Tag Archives: Health

Winter Solstice, December 21, 2017

FYI New Picture of the day has been posted.

To be more precise Winter Solstice (shortest day of this year) will arrive at:
11:28 am EST – 10:28 am CST – 9:28 am MST – 8:28 am PST, December 21, 2017

After Winter Solstice, day by day we will have a minute or so longer daylight hours as we move slowly thru Winter and seek the longer warming days of Spring planting time.

Meantime evaluate what plants did well in your garden during the 2017 growing season. What you did right and not so right. Carefully consider what vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries are well suited to your USDA hardness zone and length of your growing season.

Get out your Big Chief note pad and purple crayola sketch out you 2018 garden plan. Try not to plant the same crops in the same location year after year. Consider adding a few rows of nitrogen fixing plants to your garden.

* Useful nitrogen fixing plants for your consideration.
Alfalfa, Clover, Cowpea(Black eye pea), Peanut, Snap pea, Snow pea, Soybean.
Clover will tolerate light foot traffic and maybe well suited to sow between rows of vegetables. Used as a ground cover clover will help shade and crowd out undesirable weeds as well.

Merry Christmas and to all a good night.

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Not Politically Correct Seasons Greetings – Merry Christmas

Tis 21 days till Christmas.
A mess is all around the house.
Even my mouse is seeking a better house.

Think before you spend. Young children are more likely to play with the box your expensive gift came in.

Older children, like me, would prefer to be with family, sharing the warmth of the fire, laughing, getting kid hugs, hugs from older kids, like my 48 year old are some of the best.

Merry Christmas to all

Pepper – Easy to grow

Easy to grow peppers is the last of this ‘Easy to grow’ series … really. I won’t bore you with any more Easy to grow post. 🙂 Thank you for taking time to visit my little blog.

Peppers are a warm season crop. Red and green peppers are good sources of vitamin C, some vitamin A, and small amounts of several minerals. Red peppers have more vitamin A than green peppers.

Peppers are good consumed raw or cooked. Eat them as a snack, use them to decorate food, add them to salads and casseroles. You can also stuff peppers with seasoned bread crumbs and or meat and bake them. Of course you may want to pickle some of your pepper crop.

Peppers grow in all types of soils but do best in heavier, well drained soils. Plant them in areas that receive at least 6 hours of sunlight each day.

Work your soil 8 to 10 inches deep and rake it several times to break up the large clods. Work the soil only when it is dry enough not to stick to garden tools. Incorporate large amounts of organic matter into the soil, especially if you are planting in heavy clay soil. You can use compost, peat moss, rotted hay, or other organic matter.

Only a few pepper plants will feed most families, it maybe best to buy pepper plants rather than grow them from seed. Buy healthy plants that are 4 to 6 inches tall. About three to four hot pepper plants and eight to ten sweet pepper plants usually are enough for a family of four.

If you plant from seed, soil germination temperature for pepper is 70 F to 95 F. Pepper will not germinate when the soil temperature is below 55 F.
Tip Sweet peppers may germinate well when soil temperature reaches 70 or 75 degrees F, however the hotter your pepper variety the higher the soil temperature must be for good seed germination. Hot peppers may not germinate below 80 or 85 degrees F soil temperature.
Days to emergence: 7 to 10 with a soil temperatures around 85 F.

Peppers can be temperamental when it comes to setting fruit if temperatures are too hot or too cool. Daytime temperatures above 95 F or nighttime temperatures below 60 F or above 75 F can reduce fruit set.
Too much nitrogen fertilizer may promote lush vegetative growth but fewer fruits. Peppers usually responds well to phosphorus fertilizer. Look for something NPK 5-10-5.

At planting time add 2 to 3 pounds of fertilizer such as NPK 10-10-10 per 100 square feet of garden area. Spread the fertilizer evenly over the garden. Work it into the soil.

If you will plant single plants, place about 2 level tablespoons of fertilizer on the soil in the planting area. Mix it well with the soil.

Water the plants enough to keep them from wilting. Slow, deep watering helps the root system grow strong. Do not let pepper plants wilt because this will reduce yield and quality of the fruit.

