Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A "pest" for gardeners in the Low Country ?

While alligators are not normally aggressive to humans, they can become dangerous if approached or provoked.  There have been reports of a number of attacks, including atacks on gardeners, in recent decades, resulting in loss of limb and even death.

A mother alligator protecting its nest in wooded or brushy areas near a lagoons might attack without provocation.  Nesting is May through August.  The mother protects its hatchlings for one to three years.

Alligators fed by humans come to expect food with each human encounter, and if they don't get it, may act aggressively.

Alligators are considered "keystone species", influencing the types of species that live in a ecosystem. On barrier islands like Hilton Head Island, alligators provide fresh water for other wildlife to drink during droughts by digging "gator holes" that bring groundwater to the surface, while providing alligators with a cool, wet place to rest. They help to control the numbers of many of the species they eat.

Note the attractive pine needle mulch which is an excellent mulch for acid-loving trees and shrubs such as azaleas and evergreens. Pine needles tend to interlock and stay in place better than most mulches, especially on a slope. A 2" layer of pine needle mulch  allows air, water and nutrients to penetrate easily to the soil surface, while retaining soil moisture and reducing the growth weeds.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Southern Peaches

Fortunately for those of us in Wisconsin who crave juicy peaches, Tree Ripe Citrus, drives refrigerated trucks loaded with cases of peaches from Pearson Farms in Georgia to over 140 locations in the Midwest. (Tree-Ripe also offers Michigan blueberries in the summer and  citrus and Georgia pecans in the winter).  Half bushel boxes hold almost 25 pounds of freestone peaches for $37 this season. 


Peach a Berry Cobbler

2 c. sliced peaches
        c.+ blueberries
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 T. cornstarch
1/2 c. water
1 T. lemon juice
1 T. butter
1 C. sifted flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. melted butter
1/2 c. milk
2 T. sugar
1 1/4t. nutmeg

Place sliced peaches and blueberries in a baking dish.  Cook brown sugar, cornstarch, and water until the mixture begins to bubble and thicken.  Add lemon juice and butter.  Spoon mixture over fruit in baking dish.  Make a topping of flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, melted butter, and milk.  Drop by spoonfuls onto fruit mixture.   Sprinkle mixture of sugar and nutmeg on top.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or more.

 Almond Peach Torte with Apricot Glaze

1/2 c. butter or margarine
1 1/4 c. flour
1/3 c. sugar
8 oz. cream cheese
2 eggs
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
5 large firm, ripe peaches, in 1/2" wedges
1/3 c. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 c. sliced almonds
1/2 c. apricot preserves

Mix butter, flour, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer.  Pat into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan.  Bake in 400 degree oven 5-10 minutes, then cool 5 minutes.
With an electric mixer, combine cream cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla.  Pour into partially cooled crust.  
Combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Toss peach wedges in sugar mixture.  Arrange peach wedges atop filling.  Top with sliced almonds.  Bake on lower shelf at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Serves 8.

To glaze torte:  Melt apricot preserves with a teaspoon of water and brush top when torte is cool.

Ina Garten's Fresh Peach Cake

1/4    lb. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 c.  sugar, divided
2            extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1       c. sour cream, at room temperature
1       t.  pure vanilla extract
2       c. all-purpose flour
1       t.  baking soda
1       t.  baking powder
1/2    t. kosher salt
1       t. ground cinnamon
3          large, ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1/2    c. chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar for 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, then the sour cream and vanilla, and mix until the batter is smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until combined. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon.
Spread half of the batter evenly in the pan. Top with half of the peaches, then sprinkle with two-thirds of the sugar mixture. Spread the remaining batter on top, arrange the remaining peaches on top, and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture and the pecans.
Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Visiting Bluffton Farmers Market

Heading down Calhoun Street to the weekly Farmers Market on in Bluffton, South Carolina, a Little Free Library offers books to pick up peruse along the way.

The Farmers Market is held in Old Town Bluffton with many unique boutiques and art galleries to explore.  Many shops offered sculptures that would make nice additions to the yard.