Tag Archives: homemade

Spring prepping for summer wildlife viewing

Hummingbirds will soon be returning to my tiny garden. Black-chinned and Ruby-throat hummingbirds have been sighted by bird spotters not more than 50 or 75 miles south of my tiny garden. 2019 spring hummingbird migration map

Today is forecast to be around 70%F, so, I’m making up a batch of sugar water and sterilizing hummingbird feeders. I want to be sure when birds arrive I have food out for them. After their long migration flights from central Mexico they will be tired and hungry in need of a high sugar, high energy food source.

The worst thing that can happen is I will need to dump and putout fresh food in 3 – 5 days should the birds fail to arrive this week.

FYI- To make your own sugar water, use 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. 1 cup water with 1/4 cup sugar, 2 cups water with 1/2 cup sugar, anyway your get it 4 to 1 ratio.
Bring water to a boil, add sugar and remove from heat source. Stir until sugar is dissolved in your hot water.
Do not boil your sugar water, you want sugar water not syrup.
Adding red food coloring to your sugar water is not necessary and in some cases can be harmful to hummingbirds.
Hint: Use pure cane sugar not beet sugar.

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Why do ->YOU<- garden?

I often hear gardeners bragging about how much money they have saved by self growing vegetables in their backyard or plot gardens. If you do a detail cost assessment of your growing cost and supermarket cost per pound(kilo) you may find it is costing more per pound to grow than to buy.

Gardening and gardeners generally fall into two categories.
Category 1. I think most home gardeners fall into category 1 gardeners. Gardening for us is a hobby. We are not in gardening because we think we will be saving a few hundred or even a thousand dollars on our yearly food bill.

We garden because we enjoy growing things and being out of doors. We like seeing our flower and vegetable seed grow and bloom. Freshly harvested vegetables have better color and taste better than vegetables that were picked last week and shipped to supermarkets.

Cost of gardening is not a primary consideration for us. We are into gardening for it’s health and entertainment value.

Category 2. This category often includes survivalist, penny pincers, those living off the grid or mostly off the grid. Category 2 gardeners are concerned with feeding their family summer and winter from home garden grown produce. They are most likely to can, freeze and dehydrate garden produce for long term storage. Gardening is not a hobby to them. It’s a yearly on going job/task to be accomplished.

It matters not if you are a category 1 or 2 gardener gardening is not cheap. The initial cost can be overwhelming.
Container gardening requires investment in large containers(pots). Damaged pot must be replaced. New fresh potting soil must be purchased every spring.
Flower/vegetable seed must be purchased and often seeds or seedlings must be purchased every growing season. Many times you must invest in grow lighting. Allocate space and a heated environment to germinate and grow seedlings.

Green house or grow house are a costly investment and require continuous maintenance. Initial grow lighting is not cheap nor is the cost of heating a grow area or green/grow house.

Raised beds are not cheap to buy or build and require maintenance to keep them in good condition. Raised beds must be replaced every few years. They must be rejuvenated by adding compost every grow season.

All situations require the use of organic or man made fertilizers.
Insect and weed control be it organic or commercial made is an ongoing battle that is time consuming and often expensive.
Few areas receive enough rain at the time needed, so add the cost of collecting water or the cost of using tap water to keep your garden plants in good, healthy and productive condition.

Some, not all gardeners must invest in good fencing to keep pest like deer, dogs, lions, tigers, bears and elephants out of their garden plot.

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Fried Green Beans – as a side-dish or healthy snack food

Fried Green Beans are a great, different way to serve green beans. Your family will love them.
They can be served as a side-dish or served as a healthy snack.
Hint: As a snack serve them with Ranch Dressing as a dipping sauce.

1 pound green beans
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Time from start to table is about 30 minutes.

Leave beans whole do not cut into small sections.
Wash under cold running water.
Boil or steam green beans until crisp tender. Beans should still have a little bite to them. Do not overcook.
Error on being a bit under cooked.
Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet until sizzling.
Add green beans and fried over medium-high heat until beans are lightly browned.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve as a side-dish or snack food while still warm.

Hint: Spoon a small amount of the butter and olive oil used during frying over the beans just before serving.

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Planning Your 2019 Garden Now is the time to make spring garden plans

A gazillion words and post have been published about the benefits of raised bed gardening and square foot gardens.

In truth raised beds may not be your best choice. Raised beds are generally best suited to cooler and wetter climates than weather conditions found in Americas West and Southwest.

