Fall Crops – Harvesting – Winter Storage

Most areas in North America it’s not to late to harvest crops that are to be stored for later use. Here is a bit of information that ‘Generally’ applies to harvesting / storing late fall harvested crops.

* Do not wash freshly harvested vegetables. After digging, wipe dirt off root crops such as onions, garlic, potato’s of all kinds, turnips and such.
* Removing vegetable foliage(tops) cut about 1 inch above your vegetable. Do not remove vegetable roots. Small hair like roots can be ‘brushed’ off by hand once your vegetable has hardened off. (Skin has dried and become tough).
* Winter squash and gourd harvesting. Cut vine stem leaving 1 to 2 inches of the stem attached to the squash or gourd.
* Apples and pears that you wish to put in winter storage should be treated much as you do root crops. Allow them to harden off a few days before being boxed for winter storage.

Hint Frost and rain is not your friend. Fruits and vegetables must be protected from being rained on or being exposed to frost or freezing temperatures. If rain or frost is in your forecast, move your fruits and vegetables into a dry frost free area during the hardening off process.

Carefully inspect your fruit and vegetables at harvest time. Fruits and vegetables having harvest or insect damage should be consumed within 2 days or you should cut away damaged areas and can or freeze them for later use. If you can not can or freeze damaged fruit or vegetables, feed them to your chickens or livestock. As a last resort chop them and add to your compost pile. Grin .. if you don’t have a compost pile, get one!

Note Sweet Potato’s is most likely the most temperature sensitive vegetable you will have to deal with during you fall harvested vegetables. Sweet Potato’s are extremely sensitive to wet and frost damage. If your garden is hit by an unexpected frost, (1) cut at ground level and remove potato vines. (2) Dig sweet potato’s within 1 day or at most 2 days to salvage your potato crop.
Under these conditions your best choice is to can or freeze potato’s after digging.

Harding off can be accomplished in about 10 to 14 days. During hardening off process, keeping vegetables and fruits in a frost free place. The best temperature is 75 to 80 degrees. After hardening off fruits and vegetables in a dry, well ventilated area winter storage at 55 to 60 degrees is idea with a relative humidity of 75 percent to 80 percent if possible.

NGA Harvesting Sweet Potato’s
NGA Harvesting Potato’s
NGA Harvesting Onions
Harvesting and Storing Garlic
UNL-Apples and Pears – Harvest and Storage

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Tomato Soup Fit For The Pope

Every cook needs a Tomato Soup recipe in his/her arsenal of winter comfort foods.

Pope’s Tomato Soup

Source Swiss Guards tomato soup inspired by the Pope
“Buon Appetito, Swiss Guard”, reveals the particular tastes of Pope Francis and his two predecessors, Benedict XVI and John Paul II.

Florentine Tomato Soup
1 onion
500 g cherry tomatoes
30 ml olive oil
50 ml vinegar
250 ml vegetable stock
350 ml tomato juice
2 tsp basil oil
2 tsp raw cane sugar
basil for garnish
sea ​​salt
freshly ground pepper

For the croutons
4 slices of toast
1 tsp rosemary
30g butter
sea ​​salt

Finely chop the onion and the cherry tomatoes and sauté in 30 milliliters of olive oil. Sprinkle on the sugar and let it caramelize. Deglaze with the balsamic. Pour in the tomato juice and vegetable stock, let the soup simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Puree the soup in a blender and then finely sieve. Season with sea salt, pepper and basil oil.

Finely chop the rosemary. Remove the crusts from the toast slices and cut into small cubes. Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the toast bread cubes until golden yellow. Season with sea salt and chopped rosemary.

Serve soup garnished with basil leaves and croutons.

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Birds Of A Feather …

Place / hang your feeders in location(s) so they can be easily observed by you, your family and friends.

A cold hungry bird will attempt to eat almost any kind of bird seed you have in your feeders. However, large hard seed can’t be eaten by many types of birds. Select your seed type based on the type of birds you want to attract.

Some types of birds like doves and pigeons are ground feeders and will sometimes refuse to eat from feeders placed off the ground. It feeders are elevated off the ground, Doves and pigeons will require a large landing perch. A flat surface like a 12 to 18 inch wide board works well.

Others have a minimum and maximum height off the ground that they seek when feeding. Hanging to high up or to close to the ground and they will refuse to feed at your feeders.

It has been my experience that almost all birds will feed from feeders located from 4 feet [1.3 meters] to about 6 feet [2 meters] off the ground. Hanging feeders have the advantage in not attracting as many unwanted visitors like rabbits, squirrels, rats and mice.

Some of the general purpose seed I buy is black [oil] sunflower seeds. They are small enough and the hull is easily removed and can be eaten by many different type of birds.

Nyger or thistle seed is the most popular seeds to feed goldfinches.

Safflower is a white seed, slightly smaller than black sunflower seed. Chickadees, titmice, chickadees, and downy woodpeckers will eat it. 
Squirrels don’t like them neither do grackles, blue jays, or starlings.

