Thursday, December 31, 2009

Strawberries


Growing strawberries in your garden has to be one of the more rewarding gardening efforts, because there is just no comparison between store bought strawberries and those picked fresh from the garden. So let’s take a look at how to grow strawberries in your garden.

The traditional way to grow strawberries is to nurture them as perennials, that is you plant them one year and expect them to peak in later years. But some places in the South where the summers are quite hot it is not uncommon to grow them as an annual, and replant the following year.

Based on how you might want to grow them you can pick the one of the strawberry varieties that will work for you.

Where to Plant Strawberries

Strawberries are very versatile, and can be planted in a variety of ways. Many people will plant strawberries in containers. Hanging strawberry planters are a favorite, and let you grow strawberries on the balcony or a patio. For this its common to plant them as annuals so you don’t have to overwinter the container. Strawberries should not be planted where peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes have been grown since these plants can harbor verticillium wilt, a seriously bad disease for strawberries. If in doubt you may think of using the square foot gardening approach which uses a soilless mix in raised beds.

The most common way of growing strawberries is in a bed. Since they are most often grown as perennials, you want a location for the bed that is out of the way, as it will be mulched and scraggly looking for part of the year. You may want a raised garden bed as this will help control the week population, since in perennial beds you can’t just go in and till it up once a year. Like most garden vegetables or fruits, strawberries like full sun, at least six hours of sun a day.

Strawberries need at least one to two inches of rain a week, so if your climate won’t provide that factor in the need for irrigation like the proximity to a hose when choosing a location.

Soil Preparation

Drainage must be good (another advantage of a raised bed) and they do best in a sandy loamy soil. For any garden bed it’s good to prepare the soil with a healthy addition of organic matter like compost, but it’s particularly good for perennial plantings as they chance to work that in again could be several years away.

There are several popular approaches to creating a strawberry bed, which vary a little based on the varieties that you want to grow.

Matted Rows

Matted rows are good for June-bearing strawberries. The plants should be planted about eighteen to thirty inches apart in rows, with the rows being 3 to 4 feet apart. Daughter plants are allowed to spread and root freely. This should result in a matted row about 24 inches wide.

Spaced Rows

With spaced rows to goal is to limit the number of daughter plants spreading out from the mother plant. Once again the mother plants are set eighteen to thirty inches apart with rows spaced 3 to 4 feet apart. The daughter plants are spaced out so they root at least four inches apart. All other runners are cut from the mother plants. This is somewhat higher maintenance approach, but the payoff is in higher yields, larger strawberries and reduced disease problems.

Hills

Hills are recommended for growing everbearing and day-neutral strawberries. For this approach all runners are removed, leaving only the original strawberry plant, forcing the mother plant to develop more crowns and stalks for fruiting. Start by arranging multiple rows of two to four plants with a walkway between each group of rows about two feet wide. The plants are staggered about one foot apart in the rows. After the first two or three weeks of growth add mulch to the bed.

Planting Strawberries

Plant in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Plant the new plants where the crown is at soil level. The buds can be harmed by frost, so for new plantings you may want to wait til after the last frost.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Great Gathering


We are in a unique time on the planet; humanity is now facing a crossroad. The choices we make today will affect our children for generations to come.

By coming together in our hearts, we can and will create the change we want to see in the world. Every day more people are awakening to understand that we must act responsibly and act now to create this change.

How do we begin to make this change with our world facing crisis on so many fronts: financial woes, famine, homelessness, perpetual wars, food shortages, exploitation and disease (to name only a few)? We do have a choice.

We are in the time of choice and human beings around the world are feeling a call to unite and make our voices heard and our actions count. People from the indigenous world to the political are beginning to step forward and speak of this change through action and choice.

There are many indigenous groups, as well as different faiths and beliefs, now sharing prophecies regarding information about this special time on the planet. Within all beliefs there is a similar thread that gives us the same message: we must unite in our hearts in order to overcome the challenges we are now facing on the earth.

What is The Great Gathering? It is the same message of many beliefs from around the world. The message is simple: now is the time for humanity to unite to create the one voice for the people of Earth.

This Great Gathering will be in every country around the world; we will stand together and join our hands, our hearts and our voices. This will create the spark that brings light to the rest of the world and to humanity.

All groups from all directions will join in this celebration of life, of nature, of humanity and all that is.

Neighborhood groups, churches, friends, coworkers, families, corporations that are trying to be responsible, politicians trying to create change, religious leaders, eco-villages, farm associations, truckers, health care workers, humanitarian organizations, educators, laborers, dishwashers, peacekeepers, all races, religions and economic backgrounds (the list is endless) will come together as one in our hearts. Together we will be one voice and change will happen.

In order to begin The Great Gathering we must lay the foundation for this event through our networks of friends and associates. Change starts with the individual taking responsibility. Please send this message to your friends and networks around the world so that once The Great Gathering becomes known around the globe we can then act and call on humanity to join us.

Change and true unity comes from the heart and being humble in our service to the earth and others. We are all connected; this gathering is to remind us that our lives on this earth are a gift to be honored.


We are all equal and we deserve to be heard. The Great Gathering gives us all a voice to say we want change and support change for our children. Through our hearts and unity we can make a difference. Let’s work on making this a reality in 2010—the year of change—by sharing this one idea. Together we will decide when The Great Gathering takes place.

This is how it begins.... with you.......

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Try Pole Beans


Beans are sensitive to cold temperatures and frost. They should be planted after all danger of frost is past in the spring. If the soil has warmed before the average last-frost date, an early planting may be made a week to 10 days before this date. You can assure yourself a continuous supply of snap beans by planting every 2 to 4 weeks until early August.
Plant seeds of all varieties one inch deep. Plant seeds of pole beans 4 to 6 inches apart in rows 30 to 36 inches apart along trellis, netting, fence, or poles; or in hills (four to six seeds per hill) 30 inches apart, with 30 inches between rows.
Seeds of most varieties tend to crack and germinate poorly if the soil's moisture content is too high. For this reason, never soak bean seed before planting. Instead water just after planting or plant right before a heavy rain.
Beans have shallow roots and frequent shallow cultivation and hoeing are necessary to control small weeds and grasses. Because bean plants have fairly weak root systems, deep, close cultivation injures the plant roots, delays harvest and reduces yields.
Harvest when the pods are firm, crisp and fully elongated, but before the seed within the pod has developed significantly. Pick beans after the dew is off the plants, and they are thoroughly dry. Picking beans from wet plants can spread bean bacterial blight, a disease that seriously damages the plants. Be careful not to break the stems or branches, which are brittle on most bean varieties. The bean plant continues to form new flowers and produces more beans if pods are continually removed before the seeds mature.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pearl Harbor


Somehow I feel it is time to get serious.
My Grandfathers brother died that day on the USS Arizona

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cucumbers


Cucumber is a tender, warm-season vegetable that produces well when given proper care and protection. The vines of standard varieties grow rapidly and require substantial space. Vertical training methods and new dwarf varieties now allow cucumbers to be grown for slicing, salads and pickling, even in small garden plots.
When to Plant
Cucumbers are usually started by planting seeds directly in the garden. Plant after the danger of frost has passed, and the soil has warmed in the spring. Warm soil is necessary for germination of seeds and proper growth of plants. With ample soil moisture, cucumbers thrive in warm summer weather. A second planting for fall harvest may be made in mid- to late summer.

Cucumbers may be transplanted for extra-early yields. Sow two or three seeds in peat pots, peat pellets or other containers 3 to 4 weeks before the frost-free date. Thin to one plant per container. Plant transplants 1 to 2 feet apart in rows 5 to 6 feet apart when they have two to four true leaves. Do not allow transplants to get too large in containers or they will not transplant well. Like other vine crops, cucumbers do not transplant successfully when pulled as bare-root plants.


Spacing & Depth
Plant seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep and thin the seedlings to one plant every 12 inches in the row or to three plants every 36 inches in the hill system. If you use transplants, plant them carefully in warm soil 12 inches apart in the row.


Care
Cucumber plants have shallow roots and require ample soil moisture at all stages of growth. When fruit begins setting and maturing, adequate moisture becomes especially critical. For best yields, incorporate compost or well-rotted manure before planting. Cucumbers respond to mulching with soil-warming plastic in early spring or organic materials in summer. Use of black plastic mulch warms the soil in the early season and can give significantly earlier yields, especially if combined with floating row covers.

