Country Traditions

September 30, 2010

Best Apples for Baking

Filed under: gardening, recipes, wisdom — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 5:27 pm
Granny Smith, green Apple

Image via Wikipedia Granny Smith

NAME Best Uses Flavor Characteristic, Appearance
Braeburn Sauce Tart, sweet, aromatic, tall shape, bright color
Cortland Pies, Sauces, Fruit Salad Tart, crisp, larger than ‘McIntosh
Fuji Baking Sweet and juicy, firm, red skin
Gala Dried, Cider Mild, sweet, juicy, crisp, yellow-orange skin with red striping (resembles a peach)
Granny Smith Baking Moderately sweet, crisp flesh, green skin
Jonagold Pie, Sauce Tangy-sweet, Yellow top, red bottom
Jonathan Sauce Tart flesh, crisp, juicy, bright red on yellow skin
McIntosh Sauce Juicy, sweet, pinkish-white flesh, red skin
Newton Pippin Pie, Sauce, Cider Sweet-tart flesh, crisp, greenish-yellow skin
Rhode Island Greening Pie Very tart, distinctively flavored, grass-green skin, tending toward yellow/orange
Rome Beauty Baking, Cider Mildly tart, crisp, greenish-white flesh, thick skin
Winesap Sauce, Pie, Cider Very juicy, sweet-sour flavor, winey, aromatic, sturdy, red skin
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Seasonal Crafts: Apple Heads

Filed under: animals, dehydrating, wisdom — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 5:19 pm
Geronimo, 1887, prominent leader of the Chiric...

Indian crafts

The Native American art of making apple heads is both easy and fun. Follow these instructions for acreative fall craft.

  • Choose a big apple and start by peeling it.
  • Then, with a sharp knife, form the nose, make eye sockets, and cut a line for the mouth.
  • Carve around the mouth to accentuate the cheeks, and make some lines around the eyes and on the forehead.
  • Soak the head in lemon juice for about 1/2 hour (so it doesn’t turn brown) before hanging it to dry.
  • When the head is almost dry, add peppercorn or bean eyes. Use your imagination to make some hair and a body to go with the head.
  • http://www.almanac.com/content/seasonal-crafts-apple-heads

How to make perfect shortbread

Filed under: recipes — Tags: , , , , — dmacc502 @ 11:24 am
Baking powder

Image by Mel B. via Flickr

ShortbreadView larger pictureShortbread: from top, Sue Lawrence, Delia, Leiths, Ballymaloe unrolled and rolled, Marcus Wareing. Click the image for a closer look. Photograph: Felicity Cloake

I’ve always wished I had a Scottish granny. Nothing against the two ladies to whom I owe my taste for slabs of Thornton’s toffee and cream sherry, but if they ever baked a round of shortbread, it never made it on to the tea table while I was visiting. I won’t deny that Tunnock’s tea cakes – another great Scottish snack – have their merits, but despite not having a tartan bone in my body, I nurse a particular passion for shortbread as wild and romantic as anything in the work of Sir Walter Scott.

Sandy as the Western Isles, and rich as an RBS board member, shortbread is without doubt the finest biscuit Britain has ever produced. (Although, strictly speaking, thanks to the efforts of the Scottish Association of Master Bakers, it’s not a common biscuit at all, but a “speciality item of flour confectionery” – for tax purposes, at least. Even baked goods are canny with their pennies north of the border, it seems.)

All you really need to know about shortbread is in the name: according to Laura Mason and Catherine Brown’s methodically researched encyclopedia The Taste of Britain, “short” has been used to describe a “friable, brittle, crumbling texture” since medieval times. The first recipes called for “barm” (the yeasty foam formed by fermentation) along with butter and a “Peck of Flour”, which sounds more like a modern shortcake, but by the 19th century the leavening agents had returned to their duties in brewing, and the shortbread had taken its current form – a sweet, crumbly biscuit.

According to one Mistress Meg Dods (aka Christian Isobel Johnstone) writing in 1826 as she prepared a box to send south for Christmas, the buttery biscuit is a treat reserved for special occasions. You don’t get shortbread in a box of Family Circle (the hopefully named “rich shortie” is no substitute), or nestling amongst the pink wafers at the blood donation centre – its natural habitat is Sunday china, and Christmas Eve. Even the tartan pouches of Walkers beloved of refreshment trolleys have a certain posh thrill about them, particularly when dunked in railway tea. But, assuming you don’t travel enough to get your fix, what’s the best way to make shortbread at home?