White millet and dark eyed Junco Millet is generally the least expensive bird seed. Almost all birds can and will eat millet. It is a very good seed to scatter on the ground for sparrows, house finch, doves and other ground feeding birds.

Don’t forget the Water! In both Summer and Winter birds may suffer more from the lack of clean water than a food shortage. Birds need a steady, reliable supply of clean, unfrozen water year around. There are heated bird baths available for providing unfrozen water in winter, as well as in summer. Replace the water everyday or two, keeping fresh water available is very important to the well being of your feathered visitors.

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Miniature – Dwarf – Semi-Dwarf Fruit Tree Orchard

Headline News :-) You can’t make this stuff up!
Dog Robs Dollar General

A dog, named Cato, in Clinton, S.C. was apprehended (arrested) last week after he was caught on security camera taking off with pigs ears, beef bones, dog food, and treats.

Miniature Fruit Trees

Control Fruit Tree size by growing them in Pots, with top and root pruning. Fruit trees can be grown in large pots (10 to 15 inches). Growing trees in pots will restrict their size even without pruning. Fruit trees in pots should be grown in fertile soil with 1/3 of the soil mix being perlite or vermiculite to keep the soil from getting waterlogged. Fruit trees require regular watering and good fertility. You can use slow release fertilizer pellets, or feed them every two weeks with a high potassium liquid fertilizer. Fruit trees in pots should be re-potted every other year.

Meyer lemon trees are popular as both a Miniature and a Dwarf decorative Lemon tree.

Dwarf fruit trees
Dwarf fruit trees generally reach 8 to 10 feet in height at maturity. They produce regular sized fruit on smaller sized trees.

Almost all fruits trees can be had grafted to genetic altered dwarf tree root stock, Dwarf trees have altered DNA root stock that causes them grow very short and fairly heavy branches.
Apple, Apricot, Nectarine, Peach and Pear as well as Almonds are common dwarf trees.
Hint Fruit tree breeders have not been very successful in dwarfing Cherry trees. Even so called dwarf cherry trees may still reach 20 to 25 feet in height at maturity.

Semi-Dwarf Fruit trees
Are commonly available in most nurseries and give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Semi-dwarf fruit trees are medium sized and very productive, they give you maximum fruit yield per square foot of tree foot print.

Semi-Dwarf fruit trees do not require any special attention. Water, fertilize, prune and treat for insects just as you would do for your standard size fruit or nut trees.

Proper Pollination
Pollination is vital to the successful fruit production. Inadequate pollination is the #1 reason why trees produce poorly or don’t bear fruit at all. To create the best pollination environment for your fruit tree, check tree description to see which pollinating varieties is recommend. Even trees listed as self pollinating will benefit from having a pollinator tree near by. If you have room, always plant another compatible variety for optimum fruit production.

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Berry Good Day For Gardening

Head Line News Report Hehehe, you really can’t make this stuff up.

A man was alarmed when the police helicopter swooped low over his property.
Soon, Bartow County, Georgia, deputies “strapped to the gills” with guns and with a drug dog in tow onverged on his doorstep.
They had the grower dead to rights.
Except the plant that cops had spotted from the air was … Okra.
Grin maybe I won’t grow Okra next year!!!

Berry Garden

Probably the 2 most important considerations in planning your berry patch is ample moisture and your soil pH.
To measure the acidity of a substance, scientists use the pH test. The abbreviation pH stands for parts Hydrogen. The pH scale runs from 0 to 14, 0 is a highly acidic, 14 is highly alkaline and 7 is perfectly neutral. Soil pH is normally in the 5.0 to 8.5+ pH range.

Many soils have a pH in the slightly acidic range (the upper 6’s). Only soils that have a high lime content running into the alkaline end of the scale. Most plants require a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0(Neutral pH). Wet soils tend to be more acidic than dry soils. Acidic soils 5.0 to 6.0 pH, Neutral soil 6.0 to 7.0 pH and
alkaline soil 7.0 to 8.5+ pH.

Berries don’t like me very much In my part of Southwest Oklahoma my soil is about 7.9 pH. way to alkaline to make most berry plants happy. Our high summer temperatures and dry winds do not favor berry crops.

Yes your right. There are things that can be done to admin soil to make it more acid based. However that is a never ending yearly project that I am not willing to start or do every spring.

I have included a U.S. map to help you determine your soils pH. Any area colored blue / blueish is basically alkaline soils. The brown / brownish areas have acid based soils. Click Map To Zoom In
usa pH map

Blueberry – perennial
Wild (lowbush) blueberries are smaller than cultivated highbush berries and are prized for their intense color. The lowbush blueberry is found from the Atlantic Canadian provinces westward to Quebec and southward to Michigan and West Virginia.