Side-dress with nitrogen fertilizer when the plants begin to vine. Cucumber beetles should be controlled from the time that the young seedlings emerge from the soil.

In small gardens, the vines may be trained on a trellis or fence. When the long, burpless varieties are supported, the cucumbers hang free and develop straight fruits. Winds whipping the plants can make vertical training impractical. Wire cages also can be used for supporting the plants. Do not handle, harvest or work with the plants when they are wet.


Harvesting
Pick cucumbers at any stage of development before the seeds become hard. Cucumbers usually are eaten when immature. The best size depends upon the use and variety. They may be picked when they are no more than 2 inches long for pickles, 4 to 6 inches long for dills and 6 to 8 inches long for slicing varieties. A cucumber is of highest quality when it is uniformly green, firm and crisp. The large, burpless cucumbers should be 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and up to 10 inches long. Some varieties can grow considerably larger. Do not allow cucumbers to turn yellow. Remove from the vine any missed fruits nearing ripeness so that the young fruits continue to develop. The cucumber fruit grows rapidly to harvest size and should be picked at least every other day.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

How Long do you Boil Water for it to be safe

I frequently come upon bad advice about boiling water to make it safe to drink. Having enough safe drinking water is of utmost importance to any survivor. Proper information is very important and for that reason I am writing this is to set the record straight.

Boiling Water is the Best Method
As some of us know, boiling water is surest and most effective method of destroying microorganisms including disease causing bacteria, viruses, protozoan’s, and parasites.

Modern filtering devices and the chemical treatment of water come in a poor distant second to the ancient and almost foolproof method of boiling water to make it safe to drink. And importantly to the survivor, the boiling of water requires no special apparatus, training, or difficult to find chemicals. The means to boil water for safe drinking are usually close at hand:
•A source of heat
•A vessel to hold the water.
Boil Water Advisory Couldn’t be simpler. Or is it?
Commonly Stated Water Boiling Times
How Long Should Water be boiled
I am always hearing different amounts of time that water needs to be boiled to kill disease organisms. Recently I perused various publications put out by the government and trusted health organizations. What is glaringly obvious is they disagree on the length of time water should be boiled to make it safe to drink.
Common water boiling times that are stated include:

•“Boil water for 10 minutes” is a common statement
•“5-minutes of boiling” is also frequently heard
•“Boil the water for 20 minutes”. Would there be any left?
•“A rolling boil for 1 minute”. Is it enough?
•“When at high altitudes you need to boil water for twice as long”
Modern filtering devices and the chemical treatment of water come in a poor distant second to the ancient and almost foolproof method of boiling water to make it safe to drink. Which of the above statements are true? None. That’s right. Following any of the above advice for the boiling times of water is a big waste of fuel (and a waste of water if you are short on water cannot afford to lose any to evaporation).

Throughout the world whole forests have been cut down for firewood in order to boil drinking water. Hikers and mountaineers have used up precious fuel boiling water for inordinate amounts of time. In a survival situation you cannot afford to waste valuable resources and energy. With all the bad advice around, many thousands of trees and other fuels and a huge amount of effort have been wasted.

Correct Water Boiling Time
The correct amount of time to boil water is 0 minutes. Thats right, zero minutes.

"According to the Wilderness Medical Society, water temperatures above 160° F (70° C) kill all pathogens within 30 minutes and above 185° F (85° C) within a few minutes. So in the time it takes for the water to reach the boiling point (212° F or 100° C) from 160° F (70° C), all pathogens will be killed, even at high altitude."

What is not well known is that contaminated water can be pasteurized at temperatures well below boiling. The fact is, with a water temperature of 160 to 165 degrees F (74 C) it takes just half an hour for all disease causing organisms to be inactivated. At 185 degrees this is cut to just a few minutes. By the time water hits its boiling point of 212 F (100 C) - plus or minus depending upon pressure or altitude - the water is safe. Even at high altitudes the time it takes for the water to reach a rolling boil and then cool means you can safely drink it.

Lacking a thermometer to measure water temperature, you only need to get your water to a rolling boil. By that point you know the water is hot enough and that the disease organisms in your water were destroyed quite some time earlier. End of story, turn off the heat. Stop wasting fuel. Let the water cool down. Your water is safe to drink!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Container Gardening


You don't need a plot of land to grow fresh vegetables. Many vegetables lend themselves well to container gardening. With some thought to selecting bush or dwarf varieties, almost any vegetable can be adapted to growing in a pot. Vegetables that take up little space, such as carrots, radishes and lettuce, or crops that bear fruits over a long period of time, such as tomatoes and peppers, are perfect for container vegetable gardens.

What you can grow in a container vegetable garden is limited only by the size of the container and your imagination. How about a Summer Salad container? Plant a tomato, a cucumber and some parsley or chives all in a large (24-30") container. They grow well together and have the same water and sun requirements. By late summer they might not be very pretty, but they'll keep producing into the fall. This makes a great housewarming present, too.


Containers and Pots for Vegetable Gardens
Selecting Containers: Containers for your vegetable gardens can be almost anything: flower pots, pails, buckets, wire baskets, bushel baskets, wooden boxes, nursery flats, window planters, washtubs, strawberry pots, plastic bags, large food cans, or any number of other things.
Drainage: No matter what kind of container you choose for your vegetable garden, it should have holes at the base or in the bottom to permit drainage of excess water.

Color Considerations: You should be careful when using dark colored containers because they absorb heat which could possibly damage the plant roots. If you do use dark colored pots, try painting them a lighter color or shading just the container.

Size: The size of the container is important. For larger vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants, you should use a five gallon container for each plant. You can grow these plants in two gallon containers, however you need to give the plants considerably more attention.


Soil and Fertilizer
You can use soil in your container vegetable garden, but the synthetic mixes are much better. Peat-based mixes, containing peat and vermiculite, are excellent. They are relatively sterile and pH adjusted. They also allow the plants to get enough air and water. Mixing in one part compost to two parts planting mix will improve fertility.
Using a slow release or complete organic fertilizer at planting will keep your vegetables fed for the whole growing season.


Watering
Pots and containers always require more frequent watering than plants in the ground. As the season progresses and your plants mature, their root system will expand and require even more water. Don't wait until you see the plants wilting. Check your containers daily to judge the need for water.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What is Wheatgrass


Wheatgrass will Increase red blood-cell count and lowers blood pressure. It cleanses the blood, organs and gastrointestinal tract of debris. Wheatgrass also stimulates metabolism and the body’s enzyme systems by enriching the blood. It also aids in reducing blood pressure by dilating the blood pathways throughout the body.

Stimulates the thyroid gland, correcting obesity, indigestion, and a host of other complaints.

Restores alkalinity to the blood. The juice's abundance of alkaline minerals helps reduce over-acidity in the blood. It can be used to relieve many internal pains, and has been used successfully to treat peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis, constipation, diarrhea, and other complaints of the gastrointestinal tract.

Is a powerful detoxifier, and liver and blood protector. The enzymes and amino acids found in wheatgrass can protect us from carcinogens like no other food or medicine. It strengthens our cells, detoxifies the liver and bloodstream, and chemically neutralizes environmental pollutants.

Fights tumors and neutralizes toxins. Recent studies show that wheatgrass juice has a powerful ability to fight tumors without the usual toxicity of drugs that also inhibit cell-destroying agents. The many active compounds found in grass juice cleanse the blood and neutralize and digest toxins in our cells.

Contains beneficial enzymes. Whether you have a cut finger you want to heal or you desire to lose five pounds...enzymes must do the actual work. The life and abilities of the enzymes found naturally in our bodies can be extended if we help them from the outside by adding exogenous enzymes, like the ones found in wheatgrass juice. Don't cook it. We can only get the benefits of the many enzymes found in grass by eating it uncooked. Cooking destroys 100 percent of the enzymes in food.

Has remarkable similarity to our own blood. The second important nutritional aspect of chlorophyll is its remarkable similarity to hemoglobin, the compound that carries oxygen in the blood. Dr. Yoshihide Hagiwara, president of the Hagiwara Institute of Health in Japan, is a leading advocate for the use of grass as food and medicine. He reasons that since chlorophyll is soluble in fat particles, and fat particles are absorbed directly into the blood via the lymphatic system, that chlorophyll can also be absorbed in this way. In other words, when the "blood" of plants is absorbed in humans it is transformed into human blood, which transports nutrients to every cell of the body.

