Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fast Growing Vegetables

Growing your own food quickly and inexpensively can be done with many of the same vegetables you see in the grocery store. Radishes, for instance, take as little as three weeks to grow and can be planted in a single row in small gardens. Zucchinis are another fast crop that begin producing in as little as 35 days. Many vegetables will continue to produce after the plants have reached maturity, such as bush beans and leaf lettuce. With just a few rows of plants, you can produce a summer’s worth of healthy foods for you and your family.

Root Vegetables

Radishes (Raphanus sativus) are harvested three to five weeks after planting and are one of the fastest growing root vegetables for home gardeners. Baby spike, a type of baby carrot (Daucus carota), matures in only 52 days. Turnips (Brassica rapa) can be harvested at 60 days. The turnip greens can also be harvested along with the root. Beets (Beta vulgaris) mature in 55 to 70 days, but beets can be harvest at 40 days maturity. These “baby” beets are tender and sweet, and are prepared the same way as fully mature beets.

Leaf Vegetables

The wonderful thing about leaf vegetables is that after the plants have reached maturity, you can continuously harvest the leaves until the end of the growing season. Leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa) takes only 40 days to reach maturity. Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) takes 45 days to reach maturity. Kale (Brassica oleracea acephala) takes up to 60 days to reach maturity.

Beans and Peas

Bean and pea plants continue to flower and produce more pods after each harvest, making them a great addition to the garden for a continuous supply of fresh food. Bush beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), also called snap beans or string beans, are grown in USDA zones 3-10. The beans take 57 days to reach maturity. Daybreak, an early spring pea (Pisum sativum), can be harvest as little as 54 days after planting.

Cucumbers and Zucchinis

Cucumber and zucchini plants produce a bountiful harvest that will need to be picked every few days after the plant has reached maturity. Cucumbers (Cucumis Sativus) take 50 to 70 days to reach maturity. Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo) reaches maturity much sooner than cucumbers. Being a summer squash with a fast growth rate, zucchini reaches maturity in 35 to 55 days.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Treatments for Leaves on Rose Garden Plants

Different diseases can attack the leaves of rose plants, but most of these diseases, such as powdery mildew and rust, can be prevented with proper watering and pruning. Rose plants require one inch of water every week and should be watered at the base of the plant. Spraying water over the entire plant encourages disease problems. Deadheading, the removal of dead rose blooms, also helps prevent leaf diseases. Diseases and larvae can hide within the dead blooms and infect the rest of the plant.

Pests

Aphids, red spider mites, spittle bugs, and rose slugs are a few of the pest that can infect a rose plant. Most of these pests, such as spittle bugs, can be removed simply by hosing down the leaves and knocking off the insects. Aphids can be removed by spraying the rose plants with hose water and misting the leaves with an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil made specifically for roses. Rose slugs are the larvae of the sawfly that eat holes in the leaves of the rose plant. To get rid of rose slugs, spray the tops and undersides of the leaves with an insecticidal soap for roses containing Pyrethrins.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew covers the leaves of the rose plant with a white powder. It rarely kills rose plants, but it will affect the leaves and blooms. To treat, mix two tablespoons horticulture oil into one gallon of water and spray the entire plant. To prevent the mildew from returning, spray the leaves every ten days during the growing season.

Black Spots

Black spots on rose plant leaves are a fungal disease caused by either black spot or Cercospora leafspot. The fungal disease is brought on by warm, wet weather and can cause the rose plant to die. Begin treatment by removing any leaves that show black spots. Thin out remaining leaves to allow the plant more light and air circulation. Remove all the debris from under the plant and add a one inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant to protect it from fungal spores in the dirt. In severe cases, all the leaves may need to be removed. To encourage new growth, give the rose plant a weekly feeding of fish emulsion fertilizer made for house and garden plants.

