Tag Archives: tiny garden

Fig Tree In Your Garden… It’s Possible

Figs are one of the oldest cultivated crops and were enjoyed by the ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks. They are a semi-tropical tree that is easy to grow in areas with long, hot summers.

Fig is a deciduous, small tree or bush like, usually growing 8 to 20 feet tall, In cooler zones often more bush like than tree like, with large, lobed, deep green leaves. The first crop of fruit in spring is called the “breba” crop, maturing from buds set on last years growth. The main crop that follows in the fall(this years growth) matures on the new growth made that summer. In cooler parts of the U.S. the breba crop is sometimes lost to late spring frosts.

There are a number of fig varieties adapted to different regions of the country.
Good varieties include:
These are Self-Pollinating and you will not need a second tree for a pollinator tree.
zones 5-10, ‘Chicago Hardy’.
zones 6-11, ‘Brown Turkey’
zones 7-10, ‘Celeste’
This is 3 of the most common varieties sold in nursery’s.

Set out new trees in spring. Set bare root trees atop a small mound of soil in the center of the planting hole, and spread the roots down and away without unduly bending them. Identify original planting depth by finding color change from dark to light as you move down the trunk towards the roots.

Container grown(potted) trees, remove the plant from its pot and eliminate circling roots by laying the root ball on its side and cutting through the roots with shears.

Young trees need regular watering while they are getting established, and established trees in dry climates will need deep watering at least every week or two. A deep layer of mulch over the root zone will help to conserve moisture.

Figs generally don’t need much pruning to be productive. Shape trees lightly during the dormant season and remove dead, diseased, broken or crossing branches.

In the northern parts of the U.S. figs may benefit from frost protection. In late fall, tie the tree’s branches up to make it more compact, fashion a cage of chicken wire around the tree and fill it with dry straw for insulation. Wrap the outside of the cage with layers of burlap and plastic. Remove the wrappings and straw in spring just before new growth begins and after the danger of hard frost.

Fruits should be completely ripe before they are picked. Ripe figs will be fully colored, starting to bend over at the neck and will be slightly soft. Pick them with the stem still attached. Fresh figs will keep in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days.

Hint Eat whole. Figs have a mildly sweet taste and can be enjoyed fresh and on their own.
The skin of the fig is edible. You do not need to peel the fig before eating it. Merely twist off the stem and eat the fig skin and all.
If you do not like the texture of the skin, you can peel it off before eating the fig. After twisting off the stem, carefully use your fingers to peel away the skin starting from the exposed top.

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Fennel – Under Used And Unappreciated


Fennel is a flowering plant species closely related to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander. It is a hardy, perennial herb with yellow flowers and feathery leaves. It is indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean. Use Fennel in soups, stews, salads, baked, broiled or eat them raw.

There are two types of fennel. One is treated as an herb (Foeniculum vulgare) and one that is treated like a bulb type vegetable (Florence fennel or Finocchio – Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce).
The herb type grows 3-5 feet tall with fine textured foliage resembling dill. Flat topped clusters of yellow flowers appear in late summer. Stems, leaves and seeds of this type of fennel are harvested and used.
Florence fennel is shorter with darker green foliage and is grown for its large, flat thick rosette of petioles at the base often referred to as a “bulb.” Both forms have an anise or licorice flavor.

Fennel are grown from seed. Both types prefer a full sun location in soil that is well prepared with organic matter. This is especially important when growing Florence fennel as it prefers uniformly moist soil to develop the best “bulb.” Herb fennel is best direct sown in the garden in the spring after frost is past. It does not transplant well due to its tap root structure.

Florence fennel is also direct sown into the garden but seeding is best done from mid-June to July. This is done to allow the crop to develop during the cooler, shorter days of late summer and early fall. If planted earlier, long, hot days of summer result in plants bolting (flowering) thus reducing the quality of the “bulb.” Another important consideration for Florence fennel is maintaining uniform soil moisture. If soils are allowed to dry out, it will result in bolting and affect bulb quality. When “bulbs” start to swell and become the size of an egg, push soil around the “bulb.” This will produce a paler and tenderer “bulb.” This is a blanching process that is similar to what is done with leek.

