Tag Archives: homemade

Seed starter soil bocks

This is way to good not to share.

One of the things you see a lot in the garden center of the hardware store are little “seed starting kits” that come with disks of expanding peat moss and little customized plastic trays. These are charming, and hold lots of promise for the imaginative beginning gardener, but there’s a reason why gardening books don’t […]

via DIY Compressed Soil Block Maker — From the Ground Up

Don’t Water Your Garden And Orchard Weeds

Starting anew this spring.
I am attempting to make watering a few trees and grape vines easier on me yet insuring desirable plants get the maximum amount of water and undesirable weeds get a minimum amount of water.

Visiting my local farm store I found all the nifty parts to construct a ‘portable’ drip watering system.

Last summer I bought 2 new 50 foot water hoses. I got 2 – 50 foot hoses so I can disconnect at 50 feet to water chickens and a near by Maple tree without the need to drag 100 feet of hose behind me.

This spring I went to my local farm store and bought:
2 – brass quick disconnects – $4.99 (for 2 quick disconnects))
1 – brass ball shut off valve – $3.49
1 – mechanical water shut off timer – $9.99
* why is it everything cost $?.99 or ?.49 cents???

The layout:
Water shutoff timer is connected to freeze proof faucet. Attach water hose, use lots of duct tape to secure water host near the ground to the freeze proof faucet riser pipe. This should keep me or others from damaging the water timer by pulling on the hose and damaging the plastic parts of the timer.

Hose #1 attach to timer and attach quick disconnect ‘securely’ to other end of hose.
Hose #2 attach quick disconnects to female end and your ball valve shut off valve to the male end of your hose.

With this setup you can control your water supply and apply no more that about 5 gallons an hour directly at the base of your tree or grape vine. I plan on watering trees and vines once a week starting about the 1st of May through the end of September, maybe less if the mulch holds as much moisture as I am hoping it will. More control can be had by setting your timer to 15, 30 or 60 minutes before it automatically shuts of the water supply.

The pro’s 1. your don’t forget to check and shut off your faucet.
2. your hose is not setting in the hot summer sun under full water supply pressure, a real hose saver.
3. You are only watering your desirable plants and not your unwanted weeds.

The con’s, you will likely loose 1/4 to 1/3 faucet volume passing through the timer, quick disconnects and hose end ball valve. If you water by sprinkler this very well maybe a serious water flow reduction problem.

I have taken this one step further. My good neighbor delivered free of charge about 4 yards of wood chips. I am in the process of putting down a 4 foot circle of wood chips 6-8 inches deep around each tree and grape vine. Wood chips will help keep the soil cooled in out hot dry summer weather. It conserves soil moisture and is helpful in controlling unwanted weeds near the base of trees and vines.

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Salads and Pickles

bamboo cucumber trellis

Cucumber Bamboo Trellis

Cucumber is a tender, warm season vegetable that produces well when given proper care and protection. The vines of standard varieties grow rapidly and require substantial space. Vertical training methods and new dwarf varieties now allow cucumbers to be grown for slicing, salads and pickling, even in small garden plots.

Recommended Varieties

2017-02-03-18_40_03-ez-gardening-e-507_cucumbers-pdf
Long Green Slicing

Burpless (hybrid – 62 days to harvest; the original sweet, long, Chinese type hybrid; does well on a trellis).

Marketmore 76 (68 days; very uniform, dark green, straight fruit; multiple disease resistance).

Straight 8 (58 days; AAS winner a long time favorite; excellent flavor evenly dark green fruit).

cucumber wire trellis

Cucumber wire trellis

Long Green Slicing (compact plant)

Bush Crop (55 days to harvest; delicious; 6-8 inch fruit on dwarf, bushy plants)

Fanfare (hybrid – 63 days AAS winner; great taste; high yield; extended harvest; disease resistant).

