Tag Archives: fruit

Are You pH Neutral?

Universities are loaded with useful information.
pH Charts indicating the optimum pH level for Fruit, Herb and Vegetable gardens.

Fruit
Trees

Apple 5.5-6.5

Blueberry, high bush 4.5-5.5

Cherry, sweet 6.5-8.0

Pear, common 6.5-7.5

Plum, American 6.5-8.5

Raspberry, black 5.5-7.0

Raspberry, red 6.0-7.5

Strawberry 5.5-6.5

Grapes 5.5-7.0
Vegetable
Crops
Asparagus 6.0-8.0

Beans 6.0-7.0

Beets 6.5-8.0

Broccoli 6.0-7.0

Cabbage 6.0-7.5

Cantaloupe 6.0-7.5

Carrots 5.5-7.0

Corn 5.5-7.5

Cucumbers 5.5-7.0

Eggplant 5.5-6.5

Lettuce 6.0-7.0

Onions 6.0-7.0

Peas 6.0-7.5

Peppers 5.5-7.0

Potatoes 4.8-6.5

Sweet Potatoes 5.2-6.0

Radishes 6.0-7.0

Rhubarb 5.5-7.0

Spinach 6.0-7.5

Squash 6.0-7.0

Tomatoes 5.5-7.5
Herb
Garden
Basil 5.5 – 6.5
Chives 6.0 – 7.0
Fennel 5.0 – 6.0
Garlic 5.5 – 7.5
Ginger 6.0 – 8.0
Marjoram 6.0 – 8.0
Mint 7.0 – 8.0
Parsley 5.0 – 7.0
Peppermint 6.0 – 7.5
Rosemary 5.0 – 6.0
Sage 5.5 – 6.5
Spearmint 5.5 – 7.5
Stevia 6.7 – 7.2
Thyme 5.5 – 7.0

No more endless charts. Really!

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Candy Apples – Popcorn Balls – Not Just For Halloween

candy-apples1 Source Candy Apples

It doesn’t get any easier than this.

Ingredients
Unsalted butter, for parchment paper
{aluminum foil and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray}
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring, (optional)
1/2 cup red cinnamon candies, like Red Hots
6 to 12 Smallish size Apples (6 medium apples, or 12 lady apples)

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 degrees and 310 degrees (hard crack stage), about 20 minutes.
* {Once the candy reaches 250, add the cinnamon flavor candies and stir briefly to incorporate}
Insert a wooden stick into the top of each apple, pushing about halfway through; set aside. When mixture reaches temperature, immediately remove from heat. Working quickly, dip apples in sugar mixture until completely coated. Transfer to prepared baking sheet; allow to cool.

** Caramel apples
6 apples
1 (14 ounce) package individually wrapped caramels, unwrapped
2 tablespoons milk

Remove the stem from each apple and press a craft stick into the top. Butter a baking sheet.
Place caramels and milk in a microwave safe bowl, and microwave 2 minutes, stirring once. Allow to cool briefly.
Roll each apple quickly in caramel sauce until well coated. Place on prepared sheet to set.

Easy candied Apples
Old-fashioned style candied apples
Caramel, Chocolate and Candy Apples

Libbys classic pumpkin pie
Homemade Pumpkin Pie – from Real Pumpkins
Betty Crocker Pumpkin pie

Easy Popcorn Balls
Pioneer Woman Popcorn Balls
Traditional Popcorn Balls
Hint Put small popcorn balls on a wooden skewer.

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Happy Fall gardening

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Fruit Trees – Fall & Spring Is Planting Season

A rework, updated from my 2011 post ‘Plant The Best Fruit / Nut Trees Suited To Your Temperature / Chilling Hours Zone.’

Fruit Varieties for Milder Climates

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 so, 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 all that new growth appearing in spring and summer.
Apple

Important Chilling hour 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.
Common fruit tree Variety chilling hour requirements: Chilling Hour Chart

Some fruit and nut trees may require few (low) chilling hour needs 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 growers what species and variety does well for them.