The basic

According to the Orcadian folklorist and food writer F Marian McNeill, who published The Scots Kitchen in 1929, classic shortbread contains just three ingredients, flour (“dried and sieved”), butter (“squeezed free of all water“) and sugar (“fine caster”). It all, she says, depends on the quality of this trio, ‘careful blending … and careful firing’.

Reading on, however, her shortbread turns out to contain rice flour (of which more later), forcing me to fall back on the patron saint of inept cooks, Delia Smith, for my first recipe. In her Complete Cookery Course, she beats 110g butter until creamy, stirs in 50g caster sugar, and then sifts in 175g plain flour. The dough is rolled out to a 3mm thickness, cut into biscuits, and baked at 150C for half an hour. The results remind me of the description of shortbread in the Oxford Companion to Food as essentially “a thick layer of rich, sweetened shortcrust pastry“: crumbly and sweet, this would make an excellent accompaniment to some fruit and cream, but isn’t rich or buttery enough to satisfy on its own.

Enter the rice

Improbably exotic as it may sound in this context, ground rice (available from the Asian or baking sections of large supermarkets, depending on the relative propensity of the local population to make phirni or shortbread – fine semolina also works if you can’t find it) has long been the secret of many a cook’s deliciously sandy shortbread. The recipe in the Leiths Baking Bible suggests a ratio of 55g ground rice to 115g plain flour, stirred into 115g softened butter and 55g caster sugar. The dough is then shaped and baked for 20 minutes at 170C – and it’s absolutely delicious. There’s a definite crunch when I bite into a piece, and the rice has made the crumb fabulously friable. This could be a contender – although I’d reduce the ratio of rice slightly, or it’s more grit than biscuit.

Cornflour

Scottish food expert Sue Lawrence knows her shortbread – and she uses cornflour, rather than ground rice, to give a “nice melt in the mouth texture” – 50g to 200g plain flour, along with 175g slightly-salted butter and 85g caster sugar. (Shortbread, she says, benefits from a wee bit of salt, and I have to agree – a generous pinch also works wonders.) It’s patted out and cooked in a gentle 150C oven for 35 to 40 minutes, to give a rich, feather soft shortbread that does indeed dissolve on the tongue. The flavour is good, but personally, I prefer a bit of Scottish sand in my petticoat tails.

Baking powder

I find only one recipe using any sort of leavening agent, as used at Ballymaloe Cookery School – the news of the change in recipe must have been lost somewhere over the Irish Sea. A good pinch of baking powder is sifted into 275g butter and 110g caster sugar, along with 350g plain flour and 75g ground rice, and baked in a 150C oven for an hour. There’s a satisfying ‘snap’ as I break a biscuit in half, but I find the texture rather dry and crunchy – I can imagine these with ice cream, but they’re a bit too austere for a cup of tea.

Rich shortbread

Ayreshire shortbreadAyreshire shortbread. Photograph: Felicity Cloake

This leads me to seek out a richer recipe for so-called Ayrshire shortbread, which, not content with the butter and sugar content of the traditional biscuit, demands cream and egg as well. I try one taken from a 1936 manual of Household Management, which uses 2 tbsp cream and 1 egg yolk stirred into 225g plain flour, 100g rice flour, 100g caster sugar, and 100g butter. The dough is moister than an all-butter version, and the shortbread has a rather scone-like texture – in fact, fluffy wouldn’t be too strong a word for these deviants. Too soft by half – proper Sassenach biscuits in fact.

Chilled out …

Sue Lawrence, and Leiths, both call for softened butter. Delia and Good Housekeeping ask for it at room temperature. Chef Marcus Wareing, however, in his book How to Make the Perfect … specifies the butter for his mother-in-law Doreen’s shortbread must be chilled, and then grated into the dry ingredients. This is a technique I’ve come across before in pastry making – keeping the mixture cool means it’s easier to work with.

