Preserve Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs

In midwinter, there’s nothing like a little taste of summer. Preserve some of this year’s harvest of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. It requires a little effort, but you’ll be glad you did when you dig into that homemade marinara sauce some snowy day. Preservation is simple and inexpensive; plus you get even more bragging rights when someone compliments your cooking.

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Canning, Freezing and Drying Garden Produce

The preservation of food is not a new idea. In fact, cold storage in a root cellar was one of the first methods of preserving and overwintering produce. All that was needed was a cool, dark area with some humidity and air circulation to prevent the harvest from shriveling, spoiling, or sprouting.

Some more modern preservation methods are:

Canning follows pretty straightforward guidelines. It requires more effort and equipment, but the results are almost foolproof if you follow the instructions carefully. Tomatoes and beans are two summer crops that be canned very successfully. Jellies, jams, and preserves are perfect for using extra fruit, but don’t think jellies are only good for PB&J sandwiches. Jellied herbs and garlic make excellent

10 Ways to Keep Your Garden Healthy

One of the most mystifying things that can happen in your garden is when a plant gets a disease. How did it happen? Will it spread? Will all my plants die? How can I get rid of it? The most important thing to understand about disease prevention is something called the disease triangle (drawing, right). Disease can only happen when three things coincide: you have a plant that can get sick (a host), a pathogen (like a fungus, bacterium, or virus) that can attack the plant, and environmental conditions (like humidity or drought) that promote the disease. If any one of these things is not present, the disease will not happen, so prevention involves knocking out at least one side of the triangle. Rather than waiting for a problem to pop up in your garden, consider the best defense against disease to be a good offense. What follows are 10 ways you can eliminate at least one side of the disease triangle and keep your plants healthy.

1. Examine plants carefully before buying

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Create a Container Garden

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Planting in Containers

Planting in containers has several advantages. Containers allow you to:

  • Use your landscape space more efficiently. Containers can be spaced closer than plants in the ground, allowing you to create a lot of impact with less space and expense. Containers may be grouped for intensified fragrance.
  • Have a portable garden. Use them indoors or out. Move them to the patio for your garden party. Move them for protection from extreme weather. Plants can also be rotated so you can showcase what’s in bloom. Rotate them to the background as blooms fade.
  • Control the soil quality. Your plants have quality soil to thrive in. Use containers in areas with poor soil or poor drainage. Eliminate competition from other plants and reduce accessibility to many pests.
  • Increase access to the gardener. Containers can be worked in with less stooping and bending.
  • Spray and fertilize more efficiently.
  • Isolate for treatment of pest or disease.

Types of Containers

Theoretically at least, anything that holds soil can be used as a container. The category covers everything from

Care for Houseplants

Houseplants are a diverse group; the term is used to describe everything from a cactus to an orchid. This diversity can make plant care challenging (and occasionally frustrating). There are some pretty simple and common things to remember when selecting and caring for houseplants.

Choosing Houseplants

If you haven’t purchased a plant yet, choose a healthy plant to begin with:

  • Look for a plant that’s bushy, with buds or new growth. Avoid plants that are “leggy,” (a term used to describe plants that are too tall and thin).
  • Avoid plants with brown edges on the leaves – which could mean the plant has been subjected to too much heat or fertilizer.
  • Beware of pale or yellow lower leaves, a sign of improper watering.
  • When you get home, do not be surprised if some lower leaves drop off. The plant may simply be adjusting to its new environment.

Proper Light for Houseplants

Without light a plant will starve, unable to produce food, or photosynthesize. (Plant photosynthesis is also the process that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, replacing it with oxygen). So, the placement of your plants in the

Watering African Violets 101 Different Strokes for Different Folks

With any watering method, keep in mind that African violets hate “wet feet.” Letting the soil go dry for a few days every so often will help keep the roots healthy. Too much water and too little water can produce the same symptoms – a wilted looking plant with drooping leaves. Until you figure out what works for your plants, you’ll want to pay close attention to moisture levels.

Top Watering is what we’re most familiar with, when we water our houseplants. African violets don’t mind being watered from the top. Contrary to popular advice, they also don’t mind getting their leaves wet. Leaves that stay wet, however, are another story. Water sitting on leaves can cause spots from sun or cold damage. Wet crowns can lead to rot. If they do get wet, blot the water from the leaves and crown with a paper towel. Condiment style squirt bottles can help you water without wetting the leaves.

Bottom Watering simply means watering the pot from the bottom. The potting mix soaks up moisture through the drainage holes in the

Use these water-saving gardening techniques to survive a “mega-drought”

Whether or not you believe in man-made climate change, one thing is indisputable: that the Southwestern United States are experiencing a record-breaking drought that has lasted for around 14 years. This particular drought has the potential of becoming what is termed a “megadrought” — one which lasts more than two decades.

But even if you don’t live in one of the drought-affected areas, water conservation is still important. As the population increases, so does the demand on our water resources, and there is simply no excuse for wasting this precious commodity which is so vital to our very existence.

So in this article I’d like to give you some tips for drought gardening techniques and also some general methods of reducing water waste. Even if you have no water restrictions in your area, you’ll save money and help the environment by incorporating these in your landscaping and gardening routine.