Fertilizing your fruit tree(s). Roger Cook (This Old House) said “Most people don’t know that fruit trees need different fertilizer than other types of trees. Most trees get a fertilizer with a 4-1-1 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, potash. But giving that much nitrogen to a fruit tree will encourage it to put out a tremendous flush of vegetative growth with very few flowers and not much fruit.

A low nitrogen 1-1-1 or 1-2-1 ratio is better. Ideally, the nitrogen component should be half water insoluble, or slow release, and half water soluble. Water-insoluble nitrogen breaks down slowly and feeds the tree over a period of months. Compost or horse and chicken manure are great slow release fertilizers. Water-soluble nitrogen breaks down all at once when it comes in contact with water and gives the tree a quick spurt.

Fertlize fruit in the fall or winter, before they go into dormancy and can’t absorb the nutrients. Check with a local nursery or co-operative extension service for the best time to do this in your area.”

Fruit trees for northern gardeners.
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Swap Your Bad Habit For A Worst Habit

People with celiac disease have a reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, or rye. Other people jump on the gluten free bandwagon as a way to lose weight. This is not an effective approach “Many packaged, pre made gluten free foods are often higher in calories, sugar, salt, and fat and lower in valuable nutrients like fiber and iron.” To avoid gluten try naturally gluten free foods such as fruit, corn, brown rice, legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy, oatmeal.

Whole fat dairy or fat free? Your waistline may thank you for choosing full fat milk and yogurt over fat free.
Sticking to skim milk products may increase your risk for belly fat obesity. Men in a 2013 study who consumed high fat milk dairy products were less likely to become obese in their midsections over 12 years compared to men who consumed a medium amount and even less so than those who never or rarely ate high fat dairy. “Fat slows down digestion and helps you feel satisfied.” For milk lovers looking to drop pounds or follow American Heart Association guidelines, Goodson suggests a compromise by switching to low fat (such as 1% milk), not fat free (skim milk), dairy products.

Margarine isn’t a better choice than butter for heart health. “Stick margarines are often made through a process called hydrogenation, transforming liquid oil into a solid, resulting in the creation of trans fats, which decrease good cholesterol and increase bad cholesterol.” British Medical Journal showed a clear link between trans fats and heart disease, while butter and other saturated fats were not associated with an increased risk of death, stroke, type 2 diabetes, or heart disease.

Energy bar will give you a quick jolt, but then you’ll crash. Energy bars are often packed with hidden sugars such as agave syrup, rice syrup, and high fructose corn syrup, as well as highly addictive sugar substitutes like sucralose, and ‘natural flavors’ that aren’t truly natural.” One energy bar that contains 120 calories contains only 2 grams of protein and very few nutrients.

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How To Turn A Healthy Salad Into A Not So Healthy Salad

salad Eating a hearty salad can flood your cells with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Until you turn it into a fat laden salad covered with a bunch of sneaky toppings that sabotage it’s nutritional value.

Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, Plant-Based Dietitian said “if you have a sweet tooth, it’s easy to think dried fruit will both satisfy you while providing nutrition. You should skip the Craisins or mango strips. Dried fruit looses its water and turns calorie dense in the dehydrating process. It (dry fruit) also often contains added oils and sugars.”

Hint: Add sweetness in your salad, try using fresh grapes, apples, or blueberries for a fiber punch with less sugar. All fresh fruit from everyday oranges to tropical pineapple are welcome additions to salads since they’re plentiful in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

If you think a sprinkling of salted nuts are fair game to swirl into your nutritious salad, but think again. These are also typically roasted in unhealthy fats which are terrible for your heart and body. Plus, they are way higher in fat and calories and the excess sodium they provide is terrible for blood pressure.

Fat free salad dressing should be renamed, ‘high sugar dressing.’ Also most of these dressings are usually loaded with other chemicals and don’t even taste that good.

Creamy salad dressings are often loaded in unhealthy saturated fats and calories. They also contain many chemical ingredients, sugars and additives which can turn your healthy salad into a completely unhealthy.

