Saturday, July 27, 2013

Examine It For Yourself!

  Well Said!

    I have been on vacation/Volleyball camp for my daughter for a week. Busy Busy Busy! I need to garden fast, lol!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Simple Canned Pickles, for Dummies!

Simple Canned Pickles for Dummies like me, lol!

  I canned pickles today! Two types, Dill and just pickles and onions, I also canned a couple jars of Jalapeno peppers! This is something I really enjoyed doing with my Grammie and Mom growing up. It was kinda like the icing on the cake for a gardener. See what you have grown being preserved. Its fun and its very easy, Its also a dieing art that needs to be taught to our children.

Here is the Basic Recipe, you can customize it to your tastes and likings:
The Redeemed Gardener
Grammies Basic Pickling Recipe
4 lbs any vegetables (harder ones work better)
2 3/4 C Vinegar
3 C Water
1/4 C Sea Salt or Canning Salt (make sure it's not iodized)
When everything is set up and prepared, mix your pickle juice ingredients - salt, vinegar, water - and heat them up in a pot on the stove. Stir until salt dissolves.

Spices commonly used in pickling spice :
Coriander, Fennel, Dill, Black pepper corns, Dried red peppers, Mustard Seed, any spice you want!

   Rather than using commercial pickling spice, play and blend the spices! Put a fair amount of the spices at the bottom of the jars, but save some to top them off.
   For sweet pickles, add sugar.  For smoky pickles, add black cardamom, chipotles, etc.  After you add the spice, pack the vegetables into the jars ( the tighter the better or as we say in West Virginia "the Fuller the Better").  Pour the hot pickle juice over the pickles, leaving 1/4-1/2"  head space at the top.  Use the corner of your clean towel to wipe off the band mouth of the jar before you put the lid or the band on, so that there is no solids blocking the seal.  Put the lid and the band on and tighten finger tight. Note: we always put the lids in boiling water right before we put them on for a few minutes (this kills bacteria and helps make the rubber softer for a better seal) .

Caution! Make sure to load the hot jars on the clean towel, and to use hot pickle juice, because the heat differential between jars, the juice and the counter can cause the jars to explode! Trust me I have had it happen and no matter how careful you are you will as well.
   Put the jars into a hot water bath.  Make sure there is at least 1" of water covering the lids, and bring to a boil.  Boil for 10-14 minutes (add 5 min for every 1000 feet above sea level you are). If boiled for less time, there is a greater risk that it won't seal or kill the bacteria, but your pickles will be crisper! Longer times will result in greater safety, but softer pickles.
   When done pull jars out of Hot water bath and set on towels to cool and seal. Listen for the pooping sound. Then do the push test on the lid to make sure they are sealed. It doesn't take long!

Have fun and make it a family project!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

How to Grow Pumpkins Successfully

   I have had a question asked that is post worthy so her we go with the answer and I will try to keep it "Jethro Simplified"! It was a three part question.  (1. I didn't get any female flowers..why? 2. How do you keep the bugs off the pumpkins? 3. How often do you feed and water the pumpkins.)
Cinderella Pumpkins and Squash
  First things first, this may help with a lot of things. Did you know that cucumbers, zucchini and pumpkins are all in the same family? Usually the same problems you have with one you will the other and usually the same solutions! I grow "Cinderella" variety and have much success!

You can go back and read "Great Soil Foundation, Parts 1, 2, and 3"

Soil, Water and Planting Spot:
   Pumpkins love good rich composted soil that drains well but also hold moister (Loamy soil), lots of organic matter should be worked into the soil. The perfected soil pH is between 6.0-7.0, so check your soil before planting.
   Pumpkins love lots and lots of sun, so pick an area with 8 plus hours of direct sunlight a day.
   They  require heavy and even watering (because of shallow roots), mulching around them will help hold moister in those hot dry times, Trickle irrigation is best, but soaker hoses also work well. Overhead sprinklers are effective; however, wet foliage increases the chance of disease, especially mildew.
   If you have amended the soil right you shouldn't have to fertilize more than once a week and just an multipurpose fertilizer will work.Giant pumpkin vines require approximately 2 pounds nitrogen, 3 pounds phosphorous and 6 pounds potash per 1,000 square feet of growing space.

