Can Do or Can Don’t

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Hey Friends and Readers ,  it’s  been a good week  , I’ve accomplished a lot , learned a lot , and was able to spend time with friends .  The garden that I tried to keep organic was getting too dry .  I hopefully solved that problem with a hydroponic filter that attaches to my hose.  Rain has not been abundant in this location and when it did rain it was a gully washer and ran off quickly .

Every summer I canned the veggies from my garden .  I am a firm believer that good health and long life can be the result of consuming unaltered produce , meats and fish.  The home canned goods normally  have a shelf life of  a couple of years before they lose their color and freshness.  If they are properly sealed they will keep but the “blue ribbon ” quality often changes after a couple of years.

Still I will continue to can many products that I have had success with over the years , such as sauerkraut because I like my results, as well as chili, soups and chowders.  Frozen goods must be consumed more quickly than canned goods but I still keep items in my freezer to quickly pop out in case of unexpected company or because of meal planning for the week .  Items kept for a long time in the freezer tend to dry out and get freezer burn even if they are properly vacuum sealed.

I have just purchased a new product called a freeze dryer .  I love , love, love it .  It is so easy to use , unbelievably so .   I don’t get hot and sweaty as does happen in a day in the kitchen, canning.   The produce and meat are sealed in a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber pillow included and  it can last up to 25 years if properly sealed according to their instructions.   The finished results are “picked right off the vine favorable ”  .  I sometimes have to seal the product before I eat it all.

Storage is not a problem as the sealed product is light in weight and takes up little space. Small children can handle the containers safely and easily .  The veggies and other products created can be eaten as is or rehydrated in any way you wish.

I have had the product for 6 weeks now and have delightfully accomplished strawberries, blueberries, bananas , carrots, chicken,  barbecue, scrambled eggs and bacon, tomatoes and green beans .  There may be some things that I forgot about at the moment but tomorrow I will try brussel sprouts and later on in the week water melon .

Harvest Right  is your place to go to for more information .

Enjoy your day ,  Grandma Jean

Squash and Pumpkin Hand Pollination

 

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Many of you now have flowers on your squash and pumpkins.  I thought that today would be a good day to talk of hand pollination .

Squash and pumpkin plants are equipped with separate male and female flowers on the same vine.  Yes its true.

The only flower that will form the fruit is the female flower.  This flower is identified by a bulbous part on the stem close to the flower.  This will quickly develop into a small fruit after pollination occurs.  The male flower has a stick like stem close to his flower.  It is straight and narrow and lacks the swollen bulb that is apparent below the female petals.

The male flower usually grows first and as it opens it exposes the pollinating structure inside.  When it brushes against the female plant , usually with the movement of air or the transfer by bees and insects it pollinates the female squash to produce fruit.

If you wish to hand pollinate you may do so by carefully removing the petals from the male flower , exposing the stamen on the inside.  Usually this stamen looks like a tiny bottle brush .

Usually in nature , bees, insects, and butterflies complete the pollination .  We can do this by taking this tiny “bottle brush ” called a stamen and carefully open the petals of the female flower to expose the stigma , (the center of the flower) , and brushing the  male pollen on the stamen to the female stigma.

Pollination is completed and a fruit develops .

I hope you are learning with me and thank goodness for spell check.  I usually need it .

In future blogs I will tell you about a product for food preservation and how I use it .  I am so excited about this procedure .  I have tested it and will send pictures of my results .   I am so enthusiastic and I really hope that you will all check out https://harvestright.com/439.html

With much fondness for you all and thanks for sharing.

Grandma Jean

 

Challenging Crops

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Good day to y’all .

This garden of mine is a learning experience.  Also a humbling one.  When I established a  summer garden in the northern climate of Ohio I thought that things were under my control.  I learned to keep the critters from commandeering my patch ,  I learned when to plant, when to water and when my soil needed enriched . .  The procedure was simple.  Harvesting was a pleasure.

