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Elizabeth Woodworth: Time to sneak over to your neighbor's and drop off a load of zucchini

By Elizabeth Woodworth
Contributing writer
updated: 7/31/2019 2:40 PM

A few black walnut leaves are falling, forecasting the great leaf-drop to come. The dark New Moon is considered favorable for vaccination, surgery and general livestock and people maintenance. Do unto your pets and livestock as your would have someone do unto you. Especially in the heat of August.

New Moon, (July 31) and perigee, Aug. 2, so close together and near the average for the first cool wave of August will create turbulent weather. As the moon waxes, set out cabbage, kale and collard sets. Seed the lawn. Don't let your ducklings get heatstroke. If a duck is panting, s/he may have heatstroke. (Countryside)

I did not know that ducks were susceptible to heatstroke. Don't think I ever saw a duck or goose pant. Wonder if all water fowl are.

Three New Moon Super Moons, the first Aug. 1. A Super New Moon occurs when the new moon pairs up with perigee. Invisible to the naked eye it brings about larger than usual tides.

I have never been but for years have heard about the Fancy Farm Picnic, held on the 1st Saturday in August. Though we know it as a day of politicking, it is associated with St. Jerome's Catholic Church. While a variety of foods are served, barbecue being one, the traditional staple of a Kentucky political gathering is Kentucky Burgoo. The 1894 Fancy Farm was graced by Col. W.C.P. Breckenridge and William Owens. This is the recipe for the Burgoo served that day: 80 sheep, 11 cows, 40 hogs, two immense wagonloads of corn, 20 bushels of potatoes, 6 bushels of onions, 1,000 tomatoes. I found no instructions, but am sure it took a week to get the prep and the cooking done. The thought of shucking two loads of corn, peeling and chopping the other vegetables, and cutting up the meat so it would fit in a pot boggles the mind. Wonder if they cooked in vessels the size of salt kettles and how many people it took to get it ready to serve.

Found out the answer to the question I have had for many years. A reader of the Grumpy Gardener asked why the skins on his tomatoes are so tough even thought they still taste good? He says, "Blame it on the heat. In hot weather tomatoes grow thicker skins to protect the fruit inside." I always thought it was something I did, not enough or too much water, etc. Heavens knows we have hot weather. I guess this year we should be glad that tomatoes are not all skin.

Have friends that are preparing for their annual mother/daughter vacation. They usually go to the Outer Banks, but are a bit leery about going to the ocean, what with sharks, flesh-eating bacteria, red tide. Growing up we never worried about any of that stuff, not sure that I even knew about any of it except sharks and since we were removed from the ocean, those didn't cross my mind. The closest we came to shark bites was minnows nibbling on our toes. We swam in lakes, Glendale, Little Grassy, Kentucky, in farm ponds, waterholes in state parks, and off sandbars in the Ohio. Most of us have swum in strip pits, not worrying until we were adults looking back at our foolishness. Maybe it was a time of innocents, or those things didn't affect the Midwest. I don't know anyone who is afraid to swim in our "native" water, with the exception of a strip pit and am sure there are kids who do that too. With the exception of sharks, seems that much of the ocean's problems are man made. We sure don't take good care of our planet.

Thanks to all who send Mrs. Foster a birthday greeting. She told me that she received more than 100 cards, that is with counting those signed by more than one person as one card. She is reading them all and enjoying the notes and good wishes from friends and former students.

The good news for home gardeners is this: Zucchini are very easy to grow, and they thrive in many different climates and soil conditions. The bad news is also this: Zucchini are very easy to grow. So easy, in fact, that come midsummer, backyard botanists across the nation find themselves faced with a surfeit of this vegetable that doesn't take well to canning or freezing. What to do with the bounty? Give it away, of course. According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, Aug. 8 is National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day. As writer Doreen G. Howard explains, "To celebrate it, you simply wait until the dead of night and quietly creep up to your neighbors' front door, leaving plenty of zucchini for them to enjoy. Your other option is to let them grow, and grow they will. Guinness World Records lists the longest zucchini every measured as 8 feet, 3 inches long. How many loaves of zucchini bread would that make, and how long would it take to peel and grate?

• Elizabeth Woodworth lives in Harrisburg.