After the first fruit begins to enlarge, place about 2 tablespoons of fertilizer, something like NPK 5-10-5, around each plant about 6 inches from the stem. Water the plant after adding the fertilizer. This will increase the yield and the quality of the peppers.

Peppers can be harvested at any size. If you pick the peppers as they mature, the yields will be greater. The first peppers should be ready 8 to 10 weeks after transplanting.

Pick bell peppers when they become shiny, firm, and dark green. If left on the plant, most peppers will turn red and are still good to eat.

Harvest most hot peppers when they turn red or yellow, depending on the variety. Jalapeños are mature when they reach good size and develop a deep, dark green sheen.
Note Hot types will be much milder when harvested small, young and tender. They will become hotter if left on the plant and began to mature.

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Cucumbers – Easy to grow

Cucumbers, soup, salad and pickles. Cucumbers can do it all.

Cucumbers are mostly grown for eating fresh or preserved as pickles. They are high water usage plants that mature quickly and are best suited to larger gardens. However, they can be grown in small areas if the plants are caged or trellised.

Although cucumbers do best in loose sandy loam soil, they can be grown in any well drained soil. Cucumbers must be grown in full sunlight. Because their roots reach 36 to 48 inches deep, do not plant them where tree roots will rob them of water and nutrients.

Cucumbers are grown for slicing or for pickling. The cucumbers best suited for slicing are 6 to 8 inches long and 1 inch or more in diameter when mature.
Hint For a mild flavor harvest daily when they are still small and tender.
Cucumbers grown for pickling are 3 to 4 inches long and up to 1 inch in diameter at maturity. Either type can be used for pickling if picked when small.

Cucumbers require plenty of water and fertilizer. Scatter 1 cup of a complete fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or 10-20-10 for each 10 feet of row. Work the fertilizer into the soil and leave the surface smooth. When the vines are about 10 to 12 inches long, apply about 1/2 cup of fertilizer for each 10 feet of row or 1 tablespoon per plant.

Many insecticides are available at garden centers for homeowner use. Sevin is a synthetic insecticide; organic options include Bt-based insecticides and sulfur. Sulfur also has fungicidal properties and helps control many diseases. Before using a pesticide, read the label and always follow cautions, warnings, and directions.

Harvest cucumbers when they reach the desired size and are green in color. Do not wait until they turn yellow. Yellow cucumbers are over mature and will have a strong flavor.

Hint Limited space? Think vertical grow your cucumbers on a trellis to save valuable garden space.

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Mustard and Turnip greens – Easy to grow

Turnips and mustards, members of the cabbage family, cool season crops that must be grown in the cool temperatures of early spring and fall.

Mustard is grown only for it’s leaves. Turnip is a dual purpose crop the leaves are used for greens, and the root is cooked similar to potatoes and beets.
When cooked properly, mustard and turnip greens are high in minerals and vitamins A and C.

Turnips can be used either for greens or for roots.
A variety developed for root production can be harvested for greens.
However, a variety developed for greens will not produce a good root.
Mustard varieties can be broadleaved or curled. Broadleaved mustard has a wide, flat leaf. Curled leaf mustard produces narrow, wrinkled leaves like those of spinach. Curled mustard will stand colder temperatures and can be grown later into the winter than can broadleaved mustard.

Mustard and turnips like a full sun location. For best production, they also need well drained soil.

Hint Mustard works well as a border to a flower bed or sidewalk. Both the broadleaf and curled leaf varieties are attractive and add green to a flower bed.
Mustard and turnip greens are also easily grown in window boxes and containers on an apartment balcony or patio.

Mustard and turnip seeds will sprout if the soil temperature is 40 degrees F or higher.
For a fall crop, start planting 8 to 10 weeks before the first expected frost. Sprinkle the row regularly with water to prevent soil crusting until the small plants break through. Under good conditions, most of the plants should be up in 3 to 7 days.
For a continuous supply of fresh, tender mustard and turnip greens, make two or three plantings 10 days apart.

Turnips and mustards need adequate nitrogen to develop a dark green color. At planting scatter 2 to 3 pounds of complete garden fertilizer such as NPK 15-5-10 over each 100 square feet. If only one row is to be planted, use 1 cup of fertilizer for each 10 feet of row.

