Blueberries are now in season – The Stokes News

blueberries-are-now-in-season-–-the-stokes-news

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The harvest of blueberries in Stokes County is in progress. Unlike strawberries, it takes awhile to harvest a gallon of blueberries, but their unusual flavor and color will make the picking very worthwhile.
If you go to a field near you to pick your own or to purchase them already picked, head for the out in the early morning hours before the sun heats up. Another thing to carry along with you is plenty of patience: “keep your eyes on the berries and not the bucket,” I like to say. Be determined to make a day of it. If you allow the time and energy, the effort will be well worth it because the blueberries are worth their price.
An incentive while harvesting blueberries is to think about blueberry cobbler, pies, jams, jellies, and freezing of the harvest when you get back home!
The benefits of thunderstorms
During July and August we have few rainy days unless a hurricane brews off the coast. Most of the precipitation we receive comes in the form of afternoon thunderstorms. They form the lifeblood of The Garden Plot in summer, as well as great heat relief. There is also a certain amount of electric energy in a sudden afternoon thunderstorm with the lightning and thunder that accompanies the rain.
A summer of color
There is plenty of bright color in the flower beds adorned with four o’clocks as they now reach full bloom in early evening. Their bright red, white, wine, yellow, pink, with speckles of red, yellow, white, and purple are highlighted in their lush green leafy foliage. They seem to celebrate their own “Christmas in July.” They will continue their show of color all the way until the arrival of frost.
They produce many seeds, resembling small black barrels, that will produce colorful flowers next summer. Not many annuals are as productive as four o’clocks; it’s one of the few that comes back each year.
Potato-digging deadline
Dog Days are in progress and temperatures will only get hotter as the month continues. If you have not done so, now is the time to dig up any Irish potatoes. Store harvested potatoes in a cool dry place away from direct sunlight. Dust them with a layer of powdered lime, clean out the row or bed and place the vines in the compost pile or bin after running the mower over them to break them down.
Use the space where the potatoes were to plant a row of green beans. The very best varieties that produce an abundant late summer harvest are Strike, Top Crop, Tenderette or Derby, which are all bush types. The most productive of all these are the Strike bean. Start beans in a furrow about four inches deep. Line the furrow with a layer of peat moss and sow the seed on the peat moss and cover seed with another layer of peat moss. Apply a layer of Plant-tone organic vegetable food and then a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure. Hill up soil on both sides of the furrow and tamp down soil.
If no rain is in the forecast or no thunderstorm, use the water wand in “spray” or “stream” mode and apply water on top of the row. Apply moisture until seeds germinate. When beans sprout and have two leaves, side dress with Plant-Tone organic plant food and pull up soil on each side of row to cover. Feed green beans every 15 days.
Swallowtails and monarchs
The zinnia bed is a haven for black and yellow tiger swallowtail butterflies and the majestic orange monarchs, as well as finches and bumble bees. A secret of lush foliage and beautiful blooms is to use the water wand to apply a layer of water only to the bottom of the zinnias. This will keep mildew under control.
Summer squash is ready
The straight-neck and crook-neck summer squash harvest is ready. Both squash varieties are great but we prefer the straight-neck for three reasons: They have less seeds, they can be cubed into uniform pieces, and have less moisture. (Even though both varieties have their share of water inside, when you bake or fry them, you do not have to add water.) Just add a little butter, diced onion, salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar and fry until gold and tender.
Blueberry Cake
When the blueberry harvest is in full swing, making this cake is another great reason to go out and pick some berries.
3/4 cup white Karo corn syrup
2 cups plain flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 cups sugar
1 Tbs. Crisco shortening
4 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, mix together flour and baking soda and set aside. In another bowl, combine sugar, shortening, eggs, vanilla, buttermilk and corn syrup. Add flour mixture, then fold in blueberries after mixing all other ingredients well. Grease and flour a 13x9x2 inch baking pan or dish, pour in mixture and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.
Hoe-hoe-hoedown
Teacher: “Joey, tell me what your dreams are about.” Joey: “I dream about playing baseball.” Teacher: “Do you dream about anything else?” Joey: “Nope, just baseball.” Teacher: “Don’t you ever dream about girls?” “What? And miss my turn at bat?”

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