Down in the southern coastal regions of North Carolina a new challenge has been presented to me.  The challenge is timing.   Not watering nor enriching my soil or combating the critters but , planting .  Some crops appear to require cooler weather to thrive and so I will add these veggies to my journal to plant earlier in the season or later when Fall comes around.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before.  In this climate we should have at least two or three growing seasons , depending on the plants .  To do this I will rely more on my greenhouse as well.

The crops that have done well in the heat are watermelon, tomatoes, egg plant, kale, corn, beets, potatoes , lufa, herbs,  cantaloupe, rhubarb , zucchini , squash ,  cabbage, and cukes .  The plants that I would like to restart later when it cools a bit are peas , lettuce, and beans.  There are onions also that will be planted later as well as additional herbs .

I am excited though to have several baby watermelon appearing ,  many tomatoes and cukes .   The corn is growing tasslels .  For next year I have a new plan and am learning that being a gardener never gets boring .  It always offers new challenges .

To your success,  Grandma Jean

A Different Garden

 

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An outdoor living space can be enhanced by the establishment of the tranquility of a water garden .   Also if a water fall or spray is included with well placed statues and lighting beside the plants , the peace and enjoyment of your garden will be increased many fold.

As you begin your water garden design consider the  location desired , the materials to be used and the plants that you wish to integrate into the pond.

Placing your water garden in a location without many trees will help to make it less work for you .  When leaves begin to fall a screen placed over your pond can help with the clean up . Your maintenance would require that you keep the dying leaves out of the pool as much as possible.  This is especially important if you have a filter or pump system installed.  Pumps and filters can get clogged .  Access to electricity is important if you have a pump or filter system wanted.  Easy water availability is necessary to consider as well.

Another consideration with the placement of your pond is the accessibility to it for pets and small children .  Children are attracted to water so this could be a safety concern .  Also check to see if your neighborhood has regulations established regarding the inclusion of ponds .  Some do.

Some plants will flower in partial shade but many will require at least 5 hours of sun to bloom.  You can check with your local nursery research this on line .

A concrete pool will last the longest with a liner  but a preformed fiberglass or plastic pool would be easier to put in the ground .   A functional hole needs to be dug  for the molded piece to overlap the ground on the edges.  If putting in a fountain or waterfall , determine the size of the splash as too much will detract from the peaceful atmosphere that you wish for .  Also make sure that the plants that you have established can tolerate being splashed upon.

While you stock your pond keep in mind that a balance of plants and fish will keep the ecosystem in your design functioning and thriving .  If it becomes unbalanced a growth of algae will be the result.  Include the plants at the beginning of your growing season.  Feed the fish until the plants have become established .  This will be about 5 weeks.

You can include floating plants such as water hyacinths and water lettuce .  Keep the growth contained and do not allow to be over grown.  Gold fish can overwinter in most areas as they go to the bottom and seem to go dormant.  They do not have to be fed at this time nor do they have to be fed when the plants are established.

Enjoy this different kind of gardening.   Grandma Jean

 

 

Bamboo and You

 

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A thicket of bamboo forests were once a common plant growth in the Southern USA .  It can be also grown almost any where as there are over 1400 species , many of which are cold tolerant.  The stands are usually found close to streams and creeks or any low-lying area that will collect moisture.  Bamboo is often referred to as cane and it is our largest grass.

It is loaded with nutrition and can be consumed by livestock as well as humans.  Livestock flourish with the consumption and cows are known to have richer butter and milk in the process.  Native Americans used the new shoots for stew additives and  salads.  The bamboo also attracts wildlife and that will make a good hunting spot.  Birds, rabbits, turkeys , small mammals as well as butterflies  are attracted to the cane for cover.

Pioneers and Native Americans used bamboo to make fish traps and spears that were sharpened to gig frogs and fish , as well as to hunt.  Blow gun darts were also crafted from cane to hunt small game.