Hint: Make your own homemade salad dressing with extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil that are heart healthy, great for your body and help absorb those precious nutrients vegetables provide.

Your eyes may be begging for a handful of croutons to top your salad, but doing so won’t do much for its nutritional prowess. While they may provide a satisfying crunch, the croutons you buy at stores are basically empty calories with no added health benefits.

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Freezing Homegrown Tomato’s Is Easy

Freezing Raw Tomatoes (with or without their skins).

Frozen tomatoes are best used in cooked dishes such as soups, sauces and stews. Tomatoes become mushy when they’re thawed for use.

To quickly freeze raw tomatoes without blanching them first.Tomatoes may be frozen whole, sliced, chopped, or puréed.
Tomatoes should be seasoned just before serving not ate the time they are prepared for freezing. Freezing may strengthen or weaken seasonings flavors such as garlic, onion, and herbs.

Washing tomatoes, wet each tomato with water, rub its surface, rinse it with running water, and dry it with a paper towel. After washing, cut away the stem scar and surrounding area and discard it before slicing or chopping the tomato.

Washing tomatoes in a sink filled with water is not recommended since contaminated water can be absorbed through the fruit’s stem scar. The use of soap or detergent is not recommended for washing fruits and vegetables because they can absorb detergent residues.

Dry them well by blotting with a clean cloth or paper towels.

Freezing whole tomatoes with peels on: Wash and clean tomatoes as described above.
Cut away the stem scar. Place the tomatoes on cookie sheets and freeze.
Note Tomatos may be placed directly in bags and frozen. Limit the number of tomato’s in each bag to the number anticipated for 1 meal or dish.

Tomatoes do not need to be blanched before freezing. Once frozen, transfer the tomatoes from the cookie sheets into freezer bags or other containers. Seal tightly.
Using frozen tomatoes, remove them from the freezer a few at a time or all at once. To peel, just run a frozen tomato under warm/hot tap water in the kitchen sink. Its skin will slip off easily.

Freezing peeled tomatoes: If you prefer to freeze peeled tomatoes, you can wash the tomatoes and then dip them in boiling water for about 1 minute or until the skins split. Peel and then freeze as described above.

Source Freezing Raw Tomatoes (with or without their skins)