When used as a rectal implant, reverses damage from inside the lower bowel. An implant is a small amount of juice held in the lower bowel for about 20 minutes. In the case of illness, wheatgrass implants stimulate a rapid cleansing of the lower bowel and draw out accumulations of debris.

Externally applied to the skin can help eliminate itching almost immediately.

Will soothe sunburned skin and act as a disinfectant. Rubbed into the scalp before a shampoo, it will help mend damaged hair and alleviate itchy, scaly, scalp conditions.

Is soothing and healing for cuts, burns, scrapes, rashes, poison ivy, athlete's foot, insect bites, boils, sores, open ulcers, tumors, and so on. Use as a poultice and replace every two to four hours.

Works as a sleep aide. Merely place a tray of living wheatgrass near the head of your bed. It will enhance the oxygen in the air and generate healthful negative ions to help you sleep more soundly.

Enhances your bath. Add some to your bath water and settle in for a nice, long soak.

Sweetens the breath and firms up and tightens gums. Just gargle with the juice.

Neutralizes toxic substances like cadmium, nicotine, strontium, mercury, and polyvinyl chloride.

Offers the benefits of a liquid oxygen transfusion since the juice contains liquid oxygen. Oxygen is vital to many body processes: it stimulates digestion (the oxidation of food), promotes clearer thinking (the brain utilizes 25% of the body's oxygen supply), and protects the blood against anaerobic bacteria. Cancer cells cannot exist in the presence of oxygen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day


Today is a day of remembrance for all who have served and died for our country. And for those who are serving now in harm’s way. We should all stop for a moment and give thanks to those who enable us to live with the freedoms we still have.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Some of my Favorite Tomato Varieties


BEEFSTEAK TOMATOES the primo slicer for sandwiches, cooking
Beefsteaks are the very biggest tomatoes. Their pulp cavity is generally relatively small, and always compressed and distorted by the extensive placenta wall, giving the 'marbled' appearance of a steak. Because of the compressed pulp cavity and networking of the fruit wall as placenta, beefsteaks hold together well when sliced, and together with their large size, make them the ideal 'slicer' for sandwiches. Because of their high fruit wall to pulp ratio, they also cook down well for sauces. There is a lot of variation between varieties in the density of the flesh, its juiciness (i.e. firm or very soft when ripe), and in the size and softness of the central 'core'. Flavor, as always, can vary, according to the ratio of sugars to acids, and according to the relative amount of sugar or acid present.

Big Beef F1 Staking variety. Outstandingly productive, easily out producing most other large, (about 100mm/4 inches in diameter/ 280 gms ) very regular fruit shape, with no cracking, produce large tomatoes even toward the end of the season, very good flavor. One of the very best of the large main season varieties.

Big Rainbow Staking variety. A spectacular looking tomato grown from at least the 1900's in the USA. Basically a large to very large yellow beefsteak, as the fruits ripen, go through a phase where they resemble a rainbow - 'greenback' on the shoulders, yellow in the middle, and with red blushed pink on the blossom end. The early set fruit can be very large at 900grams/2 lbs or more. The flesh is marbled red and orange. It is relatively free of fruit defects, and bears well. Highly rated in taste tests. Main season.

Brandywine Staking variety. A large beefsteak. Not as tall as some staking plants, this old cultivar (pre 1885, from the Amish community in USA) is renowned for its flavor. The fruit are large, between 400 and 700 grams. They are subject to minor cracking on the top, and are a rather soft fruit, but the flavor is outstanding, with both high sweetness and acidity, making for full flavor. The flavor can be poor in unfavorable seasons. Moderately productive. Main season. It has no disease resistance, and is unsuited to very humid hot areas where disease is a problem.

Evergreen Staking variety. Ripens green toning yellow. Medium sized fruit. The solid dense fruits are well suited to salsas, as well as slicing for frying or sandwiches. Main season.

Golianth F1 A large, smooth, deep red skinned commercial variety of around 300gms/10oz or more. Widely adapted and disease resistant. Early mid season.
Giant Belgium Large to very large, dark pink fruit of around 500 grams/ 1 lb. and sometimes much more. The flesh is dense and meaty.

Great White Staking variety. A particularly vigorous beefsteak, bearing large fruit of around 400 gms. The fruit are yellowish white. Main season.
Grosse Lisse Staking variety. Vigorous, adapted to humid areas. Large, (plus 200 grams) heavy yielding cultivar. Moderate sweetness, low to moderate acidity. Main season.

Marvel Striped Staking variety. Grown in Oaxaca, Mexico, at least since the mid-1800. The large, heart-shaped fruit are yellow streaked with bright orange. Yellow flesh, streaked pink. The skin is thin, Juicy. The flavor is sweet Vigorous.

Mortgage Lifter Staking variety. Extremely large, furrowed, red beefsteak (up to 1 kilo). In good conditions it can be exceptionally productive. Main season

Pineapple Staking variety. The fruit are yellow-red striped, and the plants have heavy foliage. Which helps prevent sunscald.
Ponderosa Pink Staking variety. Large fruit, 200 grams and better. Very ripe fruit are sweet with low acidity. Slightly under ripe fruit are sweet and with better acid. This variety is outstanding for flavor, Main season.
St. Pierre a French heirloom variety actively sought out in the street markets for its superior flavor.

Yellow Brandywine a deep yellow, near orange color 'sport' of 'Brandywine'

Monday, November 9, 2009

Learning how to do Canning at Home


To preserve foods by canning two things must be done. First, sufficient heat must be provided to destroy all microscopic life that will cause spoilage in food; and second a perfect seal must be made which will prevent the re-entrance of microorganisms. These problems of preventing spoilage have been practically solved by the improved methods of canning which are explained below.
Only the freshest of fruits and vegetables should be canned. Canning does not improve the taste of the product; it only preserves it for future use.
Methods of Canning

Open Kettle: This method involves cooking the product completely and pouring it into sterilized jars, using sterilized equipment throughout. The jars are then sealed and stored. The open kettle method is recommended only for preserves, pickles, and foods canned in thick syrup. For other foods use the following methods.

Cold Pack: Cold, raw foods are put into jars and covered with boiling-hot syrup, juice of water. (Tomatoes are pressed down in the jar so they are covered with their own juice.) Jars are partially or completely sealed, following manufactures directions. Jars are then processed in boiling water or in steam to simultaneously cook the food and sterilize the jars.

Hot Pack: Fruits and vegetables are preheated before packing causing shrinkage before food goes into jars. This is the preferred method as preheating the food before packing prevents “floating”, (especially with fruits) and assures a full pack. Processing time is also lessened when food is hot-packed.

To learn how to do this Click Here

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Taking Care of your Soil


If you’re gardening in the same soil year after year, you will want to do some things to keep it healthy and vibrant so that it continues to improve. In fact, a good farmer or gardener who’s using sustainable practices will see there soil steadily improving and even growing bigger with each passing year.

This is especially true if you take care to do the regular maintenance that good soil husbandry requires. Most of this is easy to do and a lot of it will come naturally with the gardening process anyway.

First and foremost, never leave your soil bare to the elements. If you plant from seed, this probably can’t be helped much for a part of the year, but for 10 of the 12 months of the year, you soil should be growing something or covered with something. Wind erosion, sun leaching, and other things can quickly degrade the soil’s nutrients.

In the spring, before planting, cover the bare soil with manure or compost and let it sit for as long as you can before you put plants in. If you live in the northern United States, you probably don’t begin planting until late April or early May. The snow will be off the soil by late March or early April, just before the spring thaw. This is the time to spread that compost or manure over the garden. Freezing won’t hurt it and it will create new nutrients as it works into the soil.

While your garden is growing and you care for it, don’t throw out trimmed leaves or pulled weeds. Instead, leave them in the garden rows and let them rot there. Additionally, a lot of the items you might have left over in the kitchen can be put right on the garden rather than the compost heap.

You can throw your used tea bags, pour your leftover tea and coffee, drained blood from meats, and more onto your garden directly without composting. These ad things to the soil immediately. The tea bags, for instance, we’ll leave in the garden as a bundle for a day or two and then remove them before we water again.

At the end of the year, if there is still a month or two of sunlight left, try growing cold-tolerant crops like some types of cabbage, lettuces, tubers, and so forth. A lot of things can grow in cold weather and even survive light frosts. This keeps your soil productive and keeps it working.

