Category Archives: Conservation

Thanksgiving food safety

Covid-19, government dictated lock-downs and self quarantines, smaller family gatherings has caused turkey growers and markets to have a shortage of smaller (6-10 pound) turkeys.
Shop and buy your turkey soon for your best selection.

This post has become an annual posting in hopes it will help keep you and your family safe. Food handling, thawing times, cooking time / temperatures and safe storing of any thanksgiving day food leftovers.

For some this is old information and is considered plain common sense. For others this will be their first time dealing with such a large bird and safely handling so many side dishes for one meal.
turkey
Butterball Turkey Talk provides a free service to answer your questions about proper handling, thawing and cooking Turkey.
You can reach them by telephone, email or via live chat line.
Butterball also has a informative page of FAQ’s that you may find useful.

Butterball said:
FROZEN WHOLE TURKEY
Thaw in refrigerator (not at room temperature). Place unopened turkey, breast side up, on a tray in refrigerator and follow our refrigerator thawing instructions. Allow at least 24 hours for every 4 pounds.

To thaw more quickly, place unopened turkey breast down in sink filled with cold tap water. Allow 30 minutes per pound. Change water every 30 minutes to keep surface of turkey cold.

When thawed, keep in refrigerator up to 4 days until ready to cook.

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) has a nice and very informative fact sheet as well as a useful PDF file on the safe handling, cooking, Storage and re-heating of Turkey.

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey USDA’s information applies to any poultry, Turkey, Chicken, Duck, Goose and so on that you may plan on cooking and serving to your family.

For more information about food safety, call: USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday or
E-mail: mphotline.fsis@usda.gov Or “Ask Karen,” FSIS’ Web-based automated response system – available 24/7 at http://www.fsis.usda.gov.

Hints:
Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.

Thawing In the Refrigerator (40 °F or below)
Allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds
4 to 12 pounds 1 to 3 days
12 to 16 pounds 3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds 4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds 5 to 6 days
Roasting Time
4 to 8 pounds (breast) 1½ to 3¼ hours
8 to 12 pounds 2¾ to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3¾ hours
14 to 18 pounds 3¾ to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4½ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4½ to 5 hours

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) Alternate methods to cook Turkey / poultry Grilling a Turkey, Covered Gas Grill, Covered Charcoal Grill, Smoking a Turkey, Deep Fat Frying a Turkey.

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) Basics: Safe Cooking Turkey A PDF file. Great 1 page tip sheet on cooking Turkey / Poultry.

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) Turkey Roasting Chart Everything you will ever need to know about Roasting your Turkey.
Hint:
Reheating Your Turkey
In the Oven
Set the oven temperature no lower than 325 °F.
Reheat turkey to an internal temperature of 165 °F. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.
To keep the turkey moist, add a little broth or water and cover.

United States Department Of Agricultural (USDA) Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Use this chart and a food thermometer to ensure that meat, poultry, seafood, and other cooked foods reach a safe minimum internal temperature.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC 24/7: Saving Lives. Protecting People. Safely Prepare Your Holiday Meal Important cooking information to providing Safe food preparation information.

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s)

Garden Fresh Potatoes

North American gardeners grow potatoes that generally fall into 1 of 6 color categories.

University of Minnesota potato growing fact website has a lot of useful information on growing potatoes.

Blue skin with white or blue flesh
Brown skin with white or yellow flesh like
Purple skin with white, yellow or purple flesh
Red skin with white, yellow or red flesh
White skin with white or yellow flesh
Yellow skin with white or yellow flesh

Start your potato plants from tubers or pieces of tubers. Buy disease free seed tubers from a certified grower or seed distributor. Most garden centers carry seed potatoes in the spring.

Potatoes saved from your own garden may not be a good choice either. They can carry disease spores from the previous year. Although your garden may seem disease free, re-introducing more fungi or bacteria could cause crop failure for your potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant in the future.

Hint: Do not plant potatoes purchased at the grocery store, they may have been treat with chemicals to keep tubers dormant(prevents sprouting), in which case they will be slow to grow.
Diseases may also infect the potatoes, which can remain in your garden soil for many years. Also they may have been treated with pesticides to kill insects that can damage potatoes that have been placed in storage.