Herb fennel can be harvested as needed by cutting away the feathery foliage. If seed is desired, allow the plant to flower and when the flower heads turn brown the plant can be cut, place in a paper bag and hung in a cool, well ventilated area to dry. Seeds will drop down into the bag and can then be cleaned and stored. Foliage can also be air dried and stored for later use.

Florence fennel can be harvested when the “bulbs” are about the size of tennis balls by digging the “bulb” and cutting off the root and cutting back the top. “Bulbs” can be stored in a cool location for several weeks.

Hint: Make any cabbage dish special by adding a bit of Fennel.

Fennel Popular Varieties
Herb Fennel Types
Sweet Fennel – Standard variety for fresh and dry leaf production.
‘Purpureum’ – A bronze leaf type. It is used as an ornamental.
‘Rubrum’ – A deep bronze to red leaf type. Also is used as an ornamental.

Florence Fennel Types
‘Rhondo’ – Uniform round bulbs, quick to mature.
‘Victoria’ – Vigorous type with grater resistance to bolting.
‘Cantino’ – A very slow to bolt variety good for early planting.
‘Mantavo’ – Good yield in slow bolting variety.

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Sweet Potato’s are not Yams…

Sweet Potato Pie

More than you want to know about a potato! Origin and domestication of sweet potato is thought to be either in Central America or South America. In Central America, sweet potatoes were domesticated at least 5,000 years ago. The sweet potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the family Convolvulaceae. Its large, starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous roots are an important root vegetable. The young leaves and shoots are sometimes eaten as greens. The sweet potato is only distantly related to the potato (Solanum tuberosum).

Although the softer, orange variety is often called a yam in parts of North America, the sweet potato is botanically very distinct from the other vegetable called yam(s), which is native to Africa and Asia and belongs to the monocot family Dioscoreaceae.

The plant does not tolerate frost. Abundant sunshine and warm nights are needed. Annual rainfalls of 30–39 inches are considered most suitable, with a minimum of 20 inches in the growing season. The crop is sensitive to drought at the tuber initiation stage 50–60 days after planting, and it is not tolerant to water logging, this may cause tuber rots and reduce growth of storage roots if aeration is poor.

Depending on the cultivar and conditions, tuberous roots mature in three to nine months. With care, early maturing cultivars can be grown as an annual summer crop in temperate areas, such as the northern United States.
Cured sweet potatoes will keep for a year or more when stored at 55–59 degrees at 90% relative humidity. Colder temperatures will injure the roots.

Sweet Potato, baked
(Note: “–” indicates data unavailable)
1.00 cup
(200.00 g)
GI: medium
BASIC MACRONUTRIENTS AND CALORIES
nutrient amount DRI/DV
(%)
Protein 4.02 g 8
Carbohydrates 41.42 g 18
Fat – total 0.30 g
Dietary Fiber 6.60 g 26
Calories 180.00 10
MICRONUTRIENTS
nutrient amount DRI/DV
(%)
Vitamins
Water-Soluble Vitamins
B-Complex Vitamins
Vitamin B1 0.21 mg 18
Vitamin B2 0.21 mg 16
Vitamin B3 2.97 mg 19
Vitamin B3 (Niacin Equivalents) 4.31 mg
Vitamin B6 0.57 mg 34
Biotin 8.60 mcg 29
Choline 26.20 mg 6
Folate 12.00 mcg 3
Folate (DFE) 12.00 mcg
Folate (food) 12.00 mcg
Pantothenic Acid 1.77 mg 35
Vitamin C 39.20 mg 52
Fat-Soluble Vitamins
Vitamin A (Retinoids and Carotenoids)
Vitamin A International Units (IU) 38436.00 IU
Vitamin A mcg Retinol Activity Equivalents (RAE) 1921.80 mcg (RAE) 214
Beta-Carotene 23018.00 mcg
Beta-Carotene Equivalents 23061.00 mcg
Vitamin E mg Alpha-Tocopherol Equivalents (ATE) 1.42 mg (ATE) 9
Vitamin E International Units (IU) 2.12 IU
Vitamin E mg 1.42 mg
Vitamin K 4.60 mcg 5
Minerals
nutrient amount DRI/DV
(%)
Boron 215.78 mcg
Calcium 76.00 mg 8
Copper 0.32 mg 36
Iodine 6.00 mcg 4
Iron 1.38 mg 8
Magnesium 54.00 mg 14
Manganese 0.99 mg 50
Potassium 950.00 mg 27
Sodium 72.00 mg 5
Zinc 0.64 mg 6