However, according to Bon Appetit magazine, using cold butter also helps to give a flaky, rather than a crumbly finished product, as “the relatively large particles … leave air pockets when they melt during baking“. Flaky is not a word writ large in my shortbread dreams, but I give the recipe a try anyway, chilling the dough for an hour in the fridge before baking as well in obedience to Doreen. The texture of her shortbread does seem different – looser, somehow, and when I break one in half, I spot a few tiny cavities in the crumb.

As Leiths also recommend chilling the dough before baking, although only for 15 minutes, I make another batch of their recipe with soft butter, stick it straight in the oven without passing the fridge, and end up with thinner, crunchier biscuits – presumably because the mixture spreads as the fat melts. I conclude that refrigerating the dough is a good idea, but chilling your butter probably isn’t.

Roll on, roll off

In the course of my baking, I’ve noticed that many recipes instruct the baker to pat her biscuits into shape, rather than rolling them. This puzzles me, until I read F Marian McNeill’s explanation: too much pressure on the dough has a “tendency to toughen it”. Sue Lawrence agrees that if you have cool hands, you should use them – if not, she says, a light rolling pin will be fine.

To put this to the test, when making the Ballymaloe biscuits, I roll out half the dough firmly, and pat the other half into shape by hand. Oddly enough, the rolled biscuits, which start off flatter, seem to have risen slightly more than their patted counterparts, but they’re also a little less crumbly. It’s a fine point, but for the perfect shortbread, you should probably go as easy on the dough as possible.

Shortbread has so few ingredients that you can’t get away with cutting corners; good quality butter and sugar are essential, and plenty of them. Rice flour gives it that special sandy texture that sets it apart from the common biscuit, and a pinch of salt helps to balance that rich, delicious sweetness. Treat the dough gently, chill it, and cook it gently, sprinkle liberally with brown sugar – and wash down with a pint of Irn Bru.

Perfect shortbread

Perfect shortbreadFelicity’s perfect shortbread. Photograph: Felicity Cloake

Makes about 12 portions

115g butter, at room temperature
55g caster sugar (I like to use golden for flavour)
Good pinch of salt
130g plain flour
40g ground rice
Demerara sugar, to finish

1. Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Put the butter into a large mixing bowl, and beat with a wooden spoon until soft. Beat in the sugar and salt.

2. Sift over the flour and ground rice and mix to a smooth dough; if it doesn’t come together, add a little more butter.

3. Line a 15cm cake or tart tin with baking parchment, and pat, or lightly roll, the dough into a shape slightly smaller than the tin. Alternatively pat out to 1cm thickness and cut into biscuits and put on a lined baking tray. Put in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes until firm.

4. Bake for around an hour (about half that for biscuits) until cooked through, but not browned. Take out of the oven and cut into fingers, slices or squares.

5. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then sprinkle with demerara sugar and transfer to a wire rack. Once cold, this should last for a good few days in an airtight container (or the coolest oven in an Aga, according to Darina Allen of Ballymaloe).

Could shortbread be the greatest British biscuit of all time – and if so, what’s your favourite recipe? Is Walkers shortbread the best on the market, or does anyone share my sneaking fondness for Prince Charles’ elegant shortbread thins, despite his Welsh loyalties? And are added flavourings ever acceptable north of the border?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2010/sep/30/how-to-make-perfect-shortbread

Caramel-Covered Apples, All Time Favorite

Filed under: gardening, recipes — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 7:41 am
Peanut Caramel Coated Apples 2819px

Image via Wikipedia

  • 1 14-ounce package individually wrapped caramels
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 8 apples, washed and dried
  • yields 8

In a large saucepan over low heat, melt caramels and milk, stirring often. (Or in a medium glass bowl, melt caramels and milk in microwave.) Place wooden sticks into stem ends of apples and dip into caramel until well coated. Place on a wax-paper-lined baking sheet or platter. Let caramel apples set and cool, about 10 minutes, before eating.

September 29, 2010

Raising Ducks: Choosing Breeds, Feed, Housing and More

Filed under: animals, farming, ponds, wisdom — Tags: , , — dmacc502 @ 6:56 pm
Ducks amongst other poultry

Image via Wikipedia

Choosing a Breed
All domestic breeds (except the Muscovy) originate from the wild Mallard, but they have been developed for specific purposes. Most ducks still have a strong utility element — they provide meat and eggs — although there are exceptions. Like chickens, ducks are divided into bantam, heavy and light breeds, with the heavy breeds being better suited to the table and the light breeds providing the high egg layers.