Plant your seed potato sections about 3 inches deep. The depth allows the potatoes to form without breaking the surface and causing green spots on the potatoes. When a tuber is exposed to light for an extended period of time, a poisonous alkaloid is produced that turns the potato green.

Before planting, add a fertilizer with a NPK rating 10-10-5. Mix the fertilizer in with the soil as you till to evenly disperse the fertilizer. If you use an organic fertilizer, such as cow or horse manure, make sure the manure is well-rotted or at least a year old. Fresh manure causes the planting bed to get too “hot” and burns the plants.
Potato seeds prefer a cooler temperature to set roots. The ideal soil temperature for planting seed potatoes is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hill soil up around plants as they grow. Tubers will form on thin stems, called stolons, which emerge from the main stems. The deeper in the soil the underground portion of the plant, the more stolons the plant may grow.

Potatoes are both water loving and heavy feeders of fertilizer. Moisture stress can cause knobby or hollow potatoes, and can prevent the plant from producing new tubers. Light soil is the best for growing large, smooth potatoes. Soak the soil thoroughly when watering, once or twice a week.

You can dig new potatoes about seven to eight weeks after planting. New potatoes will have formed above the seed piece you planted, so dig down about a foot, and turn the whole plant upside down to pick the tubers.
Harvest mature tubers after the plants have dried(look dead) or when tubers have reached full size.

First Thanksgiving Dinner menu

First Thanksgiving Dinner – Smithsonian magazine Pilgrims and Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony in 1621. Edward Winslow, an English leader who attended said: Besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison.
In addition to wildfowl and deer, the colonists and Wampanoag probably ate eels and shellfish, such as lobster, clams and mussels.

The forest provided chestnuts, walnuts and beechnuts. They grew flint corn (multicolored Indian corn). They grew beans, which they used from when they were small and green until when they were mature. They also had different sorts of pumpkins and squashes.

England not having turkeys it is likely that the Pilgrims favored swan, geese, ducks over turkey meat. It is also likely that passenger pigeons were on their menu.

Historians think Pilgrims stuffed birds with chunks of onion, herbs and shelled chestnuts. Pilgrims did not have white(Irish) potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, butter or wheat flour to make crusts for pies and tarts.

Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of the popular women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book was a leading voice in establishing Thanksgiving as an annual event. Beginning in 1827, Hale petitioned 13 presidents, the last of whom was Abraham Lincoln. She pitched her idea to President Lincoln as a way to unite the country in the midst of the Civil War, and, in 1863, he made Thanksgiving a national holiday.

As for me and my family, this Thanksgiving we will have a small(10#) slow smoked/cooked turkey, mostly for the smaller members of our clan. Adults will feast on slow cooked/smoked beef brisket, racks of ribs and buckets of BBQ sauce, the mild and hot kind. Of course there will be ample assorted side dishes, ice cream and pie for all.

Post a comment and share your Thanksgiving menu.

How to catch a deer for thanksgiving dinner

I laughed the whole time I read this.

(A letter from someone who wants to remain anonymous, who farms and actually tried this)

I had this idea that I could rope a deer, put it in a stall, feed it up on corn for a couple of weeks, then kill it and eat it. The first step in this adventure was getting a deer. I figured that, since they congregate at my cattle feeder and do not seem to have much fear of me when we are there (a bold one will sometimes come right up and sniff at the bags of feed while I am in the back of the truck not 4 feet away), it should not be difficult to rope one, get up to it and toss a bag over its head (to calm it down) then hog tie it and transport it home.

I filled the cattle feeder then hid down at the end with my rope. The cattle, having seen the roping thing before, stayed well back. They were not having any of it. After about 20 minutes, my deer showed up– 3 of them. I picked out a likely looking one, stepped out from the end of the feeder, and threw my rope. The deer just stood there and stared at me. I wrapped the rope around my waist and twisted the end so I would have a good hold.