Salad Bush (hybrid – 57 days; AAS winner; uniform 8 inch fruit on compact plants; tolerant to a wide variety of diseases

Pickling

Bush Pickle (48 days to harvest; compact plant; good for container growing)

Carolina (Hybrid – 49 days; straight, blocky fruits with white spines; medium-sized plant with good vigor; disease resistant)

When to Plant

Cucumbers are usually started by planting seeds directly in the garden. Plant after the danger of frost has passed, and the soil has warmed in the spring. Warm soil is necessary for germination of seeds and proper growth of plants. With ample soil moisture, cucumbers thrive in warm summer weather. A second planting for fall harvest may be made in mid- to late summer.

Cucumbers may be transplanted for extra early yields. Sow two or three seeds in peat pots, peat pellets or other containers 3 to 4 weeks before the frost free date. Thin to one plant per container. Plant transplants 1 to 2 feet apart in rows 5 to 6 feet apart when they have two to four true leaves. Do not allow transplants to get too large in containers or they will not transplant well. Like other vine crops, cucumbers do not transplant successfully when pulled as bare-root plants.

Spacing & Depth

row-planted-cucumbers Plant seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep and thin the seedlings to one plant every 12 inches in the row or to three plants every 36 inches in the hill system. If you use transplants, plant them carefully in warm soil 12 inches apart in the row.

Care

Cucumber plants have shallow roots and require ample soil moisture at all stages of growth. When fruit begins setting and maturing, adequate moisture becomes especially critical. For best yields, incorporate compost or well-rotted manure before planting. Cucumbers respond to mulching with soil-warming plastic in early spring or organic materials in summer. Use of black plastic mulch warms the soil in the early season and can give significantly earlier yields, especially if combined with floating row covers.

Side-dress with NPK 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 balanced fertilizer when the plants begin to vine. Cucumber beetles should be controlled from the time that the young seedlings emerge from the soil.

In small gardens, the vines may be trained on a trellis or fence. When the long, burpless varieties are supported, the cucumbers hang free and develop straight fruits. Winds whipping the plants can make vertical training impractical. Wire cages also can be used for supporting the plants. Do not handle, harvest or work with the plants when they are wet.

wood container cucumber trellis

Cucumber container grown on wood trellis

Harvesting

Pick cucumbers at any stage of development before the seeds become hard. Cucumbers usually are eaten when immature. The best size depends upon the use and variety. They may be picked when they are no more than 2 inches long for pickles, 4 to 6 inches long for dills and 6 to 8 inches long for slicing varieties. A cucumber is of highest quality when it is uniformly green, firm and crisp. The large, burpless cucumbers should be 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and up to 10 inches long. Some varieties can grow considerably larger. Do not allow cucumbers to turn yellow. Remove from the vine any missed fruits nearing ripeness so that the young fruits continue to develop. The cucumber fruit grows rapidly to harvest size and should be picked at least every other day.

Questions & Answers

Q. Some of my small cucumbers are badly misshapen. Will they develop into normal cucumbers?

A. No. They should be removed from the vines. Misshapen cucumbers may result from poor pollination or low fertility. Side-dressing with a complete fertilizer may help later cucumbers to develop normally.

Q. Why do some of my plants suddenly wilt and die? Dead or dying plants are scattered all over my cucumber patch. One plant in a hill may be healthy, while another dies.

A. These are typical symptoms of the bacterial wilt disease. This disease is spread by cucumber beetles early in the season. The beetles must be controlled immediately when the plants are small.

Q. Is there really a “burpless” cucumber?

A. Yes. Burpless cucumbers are no longer considered novelties and are offered in most garden catalogs. They are mild, sweet and crisp when fresh. The skin is tender and free of bitterness, although many people peel it off. Most varieties are long (10 to 12 inches) and curved, unless grown on a trellis. These varieties are better eaten fresh, using conventional varieties for most picklng uses.

Q. What cucumber variety should I buy for gherkins?

A. Buy the West Indian gherkin. It is a close relative of the garden cucumber used for pickling. The fruits are generally oval, 1 to 3 inches long and more spiny than cucumbers. They are also called “burr cucumbers” but are usually listed in catalogs as West Indian gherkin. They are grown in the same way as cucumbers. Small-fruited, prickly varieties of cucumber are sometimes sold as “gherkins.” If small, tender cucumbers are what you want to pickle and call “gherkins,” then these misnamed cucumber varieties serve the purpose well.