Spring planted mustard and turnip greens are good until the weather gets hot. Too much heat causes them to be tough and strong flavored. Harvest mustard greens when they are young and tender. Cut the large outer leaves and leave the inner leaves to continue growing.

Turnip varieties produce greens in 40 days.
Turnip roots generally take 50 to 60 days to produce. Harvest turnip greens by pulling the entire plant when the leaves are 4 to 6 inches long. Turnip roots can be harvested when they are 2 inches in diameter. If left longer they will get tough and stringy.

Tip Cook greens in 1 tbs olive oil and 1 tbs butter. (Optionally add 1 whole clove peeled garlic.) Use only the water that remains on the leaves after washing. Cook greens in a pan with a tight fitting lid until they are tender. (Do not overcook them.)

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Spinach & Other Greens – Easy to grow

Greens include all leafy green vegetables. They are grown mostly for their tender leaves. Common green vegetables include spinach, New Zealand spinach, Swiss chard, dandelion, and kale.

Most greens are cool season crops and must be grown in the early spring or fall in usda zones 7 – 9. Some greens, especially kale, will withstand temperatures below freezing and can be grown all winter in many areas.

Greens grow best in a well drained soil with lots of organic matter. They prefer full sunlight but will tolerate partial shade.
Spinach has a deep taproot so the soil must be worked at least 8 to 10 inches deep. Dig the soil in the early spring when it is dry enough not to stick to garden tools. Work the soil into planting beds about 4 inches high.
This is especially important in heavy soils. Add compost or other organic matter before digging the soil.

Spinach is a heavy feeder and grows best when given plenty of fertilizer. Adequate nitrogen is needed to develop the dark green leaf color. Before planting the seeds, apply a general garden fertilizer such as 10-10-10 at the rate of 2 to 3 pounds per 100 square feet.
About 30 days after the plants come up, scatter 1 ⁄4 cup of garden fertilizer beside the plants for every 10 feet of row and water thoroughly.

Plant spinach as early as the soil can be worked in the spring or in August or later in the fall. The high temperatures and long days of summer cause spinach to “bolt” or produce a seed stalk that makes it unusable for food.
Hint Malabar and New Zealand spinach are good substitutes for spinach during hot weather, they tolerate high temperatures but don’t tolerate colder temperatures.
Seeds of Malabar and New Zealand spinach are slow to germinate.

Swiss chard is sometimes called summer spinach but is actually a member of the beet family and has a taste similar to that of beet greens. Swiss chard is very tolerant of heat and light freezes and can be harvested all year in many areas.

Kale is a cool season crop that should be planted in early spring or late fall. It is sometimes called “flowering cabbage” and makes a good border for flower beds or sidewalks.

Water plants thoroughly each week, and do not allow the plants to wilt. Water is needed more often in hot weather and in light soils. When watering, make sure to thoroughly soak the soil. This encourages crop roots to grow deeper into the soil, which helps them withstand dry periods better. Mulches help prevent soil from losing moisture and are good at controlling weeds.

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Horseradish – Easy to grow

Horseradish is a easy to grow root crop of the crucifer family which has an oil that contains the sulfur compound allyl isothyocyanate. This compound imparts the strong pungent odor and hot, biting flavor to the root.
The roots are carrot like in shape, usually rough and white to cream in color. The plant may grow to a height of three feet.
Caution Leaves have no culinary value and contain a slightly poisonous compound.

Horseradish plants will grow well in usda zones 4 to 8 in fertile, well drained soils. They are propagated by planting pieces of side roots that are taken from the main root. The roots are planted in late winter or early spring. Horseradish is difficult to eradicate once it is established. New plants regenerate from root bits left in the soil. Horseradish is harvested in late fall in most areas.
Mulch deeply to help retain soil moisture and control weeds.

Look for roots that are free of blemishes and bruises and that are creamy white in color. The roots should be fairly turgid and firm. Horseradish is best if utilized shortly after harvesting.

Horseradish goes well with most beef dishes.
** Try this sandwich spread on your next BBQ beef sandwich for your new favorite spread.
This is a simple basic quick easy to make horseradish sauce that will keep a week or more refrigerated in an airtight container.

