"No two gardens are the same. No two days are the same in one garden."
Wreaths will be back
for the holidays--and better than ever.
All wreaths will be made in
Maine to your order, to insure freshness. Wreaths are double-faced with fresh
picked balsam fir, and are not machine-made.
Information will be available next week in the newsletter and on the website.
On November 19, 1620, when the
Pilgrims landed on Cape Cod, they had all the food they were to need
for the next year aboard their ship the Mayflower. In the spring, as
the weather improved the Pilgrims were met on the beach by a curious
and friendly group of Native American Indians from the Wampanoag
tribe, who were also eager to learn about their new neighbors.
The two different groups sat down
and began this new adventure by learning about each other's customs,
how they could work together to help each other and share their
knowledge for a better life together. This was the first and one of
the few times two nations sat down and talked for the better of all.
The pilgrims brought new farming methods, new food crops, herbs,
animals, and medicine to help the sick. The Wampanoag brought skills
for fishing, hunting, trapping and their own type of agriculture
which dealt with native plants and how to survive the elements during
a harsh New England winter.
At that first Thanksgiving dinner
the two nations celebrated their first year together, they cooked
their native foods to celebrate their mutual friendship and their
bond to work together in the future. One of the foods the Wampanoag
Indians probably served was the native cranberry, as it was used by
them fresh, dried and preserved for winter use. At that time
cranberries were only one of three native fruits available to the new
settlers. The other two are the Concord grape and the blueberry.
Cranberries are an evergreen shrub or trailing vine and a member of
the Blueberry family known as Vaccinium. The plant can be found
growing in acidic bogs of the northern hemisphere where the climate
is cooler, from New Jersey north to most of southern Canada and west
to Washington State, but it grows best in the sandy bogs of
Massachusetts and Wisconsin.
The plant will grow 3 to 8 inches
tall depending on the variety and the many vines the plant produces
can run up to 6 feet long. The vines are slender and wiry and covered
by small evergreen leaves. The plant is so unique it must have a
growing season that extends from April to November. The soil must be
made up of just the right combination of acidic peat moss, sand,
gravel, and clay to create the bog or wetland environment for them to
grow in and thrive.
These special areas were created
more than 10,000 years ago by the glaciers; they are like pockets in
the earth. The first layer of the pocket is clay to hold all the
material in place and prevent leaching into the ground water. Next is
gravel and rock from the receding glaciers, then peat moss grew in
over the stones, and finally sand blew over the peat with wind and
storms to create the perfect growing conditions. Also water plays a
major part with the plant's growth and berry formation, as the berry
is 95% water. Ponds, small streams, ditches, and natural water
sources like springs are needed to provide the habitat for the plant
Cranberries have beautiful dark pink
flowers that are very unusual because of the reflexed flower petals
that leave the style and stamens exposed and facing forward for
easier pollination by insects. The open flower resembles the head of
the wild Crane that lives in the same area and it was often called
the crane-berry when the fruit formed on the plant. The berry itself
was also called the bear-berry, as wild bears were often seen feeding
on them during the fall and winter months. Here are some fun facts
about cranberries to discuss around the dinner table on
- In 1683, cranberry juice was made by the Pilgrims for their active ingredients that seemed to help with health issues present at the time.
- Cranberries were first harvested and commercially grown in 1816 in Dennis, Massachusetts by Captain Henry Hall.
- In 1838, a 2-inch layer of sand was spread on the cranberry bogs to help stimulate vine growth and berry production with great success, a process that is still used today to keep plants healthy and more productive.
- In the 1850's, cranberries were used to prevent scurvy at sea, and the cranberry scoop was invented to harvest berries more efficiently.
- In 1854, there were only 197 acres of cranberries grown in North America, Barnstable County, Mass.
- In 1860, the state of Maine begins growing cranberries and develops 600 acres of bogs.
- In 1888, the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers association was formed in Massachusetts.
- In 1930, women were allowed to pick cranberries with scoops.
- In 1953, the cranberry crop industry reached one million barrels of cranberries; one barrel of cranberries equaled 100 pounds.
- In 1960, the first water harvesting system was developed, as cranberries would float to the surface when the bogs were flooded and easily removed from the vines with paddle board harvesters. This system used less labor and produced higher yields with less damage to the fruit.
- 1994: cranberries made the official state berry of Massachusetts.
- 1998: the University of Maine adds a cranberry specialist to the organization to study antioxidants, which cranberries are high in--and they also provide some significant protection against Alzheimer's disease.
- Crop in Maine grows to 21,000 barrels 21,000,000 pounds in 2004.
- In 1960, Massachusetts led the country with 13,000 acres, followed by Wisconsin with 4,200 acres producing cranberries. As land value rose Massachusetts dropped to 11,200 acres in 1970 and Wisconsin grew to 5,700 acres.
- In 1990, Massachusetts grew to 12,400 acres but Wisconsin jumped to 9400 acres.
- In the year 2000, Massachusetts grew again to 13,900 acres but Wisconsin increased production because of less expensive land to 15,100 acres and now leads the country with the production of cranberries for the first time.
