Kentucky Nature Preserves manages four distinct programs to conserve Kentucky’s natural areas. While these programs all share common goals—rare species habitat, environmental education opportunities, and conserving natural areas through a combination of land acquisition, conservation easements, and public-private partnerships– they have some differences. Find out what’s happening in our commonwealth’s national areas by reading the 2020 Report.
Though this has been an unusual year, it does not have to be a disappointing year. You and I can help to make it rewarding by participating in a project for our Garden Club of Kentucky president, Donna Smith!
Because we care for the environment, we love and care for our wild birds, our song birds, and a few other birds. In doing so, we collect personal experiences which we now have an opportunity to share.
Please take a few minutes to jot down a paragraph or two, recounting one of your personal avian experiences. Pictures of the bird are welcome! Email to me by March 15, 2021, and I will put your experiences in a small book form, honoring Donna, and we will dispense these at our state Convention in Berea come spring.
Here’s an example:
A few days ago, I ran an errand in downtown Bowling Green. I pulled into a parking space across the street from a couple of large trees. As I pulled in, I looked up into these trees just in time to see three big, black crows take off in pursuit of another large bird. I was amazed to recognize this bird as a Red Tailed Hawk – in downtown Bowling Green!
He flew into another nearby tree, followed by the crows and all settled on different branches. The crows said to each other:
“Go get him!”
“No! You go get him!”
“You two go get him, and I will keep this branch warm for you!”
While this decision was being discussed, the Hawk took wing and flew off into a bright blue, a burning blue, the wild blue yonder!
I will need at least twelve experiences from twelve members in order to go to print. So, please, take a few minutes and from your book of memories, write a paragraph or two or three about your special song bird experience for the “Bird Songs” first edition!
Jo Jean Scott, GCKY Bird Chairman
- Peonies – Remove this year’s perennials spent foliage. If peony foliage has fallen, rake it up to prevent disease carrying over to next year. If still attached pull it from the base. Do not add to the compose. Plant peonies while soil temperature is above 40 degrees(Sunday it was 60). Peonies planted now will grow feeder hair roots that take up nutrients preparing them for early spring growth.
- Pumpkins – According to Margaret Roach, garden writer, recycle your un-cut pumpkin into a planter. Remove the top, clean the interior, fill 3/4s with potting soil and plant a perennial or spring seeds. When the pumpkin begins to wilt, plant it in the garden where it will provide nutrients as it breaks down.
- Roses – Jackson & Perkins has introduced its 2021 roses. Pre-order now and pay when shipped. firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-800-292-4769.
- Houseplants – Protect plants from pets and small children by placing containers out of their reach. Keep foliage off of cold windows. Start Christmas cactus plants by placing 6” long leaf segments. When roots appear, plant in potting soil and share with friends.
- Trees and shrubs – Use evergreen prunings to make wreaths. Submerge the prunings in water overnight to condition them, then place in a container with enough water to cover the stem ends, then in a cool location until ready to use. Magnolia is the longest lasting in or out of water. Pine dries the fastest. Personalize your holiday wreaths. Check out online and local nurseries for live wreath design ideas. Alternately, purchase an undecorated evergreen wreath and add evergreens from your yard. Include magnolia leaves and pods, deciduous leaves, spirea and ginkgo branches, dried perennial stems, privet berry clusters, bittersweet, and whatever of interest from your yard.
Warm spring, mild summer and plenty of water this year produced a bumper crop of vegetables. Some continue to produce more. No doubt you have given lots of vegetables and fruits to friends and neighbors, and frozen and canned the rest. What do you do with the remaining vegetables? Our grandparents saved them in the root cellar. Few of us have , but can create similar
Not all vegetables have the same storage requirements. Some prefer cold and dry, others cold and moist.
Storage is similar to that of tender flower bulbs. Store in a cool basement, unheated attic but not in an enclosed garage as the roots will absorb vehicle exhaust. Occasionally check as to moistness or dryness, rot, or root growth. If vegetables freeze, use them as soon as possible.
