As we enter Thanksgiving week in this world of COVID, I’d like to focus on a few ways we can shed a little light for ourselves, our neighbors, our community and, since this column is mostly about gardening — our gardens. So for today, I want to cover a few indoor and outdoor projects, including my recipe for Pumpkin Pie for the Soul.
So let’s dig in…
IN THE GARDEN
It’s not too late to prune your raspberry plants and tend to rhododendrons. Clip out any raspberry canes that bore fruit last summer. If you can’t figure out which cane is which at this point, clip through a stem: If it’s brown, it’s done. Or simply wait for spring.
For rhododendron plants, mulch with a layer of leaves around the base of the plants. There are a lot of leaves out there folks, just waiting for you to repurpose them. This is a great project for kids, too.
Pull leaves away from the trunk, however, and sprinkle not-too-thick of a layer. Rhodies are shallow-rooted and need good drainage and air in the root zone. If you live in a windy spot, anchor the leaves with spruce boughs.
By the way, if your rhododendron has been looking spindly these past few years, grab the pruning shears. You’ll sacrifice some flower buds that have already formed for next year, but the plant’s energy will divert to what are called “latent growth” buds. These buds will then be ready to push out their new growth early in the growing season.
MAKE EXERCISE A HABIT
Talking with a friend in northern California where beaches and trails are closed reminded me how grateful I am to live in Kodiak and to have access to our beaches and great trail systems in Fort Abercrombie State Historical Park and on Near Island.
That said, do you have an exercise schedule? As Michelle Obama would say, “Get moving!” It’s too easy to talk yourself out of exercise. Find a walking buddy (bring masks if necessary) and check your tide chart for beach access or take a stroll around the harbor floats.
MAIL A POSTCARD
Now more than ever, we need to make a special effort to stay in touch. Not everyone does Facebook, and Zooming turkey dinner with all the fixings is a one-day deal. We all know how good it feels to receive a hand-written card or note, right? Think of someone that you haven’t contacted for a while. Drop a line. It might end up being a lifeline.
START SOME PLANTS
Now is the best time to start a new batch of geraniums from cuttings. Not only do plants brighten out interior-scapes, but also you’ll have new plants for next year’s containers.
Here’s what you do: Using a sharp knife or razor blade, take a slip (section) from the tips of the healthiest stems. They should be about 4 inches long. Remove the leaves from the bottom 2 inches of the cuttings. Place the cuttings 2 to 3 inches deep in yogurt containers or small jars filled with water or a potting mixture of coarse sand, perlite, vermiculite or potting soil.
Place the containers in a north or east window or under artificial lights until rooted. This takes four to six weeks. After the cuttings have rooted, then you can up-plant them and put them in a well-lit spot. Keep the soil evenly moist and begin fertilizing monthly with an organic fertilizer once new growth appears.
A friend always said, start dinner with dessert! Your choice, but after trying this pumpkin pie, it might become your main dish or even breakfast.
Pumpkin Pie for the Soul
2 cups pureed pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potato or yam
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 (10 oz.) package soft tofu (not low fat)
1/8 cup molasses
1 pie shell (recipe follows)
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup packed pitted dates
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup almond butter
2-4 tablespoons non-dairy milk
In a food processor, add the oats, dates and salt. Puree until crumbled. Add the almond butter and puree for about a minute. Stop and move stuff around if you need to. Add the milk and pulse until the mixture becomes sticky and holds together. Transfer to a slightly oiled pie pan and press in evenly on the base and up the sides.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream all filling ingredients in a food processor.
Pour mixture into pie shell and bake for about 50 minutes. Serve warm or chill and top with cashew cream.
Get Marion’s free Photo Tips PDF, a collection of her favorite photography tips, on her blog at MarionOwenAlaska.com. Connect with Marion: Facebook and Instagram or send an email to Marion at mygarden@alaska.