Source Freezing Tomatoes – National Center for Home Food Preservation

Approximate Yields for Canned or Frozen Fruits & Vegetables
Raw Products Measure & Weight Approximate Quart Jars or Containers Needed Approximate Pounds Needed for 1 Quart Jar or Container
Fruits
Apples 1 bushel (48 pounds) 16 to 20 2½ to 3
Apples (for sauce) 1 bushel (48 pounds) 15 to 18 2½ to 3½
Apricots 1 lug (24 pounds) 9 to 12 2 to 2½
Berries (except strawberries & cranberries) 24-quart crate (36 pounds) 12 to 18 1½ to 3 (1- to 2-quart boxes)
Cantaloupes 1 crate (60 pounds)   1 large melon
Cherries
(with stems)
1 bushel (56 pounds) 22 to 32 (unpitted) 2 to 2½
1 lug (box) (15 pounds) 6 to 7 (unpitted) 2 to 2½
Cranberries 1 bushel (100 pounds) 100 1
1 box (25 pounds) 25 1
Figs 1 box (6 pounds) 2 to 3 2 to 2½
Grapes 1 bushel (48 pounds) 10 to 12 4
Grapes, Western 1 lug (28 pounds) 7 to 8 4
Grapes, Eastern 12 – quart basket (18 pounds) 3 to 4 4
4 – quart basket (6 pounds) 1 4
Grapefruit
Florida, Texas &
California
1 bag or ½ box (40 pounds) 5 to 8 4 to 6 fruits
1 box (65 pounds) 8 to 13 4 to 6 fruits
Nectarines Flat (18 pounds) 6 to 9 2 to 3
Peaches 1 bushel (50 pounds) 19 to 25 2 to 2½
Pears 1 bushel (50 pounds) 20 to 25 2 to 2½
1 box (46 pounds) 19 to 23 2 to 2½
1 crate (22 pounds) 8 to 11 2 to 2½
Pineapple (with top) 1 crate (70 pounds) 20 to 28 2½  (2 average)
Plums 1 crate (70 puunds) 28 to 35 2 to 2½
1 bushel (56 pounds) 24 to 30 2 to 2½
Rhubarb 15 pounds 7 to 11 2
Strawberries 24-quart crate (36 pounds) 12 to 16 6 to 8 cups
1 crate (60 pounds) 17 to 23 2½ to 3½
1 lug (32 pounds) 9 to 12 2½ to 3½
Tomatoes (for juice) 1 bushel (53 pounds) 12 to 16 3 to 3½
1 crate (60 pounds) 17 to 20 3 to 3½
1 lug (32 pounds) 8 to 10 3 to 3½
Vegetables
Asparagus 1 bushel (24 pounds) 8 to 12 2 to 3
1 crate (30 pounds) 10 to 15 2 to 3
Beans, lima
(in pods)
1 bushel (30 pounds) 5 to 8 4 to 5
Beans, green or wax 1 bushel (30 pounds) 15 to 20 1½ to 2
Beets (without tops) 1 bushel (52 pounds) 17 to 20 2½ to 3
Broccoli 1 crate (25 pounds) 10 to 12 2 to 3
Brussels Sprouts 4 quarts 1 to 1½ 2
Cabbage 1 bag or 1 crate (50 pounds) 16 to 20> 2½ to 3
Cabbage, Western 1 crate (80 pounds) 26 to 32 2½ to 3
Carrots
(without tops)
1 bushel (50 pounds) 16 to 20 2½ to 3
Cauliflower 1½-bushel crate (37 pounds) 12 to 18 2 medium heads
Corn, Sweet
(in husks)
1 bushel (35 pounds) 8 to 9 (as kernels) 4 to 5
Cucumbers 1 bushel (48 pounds) 24 to 30 1½ to 2
Eggplant 1 bushel (33 pounds)> 15 to 18 2 average
Greens 1 bushel (18 pounds) 8 to 9 2 to 3
Okra 1 bushel (30 pounds) 19 to 21
Peas, Field 1 bushel (25 pounds) 6 to 7 3½ to 4

Peas, Green
(in pods)

1 bushel (30 pounds) 6 to 8 4 to 5
Peppers 1 bushel (25 pounds) 17 to 21 1¹⁄3
Potatoes, Irish 1 bushel (60 pounds) 18 to 22 2½ to 3
Pumpkin     1½ to 3
Spinach 1 bushel (20 pounds) 4 to 9 2 to 6
Squash (Summer) 1 bushel (40 pounds) 16 to 20 2 to 3
Squash (Winter)     3
Sweet Potatoes (cured) 1 bushel (50 pounds) 16 to 25 2 to 3

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Happy Fall gardening

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Ear Worms

Who ever eats the most corn gets the most worms.

Even with the rain brought to me by Tropical Storm BILL, I still managed to harvest my first sweet corn planting. In all I fed 5 adults, 3 great grand sons all the sweet corn they could eat.
That left me with about 30 ears to bag and put in my freezer.

Tropical Storm BILL moved in Wednesday morning dropping 1 – 7/8 inches of rain before turning north east headed for Missouri.

Nursery sucker list. This spring I ordered three grape vines. So I wasn’t all that surprised when I received a ‘Special’ offer on dwarf apple trees that the nursery had not sold this spring.

These Dwarf trees normally sell for around 20 – 24 dollars each. The clearance trees cost 9 dollars each. So I pretty much got 3 trees for the price of one at the nursery’s normal catalog price.
I opted for two Red delicious and one Golden Delicious apple trees.
The nursery recommended the Golden Delicious apple variety as a pollinator for the Red delicious apple trees and the Red to pollinate the Golden variety.

At 8 to 10 foot tall at maturity. These trees will fit in nicely in my cow/donkey proof garden area.

