Shawnee News Star Garden Article August 16th Becky Emerson Carlberg Linda Smith is busy fixing Myrtle the scarecrow for last year's county fair.   In case you missed Linda's garden article about the history of agricultural fairs last Wednesday, here is the nitty gritty of what to do.   The up and coming Pottawatomie County Free Fair [...]

Shawnee News Star Garden Article August 16th

Linda and Myrtle

Becky Emerson Carlberg

Linda Smith is busy fixing Myrtle the scarecrow for last year's county fair.   In case you missed Linda's garden article about the history of agricultural fairs last Wednesday, here is the nitty gritty of what to do.   The up and coming Pottawatomie County Free Fair takes place September 6-9, 2017.   Plant entries should be registered the afternoon of September 6th.   Go to www.freefair.org home page and find Fairbook.  Click on Fairbook to see all the categories, from 2017 4-H Exhibits to the 2017 Open Horse Show.   Each category will have its own set of rules.   Scroll down to 2017 Open Plant Science. Click.   Eggs?   Do not be put off by Eggs, unless of course you are very proud of your hens and what they have done.   PLANT SCIENCE is where it's at.

Junior (Jr) means 4-H or FFA and Open means just that, open to everybody.   Agronomy is the first Plant Science. It encompasses soil science and the cultivation of plants.   This is why corn and grains lead the way.   Seeds are seeds and grains are seeds, but grass seeds are often described as grains.   Got it?   When I think of grains, I think of sand.   There are roughly about seven quintillion, five hundred quadrillion grains of sand in all the beaches and deserts on earth.   Just checking. Next comes hay and bundles of grasses, most being native grasses.

Look at the HORTICULTURE section.   This might interest you.   Do you have a great apple crop this year?   Show off those beauties on a white paper plate.   Make sure you have five good representatives of the same apple variety.    Don't be disturbed if a few have bites missing after judging (I love apples.just kidding.maybe.)  What about your pecan or walnut crop?   Eighteen clean nuts in a clear plastic sack will do the trick.

Beekeepers: the public will be impressed with the honey your charges have produced.   The honey is judged according to color, white or amber, and if it has been extracted or has the comb (for me the comb is best.)     I wish the honey would indicate the flowers the bees visited during their forays out of the hive.   Alfalfa honey is light (spicy and flowery), blueberry honey (found in Michigan) is mildly tangy.   The classic clover honey can be white or extra light amber.   Wildflower honey is light (fruity and rich depending on the wildflowers.) Buckwheat honey is dark (strong.) Oklahoma did not participate in the National Honey Report for July 24th 2017.     Read the USDA National Honey Report to discover, state by state, the weather conditions and the crops bees visited and pollinated, plus get an idea of the enormous worldwide market out there for honey.

The royal vegetables reign in Plant Science. I suspect many of you grow tomatoes, peppers, okra, corn, squash, watermelons, beans or other vegetables.   How often have you eaten only out of your garden for supper?    Nothing is better than fresh picked.   Pick some of your best to enter in the fair.

The judges look for uniformity, condition (healthy and clean) and number. Take okra for example.   Twelve pods should be strategically arranged on the plate.   Six is a frequently used magic number.   Six potatoes, six turnips, six carrots, six onions, six peppers and six tomatoes must be on those plates.   Two is the number on a plate for summer squash, eggplants and cucumbers, and one for the winter squash and melons.   Heck, most of those hardly fit on a plate.   As for the beans, you are on your own.   The rules state 'plate.'   I like my plate of beans with ham, turnip greens and a piece of buttered cornbread.   That's later.   Fill those paper plates with the freshest beans you have.   Keep in mind many veggies are quite perishable, so harvest them right before coming.

The DECORATED PUMPKIN, GOURD OR WATERMELON CONTEST is great fun.   Try it.   You don't even have to grow the suckers, just buy one at the store and go wild and free with unfettered imagination, paint, glue or decorations.

Most folks have flowers and plants in pots.   Do something different.   Rather than decorate your or all your friend's tables, cut and bring your flowers (follow the rules) and enter in POTTED PLANTS AND FLOWERS.   Entries must be made by 6 pm September 6th and in place no later than 9 am Thursday, September 7th.   Judges look at quality, container, number of stems, etc. as stated in the rules. The roses are judged by stems or blooms.   I wish I could grow roses.   Potted plants and hanging baskets have their own categories. No pests please.   Leave them at home.

The SCARECROW CONTEST is for non-profits (boy scouts, 4-H, churches and other civic groups.) Some pretty impressive scarecrows have made their appearance in past county fairs.   Get a group together and make that effigy that will spook the most courageous crow.   I won't even go into the chickens, animals, 4-H displays, booths, cotton candy and other things a fair junkie like me gravitates toward.

Mark your calendars.   Next month.   September 6th-9th.   Pottawatomie County Free Fair.   Be there with your entries.   The Multi-County Master Gardeners and others will be there to help you.