Gardens Aside

This post may either enlighten your culinary attitude or it may continue with the prejudice of the rejection of readily available foods set in the American minds since childhood. Such biased opinions need to be addressed as our agricultural and land use practices have changed. These changes are questionable in many instances as the nourishment for our bodies is depleted while the volume of production increases. The threat of a world food shortage is not necessarily a reality with proper care and cultivation of our crops as well as conservation of our harvest .

Yes I am one of those Americans that prefer vegetables, fruit , and the standard protein additions to our diet such as fish, chicken, beef, pork, lamb , cheese, eggs, and the like. However , it’s all that I know how to prepare .

Thanks to the direction of some of my children that have traveled the world and have experienced some unusual epicurean delights , I am now broadening my tastes. Thanks also to my husband who used to love to hunt. He ate what he caught and brought me a cook book that instructed me on the ways of preparing the sports mans harvest.

I am not advocating becoming a survivalist as we see on the reality shows on the TV , but there is the real possibility of a shortage of nutritious food . and I emphasize NUTRITIOUS . America has a problem with obesity as a result , I believe , of the abuse of the transport mechanisms designed in our bodies.

Natural produce and animal proteins do not benefit us when injected with unnatural ingredients by the industry . The result of consuming processed foods that are enhanced with sugar substitutes, high fructose corn syrup, silicone , high salt content and other unnatural products have contributed greatly to national health problems . Yes these adjustments to our food supply can make it taste good but destroys our bodies.

Nothing was wasted with our ancestor’s preparation skills . The entire carcass was used of any animal . Some cultures still cook in this economical fashion. The bones and the marrow , the skin. neck, feet and wings . The organs and blood are also used instead of being discarded . My husbands grandma cooked filet fish one night and made fish head soup the next with the left over vegetables . Grandpa butchered pigs once a year and made blood sausage with left over pork and rice . Various glands such as kidneys and liver were used in various dishes . They pickled the pigs feet . Bone broth soup was made from the bones of any animal and fowl .

I suggest that before you commence on any new food adventure that you find a good recipe for preparation because its important to start with the basics so you will enjoy the result and prepare safely .

Some countries even prepare dogs and cats and mice for consumption and if the dish is properly prepared for flavor and safety, it is actually tasty , or so I’m told by a family member.

Enjoy your research, Grandma Jean

Planting with Promises

It has been too long since I have made any comments with this communication . I have no excuses except I have been delightfully busy. I have been learning about a new POS system and it’s applications as well as working with a business that is extending it’s marketing to the coast. I will explain more about that in detail in the future .

I have so much enjoyed the postings of other gardening enthusiasts and I have learned so much over this winter season . Thanks to all of you for your determination to share regularly .

The green house is producing winter greens , cabbage, kale, lettuce, spinach and this next week I will continue to start seeds for more produce . These seedlings should be ready for planting in March before it becomes too hot here to sustain much of anything. After that my seedlings will be planted in the mountain area where it is a more sustainable temperature for the plants in the summer.

I did take note of a few early birds chirping in my back yard last week . They must have gone back to more southern regions because I surely am not hearing them this weekend. Such is Spring . In the northern part of the country my grandchildren are enjoying tapping the maple trees to make maple syrup. They do this every year.

Enjoy the promise of Spring to come. Grandma Jean

Deliciousness with Apples

Hi and how you doing today ?  Have you saved a crop of apples for the winter and occasionally have to sort them for bruises and age ?   Me too .  Instead of throwing them out , put them aside and make apple cider .

Hot mulled cider or cold cider with a cinnamon stick is always a welcome refreshment on a winter day .   Also replacing the liquid in a spice cake recipe with cider really enhances the flavor .

If you wish to make your own cider you may use apples or pears combined or just apples .  Wash the fruit , cut into chunks leaving the skins on .  A gallon typically uses about 15 pounds of fruit .  However , any amount of fruit can be processed .

Cider can be made with a juicer .  A cider press is not required .  Hand pressing can also be accomplished but takes more work.  When the pulp fills up in the juicer cup and it needs to be cleaned out , try to put the pulp in a cheese cloth and wring it over a container to extract any remaining juice until the pulp feels fairly dry or grainy .

Now take what juice you have collected and add brown sugar or spices to your taste .  Cinnamon , cloves , orange zest or lemon zest are favorite additions .  Strain for clarity .

If you wish to pasteurize the product then simmer on the stove for 30 minutes .   Be careful to not let it boil  .   If you do this and wish to harden your cider then you should add a fermentation product to your beverage .  This can be easily bought on line .

If you want little fermentation or slow fermentation then place the juice in an area where it can be kept cold . 

An old fashioned recipe is as follows .

