A good pizza is healthy for you

Finally I now have a reason not to feel guilty when I order a pizza, one that is loaded with all the toppings. When you think about what actually goes into a good pizza, it is actually a health food. That is my opinion and I stick to it with every bite I take. My pizza contains grain, tomatoes, onions, peppers, cheese, meats and mushrooms all in one, conveniently combined together.

Mushrooms added to not only pizza, but to salads or other dishes could help fight aging and play a factor in your overall health. Studies out of Penn State have found that mushrooms contain high amount of antioxidants, two in fact. According to the research, mushrooms that are cooked do not lose any measurable amount of these compounds. The amount of these antioxidants found in mushrooms varies with the type of mushroom eaten. The white button mushroom, that is commonly sold and used on pizza, contains a fair amount of the antioxidants.

How do you feel about a creature that roams around in dark damp recesses of your home and is only occasionally seen? Yup, your reaction is one of horror thinking that such a creature may actually inhabit your home. Let me say this, take the “may” out of my last sentence, because such a creature is now somewhere lurking in the deep crevices of you home and you don’t know it.

The hundred-legger or centipede is really a beneficial hunter. It will feed on spiders, silver fish, ants, bedbugs and even cockroaches that are in your home. Outside they even have a broader range to feed upon. They are not destructive or poisonous. Of course they could scare the bejesus out of you if it accidentally crossed your path or dropped on your lap from the ceiling at night time while you were watching a mystery suspense thriller, but other than that, welcome them. You can always catch them and put them outside in a sheltered location.

Trivia answer for you regarding centipedes. Centipedes only have an odd number pairs of legs which could range from fifteen to one hundred seventy-seven, depending on the specie.

Did you know that you can come close to knowing if the temperature outside is around freezing or even well below thirty-two degrees? During the winter your rhododendron is an indicator of temperature. At around thirty-five degrees the leaves will start to cup and curl inward. By twenty-five degrees the leaves have not only curled tightly, but have also drooped to the point that they look like green beans hanging off the branches. This happens as a result of the plants trying to prevent the leaves from drying out.

One very big drawback to winter is the lack of fresh lettuce and herbs. A salad with nothing but iceberg lettuce is like having…..well you know what I mean. Plus, you know that when you add fresh herbs to a recipe, the results is much greater than something that has been dried and sat in your cupboard for years.

If you are lucky to have a seed starting system, you can use that system to grow lettuce and herbs. The plants will just remain in the house once they mature. You can use the expensive grow lights or substitute and use instead the less expensive cool white fluorescent light bulbs. Keep in mind that the plants will need to be under these lights at least fourteen to sixteen hours a day. Place the system on a timer and you won’t have to worry if you forget to turn on or off the lights. Room temperatures of seventy are ideal.

Plan on using a good potting mix sold without fertilizer added. You will want to use a water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks. Go easy on the fertilizer to prevent a negative taste and aroma of the herbs. Remember that a house has the humidity of a desert or worse. Plants that are spaced close together, but far enough for good air circulation, will help hold in moisture. Place the potted plants on a tray with pebbles and water definitely will add extra humidity. Plants that have some type of air movement be it by a fan or just by occasionally brushing the plants with your hand will strengthen the plants and help with better growth.

It doesn’t matter if you live in the country or in town, don’t forget to protect your plants from marauding hunger critters. To protect from deer, you should use a barrier wide enough that they won’t be able to eat the branches. Small animals such as rabbits or voles, a fence with screening inside hopefully will keep them away from chewing on the bark and killing the plant.

Just a reminder that tick season has not come to an end. Cold weather has little effect on the life of a tick. Freezing temperatures only causes the tick to seek shelter and once the temperature reaches twenty-nine degrees or higher they will become active. If you are out in the woods, stay away from patches of the invasive Japanese barberry bush. Ticks and barberry bush go together like bread and butter or peanut butter and jelly.

One last word before I finish this month’s column. November the 11th saw the end of a gardening column that lasted 20 years. Tina Clinefelter, your column will be missed and with it the knowledge and information that you shared with all your readers. If I may be permitted to use the following taken from an Old Irish Blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you

May the wind be always at your back

May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home

And may the hand of a friend always be near.

Remember, it is easy to be green. Happy Gardening!


Quentin Stocum is the former Clinton County Master Gardener Coordinator.