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Elizabeth Woodworth: Why is corn supposed to be knee high by the Fourth?

By Elizabeth Woodworth
Contributing writer
updated: 7/25/2019 5:28 PM

Light frost is only four weeks away along the Canadian border, seven weeks away in the lower Midwest, and 12 weeks away in the South. (By my reckoning that is the first week in September. I hope not, am not yet ready for fall and winter.) In late July the day's length falls below 14 hours. The Sun has entered the Late Summer sign of Leo. In the eastern sky, the stars of the Summer Triangle move into position for Late Summer. The easiest of these three stars to find is Deneb, which is the larger "tail" star of Cygnus the swan (shaped like a large bird in flight, its long neck pointing to the south.) To the right of Deneb lies Vega, the brightest star overhead these nights. The third corner of the triangle is Altair, below and about halfway between the two corners. The nights of July 28 and 29 bring the Delta Aquarids after midnight in Aquarius. This shower can bring up to 20 meteors in and hour. (Countryside)

Reminder: The summer lunch program will run through Friday, Aug. 3.

Local peaches are in the stores. The classic way to prep a lot of peaches is to boil them for about 30 seconds, then plunge them in ice water to loosen the peels. But that also means you have to stand over a vat of boiling water in the middle of the summer Dog Days. What's cooler? Use a serrated vegetable peeler. This version of the classic tool has tiny teeth that grab onto the skin and make fast work of peeling. It also works on tomatoes, plums and nectarines. I don't own one, so don't know but do know that a knife is a pain, even for just one.

How to keep mosquito bites from itching: A chilled spoon; the cool sensation brings down swelling and numbs the skin, which can give you immediate short-term relief. Ice also does the trick, but a metal spoon that has been frozen for 10-20 minutes will stay cold longer. Mix a spoonful of crushed oats with a little water to create a paste to apply to your bite. Oats have natural soothing properties and calm itchy irritated skin.

Have been keeping an eye on the crops, after such a slow planting, nice to see most fields greet and tall. It has made me think about garden lore. Why is corn supposed to be knee high by the Fourth of July? If it's not, there would be no roastin' ears for Fourth cookouts. I could understand knee high by June 4, but July seems a bit late, unless you are like me and barely got the seed in the ground by the then. Why are we supposed to plant lettuce on Valentine's Day and peas and potatoes on St. Patrick's Day? Maybe in the south, but here and further north, it really doesn't make sense. It is nowhere near spring and those of us who do it know that more than likely the seeds are going to freeze and rot.

Prepping s'mores can get messy, but making the dessert 'wiches just got more streamline thanks to Stuffed Puffs. These marshmallow are prefilled with chocolate, all anyone has to do roast and plunk between graham crackers. Or soften with a microwave zap. $4. Think Mom would have liked these even if she would think they were a bit expensive. I do wonder about the chocolate, if it is as good as Hershey's.

My first 16-year-old granddaughter and her parents were here to see me this past weekend. Alex is 2 months older than Kidlet. I don't think she is as tall, but she is going to be a tall girl, already way above me and her mother. They live in Webster Grove, close but with such busy lives we only get together a couple of times a year. She is very musical, in the band and choir. Both the girls are good students, thinking about college. Doesn't seem like they should be old enough for that. Was good to see the family. I miss them.

I judged some of the cooking at the 4-H home show. The lady who helped me has three grandchildren who are very active in 4-H. This is the oldest one's last year, he is going to age out. None of the kids enter anything in the home show (cooking/sewing). They have cattle, gardens, do woodworking and all kinds of other handwork. She was in 4-H when she was young. She was raised in a small mining town in Franklin County. All the kids in town belonged, not a farm kid among them. She said their first project was making a sandwich. Yes, a sandwich. She said that I must remember this was 70 years ago, and things were a bit different. This family has had a long history with 4-H.

If your kids think they might like to join, go by the U of I Extension office, pick up some literature, talk to the 4-H coordinators. Good group to join.

• Elizabeth Woodworth lives in Harrisburg.