Highbush cultivars of blueberries are available, with each variety having a unique flavor. Rabbiteye blueberr is a southern type of blueberry produced from the Carolinas to the Gulf Coast states. Other important species in North America include the hillside or dryland blueberry. It is native to the eastern U.S. and is common in the Appalachians and the Piedmont of the Southeast. Sparkleberry is a common wild species found on sandy soils in the Southeast.

Raspberry – perennial
Many of the most important modern commercial red raspberry cultivars derive from hybrids between R. idaeus and R. strigosus.
Raspberries can be cultivated from hardiness zones 3 to 9. Raspberries are traditionally planted in the winter as dormant canes.

Warning Raspberries are very vigorous and can be locally invasive. They propagate using basal shoots (also known as suckers), extended underground shoots that develop roots and individual plants. They can sucker new canes some distance from the main plant. For this reason, raspberries spread well, and can take over gardens if left unchecked.

Blackberry – perennial
Blackberries can be grown in almost all locations in the United States and are hardy in zones 3 to 9. There are 375 or more species of blackberries growing worldwide.
Hint Blackberries like Raspberries can be locally invasive.

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Chicken Coop Poop – Build A Coop – A Winter Project

University building plans are an excellent source of free construction plans. However you may need to ‘scale’ down some of their building plans to fit your project. Not to worry, scaling down a building plan is easy to do.
Plans often have a complete building materials list as well as a cut-up list to help you construct your building whether it be a chicken coop or a rabbit hutch.
North Dakota State University Has an extensive list of building plans for poultry and all kinds of livestock.

The-Practical-Poultry-Keeper was first published in 1867, however information it contains is free and it’s information is still just as valid to day as it was in 1867. It is a very useful book with a lot of useful information and it contains many very nice chicken breed pictures. It is in a downloadable PDF file so you can download this book for a handy reference.

If you household is anything like mine there is little spare cash. It seems like everything has doubled in price this past year. Getting Free building plans is always a good thing.

Google-ing ‘chicken coop plans‘ I found page after page of plans For Sale but few that were really Free. Being disappointed but not to be deterred, I continued searching – Guess What I discovered… There are a ton of truly Free building plans for storage sheds that can be easily adapted for use as chicken coops.

Using plans for a storage shed of the size you need for your very own chicken coop. All one need do is to add a few nest boxes and a stick or two for your hens to roost on and you have a great chicken coop.

Free Chicken Coop Plans website You may find this site of interest. It’s a fun website and is even useful.

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Chicken Coop Poop – Poultry Coop – A Fall And Winter Project

The term chicken coop is a generic term. Your coop will work equally well for housing chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese or game birds.

Many people raise ornamental birds. When considering raising ornamental birds it is advisable to make your coop and outside runs at least 2 or even 4 times normal size to prevent plumage damage from outside run wire or a smallish coop.

If you put a poultry wire top on your outside run to prevent them flying out of your pen. You can also raise game type birds like guinea fowl, quail, pigeons, and pheasants. Some people refer to this arrangement as a fly pen.

When designing and constructing a fly pen don’t make the mistake of making it so low to the ground that you can not walk erect in the pen. Unless you are 3 foot 9 inches tall, a four(4) foot tall fly pen is way to low. Think about making your fly pen at least 6 feet tall.

Being frugal ‘Not Cheap’ I always start my new projects by visiting my local hardware (lumber) store. I ask them if they have any ‘Damaged’ lumber on sale at a bargain price. Warped or bowed lumber will work just fine in constructing your poultry house, outside run or fly pen. Damaged lumber can often be purchased for less than 1/2 the price of prime construction materials. Your poultry really will not care if you use a few damaged 2X4’s.

Don’t skimp on buying good quality hinges, latches and poultry wire. Using good quality hardware makes it much easier to keep predators like cats, dogs, racoons, skunks and such out of your poultry run and coop.

Sizing your coop to best fit your needs. Different birds have different space and roosting needs. Chickens benefit from having a roost. 12 inches of roost space per bird is recommended. Turkeys will seldom use an indoor roost. Ducks and geese are ground roosters and have no need for a indoor roost. With the exception of guineas most game birds are ground roosting birds.
Pigeons have quite different roost requirements. Please research their roost needs ‘before’ buying or trapping pigeons.

Chickens require at least 2 square feet of coop floor space. Ducks require 3 square of floor space and geese need 4 or more square feet of floor space.
A 4 foot by 8 foot 4X8=32 square feet. However you must remember some of that floor space will be occupied by roost, nest boxes, feeders and water containers. A 4×8 coop will house about 10 or maybe 12 laying hens. 8 ducks and about 4 turkeys or geese.
The outside run should be 2 or 3 times as large your coop floor space.

A coop that is 8 foot by 8 foot in size is a good size for the average backyard or tiny farmer. Healthy happy birds produce many eggs and quickly gain weight.

If you are unable to design your coop there are many University sites with fact sheets and design plans to assist you in designing and constructing you coop, outside run or fly pen.

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