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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Transplanting Fruit and Nut producing trees

Late Fall/Autumn is the idea time to plant/transplant trees, bushes and shrubs.

Select and Plant The Best Fruit and Nut Tree varieties Suited To Your USDA Hardiness Zone. Temperature / Chilling Hours Zone

No matter where you live, now is a good time to plant your fruit and nut trees, whether they be bagged in burlap, potted or bare root. Follow planting guides for planting your fruit and nut trees. Dig a hole 2 times as wide and deep as your trees root ball. Take a little extra care and be sure your new tree is setting straight up and not leaning off to one side.
*Caution: Do Not Plant your new tree too deep! Plant it at the same depth as it was in the field (if bare root) or if potted or bagged, no deeper than the bag or pot it is currently in.

Home gardeners have killed many more trees and shrubs planting them to deep than have ever been killed planting them to shallow. If planted to deep, they may look fine for the first year or two, but, then suddenly with out apparent cause die. In this case you have wasted your money, time and effort on an avoidable problem. Keep the trees crown at or above the soil line when planting!

Winter watering is every bit as important as summer watering. To the eye that new tree is totally dormant needing little care through winter months. That is a very wrong assumption, trees continue to grow and develop their root systems all winter to support new growth appearing in spring and summer.
Apply 3 to 6 inches of mulch around you new trees to help retain moisture and to protect their root from freezing winter weather conditions.

Winter Chilling hour requirements for fruit and nut trees.
In the simplest terms 1 chilling hour is when the temperature is warmer than 32 degrees and cooler than 45 degrees. There are other factors that you should also consider. Fruit trees chilling hour requirements vary greatly between fruit type and even between species of the same fruit / nut tree species.

Some fruit and nut trees may require few (low) chilling hours 150-200 hours to very long chilling hour requirements as much as 1700 or more hours.

If a fruit tree does not get the chilling hours they need, you may have trees that ‘Never’ produce fruit or trees that always bloom too early in spring time and have buds, flowers and fruit severely damaged or killed every year by late season frost and freezing weather. A safe bet is to plant the same type and variety trees you see in your area that reliably produce good fruit crops every year.
Don’t be Shy, ask other gardeners what species and variety does well for them.

Do your homework, select the correct trees for your climate zone. You can’t successfully grow Orange trees in Montana. Planting trees not suited to your USDA Hardiness Zone will only be a disappointed when they fail to produce fruit and are killed by harsh winter cold temperatures.

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Chow Chow using green tomato’s and excess garden vegetables

Posted September 2017. Reworked and updated.

Homemade Green Spicy Relish.

Over run with green tomato’s? Fall gardens are winding down. Many gardeners have a lot of green tomato’s and Chow Chow is a healthy good tasting way to use them before they are damaged by freezing weather.

Chow Chow was born in North America out of an effort to preserve the excess summer produce growing in the backyard, on small farms including green tomatoes, cabbage, hot peppers, bell peppers, onions, and more.
Chow Chow recipes vary widely based on what part of North America you live. Chow Chow consist primarily of chopped green tomatoes, cabbage, onion, and peppers while others can contain ripe tomato’s, carrots, beans, cauliflower, or peas. Regardless of which one you choose, the ingredients are all pickled and packed in canning jars and served cold as a condiment.

Use Chow Chow as you would any other kind of pickled relish. Use it as a topping for hot dogs, hamburgers, or barbeque. It’s also commonly used to give a little spunk to a bowl of beans or a side of cornbread. You can even make a delicious appetizer by adding a little atop a cracker with cream cheese spread.

Chow Chow pairs well with pinto or white beans, hotdogs, burgers, BBQ, chili, stew and just about any other food needing a sweet/sour spicy taste boost.

Grandma’s CHOW CHOW

1 peck (1/4 bushel) green tomatoes about 12 to 15 pounds
5 lbs. yellow onions
1 large head of cabbage course chopped (like you were making coleslaw)
5 lbs. cane sugar
5 red hot chili peppers {you need at least 2 of these and more if you like your chow chow hot and spicy}
4 chopped sweet green bell peppers
4 chopped sweet red bell peppers
2 tablespoons mustard seed
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 tablespoons celery seed
1 package of pickling spices
About 1 quart of 5% acid apple cider vinegar

Dice tomatoes and sprinkle with 1 cup salt, place them in a clean old white pillowcase and hang them from a close line pole over night. {This will remove most of the green tomato juice from your bag of diced green tomato’s.} I’ll bet wrapping your tomato’s in cheese cloth would work just as well.
* Hint: Better yet course grind all of your vegetables in a meat grinder or chop using a food processor.

Chop/grind all vegetables and combine in a large kettle. Stir in salt, let stand covered at room temperature overnight, or at least 8 hours. Using a colander drain chopped vegetables.

Rinse and drain green tomato’s and other vegetables only once.
In a large pot, add chopped/ground tomatoes, cabbage, onions, peppers, sugar and spices and enough vinegar to almost cover. Cook (simmer) uncovered over a very low heat for 4 hours. Adding additional 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water mixture as necessary.
After 3 1/2 hours or so of cooking time, taste and adjust salt and spices if needed.

Fill hot sterilized canning jars to 1/2 inch from the top and secure lids to jars.
Note: Sterilize jars in a boiling water bath insuring jars are completely covered with water. Don’t forget to sterilize jar tops as well.