Before winter really sets in, though, you’ll want to either have a cover crop in (recommended) or have another layer of compost/manure ready to spread over the soil. Mulch doesn’t hurt either if it’s finely chopped enough to break down relatively quickly.

Cover crops can include clover, grasses, or any of a host of fast-growing pasture grasses. They’re easy to plant too, since all you really need to do is broadcast the seeds over the soil and let them do their thing. This cover crop stops wind erosion and can be shallowly plowed under in the early spring to provide compost.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Now is the time to plan for next year’s garden


The fall is a great time to begin to plan and prepare next year's vegetable garden. You can take important steps to promote a healthy and successful garden for next year. Here are five tips for preparing for next year's garden today.

1) Fall is the best time of year to prepare the soil for next year's garden. To begin you should pull up and remove any plants from your garden. You may choose to till them under instead. If you do this, make sure that the plants are disease free. You can also add compost to the soil, and till it in at this time. Shredded leaves make an inexpensive but excellent resource of nutrients to add to your soil.


2) You should plan wisely. Take the time now to plan what vegetables you want to plant next year. If you begin early enough you can work through several seasons of plants. You can also plant at different times throughout the year so that you can have fresh vegetables from early summer to late fall. If you plan now you can take advantage of your entire growing season.

3) If you want to save money, you can save the seeds from your plants to plant next year. You will need to determine the time you should plant the seeds, or the time you should begin sprouting them in your home. Tomatoes do better if they are sprouted in a warm environment, and are then transplanted outside.

4) If you do not wish to do your own sprouting, you should decide when the best time to plant each vegetable, and be prepared to do it in when the time arrives. You can often find out this information through local gardening shows.

5) Enjoy the time off from weeding during the winter weather. It may be the one positive aspect to winter that you enjoy. You can also continue an herb windowsill garden, and enjoy sprouts inside your home.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Something to Consider


In gardening you don’t always need to have a garden to get the vegetables you need to put up for a season. Most of the time you can get fresh vegetables at stands along the road, provided they are in season, and most grocery stores will carry vegetables that are in season in other parts of the world. Which makes getting ready for any emergency a little bit easier?

Now what you need to do is canning which is my preferred method of preserving food for the winter. You can also freeze most vegetables but if power goes out in an emergency the food will thaw out and spoil. Using the canning process you can also preserve meats for about a year. Actually I look at it like this is enough food to last for one growing season and restock after the next growing season. So I try to finish up eating everything I canned from the last season.
Another way of preserving food is dehydrating. This removes the moisture from vegetables and meats preserving them for several months and the meat is a good source of protein.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

P-38 and P51 Can Openers



Known as a "John Wayne" by the U.S. Marine Corps because the actor was shown in a training film opening a can of K-Rations, the can opener is pocket-sized (approximately 1.5 inches, 38mm, in length) and consists of a short metal blade that serves as a handle (which doubles as a flat-blade screwdriver), with a small, hinged metal tooth that folds out to pierce the can lid. A notch just under the hinge point keeps the opener hooked around the rim of the can as the device is "walked" around to cut the lid out. A larger version called the P-51 is somewhat easier to operate.

Official military designations for the P-38 include 'US ARMY POCKET CAN OPENER' and 'OPENER, CAN, HAND, FOLDING, TYPE I'. As with some other military terms (e.g. jeep), the origin of the term is not known with certainty; the P-38 opener coincidentally shares a designation with the P-38 'Lightning' fighter plane, which could allude to its fast performance. However, the P-51 can opener, while larger and easier to use than the P-38 can opener, also has a fighter plane namesake in the P-51, which is faster and smaller than the P-38 fighter. One rumored explanation for the origin of the name is that the P-38 is approximately 38 mm (1.5 in) long. This explanation also holds for the P-51, which measures approximately 51 mm (2.0 in) in length. U.S. Army sources, however, indicate that the origin of the name is rooted in the 38 punctures around the circumference of a C-ration can required for opening.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009

Be careful growing Seed Sprouts at Home


Since 1995, raw sprouts have emerged as a significant source of foodborne illness in
the United States. These illnesses have involved the pathogenic bacteria Salmonella
and E. coli. Alfalfa, clover, and mung bean sprouts have been involved most
frequently, but all raw sprouts may pose a risk.

For most outbreaks, the source of contamination appears to have been the seed.
Even if the seed is contaminated, pathogen levels are typically very low, so contamination can easily be missed depending on the nature of the seed-testing program. The best conditions for sprouting are also ideal for multiplication of pathogenic bacteria if they happen to be present on the seed. Even if the seed are only lightly contaminated, Salmonella and E. coli levels can increase to millions of cells per serving during the sprouting process.


Because illnesses from these organisms can range from mild to extremely
unpleasant and even to very severe in susceptible persons, the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration and the California Department of Health Services have issued warnings
to consumers:

Food and Drug Administration is advising all persons to be aware of the risks
associated with eating raw sprouts (e.g., alfalfa, clover, radish). Outbreaks have
included persons of both genders and all age categories. Those persons who
wish to reduce the risk of foodborne illness from sprouts are advised not to eat
raw sprouts.
This advice is particularly important for children, the elderly, and persons with
weakened immune systems, all of whom are at high risk of developing serious
illness due to foodborne disease. People in high-risk categories should not eat
raw sprouts. Cooked sprouts can be eaten if heated to steaming hot or above
165°F (74°C). This type of treatment is most applicable to mung bean sprouts.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Kale


As much as I love my tomatoes, I have become more and more enamored with leafy greens. Of the leafy greens, kale is probably my favorite. It is one of the most healthful foods you can grow, and it is one of those plants that really don’t need much babying in the garden - always a good quality!

Nutritional Info:
Kale is a nutritional powerhouse. One cup has zero fat, 33 calories, and provides 206% of your daily vitamin A requirement and 134% of your daily vitamin C, as well as 9% of your daily iron and 6% of your daily calcium requirement.
It also provides plenty of fiber, antioxidants, and foliates. Everyone should be eating this stuff!

Growing Kale:
Kale is easy to grow, too. Sow seed directly in your garden after your last frost date for spring and early summer harvests, and six to eight weeks before your first fall frost for fall (and maybe even winter) harvests. A good rule of thumb is to plant three to four plants per person in your household. It needs full sun and well drained soil, and, if given these two things, kale will require very little babying from you other than regular watering and weeding. I feed mine with fish emulsion monthly, and it grows beautifully.
To keep it growing after a few light frosts in the fall, mulch the entire plant with three to six inches of leaves or straw. Kale touched by a light frost often tastes better.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

This cann make it somewhat easy


In gardening you don’t always need to have a garden to get the vegetables you need to put up for a season. Most of the time you can get fresh vegetables at stands along the road, provided they are in season, and most grocery stores will carry vegetables that are in season in other parts of the world. Which makes getting ready for any emergency a little bit easier?

Now what you need to do is canning which is my preferred method of preserving food for the winter. You can also freeze most vegetables but if power goes out in an emergency the food will thaw out and spoil. Using the canning process you can also preserve meats for about a year. Actually I look at it like this is enough food to last for one growing season and restock after the next growing season. So I try to finish up eating everything I canned from the last season.
Another way of preserving food is dehydrating. This removes the moisture from vegetables and meats preserving them for several months and the meat is a good source of protein.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

At the end of the growing season


At the end of the growing season when everything in the garden is done this is the time to prepare for the next season. Now is the time to clean out all the plants left in your garden, and compost them. Next put down a good organic fertilizer and till the soil under to help break down the nutrients. Another option is to plant rye or clover for ground cover which you can till under in the spring and this will also ad nutrients to the soil. And by next spring your soil will be ready for the next planting.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Survival Gardening


Gardening today is the same as it was 100 years ago. You till the soil then you plant. What do you plant? In some cases you must save seed from the past season. This is Survival Gardening.

Hello, my name is Ron, welcome. This article is about gardening to survive. I hope to teach you on some of the ways to get food and prepare for emergencies that could last for years.

Gardening yourself is the best way to acquire fresh vegetables, because you know how they were grown and you determine if they are grown organically or if you use pesticides to control insects.

Now in a survival situation you may not have the luxury of the normal ways of gardening. So you must make do with what you have. The first thing you need is seed. Remember if you garden be sure to let some of your plants go to seed, or fully mature to a dried up state. And store them in a cool dry place.

Half of surviving is being prepared; if you don’t have the tools to help you survive you will perish. So do what you need to do for your own comfort level.