It is important to store vegetables at a consistent temperature. Insulated coolers packed with hamster bedding, straw, or newsprint are ideal. Vegetables that like cold and damp prefer 32-60 degrees with high humidity. Radishes and rutabagas store for 2-3 months; and beets, carrots and turnips 4-5 or 6 months. Remove excess foliage and keep roots from touching to reduce rot.
Cool and dry vegetables prefer 40-60 degrees. Store in wire baskets for greater air circulation, lower humidity (60-70 percent). Place onions( on high shelves(warmer). Hang garlic in mesh bags in a dark location Both onion and garlic will last 5-8 months.. Place beets, radishes and turnips into soil, in a bright window to provide winter harvest. Sweet potatoes will last 4-6 months, require 55-60 degrees and darkness. Keep winter squashes at 55-60 degrees. Store on an upper shelf individually. Acorn, small pumpkins and spaghetti squash last 1-3 months, buttercup and large pumpkins 3-4, and Hubbard and butternut 6 months.
Things to Do…
Watering your plants
If you’re watering your houseplants with chlorinated water, allow the chlorine to outgas from the water by filling watering cans or bottles 24-48 hours before using. To avoid confusion as to what was watered when, mark a calendar that is kept with houseplant supplies.
- Plant tulips now, but start daffodils in December. Tulips like moderate planting weather, and daffodils, cool to cold. Plant bulbs pointing up. Sometimes it is difficult to determine corm roots. If in doubt, plant on them on their side. Mark planting site using plastic knives or spoons to prevent planting on top of them.
- Continue to treat broadleaf weeds. Protect good plants by placing carboard between spray and good plants. Let the spray settle before moving to the next plant. Sprays can be used during temperatures to 40 degrees and at least three days before a rain.
- When mum flowers fade, plant in ground and cut back nearly to the ground.
- Check attachments of climbing rose cane and retie as needed. Tie with strips of nylon stocking as they are soft and stretch.
- Order live and/or cut Christmas trees for delivery no sooner than mid-December. Select the location for the live tree and prepare its site. Contact in advance your city, park or school to donate your live tree.
- Continue to plant new trees. Stake (two on per tree) through one season to let it settle in and build a strong root system.
- Remove spent plants and continue to harvest producing ones.
- Pull up tomato plants, and in an unheated place, wrap individual fruits in paper to ripen.
- Wash, dry, and apply liquid wax to pumpkins to extend their useful life.
- Dig root vegetables to store for the winter, except parsnips which sweeten the longer they stay in the ground.
Mrs. Wallis was a very gracious lady who was very involved with organizations in Paris, Lexington, and New York She also loved sharing her gardens with both adults and children. No doubt this time of year, her dining table was filled with produce from the cutting and vegetable gardens, perhaps arranged in a cornucopia.
We owe the ancient Greeks and Romans for much of our culture from language, art, and even for many of us our traditional Thanksgiving table decorations, specifically the Cornucopia. The wicker basket derives its name from Latin [cornua (horn) and copia (plenty)] for its horn-shape filled to over-flowing with garden produce and flowers. The tradition stems from the Greek myth that Zeus, when he was an infant, broke a horn off a goat that then spilled out foods to nourish him.
As abundant as produce and flowers have been this year, it is appropriate that they should provide the centerpiece for Thanksgiving table. For those who do not have vegetable gardens, reserve a few of the vegetables that will be served on Thanksgiving and later. In place of the cornucopia, any container can be used.
Making the design can be tricky, as each piece must be secured or at least well balanced. I find it easiest to make it in place. Select your container and place it on a tray or water-proof placemat to protect the table. Collect wire, b-b-que skewers, florist stakes, and florist water picks.
Then select the produce. Choose your favorites, remembering you’re limited by the space available, and also do not use fruits or vegetables with high moisture content such as oranges or tomatoes.(too juicy unless hard green) and anything that will attract ants or other insects. Look for small pumpkins, eggplant (purple, white, etc.) corn (Indian, partially shucked yellow) gourds (all colors, sizes and skin texture), dried colorful leaves, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pomegranates.