Native Americans and early settlers made shelters by splitting cane stalks and then weaving them into large mats and fixing them to frames with ropes or binding .  Then there was an application of mud and grass packed onto the mats to seal them .  The smaller diameter bamboo stalks were woven for floor mats or cots to sleep on.  The bamboo was also used as a wind breaker for shelter.

The cane has been used to create knives, scrapers, bow and cane drills , flutes. decorations and games.

The plant is still used to prevent soil erosion .  Most commonly this is what it is used for in modern times.  It is also a good privacy screen.

If growing bamboo can be a useful item in your yard then you can be successful in its cultivation by selecting the variety that will develop well in your location.  You might have to do some research with a local landscaper.  Once it is established do not over harvest the crop as you will need a stand to continue its propagation.  Plant near streams or rivers or in low-lying areas that will be a recipient of water drainage.  Then keep in mind that this plant can be aggressive .  Control the growth by harvesting the new shoots for your salads and soups.  It is rich in crude protein, calcium and phosphorus .

For more in depth information please refer to the revised edition of the Missouri Conservationist Magazine.  Originally published in October 2002 and revised by A.J. Hendershott on November 12, 2010.

Thank you Julie for sending this to share.

Down a new road with y’all.  Grandma Jean

 

 

 

 

 

Red, White and Blue

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Hopefully you will soon be enjoying local strawberries and blueberries.  Perhaps you already have gone through your strawberry season if you live in the far southern USA .  In any event most folks treasure this fruit fresh off of the stem and regret that it is a short season as we rush to make jam , vacuum seal the goodness and or freeze dry this  years crop.  Strawberry shortcake is a delightful dessert or snack.

Next year I plan to start strawberry plants and blue. berry bushes.  This I have never done before and so any suggestions that the readers can give me for a successful crop year after year is greatly appreciated.  Thank you in advance.

I am submitting a recipe for strawberry pie that was given to me by one of my Amish neighbors .  I know that she is one of the worlds best cooks and has taught me a lot.  She has also created this pie with blueberries .

The recipe is for 2 pies.  First bake 2 pie shells in 2 pie pans.

Make a glaze of 1 cup of white sugar , 1and 1/2 cups of water , 2 Tablespoons of Clear Jell or Gelatin.  1 small box or 1/3 cup of strawberry Jello.  Bring this to a boil and stir together.  COOL.  Add sliced strawberries , the quantity is your choice.  I like lots .

Next mix 1 cup of powdered sugar with 1 and 1/2   8 oz. packages of cream cheese.  Add more or less to your taste.  Spread this onto your baked pie shells, sides and all.  Fill with your strawberry filling into both shells and chill for a couple of hours .

Serve with whipped cream or put it on the top of each pie .  If the blueberries are available you can dot the top with them.

Red , White and Blue for our upcoming patriotic holidays .  They’ll be asking for more, I   promise.   If you’re traveling with this pie, keep cold .       Enjoy ,  Grandma Jean

Weed Out

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Weeds ?  Well they come and go and we have the power to determine their fate.

What if one day when you were just a seedling yourself you had known you were going to be big and strong and beautiful .  You knew what flowers looked like and for a while you knew  something of what they felt like.  As time passed you began to feel like a weed because as spring came and the flowers around you bloomed  you learned to be content as a weed.  You tried to take up very little space ,  very little sun and  very little nourishment and water so that the flowers around you could sustain themselves in grand fashion.

When warm air covered  the ground and you felt growth moving you it is then that you have a hope and a wish for a bud , a blooming.  Of course that is impossible, you  are thinking because you are just a weed.

One day someone picking flowers comes across you and notices a beautiful tiny flower bud emerging from the over growth of all the other flowers.  Perhaps you noticed that this person is delighted by the exquisite tiny flower growing from your weed like stem.  You would not believe it at first, you would think it was a mistake but hope again arises within you very cautiously .   As you begin to look at yourself and experience the appreciation of that special person you began to have doubts ,  you at first would not believe that you are actually a flower .