Rust

Rust is an orange-red fungus that grows on rose leaves. Sanitation is the key to getting rid of this fungus. To treat, remove and dispose of any leaves that show signs of rust. Remove all leaves that are within 18 inches of the ground to prevent further infection. Increase air circulation and sunlight by thinning out the leaves on the plant. Keep the plant free from all ground debris. Add an inch of fresh mulch around the plant and replace it every three months to prevent reinfection.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

How to Can Tomatoes

Canning whole tomatoes gives home cooks a wide variety of ways to use them. Whole canned tomatoes can later be cooked down into tomato sauce that is either chunky or smooth. The tomatoes can also be chopped down and used in salsa dishes. Tomatoes are the most popular item canned in home kitchens in the United States, and the reason is because tomatoes are easy to can and are so versatile in the kitchen.

Choosing and Preparing Tomatoes

Choose tomatoes that are free of disease and signs of rot. For best flavor, use only tomatoes that are ripened on the vine and process them within the first two to three hours after picking or purchasing. You need roughly 13 pounds of tomatoes to fill 9 pints and 21 pounds of tomatoes to fill 7 quarts. Begin by washing the tomatoes. Dip them in a pot of boiling water for 30 to 60 seconds, or until their skins split. Carefully remove from the boiling water and drop into a bowl of cold water. When cool enough to handle, slip off the skins and remove the cores with a paring knife.

Increasing Acidity

To safely can tomatoes, acidity needs to be increased to a pH of 4 to 4.6. When canning pint sized jars of whole tomatoes, add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon citric acid, or 2 tablespoons of vinegar to each jar before adding the tomatoes. For quart sized jars, add 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon citric acid, or 4 tablespoons of vinegar to each jar before adding the tomatoes. Salt does not need to be added to canned tomatoes, but it can be used to improve the flavor of the tomatoes and to protect their color while canning.

Raw or Hot Packed

To raw pack tomatoes, fill clean jars with prepared tomatoes, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Fill the jars with hot, boiled water, leaving the 1/2-inch headspace. Cover with new, clean lids and bands. Hot packing whole tomatoes involves boiling the tomatoes in liquid before canning them. Place the prepared tomatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Boil the tomatoes for 5 minutes and fill clean jars with the tomatoes and the liquid. Cover with new, clean lids and bands.

Processing

Canned whole tomatoes can be processed in a boiling water canner or pressure canner. Because you have increased the acidity of the tomatoes, you can easily process them in boiling water. Fill the water canner halfway with water and fill the canning rack with the filled jars. Lower the canning rack into the water. Boiling water must cover 1 to 2 inches over the tops of the jars. Add more boiling water to the water canner as needed. Pints are processed in boiling water for 40 minutes at altitudes of 0 to 1,000 feet and for 45 minutes at altitudes of 1,001 to 3,000 feet. In a dial gauge pressure canner, raw packed tomatoes, in either pints or quarts, are processed for 10 minutes at 11 pounds in altitudes 0 to 2,000 feet. In weighted gauge pressure canners, process the raw packs at 10 pounds at altitudes of 0 to 1,000 feet and at 15 pounds for altitudes of 1,000 feet or higher. Hot packed tomatoes, in either pints of quarts, are processed in a dial gauged pressure canner for 15 minutes at 6 pounds in altitudes 0 to 2,000 feet. In weighted gauge pressure canners, process the hot packs at 5 pounds at altitudes of 0 to 1,000 feet and at 10 pounds for altitudes of 1,000 feet or higher. After the processing time is reached, allow the jars to rest undisturbed for 5 minutes before removing from a water bath and for up to an hour before removing from a pressure canner. Place the jars in a place where they will not be disturbed for 12 to 24 hours before placing them in storage.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

How to Rehydrate Dried Fruit

Not only is dried fruit a great way to store the summer’s harvest, it is also a great addition to your cooking. Dried fruit is normally eaten in its dried state or added to breads, trail mixes, and cookies. The dried fruit can also be softened before adding it to breads and hot cereals. By cooking the dried fruits, you can also make purees and baby food that can be cooled and eaten immediately.