The deer still just stood and stared at me, but you could tell it was mildly concerned about the whole rope situation. I took a step towards it, it took a step away. I put a little tension on the rope, and then received an education. The first thing that I learned is that, while a deer may just stand there looking at you funny while you rope it, they are spurred to action when you start pulling on that rope.

That deer EXPLODED. The second thing I learned is that pound for pound, a deer is a LOT stronger than a cow or a colt. A cow or a colt in that weight range I could fight down with a rope and with some dignity. A deer– no Chance. That thing ran and bucked and twisted and pulled. There was no controlling it and certainly no getting close to it. As it jerked me off my feet and started dragging me across the ground, it occurred to me that having a deer on a rope was not nearly as good an idea as I had originally imagined. The only upside is that they do not have as much stamina as many other animals.

A brief 10 minutes later, it was tired and not nearly as quick to jerk me off my feet and drag me when I managed to get up. It took me a few minutes to realize this, since I was mostly blinded by the blood flowing out of the big gash in my head. At that point, I had lost my taste for corn-fed venison. I just wanted to get that devil creature off the end of that rope.

I figured if I just let it go with the rope hanging around its neck, it would likely die slow and painfully somewhere. At the time, there was no love at all between me and that deer. At that moment, I hated the thing, and I would venture a guess that the feeling was mutual. Despite the gash in my head and the several large knots where I had cleverly arrested the deer’s momentum by bracing my head against various large rocks as it dragged me across the ground, I could still think clearly enough to recognize that there was a small chance that I shared some tiny amount of responsibility for the situation we were in. I didn’t want the deer to have to suffer a slow death, so I managed to get it lined back up in between my truck and the feeder – a little trap I had set before hand…kind of like a squeeze chute. I got it to back in there and I started moving up so I could get my rope back.

Did you know that deer bite? They do! I never in a million years would have thought that a deer would bite somebody, so I was very surprised when ….. I reached up there to grab that rope and the deer grabbed hold of my wrist. Now, when a deer bites you, it is not like being bit by a horse where they just bite you and slide off to then let go. A deer bites you and shakes its head–almost like a big dog. They bite HARD and it hurts.

The proper thing to do when a deer bites you is probably to freeze and draw back slowly. I tried screaming and shaking instead. My method was ineffective.

It seems like the deer was biting and shaking for several minutes, but it was likely only several seconds. I, being smarter than a deer (though you may be questioning that claim by now), tricked it. While I kept it busy tearing the tendons out of my right arm, I reached up with my left hand and pulled that rope loose.

That was when I got my final lesson in deer behavior for the day.

Deer will strike at you with their front feet. They rear right up on their back feet and strike right about head and shoulder level, and their hooves are surprisingly sharp… I learned a long time ago that, when an animal -like a horse –strikes at you with their hooves and you can’t get away easily, the best thing to do is try to make a loud noise and make an aggressive move towards the animal. This will usually cause them to back down a bit so you can escape.

This was not a horse. This was a deer, so obviously, such trickery would not work. In the course of a millisecond, I devised a different strategy. I screamed like a woman and tried to turn and run. The reason I had always been told NOT to try to turn and run from a horse that paws at you is that there is a good chance that it will hit you in the back of the head. Deer may not be so different from horses after all, besides being twice as strong and 3 times as evil, because the second I turned to run, it hit me right in the back of the head and knocked me down.

Now, when a deer paws at you and knocks you down, it does not immediately leave. I suspect it does not recognize that the danger has passed. What they do instead is paw your back and jump up and down on you while you are laying there crying like a little girl and covering your head.

I finally managed to crawl under the truck and the deer went away. So now I know why when people go deer hunting they bring a rifle with a scope……to sort of even the odds!!

All these events are true so help me God…An Educated Farmer

After reading this I can understand why someone would want to remain anonymous.

I’m so proud of (DT) my grand daughter in law. Muzzle loader deer season opened on the 24 of October. On the afternoon of the 24th she came to my house wanting to borrow my Thompson Center 50 caliber muzzle loading rifle to go deer hunting.
This was DT’s first deer hunt, she was to hunt alone, she had never loaded or fired a muzzle loader.