Now if you actually want to have a survival garden in the woods it must blend in with the landscape, no matter where you are at it must blend in so it will not be stolen. Some things to do are cover the soil with leaves or some type of cover to make them blend in. Now you have to remember exactly where they are at or you may walk right over them yourself. Also don't leave any trails to your garden and come in from a different direction every time you go there so you don't leave a trail.

You still want to plant this garden in a remote place where no one will find it. But you also want your garden to be close to where you are. So you can keep an eye on it, and keep it properly watered and also watch the health of your plants. Now make sure your garden gets plenty of sun, this is important for the growth and development of your garden. Make sure you plant this garden in a place where it drains well like on the side of a hill. If you plant it in a low lying area it may trap water and drown your plants. Or be washed away by running water that flows down hill. Just be careful where you plant.

These are just a few things to consider if you ever have to plant in the wild, But be sure to have seed handy even if you have to buy it from a seed company at least you will have seed to survive.
Ron

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Saving Seeds

When saving seed, always harvest from the best. Choose disease-free plants with qualities you desire. Look for the most flavorful vegetables or beauitful flowers. Consider size, harvest time and other characteristics.Always harvest mature seed. For example, cucumber seeds at the eating stage are not ripe and will not germinate if saved. You must allow the fruit and seed to fully mature. Because seed set reduces the vigor of the plant and discourages further fruit production, wait untill near the end of the season to save fruit for seed.Seeds are mature or ripe when flowers are faded and dry or have puffy tops. Plants with pods, like beans, are ready when the pods are brown and dry. When seeds are ripe they usually turn from white to cream colored or light brown to dark brown. Collect the seed or fruits when most of the seed is ripe. Do not wait for everything to mature because you may lose most of the seed to birds or animals.Beans, peas, onions, carrots, corn, most flowers and herb seeds are prepared by a dry method. Allow the seed to mature and dry as long as possible on the plant. Complete the drying process by spreading on a screen in a single layer in a well-ventilated dry location. As the seed dries the chaff or pods can be removed or blown gently away. An alternative method for extremely small or lightweight seed is putting the dry seed heads into paper bags that will catch the seed as it falls out.Seed contained in fleshy fruits should be cleaned using the wet method. Tomatoes, melons, squash, cucumber and roses are prepared this way. Scoop the seed masses out of the fruit or lightly crush fruits. Put the seed mass and a small amount of warm water in a bucket or jar. Let the mix ferment for two to four days. Stir daily. The fermentation process kills viruses and separates the good seed from the bad seed and fruit pulp. After two to four days, the good viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the container while the pulp and bad seed float. Pour off the pulp, water, bad seed and mold. Spread the good seed on a screen or paper towel to dry.Seeds must be stored dry. Place in glass jar or envelopes. Make sure you label all the containers or packages with the seed type or variety, and date. Put in the freezer for two days to kill pests. Then store in a cool dry location like a refrigerator. Seed that molds was not completely dry before storage.Seed viability decreases over time. Parsley, onion, and sweet corn must be used the next year. Most seed should be used within three years.Seed saving is essential for maintaining unusual or heritage vegetables and flowers. It is a great way to propagate many native plants too.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Soap to the Rescue

I have this African violet plant that I have had for 8 years now. About a month ago I got up one morning to get ready for work and I noticed about two thirds of the leaves were lying on the counter. I could not believe my eyes, so I got down real close and took a good look at the plant and some kind of cutworm was whacking off all my African violet leaves.

So I sprang into action and got some Ivory Soap and mixed it with water, I used about two cap full's to a cup of water and applied it to the plant spraying the leaves and watering it with the solution. The next day I found a couple more leaves on the counter so this time I said it's time for war, I doubled the amount of Ivory Soap I used the first time and totally soaked the plant so I had to drain it several times to keep from drowning it. About a week later I found some new growth on the plant and It's been a month now and the plant is doing great. I'm not sure what insect got to the African violet but the Ivory Soap surely did the trick.

Now you have to make sure that you use Soap and not Detergent, detergent will kill the plants so I always use Ivory Soap and keep it handy in the house and in the garden. If anyone has an idea as to what insect this may have been I sure would like to hear from you.

Monday, September 28, 2009

½ Acre Premium Garden Seeds - #10 CAN


Our premium non-hybrid, non-GMO, open pollinated garden seeds are a must for your emergency supplies. Each seed variety is hermetically sealed in triple foil Mylar bags and then sealed again inside our super tough #10 can to give you the longest shelf life possible. Produced by one of our nation's top seed companies, these non-hybrid seeds will give you reliable, fresh vegetables when you need it the most. Each can comes with 16 individual seed pouches.

These are not the same type of seeds that you buy at your local garden store. Unlike most seeds you buy locally, these seeds are non-hybrid, which means that you can reuse the seeds each year giving you an endless supply of fresh, nutritious vegetables. Because of their unique qualities and packaging, these seeds can be very difficult to come by. Buy yours today!

● 16 extra large seed packets - each seed packet will give you about 10 times more seeds than an average seed packet you buy at the store.
● Premium, non-hybrid, open pollinating, non-GMO seed varieties. These seeds are not genetically modified
● These special non-hybrid seeds allow you to harvest your own seeds for future plantings
● Hermetically sealed in triple foil packets with a resealable top so they can be reused
● Packets are sealed in a durable air tight, #10 can
● Includes detailed instructions on soil preparation, planting, and harvesting
● 5 year shelf life at 75° F - Each 6° drop in storage temperature will double the shelf life
● Enough seeds to plant well over a ½ acre garden
● Buying these seeds at your local retailer could easily cost you over $100 and not give you the nearly the same quality or shelf life.

Garden Seeds (16 Packets | 540 grams):

5 oz - SWEET CORN: Golden Bantam
10 g - ONION: Utah Sweet Spanish
10 g - SPINACH: Bloomsdale Long Standing
10 g - WINTER SQUASH: Waltham Butternut
10 g - ZUCCHINI SQUASH: Black Beauty
10 g - RADISH: Champion
5 g - TOMATO: Rutgers
10 g - SWISS CHARD: Lucullus
5 oz - PEA: Lincoln
10 g - BEET: Detroit Dark Red
10 g - CABBAGE: Golden Acre
5 g - LETTUCE: Barcarolle Romaine
10 g - CUCUMBER: Marketmore 76
10 g - CARROT: Scarlet Nantes
5 g - PEPPER: Yolo Wonder
5 oz - POLE BEAN: Blue Lake ½

Save money on survival seeds.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Growing Green Onions


It's great planting a garden with green onions in the spring, you till the soil and plant your seed in a long row and wait for the sprouts to come up, now the best thing about this is you get to thin the rows so the plants don't get crowded. These onions in there infant stage are the sweetest onions you will ever taste, I wish I could have a boat load of them. But make sure you give them enough room to develop. I like to thin them a little at a time and have onions from the beginning of the garden season right up to the time of harvest.

Be sure to let some of the onions go to seed so you will have seeds to plant in your garden in the spring. This works great because you buy the seeds once and you have seeds forever.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Watermelon


There's nothing like growing watermelon in your own backyard garden. Sweet, cool and refreshing...it's simply delicious! A heat-loving annual, it can be grown in all parts of the country, but the warmer temperatures and longer growing season of southern areas especially favor this vegetable. In cooler areas choose short-season varieties and do whatever it takes to protect them from frost.

Site Preparation:

Choose a location where your plants will get full sun and good air circulation. A gentle, south-facing slope is ideal. Watermelons can grow in many kinds of soil, but prefer a light, sandy, fertile loam that is well-drained. Add generous amounts of manure, compost and leaves to your garden and work the soil well prior to planting. Watermelons like lots of water. Keep the soil moist at all times.

How to Plant:

Soak seeds in compost tea for 15 minutes prior to planting. Plant in hills 1/2-1 inch deep. For regular watermelons varieties, sow two to three seeds per hill, spacing the hills 8-10 feet apart. Thin seedlings in the hill to two seedlings one week after they have germinated. Small bush varieties may be spaced 3 feet apart.
Transplants: If black plastic was used to pre-warm the bed, cut holes in the plastic and set the plants 1/2-1 inch deeper than they were growing in their containers. Water thoroughly after transplanting.

Watermelons are heavy feeders. Apply a slow release balanced fertilizer during planting. Spray plants with liquid fertilizer and seaweed throughout the growing season. Cut back on nitrogen levels after flowers form. Continue with phosphorous and potassium applications until just before harvest.