WASSAIL, 1 gallon cider , 1qt. Orange juice,  1 cup lemon juice , 1 large can of pineapple juice,  24 whole cloves ,  1 cup of granulated  sugar , 4 sticks of cinnamon .  Combine and simmer for 10 minutes .  Remove cloves and cinnamon and serve hot or store in refrigerator .

This recipe can be adjusted for the quantity of cider .

Have a Blessed Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year .  Grandma Jean

BEES and Q s


honeycomb close up detail honey bee
Photo by Pixabay on

Bees are one of the most awesome creatures created .  We enjoy a variety of delightful fruits , vegetables and, colorful flowers  because of their activity .  They provide us with honey and bees wax for candles amid other uses such as cosmetics and healing salves that treat burns.  The bee wax provides anti fungal , antiseptic, antiviral and antibiotic properties for the hive.  One day I would like to encourage a colony in my back yard.

blue purple orange flower
Photo by Pixabay on

Q s are the queens , one in each hive .  Queens can live up to 5 years , this is longer than the worker bee.  The bee colony chooses their queen by feeding selected ones Royal             Jelly when they are only a little larva .  This special meal allows her to develop larger and stronger than the workers.  The drones are the males that fertilize the queens  eggs , there are only a few of them because they die after mating with the queen .   the queen can lay 1500 to 2000 eggs a day .  WHEW , she earns her keep.

The drones also do not have a stinger but they have bigger eyes to help them locate their queen.  Now the worker bees are the females.  SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE ,  sorry fellas I couldn’t let that one go by .

The worker bees pollinate crops , making it possible to produce billions of dollars in revenue world wide every year from the sale of fruits and vegetables , cotton, soybeans, honey, wax and ointments among other items.   We benefit from their activity but the hive does also.  They use some of the pollen and nectar that they gather to use for their own food.  We benefit as they fly from one plant to the next and leave pollen behind , thus fertilizing the vegetation that produces the fruits and vegetables that we consume.

Bee venom is attached to the bees stinger in a gland.  This venom is used to treat those who are allergic to bees through a process called desensitization.

The bees make honey from the nectar collected and this is fed to the adult bees as well as the larvae.  They line the hives with bees wax or bee glue to waterproof the hive and create brood cells.  The bees wax is formed in their digestive process after they have eaten the honey.   The worker bees also seal the cells to protect their larvae and food supply..  this comb is their nursery and pantry.

Modern bee hives provide a frame for the bees to build a foundation for the wax comb.  These frames can be removed, the honey extracted and then the frames are returned to the hive so that the bees can refill the existing comb with honey.  Seems like this is a helper to the bees because they can collect honey instead of rebuilding the comb first.

It is advised to never give children under the age of one honey whether it is raw or processed .  Their immature digestive systems cannot complete absorption  as an adult  can and will cause  tummy upsets. However, topic bee products are beneficial.

A nice variety of bee products are available on Amazon like this baby soap from Burt’s Bees .

Bees stay in their hives all winter .  They live off of the honey that  is stored in the warmer months .

Sounds like it is important to protect and cultivate our bees .  I’m planning my flower garden and veggie garden for next season right now.  How about you ?

As I plan I wish to share with you that my harvest was processed successfully with the new freeze dryer this season.  The completed product is so easy to transport and store.  This includes meat as well.

Looking for our future,  Grandma Jean

Garden Surprises in Spruce Pine


Hurricane Florence has gone and has left a mess for many with the flooding , wind and  tornados .  Fortunately the mountains have been my refuge .  After driving to the coast and securing the home there , I returned to the mountains .  Florence stopped at the shore as a category 4 and became a category 1 on land. This was enough to contribute to the destruction of life styles and lives for many but  I observed so many good people that came forward to help others .   This in its self is humbling to experience.   My neighbors on the coast were awesome .


There is a small town nestled in the mountains called Spruce Pine .   I had time to explore the area and came upon  an amazing garden supply business . The nursery is called LAKEVIEW Mercantile and Gardens , Inc. .    The owners Jeff and Darla Harding have an amazing knowledge of  all things growing and are available to share this information to you .  The greenhouse is a gem and all of their production include  a large variety of healthy , thriving  , large selection of plants .   They also have a nice inventory of garden  tools and statuary .  When you are in the Blue Ridge Mountains , do yourself a favor and explore this exceptional place.


As Fall is now here it is time to clean out our garden beds ,  make a list of our future plans and if you have a green house or cold frame , start some seedlings for cold weather crops.   I have learned a lot this year and kept a journal .  This journal has been an education in itself.   I encourage you to do this.

Hopefully I can direct my next post to beekeeping  .  This is a subject  I have had the opportunity to study and I would like to share with you.