I spent 15 or 20 minutes showing her how to load, cap and how to use double set triggers. She went to the back of our place crawled up into my deer stand to wait for a deer.

Grin… she was back at my house in about 30 minutes asking me to help her carry the 6 point whitetail buck that she had shot back to the barn.
You guested it, she didn’t have a clue how to gut, skin or cut up the meat before wrapping in butcher paper to put in her deep freeze.

Raising laying hens – first coop or remodel is easy

Maximize egg production and growth rate of your meat birds by installing a coop light. Buy and install a simple timer. Set your timer to provide 16 hours light in your coop. One 60 or 100 watt bulb is all the light your coop will need.

Don’t forget to provide fresh water and an ample food supply inside your coop. Chickens Will Not go out of the coop into the darkness of night to eat or drink.
Hint: What ever you build or buy, make it covenant for ‘You’ to access. To clean, gather eggs and so on without the need to stoop low or crawl around on your hands and knees.
When possible make all gates and doors wide enough to get your wheel barrow in and out of the hen house and chickens runs.

Do it right the first time. Choosing the best coop wire. 1 inch X 2 inch or 1/2 inch X 1 inch utility wire is a good choice. Small mesh welded wire cost more than poultry netting but in the long run will be a cheaper ‘long term’ investment and a better choice. Poultry netting will rust and become useless in just a few years, 2 X 4 welded wire is strong but is not effective in keeping small chicks in nor is it a big obstacle to keep determined animals like cats, dogs, coyote, fox or raccoons out of your hen house.

It seems that after searching the Internet I find end listings on how to build a chicken coop but, most everyone wants to ‘Sell’ you a plan or blueprint.

You do not have to be an architect or construction engineer to construct a chicken coop. Anyone can do it. Keep in mind that you may need to scale any basic construction plan up or down to fit the flock size you want to maintain.
* Hint: Many storage shed plans are free to download and is a cost effective hen house by another name.
Cover windows with strong predator proof wire.

A secure coop is very important, it seems that everyone and everything likes the taste of chicken. Cats, dogs, coyotes, skunks, raccoons, opossums, fox and even a hawk or owl will take a small chicken given the chance to do so. Snakes can be a problem eating small chicks and always looking for a chance to take a few eggs. Other than stray dogs daylight predators are few, but after dark your chickens are ‘setting ducks’ just waiting to be eaten by a hungry predator.

What your chickens Really Need. Warm secure chickens produce many more eggs and gain more weight than chickens housed in a cold drafty coop. When building your coop be sure to close up any holes or cracks that allow a cold draft to enter your coop. Do not use calk or spray foam, chickens will peck at and eat calk or spray foam.
Unless you live above the arctic circle supplemental heating is generally not needed.
If you feel the need to heat your hen house consider enclosing a ‘milk house heater in strong wire or add a 250 watt heat lamp located 3 – 5 feet off the floor. Use caution, a heat space heater or heat lamp bulb that comes in contact with hay, straw etc. can catch your hen house on fire!

Some sites say chickens need about 2 square feet of coop floor space for each hen in your flock. I disagree and recommend 3 square feet ‘4 square feet is better’ of floor space for each laying hen. A 4X4 sheet of plywood = 16 square feet and should house no more than 4 or 5 chickens. Remember you will loose a few feet of floor space to nest boxes and roosting areas.
You must decide if 2 square feet or 4 square feet of floor space is best for housing you chicken flock.

Clean water is a must have thing. Don’t skimp, purchase or build large good quality freeze resistant water containers.
Feeders should be designed to prevent them from wasting feed or being of a design that allows them to set / roost on top of your feeders. Chickens Do Not go outdoors to poop! Given the opportunity they will poop in feed troughs and water containers! Hanging style containers work well. They can be raised higher off the floor as your flock grows.

Free Range or Penned hens? A chicken run is nothing more than a fenced in area that attaches to or surrounds your coop. Your chicken run should allow at least 10 square feet of run for each chicken in your flock. Thus 4 laying hens will need a minimum of 40 square feet of run. An 8 foot by 8 foot run will provide you with 64 square feet.
Free range is just what it sounds like. Free range chickens are free to range and forage anyplace they feel like going. Free range chickens seem to be healthier and consume much less store bought feed than penned chickens. However free ranging chickens are more likely to be taken by predators.

