Tuesday, May 24, 2016

How an agricultural weed became a symbol tied to Memorial Day

I discovered this article last year and thought it very fitting to share today.

Poppies have infact popped up on a steep bank on our property.   People stop and comment on how striking they look against the greenery.

Papaver rhoeas, also known as the common poppy, corn poppy and red weed, among other names, is considered a nuisance plant by European farmers and often grows in areas where the soil has been disturbed. In the warm spring months beginning in 1915, with World War I in full swing, across many of the shell-blasted, trench-strewn battlefields in Belgium, France, as well as in Turkey, poppy seeds (which can lie dormant  for more than 80 years) began to germinate in the newly turned earth, and poppy flowers were soon dotting the war-ravaged landscape, including the front lines where John McCrae, surgeon for the First Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery, was stationed.

In May 1915, McCrae was tending the wounded in the trenches near Ypres, Belgium. He noticed the bright red poppies that had begun to bloom between the many simple graves of soldiers, including near the spot where one of his best friends had recently been buried. The scene inspired him to write a poem, “In Flanders Fields,” which begins: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row.” It would soon become the most famous poem about the war.

Three years later, in November 1918, Moina Belle Michael, a professor at the University of Georgia, came across McCrae’s poem, which both inspired her to write a poem of her own on a similar theme and to begin to wear an artificial silk poppy on Memorial Day (originally called Decoration Day and specifically associated with the American Civil War) as a way to honor those who had died while serving in the military. She also sold the silk flowers to her friends and coworkers to raise money for soldiers in need. Eventually, the tradition spread. By the 1920s, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, a national service organization for military veterans, began to distribute silk poppies on Memorial Day as a way to help provide disabled vets with some financial assistance, and the flower became forever linked with the holiday. 

The common poppy also plays a role in Remembrance Day, observed in many Commonwealth countries on November 11 to coincide with the end of hostilities in World War I, and Anzac Day in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, among other countries, which is observed on April 25 as a day of remembrance for the war dead in those nations.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Egg Shells for your Garden

Last week I wrote about using coffee grinds in your garden.  

This week it will be about egg shells.

They are a great snail or slug deterrent.   If you notice your plants being eaten by or see trails from slugs or snails,  coarsely crumble the shells around the plant that is being eaten.   The slugs and snails sensitive foot will be injured and they will steer clear of your plants.

If you notice deer chomping on your plants, scatter broken shells in and around the plants.    Deer do not like the smell of albumin and tend to stay away from an area that smell like raw eggs.

Sprinkle crushed egg shells around  and into the soil for  your tomato plants.    The added calcium will help to stop any blossom end rot.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Coffee Grinds Use in your Garden

I recently read something that I felt was interesting.    Years ago I used to put coffee grinds around the base of  my azaleas and rhododendrons to add acid to the soil, making sure it stayed at less than 1/2" to avoid any mold.

But, did you know, you could also use them in your garden?

Work them into the soil of your tomatoes and corn.

Sprinkle them around the soil of your lettuce, beets, beans, broccoli and peas to deter rabbits and squirrels.

On Seedlings.....put coffee grounds into the water you use, it can give them a nice boost of nitrogen.

Pests........mound coffee grounds a couple inches high around an afflicted plant to naturally deter slugs and ants.

Cleaning your hands from garden work..........used coffee grinds make a great deep clean.   They exfoliate and remove smells as well.

Do you have any neat ways you use coffee grinds?    Please share with us  :)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The BEST Crab Cakes

Every so often our local grocery store has crab meat on sale.   When they do, I pick up a can and make these.    They are delicate and I found one of the secrets is to chill the mixture prior to coating them and frying.

The BEST Crab Cakes

2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 pound crabmeat, flaked
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs, more if needed.
salt and pepper to taste

Panko crumbs for dredging.
Butter and oil for frying.

Mix together the first 5 ingredients.   Add the crab meat and crumbs.    Season with salt and pepper and combine well but gently, so you don't break up the crab meat.    Chill for at least 1 hour.
Divide the mixture into 5-6 portions, flatten gently into thick patties.   Coat each patty lightly with panko.   Heat butter and a little oil, enough to generously cover the bottom in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.    Add the crab patties, in batches if necessary, and fry until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side.   Remove from pan and drain on paper towels .   Serve immediately