Keeping the earth green with you , Grandma Jean

Quality Gardening , Quantity Gardening



Hey , and good day to you .  Yes, I  am into dirt today and I don’t mean the tabloids .   And as I previously suggested ,  I am going to include a picture of the gardens that were established with and without the application of fish fertilizer.  Also let us look at the main differences between my coastal garden and the mountain garden .

Fish fertilizer provides nitrogen and phosphorous to the soil .  This  product should be diluted according to the manufactures instructions and applied to  the plant as a topical  solution after the seedling has been placed into the ground.   It is said that it can be used to apply to seedlings as they are started but I don’t .  The fertilizer is a concentrate and will last a very long time as it only takes a couple of tablespoons of it in a gallon of water.img_1344

The corn on the left was planted at the same time as the corn on the right .  The difference in growth is the fish fertilizer .

The coastal garden has been an experiment for me and after I determined that this was a climate like no other .  I tried applications of everything natural available under the sun.   Well water, distilled water or rain water was used for  hydration for both the mountain garden as well as the coastal garden.  The same seeds that I had dried from the previous years were used in both gardens .  The starting soil was was identical and the compost used was created from the same products with the exception of yard residue gathered .

Think, Think ,Think I did .  The climate and the soil base were the only differences that I could determine that  I could adjust.  The coastal climate has hot days and little cooling in the evening.  The mountain climate has hot days but does cool at night .   So with that in mind I have decided to plant the coast in the early spring and also around Labor Day for a second crop.  This alternative season will allow for the cooler evenings.

The soil base in the mountains is much deeper as that garden was established years ago . Adding soil, compost and mulch to it every year has increased its fullness and capability to absorb water to the root structure.   The coastal garden is new, has a good base on top of sand , but is not deep enough to contain the water necessary to supply the roots in this continuous heat .  This soil depth is being increased at the moment.

I am hoping that my adjustments do the job.  Meanwhile , I am heading back to the mountains to spend a couple of weeks freeze-drying my produce.

Any suggestions are welcome .  Please send your thoughts .  Grandma Jean

Tomato Disorders

tomato lot
Photo by Julia on

Good morning and I hope you have a great day .  I have returned from an enjoyable camping trip in the mountains as well as family time at Disney .  The food that I processed with my new freeze dryer from HarvestRight .


920x60-2 It was easy and light to transport and delicious .   I enjoyed every minute but when I returned I found that some of the tomato plants in my garden needed some attention.  I did some home work and will share some of the things that I learned .

Diseases and Disorders are classified as two separate malfunctions in development .

I had to deal with disorders .  Disorders usually relate to growth conditions and do not spread from plant to plant .   The situations that need to be adjusted  for disorders are usually because of growth conditions such as soils, planting practices, and weather.  Blossom end rot , fruit cracks and uneven ripening can occur .  In my case it was the weather ,(too much rain), after a long hot dry spell .   I had fruit cracks and uneven ripening .

Diseases often express themselves as wilting, leaf spots , blight , and other fungal diseases .

Wilts are classified in this way , mid-day wilting occurs because of the plants inability to absorb water to its stems because of high temperatures during the day .  The plants cannot keep up with the water loss.  This is temporary .

If the plant does not respond to additional watering then we can assume that the plant has a fungus.  This fungus can spread to other tomato plants and sometimes can even survive winter .  The wilt fungus is first identified by a yellowing of the bottom leaves.  The leaves will dry up and fall off and will continue to progress up the entire plant .  It can involve the roots also.  The only thing that can be done is to dig up the plant and dispose of it , (not in your compost ), and treat the soil for fungi .  This situation , if soil generated ,  can also be the ruination of other crops such as potatoes , melons, spinach, and peas for up to 3 years . Treat the soil with a fungicide or replace the soil . A non susceptible replacement crop would be cabbage ,broccoli , beans or carrots.

Leaf Spot disease can occur when over watering .  Space plants far enough apart so they do not touch each other .  The free moisture on the foliage should be allowed to dry more quickly so a fungus will not develop.  The appearance of Leaf Spot is a small water soaked spot on the leaf that expands and becomes semi circular.  It will then become grayish white in color with dark edges.  This fungus can be treated also with fungicide prior to symptom development to protect foliage and fruit.

Early Blight can affect seedlings but is mostly common in older plants .  Dark brown spots with darker rings on older , lower leaves .  Plants could become defoliated .  Poor soil conditions as well as the need for proper drainage ,  and also high moisture conditions and even drought .  If the fruit is infected it will appear at the stem end and develop into black shriveled areas.  This disease can also be treated the same way as Leaf Spot .

I have also an experiment going on with applying to some crops a new ,(to me) ,  type of fertilizer that I use.  I found that Alaska Fish Fertilizer , available on Amazon can create a tremendous difference to the development of the produce that I have planted .  Yay  !!!  Love Grandma Jean

Challenging Crops


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


nature water flowers lake
Photo by Pixabay on


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



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