Pros of Raised Bed Gardening:
More control over the location of the garden
Ability to choose the best soil for your particular plants
More efficient draining
Can be easier on backs and knees due to less bending and stooping
May be helpful keeping weeds out of your garden space
The soil warms up earlier in a raised bed, so you can plant earlier and extend your growing season
May work better keeping ground dwelling pests out of your garden plot

Cons of Raised-Bed Gardening:
Will be more expensive to get started
Requires careful planning to make sure there is enough room for plants that need to spread out, and to ensure that you can reach the middle to tend the plants
*** Because raised beds drain so efficiently, they will also need to be watered more often and may require an irrigation system
In the west and southwest water is a valuable, often scarce resource. Areas with little natural rain fall, daily temperatures at or above 90 degrees and humidity levels often dropping to 10% or 20%, tap water is an expensive way to water your garden.

Raised bed planting has the disadvantages of more frequent watering during dry periods and the cost of filling your beds with large quantities of compost, soil-less growing medium and may require more frequent use of commercially made or organic fertilizers.
Root vegetables, think potatoes and carrots that penetrate more than 3 or 4 inches deep into the soil where they are planted may suffer in raised bed plantings.

Amending garden soil by digging in or tilling in large amounts of compost and planting directly in the amended soil very well may be a better choice over raised beds. You will over time develop a quality garden soil that holds moisture. Couple this with extensive use of mulch water needs will be greatly reduced and over heated soil temperatures can be moderated.
* This years mulch will be tilled into the soil as an amendment for next years garden.

Practically Free Raised Beds by Will Atkinson

I saw a great post about salvaging and recycling wood fence to construct raised beds. Many wood fences are made from cedar and are naturally insect and rot resistant. Practically Free Raised Beds After building your first recycled wood fence raised bed is a good time to consider a square foot garden. If used to it’s maximum advantage, you can grow a lot of food using only a few square feet of garden space.

4-hole-dibbleboard

Build A Dibble Board
If your one of those that want and insist that every plant be perfectly spaced. This little gadget may be just what you have been looking for.

Build A Dibble Board Check out ‘gardeninggrrl’ blog for a lot of pictures and building instructions.

Keep in mind you may need two or even three of every dibble board. Most garden seeds need to be planted 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch or 1 inch deep. Seed planted 1 inch deep that ‘should have been planted 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep may never break through to see the light of day. In this event you have wasted your time, water and seed.

My dibble board consist of placing my seed on the ground at my desired spacing, using my finger to press the seed into the soil to the proper planting depth, cover my finger dibble hole with soil, then wait for them to germinate.

furrow planting

Farmers over the last 8,000 years have devised main 3 planting methods to maximize water usage and fertilizer to produce the most vegetables at the lowest cost on the least amount of land.

Furrow planting is common in areas with enough rain to produce a crop but with the need to conserve as much soil moisture as possible.

bed planting

bed planting

Bed planting provides additional root zone drainage as well as providing a reservoir to hold moisture near the plants root zone for a longer period of time after irrigation or rains.
Bed planting act much like raised bed planting without the cost of constructing bed boxes and filling raised beds with soil/soil mixes.

Minimum till planting is a method that has been used for thousands of years and in the past 25 years has been rediscovered by farmers in the USA and the UK as well as many other more developed countries. In minimum till planting, last years crop stubble is left in the field to prevent or minimize soil erosion from winds and heavy rain water run off and reduces soil drying by providing ground cover {mulch}.
At planting time, seeds are planted on flat ground without removing old crop stubble.

What gardening method is best for you? That is a decision that only you can decide. Using raised beds, furrow planting, bed planting or minimum till planting is mostly {for home gardeners} a personal choice dictated by ‘your’ garden plots size, location and amount of time and effort you are willing and able to put into your home garden.

No matter what method you choose, keep an open mind and consider other gardening methods if the way you are doing it now fails to produce as much as you feel that it can and should be producing.
The old worn out, I have always done it this way is not an acceptable answer to resolving a gardening problem.

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Image

Merry Christmas – Tis the season

Brussels sprouts with a dash of maple syrup

Daisy Nichols | The Daily Meal said never boil Brussels sprouts take some cleaned Brussels sprouts with any woody stems and yellow or brown outer leaves removed and season them generously in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Place them on a lined baking tray and into a preheated 375 degrees F (190 C) oven for a total of about 35 minutes, checking them and stirring them every 15 minutes or so.
In the last 15 minutes drizzle over a few tablespoons of good quality maple syrup (sorry no Mrs. Butterworth or Aunt Jemima, today) and finish them in the oven until roasted, golden brown and delicious.

NOTE: I did not have ‘real maple syrup’ in my kitchen, so I used a generic store brand ‘maple syrup’ and was pleased with the results.

Thanksgiving and food safety

This post has become an annual posting in hopes it will help keep you and your family safe. Food handling, thawing times, cooking time / temperatures and safe storing of any thanksgiving day food leftovers.

For some this is old information and is considered plain common sense. For others this will be their first time dealing with such a large bird and safely handling so many side dishes for one meal.
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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Cranberry Sauce – For your special holiday season table

harvesting cranberry's
New crop cranberry’s will soon be arriving in your local supermarket. Purchase cranberry’s early in the season to insure you are getting the best and freshest berries.