Just in case you're thinking of
turning your wetlands or bogs into cranberries...the average cost to
plant and maintain is $28,000.00 per acre. Value of the crop is $41.30 per
barrel or 100 pounds for fresh-picked, $16.20 per barrel or 100 pounds
for processed berries. 95% of all berries are processed into sauce,
juice, dried berries, etc. and only 5% is sold as fresh berries. In
the year 2000, total berry production was 6,250,000 barrels--and one
barrel equals 100 pounds--that's a lot of berries. By the way, it
takes approximately 333 berries to make one pound.
Now...here is the final total of
barrels of berries produced by the 5 top producing cranberry states
for the year 2000. Wisconsin 4,500,000 barrels, Massachusetts
2,100,000 barrels, New Jersey 542,500 barrels, Oregon 400,000
barrels, and Washington 142,000 barrels. That totals 7,684,500
barrels of berries. Not bad for a wild-growing plant found on Cape
Cod when the Pilgrims first arrived. When in Europe if you are
offered loganberry as a side to your meal, it is the equivalent to our
cranberry but grows much smaller and has a slightly different taste.
Finally...cranberry sauce sells 2 to 1 over whole cranberries. Eat
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When the weather begins to cool down and the foliage on the
trees begin to change color, it is time to make homemade apple
cider or purchase it at your local orchard. The term apple cider
means "unfiltered, unsweetened, non-alcoholic beverage made from
fresh ripe apples and nothing added."
The type of apples you use will determine the color and flavor, and
produce a tangier/less tangy taste to the cider. The opaque color of
the cider will be determined by the particles of apple solid found in
suspension after crushing the apples. Filtered apple cider will be
less tangy in taste due to less apple pulp in the juice. Untreated
apple cider is usually produced locally and available at the orchard
only--as it will have a limited shelf life and does not keep well even
Apple cider has been around for centuries and is still an
important industry in agriculture but the methods of production and
preservation have changed a great deal over the years. You have
everything you need to make apple cider in your kitchen today. A
sharp knife to cut up apples in quarters and remove the core to make
the process easier--and it produces less waste. Keep the skin on the
apple. Use a food processor or blender to crush up the apples, and
use some cheesecloth to filter the liquid and the fine pulp into a
container to store the cider you have made. The finer you chop the
apples, the more juice you will produce. Chill and enjoy.
What apples make the best cider and how do these apples affect the
taste of the finished product? 'Red Delicious,' 'Fuji,' 'Golden Delicious,'
'Baldwin,' 'Cortland,' 'Macoun,' and 'Rome' will make a sweet-tasting cider.
'Granny Smith,' 'Macintosh,' 'Jonathan,' 'Gravenstein,' 'Winesap,' 'Imperial,'
and 'Rhode Island Greening' will make a cider with a more tart taste.
The best tasting cider will be produced if you're able to mix
different varieties of apples in the blend. If possible, use red,
green, and yellow apples for the best taste. Avoid bruised or damaged
apples. You will need about 3 dozen apples to make a gallon of apple
Before you cut apples for crushing, be sure to wash them properly
to remove any soil or pesticide residue. If you're using
organic apples, be sure to wash well to remove soil that will
otherwise end up in the cider after crushing. Spread the cheese cloth
in a large container and add pulp. Squeeze as hard as you can to
force the juice out of the pulp to make your cider. Fresh squeezed
cider will only last 7 days in your refrigerator, as there are no
preservatives in it. You can also add different spices to the cider to
give it additional flavor. Try lemon peel, clove, nutmeg, and ginger, depending on the taste you desire. It will taste best fresh from the
squeezer but if you want to keep it longer you will have to
pasteurize it by heating it at 160 degrees, and then it will last for
up to three weeks.
If you want to make apple juice you will have to filter more and
remove all solids and pasteurize it to keep it fresher longer--up to
3 weeks. Also vacuum sealing of the juice will also keep it fresher
In 2001 new regulations were passed by the
FDA requiring that all cider sold directly to the public and produced
at farm stands, apple orchards and the like for direct sale can be
natural and without preservative but must be treated to the new HACCP
principles to reduce possible pathogens. This pasteurization process
will result in some change of the sweetness and flavor of the cider.
Unpasteurized cider is only sold on-site at the orchard. Because it
is not pasteurized, naturally occurring yeast in the cider is not
killed and the cider will begin to ferment in just a few days, so it
must be consumed in 5 days or less. This cider will begin to become
carbonated within a week even if refrigerated and become so-called
"hard cider" as it ferments. Sparkling cider is cider that
carbonation has been added to, from a machine such as a Soda Stream
(used to make carbonated water). Mulled cider is heated just below
boiling with cinnamon, orange peel, nutmeg, and clove. Enjoy your
favorite type of cider while we still have fresh apples. Enjoy!
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Pecan trees are the only native
major nut trees that grow wild in North America. They are also
considered the most valuable nut tree in North America for the nuts
they produce. "Pecan" is an Algonquin word used to describe
all nuts that require a stone to crack. The nuts were used by
colonial residents because they were easy to shell--and for their
great taste when eaten raw or when used in cooking.
used the pecan as a major food source, because they kept well all
through the winter months when food got scarce. Many Native Americans
cultivated the pecan tree for food sources during hard times.