1 cup sour cream or (Optionally use Mayonnaise)
1/4 cup grated fresh horseradish
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
* Optional 1 clove grated garlic
* Optional 1 tsp grated lemon rind
* Optional pinch of red pepper flakes
* Optional garnish with chopped chives

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Melons – Easy to grow

Melons, pumpkins and squash are all easy to grow and have similar growth habits, water and fertilizer needs. However they do require a lot of garden space for their vines to spread.

Melons grow best on a deep, well drained, sandy or sandy loam soil with plenty of organic matter. Heavy soils with a lot of clay often cause small, weak plants that produce fewer melons. Melons prefer soils with a neutral pH, and if the soil is too acidic the plants will drop their blossoms.

Apply manure or compost at 50 to 100 pounds per 1,000 square feet, or about 2 to 4 tons per acre, to build the organic matter content of the soil. Turn the soil over so all organic matter is covered completely.

Melons require well drained soils, work the soil into ridges or hills 4 to 8 inches high and 12 to 14 inches wide for planting. Heavier soils require higher ridges.

Place the rows of muskmelons and honeydews 6 to 8 feet apart.
Rows of irrigated watermelons 10 to 12 feet apart, and rows of un-irrigated watermelons 12 to 16 feet apart.

Melons are warm-season crops and are easily injured by frost. Do not plant seeds until the soil warms in the spring and all danger of frost is past. Plant the seeds in hills. Plant groups of six to eight seeds at a depth of 1 to 1-1/2 inches. Fine sandy soils or heavy clay soils often crust when dry, so if the weather is dry after planting, the hill may need moistening to soften the soil.

Melons do best with small amounts of fertilizer in two or three applications. Apply fertilizer in a band along the row for best results.

For watermelons, apply a fertilizer high in phosphorous, such as 10-10-10, at a rate of 4 pounds per 1,000 square feet (60 to 90 feet of row). Make a trench on the planting bed 4 to 6 inches deep and 2 inches from the side of the row. Cover the fertilizer and plant so seeds do not touch the fertilizer. Before the runners on the vines are about 6 inches long, scatter 2 to 3 pounds of fertilizer per 60 to 90 feet of row 2 to 3 feet to the side of the row and mix it lightly with the soil.

Fertilize muskmelons and honeydews with 2 to 3 pounds of fertilizer for every 60 to 70 feet of row. Phosphorous, the second number on the fertilizer label, is most important for muskmelons at planting, and nitrogen is important when the vines begin to run. Make the second fertilizer application to the side of the row when vines begin to run.

Judging the ripeness of watermelons requires skill and experience. Some signs of ripeness in watermelons are:

Dull sound when thumped. This varies with the gardener and the size and type of melon and often is inaccurate.
Change in color of rind. Ripe melons often lose their glossy color.
Change in color of soil spot. The spot where the melon rests on the soil takes on a creamy, streaked color.
Death or drying of the tendril. The tendril near the point where the melon is attached to the vine dries when ripe. This is the most dependable sign.

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Ginger – Easy to grow

Ginger is grown for its aromatic, pungent, and spicy rhizomes, which are often referred to as ginger roots.

Active components in ginger are gingerols, which are responsible for its distinct fragrance and flavor.
Gingerols are powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that can help alleviate the pain caused by arthritis.
Studies have also shown that ginger helps boost the immune system, protect against colorectal cancer, and induce cell death in ovarian cancer.

Depending on the variety, the flesh may be yellow, white, or red. The skin is cream-colored to light brown and may be thick or thin, depending on the plant’s maturity at harvest.

Ginger thrives best in warm, humid climates. Choose a site that provides plenty of light, including 2 to 5 hours of direct sunlight. Ideal spots are also protected from strong winds.

The best soil for ginger is loose, loamy, and rich in organic matter. Loamy soils allow water to drain freely, which will help prevent the rhizomes from becoming waterlogged. Thick mulch can also provide nutrients, retain water, and help control weeds.

