Gardener's Grapevine 2011.11.23

Written by David Green.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my gardening friends! I hope it is an enjoyable holiday for all. Sunday the church organist played “Count Your Many Blessings.” It is such a simple song, yet so beautiful and appropriate for any time of the year.

There are so many blessings as well as wonders in gardening and nature. One wonder is that plants appear year after year. Even the least experienced gardener has something reappear. The weeds do such a fabulous job for me of showing up year after year. Sarcasm aside, wouldn’t our world be very dull without the changing seasons and the many plants that go with them?

Holly blooms just in time to use in our holiday décor, evergreen stays green all year so the world is not so barren when the hard woods go to sleep, pine cones drop and we use them in our décor. I think my Uncle Dwight would be happier if his pine tree never shed a cone as he cleans up a truckload every year according to my aunt. My point is that nature supplies us with all we need on a continuous basis if we just look around.

Many people think Christmas must come from a store, which is not true at all. You can have all you need to decorate with a little gathering outside and a few common things in your home. For those of you who are like me and born with the gene that is eternally mesmerized by sparkle, break out the glue and glitter and jazz it up. Pine cones are very pretty with fairy dust glitter glimmering on them and a small drill will pierce them enough to put a bit of string on for hanging.

Blessings come in many ways and they surround us. There are two sets of cardinals in the pine tree between the Johnson’s home and ours. The blessing is they raise their young there every year and their beautiful red feathers brighten the dark dreary winter months as they flit about and feed at the feeders.

My father must really like parsnips as he asks me to write about them often. While I have heard they are very delicious I have never actually eaten them, nor do I know how to cook them. I also do not recall seeing him eat them. He says he has and being 20 years my senior, who am I to disagree?

So how do you grow parsnips? Certainly not the way Art and I did the one and only time we tried. They did nothing. Dud seed or dud gardeners…we never found out which, and never tried again. 

With that said, I did a little background work and found that prior to when potatoes became available in the sixteenth century, parsnips were used as a staple in diets in the same way as potatoes are today. They are a winter crop and a root crop. Their flavor progressively improves as winter progresses, especially after their roots freeze. Being that it is a root, my guess would be the fine roots on the ends need to freeze.

Parsnips like rich, heavy soil that is neutral or alkaline. They should be planted as soon as the soil is able to be worked in very early spring, and they grow all year long. They prefer sun to part sun and should be in rows spaced 12-18 inches apart. Seeds should be planted ¾-inch deep and two inches apart. They should be watered well but not frequently as they don’t like wet feet, just damp.

With this being the directions I wish you well. Maybe I’ll give it another try. Just a little note from the sites I obtained this info from: Make sure your seed is not old. Well golly, isn’t that a novel idea! 

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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