Tag Archives: herbs

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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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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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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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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Thanksgiving Food Safety

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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Garden Success And Failures

Gardening season is ending and the often bewildering holiday season will be dominating our life for the next 2+ months. Fall colors and cool weather will give way to barren and snow covered landscapes and the cold weather of winter.

Now is a good time to look back and evaluate our gardening successes and failures. None of us want to admit that many of our garden failures, both flowering and vegetable were self inflicted.

We often ‘want’ and plant plants that we know or should know are not well suited to our climate and weather conditions. I know avocados will not survive in my climate, but that does not stop me from wanting them in my landscape. Sometimes my wants and desires override my Common Sense.
These failed crops and flowering plants are self inflicted.

Just because a seed package list a plant as being hardy in zone 7(my zone) does not mean it it suitable to withstand my high wind and dry summer heat. Many plants will bolt and produce seed heads. Die from drought stress, will not properly pollinate in the heat of summer. Some plants like an acid soil when I know my soil is mildly to highly alkaline.

Carefully evaluate what crop and just as important, what variety will grow and produce given your climate and weather conditions.

Ask local gardeners that successfully grow flowers and vegetables if you can collect a few seeds or maybe even do a bit of seed trading to improve your gardening success rate.

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America And Organic Labeling

Organic can mean different things to different people, so, I will use (USDA) United States Department of Agriculture’s definition for Organic farming and labeling products as Organic.

USDA said “organic” might appear as one more piece of information to decipher when shopping for foods. Understanding what “organic” really means can help shoppers make informed choices during their next visit to the supermarket or farmers’ market.

Produce can be called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

Organic meat, regulations require that animals are raised in living conditions accommodating their natural behaviors (like the ability to graze on pasture), fed 100% organic feed and forage, and not administered antibiotics or hormones.

When it comes to processed, multi-ingredient foods, the USDA organic standards specify additional considerations.
Regulations prohibit organically processed foods from containing artificial preservatives, colors, or flavors and require that their ingredients are organic, with some minor exceptions.
For example, processed organic foods may contain some approved non-agricultural ingredients, like enzymes in yogurt, pectin in fruit jams, or baking soda in baked goods.

USDA labeling: “100 percent organic”

“100 percent organic” can be used to label any product that contains 100 percent organic ingredients (excluding salt and water, which are considered natural). Most raw, unprocessed farm products can be designated “100 percent organic.” Likewise, many value-added farm products that have no added ingredients—such as grain flours, rolled oats, etc. can also be labeled “100 percent organic.”

“Organic”

“Organic” can be used to label any product that contains a minimum of 95 percent organic ingredients (excluding salt and water). Up to 5 percent of the ingredients may be nonorganic agricultural products that are not commercially available as organic.

“Made with Organic ______” can be used to label a product that contains at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding salt and water). There are a number of detailed constraints regarding the ingredients that comprise the nonorganic portion.

Principal display panel: May state “made with organic (insert up to three ingredients or ingredient categories).” Must not include USDA organic seal anywhere, represent finished product as organic, or state “made with organic ingredients.”

Use Caution when shopping and buying organic foods at Farmers Markets. Sellers can and sometimes do sell produce as organic when in truth the produce may or may not truly be an organic product.

Exemptions & Exclusions
Producers who market less than $5,000 worth of organic products annually are not required to apply for organic certification. They must, however, comply with the organic production and handling requirements of the regulations, including recordkeeping (records must be kept for at least 3 years). The products from such noncertified operations cannot be used as organic ingredients in processed products produced by another operation; such noncertified products also are not allowed to display the USDA certified organic seal.

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