Harvesting:

Determining when to harvest watermelons can be difficult and requires some experience. For the most part when ripe, the curled tendril at the stem end dries to brown, the underside of the melon turns yellow or cream colored, and the melon will yield a deep, resonant sound when thumped. Allow 80-90 days for bush varieties to reach maturity and 90-100 days or more for the larger varieties.

Seed Saving Instructions:

Watermelons will cross-pollinate, so isolate 1/2 mile from other varieties to maintain purity. When fruit is ready to eat, the seeds are also mature. Collect seeds and wash gently with a mild dishwashing soap. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry.

Thursday, September 3, 2009



It's my birthday and I am not going to post, have fun gardening.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Growing Turnips


1. Select your turnip variety. Alltop, Seventop, Shogoin and Topper are turnip varieties that are grown primarily for the greens. Purple Top and White Globe are good for both the greens and the turnip root.

2. Prepare the seed bed. Your turnips will grow best in a light, rich, sandy loam soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7.5. Use your spade and garden rake to cultivate the soil thoroughly, so the turnip roots can develop fully. Form the soil into raised rows about 4 inches high and 12 inches apart.

3. Sow the turnip seeds in early spring, after danger of frost has passed, for a spring harvest, or in early summer for a late summer harvest. Spread the seeds evenly along the top of each row of the seed bed. Ultimately your turnip plants will be 3 to 4 inches apart, but turnip seeds are small and hard to dispense evenly, so spread the turnip seeds more densely; you will thin them later. Cover the seeds with 1/2 inch soil.

4. Water the turnip seeds, keeping the seed bed slightly moist until germination. The seeds will germinate in three to five days.

5. Continue to water the turnip plants evenly, about 1.5 inches of water every seven to ten days. Drip irrigation is ideal for turnip greens in the home garden.

6. Thin the seedlings to 3 to 4 inches apart when they are about 2 inches tall.

7. Cultivate the soil between the turnip rows weekly. Cultivate 2 inches deep as the turnip plants first begin to grow, and then more shallowly as the plants mature. Avoid disturbing the turnip's feeder roots.

8. Harvest the turnip greens when they are small--4 to 6 inches—for the sweetest flavor. Leave the inner; less developed leaf tips so that you can harvest a second round of greens in a few days. If you plan to also use the turnip root, only harvest the greens once before harvesting the root, since harvesting the greens inhibits the growth of the turnip root.

9. Harvest the turnip roots, if you plan to use it, when the roots are 2 to 3 inches in diameter. As the root grows larger, it will become less tender and sweet.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Advantages of raised bed gardening



First, there are advantages for your garden:

Perhaps the most important advantage is greatly reduced soil compacting. Plant roots need air. In an ordinary garden, you can’t avoid stepping in the garden bed occasionally when doing your everyday gardening. A properly designed raised bed garden allows you to do all you’re gardening from the garden path.
Plants can be spaced a little closer together in a raised bed because you don’t need places to step. This increases productivity per square foot of bed and reduces weeding when the plants begin to mature.
Note: Avoid the temptation to crowd your plants. You will still want to use generous plant spacing because your plants will grow much larger in raised beds.

Raised beds tend to drain away excess moisture better than ordinary garden beds. This is another advantage that helps the plant roots to breath. In areas that have saturated soil like Florida and many areas of the South, raised beds may be the only way you can grow many types of plants.
Soil conditions and types can be controlled more efficiently in a raised bed and they can be varied easily from bed to bed. Raised beds are the answer when topsoil is thin.
Water, fertilizer, compost, mulch, etc. can be applied more carefully because they only need to be applied to the garden beds.
Various studies have shown that raised garden beds produce 1.4 to 2 times as much vegetables and flowers per square foot as ordinary beds, due mainly to the above advantages. You can have a smaller and more manageable garden that produces more goodies for your table.

Then, there are advantages for you:

Raised garden beds bring your garden closer to you. Raised beds are after all, raised!
Raised beds tend to bring more order and pleasing geometry to your garden, especially when forms or edging are used to define them.
Raised beds can extend your gardening season. They tend to warm up a little sooner in the spring and remain productive later in the fall.
Do your gardening from the comfort of the garden path. No more bending over to pull weeds or trim plants. Sit on a stool or put a seat board on your garden wagon!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Save Your Seeds


Now is the time of year that we harvest our garden and enjoy the bounty that we have grown. But one thing is for sure you must leave some good stock in the ground to save for seed. Just be sure to let the plant mature and fully develop the seeds within it. When you harvest the seed be sure to lay them out on paper towels and let them dry for at least 3 weeks then store them in a cool dry place till next spring when you can germinate them into the next generation of food for the year. This is very important!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Peas Continued

When to Plant

Peas thrive in cool, moist weather and produce best in cool, moderate climates. Early plantings normally produce larger yields than later plantings. Peas may be planted whenever the soil temperature is at least 45°F, and the soil is dry enough to till without its sticking to garden tools.
Plantings of heat-tolerant varieties can be made in midsummer to late summer, to mature during cool fall days. Allow more days to the first killing frost than the listed number of days to maturity because cool fall days do not speed development of the crop as do the long, bright days of late spring.

Spacing & Depth

Plant peas 1 to 1-1/2 inches deep and one inch apart in single or double rows. Allow 18 to 24 inches between single or pairs of rows. Allow 8 to 10 inches between double rows in pairs.

Care

The germinating seeds and small seedlings are easily injured by direct contact with fertilizer or improper cultivation. Cultivate and hoe shallowly during the early stages of growth. Most dwarf and intermediate varieties are self-supporting. The taller varieties (Green Arrow and Bolero) are most productive and more easily picked when trained to poles or to a fence for support; but they are no longer popular. Peas can be mulched to cool the soil, reduce moisture loss and keep down soil rots. Some of the snap and sugar peas are vining types with heights of 6 feet or more that require fencing or other supports.

Harvesting

Garden Peas

When the pea pods are swollen (appear round) they are ready to be picked. Pick a few pods every day or two near harvest time to determine when the peas are at the proper stage for eating. Peas are of the best quality when they are fully expanded but immature, before they become hard and starchy. Peas should be picked immediately before cooking because their quality, especially sweetness (like that of sweet corn), deteriorates rapidly. The pods on the lower portion of the plant mature earliest. The last harvest (usually the third) is made about one week after the first. Pulling the entire plant for the last harvest makes picking easier.

Sugar Snap Peas

Snap peas should be harvested every 1 or 3 days, similarly to snow peas to get peak quality. Sugar snaps are at their best when the pods first start to fatten but before the seeds grow very large. At this point, the pods snap like green beans and the whole pod can be eaten. Some varieties have strings along the seams of the pod that must be removed before cooking. Sugar snaps left on the vine too long begin to develop tough fiber in the pod walls. These must then be shelled and used as other garden peas, with the fibrous pods discarded. Vining types of both sugar snap and snow peas continue to grow taller and produce peas as long as the plant stays in good health and the weather stays cool.

Snow Peas

These varieties are generally harvested before the individual peas have grown to the size of BBS, when the pods have reached their full length but are still quite flat. This stage is usually reached 5 to 7 days after flowering. Snow peas must be picked regularly (at least every other day) to assure sweet, fiber-free pods. Pods can be stir-fried, steamed or mixed with oriental vegetables or meat dishes. As soon as overgrown pods missed in earlier pickings are discovered, remove them from the plants to keep the plants blooming and producing longer. Enlarging peas inside these pods may be shelled and used as garden peas. Fat snow pea pods (minus the pea enlarging inside) should be discarded. Fibers that develop along the edges of larger pods, along with the stem and blossom ends, are removed during preparation. Pea pods lose their crispness if overcooked. The pods have a high sugar content and brown or burn quickly. Do not stir-fry over heat that is too intense.
Pea pods can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for two weeks. Unlike fresh green peas, pea pods deteriorate only slightly in quality when stored.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Growing Peas



Pea is a frost-hardy, cool-season vegetable that can be grown throughout most of the United States, wherever a cool season of sufficient duration exists. For gardening purposes, peas may be classified as garden peas (English peas), snap peas and snow peas (sugar peas). Garden pea varieties have smooth or wrinkled seeds. The smooth-seeded varieties tend to have more starch than the wrinkled-seeded varieties. The wrinkled-seeded varieties are generally sweeter and usually preferred for home use. The smooth-seeded types are used more often to produce ripe seeds that are used like dry beans and to make split-pea soup. Snap peas have been developed from garden peas to have low-fiber pods that can be snapped and eaten along with the immature peas inside. Snow peas are meant to be harvested as flat, tender pods before the peas inside develop at all. The Southern pea (cowpea) is an entirely different warm-season vegetable that is planted and grown in the same manner as beans.