Cranberry sauce goes well with any type poultry or water fowl as well as many pork dishes.

Galaxy Class Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry’s – Tangerine – Cinnamon – Cloves – Nutmeg with or without added sugar, it’s still the best Cranberry sauce this side of Venus and Mars.

You can add either white cane sugar or dark brown sugar. Make this sauce as sweet or tart as you like.
If you like the tart bite of cranberry’s then omit most of the sugar.

If you do add sugar, start with 1/2 the amount given in this recipe and continue tasting and add sugar until you get the amount of sweetness that is to your liking.

Wash cranberries and tangerine’s well. Dump cranberries into a bowl of cold water, pick out any damaged berries.

In a large sauce pan add 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed tangerine juice with pulp, be sure to remove any seeds that may get into your tangerine juice. [Save tangerine rinds].
Note: Oranges are Not the same thing as tangerines! If your use oranges it will produce a totally different tasting sauce.

Add 1/2 cup cold water
Bring to a slow simmer
Add cranberries
Wrap in cheese cloth: 4 whole cloves, 1 stick cinnamon, 1 anise star add to pot
1/8 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
3/4 cup dark brown sugar – Start with 1/3 cup sugar – add more as needed to your taste
Simmer 5 minutes Note: stir pot often
Decide at this point by tasting if more sugar is needed.
Adding sugar until it is as sweet as you like.

At some point cranberries will start to pop open, this is a good thing, stir to prevent sticking to bottom of your sauce pan.

Cranberry sauce is ready when all or at least most of the cranberries have popped open and the juice has become very thick.

Grate 1 table spoon of tangerine rind into mix.

Remove from heat, remove whole cloves, star anise and cinnamon stick. ‘Carefully’ spoon cranberry sauce into hot sterile canning jar(s), seal and allow to cool.
Under Refrigeration this sauce will keep for several weeks.

Better yet process in boiling water bath for 20 minutes. Remove from water bath, allow to cool, check jar for proper seal. Will store well for 2 years or more in a cool dark pantry.

This sauce can be placed in zip-lock freezer bags and stored frozen for a year or more.

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Beet Root makes any meal special

If your a fan or maybe not of beet roots this pickled beet recipe will add a new twist to salads or as a side dish to many meals.

What you will need.
1 – can small whole beets. (well drained)
1 – pint canning jar with new lid and screw ring.
1 or 2 cloves (no more than 2)
1 whole garlic clove (optional) Do not crush. mince or slice
1/2 cup 5% acid vinegar of your choice (white, cider or wine vinegar)
1/2 cup distilled water (tap water will work)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat your canning jar.
Bring enough water to cover your jar to a boil and remove from the burner.
Place you jar in the water to preheat.

Canning mix.
In a small pan add vinegar, water, cloves, sugar and salt.
Bring to a boil, remove from heat an stir until salt and sugar is dissolved.

Packing you jar.
Remove your preheated jar from the pan of hot water.
Pack with small whole beets and garlic clove (if used).

When vinegar mix comes to a boil remove from heat and very carefully pour hot vinegar mix over your beets.
Leave 1/2 inch head space in your jar. (add more vinegar as required to fill canning jar)
Cap jar and tighten jar screw ring.

Allow beets to cool to room temperature.
Refrigerate for 24 to 72 hours before serving.
Pickled beets can safely be kept sealed up to 3 months. Consume within 1 month after opening jar.

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Better Late Than Never, Spring Is In The Air

It’s a week past my normal last frost date and maybe, just maybe I have had my last spring frost. A few nights ago it went down to 26 degrees F. and did a lot of damage to tender new plant buds and plants that had leafed out. It, the frost, has set my grapes back at least 1 if not 2 weeks.

Hummingbirds have started arriving. Everyday it seems that I have one or two more than the day before visiting my feeders.
Just my opinion but I think it is a good investment to buy feeders with what sellers call bee and wasp guards. After replacing my old style feeders with new feeders with bee guards having bees and wasp feeding at my hummingbird feeders is no longer a problem me and the hummingbirds must contend with.

The Purple Martin house is open and raise to a height of about 12 feet. My first pair of Martins arrived Saturday and have given their nod of approval.

Chicken have finished molting and have started laying about 1 egg per bird everyday. Just for the record I have 4 hens that are now 4 years old and 3 that are 2 years old.
Grin … now me and extended family have more eggs than we can eat every week and that’s a good thing.
Smiling… as my hens get to old to be useful egg producers, I keep putting out feed and they become yard ornaments for my viewing pleasure.

Cataract surgery on my left eye went well. I’m seeing things that I have not seen well for at least 4 or 5 years. I have a followup doctors visit set for the 18th and he will operate on my right eye on the morning of the 25th.

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