Q. Why do my cucumbers fail to set fruit and yield properly?

A. The first yellow flowers appearing on the plants are male flowers that provide pollen. These flowers normally drop off after blooming. The small cucumber is evident at the base of the female flower (even before it opens) and should develop into an edible fruit if properly pollinated. Anything that interferes with pollination of the female flowers reduces fruit set and yield, including cold temperatures and rainy weather that hamper bee activity or improper use of insecticides that kill bees.

Q. What are gynoecious hybrids?

A. Gynoecious (“female-flowering”) hybrids are special hybrids of slicing and pickling cucumbers that are advertised in many garden catalogs. Because they have all female flowers, they may be earlier and higher yielding than other varieties. Usually, the seed company mixes in a small proportion of seed of a standard cucumber as a pollinator.

Q. How far away from melons should I plant my cucumbers? I am concerned about cross pollination.

A. Contrary to popular opinion, cucumbers do not cross-pollinate with muskmelons or watermelons and cause them to become bitter, tasteless or off-flavor. Because cucumbers and melons require considerable space in the garden, however, plant the rows far enough apart for proper vine growth without overlapping.

Q. What causes my cucumber plants to be stunted? The leaves are a mottled yellow, and the fruits are blotchy and taste bitter.

A. This condition is caused by the cucumber mosaic virus. Grow mosaic-resistant varieties.

Q. What causes the white mold growth on the upper surfaces of my cucumber leaves?

A. This condition is caused by powdery mildew, a fungal disease that is most severe during late summer and fall plantings. Grow resistant varieties.

Harvest cucumbers early in the morning (before have been heated by the afternoon sun) and refrigerate immediately. Store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator in loose or perforated plastic bags. Supermarket cucumbers are covered with an edible wax to protect them from moisture loss. The wax gives them an unnatural sheen. Fresh cucumbers are dull green in color.

Pickling cucumbers — Pickling cucumbers should be picked every day, since they can quickly grow too large for use. Do not leave over-mature, yellow cucumbers on the vine. If a single cucumber is left on the vine, the vine will stop producing altogether.

Slicing cucumbers — Slicing cucumbers should be harvested as needed. But there is no practical use for baseball bat size cucumbers. They are tough and the seeds are woody. Harvest when they are 8 inches long or smaller. As with pickling cucumbers, remove the over mature ones as soon as you see them or they will halt the growth of new cucumbers.

Nutritional Value & Health Benefits

Cucumbers add a crisp snap to salads and sandwiches, however they are not a very good source of nutrients. The most abundant nutrient in cucumbers is water. A small amount of beta carotene is found in the green peel, but once peeled the level drops to nearly zero.

Nutrition Facts (6 large or 8 small raw cucumber slices with peel)

Calories 5
Protein trace
Dietary fiber 1 gram
Carbohydrates 1 gram
Calcium 7 mg
Vitamin A 70 IU
Vitamin C 3 mg
Iron trace

Preparation & Serving

Cucumbers are often soaked in salt water to remove some of the naturally high water content. Cucumbers will otherwise give up water and dilute the salad dressing. Unpeeled cucumbers are higher in nutritional value as fiber and vitamin A are lost by peeling.

Home Preservation

Aside from pickling, there is no practical way to preserve cucumbers. There are many ways to make a pickle. They can be fermented or quick packed in a vinegar solution and processed in a boiling water bath and kept on the shelf for up to a year. There is no great challenge to making pickles. Pickles can be made by the quart or by the five-gallon crock. For those who do not know how to can, pickles can be made in the refrigerator or in the freezer. Pickling cucumbers are best to use because the skin is less bitter than slicing cucumbers and they have smaller and fewer seeds. However, you can successful substitute slicing cucumbers.

Make pickles without canning.