Planting and Growing:
  Pumpkins have a very long growing season, some verities up to 120 days (4 months). So start them indoors 3-4 weeks before YOUR last frost or wait til the soil is 70 degrees to direct plant seeds.
  Pumpkins are very sensitive to temperature, so always be prepared to cover them in the early season to protect from cold night or even cold days. They grow best when days an nights are above 70 degrees.

Insects and Diseases:
  The planting site of your plants should be rotated each year to reduce the incidence of insect and disease pressure. An insect and disease control program must be initiated at transplanting. Insects are the primary reason for transmitting disease. Once a viral infection has occurred, there is no way to stop it. But if you start at the beginning and give them lots of soil preparation, water and a control program, this will help drastically. If you need pesticide help, Bonide has many good things to use! Remember if you grow cucumbers and have succeeded then you already have a great foundation for pumpkins!
   Insect pests of pumpkins include spotted and striped cucumber beetles, which can transmit bacterial wilt disease, which causes vines to collapse and die. Treat adult beetles with neem or pyrethrum. Be aware, however, that these are toxic to all insects, including beneficial predators and bees. Make applications at dusk to avoid harming bees. Other insect pests include squash bugs, which must be controlled early or they can be devastating, and squash vine borers.

   Although hand pollination is the preferred method to fruit setting, natural pollination by bees will work well. Hand pollination allows for a more controlled genetic cross.But don't begin pollinating until the plant has approximately 200 leaves. Some experts even say pull the first female flower on each vine to allow your vines more time to grow stronger? Initially it is recommended to allow only 4 to 6 pumpkins per plant but the more you reduce the competition for nutrients, the greater your success rate will be for achieving a giant size pumpkin.

Male and Female Flowers:
  Pumpkin vines are going to produce male flowers long before it produces female flowers. Because female
Female Flower
flowers need to be pollinated, there is no point of them blooming first because the male flower needs to be present in order to pollinate it.
  I wont go into the scientific ways to know the difference, just the way Grammie taught us! To figure out the gender of the flower just look underneath of it. The female flower will have a pea-sized lump underneath the base of the bud. As the bud grows and prepares to open, the lump will gradually get bigger until it is about the size of a doughnut hole. If pollination occurs, this lump will develop into your pumpkin! The male flower is lacking this lump.
 Why do I have NO female flowers?
  If you follow all of the soil preparations, watering, fertilizing and give them lots of sun the should always give you female flower but some years, some crops just fail, its part of the process! So depending on conditions, the female flowers may bloom long after the male flowers. The plants should continue to produce flowers all season, so patience is in order here and lots of patience.
 Again, Be patient. Pumpkins can take a long time to set and develop, especially in shifting weather conditions, i.e. too hot, too much rain, etc. They are very sensitive!

Harvest Time:
   As pumpkins form, you can slip a piece of cardboard or folded newspaper beneath pumpkins to prevent contact with soil and possible rot, especially if you are growing a precious few. Toward the end of the season, remove any leaves that shade ripening pumpkins.Harvest pumpkins before frost. Fruit is ripe when it is fully colored, skin is hard, and the stem begins to shrivel and dry. Pumpkin vines are often prickly, so wear gloves and long sleeves when harvesting to keep from itching. To harvest, cut stems with a sharp knife, leaving at least an inch of stem on fruits (more stem is better). Lift pumpkins by slipping your hand under the bottom of the fruit. Never lift a pumpkin by its stem; if the stem breaks, the pumpkin won’t store well.
Tip: To protect the pumpkin from direct sunlight, construct a shade out of burlap or other lightweight material. This will prevent premature hardening of the outer skin and will allow the pumpkin to reach its full genetic potential in terms of physical size.

Nutritional Facts:
Did you know that Pumpkins are full of nutrition, dishing up vitamin C, beta-carotene, fiber, and potassium. One half cup of cooked pumpkin provides a day’s supply of vitamin A.