Country Traditions

November 8, 2010

Gardening week ahead: Sowing sweet peas – Telegraph

Filed under: family, farming, gardening — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 4:30 pm
Sweet pea

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Gardening week ahead: Sowing sweet peas – Telegraph.

via Gardening week ahead: Sowing sweet peas – Telegraph.

Remove the shoot tips when plants reach 4in to encourage branching Photo: MARTIN POPE

Help them by nicking the seed coat, avoiding the eye-like attachment scar. Do not soak seeds as this can encourage rotting. Brown or white seeds do not need pre-treatment.

Sow individually, half an inch deep, into sweet-pea tubes, 3in pots, deep modular trays or root-trainer modules filled with seed compost. They can remain in these until put in their final positions.

Cover pots with clear plastic or glass and keep at 60F.

Remove the cover once seedlings show above the compost and move pots to an unheated greenhouse, conservatory or cold frame. Good light and ventilation are crucial for sturdy plants, but close the vents if heavy frost is forecast.

Keep the compost just moist – don’t overwater and don’t feed. Remove the shoot tips when plants reach 4in to encourage branching.

Plant out in containers or in the garden next spring, after the final frosts.


October 26, 2010

Petunias Seeds to Save – iVillage

Filed under: farming, gardening, weather — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 7:46 am
A container garden of petunias, daisies, marig...

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Petunias Seeds to Save – iVillage.

via Petunias Seeds to Save – iVillage. Click link for list of 10


“Be careful not to cull from common petunia hybrids,” warns Milliken. (Hybrid offspring are either sterile or will not resemble the parent.) “But otherwise gathering the seed is very straightforward.”

October 19, 2010

Plants by Type: herb

Filed under: gardening, herbs — Tags: , , , , — dmacc502 @ 6:53 am
Mentha x piperita var. citrata 'Eau de Cologne...

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We’ve chosen North America’s most popular garden plants and provided “how to” gardening information to help you prepare, plant, and care for them.

For each plant, we’ve identified the hardiness zone, sun exposure, soil type, soil pH, pests and problems, harvest tips, recommended varieties, and special features. You’ll also find recipes, free e-cards, and a dose of wit & wisdom. Just click on an image below to view that plant’s growing guide.

Or, click the links below to browse by plant type:


September 28, 2010

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...

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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.”

September 12, 2010

Freezing Food

Filed under: freezing food — Tags: , — dmacc502 @ 7:02 pm
Various fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains; ...

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The basics of freezing

No matter what type of food you’re freezing, there are several basic guidelines that will make your life easier, and help you get the best results. These are :

Freezing can retain quality, but not increase it. Begin with good quality food.
Try to prevent air coming in contact with the food, and moisture from escaping. Both of these will dry things out, and can ‘burn‘ them in many cases.
Freeze foods as quickly as possible. This will minimise the size of ice crystals that will form, limiting the damage to the food when thawed.
Foods should be slightly undercooked when frozen if they are to be reheated when thawed.
Only put as much food in the freezer as will freeze within the next 24 hours or so (usually about 2-3lb per cubic foot).
Rather than freezing spices, add them just prior to serving a meal. They can change colour and flavour when frozen.
Label things so you know when they were frozen, and when to take them out.
How to freeze vegetables

Most vegetables freeze quite well (they’ll happily stay frozen for several months). Where possible, use the youngest and most tender of those available.

Here’s what’s involved :


Clean the vegetables to remove as much dirt as possible.
Trim them, removing any unwanted stalks and leaves.
Cut them into bite-size portions.

Many vegetables contain a number of enzymes which cause them to lose their colour and flavour when frozen. Blanching (putting the vegetables briefly in boiling water) stops these enzymes from acting.

To blanch the vegetables, set up a pan of boiling water beside a bowl of ice water. Using a slotted spoon, put a small handful of vegetables into the boiling water for a couple of minutes*, then transfer it to the ice water (to stop it cooking). Pat it dry, and put it aside. Repeat with the rest.