Recommended Varieties

The following varieties (listed in order of maturity) have wrinkled seeds and are resistant to fusarium wilt unless otherwise indicated.

Early

Daybreak (54 days to harvest; 20 to 24 inches tall, good for freezing)
Spring (57 days; 22 inches tall; dark green freezer peas)

Main Season

Sparkle (60 days to harvest; 18 inches tall; good for freezing)
Little Marvel (63 days; 18 inches tall; holds on the vine well)
Green Arrow (68 days; 28 inches tall; pods in pairs; resistant to fusarium and powdery mildew)
Wando (70 days; 24-30 inches; withstands some heat; best variety for late spring planting)

Sugar

Snowbird (58 days; 18 inches tall; double or triple pods in clusters)
Dwarf Gray Sugar (65 days; 24 to 30 inches)
Snowflake (72 days; 22 inches to harvest; high yield)

To be continued

Friday, August 14, 2009

Green Peppers


Peppers are best started from seeds indoors in late winter and then transplanted into the garden after the soil and air have warmed in the spring. The plants cannot tolerate frost and do not grow well in cold, wet soil. When night temperatures are below 50° to 55°F, the plants grow slowly, the leaves may turn yellow and the flowers drop off. Raised beds, black plastic mulch and floating row covers may be used to advantage with peppers to warm and drain the soil and enhance the microenvironment of the young pepper plants in spring, when cool weather may persist.
Set transplants 18 to 24 inches apart in the row, or 14 to 18 inches apart in all directions in beds. A dozen plants, including one or two salad and hot types, may provide enough peppers for most families; but with so many colors, flavors and types available, more may be necessary for truly devoted pepper lovers or for devotees of ethnic cuisines.

Peppers thrive in a well-drained, fertile soil that is well supplied with moisture. Use a starter fertilizer when transplanting. Apply supplemental fertilizer (side-dressing) after the first flush of peppers is set. Because a uniform moisture supply is essential with peppers, especially during the harvest season, irrigate during dry periods. Hot, dry winds and dry soil may prevent fruit set or cause abortion of small immature fruits.

Fruits may be harvested at any size desired. Green bell varieties, however, are usually picked when they are fully grown and mature—3 to 4 inches long, firm and green. When the fruits are mature, they break easily from the plant. Less damage is done to the plants, however, if the fruits are cut rather than pulled off. The new, colored bell pepper fruits may be left on the plant to develop full flavor and ripen fully to red, yellow, orange or brown; or they may be harvested green and immature. Some (including "white," light yellow, lilac and purple) are colors that develop in the immature fruit and that should be harvested before actually ripening, when they turn red.

People who use tobacco should wash their hands with soap and water before handling pepper plants to prevent spread of tobacco mosaic disease. Grow resistant varieties if possible.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Growing Squash


Summer and winter squash are some of the most popular vegetables in the home garden. Summer squash can be eaten raw in salads, stir-fried, steamed, or cooked in various dishes. Winter squash can be baked, steamed, or boiled.
Summer squashes are large, bushy plants. The fruit of summer squash are harvested when they are immature and have soft skins. Fruit can be stored for 1 to 2 weeks. There are several types of summer squash. These include zucchini (cylindrical, club-shaped fruit), crookneck (long, tapered fruit with curved necks), straight neck (bottle-shaped fruit with straight necks), and scallop (flattened, roundish fruit with scalloped edges).
Most winter squashes are large, vining plants. (Several semi-bush varieties are available to individuals with small gardens.) Fruit are harvested when they are mature and have hard rinds. Winter squash fruit can be stored in a cool, dry location for 1 to 6 months. Various sizes, shapes, and colors of winter squash are available. These include acorn, buttercup, butternut, and hubbard.

Suggested Varieties
Summer Squash Winter Squash
Dixie - yellow crookneck Blue Hubbard
Elite - zucchini Burgess Buttercup
Goldfinger - golden zucchini Butternut Supreme
Jaguar - zucchini Sweet Mama - buttercup
Seneca Butterbar - yellow straightneck Table Ace - acorn
Spineless Beauty - zucchini Table Queen - acorn
Sunburst - yellow patty pan (scallop) Vegetable Spaghetti

Planting

Summer and winter squash perform best in fertile, well-drained soils containing high levels of organic matter. They also require full sun. Organic matter levels can be increased by incorporating well-rotted manure or compost into the soil. If a soil test has not been conducted, apply and incorporate 1 to 2 pounds of an all-purpose garden fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, per 100 square feet prior to planting.
Summer and winter squash are commonly planted in hills. Sow 4 to 5 seeds per hill at a depth of 1 inch in mid-May in central Iowa. Thin to 2 to 3 vigorous, well-spaced plants per hill when seedlings have 1 or 2 true leaves. The last practical planting date for summer squash is July 20. Winter squash must be planted by June 10.
For an early crop, start plants indoors 3 to 4 weeks prior to the anticipated outdoor planting date. Since squash seedlings don't tolerate root disturbances during transplanting, start seeds in peat pots, peat pellets (Jiffy 7's), or other plantable containers. Sow 3 to 4 seeds per container. Later, remove all but 2 seedlings. Harden the plants outdoors for a few days in a protected location prior to planting to lessen transplant stress.
Hills and rows of summer squash should be 3 to 4 feet apart. Hills of winter squash should be spaced 4 to 5 feet apart with 5 to 7 feet between rows.

Care

Control weeds with frequent, shallow cultivation and hand pulling. Water plants once a week during dry weather.
Squash bugs and squash vine borers can be serious pests. Squash bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts. Heavy feeding causes entire leaves to wilt, turn brown, and die. Several methods can be used to control squash bugs in the garden. Adults and brick red egg masses on the undersides of leaves can be removed by hand. Adults can also be trapped under boards or shingles placed under the plants. Turn the objects over daily and collect and destroy the hiding squash bugs. Small, immature squash bugs (nymphs) can be controlled with insecticides, such as carbaryl (Sevin). In fall, remove and destroy plant debris to deprive squash bugs of overwintering sites.
Squash vine borer larvae bore into squash stems near ground level. Larvae feeding within the vines eventually cause the plants to wilt and die. Squash vine borers can be controlled with applications of insecticides (rotenone, permethrin, or marathon) at regular intervals beginning in mid-June. Apply the insecticide to the base of the vines. After the final harvest, remove and destroy the plant debris. Rototilling in fall or spring may destroy overwintering pupae in the soil.

Harvest

Harvest long-fruited summer squash varieties when they are about 2 inches in diameter and 6 to 12 inches long. Scalloped types are best when 3 to 5 inches in diameter. Fruit should have soft skins (rinds) that are easy to puncture with a fingernail. Seeds should be soft and edible.
Mature winter squash have very hard skins that can't be punctured with the thumbnail. Additionally, mature winter squash have dull-looking surfaces. When harvesting fruit, leave a 1-inch stem on winter squash. Store the fruit in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cucumbers Continued

Harvesting
Pick cucumbers at any stage of development before the seeds become hard. Cucumbers usually are eaten when immature. The best size depends upon the use and variety. They may be picked when they are no more than 2 inches long for pickles, 4 to 6 inches long for dills and 6 to 8 inches long for slicing varieties. A cucumber is of highest quality when it is uniformly green, firm and crisp. The large, burpless cucumbers should be 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and up to 10 inches long. Some varieties can grow considerably larger. Do not allow cucumbers to turn yellow. Remove from the vine any missed fruits nearing ripeness so that the young fruits continue to develop. The cucumber fruit grows rapidly to harvest size and should be picked at least every other day.

Selection & Storage
There are two types of cucumbers common to the home gardener - pickling cucumbers and slicing cucumbers. The phrase "cool as a cucumber" is an apt one. Growing in a field on a hot summer day, the interior flesh is 20 degrees cooler than the outside air temperature.

Harvest cucumbers early in the morning (before have been heated by the afternoon sun) and refrigerate immediately. Store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator in loose or perforated plastic bags. Supermarket cucumbers are covered with an edible wax to protect them from moisture loss. The wax gives them an unnatural sheen. Fresh cucumbers are dull green in color.

