Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

Pickled Produce – Pickling for Quick Use…

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This simple process can apply for much of your produce via the garden, such as: sweet & hot peppers, okra, cucumbers, radishes, and so on.

pickling

Unlike the tedious canning process, pickling doesn’t require absolute sterility before being sealed nor do you have to worry about the absence of oxygen within the container or jar. The flavor, salinity and/or acidity of the pickling solution you decide to use along with being kept refrigerated, is all you’ll have to be concerned with – that is, if it’s consumed within a reasonable time period.

Pickling Peppers for quick use…

Take and wash the peppers; slice the sides or stab 3 or 4 holes into them with a knife. This needs to be done so the vinegar solution quickly penetrates the pepper inside & out.
If it is large peppers, for example, a full sized banana pepper, you may need to cut the top off, slice into quarters, and de-seed the pepper so it fits into the jar.
You can also slice your peppers into what is often called “nacho sliced peppers.” Often times, you’ll find Jalapenos sliced this way, at local grocery stores and markets.
Stuff the jar full of peppers along with whatever additional produce you choose to season it with; I usually throw in a few slices of onions.

The acidic solution: When pickling peppers, I typically use a 3:1 ratio – 3 parts vinegar (I use white vinegar) for every 1 part water. For flavor, I’ll add 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of non-iodized salt per jar.

Heat the vinegar/water solution until it is boiling. Pour the hot solution into the pepper-filled jars while leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace remaining in the jar.
Put the lid on the jar, allow to cool for a couple hours at room temperature and then place it in the refrigerator.
Some folks think they need to be ate within one or two months, while others claim that the peppers will keep for at least 6 months. One of the main reasons I use a 3:1 ratio is to increase the shelf life capacity. I have cooked with peppers that I’ve pickled this way, up to 9 or 10 months later.

I’d use the same 3:1 ratio for okra, as well.

On the other hand, when I pickle cucumbers for quick use, I only use a 1:1 ratio – since I know it will be ate within a few days.

I’ve never tried pickled radishes, but I’m sure they would turn out well. There are so many other things that can be pickled, such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, onions, and whatnot.

But remember, unless you go through the canning process, you must keep them refrigerated and consume within a limited time frame.

Good luck with the yield in your garden and happy pickling……

Corn Plants Falling Down in the Garden?

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This stuff happens, especially to the newbies. If you’re new to the garden scene and/or just simply would like to remedy this corn plant-related mishap, there’s a few things you can do to prevent this……

A beautiful field of corn plants basking in the sun...

A beautiful field of corn plants basking in the sun...

The most common mistake made when planting corn, is by not putting the seed deep enough into the ground. Most packets of corn seed will instruct you to sow the seeds 1 inch deep, as this is not always enough; somewhere around 2 to 3 inches deep would yield stronger plants with a more stable foundation of root support.
Besides planting deeper, there is a couple more things you can do to help hinder the falling down of your corn plants. After your plants reach a height of 2 feet or more, and you have weeded out the weak sprouts, mound a pile of dirt around the base of each corn stalk. I’d suggest a nice, well-rounded pile of dirt, roughly 2 to 3 inches high.
If all else fails and/or you’re enduring a bad season of high wind and hard storms, you could always drive stakes into the ground and tie them off – by securing the lower section of each plant. This is an easy solution, but would only be worth the effort in small, personal gardens. If you have a lot of corn, you’re better off planting them a little deeper to begin with, so you can avoid having to put in all the extra effort to prevent them from falling over. Of course, due to random weather conditions and bouts of strong gust, it is normal for some of your plants to get blown down regardless of preventive measures.

Fertilizing your corn: 

The wonderful corn plant is often referred to as a “nitrogen lover.” They utterly thrive in soil & fertilizer that has a high nitrogen content. Typically, for most vegetables, I select a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or use Miracle Grow supplements as 18-18-21. But for corn, it’s better to use pure ammonium nitrate fertilizer or Miracle Grow supplements as 24-8-16, for example. Although, you can never go wrong with using rich, organic fertilizer and compost for any plants within your garden.

Also, corn is very dependent on a regular supply of water. If you have a small to mid-size garden that you’re able to easily water, I recommend that you do so – to combat any sessions of drought that the hot growing season of summer often casts down upon thee. If corn doesn’t get enough water, it will not produce quality ears.
Good luck with your crop and take advantage of the garden season while it’s here in full swing……

If you do have good garden results, yield a lot of produce, and you lack the freezer room, you may be interested in visiting the link below:

——— ‘Click Here’ for a fine selection of Chest Freezers.

Radishes didn’t produce?

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For whatever reason, poor economy or other motivational factors, there is a lot of new gardeners out there.

Personally, I’m glad to see it. Of course, due to these newly rising interests in agriculture, the retail stores and other outdoor outlets, have raised the price on seeds. We won’t get into that, since things might get a little sloppy in such verbiage that would pertain to aggressive marketing methods and corporate bastards.

Okay, back to the subject at hand, I’ve recently been addressed with a question: Why didn’t my radishes produce?

This is a simple query, but it’s also a common mistake made by gardening newbies…

I asked in return, “what time of year was it? Was it hot weather?” They said, “uh, yeah…it was like late spring just before summer…when it is hot and everything is growing good.”

I shook my head and said, “Radishes are a cool-weather crop. For example, you live in Tennessee, so they need to be planted in early-mid spring or early-mid fall.”

