Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mail from Aunt B...

In the Garden: Our blackberry bushes are loaded this year, I'm hoping we will be able to put some in the freezer if we can beat the birds, raccoons and deer! We may be battling grasshoppers for the fruit, I saw in this week's paper that they are showing up early in the Little Rock area. With the mild winter and warm spring, they've already started munching on home gardens. Grasshoppers can wipe out a blackberry bush in a day so spraying is a good idea. Master Gardener Richard Cooper at the Farmer's Co-op  says Sevin or Malathion liquid is the best insurance policy out there!
You may be thinking about putting up some preserves while berries are plentiful. Whether you have your own out in the garden or have to buy them, homemade preserves are the way to go. Besides being way better than store bought, they end up costing roughly 50 cents or less a half pint. Nothing tastes as good as homemade preserves on a hot biscuit, you can actually use it for "bargaining power" with the the right people ;-) Everything you need is at your local Co-op, they carry a full line of canning supplies so you can go from berry to biscuit in no time! 

If you have the room in your garden, this new and improved method of planting sweet potatoes may appeal to you too! We have a steep incline on the west side of our house that is impossible to mow. I planted pumpkins there the first year we lived here and they did great so sweet potatoes should do well too. The vine cover would improve the looks of the hillside and the bonus would be a crop of sweet potatoes! Visit the Outlaw Garden for complete instructions.

At the Coop: Here's a list that will put a smile on your face and $$$ in your pockets... who doesn't like that??? Every year I am tempted by the colorful annuals but the biggest bang for your buck are perennials. 

Achillea YARROW 18-36” light, sandy, dry, June-Oct Attracts butterflies; cut; dried.
Anthemis  20-24” well-drained, June-Sep Cut back lightly after first bloom.
Coreopsis 18-20” well-drained, June-Oct Deer resistant; attracts butterflies.
Dianthus  CHEDDAR PINKS 4-8” well-drained, Apr-Sep Deadhead.
Dicentra BLEEDING HEART 9-18” Apr-Sep Attracts bees, hummingbirds, butterflies.
Echinacea PURPLE CONEFLOWERpurple coneflower 2-4’ normal, sandy, clay Jul-Oct.
Gaillardia BLANKET FLOWER 18” prefers poor soil, June-Sep Heat and drought tolerant.
Heliopsis SUNFLOWER; oxeye 3-5’ June-Oct Attracts butterflies; drought tolerant.
Hemerocallis ‘Stella de Oro’ DAYLILY 2-3’ June-Sep Fragrant
Leucanthemum SHASTA DAISY 40” well-drained June-Sep Attracts butterflies; good cut flower.
Liatris GAYFEATHER 2-4’ well-drained, June-Oct Attracts butterflies.
Linum BLUE FLAX 18-24” light, sandy, June-Sep Self-seeds freely.
Macleaya  POPPY 6-8’ well-drained, moist,  Jul-Sep Coarse foliage.
Nepeta  CATMINT 2-3’ sandy to clay loam, May-Sep Attracts bees, hummingbirds, & butterflies.
Perovskia RUSSIAN SAGE 3-4’ well-drained, Jul-Oct Tolerates dry soil.
Phlox  3-4’ moist, organic, well-drained,  Jul-Sep Powdery mildew resistant.
Platycodon BALLOON FLOWER 2-3’ normal, loamy, Jun-Aug Deadhead; good cut flower.
Rudbeckia  GLORIOSA DAISY 18-30” well-drained, moist, Jul-Oct Attracts butterflies & birds.
Salvia  18” moist, well-drained June-Oct Attracts butterflies, bees, & hummingbirds.
Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ STONECROP 1-2’ well-drained, Aug-Nov One of many good cultivars; easy.
Veronica spicata SPEEDWELL 1-2’ well-drained, June-Sep Good cut flower; deer resistant.

 In the kitchen: Do you remember letters? We used to get them in the mail. No not email, mail! People you loved used to send them once a week because they missed you! Even if you just lived the next town over, 20 miles away you still got a letter from them. Inside would be clippings out of the paper. My 
Aunt B. still sends me clippings from from Jay Harshaw's Potluck column in her SW Times Record.

 Pioneer Woman's Chocolate Cobbler... have to share this one!
1 cup All-purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
¼ teaspoons Salt
7 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder, Divided
1-¼ cup Sugar, Divided
½ cups Milk
⅓ cups Melted Butter
1-½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract
½ cups Light Brown Sugar, Packed
1-½ cup Hot Tap Water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, 3 tablespoons of the cocoa, and 3/4 cup of the white sugar. Reserve the remaining cocoa and sugar (this will be sprinkled over the top of the batter). Stir in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla to the flour mixture. Mix until smooth. 

Pour the mixture into an ungreased 8-inch baking dish. In a separate small bowl, mix the remaining white sugar (it should be 1/2 cup), the brown sugar, and remaining 4 tablespoons of cocoa. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the batter. Pour the hot tap water over all but DO NOT STIR! Bake for about 40 minutes or until the center is set. Enjoy with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream!


  1. Those berries look fantastic! With us, it is the Japanese Beetles. I didn't know you could spray soft fruit with
    Sevin, I need to see how long before harvest you can do it.

    I love the shot of the colored mailboxes!

    1. Richard said he liked the Malathion spray the best, you can email him at and he'll answer any gardening questions(the link is under services at the top of the page.

  2. Those berries look amazing, we have blackberries but they are wild...everywhere! I love how Aunt B. that cute clipping, reminds me of the things my Auntie Ella did. xo

    1. I still love getting mail, but Aunt B. is the only one that sends a letter and not a bill!

  3. Last year I picked the wild blackberries, and mixed them with blueberries to make my jelly. It is delicious, a great combination!! Our blackberries are just coming out of the ground, not anywhere near flowering yet!! Love the photo of the mailboxes.

    1. That sounds so good! They say the darker the berry, the more antioxidants too. You still see the "community mailboxes" if you go down dirt roads around here. I want to do some exploring this summer to get some of those shots!

  4. those berries look SO GOOD!

    loved the 'slap on your thighs'. :)

    1. That's the truth, you might as well just slap it on your thighs 'cause that's where it's gonna land anyway!

  5. Replies
    1. Ree has our number and Chocolate rules my life!

  6. Berries look yummy, but sound even better as homemade jellies and who can I get to make some for me?

    1. LOL, I do know someone who makes a killer blackberry cobbler. I'll ask my Mother-in-law if she's interested in starting up an at home business!

  7. The berries are so plump...yummy! We're found a few few wild blueberry bushes and raspberries here on the acreage!...:)JP

    1. Every year I plan on freezing ours as they ripen and make jam... it never works out! We eat them as fast as we pick and the few we have left go in smoothies.


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