Gwyn grew up in Emporia and Salina. She graduated from Mills College, in Oakland, Calif., and has master's degrees from Emporia State and Kansas University. She lives with her husband Mike, stepson Cassady and four dogs in rural Douglas County, where she gardens. When she's not writing about foods and gardening, Gwyn Mellinger is teaching journalism at Baker University.
As inconvenient as the recent snowfall may have been, heavy snow in winter is the best thing that can happen to an early-spring vegetable garden. Most of us in northeast Kansas received 6 to 8 inches of snow earlier this month. Those to the west and south got more, but even our half a foot of snow will go a long way toward compensating for lagging precipitation totals during the past year, particularly because the snow stayed on the ground awhile.
While October frosts signal the official end of the gardening season, they also usher in persimmon season, an event that generally goes unnoticed by all but a few hearty foragers and backyard persimmon enthusiasts.
For several years I have followed the monthly R.S.V.P. feature in Bon Apetit magazine, in which readers ask the magazine's editors to publish the recipe for some tasty dish that appears on a restaurant menu somewhere. It's free advertising for the restaurant, because the reader wouldn't be asking for the recipe if the meal hadn't made an impression. Surprisingly, many of the dishes that left customers hankering for the recipe are fairly basic and easy to prepare at home. I suspect, however, that this fact doesn't keep patrons from returning to the restaurant to have the chef do the cooking for them.
By Gwyn Mellinger Friday afternoon I wandered out to the garden and peered over the fence. The ground had begun drying out, just enough so the peaks in the tilled soil had turned the color of cardboard.
When I awoke the other morning my husband cheerfully announced that the weather forecast for Tuesday called for a high temperature near 60 degrees. My first thought was that this might be a good opportunity to run the tiller through my vegetable garden.
By Gwyn Mellinger I was reminded, following the first big rain in our recent series of storms, of the importance of watering fruit and vegetables evenly throughout their growing period. That surge of precipitation hit just after small berries appeared on one of our cherry trees and produced a growth spurt powerful enough to split the skins on all the fruit on that tree.
By Gwyn Mellinger Hey, Valentines and Valentine wannabes. You've got one week to figure out how to make an impression, and I'm here to help. I'm somewhat obligated to endorse the adage that the way to that certain someone's heart is through his or her stomach, and my own personal experience shows that chocolate is a pretty fool-safe means to that end
By Gwyn Mellinger 'Tis the season to extol the virtues of the pumpkin and this week and next I'll be doing just that. We tend to see the pumpkin's value in just two ways: as carving material for jack-o'-lanterns and as pie filling. I have seen estimates that 99 percent of all pumpkins are sold for decoration, which suggests that most of the flesh produced by pumpkins is scooped out and pitched. Many of our ancestors would be shocked.
By Gwyn Melllinger Within the next couple of weeks, now that we've started to get hard frosts, wild persimmons will be available for the gathering throughout the eastern Kansas countryside.
By Gwyn Mellinger One of the sure signs that fall is here is the appearance in supermarkets of winter squash, which gardeners in this region generally pick in September. One of the most popular of the winter squashes, and among the easiest to prepare, is acorn squash.