Editors' Musings

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Your Old Farmer's Almanac editors occasionally share our reflections, advice, and musings—and welcome your comments. too.

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May 9, 2013

Cicadas do not have red coats like the colonial British soldiers had, but many sport red eyes and appear in large numbers. These large flying insects with broad heads and clear wings are often mistaken for locusts, but are more closely related to treehoppers and lack the large hind legs found in the majority of grasshoppers and locusts. Cicadas are grouped into two main types. The “nonperiodical” or “annual” type are found in many parts of North America and hang around each year in small... more

October 30, 2012

I made my own Halloween Makeup this year and thought I would share the instructions. My son was trying to decide between Dracula and Frankenstein. The masks in the party stores were so expensive. Plus, he hates wearing masks because they block his vision and get very hot! He usually ends up taking the masks off. Here are instructions for Face Paint and Face Makeup—as well as Fake Blood! Face Paint For each color, use 1 teaspoon cornstarch, ½ teaspoon cold cream, ½ teaspoon water, and 1 to 2... more

October 3, 2012

I recently listened to a wonderful talk about black bears given by biologist Ben Kilham, who has spent more than a decade studying these fascinating creatures. Black bears are a hot topic in my neck of the woods, as evidenced by the well-attended lecture hall that was standing-room-only by the time I arrived. From Ben, we learned that: Black bears have social hierarchies: Momma bear may have daughters and granddaughters that share her territory for food and shelter, but they must obey... more

July 22, 2011

Every January, the members of my community garden have a potluck supper, during which we thumb seed catalogs and order for the coming season. To this day, I do not know what possessed me to raise my hand to get “put down” for two ounces of scarlet runner beans. Only later in spring, standing on my patch of soil with the glossy bean seeds in my palm, did I pay attention to the fine print in the catalog: “Need trellis, fences, or pole; will grow to 10–12’.” Ten to twelve feet? What was I ... more

July 21, 2011

How’s your garden growing this year? Please share below! I asked this question last year and learned so much from our Almanac community. Here are my 2011 update and a few tips. Despite the current heat wave (I feel for so many fellow gardeners!), my patch of New Hampshire had a nice, wet spring followed by more sun than we usually receive.  The weather gave my small, raised-bed garden (10 x 10 feet) a great start. I bought only a small bag of compost to mix into the soil and supplemented from... more

July 15, 2011

I love to watch the hummingbirds at my feeders. I have one close to my deck and the other one is hanging on my front porch. I make my own sugar water (1 part white sugar to 4 parts water) and usually have to fill the feeders twice a week. A couple of days ago I noticed wasps around one feeder and very little hummingbird activity. This feeder was red with yellow plastic flowers attached. A friend told me that wasps and bees are attracted to the color yellow. She suggested that I paint the... more

March 21, 2011

I recently attended an interesting lecture on outdoor container gardening at The Boston Flower and Garden Show. I thought I’d post some of the tips on how to create a basic planter. Whether you’re planting a container for outdoor flowers, vegetables, or herbs, the basic planter components can be the same. The trick is in the layering. Start with the right container. For example, a hanging container covered in moss provides drainage and ventilation. The size and material of your container... more

October 13, 2010

Late in the harvest, we often find some extra-large veggies. This morning, I finally pulled up a monster carrot that I’d been eyeing in my garden. (See pic below.) Just for fun, I’ll pick a “winning” photo on November 30 and send the winner The 2011 Old Farmer’s Almanac and an All-Seasons Garden Guide on November 30, 2010.   UPDATE: The winner for 2010 is … “Ruby and Opal” by Carl Wayne Hardeman. Congrats, Carl! There were so many great—and humorous—entries. It was Carl’s caption that clinched... more

September 6, 2010

As much as I love roasted Roma tomatoes, Tomato Tarte Tatin, which appeared in the August issue of Bon Appetit, has become my new second-favorite way to cook these plum-shaped fruits. This is a sweet, not savory, dish best enjoyed as dessert or a treat—not a vegetable side dish. My homegrown tomatoes are smaller than the market variety (we had a dry summer) so I used more and my taste is not as sweet as the BA chef’s, so I adjusted the butter and sugar down by roughly a third. The original... more

July 16, 2010

There is something special about summer reading. Sitting back in the porch rocker with a glass of iced tea sweating on the table next to you…heaven! Now imagine this– you are completely immersed in a book. You cannot put it down. You have totally unplugged yourself from the television, phone, and computer. You deprive yourself of sleep so you can read just one more chapter. And then you get to the last page. And you hate the ending! I recently found myself in this situation. I wish I’d stopped... more


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