Before planting, cut the ginger rhizome into 1- to 1½-inch pieces, and set them aside for a few days to allow the cut surface area to heal and form a callus. In early spring, plant ginger rhizomes. Each piece should be plump with well developed growth buds, or eyes.
Note: If you are buying ginger from a store, soak the rhizomes in water overnight because they are sometimes treated with a growth retardant.

Plant the rhizomes 6 to 8 inches apart, 2 to 4 inches deep with the growth buds pointing upward. They can be planted whole or in smaller pieces with a couple of growing buds. Ginger plants will grow to about 2 to 3 feet tall.

Add a slow release organic fertilizer at planting. Afterward, liquid fertilizer may be applied every few weeks.

Soil amendments are especially needed in regions of heavy rainfall, where rain can leach essential nutrients from the soil. You can also add compost, which will supply nutrients as well as retain water in the soil. Ginger roots benefit from fertilizer containing high levels of phosphorus (P), something like NPK 5-20-5.

Do not allow the plants to dry out while they are actively growing. As the weather cools, reduce watering. This will encourage the plants to form underground rhizomes. In dry areas, mist or spray plants regularly. Avoid overwatering.

Ginger is typically available in two forms:
Young ginger is usually available only in Asian markets and does not need to be peeled.
Mature ginger is more readily available and has a tough skin that needs to be peeled.

Ginger is a good source of copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and vitamin B6. Historically, it has been used to relieve symptoms of gastrointestinal distress.

The level of flavor that ginger delivers to a meal depends on when it is added during the cooking process. Added early, it will give a hint of flavor; adding it toward the end will bring about a more pungent taste.

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Dill – Easy to grow

Dill is a perennial herb that typically reaches 2 to 4 feet tall at maturity. Its leaves are used fresh or dried as an herb in dips, soups, salads, and other dishes. The seeds are used as a spice for pickling and for adding flavor to stews and roasts.

Dill will grow well in poor soil conditions. But it grows best in well drained, sandy or loamy soil that is slightly acidic (pH 5.8 to 6.5). Dill likes a soil temperature near 70°F.

Dill can also be easily grown in containers, both indoors and outdoors. Choose a deep container to accommodate the tall plant and its long roots. Use normal potting compost and keep the plants well watered.

If the container is inside, place the plants where they will receive at least 5 to 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. You may need to support the plants with a stake. Dill plants will be ready for harvest within about 8 to 12 weeks after the seeds were sown.
Dill contain the most flavors if picked before flowering begins.

Fertilizer may be broadcast (spread on the surface throughout the planting) or applied as a side dressing (applied to the soil on or around the sides of the plant).

In general, apply a formulation such as NPK 20-20-20 once in late spring at the rate of 0.70 pound per 100 square feet. A better formulation that doesn’t apply too much phosphorus is 15-5-10, and it is available at most garden centers. When using 15-5-10, apply 1 pound per 100 square feet.

To save Dill seed and the flowers form, they will bloom and seed. Cut the seed heads 2 to 3 weeks after bloom. Place the cuttings in paper bags, and allow to dry. The seeds will fall off when they are ready to be used.

Dill is a member of the parsley family. While it is possible to buy and use dried dill, dill is one of those herbs that loses its flavor rapidly, so fresh is always your best choice.​

Dill is an herb that is particularly tasty with salmon. It can be paired with salmon in any number of ways.

Dill Sauce for (fish) Salmon. Stir half a cup of finely chopped dill into a cup of plain yogurt. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and optionally a clove of minced garlic. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Dill flavored vinegar.
1 – cup dill weed add 2 cups 2-1/2 percent acid rice vinegar
* Optionally use 1 cup water with 1 cup 5 percent acid white vinegar.
Allow to set 5 – 7 days in a dark cool place.
This will keep for a month or more.

Dill flavored oil.
1 – cup dill weed add 2 cups olive oil.
Allow to set 5 – 7 days in a dark cool place.
Strain out dill weed. This will keep for 1 or even 2 weeks.

Hint Posted by wordsfromanneli | November 21, 2017
Dill freezes nicely. I put a clump of leaves and seeds into a ziploc and keep it on the door of my fridge freezer. I take it out when I need it and use the scissors (or a knife) to snip the amount I need. Then I wrap it up again and put the rest back in the freezer. Very handy and almost as good as fresh.

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