A pumpkin or gourd stuffed in the opening of the basket provides weight to stabilize it and works an anchor for the vegetables. Place large vegetables first then fill in with smaller. For the last step, use skewers to pin grapes and other cascading fruits. Allow small produce to ‘spill’ out of the basket and on the backside as well.
If serving a buffet, place the cornucopia there. On the dining table, you can place some of the small produce down the center, though of course, decorating is a personal thing. Do what pleases you.
Garden Tasks and Tips
- Pansies are in full bloom. Given protection and a mild winter they will remain blooming through the winter.
- Roses are at their peak. Prune only after they go dormant to reduce root damage from canes being whipped by high winds. Remove matted leaves from flowering plants. Cut flowers to encourage the last bloom of the fall. According to moon signs, today is the best day to plant those that flower. Fertile days the rest of the month are 25-26 and 30-31.
- Lawn –Mow with the leaf shoot facing away from beds. Attach the grass bag to catch mulched leaves. Add to a compost pile or no more than 3 inches deep and away from shrub and tree trunks. Tree bark does not grow roots. It does soften when covered, setting it up for rodent and insect damage
- Insects – Shorter days and cooler temperatures have brought stink bugs in for the winter. They are not destructive, just stink if frightened. They lay eggs in winter, nor bite. Controls: wipe screens with the strong smelling fabric softener sheets; Sarah Welsh, farmanddairy.com, recommends mixing in order: 2 cups hot water, 1 cup white vinegar, and ½ cup dish soap. Or use a tissue to pick the insect up, taking care not to pinch or step on it as it will stink. It is more efficient to vacuum to collect a large group, but discard bags immediately as they will hold the odor.
- Vegetables – Grow tomatoes all winter. Bring in producing plants now to continue for a while. Bonnie L. Grant suggests planting tomato varieties Red Robin(best indoor variety) Yellow Pear and Burpee Basket King(hanging plants). Sow every two weeks for continuous production. Place in a sunny, southern window and turn for even growth.
Burpee is offering a reusable $10 discount on $25 plus orders through June 10, 2021. Limited to one discount per order.
The Jack-o-lanterns of today would not be recognized by those who introduced them to this country. According to Irish legend, Stingy Jack bargained with the Devil and won. The Devil took his revenge by forcing him to wander with only a turnip lantern to guide him.
The Jack-o-lantern today has evolved from only slightly scary to whimsical and even sculptural masterpieces. There are no rules as to what a Jack-o-lantern should be other than “Do you like it?” However, there are guidelines as to which pumpkin is best for which style, and tips on how to carve and lengthen the usable life of the pumpkin.
The best Jack-o-lantern pumpkins are mid-size, smooth thin-skinned, but firm for ease of carving and easier to clean out. Pie pumpkins and Carving pumpkins are interchangeable both for carving and eating; the only difference is pie-type is smaller. Mid-sized range from 8-12 pounds and larger 15-35 pounds. The big ones are harder to carve but dramatic.
Half of the fun of carving your own is selecting it at a pumpkin farm. Ask the staff for the best carving varieties.
Before purchasing, decide on the design and size needed. Inspect the pumpkin for intact stem and no bruises, soft spots or other damage. If hollow sounding when thumped, it is ripe.
Sanitation is important as the pumpkin has a maximum lifespan of 7 days. Before carving, clean tools and hands. Wipe the skin with bleach and cut a hole in the bottom to clean it out. Never carry by its stem, as a broken stem opens the pumpkin up to bacteria. Keep out of direct sun and in a cool location. Wipe out the inside and cut areas with bleach. Use battery-operated candles or flashlights inside instead of live flame. If it starts to shrivel or show mold, soak the pumpkin in bleach water (2 tablespoons per gallon) for a couple of hours
Enjoy your custom Jack-o-lantern and take pictures.
~ by Carolyn Roof
Watch our YouTube Channel for a virtual tour of Susan’s garden in Alvaton.