* times vary, so here are the recommended blanching times for a number of common vegetables :

Vegetable Blanching time
Asparagus Wash, sort by size. Snap off tough ends. Blanch for 2-3 min.
Beans Wash. Trim ends. Cut if desired.Blanch for 2-3 min.
Beetroot Wash. Remove tops, leaving about an inch. Cook until tender (25–30 min for small beets; 45-50 for large ones). Cool promptly, peel, trim tap root and stem. Cut into slices or cubes. Pack into freezer containers.
Broccoli Wash. Trim leaves. Cut into pieces. Blanch for 3 min.
Brussels sprouts Wash. Remove outer leaves. Blanch for 4-5 min.
Cabbage Wash. Discard course outer leaves. If shredded, blanch for about 1.5 min. For wedges, blanch for 3-4 min.
Carrots Wash, peel and trim. Cut if desired. Blanch for 2 min (small carrots) – 5 min (large ones).
Cauliflower Discard leaves and stem, wash. Break into
flowerets or leave small heads whole. Add 1 tbsp vinegar to water, and blanch for 6 min.
Corn on the cob Remove husks and silks. Trim ends. Blanch medium-sized ears for 8 min. Wrap ears individually in plastic wrap or freezer bags.
Eggplant Wash, peel, slice 1/3 inch thick. Blanch for 4 min in water containing a tablespoon of citric acid or lemon juice.
Herbs Wash. Snip or leave on stalks. For basil only, blanch for a minute. For other herbs,
blanching is not necessary. Freeze in a single layer on trays or baking sheets.
Mushrooms Wipe with damp paper towel. Trim. May be frozen without blanching.
Once all the vegetables have been blanched and cooled, pack them straight into containers or bags. Alternatively, lay them out on baking sheets / trays and freeze them like this (put them into containers or bags later – they’ll fit better, and can be easily broken up).

How long will they last?
Frozen vegetables will generally last for 3-6 months.Details of the process for common fruits are :

Fruit Preparation
Apples Wash, peel, core, and cut into pie slices. Cover with ascorbic acid.
Apricots, Peaches and Nectarines Wash in cold water and sort. Dip apricots or nectarines in boiling water until skins loosen, about 15 to 20 seconds. Chill, peel, halve and remove stones. Pack with syrup (above).
Bananas Peel and mash thoroughly. Add 1/2 teaspoon ascorbic acid or lemon juice per cup of mashed banana. Package, seal, and freeze.
Berries Wash and sort. Pack in syrup.
Cherries Wash, sort, stem, and pit. Pack in syrup; add ½ teaspoon ascorbic acid.
Citrus Fruit Wash, peel, section or slice fruit. Add ¼ teaspoon ascorbic acid to some sugar, and sprinkle over each layer. Let stand in refrigerator until fruit forms its own juice. Stir gently, and freeze.
Cranberries Wash, sort and pack without sugar.
Currants (use large varieties where possible) Wash in cold water and sort. Pack in sugar using 1 cup sugar to 8-9 cups fruit. For cooking, pack dry without sugar.
Gooseberries Wash and sort. Pack without sugar or syrup or mix berries and sugar called for in pie recipe.
Melons Wash. Cut flesh into ½- to ¾-inch cubes or balls. Cover with sugar syrup, using 2 cups sugar to 1 quart water. Serve partially frozen.
Pineapple Peel and core. Dice, slice or cut into wedges. Cover with syrup.
Rhubarb Remove leaves and woody ends, wash and cut in 1-inch lengths. Do not blanch. Pack with sugar.
Strawberries Wash, sort and stem. Pack whole, sliced, or crushed berries in a light syrup.
Tomatoes Cook completely (boil) prior to freezing.

Succession Gardening: Planting Dates for Second Crops

Filed under: gardening — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 6:06 pm

A second harvest can dramatically increase your yield—and allow you to enjoy fresh vegetables into fall and winter. In addition, fall gardening is often easier since there are less pests and problems in cooler weather. Finally, a fall “cover” crop can organically protect and build your soil.

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