Refrigerator Dill Chips

Pickled cucumbers add spice and texture to sandwiches and meals. For highest quality pickles, use cucumbers that are no more the 24 hours from the vine. Use “pure” or pickling salt in this recipe. Table salt contains additives that make a cloudy brine and off color pickles.

  • 2 to 2-1/2 cups sliced cucumbers, about 1/4 inch thick
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons pickling salt
  • 2 springs fresh dill, about 6 inches long or 1 tablespoon dry dill seed or 1 head of fresh dill
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water

Prepare the jar, lid and screwband. Wash them in hot soapy water, rinse well and drain. Combine the sliced cucumbers and 1-1/2 teaspoons of the pickling salt. Toss well. Cover with cold water and let stand for 2 to 3 hours. Drain.

In a clean, hot, 1 pint jar, put the dill, garlic, and remaining 1 teaspoon pickling salt. Add the cucumbers slices leaving 1/2 inch head space. Push slices down and firmly pack. Combine water and vinegar and bring to a boil. Pour hot vinegar solution over cucumbers.

Use a plastic knife or spatula to release air bubbles. Insert knife down the side of the jar and gently push cucumber slices toward the center so that the vinegar solution gets between the slices. Pour on more hot vinegar solution if necessary. Leave 1/2 inch headspace (the space between the rim of the jar and its contents). Wipe the rim. Put the lid and screwband in place. Refrigerate one to six weeks before eating. (Best flavor after 4 weeks).

Recipes

Cucumber Yogurt Salad Dressing

This is a delicious, heart healthy, low calorie salad dressing which can be used as a dip for steamed or raw vegetables or as a topping for baked potatoes or steamed carrots. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
  • 2/3 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 2 teaspoon chopped fresh dill or 1/2 teaspoon dried dill

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until creamy and smooth. Chill for about 2 hours before serving. Makes 1-1/2 cups.

Thai Cucumber Salad

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 4 pickling or slicing cucumbers, sliced lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 10 whole cilanto leaves
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, julienne (about 1 inch long)

Combine the sugar, vinegar and salt and heat in a small sauce pan until sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes) do not boil. Set saucepan in cold water to cool the vinegar mixture. When cool, pour over cucumbers and garnish with red peppers. Serves four.

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Make life easy and it will taste better

20 Things You’ve Been Doing Wrong in the Kitchen
Roasting Potatoes The best roasted potatoes are boiled in salted water and roasted in the oven for a perfectly soft interior and super crunchy exterior. The other secret ingredient is whole grain mustard takes their flavor to the next level.

Scrambling Eggs Protein, including eggs, hates heat. If you’ve always ended up with overcooked and rubbery scrambled eggs, you’re probably cooking them too quickly at too high a heat. Low and slow is the only way to go for soft tasty scrambled eggs.

Peanut Butter Cookies You only need four ingredients (peanut butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla) for perfect peanut butter cookies. Get the recipe: Easy peanut butter cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies Adding salt to the top of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. A sprinkling of good quality flake salt completely transforms the flavor of chocolate chip cookies and immediately elevates them to special status.

Cooking Bacon Sizzling bacon on the stove top results in greasy splatters and painful burns. You should try roasting bacon in the oven on a cookie sheet lined with foil so that the bacon cooks evenly and the cleanup is effortless.

PB&J Sandwiches Elevate PB&J sandwiches to the next level by using a combination of creamy and crunchy peanut butter, Nutella, strawberries, bananas, marshmallow fluff, jelly, and honey.

Happy Holidays

Turkey Cooking and Safety Hints

USDALet’s Talk Turkey—A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey You are the last line of defense in protecting your family from food borne bacteria that can sicken your family. Your best tool in food safety is a food thermometer. If you don’t have one Get One, most food markets and department stores will have an assortment for you to choose from.

