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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • 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.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.

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