Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

May the Good Things of Life
Be Yours In Abundance,
Not only at Thanksgiving,
But throughout the coming year.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.
With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.
The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring."

- Elizabeth Coatsworth

Jack Frost...nipping at your plants?

It happened while I was writing this article. Our local meteorologists forecast nighttime temperatures low enough to nip at the tender flowers and greens in our gardens...and this time, they were correct.

As always, researching this article has uncovered some good information about frost and how to best protect plants.

A bit about frost:
Unless your yard is perfectly level (lucky you), you may have noticed that frost will visit some areas of your property more (or less) than others. Since cold air is heavier than warmer air, the cold air will settle in low lying areas, such as at the bottom of an incline. Pockets of this colder air will sink down until it settles into a depression or hollow. Since it then stops moving, it may cause frost damage on plants. Other factors affecting frost are your house/garage, protective trees,

Although we don't have such high altitudes in Northern Rhode Island, in your travels you may have noticed that higher altitudes, with thinner air, experience colder temperatures which makes those areas prone to frost.

Frost protection tips to protect your precious plants:

  • Water before an expected frost. Moist soil retains the heat of the day better
    than dry soil.
  • Cover plants with burlap or cloth...never use plastic.
  • Other coverings that work well include inverted buckets, cardboard boxes, paper
    bags and even newspapers.
  • Don't let coverings get your plants down. Use stakes to support the weight of the covering. Know that wherever a plant touches the covering, it is less protected.
  • Keep your wraps in place. Lightweight coverings should be weighted down with rocks so they don't blow away.
  • Potted plants are particularly susceptible to the cold since there is little soil protecting their roots from freezing temperatures.
  • House plants and tropical plants should be brought into your home for the winter or you can bury the pot in the soil and cover the foliage with burlap. 
  • Annuals and other flowering plants can be saved by covering them before dusk. After the sun sets, the temperature in your garden drop quickly.
  • Covers must be removed from plants in the morning, before the sun hits them. Otherwise, your plants may overheat as the daytime temperatures rise.
  • To warm up your plants, water them just before sunrise when the temperature dips to 32 degrees or colder. Water won't help once the damage has occurred.
  • Have you seen chemical sprays to protect plants from frost? There is no commercial product that really works.
  • Tomatoes are extremely sensitive to frost. Pick all the tomatoes that are in the late stage of green, just prior to ripening. Store them in a single layer, not crowded, in a dark room that is warmer than 55 degrees. They will ripen, but won't have the amazing flavor of vine-ripened tomatoes.

Of course, these are temporary measures. Eventually the temperatures will get so cold, our plants will succumb despite our best efforts. Personally, the longer I can hold onto growing season, the happier I am.

http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/weather/frost.pdf (Compiled by Eric de Long Chemung 9/01, References: Reiners, Stephen. Preventing Damage from an Early Frost. Cornell University Consumer News Service. September, 2001. Anonymous. Understanding Frost. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Albany County fact sheet. 1995.)

The door was shut, as doors should be,
Before you went to bed last night;
Yet Jack Frost has got in, you see,
And left your window silver white.

He must have waited till you slept;
And not a single word he spoke,
But pencilled o'er the panes and crept
Away again before you woke.

And now you cannot see the hills
Nor fields that stretch beyond the lane;
But there are fairer things than these
His fingers traced on every pane.

- Excerpt from Jack Frost, by Gabriel Setoun

Apple Pumpkin Muffins

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup canned or cooked pumpkin
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups finely chopped peeled apples
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons cold butter or margarine

  1. In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients.
  2. In another bowl, combine the eggs, pumpkin and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
  3. Fold in apples.
  4. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.
  5. In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over batter.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Frost looked forth one still, clear night,
And whispered, "Now I shall be out of sight;
So, through the valley, and over the height,
In silence I'll take my way.
I will not go on like that blustering train,
The wind and the snow, the hail and the rain,
That make such a bustle and noise in vain,
But I'll be as busy as they!"
So he flew to the mountain, and powdered its crest;
He lit on the trees, and their boughs he drest
With diamonds and pearls; and over the breast
Of the quivering lake he spread
A coat of mail, that it need not fear
The downward point of many a spear
That he hung on its margin, far and near,
Where a rock could rear its head.

- Excerpt from "Jack Frost" by Hannah F. Gould.
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"The name 'November' is believed to derive from
'novem' which is the Latin for the number 'nine'.
In the ancient Roman calendar,
November was the ninth month after March.
As part of the seasonal calendar November
is the time of the 'Snow Moon'
according to Pagan beliefs and
the period described as the 'Moon of the Falling Leaves' by Black Elk."