Allowed to free range chickens will eat large quantities of grass, weeds and every insect that they can catch! They scratch eating weed seeds worms and grubs.

13 free chicken coop plans
60 free chicken coop plans
65 free chicken coop plans

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Mediterranean style white bean soup

What you will need for this bean soup recipe.

1 lb. white beans
1 cup crushed, chopped or diced canned or fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 large white or 2 smallish sized chopped/diced onions
3 small, course diced carrots
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt {start with 1 teaspoon add more to your taste}
1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste1 1/2 tablespoons fresh chopped herbs, such as parsley, oregano, basil or chives
8 cups water
* Optional 1/2 cup white wine
* Optional 4 cups chicken or beef broth and 4 cups water
* Optional 1 or 2 garlic cloves minced or finely chopped
* Optional 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.

Soak beans over night, drain off the water and put beans in a saucepan with 8 cups water or 4 cups chicken or beef broth and 4 cups water.

Bring to a boil on medium-high heat, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 45 minutes on low heat.

Add remaining ingredients and cook gently for about an hour or until the beans and vegetables are tender. Add more water if needed.

Garnish soup with grated cheese, fresh chopped Chives, Oregano, Basil or Parsley. Use the kind of herbs and cheese you like as a garnish.

Serve with hard crust bread or buttered garlic bread.
Grin… Americans some time serve this soup with saltine crackers or fresh baked cornbread.

Sounds of Autumn and Chicken Coops

Summer has given way to Autumn/Fall cooler temperatures and a burst of color. Today has the feel of fall in the air. Cooler weather and the air has the smell of Autumn and a feel of dampness.

Long before first light I could hear the calls of wild geese each carefully following the one ahead as they wing their way south. This is always a sure sign that a cold winter blast is not far away.

Wild sun flowers in pastures and along roads are 4 to 6 feet tall bearing many 3 to 4 inch bright yellow flowers making a cool autumn day feel brighter and warmer.

Gardeners in their hast and busy schedule often fail to truly listen to all the fading sounds of summer and fall as winters cold winds approach. Don’t miss out on this once a year event. Stop look and listen, tune out all the sounds of our modern world and listen to what nature is telling you.

Chicken poop, nothing but poop. Now is a good time to get all that old litter and manure out of your chicken coop/hen house floors, nest boxes and roosting areas. Spread this chicken litter lightly on your garden plot and till it in or pile it on your compost pile. As the weather gets colder and nights get longer your chickens will spend more time in there coop. Now is a good time to sanitize your coop and spray or dust for mite control.

Close your hen house door and cover all windows, look for places you can see light entering your coop. Nail or glue wood trim to cover these holes that will allow the cold winds, rain and snow to enter your coop this winter. Don’t use calk or spray foam, your chickens will peck at and eat calk and spray foam.
Cold weather will send every mouse and rat within 1000 feet to seek winter shelter in and under your chicken coop. Put out mouse/rat bait now. Rat and mouse bait is a poison, insure the bait is in a place that your chickens flock and pets can not gain access to the bait.

Build or buy enough feeders and freeze proof waters dispensers to keep you flock supplied with fresh feed and water. Raise feeders and waters off the floor high enough that your chickens need to reach high to access feed and water. This will help your keep chickens from wasting feed or pooping in their feed and water containers.

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Kale – Good And Good For You

Kale is becoming one of American gardeners favorite green vegetables. Lettuce and spinach are being replaced by Kale as a favorite fresh salad and cooked table green.

Growing Kale Kale likes Full Sun and grows best in a loamy soil with a neutral pH to slightly alkaline soil.

Kale is a hardy, cool season green
that is part of the ‘cole’ cabbage family. It grows best in the spring and fall and can tolerate Fall frosts. Kale can be used in salads or as a garnish and is rich in minerals and vitamins A and C. You can plant kale anytime from early spring to early summer.

