Poinsettias —they’ll bloom beyond the holidays!
Let’s dispel the myth that too often causes many a beautiful Poinsettia to be trashed as soon as the holidays are over. They are not poisonous. A study fed a group of rats a lot of poinsettia leaves—must be an acquired taste—and nary a rat got sick. The current estimate is that a fifty-pound child must consume 500 of the flower bracts (POISINDEX® Information Service) to get sick which means you’ll need about 100-150 plants in the house! That out of the way, let me to suggest that your poinsettia would make a wonderful houseplant through the winter, then a fine garden plant through the summer, and an ideal candidate for reblooming during the 2005 holidays.
Here are basic culture tips gleaned from the Internet and personal experience. If you’ve yet to purchase a plant, look for squat and well-branched specimens rather than tall leggy ones. Make sure the majority of the leaves (read: 99%) are deep green and turgid (meaning stiff, not limp) and that few leaves are yellowed and wilted. Also, keep the plant well-watered through the holidays, away from extremes of temperature (actually on the cooler side is better).
Now, once the holidays are over, you can successfully keep your poinsettia in bloom following a few simple steps. 1) Keep the soil moist; never allow it to dry out, 2) give the plant six or more house of indirect, bright, natural light, 3) maintain day temperatures of 65 to 70 and at night 60 to 65 degrees, 4) apply a balanced house plant fertilizer every month as directed on the package, and maintain vigor by removing damaged or diseased leaves.
The flower bracts may stay for a long time—I once maintained the red bracts on a poinsettia until early June—but as they fade they should be removed, including a portion of the stem. You can do this cutting back all the way until July depending on how big you want the plant next holiday season. Just be sure to always leave three to five leaves on each stem. Once weather is stable, repot to the next larger pot, use new soil mixed with peat and perlite (so it’s light and well-drained) and move the plant outdoors—I plunge mine into the soil in a bright southern exposure. Apply a slow release fertilizer to the soil surface. Pinch every six weeks until late August for shape. Pinch no later than this and make certain you heed the following rules about darkness.
Poinsettias are short-day plants much like hardy mums. Both set buds and produce flowers as the autumn nights lengthen, blooming naturally during October-November (mums) or December for poinsettias. To flower and develop colored bracts, a poinsettia must receive as much sunshine as possible during the day but starting October 1st, it also needs at least fourteen hours of uninterrupted darkness each night at temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees. Stray light of any kind (street lights, pool lights or lamps) could delay or entirely halt the reflowering process. Place the plant under a wastebasket or box that is totally in the dark. The dark treatment should last until color shows in the bracts (approximately Thanksgiving). Some modern cultivars may show color as early as two weeks before Thanksgiving. Continue fertilizing and watering to encourage good growth. If you follow these rules faithfully, you’ll be proud to say next December “I grew this poinsettia!”
Simple Perfect Roasted Turkey
14-16 pound Fresh Amish Turkey
1/2 cup softened butter
Package of Cremer’s Rub Me Tender Seasoning
2 stalks of celery and 2 carrots
1 1/2 quarts turkey or chicken stock
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Rinse turkey with cold water, pat dry with
Place celery and carrots in cavity of turkey.
Rub skin with butter and season with
Rub Me Tender.
Pour stock into roasting pan.
Cover turkey with lid or foil.tent. Roast until the popper thermometer pops or meat thermometer inserted into the deep thigh reaches 180 degrees F or about 3 1/2 - 4 hrs. General rule for Fresh Turkeys 15 mins per pound.
This simple recipe will give you a tasty turkey.
**** Simple Turkey Tips ****
When you start with an Amish Fresh Turkey, you are well on your way to simplifying the big day. (1) No concern of where you are going to defrost a frozen turkey not to mention any concerns of the mess and safety. (2) We strongly feel that by cooking your stuffing in the cavity of the bird, you are going to increase the cooking time and further the chance of drying out the turkey. Pick up some of Cremers Homemade Pork Sausage Sage Dressing and cook it in separate dish alongside your turkey. (3) We also can simplify and save you some frustration with our very popular Homemade Turkey Gravy.
Q: I have a mint 78-rpm recording of Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore.” Is it worth more than the $5 I paid for it? — Stan, Sun City, Arizona
A: Probably not. Your recording was issued by Capitol Records (Capitol 2589) and hit the charts in November 1953. The song was introduced in the movie “The Caddy.” It is not considered rare, and generally sells for $2 or $3 in good condition. Incidentally, the record charted for 22 weeks and quickly became a standard.
Q: I have inherited a vase that was crafted and signed by Susie Cooper, but I have not been able to find anything about her in any of my reference books. I wonder if the piece is worth keeping. — Betty, San Diego
A: Susie Cooper was a 20th-century ceramic designer who was first affiliated with A.E. Gray Pottery in Henley, England. Some of her very first pieces were made in 1922, but by 1930 she had formed a family pottery business with her brother-in-law, Jack Beeson. Within a decade she had become an important potter, and her pieces are quite collectible. For example, a vase might sell in the $200 to $450 range, and a punch bowl, $200. If you like your vase, it is worth keeping.
Q: I have a set of salt-and-pepper shakers that are marked “Desert Sands.” What do you know about this company? --Bill, Tulsa, Oklahoma
A: Not much. During the 1850s, a small pottery company was started in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. During the 1920s, it moved to Las Vegas, where the name Desert Sands was adopted. In 1937, the plant relocated to Boulder City, Nevada, and eventually moved once again to Barstow, California, where it closed during the 1970s. Pieces were identified with stamps and paper labels. I would assume your salt-and-pepper set might be worth about $25.
Q: I have several thousand matchbook covers. How can I find out how much they are worth? — Niles, Palmetto, Florida
A: One of the better reference books is The Matchcover Collector’s Price Guide (2nd edition) by Bill Retskin, available at Amazon.com. You also might look into the Rathkamp Matchcover Society at www.matchcover.org.
Write to Larry Cox in care of KFWS, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or send e-mail to email@example.com. Due to the large volume of mail he receives, Mr. Cox cannot personally answer all reader questions, nor does he do appraisals. Do not send any materials requiring return mail.
© 2015 King Features Synd., Inc.
Cat’s Shedding a Hairy Issue
DEAR PAW’S CORNER: My cat “Chester” has always been a big shedder with his long hair. I’ve pretty much kept up with it by brushing his coat every evening. But lately I’ve noticed a lot more hair deposited on the furniture and carpet, and when I comb him I have to clean out the brush several times. What could be causing this increased shedding? —
Cherie K. in Dubuque, Iowa
DEAR CHERIE: To start, make an appointment with Chester’s vet for a complete physical exam. Excess shedding doesn’t always have a concrete explanation, but it can signal a change in his health, especially if it wasn’t a problem before.
Excess shedding can have a cause as benign as changes in the season — shedding in spring and fall, for example. Or it could be triggered by allergies to dust, pollen and molds, which can irritate his skin and make him scratch more.
Skin diseases such as ringworm can be another cause — it’s something the vet will certainly check for, along with flea infestation or other irritants.
Excess shedding also can signal much more serious conditions, such as diabetes or hyperthyroidism, something that a vet can diagnose. Ahead of the appointment, watch Chester’s behavior: Is he drinking excessively? Does he seem agitated? Is he eating as much as he used to? Write down anything that seems unusual and shared it with the vet.
If Chester has developed a health condition, the vet can prescribe the right medications and advise you on the best diet to feed him. If allergies or some unknown irritant is at work, the exam will rule out other possible causes so you can focus on finding a shedding solution.
Send your questions or tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2015 King Features Synd., Inc.