Sweet Potato Pie
Filling:
3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch ground cloves

Dough:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated shortening
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced (1 stick)
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon cider or white wine vinegar

Topping:
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon whiskey, rye or bourbon
Candied Pecans, homemade or store bought

Directions and Special equipment: 9-inch pie plate, glass preferred

Filling: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Put the sweet potatoes on a small roasting pan and bake until easily pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile make the dough: Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor with the metal blade until combined. Add the shortening and pulse about 10 times. Add the butter and continue to pulse until it resembles cornmeal mixed with bean-size bits of butter. Beat the egg yolk and vinegar together, add and pulse 3 to 4 times, but don’t let the dough form a ball in the machine. Remove the blade, and gather the dough together by hand. If dough does not come together, sprinkle up to 1 tablespoon of ice cold water over the dough and bring together. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and shape into disk. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. (To make the dough by hand, see below.)

Peel the cooked sweet potatoes and mash lightly with a fork; you should have about 2 cups puree. Mix the sweet potatoes and butter in the food processor until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to combine. Set aside.

Lightly dust the counter with flour. Roll the dough into an 11 to 12-inch circle and transfer to the pie pan. Trim the dough so that the edges hang about 1/2 inch over the pan; fold edges under and flute as desired. (See how to). Pierce the crust all over with a fork, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to a day.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven of the 425 degree F oven. Line the crust with foil or parchment paper and pie weights or dried beans and place on a baking sheet. Bake until the crust sets and begins to brown around edges, about 25 minutes. Lift foil and weights out of crust, lower oven temperature to 375 degrees F. and continue to bake until crust begins to brown on the bottom, about 10 to 12 minutes more. Pour filling into the warm crust and bake until set, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on rack

When ready to serve, whip the cream with the whiskey until it holds soft peaks. Top pie with whipped cream and candied pecans. Serve.

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Jerusalem artichoke – Did you know…

This is a reworked/updated post from January 2014.
Consider adding this plant to a somewhat neglected spot in your yard or garden. Brighten up that neglected area with colorful sunflower like blooms and get a surprise crop of tasty tubers as fall turns to winter.

sunflowers Suprise! Jerusalem artichoke is not from Jerusalem, and it is not a artichoke. All though both are members of the daisy family.
A plant with many names. There have been various other names applied to this plant, such as the French or Canada potato, topinambour, and lambchoke. Sunchoke, a name by which it is still known today, was invented in the 1960s by Frieda Caplan, a produce wholesaler who was trying to revive the plant’s market appeal.
The eatable artichoke part of the Jerusalem artichoke’s name comes from the taste of its edible tuber.

Jerusalem artichokes are native to the Central America. The plant is technically an evergreen perennial but cultivated as an annual crop. Once established, it grows vigorously with multiple branches, reaching about 5-10 feet height and carries many golden yellow flower heads at the terminal end of branches.

It’s tubers are elongated and uneven, typically 3 or 4 inches long and 1 to 3 inches in diameter and vaguely resemble ginger root in appearance, with a crisp texture when raw. They vary in color from pale brown to white, red, or even purple. sunflower-roots

Jerusalem artichokes are easy to cultivate. The tubers are sometimes used as a substitute for potatoes. They have a similar consistency, and in their raw form have a similar texture, but a sweeter, nuttier flavor, raw and sliced thinly, they are fit for a salad. The carbohydrates give the tubers a tendency to become soft and mushy if boiled, but they retain their texture better when steamed.

Jerusalem artichokes have 650 mg potassium per 1 cup (150g) serving. They are also high in iron, and contain 10-12% of the US RDA of fiber, niacin, thiamine, phosphorus and copper.

It is one of the finest sources of dietary fibers, especially high in oligo-fructose inulin, which is a soluble non-starch polysaccharide. Inulin should not be confused for insulin, which is a hormone. The root provides 1.6 mg or 4% of fiber. Inulin is a zero calorie saccharine and inert carbohydrate which does not undergo metabolism inside the human body, this tuber an ideal sweetener for diabetics and dietetics.