Fresh Turkey Few people will know where to buy or how to select Fresh Turkey for this years Thanksgiving or Christmas meals. However birds bought from the grower or those that have raised their own birds need to know:

Fresh Turkeys
Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.
Buy kill and process your turkey only 1 to 2 days before you plan to cook it.
Keep it stored in the refrigerator at 40 degrees or lower temperature until you’re ready to cook it. Place your bird on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak.
Do not buy fresh pre-stuffed turkeys. If not handled properly, any harmful bacteria that may be in the stuffing can multiply very quickly and may not be killed when you bake or roast your Big Bird…
REMINDER: Remove the giblets from the turkey cavities after thawing. Cook separately.

Frozen Turkeys
Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.
Keep frozen until you’re ready to thaw it for roasting.
Turkeys can be kept frozen in the freezer indefinitely, however, for best quality, cook within 1 year.

Frozen Pre-Stuffed Turkeys
USDA recommends only buying frozen pre-stuffed turkeys that display the USDA or State mark of inspection on the packaging. These turkeys are safe because they have been processed under controlled conditions.

Thawing Your TurkeyThaw your turkey in the refrigerator.
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

Keep the turkey in its original wrapper. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. If necessary, a turkey that has been properly thawed in the refrigerator may be refrozen.

In Cold Water
Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound
4 to 12 pounds 2 to 6 hours
12 to 16 pounds 6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pounds 8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 pounds 10 to 12 hours

Wrap your turkey securely, making sure the water is not able to leak through the wrapping. Submerge your wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Do not refreeze.

Roasting Your Turkey
Set your oven temperature no lower than 325 °F.
Place your turkey or turkey breast on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.

For optimum safety, stuffing a turkey is not recommended. For more even cooking, it is recommended you cook your stuffing outside the bird in a casserole. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the stuffing. The stuffing must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.

If you choose to stuff your turkey, the ingredients can be prepared ahead of time, however, keep wet and dry ingredients separate. Chill all of the wet ingredients (butter/margarine, cooked celery and onions, broth, etc.). Mix wet and dry ingredients just before filling the turkey cavities. Fill the cavities loosely. Cook the turkey immediately. Use a food thermometer to make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.

A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook turkey to higher temperatures.

Even if your turkey has a “pop-up” temperature indicator, it is recommended that you also check the internal temperature of the turkey in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast with a food thermometer. The minimum internal temperature should reach 165 °F for safety.

For quality, let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving to allow juices to set. The turkey will carve more easily. Remove all stuffing from the turkey cavities.

Timetables for Turkey Roasting (325 °F oven temperature)
Use the timetables below to determine how long to cook your turkey. These times are approximate. Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of your turkey and stuffing.

Unstuffed
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

Stuffed
4 to 6 pounds (breast) Not usually applicable
6 to 8 pounds (breast) 2½ to 3½ hours
8 to 12 pounds 3 to 3½ hours
12 to 14 pounds 3½ to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 4 to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4¾ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4¾ to 5¼ hours

It is safe to cook a turkey from the frozen state. The cooking time will take at least 50 percent longer than recommended for a fully thawed turkey. Remember to remove the giblet packages during the cooking time.

Optional Cooking Hints
Add 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the pan.

If your roasting pan does not have a lid, you may place a tent of heavy-duty aluminum foil over the turkey for the first 1 to 1-1/2 hours. This allows for maximum heat circulation, keeps the turkey moist, and reduces oven splatter. To prevent over browning, foil may also be placed over the turkey after it reaches the desired color.

For information on other methods for cooking a turkey, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854)

Storing Your Leftovers
Discard any turkey, stuffing, and gravy left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours, 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F.
Divide leftovers into smaller portions. Refrigerate or freeze in covered shallow containers for quicker cooling.
Use refrigerated turkey, stuffing, and gravy within 3 to 4 days.
If freezing leftovers, use within 2 to 6 months.

Reheating Your Turkey
Cooked turkey may be eaten cold or reheated.
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.

In the Microwave Oven Cover your food and rotate it for even heating. Allow standing time. Check the internal temperature of your food with a food thermometer to make sure it reaches 165 °F.

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Advice on cooking your Thanksgiving bird

Q. Discovering a turkey from 1969 in his dad’s freezer, an Alabama man called the Talk-Line to ask about the best way to cook the 30+ year-old bird.
A. Butterball hot line recommended ‘buying a ‘younger’ bird.