Yes I do know that dwarf trees will not be very productive when compared to semi-dwarf or standard size trees. But the truth is me or none of family are big into making jelly/jam or other wise canning fruit. Hence most if not all fruit produced will be consumed fresh or will find it’s way into the hog feeder.

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Growing Figs – Planting To Harvest (pt2)

Fig Tree Figs are easy to grow even as far north as USDA zone 5.
Do your homework. Select only varieties that are cold hardy in your USDA climate zone. Decide if you want to plant directly in your garden soil or in patio container(s).

No matter what the nursery sales person say’s, even self fertile types will produce more reliably and produce more fruit if you have at least two(2) figs planted within 20 feet of each other. Six(6) to ten(10) feet apart is better.

In USDA zones 5, 6 and 7 container grown figs are not as winter hardy as garden planted figs. To survive harsh winters containers must be moved indoors to locations that will prevent your figs root system from freezing.
Garden planted figs will benefit from a heavy layer of mulch applied after your first hard freeze. Hint Celeste, Brown Turkey, Hardy Chicago, Brunswick, Marseilles, and Osborne are some of the most winter hardy cultivars.

* Figs grown as a bush or shrub are easier to protect than those in a tree form.
* Pliable branches can be pinned to the ground and covered with burlap, old blankets or tarps.
* Some growers encircle their fig plant with chicken wire and fill in with insulating leaves, and straw. The top of the plant can be covered with a plastic tarp to shed rain, sleet, and snow.
* In the spring, remove the winter protection after all danger of frost.

Figs have a shallow root system. It is best Not to distrube soil under fig trees. Mulch to control weeds and to help retain soil moisture.

In the spring prune out ground suckers and remove all dead or weak wood. Mature plants usually have 3 to 8 main stems.
Caution Your skin may become irritated from contact with the milky, latex plant sap.

Figs require Full Sun, rich well drained soils whether in containers or garden planted. In heavy clay based soils consider planting your figs in raised beds amended with well rotted compost and peat moss. In containers the addition of perlite or vermiculite will enhance soil drainage.

Figs in containers, keep figs in full sun and water regularly. When fruits begin to form apply 2 to 3 gallons of water each day.
Harvesting Hint Figs do not ripen off the plant, so they should not be picked until they are fully colored and slightly soft.

Figs as with all trees do need to be fertilized from time to time. Do Not apply a high nitrogen fertilizer to your fig trees. Use a N-P-K fertilizer like 5-10-5 or similar ratio fertilizer. In my opinion it is best to apply fertilizer at 1/4 to 1/2 it’s recommended rate. Apply fertilized when you see buds forming and again every 8 to 10 weeks until your harvest ends or your first frost.

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Christmas Party Fruit Mix

Assorted fruits ‘your choice’. Berries any kind, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries go together well. Place fruit/berries in layers in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with 1 cup white sugar. Sprinkle with 1 cup good quality champagne. Mix well to coat fruit with sugar and champagne ‘Just’ before serving.

Hint Serve chilled or on a bed of ice.

Merry Christmas

Fresh Fruit Holiday

Stop don’t toss your almost over ripe fruit in the dumpster or compost pile. Wash well and de-seed your leftover fruit. Well everything except for berries that have all those tiny seeds.
If you have only a small amount of several different fruits, combine them to make a mixed fruit jam. Do not forget to through in any left over dry fruit, raisins, cranberry’s etc that you may have on hand.

Fine chop or use a blender or food processor. Put your chopped / processed fruit in a sauce pan. Add 1 or more sugar(to taste). Cover chopped fruit with fruit juice (the kind that you like) or use tap water. Heat to a slow boil, string often to dissolve sugar and to prevent scorching.

Bring to a hard(rapid) boil for about 20 minutes. Add pectin, continuing boiling another 5 minutes or so. remove from stove top, fill hot, sterilized jars. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 to 20 minutes. Carefully remove jars from boiling water bath. Allow to cool. This may take as much as 24 hours.
Check jar lid seals. Any jar that did not properly seal, store in your refrigerator and eat with in the next few days.

Like old Ben(Benjamin Franklin) and grandma said. Waste not want not.

Merry Christmas

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