The simple facts (for the most common varieties of radishes):

A radish seed germinates rather quickly, often times within 4 or 5 days. After they sprout, they usually mature in about 3 weeks. They are not a high-demand plant, so a mild, slow-release fertilize should suffice. If your ground is semi-fertile and broke up well or tilled, they shouldn’t need anything at all besides water & sunshine. They produce the best in a temperature range between 50 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Radishes do poorly when the air temperature is constantly above 75 degrees. In many cases, when planted in hot weather, the greens will grow quickly and the blooming/producing of seeds will be hastened while producing very few radishes in the process. Also, during the warm season, the radishes that do develop will often have a hot & spicy taste – this is not always a bad thing, depending on your preference. Radishes also possess numerous health benefits, especially when ate raw. Freshly picked radishes, when stored in the refrigerator, should last 3 weeks or more.

Some people eat the greens from the radish plant and they can be used as a substitute for mustard greens, for example. If peppery greens is what you’re after, then this subject matter doesn’t apply. But, if you’re seeking fresh, plump, tasty radishes, then take heed to the prior advice.

Easy-to-grow radishes, ready to be picked from the garden.

Easy-to-grow radishes, ready to be picked from the garden.

 Garden Related Link:  Natural Organic Fertilizer – Compost

Organic Fertilizer – Natural ways to Fertilize your Garden

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Buying inorganic/synthetic fertilizers at local retail stores/markets, is a simple solution to fertilize poor soil, but they often lack the trace elements that are naturally found in organic fertilizers. On this page, I’ll go over some of the basic ingredients to use in compost, along with a few other soil amendments.

Composting - Organic Fertilizer in the making...

Composting - Organic Fertilizer in the making...

Organic, natural fertilizer is the way to go, especially for personal gardens and flower beds. A prime example of an organic fertilizer is the end result of a self-made compost.

Compost involves a variety of waste material…

There are many benefits, when it comes to using this method. For one, the environment, since a lot of the waste material used while composting, would normally find its way into the trash cans and/or landfill. Compost typically contains all of the nutrients needed for vigorous plant growth, improves the soil quality and moisture retaining properties, and acts as a slow-release fertilizer.

Make your own Compost…
Generally, you can either use an “open bin” or a “compost container” for the composting process. You can buy these bins and containers or, if you’re the least bit dexterous and motivated, you can always make your own. There are loads of informative reading material on this subject via Amazon.com, for example.

You’ll also need a shovel, garden cart/wheel barrel or some type of transporting device that you’ll use to convey the final product to your garden or flower bed, a pitch fork or some other useful type of tool to turn, mix & stir the active compost pile within the container/bin.

A proper balance of microorganisms is necessary for an effective compost pile – don’t worry, those microscopic beings will be there by way of nature. The main thing you have to watch for, is to not have too much green material versus brown material, or else, you’ll end up with a smelly, heaping pile that reeks like garbage.

When I speak of green material, I mean stuff like kitchen scraps (avoid adding meat scraps), fruits, green trimmings, tea bags, fresh manure (chicken, rabbit, cow or horse dung – but only in small quantities), etc. The brown material should be somewhat at a minimum of 3:1 to green material and the optimal ratio is roughly 4:1. Brown material mostly consists of dried leaves and dried grass trimmings – which you can easily accumulate the dried grass trimmings during the spring & summer months and the dried leaves during the autumn season. You can add, but only recommended in small amounts due to the very high carbon content, wood shavings and sawdust (this is especially useful if you have too much green material in your pile).

During the composting process, you’ll need to turn & mix often – as this will help keep the brown & green material balanced and adds oxygen to the pile. The microorganisms need water, food, and air. To enhance the process by adding additional healthy bacteria into the pile, it has been noted that adding a shovel or two of garden soil into the mix, will help speed up the decomposition of waste material. A quick tip for your compost pile: If possible, try to keep the particles & scraps that you add, as small as possible – this makes it easier for the microbes & bacteria to break ’em down. When garden season rolls around, you should have a nice, dark, fertile mass of compost that is ready to be applied to your growing area.

Soil Additive – Wood Ashes as Fertilizer:

If you still use a fireplace or have occasional campfires and you have a garden or flower bed, you might want to save some of those ashes. When used in moderation, wood ashes are a decent soil additive. Ashes will lack when it comes to Nitrogen, so it is better to use this method in conjunction with other additives and fertilizing techniques. The composition is often estimated at: 1.5 – 2% Phosphorous, 4 – 8% Potassium (depending on the type of wood), 25-50% calcium compounds and magnesium carbonate/oxide…along with other trace elements and nutrients. Due to the high amount of calcium & magnesium, wood ashes have the ability to raise the soil PH – this, in turn, is not good if your soil is already alkaline albeit it still takes about twice as much wood ashes to increase the PH as it would if you applied lime to the soil. In most cases, using wood ashes in small amounts only helps your soil’s condition. Also, one shouldn’t apply wood ashes to your garden no more than once a year – due to the risk of elevated PH and salt levels. Please be advised, wood ashes is a big no-no if you’re dealing with certain plants that require and/or thrive in acidic soil conditions.

Conclusion: There are many natural ways to fertilize your garden, I just listed a few. You may want to skip the compost method, if it seems like too much trouble. I know someone personally that fertilizes their garden by saving their tea bags, coffee grounds, eggshells, and wood ashes during the winter and early spring, and then, simply tills them into the soil (their garden area) each spring. Whatever works, but the main message in this page is: try and be more prone towards organic, natural methods besides synthetic/artificial ways. If you have any particular natural methods of fertilization that has worked for you, feel free to drop them down in the comment field. Good luck and have a great growing season…