The tuber contains small amounts of anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-C, vitamin-A, vitamin-E. These vitamins, together with flavonoid compound like carotenes, helps scavenge harmful free radicals and thereby offers some protection from cancers, inflammation and viral cough and cold.

Jerusalem artichokes are an excellent source of minerals and electrolytes, especially potassium, iron, and copper. 100 g of fresh root holds 429 mg or 9% of daily required levels of potassium. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte which brings reduction in the blood pressure and heart rate by countering pressing effects of sodium.
100 g of fresh sunchoke contains 3.4 mg or 42.5% of iron, probably the highest amount of this trace element among the common edible roots and tubers.

It also contains small levels of some of the valuable B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and thiamin.

Sunchokes prefer loose, well-drained soil, but will tolerate poor soils. (Lighter soil makes harvesting easier.)
Space sunchoke tubers 12 to 18 inches apart, 4 to 6 inches deep.
Space rows 4-6 feet apart (they will be prone to spreading).
Soil temperature at planting should be at least 50F.
Plant in full sun
Do not plant in areas that are consistently wet, as wet soil will rot the tubers. Plants are drought tolerant, but produce best with a regular supply of water.
Preferred growing temps = 65 to 90 F.

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My First Garden – My First Garden Was A Failure

Oklahoma State University said “An area exposed to full or near full sunlight with deep, well-drained, fertile soil is ideal.” The site should also be located near a water supply and, if possible, away from trees and shrubs that compete with the garden for light, water, and nutrients.

Many urban gardeners have a small area with a less than optimal site on which to grow vegetables. It is still possible to grow a vegetable garden by modifying certain cultural practices and types of crops grown.
\Areas with light or thin shade can be used, such as those under young trees, under mature trees with high lacy canopies, or in bright, airy places which receive only one to two hours of direct sun per day.
There are several vegetables which will grow under these conditions, including beans, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, kohlrabi, leaf lettuce, peas, potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, spinach, and turnips.
If the site is not well drained or if the soil is thin, the use of raised beds can help with this problem.

Beginners Gardening Tips
In order to have a successful garden, the gardener must
follow a few rules.
• Sample soil and have it tested every three to four years.
• Apply fertilizers in the recommended manner and amount.
• Make use of organic materials such as compost when and where available.
• Use varieties recommended for your USDA zone and area.
• Thin plants when small. Cut do not pull them up, pulling them up may damage the root system to remaining seedlings.
• Use mulches to conserve moisture, control weeds, and reduce fruit rots.
• Avoid excessive walking and working in the garden when foliage and soil are wet.
• Examine the garden often to keep ahead of potential problems.
• Keep the garden free of weeds, insects, and diseases.
• Wash and clean tools and sprayers after use.
• Rotate specific crop family locations each year to avoid insect and disease buildup.
• When possible, harvest vegetables during the cool hours of the day.

First time and beginners common gardening mistakes.
Planting too early. It never fails that somewhere in mid-February a warm front comes through and everyone gets bit by the gardening bug.
Air temperature, is a bad indicator of when to plant. Soil temperature is the key to knowing if a tomato or pepper will survive the cold, not the air temperature.
Most summer crops prefer soil temperatures at least 55-60 F. Closer to 65 F if you are talking about sensitive crops like okra and super sweet corn. Planting too early when soil temperatures are too cool will cause plants to stunt or other disorders such as leaf roll or misshapen fruit. Check soil temperatures with a soil thermometer or through your local county extension office to know when it is safe to plant.

2. Planting when it is too wet. Planting when the soil is too wet is about as bad as planting when the soil is too cold. The soil should only be worked and planted in when there is a slight bit of moisture. Tilling or planting in soils that are too wet will cause poor seed germination and transplant survival. To know if the soils are the proper moisture to plant, grab a handful of soil from the garden and squeeze it tightly together in your fist. Take a finger and push it into the soil ball you just formed. If it breaks apart into multiple pieces, the soil is perfect for working. If your finger pushes into the ball and it doesn’t break apart, it’s too wet to work and may need a few more days to dry out.