You know now what it actually feels like to be a flower and are gladdened by it , excited in fact , but at the same time you are sad that you wasted so much time  believing yourself to be a weed .  You haven’t discovered yet what being a flower is all about but you promise your self to give it all you’ve got.

Grow For It,  Grandma Jean

 

Herbs and Health

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Herbs have been used by people since the early cave man laid down and slept well in a field of Lavender.

I do not purport to be an expert in the field  of herbalist’s lore .  I merely am sharing information that I have either experienced successfully or have read about .  I came across much information by reading the history of this great country of ours.  The early settlers and pioneers learned to use cultivated and wild herbs that were grown naturally in America.  The Native Americans taught them . We have expanded our knowledge of useful herbs that are used in other countries when international travel became common.

I am listing some suggestions for planting or obtaining at a health food store for you . Most ingredients can be used as tea or some are topical as applied.

ALFALFA,  rebuilds hard tissue , balances pH and enhances milk flow ………………………..

ALOE VERA GEL,   applied externally for sunburn, minor burns of other sorts , insect bites and can be used internally as it is said to reduce allergy sensitivity ……………………

ASTRAGALUS,  this herb originated in China as is taken internally to strengthen the immune system and it can help resist sinus infections…………………………………………………

BLACK COHOSH,  this helps relieve labor pains when a woman is giving birth.  This should be used by cultivating in your garden as it is said to be an endangered species in  the wild……………………………………………………………………………………………

BURDOCK,  has been  said to be known to promote a balance of blood  sugar…………….

CATNIP,  the benefits from this herb are to help with digestion and colic , as a tea…….

CAMOMILE,  encourages relaxation and reduce fever and pain , used as a tea………….

CHARCOAL, ACTIVATED , is usually consumed in capsule form .  It absorbs toxins in the digestive system and can be used to quickly heal the gut from food poisoning……

CRANBERRY, taken as a tea or in the form of diet cranberry juice can help promote urinary tract health…………………………………………………………………………………………….

FENNEL,  relieves gas , digestive issues and colic…………………………………………………………..

FEVERFEW,  arthritis and migraine headaches are helped by this herb………………………

GARLIC,  this is suggested to help keep cholesterol balanced as well as contributing antiseptic needs to the body………………………………………………………………………………………………

GINGER,  a strong antiseptic for gastrointestinal flu as well as it helps prevent motion sickness………………………………………………………………………………………….

MILK THISTLE,  this has been used for centuries to help with jaundice and hepatitis .  It is a most efficient antioxidant ………

PSYLLIUM,  this can help relieve bowel impaction as well as a help for spastic colon difficulties…………………………………………………………………………………….

RED CLOVER,  made into a tea this was commonly used as a blood purifier by our early Americans……………………………………………………………………………………

SARSAPARILLA, cleanses infections from the body as well as helping with skin problems and ringworm ………………………..

WHITE WILLOW BARK ,  natures best alternative for aspirin .  This is commonly used in a concentrated form by cutting away some small piece of the trunk and chewing the inside …

I do hope this post will encourage all of you to do research and share with others your success with natural remedies .

To Your Health, Grandma Jean

 

 

 

 

Helpful Herbs

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It has been my interest as to how helpful herbs can be.  They can be planted to improve garden growth in many ways .  This is often referred to as companion planting.  Many herbs are used for cosmetic purposes .  They can also  be applied to keep pests off of pets as well as keep the bugs out of your garden.  There are traditional Pioneer and Native American teas and  salves to be created from herbs for health reasons  .  Research has indicated that ancient societies used many of the same applications .  And lastly herbs improve the flavor of the foods that we cook.  I am listing common and easily planted herbs and their usefulness as well as tinctures , oils and dried herbs that can be obtained at your health food store.

Please do research before consuming or applying any product as often folks have allergies that they were unaware of .  Spot test applications  and consume herbs sparingly at first.  Ask your Doctor or one that is well versed in Holistic Medicine their opinion regarding consumption.  As always keep your herbal remedies out of the hands of children.