Q. A few hours after his wife had give birth, a new dad called to make sure the turkey hadn’t been thawing too long while he’d been at the hospital.
A The Talk-Line staffer asked how much it weighed, to which the flustered father replied, ‘The turkey or the baby?’ After determining the turkey’s weight and thawing time, she assured him he would be able to deliver a safe, delicious Thanksgiving dinner.

What! A woman in her seventies, cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the first time, called for help because her mother said she was tired of cooking and it was time her daughter learned how to prepare the Thanksgiving meal.

Q. A gentleman called to tell the operator he cut his turkey in half with a chain saw and wanted to know if the oil from the chain would adversely affect the turkey.
A. ????

Q. A disappointed woman called wondering why her turkey had no breast meat.
A. After a conversation with a Talk-Line operator, it became apparent that the woman’s turkey was lying on the table upside down.

Q. With no answer. A lady from Colorado called about ‘how to thaw’ her frozen Butterball. She proudly shared the fact that her turkey was stored in a snow bank outside! It had snowed the night before and it then dawned on her that she didn’t have a clue which snow bank her turkey was in. At that point, the conversation was really over because she was now on a mission to go find her turkey.

Q. One caller had always cut the legs off the turkey before putting it in the oven thinking that was how you had to cook a turkey.
A. She later learned that the only reason her mom had been doing that was because their oven had been so small that that was the only way to get the bird into the oven!

Soapy turkey. A first time Thanksgiving chef called Turkey help line in tears Thanksgiving morning last year. She was so proud to have thawed the turkey successfully and continued to rinse the turkey with dish soap! The tears started flowing when the turkey wouldn’t stop sudsing. If only she called before she would have found out you don’t have to rinse the turkey just pat it dry with paper towels.

Q. One mom called in and told us about how her little girl had asked if they could slow-roast the turkey for three or four days because she liked how it made the house smell.
A. The experts at the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line told her that the turkey should only stay in the oven for a few hours and that it wasn’t a good idea to leave it cooking for four days!

Small oven solution. A gentleman called to tell how he wrapped his turkey in a towel and stomped on it several times, breaking the bones so it would fit in his roasting pan.

Happy Holidays

Don’t Poison Your Family And Holiday Guest – Avoid Bagged Salad Greens

The holiday season is here. Don’t sicken your family or guest with food poisoning.

Bagged salad can fuel the growth of food poisoning bugs like Salmonella and make them more dangerous.

Scientists said the moist environment combined with nutrients leaching out of chopped leaves created the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

If you must buy bagged greens scientist advised people to eat bagged salad on the day they bought it.

Fresh green leaves and salad foods are often involved in food poisoning.

Studies have shown that salad can carry bacteria, but the research team showed the bag made things much worse.
The study showed sugars, proteins and minerals escaped from the cut leaves into the water in the bag.
Researcher Dr Primrose Freestone said “That’s a reasonable amount of nutrients if you’re a bacterium.”

The studies showed that Salmonella did especially well in bags containing spinach, while E. coli loved rocket(Arugula) leaves. Dr Freestone said “Juices that naturally leach from the leaves have the potential to increase the growth of any pathogen that might be present and establish them so strongly that washing wouldn’t be enough to eradicate them.”

“Buy the bag with the best sell-by date, avoid lots of mushed leaves and if it’s(the bag) is inflated don’t use it.”

A genetic analysis of the Salmonella showed they had gained the mutations that would help them to infect people. Dr Freestone said “We did see bacteria whose behavior had turned more to virulence.

Dr Jeri Barak, from the Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said: “It would be fair to conclude that if Salmonella is present in salads (and) it might grow to infectious doses.”
“Consumers should treat bagged salads as temperature sensitive food products, like milk and ice cream. keeping these foods in the refrigerator is important.”

Happy Holidays.

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Forcing Bulbs For Winter Color

xmas color I have posted information about forcing bulbs in the past. This is just a reminder that time is running out if you want Christmas flowers.