3. Not controlling weeds. Weeds can be one of the biggest headaches for both the beginning and experienced gardener. It’s always easier to try and keep the weeds out then to get them out later. Weeds compete for nutrition and moisture, and take up valuable root space from our intended crop. Prevent them through the use of mulches that include pine straw, wheat straw, wood chips, newspaper or some type of landscape fabric. Weeds can also be kept at bay by the use of both pre- and post-emergent herbicides. Make sure you read the label on all chemicals to be sure you can use it on the vegetable type you are growing.

4. Improper fertilization. Nutrition is vitally important to all types of vegetables. Too much or too little nutrition can cause major problems in the garden. Too much fertilizer can cause excessive vegetative growth and few blooms or fruit.
It can also lead to an increase in your weed population. Too little fertilizer will make plants stunted and unable to produce a good crop. Start with a soil sample through your county extension office to determine the nutritional needs as well as the pH of the soil.
In general, most vegetables need fertilization at planting time and then not until they put out their first small fruit. Additional fertilizer may be needed on continuous producing items such as tomatoes, okra, peppers and others.

5. Water is the most essential component of a successful garden. Just like fertilizer, however, too little or too much can cause more harm than good.
Most vegetables need between 1 to 2 inches of water a week to thrive. Frequency depends on the soil type and the amount of supplemental rainfall we receive. It’s far healthier for the plants and much more efficient to irrigate with either soaker hoses or drip irrigation. Overhead watering does work, but can lead to foliar diseases and also wastes a lot of water wetting non-target areas.

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Brussels sprouts – the little Cabbage that can

brussels-sproutsNamed after the city of Brussels, Brussels sprouts were first made popular in Belgium, where they’ve been grown since about 1200AD. Sprouts are buds that grow in the axils of each leaf. They look like tiny cabbages and are considered a type of wild cabbage. The plant itself looks like a small palm tree and the sprouts grow along the trunk like stem.

Brussels sprouts like a sweet or slightly alkaline soil. Soil pH should be at least 6.5. A good amount of organic matter and mulching will help maintain the moisture they need for their intense growth. In colder climates, start seeds indoors and set outside when there’s no threat of a hard frost. Be sure to allow the full time outdoors for required days to harvest.

In warmer climates, fall planting is preferred. You should be able to direct seed in mid-summer for a late fall/winter harvest. You may also be able to squeeze in a second, early spring crop, direct seeding in February and harvesting in May.

Direct seed in warm areas. Otherwise start seed indoors approximately 5-7 weeks before last expected frost. Cover seeds with 1/4 – 1/2 inch of soil and keep moist. Transplant when the seedlings are about 3″ tall. Don’t allow seedlings to become root bound or the plant will remain stunted when transplanted. Space plants about 2 ft. apart with 3 ft. between rows or stagger plants 2 ft. apart in each direction, for a grid.

Fertilize twice a season once when the plants are about 12 inches high and again about a month before harvest is often recommended, but if you have a fertile soil to begin with, it doesn’t seem to be necessary. Brussels Sprouts are prone to the same problems as cabbage and broccoli. The most common pests are Cabbage looper, cabbage worm, cabbage root maggot, aphids, and Harlequin bugs.

Each sprout rows in the leaf axil or joint. They begin maturing from the bottom of the plant upwards. You can start harvesting when the lower sprouts reach the size of large marbles. Just be sure to pick before they get too large and start cracking and turning bitter. Some people prefer to cut, rather than pull the sprouts. Pulling is easy if you remove the leave below the sprout first, then twist and pull the sprout.

A few of the Varieties available are:

* ‘Bubbles’ F1 (85-90 days) Early and easy. Tolerates heat and drought. 2 inch sprouts. Resistant to Powdery Mildew & Rust.

* ‘Jade Cross’ F1 and ‘Jade Cross E’ F1(90 days) Jade Cross was a 1959 All-America Selections Winner. Both are compact plants good for windy locations. Sprout are slightly larger on Jade Cross E. Good disease resistance.

* ‘Long Island Improved’ OP (90 days) High yield. Another small plant that stands up to wind. Freezes well.

* ‘Oliver’ F1 (85 days) Early producer. Easy to pick, 1″ sprouts. Compact, disease resistant plants.

* ‘Royal Marvel’ F1 (85 days) Early and productive. Resistant to bottom rot and tip burn.