Process in a boiling water bath for 15 to 20 minutes. Allow jars to cool over night. Check to insure all jars sealed properly. Any jar that did not properly seal should be refrigerated and consumed with in a week or so.

* Hint: Adjust the vegetables used based on what vegetables are excess to your needs to be eaten fresh from your garden.

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Flu and Pneumonia Vaccinations – a life or death disease

Cutting the risk of flu will help the health system better manage the rise in Covid-19 cases.
Anyone who becomes co-infected with flu and coronavirus could end up with a very “severe illness or die. All measures possible are needed to reduce the risk of flu infection.

Because flu and coronavirus share similar symptoms flu has the potential to complicate the vital work of the contact tracing and surveillance programs. The flu is a very unpleasant illness, but in some cases those in ‘at-risk’ groups (the very young and the over 60) it can be very dangerous and sometimes fatal.

Get your Flu and Pneumonia vaccinations as soon as possible. The vaccinations are low cost and in many cases ‘free’.

A day or two ago I got my Flu and Pneumonia vaccinations for ‘Free’ at CVS pharmacy.

Fall Harvest and Winter storage

Most areas in North America it’s not to late to harvest crops that are to be stored for winter use. Here is a bit of information that ‘Generally’ applies to harvesting / storing Fall/autumn 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 1-3 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 a good option is to can or freeze potato’s after digging.

Harding off can be accomplished in about 10 to 14 days. During hardening off process, keep vegetables and fruits in a dry 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.

I am a Lazy old guy Being frugal, not cheap, I don’t find it necessary or productive to re-type information that others have researched and put in print. The links I have provided are to the best of my knowledge, correct and cut to the chase without the need to swamp the reader with a lot of junk products.

NGA Harvesting Sweet Potato’s
NGA Harvesting Potato’s
NGA Harvesting Onions
Harvesting and Storing Garlic

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Halloween – Thanksgiving and Christmas apple sweet treats

Candy Apples Are a real kid pleasing holiday season treat. Easy to make at home requiring only 7 ingredients, a food thermometer that will read 350%F and about an hour of your time.
.

Ingredients

Parchment paper
Unsalted butter, for parchment paper
2 cups white cane sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup corn syrup (like Karo)
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring, (optional)
1/2 cup red cinnamon candies (like Red Hots)
6 to 12 Small size tart Apples like (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Blushing Golden, or Paula Red)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, butter parchment, and set aside. In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, combine sugar, 3/4 cup water, corn syrup, and food coloring, if using.
Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium high. Insert candy thermometer and continue to boil until temperature reaches between 300 to 310 degrees (hard crack stage), about 20 minutes.
* {Once the candy reaches 250, add the cinnamon flavor candies(red hots) and stir briefly to incorporate}

Insert a wooden stick into the top of each apple, pushing about halfway through; set aside. When mixture reaches 300-310%F temperature, immediately remove from heat. Working quickly, dip apples in sugar candy mix until completely coated. Transfer to prepared buttered baking sheet and allow to cool.

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Visit your local farmers Pumpkin Patch

Select a large-ish Pumpkin to carved your jack-o-lantern. While at the Pumpkin patch select a few smaller ones for making winter holiday season pie’s and soup.
Save your pumpkin seed to be roasted for a delicious snack.

Taste of Home website has a lot of useful information on Roasting Pumpkin Seed is easy and fun for the entire family and they are nutritious.

Pumpkin seeds are packed full of valuable nutrients. Eating only a small amount of them can provide you with a substantial quantity of healthy fats, magnesium and zinc. Pumpkin seeds have been associated with several health benefits. These include heart health, prostate health and it has been suggested they also provide some protection against certain cancers.

One ounce (28 grams) of shell-free pumpkin seeds has roughly 151 calories, mainly from fat and protein.
Fiber: 1.7 grams
Carbs: 5 grams
Protein: 7 grams
Fat: 13 grams (6 of which are omega-6s)
Vitamin K: 18% of the RDI
Phosphorus: 33% of the RDI
Manganese: 42% of the RDI
Magnesium: 37% of the RDI
Iron: 23% of the RDI
Zinc: 14% of the RDI
Copper: 19% of the RDI

They also contain a lot of antioxidants and a decent amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids, potassium, vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and folate.
Animal studies have shown that pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed powder and pumpkin juice can reduce blood sugar. This is especially important for people with diabetes, who may struggle to control their blood sugar levels.

Health line website said:
One cup of cooked pumpkin (245 grams) contains:
Calories: 49
Fat: 0.2 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Carbs: 12 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Vitamin A: 245% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
Potassium: 16% of the RDI
Copper: 11% of the RDI
Manganese: 11% of the RDI
Vitamin B2: 11% of the RDI
Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
Iron: 8% of the RDI
Small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate and several B vitamins.

Pumpkins contain antioxidants, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. These can neutralize free radicals, stopping them from damaging your cells.

Webmd website say’s Pumpkin is rich in fiber, which slows digestion. “Pumpkin keeps you feeling fuller longer. There’s seven grams of fiber in a cup of canned pumpkin. That’s more than what you’d get in two slices of whole-grain bread.

A single cup of pumpkin contains over 200 percent of most people’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A, making it an outstanding option for optical health.
Pumpkin also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that are thought to help prevent cataracts and may even slow the development of macular degeneration.