Bantam Breeds

The best known of the bantam breeds is the Call duck, so named for its loud and persistent quack. It makes a great pet, but is not a good layer. The Crested Miniature, which is an exhibition type, lays a useful 100 eggs a year, but the Silver Appleyard Miniature not only lays well but is also meaty for its size. The Australian Spotted also lays well and matures fast. Bantam breeds are good flyers and need to have their wings clipped.

Light Breeds

This group includes the really good layers, such as the Indian Runner, an upright duck that cannot fly but is a superb forager on pasture and should not be confined to a small area. The Campbell was bred for egg laying — it can produce 300 a year — and also makes a good table bird. The Welsh Harlequin is another dual-purpose, hardy bird with a placid nature.

Heavy Breeds

These are the table birds, and at the top of the list is the Aylesbury. The true Aylesbury is rare, and most such-named ducks are really white, heavy, Pekin-type hybrids. The Pekin is a semi-upright, quick-maturing, high meat-yielding bird, but a low layer in Britain, although U.S. keepers can expect up to 200 eggs a season.

The Rouen and Rouen Clair are kept for their looks, but still produce a good carcass and 100 or so eggs a season. The Silver Appleyard was developed to be a good foraging, dual-purpose bird, but it is also colorful in appearance.
Heavy breeds are not good flyers, with the exception of the Muscovy. It originates from a tree duck, and with its crest, its hissing, and the red, fleshy protuberances on its face and bill (carbuncles), it looks quite different from other ducks. It makes a good table bird (though it is dark meat) and is a moderate layer, but it can be aggressive and also eats small mammals.

Buying Ducks
You can buy ducks direct from breeders, from quality shows and sales, and from hatcheries.

Buy birds at the age they start laying eggs (21 to 24 weeks old), and they can live for eight to 10 years. Day-old ducklings require heat and starter crumbs as well as drinking water. Restrict access to swimming water until the birds’ preen glands come into play — which is not until they have passed the downy (fluffy) stage — because ducklings reared away from their mothers are not waterproof and will drown or get chilled.

Feeding Ducks
Offer a balanced ration according to age or type: starter crumbs for ducklings, growers’ pellets for 4- to 6-week-old ducks, finishing pellets up to slaughter, breeders’ pellets for breeding ducks, and layers’ pellets for egg producers. If they are foraging on ground that hasn’t beren overgrazed, ducks will pick up lots of invertebrates and other grubs to supplement their diet. Provide plenty of water.

Water for Ducks
Ducks need water in order to splash, which activates their preen gland, keeps their feathers well-oiled and healthy, and cleans their eyes and nose. The heavy breeds appreciate swimming water for mating, but the lighter ducks can manage with a small pond. The water must be deep enough for them to be able to get their heads under the water and ideally to be able to float.

The water will become foul and must be changed regularly unless it flows naturally. All ponds need to have sloping sides or ramps so that they can get in or out.

Housing Ducks
Ducks must be shut in a house at dusk to protect them from predators, and then let out in the morning. They are ground-roosting birds and need a secure, well-ventilated shed with a large entrance so that they do not get damaged. High windows will allow air to circulate above the birds, and the house should be at least 3 feet high. For nighttime confinement only, ducks need about 4 square feet of space each, but if they have to be confined for longer periods, they will need more space, along with a pond that can’t be knocked over.

Ducks are messy creatures, so you’ll need to be able to clean out their pen and hose it down. They also suffer from “bumble foot,” which is caused by infections resulting from injuries on their webs by sharp stones or rubbish. Bumble foot can be fatal, so grass or smooth surfaces are preferable.

Ducks are at risk from foxes and other predators, and ducklings are at risk from winged predators. Young birds should be protected in a covered run, while adults need protection at night and sometimes during the day. The protection may take the form of electric fencing or wire sunk into the ground and sloped at the top. If you are using natural water, look out for water predators, such as mink.

Duck Diseases
If they are kept well with access to water and room to forage, ducks are hardy. Worming and mite treatments are essential, and respiratory problems are often caused by a stuffy, over-hot house with moldy bedding. Crop binding is caused by gizzard worm or by long grass or grass clippings getting stuck in the gizzard, so make sure you provide grit.

