labeled don't know. Very scientific, don't you think?

Which leads us to the mound.

Mound April 2011

Funny thing about Pennsylvania soil. It's clay. I haven't quite gotten use to it yet. Coming from Long Island, I never really had to deal with clay soil. Although Long Island soil needs to be dressed to suit a plant's needs, you can pretty much get away with planting most zone friendly plants with little consideration. That has been my experience anyway. Okay, so I am accused of having a pale green thumb. That's not to say the soil doesn't have to be worked. It does. However, conditioning soil in Central PA is from the ground up, literally. Which is more than surprising to me. I'm in the center of an agricultural community and quite frankly, I am sometimes amazed by the cream of the crops. We're talking toiling here, back breaking work! I now understand why landscaping Long Island "style" is not Pennsylvania style. By the time residents have worked the fields, who has time for flower gardening. And yet, professional landscaping is a booming business around here. I figured that out too. There's just so much land and open space. It needs to be tending to. Good thing for me I don't have quite an acre. If I had more than that, I'd be going by the way of pro landscaper or au naturel. (I may not even take care of the weeds in the yard. I may leave them natural as well. We'll see:)

Okay, so at the end of the season last year, I scavenged around for compost, top soil and all the trimmings. My plan was to plop a mixture in a mound and plant it with whatever my little heart desired. Not so fast. Remember those plans and sketches? Well, they called for a little less plopping and a bit more planning. But, what do do with the stash of seeds and twigs? Plant, plant, plant. Out the window went the best laid plans. I've got seedlings growing everywhere! I had so many youths hanging around here that I had to send some off to Katie's greenhouse for her to grow and sell. And, Marion hasn't been totally innocent in this questionable endeavor. Let's just call her the mail order gardening Queen. Seriously, we get nursery deliveries nearly every day. Mostly bulbs. All kinds of bulbs. Most of them are planted in big tubs so I can move them around the yard or put them in front of the shed. However, right smack in the middle of the mound are planted four tulip trees. Yes, tulip trees. I must admit, I'm new to Tulip Trees. I haven't seen one up close and personal, but if they grow as the directions say they will, they should be 6 feet in three years. Now, I call that leaping!!! Beautiful gifts from Marion:)

I'm focusing more on perennials while Katie is growing wild in annuals. People seem to like instant color after a long winter such as we had this year. Me, I don't mind waiting. As a matter of fact, Katie has a saying about perennials.

The first year they sleep.
The second year they creep.
The third year they Leap!

Tis true, you know:) My bird inviting butterfly inspiring flower bed is going to be my back yard sanctuary you just wait and see!!!

Mound May 2011

I did need help putting up the fence but the rest, well you guessed it, little 'ol me. Hey, I even bought a dump truck that I can barely drive. What do you think of this, Marjie:)

How else would I haul manure? Yes, gentle readers, I've been working my butt off. That's okay though. It's been a long difficult winter all around and believe me, my butt has plenty to show for it:) I'll keep you posted on how the growing is going but for now, rest quietly knowing I'm thinking about you all and will try to at least post once a week until things are a bit more situated around here. Who knows, maybe I'll finally buy that laptop I've been promising myself and blog right from my own little corner of the world.

A Bit of Sweet

I just can't leave you without dropping off at least one note of trivia and a few recipes, now can I? How about something sweet? Karo for instance. According to the Karo website, on May 13, 1902, both Karo Light and Dark Corn Syrup were first introduced by the The Corn Products Refining Company of New York and Chicago. 1902? Wow! Karo is older than Marion. Marion, however, is much more refined:) It just so happens that I have a few Karo Corn syrup cookbooks. The Corn Products Refining Company was never stingy with their vast amount of promotions. But that dear readers will have to be a post for another day.

Since the state of Minnesota celebrated its statehood on May 11th, why not begin with a recipe from Minnesota? BTW, did you know, Minnesota is the "birthplace" of both SPAM & and Betty Crocker? As a matter of fact, like many states, Minnesota has an official state food. Curious? Check this out. You may as well check out the SPAM museum, also in Minnesota, while you're at it. I'll be plating up some Potato Piggies while you're gone. The recipe is from The New Karo All American Cook Book. (a collection of prize winning recipes from all 50 states and other favorites from the Karo kitchens)

Potato Piggies
2 cups cooked mashed potatoes
8 frankfurters, halved crosswise
1/2 cup corn flake crumbs
1/2 cup Karo dark corn syrup
1 cup canned French fried onion rings
parsley, optional

Directions
1. Spread potatoes completely around each frankfurter half with spatula or knife.
2. Roll in corn flake crumbs
3. Arrange in lightly grease 8 inch square baking dish and drizzle with Karo syrup.
4. Sprinkle with onion rings and parsley flakes.
5. Bake, uncovered, in 350° F. oven 20 to 25 minutes, or until well browned and crisp.
Makes 4 servings.

And, you thought Karo was only good for Pecan Pie. Or is it? (see resource #1 for pecan pie info. Way cool...) The next recipe I'm just going to scan. It's way past my bedtime, now that I'm an official gardener, and I have to haul a few loads of mulch tomorrow:)

Sadly, I won't be posting this Sunday, which happens to be National Chocolate Chip Day. Yes, I know, some celebrate in August but Candy USA goes with May and I'm with them! (August Chocolate Chips? Not so much:) In the midst of everything, we're having our annual community yard sale this weekend. Oh I know, a city girl like me speaking community yard sale language. What has happened to me:) It should be fun with lots of food including a chicken barbecue compliments of our local firehouse. Those guys:) Marion is really looking forward to it. I won't even tell you how many hats, scarves and darling little purses she crocheted. Last year she simply gave them away to anyone who "looked" like they wanted one. There were many:) Enjoy the rest of your week everyone. "See" you next week, for sure!!!

Resources
Repast, the official publication of the Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor. (scroll to Summer 2006)