For cosmetic applications a traditional soothing ointment for dry skin , skin rashes and insect bites is Comfrey , Chickweed, Plantain leaf and Mullein oil .   All of these can be purchased at your nearby health supply store or most “super stores” .  The first 3 ingredients can be grown in your back yard.

For pest control on pets  ,Geranium oil and Sesame oil repels fleas and ticks .  Lemongrass oil repels fleas and mosquitos. Lemongrass can be grown in your back yard to repel the fleas and mosquitos in your surroundings.  In your garden , pests can be controlled by planting onions and garlic at the ends of the beds.  Surround your beds with Marigolds and Zinnias to ward off other critters as well.

For your health —Basil ,Comfrey, and Pepsin are said to be good for your gut and digestion.  Camomile tea also is often used for stomach aches and colic.   Another digestion aid is ginger, peppermint, and  fennel .

Turmeric is said to be anti-inflammatory , an anti-oxidant and often inhibits craving for sugar.   Other herbs used for inflamed areas in joints  are Echinacea and Golden Seal combinations .  Yucca and White willow were also used by our early ancestors.  Willows inner bark if cut out in small chewable chunks is an old remedy used for pain.

Valerian root as well as Hops and Skullcap are suggested to be good for nervous conditions.

Violets, often growing wild in the spring , make an excellent tea to combat allergies  .  Use about 1/4 cup chopped leaves and flowers and steep for 15 minutes in boiling water.

Thyme has been used as an antiseptic.

Witch Hazel is  for topical application for varicose veins and hemorrhoids .

Rhubarb can be used as a laxative.

Rosemary, Dill, Thyme, Basil , Ginger, and Oregano enhance the flavors of many soups, sauces and stews.  They are used for rubs and marinates on meat and fish.  Onions and Garlic are used for this purpose as well.

Snip herbs when harvesting to promote reproduction.  The one exception is Dill .  Dill can be pulled as a plant.

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Loving to Learn, Grandma Jean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In The Beginning

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Hi folks ,  I hope your Easter and other Holidays that you celebrate were all happy and joyous.  Singing in the choir keeps me in a celebratory mood .  I have also heard that singing to your plants is beneficial.

It is time to start a new beginning in this part of the world with the arrival of spring .

Let’s start with clearing all debris from your selected garden space , tilling the soil with the compost that we created over the year , adding minerals and mulch .  Pop in those organic seedling when they are ready and watch the magic.

Compost is important to create proper nutrition and ph balance in your soil .  The photos show an established compost pile and as well as when it has matured to a functional quality .


To make your own compost use almost all organic waste that is left from preparing food. Raw vegetables and fruit , egg shells , coffee grounds and fish bones .  Plant clippings as well as leaves may also be turned into compost .  Cooked foods and weeds and twigs should not be included.

To activate and cure your compost to break down does take some time .  The process requires turning to insert oxygen into the mixture .  Turn it with your pitchfork.  Lightly add manure, horse , cow, or chicken .  If you or your neighbors do not have it readily available ,( and I’m sure your neighbors would welcome help cleaning barns.), you can purchase it at a local garden supply.  If your conditions are dry , you will need to add water occasionally .  It is highly advisable to NOT add  highly chlorinated water.

Enclosed compost containers are also available for purchase or you can make your own.  You will need the capability to turn your compost to create your soil .

If you have youngsters I would like to suggest that you help them to create a children’s garden.  Children delight in the achievement and accept the responsibility readily .  First help them to select the plants they can grow .  Start with 2 or 3 that will come up and produce quickly in the spring or early summer because children have little concept of time and could loose interest .  One plant that comes to mind is peas , another is lettuce .  If the youngsters are old enough they could even be encouraged to complete the task by serving their produce at a family dinner .  Of course the harvesting , washing and cooking should be supervised .  I have had some gritty lettuce from the lack of an overseer . Herbs are also fairly child proof and maybe could inspire a future chef .
Digging with You, Grandma Jean