RECYCLE FOR THE HOLIDAYS The month of December, from now until New Year’s is a heavy season for trash and much of it can be recycled. Don’t throw plastic bottles, cartons and containers in the trash, recycle them. Break up cardboard boxes that toys and presents came in and recycle them. Bundle up newspapers and place them in recycle bins. Recycle all foil trays and also cans. Glass bottles and jars should also be recycled. Everything we recycle will keep the landfills from filling up. Educate your children and grandchildren to recycle.
DECORATING FLOWER POTS AND CONTAINERS Decorate all your inside flower pots and containers for a festive Christmas touch with colorful foil and ribbons and maybe a few shiny ornaments. You can also decorate perennials outside with silk poinsettias in colors of white, pink and red as well as a few bows and ribbons and plastic holly.
THE END OF THE LEAF HARVEST As the Christmas season gets in full swing, its time to wind down the leaf blowing and recycle the rest of autumn’s leaf harvest. Use them to place around shrubs and bushes and continue to add them to the compost bin or pile. Use some of them to cover cold weather crops.
A BEAUTIFUL CHRISTMAS CARD IN THE WESTERN SKY AFTER SUNSET The constellation of Cygnus, the swan, sets right after the sunset every morning in the group of stars which also forms the Northern Cross. As darkness approaches, this star group forms an upright cross on the western horizon which can be seen when your are away from street lights and city streets. You can enjoy the graceful swan and the Christmas card in the sky depicted by the Northern Cross. Take the children out to a dark country road and look onto the western horizon for the Northern Cross. It will be easily distinguishable because it covers most of the western sky almost right where the sun sets. You can see this each night until early January, when it fades below the horizon. It is the most beautiful Christmas you will see this season!
WILL WE HAVE A WHITE CHRISTMAS? The kids would like to see one, and so would we! It is a possibility and has happened several times over the last decade. An omen or sign of snow is when you see wild geese flying south in early December. This may or may not be a sign of snowfall, but it does mean that they know that winter is on the way and are headed to a warmer area. Maybe they also expect a white Christmas! Winter will arrive on December 21, 2015, so at least we can watch out for and think snow.
HIDDEN GREENERY IN THE PIEDMONT WOODLANDS The hint of Christmas can be seen in the woodlands and along the country lanes in the Piedmont of North Carolina. Leaves have fallen leaving bare trunks and limbs which make winter greenery more visible. Patches of wild honeysuckle climb and creep along the roadways and red heart cedars stand out in the background signaling the approach of Christmas time. The shortleaf pines also signal the arrival of the season. Scattered in the woodlands, running cedar and American holly can be seen and to top it al off, high in the mighty oaks, clumps of evasive mistletoe can be seen.
COVERING COLD WEATHER CROPS FOR WINTER The frosts are a regular event every morning and the ice will soon be in the mud holes. The cold weather vegetable crops need a warm blanket of crushed leaves to protect and prolog their harvest. Place a layer between each row so you can enjoy the harvest of turnips, broccoli, onions, cabbage and kale for the coming months ahead.
AN OLD FASHIONED CHRISTMAS DECORATION When we were growing up as boys in eastern North Carolina, simple decorations were enjoyed by our family all during the month of December. My mother would keep the candy dish filled with Christmas hard candy mix, ribbon mix and the colorful red and green Christmas tree candies that have disappeared like many things in America. My mother would use the hard Christmas candy mix to decorate the windows and tables with and sprinkle it under the spice drop sugar plum tree in the living room, on a layer of cotton “snow” She used her imagination and motherly love to bring a touch of Christmas to a house full of boys.
A TRIP TO SOME OF THE FUN CHRISTMAS COUNTRY STORES We are fortunate in our area to have several country stores loaded with Christmas goodies, traditional treats, fruit cakes, hams, candies, fruits, and all sorts of Christmas delights. All these great stores have retained the aroma and atmosphere of the old time country store at Christmas. A trip to one of these stores is always much less than an hour or less away. The closest is right down University Parkway in Winston-Salem to Ronnie’s Country Store (the old W.G. White store). They have whites country hams, cluster raisins, candies, side meat, fruits and old fashioned items. Down the road, on US 311 in Walnut Cove, NC (Main Street), the Town Creek Produce smells, looks and fells like the old country store. It has many wooden barrels of old fashioned candies, and boxes of Christmas hard candy mixes including ribbon and flower-centered mixes, fresh oysters and seafood is a fine feature as well as fruits, hams and smoked meats. Over the state line, in Cana, VA, up US 52, in a large building on the roadside, Virginia-Carolina Produce is located. The outside is adorned with fruits and vegetables and inside are jams, jellies, pickles, preserves, barrels of candies, fried fruits, unusual groceries and hard-to-find items that will bring back memories of Christmas past and make it part of Christmas present. May these great stores live long and prosper and help all of us retain the Christmas of long ago.
Ray Baird has been providing gardening tips to the community for years and can be reached at 336-969-9350 or at B.Sylvia1946@windstream.net.