Soak in Liquid

There are three ways you can rehydrated dried fruit without cooking them. The easiest method is to spread dried fruit on a dish and sprinkle the fruit with water or fruit juice. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and let sit for about 15 to 20 minutes. You can also put the dried fruit in a bowl and cover it with boiling water. Let stand for five to ten minutes and strain off the liquid. The third method is to place dried fruit in a steamer and steam over boiling water for five minutes or until the fruit is soft. Dried fruit that has been rehydrated needs to be used immediately or else it will begin to go bad. The rehydrated fruit can be stored in a plastic container with lid for up to one day.

Cook Until Soft

Dried fruit that needs to be softened for recipes, made into puree or baby food are softened on the stove. Put the dried fruit in a saucepan and cover with fruit juice or water. Simmer the fruit until it is tender. If you are making a puree or baby food, simmer the fruit until it becomes so soft that it is falling apart and can be pureed in a blender. If you want to sweeten the fruit or add spices, add them after the fruit has softened. If you sweeten the fruit while it is still simmering to get soft, the fruit will become tough.

Monday, November 10, 2014

How to Grow Watermelon

Growing watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) in your home garden has many advantages over buying watermelon from a grocery store. The best benefit to growing your own watermelon is that you harvest the fruit when it is at its peek. Commercially grown watermelon is harvested before the fruit reaches its maximum sweetness because the unripe fruit will not suffer as much shipping damage as ripened fruit. Watermelon that is picked before it is fully ripe will not continue to ripen. When you grow your own watermelon, you can check the fruit before harvesting to make certain it is at maximum sweetness.

Direct Seed Planting

Watermelon seeds can be bought from gardening stores and from most online seed suppliers. Seeds are sown directly into the ground in small mounds after the last frost. Seeds will germinate in soil that is 60 F or higher. Seedless watermelons need a soil temperature of 70 F or higher to germinate. Plant 2 to 4 seeds in each mound at a depth of 1 inch, spaced at 8 feet apart on all sides. After the seeds have germinated, thin the seedlings so there are two plants per mound.

Transplanting

Watermelon is a long season, warm weather crop and it can take 70 to 90 days to reach maturity. In areas with a short growing season, starting transplants indoors before the last frost can add four to five weeks to the area’s growing season. Plant one to two seeds per peat pot, at a depth of one inch, up to five weeks before the last frost. The soil temperature should be kept at 60 to 70 F for the seeds to germinate. Use supplemental lights hung 6 to 12 inches above the plants to provide the plants with 14 hours of light. If the seedlings do not get enough light, they will become leggy. The soil will need to be kept moist while the seeds are germinating with the use of misting. Seedlings can be planted outside after the last frost and the soil temperature is between 65 and 70 F. Before transplanting the plants, harden them off by setting the plants outdoors during the days for three to four days and bringing the plants indoors.

Site, Soil, Fertilizer

Watermelon is grown in the full sun and needs eight to ten hours of sunlight each day. The soil needs to be well drained and slightly acid with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Fertilize soil with 10-10-10 or 13-13-13 base fertilizer at 3 pounds per 100 square feet before seeds are planted. The soil should also be tilled to a depth of 6 inches. After the seeds have sprouted or the transplants have been planted, mulch with dried grass clippings to prevent weeds and to hold the moisture in the soil.

Water Requirements

Watermelon needs a lot of water to grow because the fruit is made up almost entirely of water. Give the plants 1 to 2 inches of water a week. Drip irrigation works best for watermelons, but most home gardeners will water the plants from above. When watering the plants, avoid watering at night because this may cause foliage diseases. Water the plants in the early afternoon so that the sun can dry off the leaves before nightfall.

