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Weekly Gardening Tips for the Week by Bob Beyfuss: Thanksgiving

Written By Editor on 11/25/22 | 11/25/22

     I wrote this column 15 years ago, when I was still working for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Greene County as the Agriculture agent.  At that time I had no plans to become a “snowbird” spending my winters in Florida. Now I cannot conceive of doing anything else each winter. The harsh NY winters are just too tough for me to endure these past years. I no longer have the strength or energy to cut, split and stack the five or six cords of firewood I used to burn each winter. I miss my Florida family more each season that I am away from them. I mention seeing my first Grandson, Will, for his first birthday, below and tomorrow we will celebrate his 16th birthday. The years have flown by almost unnoticeably, except when on the rare occasions, I happen to glance at a mirror and wonder “who is that old man staring back at me?”  

    Thanksgiving is perhaps my favorite Holiday and not just because I like to eat turkey so much! It occurs at a time of year when winter has not really set in in earnest. The weather can be awful but for the past few years, the weather has been decent and I think this trend will continue. Yes, there is often a bit of traveling associated with getting to Grandma’s place and back but the trip is not complicated by all the gift giving hoopla that occurs a month or so later. It is a “religious neutral” Holiday which eliminates some of the stress associated with the “Political Correctness” controversy we seem to have to deal with each winter. I don’t know of anyone who is offended by being wished a “Happy Thanksgiving”. (Fifteen years later, I am sorry to report that there ARE people who are “offended” by this holiday as well. The older I get the more I am annoyed by people who take offense, when there is no intention to offend. I consider this trait as the single most pressing threat to society today.) 

     It is often possible to actually do some gardening on Thanksgiving if the weather is good. If I were home this year I would be harvesting Brussels’s sprouts from my garden and perhaps some carrots and parsnips. I just picked my first batch of sprouts this past weekend, after the deer were kind enough to eat all the leaves off the stalks leaving the sprouts behind for me! Most of us procrastinators have not yet finished our garden cleanup and the four day Holiday allows time to clean out all of the summers spent debris and perhaps even till the soil. This is a great time to till in organic matter such as compost, peat moss, or manure or even fallen maple leaves from the lawn. It is also a good time to deal with the mechanical tools such as lawn mowers, snow blowers and other stuff that either will be needed soon or need to be winterized before next spring.  Winter squash, cabbage, sweet potatoes and turnips are fall crops best enjoyed at this time of the year when they are prime eating as are local apples, pears, various types of ciders, and of course, cranberry sauce!  It is cold enough outside to really enjoy the warmth of an oven that is baking bread, or roasting a turkey. 

     Fall is hunting season in these mountains and some families have traditionally reserved the day after Thanksgiving for deer, squirrel, grouse or duck hunting. I don’t know too many folks who still hunt squirrels but I know that in a few weeks, when the bird feeders are being raided, lots of folks would not mind reducing their local squirrel populations!  I used to eat squirrels but gave that up when my kids accused me of cooking up “rats” that they refused to even consider tasting! I still hunt turkeys and I contend that wild turkey is far superior in taste, texture and healthfulness than the domestic variety most families will eat. I also enjoy eating venison and the long Holiday weekend affords families living some distance apart the excuse to come together to hunt whitetails. I know of several families of people who have moved here from NJ and Long Island whose only annual get together revolves around a Thanksgiving feast and hunt.   

     I will be in Florida this Thanksgiving since that is where my kids live and this new “Grand Bob” will also be celebrating Baby Will’s first birthday. I really do hope that in a few years the kids will travel north to see me for this Holiday when the babies are older. Thanksgiving in Florida is just not the same as it is here. 

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