If you plant kale late in the summer you can harvest it from fall until the ground freezes in winter. Mix 1-1/2 cups of NPK 5-10-10 fertilizer per 25 feet of row into the top 3 to 4 inches of soil. Plant the seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep into well-drained, light soil. After about 2 weeks, thin the seedlings so that they are spaced 8 to 12 inches apart. Water the plants regularly.
Mulch the soil heavily after the first freeze.
The plants may continue to produce leaves throughout the winter. Kale is ready to harvest when the leaves are about the size of your hand.

Avoid picking the terminal bud (found at the top center of the plant) this will help to keep the plant productive. The small, tender leaves can be eaten uncooked and used in salads. Cut and cook the larger leaves like spinach, remove the large tough leaf ribs before cooking.

Store kale as you would any other leafy green. Put kale in a bag and store it in the refrigerator. It should last about 1 week.

Consider planting,
* ‘Vates’, which is a hardy variety and does not yellow in cold weather. It also has curly, blue-green leaves.
* ‘Winterbor’, which resembles the ‘Vates’ variety, and it is frost tolerant.
* ‘Red Russian’, which has red, tender leaves and is an early crop.

brusselkale Source FOX News Report
A new hybrid from U.K. vegetable breeder Tozer Seeds that’s a hybrid (Not a GMO) of two super trendy vegetables, Brussels sprouts and kale.
BrusselKale is set to make its North American debut in Toronto later this month.
According to Tozer Seeds, the leafy green vegetable gets its “fantastic flavor by combining the complex taste of the Brussels sprout with the mild, sweet ‘nutty’ taste of the kale.”
Note: I have looked on Tozer Seeds web site and can’t seem to find this Brussels sprout/Kale hybrid listed in their catalog.

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Italian style Mediterranean soup

Ingredients needed to make this Italian farm style Mediterranean soup

2 1/2 large diced carrots
2 celery ribs chopped
1 medium purple or white diced onion or 1 1/2 cups sliced leeks
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves finely minced
28 ounces (2 14 1/2 ounce cans) low or no salt chicken broth
* Optional 1 cup white wine
15 ounces (2 – 8 ounce cans) low or no-salt tomato sauce
16 ounces (1 14 1/2 ounce can) white or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
* Optional 1 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
14-1/2 ounces (1 14 1/2 ounce can) diced tomatoes with juice
1-1/2 cups shredded cabbage or shredded Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons fresh basil chopped or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
3 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
3 tablespoons fresh oregano chopped or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 to 1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni(pasta the kind you like) remember this is a soup not a pasta dish
* Optional garnish: grated Parmesan cheese
* Optional garnish: drizzle with extra virgin olive oil
* Optional garnish: chives coursed chopped
* Optional garnish: basil course chopped
.
Saute carrots, celery and onion in oil and butter until tender. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Stir in broth, tomato sauce, beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, cabbage, basil, parsley, oregano and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and slow simmer for 15 minutes. Add more broth or water if needed. Add macaroni and cook, uncovered, until macaroni and vegetables are tender.
Taste and adjust if needed salt, pepper and spices.

Garnish and serve with hard crust bread or buttered, toasted garlic bread.

Colorful Flowers that will tolerate light frost

This post is a rework and updated: first posted October 2013.

Chrysanthemums offer a wide variety of flower colors, from white and cream to dark maroon and burgundy, as well as numerous growth habits from small dwarf plants to giant shrub like Maxi-Mums.
Mums are easy to grow and can provide years of enjoyment if care is taken to select an appropriate variety. Plant in a sunny well drained location and provide winter protection.

Plant chrysanthemums from seed or small sets in spring after all danger of frost has passed. Plant large ready to bloom potted plants in late summer and early Fall. Small plants derived from rooted cuttings, divisions, or rooted suckers of old plants can be used. Larger container plants purchased from garden centers may be planted anytime during the spring, summer, or early fall.