You’ve probably heard the term “xeriscaping,” which doesn’t necessarily mean replacing your lawn and garden with cacti and rocks. Xeriscaping merely means employing techniques that reduce water waste and overall usage.

Here are a few useful water conservation tips that you can begin using right now, no matter where you live:

Early morning and

Grow Herbs in Your Garden

Types of Herbs

Herbs bring a lot of value to the home garden. Most are easy to grow, asking only for sunshine and well-drained soil. Some herbs are annuals. Other perennial varieties stay vibrant and productive for years. They work great as container plants, grown alone or mixed with other plants. The contrasting leaf shapes, textures, colors and sizes make herbs excellent ornamental plants. On the practical side, most herbs are drought-tolerant, making them great candidates for xeriscapes or rock gardens. Depending on the plant, the usable parts include roots, stems, bark, leaves, fruit, seeds and oils. There are hundreds of plants that are considered herbs. Here are just a few of the better-known members of the family.

Basil (Ocimum varieties), a culinary favorite, especially for those who consider pesto a basic food group. Grown as an annual, basil’s many varieties can have big or small leaves, upright or mounding form, and green or purple foliage. Basil likes the heat of summer. Keep the flower buds pinched back for maximum leaf production. Height is around 2-ft

Bay (Laurus nobilis) is another kitchen standard sometimes known as “bay tree.” Reaching 50-ft in tree form, 10-ft is

Master Gardeners, Who they are, What they do

Since being certified as a Master Gardener in 1997 I’ve met hundreds of gardeners, many of them Master Gardeners so I think I have a pretty good idea of what exactly makes these folks “tick”.

Here on DG and elsewhere I’ve heard folks refer to Master Gardeners as “know it alls”, “uppity”, “they talk down to me”, “ they think they are better than me”, and so forth. I want to proclaim that these statements couldn’t be farther from the truth. Needless to say as in any national organization there are a few bad apples. The majority of Master Gardeners are friendly, generous, helpful and passionate about gardening.

We never stop learning, and believe me we don’t think we know more than anyone else about horticulture.

I want to familiarize you with the program and what a MG does to receive that title and how they use the knowledge gleaned to aid their community.

The Master Gardener program was started back in the 1970’s; it was established to aid the local extension offices to serve the public in the area of horticulture.

All of the 50 states have Master Gardener programs and they are organized

One Technique for Painting Succulents with Watercolors

This article is an introduction on how to do some watercolor paintings of some of the simpler succulents (Aloes, Agaves etc.).Some painting tips will be mentioned and some sample paintings will be shown as they develop from the start to finish.

To me painting is no substitute for photography, either in terms of accuracy, or even color or form. But sometimes painting can add things impossible to create with simple photography. And though photographs themselves can certainly be art, there is something satisfyingly ‘artistic’ about making a painting of a plant, even if it’s directly from a photograph, no matter how formulaic this might sound. One can add a lot or take away a lot from the original image by painting, exaggerate or alter the colors, blur or simplify the background, simplify or alter the form, add objects (I usually add lizards) and basically change a ‘factual’ photograph into one’s own interpretation of the ‘facts’. Paintings do not have to be accurate, or even duplicate reality in the least. In fact, one has nearly infinite freedom when painting. But in this article I use traced images to simplify the process, speed things up a great deal and

Great Gardeners Use Seed – Everything Old Is New Again

The National Garden Bureau launches a campaign to revitalize the ease and pleasure of growing from seed. This logo will be used to identify educational information on gardening from seed or bedding plants from seed. National Garden Bureau members will encourage the art and craft of gardening with seed using the Great Gardeners Use Seed™ logo. This is a commitment to reach teachers, youth, and adults teaching the benefits of gardening with seed and plants from seed. Founded in 1920, the Bureau’s original mission was to disseminate basic instructions for backyard gardening. In the 21st century, the Bureau has published Today’s Garden and the “Year of” fact sheets and offered the same valuable gardening advice on the website, www.ngb.org In addition to general public education, the Bureau has sponsored programs that teach youth science with the use of garden-based activities. The Bureau acknowledges that previous generations were taught to garden by their parents, grandparents, or other family members. Millions of children and older youth have not had the opportunity to sow a seed and nurture the plant grown from seed. Garden-based activities – the GrowLab® Program Over 50 GrowLabs have been donated to teachers for classroom use. A

Garden Fencing That Will Established Your Garden best to Others

Picket secure fencing can vary tall. If you have a number of flowers that happen to be tall, including tulips as well as black-eyed susans, you might want to have a low picketer fence to ensure the flowers are easily seen. On the flip side, if you have plants and flowers of differing heights, think about installing a 3 foot high fence which has a gate. Keep the gateway partially available so passer-bys can hook a peek of your backyard. Picket secure fencing is usually created wood that is painted white-colored or vinyl. If you’re looking to get some privacy in your backyard area, subsequently consider choosing vinyl secure fencing. These walls ranged with four your feet to half a dozen feet upright. Each board consists of half a dozen or more content. Usually you will have choice of round, squared as well as pointed post tops. Softtop fencing is the best well in a large number of kinds of climate. If your backyard contains a compact pond or simply a water water fountain, then this may be a good choice. It will decrease animals as well as small children with entering the backyard. Trellis secure fencing is