* ‘Rubine’ (85 – 95 days) Red Plants. Late maturing and lower yield than green varieties, but good flavor. 1 1/2 inch sprouts. Heirloom.

roasted Brussels sprouts
pan fried-Brussels sprouts
Brussels sprouts in garlic butter

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10 Easy to grow garden crops

The Old Farmers Almanac Has a lot of Useful as well as fun information for farmers and Gardeners no matter how big or small your farm / garden or your age.

Mother Earth News What mother earth news about says the 10 Best Garden Crops for Beginners.

If you’re a beginner, consider starting with the 10 crops discussed below. All are easy to grow, and this combination offers lots of possibilities for cooking. Some of these crops are best grown by setting out started seedlings, but most are easy to grow from a packet of seed planted directly in your garden soil.

1. Radishes. Radishes do well even in not so great garden soil and are ready to harvest in only a few weeks(3-5). Plant the seeds anytime the air temperatures remain above freezing.

2. Salad greens (beet and turnip tops, lettuce, spinach, arugula and corn salad). Pick your favorite, or try a mix. Many companies sell mixed packets for summer and winter gardening. Plant the seeds in spring and fall, and you can pick salads almost year round.

3. Green beans. Easy to grow and prolific. If you get a big crop, they freeze well, and they’re also delicious when pickled with dill as dilly beans. Start with seeds after all danger of frost has passed.

4. Onions. Start with small plants, and if they do well, you can harvest bulb onions. If not, you can always eat the greens.

5. Strawberries. Perfectly ripe strawberries are unbelievably sweet, and the plants are surprisingly hardy. Buy bare root plants in early spring. Put this perennial in a sunny spot and keep it well watered and weed free.

6. Peppers. Both hot peppers and bell peppers are easy to grow. Start with plants and let peppers from the same plant ripen for different lengths of time to get a range of colors and flavors.

7. Bush zucchini. This squash won’t take up as much room in your garden as many other types, and it’s very prolific. Start from seeds or transplants. You won’t need more than a few plants for a bumper crop.

8. Tomatoes. There’s just no substitute for a perfectly ripe homegrown tomato, and it’s hard to go wrong when you start with strong plants. If you get a big crop, consider canning or freezing your excess tomato’s.

9. Basil. Many herbs are easy to grow, but basil is a good choice because it’s a nice complement to tomatoes or any tomato dish. Basil is easy to grow from seeds or from transplants.

10. Potatoes. An easy-to-grow staple that stores well when kept cool. A simple and low maintenance approach is to plant potatoes in straw rather than soil. ‘Seeds’ are whole or cut sections of potatoes, sold in early spring.

Lifehacker has a lot of good useful information for the novice gardener, even if some of it is a bit on the wacky side of gardening.

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Salmonella, E. Coli and other bacteria

Growing your own foods will minimize risk of contamination.

Another Good Reason To Grow Your Own Food when possible. Salmonella, E. Coli and other bacteria names that I can’t even pronounce strikes fear into the hearts of all Americans. This is as it should be. They are common bacterias found everywhere in the natural world. At best an infection can make you feel bad and at worst they can be killers. Bacteria is killed and becomes harmless if you always cook foods to an internal temperature of at least 160%F

Most food supply contamination occur through poor farming practices or poor sanitation of food processing facilities and their employees. You can minimize risk by following great grand mothers warnings, always wash anything you are putting in your mouth. That includes your hands and ‘all’ foods. Carefully wash fruits and vegetables before cooking and even more importantly before eating raw fruits and vegetables. Generally speaking bacteria contamination are on the surface of food products and not actually contained in the cell structure of food products. Washing well will remove bacterial contamination.

Live better, eat better and enjoy better tasting vegetables by growing your own. Even the smallest plot can produce a large harvest if properly managed. City dwellers can use flower beds as vegetable gardens. Container Gardening Containers of all sizes and shapes can be used by renters and apartment dwellers to grow an amazing wide variety of vegetables.

Many herbs used in cooking are nothing more than hearty weeds, tolerant to heat and dry growing conditions and neglect. The secret is grow what you like to eat. If you never use thyme in your cooking, don’t wast your time and space growing thyme.