When ordering or buying bulbs locally check to insure the bulbs have been pre-chilled, other wise they will grow producing foliage but will fail to bloom.

Amaryllis will flower about six weeks after planting, so pot now for Christmas blooms. Plant into pots just larger than the bulb, with 1/2 to 2/3s of the bulb above the soil surface.
After watering thoroughly, allow the soil to become dry. Water more frequently after the flower stalk appears, but never water when the soil is already moist.

Garlic order and plant garlic now and into winter before the ground freezes. The bulbs need cold in order to separate into cloves. Yes I do know Garlic is not a flowering pot plant but it is still time to plant next years Garlic in you garden.

Narcissus Paperwhites and Soleil d’Or can be grown without soil. Plant them in pebble filled containers with the base of the bulbs in contact with water at the bottom of the container. These bulbs don’t need chilling, but will benefit from a cool temperature (50 degrees F.) until the top shoot is a couple of inches long. At that point, you can move the plant into a warm, bright sunny area.

Crocus and Hyacinths can be forced, one bulb per jar or vase, in water alone without any soil. There are special forcing jars and vases for crocus and hyacinths.

Daffodil, Crocus, Hyacinths, Narcissus and Tulip bulbs plant bulbs in a good quality potting soil so the tops are not covered with more than 1/4 – 1/2 inch of soil. Put pots in a cool sunny place about 50 degrees F. works well, until the top shoot is about 2 inches long. Keep the soil slightly damp, not wet. Constantly wet soil may cause your bulbs to rot.
Note For a better effect plant Tulip bulbs with the flat side facing the out side of your pot.

Tulips, Narcissus (Daffodils), Hyacinths And More
Tulips, Daffodils And Hyacinths – Fall Planting
Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service
University of Missouri fact sheet
Iowa State University Horticulture Guide

October Gardening Tips University of Nebraska

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Holiday Season Planning

OK… It’s not the Holiday season — yet. But it soon will be. So with that in mind I have listed a few links to older postings that you may find entertaining if not useful.

I don’t intend to sound like the old guy I am, but, holidays are and should be foremost for family and friends.
Your children, grand children and in some cases great grand children will in adult life remember the time, food and fun had being served homemade, handmade holiday treats. What they won’t remember is that large bag of store bought candy / snacks you served.

Take time out of your self made, self important schedule and spend time this holiday season with family and friends.
Not to put to fine a point on this, but, the world as we know it will not change or end if you take time out to spend ‘at home’ with friends and family.
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Pioneer Woman Popcorn Balls
Traditional Popcorn Balls
Hint Put a wooden skewer in each popcorn ball.

Candy Apples
Caramel Apples
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Easy candied Apples
Old-fashioned style candied apples
Caramel, Chocolate and Candy Apples
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Carving Your Pumpkin – Jack-O-Lantren – Toasted/Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Winter Squash and Pumpkin – Harvesting & Storing
Pumpkins – They Can Do It All
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Rumtopf and Romkrukke

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Why is Common Sense so Uncommon?
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High fat cheese – Secret to a healthy life?

University of Copenhagen found that eating cheese could help to improve health by increasing our levels of “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol which is thought to offer protection against cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Researchers conducted a cheese test with 139 adults to discover how full fat cheese can affect our bodies in different ways.

They split the subjects up into three groups. The first group were told to eat 80g of regular high-fat cheese every day, the second group ate 80g of reduced-fat cheese, while the third group didn’t eat cheese and ate 90g of bread and jam each day instead.

The researchers report, in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, that while none of the groups experienced a change in their levels of “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol which is thought to be counterproductive to good heart health, those that ate the regular high fat cheese saw an increase in their levels of “good” HDL cholesterol.

A small 2015 study found that cheese could be the key to a faster metabolism and reduced obesity. 2012 research suggested Roquefort cheese helped guard against cardiovascular disease, leading to good health and longevity, while in 2009 an Australian study suggested a diet high in dairy products, such as cheese, could help overweight people lose weight.