The sudden death of more than one bird from your flock should always be investigated by a veterinary surgeon in case the bird has a serious disease, such as avian flu or Newcastle disease.

Produce From Your Ducks
Collect eggs every day and keep them clean. It’s difficult to get ducks to lay in a nest box, but they do often lay in the house, so keep the bedding clean. Table ducks need to be slaughtered at seven weeks for hybrids or 10 weeks for pure breeds, before they go into their juvenile molt. After this they will be harder to pluck, although the meat is unaffected. As with chickens, slaughter is usually by neck dislocation, but it requires more skill and determination than for chickens, and you must learn from an expert or get a professional to do it for you to ensure a humane death.

Plucking is time-consuming. Ducks can be plucked wet or dry, and small-scale plucking machines are available.

Keeping Drakes
Don’t keep more than one drake to a flock. They have high libidos and will damage the ducks with their constant attention. You don’t need a drake at all for the ducks to lay eggs.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/sustainable-farming/raising-ducks

September 28, 2010

German Baby Pancakes

Filed under: cast iron, recipes — Tags: , , , , — dmacc502 @ 8:43 pm
Small maple syrup jug with non-functional loop...

Image via Wikipedia

By: Shirley Smith
“Quick, easy and delicious. Serve with lemon wedges, warm maple syrup and jam.”
Ingredients

3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Place butter in a 10 inch cast iron skillet and heat the skillet in oven.
Beat eggs at high speed with an electric mixer. Slowly add the milk and flour.
Pour batter into hot skillet. Return skillet to oven and bake for 20 minutes. It will rise like a souffle, then fall when taken out of oven. Lightly dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Gardening Container Video: Growing Potatoes in a Trash Can

Filed under: gardening — Tags: — dmacc502 @ 3:38 pm

Gardening Container Video: Garden Growing Potatoes.

via Gardening Container Video: Garden Growing Potatoes.

via Gardening Container Video: Garden Growing Potatoes.

Root Cellars: Handle Your Harvest With Care

Filed under: dehydrating, farming, gardening, herbs, recipes, weather, wisdom — Tags: , , , , — dmacc502 @ 3:24 pm
An arrangement of fruits commonly thought of a...

Image via Wikipedia

http://www.almanac.com/content/root-cellars-handle-your-harvest-care

If you’re planning to store produce in a root cellar, here are tips to ensure to ensure that your fruits and vegetables survive storage.

  • Stock your cellar as late in the season as you can. If possible, chill the produce in the fridge before putting it in the cellar.
  • A few vegetables—such as potatoes, winter squashes, and onions—need to be “cured” for a few days in warm temperatures before going into cold storage.
  • Shake off loose dirt rather than washing it off. Many root–cellar vegetables store better this way.
  • Always handle your vegetables with care; even slightly rough treatment can cause invisible bruising, starts the produce on the road to decomposition.
  • Store cabbages and turnips in a detached root cellar so their odor, which can be unpleasant, will not permeate the house.
  • Think about where you place produce: The driest, warmest air is near the ceiling, more-humid air is lower as well as farthest from the door.
  • Most fruit “breathes,” and some—particularly apples and pears—should be wrapped in paper to retard the release of ethylene gas.
  • Making a root cellar in a garage or using pressure-treated wood is not recommended.
  • Vegetables piled together generate heat, which can lead to spoilage. Put on shelves close to the floor and rotate.
  • Check your vegetables regularly, and immediately remove any with signs of rot. From the lessons of the cold cellar comes the saying, “One rotten apple spoils the whole barrel.”

Home Remedies: Pets

Filed under: animals, home remedies, recipes, Vinegar, wisdom — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 3:16 pm
Rolled oats

rolled oats

http://www.almanac.com/content/home-remedies-pets

Fleas

  • Shampoo your pet with flea shampoo and spray the animal between shampoos with flea spray.
  • Place a flea collar in the bag of your vacuum cleaner. Any fleas you sweep up will stay put in there.
  • If you don’t want to use a flea collar with insecticides, active ingredients such as eucalyptus, cedar, lemongrass, rosemary and marigold won’t exterminate, but will deter fleas.
  • Feed your pet a combination of brewer’s yeast and garlic once a day during flea season. The mixture will make your pet taste bad to fleas when they bite, while also conditioning your pet’s skin.
  • Placing an open jar or two of eucalyptus stems and leaves around the house can deter fleas. Place them in rooms where your pet spends the most time (especially those with carpets- fleas love to hide in them.)
  • Give your dog a flea bath with limonene shampoo, and flea-comb him down thoroughly while he’s in the water so the fleas drown.

