Pumpkin Bread
Wet Ingredients:
1 cup corn oil
6 eggs
1 cup water
1 lb. 12 oz. can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

Dry Ingredients:
4 ½  cups sugar
5 ¼  cups flour
3 tsp. baking soda
2 ½  tsp. each of nutmeg, cinnamon, salt

1 ½  cups chocolate chips or walnuts or both

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine wet ingredients in a large bowl. Combine dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients stirring to combine. Add chocolate chips or walnuts. Divide equally among 4 (8 ½ x 4 ½  x 2 ½) greased and floured baking pans. Bake for 50-60 mins.

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Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut - Sometimes You Don't 
When it comes to the boom-and-bust cycles of nut production, trees know exactly what they are doing. Trees with large seeds, such as oaks and walnuts show great variability in seed production year to year, often rhythmically. Acorn production can vary from none, to over 50,000 per year. A common term for those good years is "a big mast year." Masting can only happen when there are sufficient food reserves in the tree. With such effort it is perhaps not surprising that there are rarely two mast years in a row. The tree must rebuild its food reserves ready for the next big year.

Besides how much food can be accumulated in a tree, the biggest variable is the weather. A late season frost can prevent acorns from forming or kill them outright, even if the tree has ample reserves.

Masting occurs in those trees with large seeds that are carried away by mammals or birds to eat or store in the ground, sometimes to be forgotten. Acorns are eagerly sought after by boar, bear, deer, turkeys, squirrel and chipmunks because they contain up to 50% oil and starch. Masting swamps the seed eaters with more seed than they can consume hopefully leading to a few surviving to germinate.

In lean years, whole forests can be picked clean down to the last morsel so hardly any seedlings sprout. So that's why trees have decided if they don't bloom every year, then the herbivores cannot count on them. The next generation is kept in check because over the winter the animals must endure little food and many will not survive.

If the weather destroys a nut crop one year, this leads to a mast year and more seeds surviving predators to form the next generation. This leads to selection of those plants most sensitive to the disruptive weather event, resulting in future masting and survival of our little tree.

Acorns supply energy at a time of year when
animals need it most.

A cache of walnuts under a tree. It looks like its going to be a long winter for Mr. Squirrel.

For more information on oak trees acorn production . 
Which Grasses Should I Plant this Spring?
Here is a handy starter guide for those who are just entering the Ornamental Grass world or are looking to add a few to their existing collection. These are grasses I have watched mature and adapt in my clients and friends gardens over the years. There are definitely others I've seen that I would recommend as well, but until I have a personal experience with them, I cannot comment.

Switch Grass (Panicum)
A dominant grass in the tallgrass prairie of the US. A warm season grass it seems slow to establish but well worth the wait. The species and selections vary from 3 to 7 feet high, with seed heads that turn reddish before they turn gold. The foliage color is off the charts. Red hues even in spring and then dark red in fall. Cultivars include: Northwind, Dewey Blue, Ruby Ribbons, and Shenandoah

Flame Grass (Miscanthus)
Plant only named cultivars of Miscanthus sinensis such as Maiden Grass, Little Zebra, Silver Feather, or Japanese Silver Grass and only in managed landscapes where the plant can be watched for self-seeding. Avoid Miscanthus sacchariflorus which has aggressive rhizomes.  

Native to moist, mountainous woods in Japan, hakone grass likes acidic soils that are moist with high organic matter. Excellent drainage is a must. Prefers shade; slow growing. Can be wider that it is tall (25" wide), soft, weeping or pendulous, yellowish foliage.  

Feather Reed Grass(Calamagrostis)
Feather Reed is a cool season grass, native to Europe. A reliable performer, it was named Perennial Plant of the Year in 2002. Easy to grow, very showy, upright, wheat-like plant that sets no seed and forms a dense clump. Leave standing over the winter for interest and cut back in the early spring. Cultivars include: Karl Foerster, Overdam, and Eldorado

Prairie Dropseed(Sporobolus)
Prairie Dropseed can find a place in most gardens, growing only 24 to 36 inches high and wide with a mound of fine-textured foliage that turns golden-orange in fall. The flowers are held high above the foliage on slender stems and ripen into a see-through cloud of delicate seeds. Be aware, though, that prairie dropseed may take three years or so to reach its full size. It calls for patience. Cultivars include: Tara

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium)
A dominant of tall and shortgrass prairies, little bluestem is an excellent choice for dry soils and difficult sites. Variable in height and form, its blue foliage in the summer turns to a combination of purple, red and orange in the fall. Evolved to be held up by its perennial neighbors, it may flop over if spaced apart. Cultivars include: Blue Heaven, Standing Ovation

Blue Oat Grass (Helictotrichon)
Spiky, silvery blue foliage is attractive and combines well in a perennial border. Although it prefers drier, well drained sites and cool summers, it will grow in heavier soils. Do not cut back in the spring; comb or rake out brown foliage. Cultivars include: Sapphire

For more information on ornamental and native grasses

Thanks for reading.  
Happy Planting!    


Faith Appelquist

President & Founder


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