Garden chrysanthemums grow in a wide variety of soils but must have excellent drainage conditions. Growth is poor and winter kill likely in poorly drained wet soils. Sunny locations are good sites. Plants in semi-shady locations will be taller, have weaker stems, and bloom later in the fall.
Incorporate 2 – 4 inches of compost, or well-rotted barnyard manure into the soil. Apply 3 to 4 pounds per 100 square feet of a complete fertilizer such as NPK 5-10-10 or 5-10-5 in the spring. Side dressing plants with a complete fertilizer in early August, especially in years of abundant rainfall or irrigation. If the fertilizer applied in the spring is a slow release type such as coated or organic fertilizer, the second application may not be necessary. Space plants 18 – 24″ apart, depending on the mature size of the cultivar.

The University of Minnesota has introduced numerous hardy, attractive garden mums over the last 50 years. Early blooming cultivars assure flowering before frost. Late blooming cultivars may fail to bloom before damaging or killing frosts and should be selected in USDA zones 7 – 10.

Pinching Mums maintain a bushy compact plant form if pinched or pruned regularly. Although newer cultivars do not require pinching, the traditional method has been to pinch out the tip to induce branching and produce stockier plants. Repeat pinching on side branches when they have grown 6″. Continue pinching until mid-June for early flowering varieties, late June for September flowering varieties, and early July for October varieties. Complete pinching by July 4 to assure flowering prior to frost. Very high summer temperatures may also delay flowering. Most mum flowers are resistant to frost, Centerpiece is especially frost tolerant variety.

Mums vary widely in cold hardiness. Cultivars listed in the table below have been developed based on years of plant breeding at the University of Minnesota. These plants have been selected for superior flower characteristics, growth habit, and winter hardiness. Most will survive winters in Minnesota.

Florist mums, sold throughout the year in supermarkets and greenhouses, may not survive northern winters, and if they do, will probably not flower before hard frosts. Proper location (good drainage and protection from winter winds) and a winter mulch of 4 – 6″ of shredded leaves, hay, straw, or evergreen branches applied as soon as the soil surface freezes is critical to winter survival.

Plant Division Plants can be dug and divided in spring as new growth begins. Stronger shoots are usually on the outside of the clump. Set the growing tip of each division just below ground level. For an attractive display of color, plant at least three shoots in a triangular pattern.

Florist Mums Are attractive blooming potted plants are available through-out the year from florists. After flowers fade, plants can be cut back to 3 or 4 inches and planted in the garden. Florist mums may overwinter, but usually flower too late for USDA Hardness Zones 1 thru 4.

mum1
mum2
mum3

Pansies are another showy Fall, Winter and Spring flowering garden plant worth considering to plant in your Fall garden.

pansies

Pansies will bloom Spring through early Summer, with repeat blooming in the Fall. In USDA hardness zones 7 – 9 can grow pansies throughout the winter and there are newer varieties, like the ice pansy, are bred to withstand light snows and may over Winter in zone 6 and with a little protection may even over Winter as far north as zone 5.

Pansies are popular and a recognizable cool weather annuals. Breeding has produced Pansies that are better able to stand up to the cold, but there hasn’t been much luck producing more heat tolerant varieties. Many Pansies are bi-colored, making them striking plants for their small size. Although delicate, they are surprisingly hardy.

Compact, low growers, Pansies are ideal for edging and for squeezing between rock walls and paths, as long as they can be removed in summer. They’re a great choice for early and late season containers and complement spring flowering bulbs, flowering as the bulb foliage begins to fade. If you like the variety of colors but still want a sense of cohesion, select plants from the same series. They’ll be similar in size and markings, regardless of the color.

Pansies are not fussy plants, they will grow best in a loose, rich soil with a slightly acid soil. They flower best in full sun and will get spindly in deep shade. Pansies do not like heat at all and will begin to decline as the days warm up. When buying plants, choose pansies that are stocky, bushy and have plenty of buds. Avoid buying plants with full open blooms.
** Growing Note: Pansies can be difficult to start from seed.

You can allow your Pansy plants to remain in your garden and rest during the hottest months, they will probably begin blooming again in the Fall. Shearing the plants back when they start to set seed, will encourage new growth. Dead heading will encourage more blooms.

Occasionally aphids will attack Pansies. Insecticidal soap should remove them.
I have found a mixture of water and ‘Blue Dawn’ dish soap to be cheap and effective in removing and killing aphids.

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