Itchiness

  • Oatmeal Bath- Put uncooked oatmeal or rolled oats into a sock or nylon stocking and run a tubful of warm water over it. Soak your dog (cats will rarely let you do this) in the water for 5 to 10 minutes. Oatmeal based shampoos are also available at pet stores.
  • Aloe Vera- Break off a piece of the plant and apply the thick juice directly to the raw area.
  • Aggravated skin sores, also known as hot spots, can make your pet miserable. If you see a hot spot developing, clip about one-half to one inch around the sore to prevent hair and other dirt from further aggravating it. Clean the sore with hydrogen peroxide on gauze or a cotton ball, and after it dries spray the area with cortisone cream. Do this twice a day until the sore starts to dry out or a scab begins to form.

Cuts, Scrapes, Abrasions

  • Mix together 1-pint water, 1/2-teaspoon salt, and 1/2-teaspoon calendula tincture.
  • Soak an injured paw in the solution. If the wound is on the body put the solution in a quirt bottle or large syringe and gently apply it to the injured area.
  • Repeat the soaking or application every 4 to 6 hours for the first 24 hours.

Bites and Scratches

  • Rinse out the fresh wounds and punctures with large amounts of this solution: 1-pint water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon Echinacea/goldenseal tincture.
  • Hydrogen peroxide may also be used t clean wounds, but it can damage delicate tissues.
  • Cat wounds are notorious for forming abscesses. If the abscess is draining, clean it with withe Echinacea/goldenseal solution. Always wear latex gloves while handling an abscess.

Burrs in Fur

  • For dogs, comb the burrs in their fur with a metal comb immediately. If burrs are badly tangled rub vegetable oil on your fingers and work the lubrication slowly through the fur until you can pull the burrs out.
  • Cats typically will want to take care of their own grooming, but you can help by gently working through the mess with a wire brush. Most cats won’t let you cut the fur or lubricate it the way a dog will.

If a skunk sprays…

  • Bathe your dog in a mixture of 1-quart hydrogen peroxide, 1/4-cup baking soda, and 1 teaspoon liquid soap. Work the solution into the fur (avoiding eyes) then rinse.
  • To rid the stench from your pet douse him with tomato juice, leaving it on for several minutes before rinsing it off. For a large dog, a single washing can require several cans of tomato juice. You may have to repeat the procedure, but the odor will eventually work itself out of your pet’s coat.

REMEMBER…sometimes simple solutions aren’t enough. If problems persist or worsen, or when in doubt, always check with your vet.

How to Predict a Frost

Ice Iris

Image via Wikipedia

  • How warm was it during the day? If the temperature reached 75 degrees F (in the East or North) or 80 degrees F (in the desert Southwest), the chance of the mercury falling below 32 degrees is slim.
  • Is it windy? A still night allows cold air to pool near the ground; a breeze keeps things stirred up.
  • Is it cloudy? If the Sun sets through a layer of thickening clouds, the clouds will slow radiational cooling and help stave off a frost.
  • What is the dew point? As a rule of thumb, don’t worry about a frost if the dew point (the temperature at which water vapor condenses) is above 45 degrees on the evening weather report.
  • How is your garden sited? Gardens on slopes or high ground often survive when the coldest air puddles down in the valleys and hollows.

See frost dates for your area. Click here for the U.S. Frost Chart and for the Canadian Frost Chart on Almanac.com.

Better Safe Than Sorry

If you’re a gardener, here are few tips on preparing for frost.

  • When nights get cold, protect tomato, eggplant, and pepper plants with old sheets, paper bags, or plastic at night and remove the coverings in the morning.
  • Bring geraniums indoors before the first frost arrives. Keep them in a sunny window in a relatively moist room; the kitchen is often best.
  • Harvest basil and other tender herbs before a frost. Even if they survive the frost, they don’t do well in cold temperatures. The same is true for summer squash, peppers, and most annuals.
  • Harvest all tomatoes and let them ripen indoors on tabletops or counters out of the sun.
  • http://www.almanac.com/content/blog-how-predict-frost
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