Harvesting

There are several different methods to test watermelons for maturity. The most surefire method is to cut a piece out of one of the watermelons in the garden. If it is dark pink inside, the fruit has reached maturity. Another method to examine the curly tendril at the stem. If it is dry, the watermelon is ready to be harvested. You can also check the color of the underside of the watermelon. If the underside is yellow, it is ready to harvest. Cut the fruit from the vine to prevent any damage to the fruit. The melons are washed and can be stored at temperatures of 52 to 60 F for 2 to 3 weeks.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Shelf Life of Pickled Bologna

Inspecting a jar of pickled bologna found in the grocery store is the first step in determining how long the bologna can be stored. The use by date should be printed on the label or lid of the jar. If you cannot find or read the use by date, you need to determine how long the product has been sitting on the shelf. If the jar appears clean, not dusty, and the label is not torn, ask a store manager to find when the product was shipped to the store and to determine what the use by date is for the product. The use by date on store bought pickled bologna is the date you should use when determining the shelf life of the item.

Shelf Life of Homemade Pickled Bologna

Canning your own pickled bologna is a great way to ensure the quality of your pickled meats. Label each jar of pickled bologna with the date it was canned. Store unopened pickled bologna in a dry pantry at room temperature (between 50 and 70 F) for up to one year. After opening the jar, keep the pickled bologna refrigerated between 33 F to 40 F for up to 2 weeks.  If you are uncertain how long a jar has been open, it is best to throw out the contents than to risk eating spoiled food.

Monday, September 1, 2014

How to Sell and Make Money With Your Crafts

You Can Make Money With Crafts


I often hear friends complain about making beautiful crafts, but not being able to sell their crafts. I tell them all the time, they have to sell themselves, and their crafts, to the world. They can not just set up a little table at a craft shop and expect people to find them. They need to step out of the box and find the customers! With that being said, let us look at the many ways you can make money from doing crafts.

Teach Classes


This is one of the best ways to get yourself out in the public's eye. Give classes on how to do your crafts and make money. Traditionally, classes are given in person. You can teach your craft from your home. You can also contact your local library and find out if they have a community room that can be rented and you can teach there. Some craft stores also allow you to teach crafts at their stores. You benefit by charging for the instructions and the craft store benefits from the purchase of supplies needed for your crafts.

Make Instructional Videos


Similar to teaching classes, you can also make instructional videos on making your crafts. You can sell and market these videos on your own, from a website, or you can post them to various video websites online and earn money from views and advertising.

Write How To Articles


I make a lot of crafts, from sewing and knitting to paper mache and wood carving. However, I make these items for my family and friends. To earn money off my crafts, I write how to articles for each project. I have found this to be an excellent way to make money off of crafting for many reasons. The main reason is that I don't have to settle down with one particular craft item to make and sell. I can jump around, working on a wood carving one week and the next week sew a Halloween costume. I like being able to try out different craft ideas and sharing the ideas with other people. Another reason why I choose to make my craft money by writing is because I have been able to build up a good amount of residual income that I can count on getting each month. I don't have to rely on holiday gift buying for the bulk of my income.

There are many websites that pay for craft articles. You will want to find a website that allows you to post more than one picture per article and that has a step by step layout you can use.

You may also want to consider a blog. With a blog, you can write about your craft, post pictures and videos, sell your crafts, and sell items from Amazon.com.

Sell Craft Kits


I have a friend that switched from selling her crafts to selling craft kits so that other people can make her crafts. This is a fun way to get more people interested in your craft. There are also many people who want to make their own items to gift and the craft kits allow them to do this.

Sell Crafts Online and Offline


Sometimes the craft market seems overwhelmed with same craft items. For example, a few years ago, everyone seemed to be selling skinny scarves. If you are going to sell your crafts online or in person, make sure your items are original in some fashion. Use special yarn, have a color theme to your items, sell your crafts and your creativity to the public.

If you are fortunate to practice a unique craft, such as carving hiking sticks or caning, you will be met with a more interested audience. Take advantage of this curiosity and make money by testing out all the ideas above, from selling kits to instructional videos. You may be well on your way to quitting your day job if you angle your craftiness in the right way.