It seems that everyone wants to grow tomato’s. However if you have limited space this may not be a good choice for you. Tomato plants require a lot of space to grow and produce a good crop. Some of the smaller so called patio tomato’s may work for you. Tomato seed supplier

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Purple Martins Scouts Checked Out My…

Purple Martin scout birds were seen checking out my house I set up last spring. However the Sparrows have been trying to move in and they are fighting the Martin scout birds away from the house.

In this area we have 3 or 4 different types of Sparrows, but the most aggressive is the common English house Sparrow.

The English house sparrow is native to most of Europe and the Mediterranean region. In North America it is considered a non-native invasive pest and is not protected under U.S. native song bird laws. It has been characterized as a pest, and poses a threat to native birds. It will eat almost any seeds, but where it has a choice, it prefers oats and wheat.
In my case they raid grain in chicken feeders and scratch placed on the ground to feed my flock of chickens.

I remove their nesting materials from my Martin house daily and given the opportunity I dispatch them with my pellet rifle. However this has not deterred them from continuing to attempt to nest in my Martin house.

In an effort to remove them form the area around the house I am building Sparrow traps. The first trap is nearly completed. It is constructed out of 1/2 X 1 inch welded wire and it is 18 inches wide, 21 inches long and 8 inches tall with 2 entry funnels. With luck I will have it in place and baited before noon today.
Total cost for constructing 2 traps will be around $20.00 or maybe $22.00 US dollars.
** Construction Note: Trap size was based on available wire size. Constructing 2 traps from one 30 X 120 inch roll of wire.

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Mama And Doctors

Eat Your Vegetables – Mama Said and Mama was right ‘again’.

Some vegetables, flavors intensify as the plant matures, which is why the so called baby versions have a wide taste appeal with just as many health benefits.
Experiment with baby artichokes, beans, beets, cucumbers(2-4 inches long), okra(small is better), peppers, turnips and squashes(4-5 inches long) and carrots (the ones sold in bunches, with greens still attached not those sold in plastic bags, which are simply regular carrots, trimmed down.

You can find the babies at larger supermarkets, specialty grocers, and farmers’ markets such as younger brussels sprouts, can even be bought frozen. Not only do many people find baby vegetables more flavorful and less bitter, but they prefer the texture, too. Young vegetables are tender and require less cooking time.

Brussels sprout salad:
Slice vert thin, add a small amount of vinegarette dressing, toss well and let set for 20-30 minutes. Toss again to coat sprouts with dressing and add a few roasted pine nuts just before serving.

Oil them up judiciously using fats especially heart healthy ones like olive oil can go far in helping you love your veggies. When fat binds with seasonings and spices, it can transform vegetables from a duty diet item to something downright yummy. The link between vegetable avoidance and certain cancers is strong enough to justify a few oil added calories.

Raw veggies probably aren’t the first thing you crave when a snack attack strikes, but you’ll be much more tempted to eat them when they’re dunked in hummus, low fat dip, or your favorite salad dressing. Try munching at work, in front of the TV or when surfing the internet. Snacking on veggies away from the dinner table makes eating them feel like less of a health chore.

The poor lonely onion family, which includes leeks, shallots, and garlic, is rich in compounds suspected to fight cancer, says nutritionist Valerie Green, MPH. But for onion haters, the sharp flavors and strong smells can be almost nauseating. Try slow roasting plants in the onion family, which brings out the sweetness and cuts the sharpness. Brush leeks, shallots, garlic or thick sliced onions with a little olive oil(or ‘real’ butter) wrap in foil packets, and toss on the grill to mild down take the sting.

Tomato’s little secret is making sure you buy those that are vine ripened which eliminates almost all the bitter flavors, says Autar Mattoo, PhD, a molecular biologist with the USDA.

Over mature eggplants are bitter, but the size of this fiber and potassium packed vegetable isn’t your best clue. If your thumb leaves an indent that doesn’t bounce back, the eggplant will be spongy, tough, and bad tasting, even if it’s a little one. To further improve taste, check out its “belly button” at the blossom end, eggplants have either an oval or round dimple. Buy only the ovals.

To reduce eggplant’s bitter tendencies even more, after you slice it, sprinkle it with salt, then wait about half hour, rinse, pat dry and proceed with your recipe. Salt draws out water which contains the bitter tasting compounds.
Eggplants are worth the trouble. The insides of these veggies are high in polyphenols the same chemicals that make apples so good for you.

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Why is common sense so uncommon?
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