Fermented pecans can create an intoxicating drink called
"powcohicora." The pecan tree is a species of the hickory
tree. It grows wild from Illinois to Missouri and south to Georgia,
Texas, and Florida. Pecan trees will grow 60 to 100 plus feet tall
and spread 40 to 75 feet wide.
The leaves are pinnate, with 9 to 15
leaflets that grow 2 to 5 inches long and 2 inches wide. The flowers
the tree makes are wind-pollinated and resemble pendulous catkins
that grow 7 inches long. Both male and female flowers are produced on
the same plant. The pecan fruit, being a member of the hickory
family, is not a true nut but technically a "drupe" (a fruit
with a single stone or pit surrounded by a husk). The husk is oval in
shape, 1 to 3 inches long and 1 to 1.5 inches wide. It will start off
green in color and mature when it turns brown. At this time, it will
split into four sections and release the thin-shelled nut. This nut
is edible and has a rich buttery flavor. It can be eaten raw or
used in cooking. The wood of the pecan is still used in furniture
making today, wood flooring and for flavoring meat and fish when used
in a smoker. In the late 1800s, pecans were grown commercially and
today 80% of the world's pecans come from the USA.
Pecans are hardy and can live for
more than 300 years. Pecans were first planted on Long Island in 1772
and they were soon planted in gardens along the Atlantic seaboard--after George Washington planted a small orchard in 1775 at his home
in Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson in 1779 at his home in
Monticello. As the settlers moved to the Gulf Coast, they brought
with them the pecan tree to plant in their gardens. In the early
1800s the French and Spanish colonists began to export pecans to
Europe and the West Indies. The tree became a source of
commerce for early colonists and a new industry was born in
America--pecan production. In the Gulf, the pecan tree became more
valuable than cotton for the nut it produced. In the early 1800s, a
discovery of grafting pecan buds from superior trees to average trees
helped to create more productive trees. Production increased on
average trees, increasing the amount of trees planted for nut
production all over the South.
Pecans are a great source of protein
and unsaturated fats and, like the walnut, are rich in omega-6 fatty
acids. Pecans can lower the risk of gallstones in women. The
antioxidants and the plant sterols in the pecan help to reduce high
cholesterol. The University of Georgia has confirmed that pecans
contain plant sterols which are known for their cholesterol-lowering
ability. Pecans may also play a role in neurological health. Eating
pecans daily may delay age-related muscle nerve degeneration,
according to a study conducted at the University of Massachusetts.
This Thanksgiving, make the pie that comes from our native American
tree, the pecan.
Now you know why cranberries from
Cape Cod to Washington State, apples from around the country and
pecans from our native forest of the south and eastern seaboard are
used to celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. Native berry--the
cranberry, native nut--the pecan and native fruit--the apples. The
Pilgrims did find a land of plenty in their search for religious
freedom in the New World.
Happy Thanksgiving from my family to
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Paul Parent will be hosting a tour that includes:
- Vancouver, BC
- Butchart Gardens--55 acres of floral display!
- Cruising the Inside Passage:
- Icy Strait Point
- Hubbard Glacier Cruising
- Scenic Drive to Anchorage
- Denali National Park
- Fairbanks City Tour, a tour of the Gold Dredge # 8 and a cruise down the Chena river on the Riverboat Discovery Sternwheeler.
Click here for more information.
This Week's Question
Many of the "annuals" we grow in our gardens are actually perennials (in their native climate). Which of the following truly IS an annual?
- Black-eyed Susan
- Sweet Pea
- Transvaal Daisy
This Week's Prize:
Wilt-Pruf®...The Safe Way To Reduce Moisture Loss When Plants Are Under Water Stress due to:
- winter kill
- transplant shock
Click here for more information about Wilt-Pruf.
Last Week's Question:
Coriander is from the same plant as which of the following?
Last Week's Winner:
Last Week's Answer:
Last Week's Prize:
One winner per question - we choose winners from the list of those who answer correctly. Winners must be newsletter subscribers. We'll ship you your prize, so be sure to put your address in the form in case you win!
Are you looking for a great gift for a gardener (or yourself)? This garden
journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This journal, autographed
personally by Paul,
makes a perfect gift for gardeners. The cover holds a 5x7 or 4x6 photo and a
heavy-duty D-ring binder.
- 8 tabbed sections
- 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags...
- Weather records page
- 6 three year journal pages
- Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
- 3 annual checklist pages
- Plant wish list page
- 2 large pocket pages
- Sheet of garden labels
- 5 garden detail sheets
- 5 graph paper pages for layouts
- 5 photo pages, each holding four 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format
Click here to order online.
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon maple extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger (optional)
Step by Step:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, cream sugars and butter together.
- Add egg and vanilla and maple extracts and mix well.
- Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and spices. Gradually add to butter and sugar mixture.
- Drop into small balls onto a nonstick cookie sheet. Decorate with sanding sugar or festive sprinkles.
- Bake for 10-14 minutes.
Yield: 3 dozen cookies