Pickling cucumbers — Pickling cucumbers should be picked every day, since they can quickly grow too large for use. Do not leave over-mature, yellow cucumbers on the vine. If a single cucumber is left on the vine, the vine will stop producing altogether.

Slicing cucumbers — Slicing cucumbers should be harvested as needed. But there is no practical use for baseball bat size cucumbers. They are tough and the seeds are woody. Harvest when they are 8 inches long or smaller. As with pickling cucumbers, remove the over mature ones as soon as you see them or they will halt the growth of new cucumbers

Friday, August 7, 2009

Growing Cucumbers


When to Plant Cucumbers

Cucumbers are usually started by planting seeds directly in the garden. Plant after the danger of frost has passed, and the soil has warmed in the spring. Warm soil is necessary for germination of seeds and proper growth of plants. With ample soil moisture, cucumbers thrive in warm summer weather. A second planting for fall harvest may be made in mid- to late summer.

Cucumbers may be transplanted for extra-early yields. Sow two or three seeds in peat pots, peat pellets or other containers 3 to 4 weeks before the frost-free date. Thin to one plant per container. Plant transplants 1 to 2 feet apart in rows 5 to 6 feet apart when they have two to four true leaves. Do not allow transplants to get too large in containers or they will not transplant well. Like other vine crops, cucumbers do not transplant successfully when pulled as bare-root plants.

Spacing & Depth

Plant seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep and thin the seedlings to one plant every 12 inches in the row or to three plants every 36 inches in the hill system. If you use transplants, plant them carefully in warm soil 12 inches apart in the row.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pole Beans


Beans are sensitive to cold temperatures and frost. They should be planted after all danger of frost is past in the spring. If the soil has warmed before the average last-frost date, an early planting may be made a week to 10 days before this date. You can assure yourself a continuous supply of snap beans by planting every 2 to 4 weeks until early August.

Plant seeds of all varieties one inch deep. Plant seeds of pole beans 4 to 6 inches apart in rows 30 to 36 inches apart along trellis, netting, fence, or poles; or in hills (four to six seeds per hill) 30 inches apart, with 30 inches between rows.
Seeds of most varieties tend to crack and germinate poorly if the soil's moisture content is too high. For this reason, never soak bean seed before planting. Instead water just after planting or plant right before a heavy rain.

Beans have shallow roots and frequent shallow cultivation and hoeing are necessary to control small weeds and grasses. Because bean plants have fairly weak root systems, deep, close cultivation injures the plant roots, delays harvest and reduces yields.

Harvest when the pods are firm, crisp and fully elongated, but before the seed within the pod has developed significantly. Pick beans after the dew is off the plants, and they are thoroughly dry. Picking beans from wet plants can spread bean bacterial blight, a disease that seriously damages the plants. Be careful not to break the stems or branches, which are brittle on most bean varieties. The bean plant continues to form new flowers and produces more beans if pods are continually removed before the seeds mature.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Growing Celery


Celery requires a cool growing season and rich moist soil. Set plant in a trench 4 to 5 inches deep and fill in with soil as plant grows. If further blanching (whitening) is desired, hill plants by mounding additional soil around their bases. Apply soluble plant food every 2 to 3 weeks.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Growing Green Onions

Growing green onions is fun and very good for your health. When I was growing up and my grandfather show me that onions are a great part of our diet. It has fiber and nutrients that are essential to our natural well being. I remember as a kid my grandfather would make bacon and eggs for breakfast and have sliced tomatoes with green onions. He ate these most every day and he was a very healthy man. But I always got caught up in his enthusiasm to grow his garden. Growing green onions in your garden is not only fun but it is beneficial to your health, and best of all it enhances the flavor of most foods.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Saving Seeds

When acquiring seed to grow vegetables make sure you buy Heirloom seeds. Do not buy hybrid seeds because you cannot save these seeds. Once you grow them they will not reproduce. Heirlooms seed are the best because they are handed down from generation to generation with the same elements that helped our grandparents survive with a healthy diet and without all these problems we have today with our health. It’s time to get back to basics before it is too late. Gather seed even if you do not garden, In the near future you may need this seed to live on because it will keep for a few years.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Asparagus

Asparagus Part 2

Toss the crowns into the furrow on top of the fertilizer. The fertilizer will not burn the crowns, and the plants will grow regardless of how they land so don't bother to spread the roots. Space the crowns 1-1/2 feet apart in the row. If more than one row is planted, space the rows five feet apart from center to center. Wide between-row spacing is necessary because the vigorously growing fern will fill in the space quickly. Wide spacing also promotes rapid drying of the fern to help prevent the onset of fungus diseases.

After planting, back fill the furrow to its original soil level. It isn't necessary to gradually cover the crowns with a few inches of soil until the furrow is filled in. However, do not compact the soil over the newly filled furrow or the emergence of the asparagus will be severely reduced. Spears should emerge within one week in moist soils.

Do not harvest the asparagus during the planting year. Spears will be produced from expanded buds on the crown. As the spears elongate and reach a height of about 8 to 9 inches, the tips will open. The spear will become woody to support the small branch lets that become ferns. The ferns produce food for the plant and then move it down to the crown for next year's spear production.
Asparagus is very drought tolerant and can usually grow without supplemental watering because it seeks moisture deep in the soil. However, if rainfall is insufficient when planting or afterwards, it is beneficial to irrigate the crowns. Otherwise the plants will become stressed and growth will be slowed.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Asparagus


Asparagus Part 1
Asparagus grows in most any soil as long as it has good internal drainage. Asparagus roots do not like waterlogged soils that will lead to root rot. Till to a 6 inch depth before planting.

Buy one-year-old, healthy, disease-free crowns from a reputable crown grower. A crown is the root system of a one-year-old asparagus plant that is grown from seed. Each crown can produce 1/2 lb. of spears per year when fully established.
Asparagus is a long-lived perennial vegetable crop that is enjoyed by many gardeners. It can be productive for 15 or more years if given proper care.

Asparagus can be planted throughout the northeast from mid-April to late May after the soil has warmed up to about 50 degrees F. There is no advantage to planting the crowns in cold, wet soils. They will not grow until the soil warms and there is danger of the plants being more susceptible to Fusarium crown rot if crowns are exposed to cold, wet soils over a prolonged period. Plant the asparagus at either the west or north side of the garden so that it will not shade the other vegetables and will not be injured when the rest of the garden is tilled.

Dig a furrow no deeper than 5 to 6 inches. Research has shown that the deeper asparagus crowns are planted, the more the total yield is reduced. Apply about 1 lb. of 0-46-0 (triple superphosphate) or 2 lbs. of 0-20-0 (superphosphate) fertilizer per 50 feet of row in the bottom of the furrow before planting. This will make phosphorus immediately available to the crowns. Omitting this procedure will result in decreased yields and the spear production will not be as vigorous.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Bean Growing Tips



Pole Snap Bean
Use legume inoculants when sowing. Fertilize when planting and again when plants are 6 to 8 inches tall. Train on a trellis, tripod, fence or other support. Keep picked to encourage further growth.
Bush Snap Bean
Use legume inoculants when sowing. Fertilize when planting and again when plants are 6 to 8 inches tall. Keep picked to encourage further growth.
Lima Beans
Use legume inoculants when sowing. Lima beans require a longer, milder growing season than snap beans. Fertilize at planting time and again when plants are 6 to 8 inches tall.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Carrot Growing Tips

For best carrots, soil should be loose textured and cultivated very deep. If you cannot cultivate very deep use short rooted types of seed. After germination, thin seedlings well. Sometimes these seedlings can be very sweet to the taste. Fertilize when foliage is 6 to 8 inches high. Harvest when carrots are about the size of your finger, up to about 2 inches in diameter.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Growing Tips for Sweet Corn


To ensure pollination plant several rows together in a block, Instead of one long row. Be sure and Side dress with fertilizer when the plants are 8 inches high. Keep well watered, from the time the tassels form up to harvest. Hill corn plants by pushing a few inches of soil up around the base of the plants when they are fertilized. This will provide more stability, but take care not to disturb the roots. Do not remove suckers, which are off-shoots of the main stem. Regular sweet corn, super sweet, sugar enhanced, and most important, popcorn should be isolated from each other to prevent cross-pollination.