Monday, November 22, 2010

Could Gardening Become a Felony?

This could be one of the most important informational blogs I ever write.  A friend of mine emailed me a link to this article.  Its difficult to even believe this could be possible.  I'm going to just post the article link and have you all read it.  There are petitions to sign, emails to send.....and people to contact.  Please read this and pass it along to everyone you know!  CLICK HERE.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Freezing Vegetables

Someone initially suggested I write a blog on storing your harvested vegetables.  I decided to write one on freezing instead.  Here's why.  A lot of raw storage methods require a cellar.  Most of the people I know in the California area either have no cellar due to living in an apartment or they don't have an extra room that the temperature can be below 40 degrees to store them in!  Raw storage can be a bit complicated, as temperatures and relative humidity need to be controlled.  So I'm going to suggest freezing your vegetables.  I will cover both water bath canning and pressure canning at a later date.  Here's a list of vegetables and the process of freezing them!

Water and Steam Blanching means : scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time and placing them into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.

Wash, sort by size. Snap off tough ends. Cut stalks in 2-inch lengths or leave in spears.
Water blanch: Small stalks: 1-1/2 min. Medium: 2 min Large: 3 min.
Steam blanch: Small: 2-1/2 min. Medium: 3 min. Large: 4 min.

Wash. Trim ends. Cut if desired.
Water blanch: Whole: 3 min. Cut: 2 min.
Steam blanch: Whole: 4 min. Cut: 3 min.

Wash. Remove tops leaving 1 inch of stem and root
Cook until tender: for small beets, 25–30 minutes; for medium beets, 45–50 minutes. Cool promptly, peel, trim tap root and stem. Cut into slices or cubes. Pack into freezer containers.

Wash. Trim leaves. Cut into pieces.
Water blanch 3 min. Steam blanch 3 min.

Brussels sprouts
Wash. Remove outer leaves.
Water blanch 4 min. Steam blanch 5 min. (medium-sized)

Wash. Discard course outer leaves. Cut into wedges or shred coarsely.
Water blanch: Wedges: 3 min. Shredded: 1-1/2 min.
Steam blanch: Wedges: 4 min. Shredded: 2 min.

Wash, peel and trim. Cut if desired; leave small carrots whole.
Water blanch: Whole: 5 min. Sliced : 2 min.

Discard leaves and stem, wash. Break into pieces or leave small heads whole (no more than 4-inch diameter).
Add 1 Tbsp. vinegar to water. Water blanch: Whole: 6 min. Cut: 3 min.
Add 1 Tbsp. vinegar to water. Steam blanch: Whole: 7 min. Cut: 4 min.

Remove husks and silks and trim ends. W ash.
Water blanch medium-sized ears, 3-4 ears at a time, 5 min. After blanching, cut kernels (about 2/3 depth) from cob, bag kernels, freeze.

Corn on the cob
Remove husks and silks and trim ends. Wash.
Water blanch medium-sized ears, 8 min. Cool. Drain. Wrap ears individually in plastic wrap. Pack wrapped ears in plastic freezer bags.

Wash, peel, slice 1/3 inch thick.
Water blanch 4 min. in 1 gallon of boiling water containing 1-1/2 Tbsp. citric acid or 1/2 c. lemon juice. Or, saute in oil and pack.

Select young, tender greens. Wash. Trim leaves.
Water blanch 2 min., or steam blanch 3 min. Avoid matting woody stems.

Wash. Snip or leave on stalks.
For basil only, water or steam blanch 1 min. For other herbs, blanching is not necessary. Freeze in a single layer on cookie sheet.

Peas Garden/ Snow/Sugar
Shell garden peas. No need to shell snow or sugar peas.
Water blanch 1-1/2 min., or steam blanch 2-1/2 min.

Onions/ Green Onions/ Leeks
-For onions, remove peel and chop. -For green onions, trim and slice or
leave whole. -For leeks, make a cut through leaves
and bulb. Do not cut roots. Wash thoroughly. Trim tops. Leave whole or slice.
May be frozen without blanching. Bag and Freeze. (For best odor protection, wrap onions in plastic film before putting in bags.)

Peppers Green/Red/ Sweet/Hot
Wash, remove stems and seeds.
Freeze whole, or cut as desired. No heat treatment needed. (See Guide E-311, Freezing Green Chile.)

Peel, cut, or grate as desired.
Either cook in water or saute grated potatoes in oil. Grated potatoes for hashbrowns and mashed potatoes freeze well. For new potatoes, blanch whole potatoes 5 min., blanch pieces 2-3 min.

Sweet potatoes
Wash and dry.
Bake just until tender; cool. Peel and cut. Pack in flat layers or roll in lemon juice and brown sugar. Or, puree with orange juice.

Winter squash/ Spaghetti Squash/
Wash and remove seeds
Bake whole or cut in half. Place cut side down on baking sheet Cook until tender. Scrape pulp from rind, or remove rind and cube. Cool Pumpkin and freeze cubes, or mash pulp, cool, and pack.

Zuccini/ Summer squash/
Wash, trim ends. Cut into slices or strips.
Water blanch 3 min. or steam blanch 4 min. and freeze. also be breaded and sauteed in oil. Cool and freeze. For sauteed sqaush, place waxed paper between slices before freezing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Garden 2010

I know it has been a long while and I would love to welcome you all back!  Many things have happened since I last blogged!  I switched to a new department at work in the early spring, I finished P90X, and spent a lot of time working in a 2,100 square foot garden!  I recently got a new camera so next season I will have many more photos to include.  This season I only got a few with a borrowed camera.  You can see the few I posted by clicking the "GARDEN PHOTOS" link.

This growing season I definitely had some setbacks.  While all of the peppers, tomatoes, green beans, kale, onions and many other things did very well, I had a few things that didn't do well at all.  For instance I planted over 250 pumpkin seeds and had planned to set up a stand to sell them.  This should have yielded around 500 pumpkins.  Due to the excessive heat and lack of rain I had about 4 tiny pumpkins! I was really disappointed.  But sometimes we lose the war against Mother Nature.  Also the corn this year didn't do well for me and although I'm not certain, it was more than likely lack of rain.  Excessive heat that begins early and continues throughout the season can sometimes cause vegetables to ripen very quickly.  This isn't detrimental to most vegetables, you just get to enjoy them earlier. The pumpkins started turning orange really early and were completely ripe by August.  Normally you don't pick pumpkins until the vines die which is usually in September and sometimes October.   So if you had a similar experience do not worry, you're not alone!

Now that last season is over its time to start thinking about next season.  What are you planning to try?  I'm planning to try a couple of vegetables that I've not tried before.  I'll include a complete list of seeds at a later date.  Right now I've only committed to a couple.  Did anyone try gardening this season?  Did you plant vegetables?  Or Flowers?  Let me know what you did and how it all turned out!  I promise not to take so long to blog!  I hope you all keep reading!