Keeps Brown Sugar Soft If you place a piece of orange peel in your bag of brown sugar the sugar will stay soft.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Keeps Brown Sugar Soft If you place a piece of orange peel in your bag of brown sugar the sugar will stay soft.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
1. Unroll a strip of toilet paper on a table (double ply works best), mist it with a sprayer, and place the seeds along the center of the strip. Be sure to space the seeds based on the seed packet's recommendation. Tip: Alternate carrot seeds with radish seeds because when the radishes sprout, they help to mark the row and break the ground.
2. Starting along the strip's long edge, fold a third of the paper over the seeds, then fold the other third over to cover the seeds completely. Lightly tamp the paper, misting it again to secure the seeds. Make as many of these strips as you need. Then carefully carry them to the garden.
3. Make shallow furrows in the prepared soil, lay the strips down, and cover them. In a jiffy, your small seeds will be planted and perfectly spaced.
Sunday, July 5, 2009
Sweet Mace or Mexican Mint (Tagetes lucida) Enjoy this late-blooming marigold in teas, drinks; a great flavoring for many dishes. This old Hispanic heirloom is hard to find nowadays, but is still a great garden plant that is easy to grow and quite flavorful.
The plus to this flower is that it repels pest.
Other uses have included treat-ment for colds, fevers, coughs, wounds, infections, rashes, and wasp and bee stings.
Marigolds are very easy to grow from seed. The seed is fairly large and easy to handle. It germinates quickly and the resulting seedlings are large and easy to identify. Transplanting marigolds grown from seed is a pleasant garden task, as the seedlings have well developed root systems, strong stems and tough leaves.
Marigold seed may also be sown directly in the flower garden. Wait until all risk of frost is past, sow the seed, cover lightly and water in well. Germination outside in the garden will be slower than in the seed flat, and expect a lower germination rate. The marigold seedlings may come in closer together than you wish. The seedlings may be transplanted to other areas of the garden
They are also the wedding flower in India.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
GROWING GREAT GLADS
For the gardener with little time to spend in the yard, gladiolus are a colorful, easy care plant, perfect for borders and large containers. They make great cut flowers, too! Selecting a variety of glads and staggering their planting dates will produce a succession of height and bloom from spring through fall.
GLADS ARE EASY TO GROW!
Most garden soils that will produce a good crop of vegetables or weeds
will also grow good glads with little or no added fertilizer. Glads prefer
good air circulation and full sunlight but will do reasonably well with a
little high shade in early morning or late afternoon. Choose an area
with good drainage. Glads don't like wet feet! Raised beds are an
Plant only clean, plump gladiolus corms (also known as bulbs).
Here in the valley, foothills, and Bay Area, plant a few glad corms
every week or two, from late January through early April. That way,
there will always be a gladiolus in bloom throughout the warm weather months.
Plant gladiolus corms three to five inches deep and from four to six inches apart, with the tip side facing upwards.
GLADS ARE EASY TO CARE FOR...AND ENJOY!
Water regularly while they are growing or blooming, perhaps once a week.
Water twice a week during heat waves. Weed by shallow cultivation
and hand weeding. A three inch layer of mulch of bark, straw, leaves,
grass clippings, etc., between rows will discourage weeds and help conserve moisture.
To get the most enjoyment of glads as a cut flower indoors, cut off the flowering
stalk when the lowest buds begin to open. Be sure to keep at least four leaves
on the plant to allow the corm to renew itself for the following year.
At the end of the season, cut off the stem just below the lowest flower buds.
This keeps the energy from the leaves flowing towards the corm, not to seed production.
GLADIOLUS CAN GET BUGGED!
Thrips are one of the most damaging insects to glads, especially in the summer.
Look for silvery flecks on the foliage and silver or brown blemishes on the flowers
and buds. You may also see their black droppings on the leaves.
These tiny (less than 1/20th of an inch long) creatures scrape away the plant tissue,
suck the juice and lay their eggs inside. Control thrips with a blast of water from
the hose or insecticidal soap. Healthy plants can outgrow thrip damage.
CAN YOU DIG IT? SURE! BUT YOU DON'T HAVE TO EVERY YEAR!
Here, where the ground doesn't freeze in the winter, you may choose
not to dig up your corms. However, disease brought on by too much
rain and too cool of a soil, as well as eventual crowding, may reduce
the amount and quality of next year's bloom.
It is suggested that you dig and divide your corms every couple of years
in the fall, being sure to discard any damaged or diseased corms.
The plant should be separated from the corm as close to the corm
as possible, either by hand breaking or cutting with pruning shears.
Store any lifted corms in a cool, dry place, in single layers in a flat or
ventilated tray. Then, replant those corms the following February or March.
Where to find manure
Remember the story of the little boy who was digging through the pile of manure? "There has to be a pony in here somewhere," he told his father.
The hopeful lad probably lived on a farm, the best place for home gardeners to get manure. Or any place where domestic animals are raised, for that matter. Just listen for moos and clucking! Farm manure is often sold as bagged manure and is available at garden centers and hardware stores. Manures and composted plant materials add organic matter, which helps soil retain moisture and structure which prevents compaction, and helps prevent nutrients from leaching away. They also balance extremes in soil pH.
"The fairest thing in nature, a flower,still has its roots in earth and manure."—D.H. Lawrence, English novelist, poet (1885-1930)
Good poop, bad poop
What is good for the goose, is not always good for the gander. There are a few manures that should not be used, primarily those of meat eaters. According to Cornell University, "Homeowners should not use any manure from dogs, cats, or other meat-eating animals, since there is risk of parasites or disease organisms that can be transmitted to humans."
The most common sources of manure are horses, cattle, goats, sheep, rabbits and poultry. Below is a guide showing how manures measure up, nutrient-wise. While all animal manures are good sources of organic matter and nutrients, it's impossible to make a precise analysis, mostly because bedding materials vary so much. For example, manure with straw or sawdust will have a different nitrogen composition than pure manure. But it's useful to know whether the manure you're using is rich or poor in a particular nutrient such as nitrogen.
As you review the list, don't be misled by the N-P-K numbers that suggest manure is less powerful than chemicals. It is actually far better because it contains large amounts of organic matter, so it feeds and builds the soil while it nourishes the plants. This is one of the primary ways that organic fertilizers have a leg-up on chemical ones.
Still, many gardeners can't resist comparing the numerical amounts listed below with what they read on packages of synthetic fertilizers. Unfortunately, the values of manure and organic fertilizers in general, are often based on the relative amount of nitrogen (N), phosphoric acid (P) and potash (K) they contain. While these are important elements, "it is misleading to make a direct comparison between farm manures and chemical fertilizers on the basis of the relative amounts of N-P-K," says Jerry Minnich, author of Rodale's Guide to Composting.
Just like we need to eat to maintain our health, soil needs continual replenishment of its organic matter to decompose into humus. Humus helps create a rich, moisture-retaining soil and makes nutrients available to plants.( For more organic gardening tips, read the current issue of my UpBeet Gardener newsletter.)
1.1 .80 .50
.25 .15 .25
.70 .30 .60
.70 .30 .40
2.4 1.4 .60
Sources: Rodale's All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, An Illustrated Guide toOrganic Gardening, by Sunset Publishing, and the Rodale Guide to Composting.
Note: Nutrient values of manures vary greatly, depending on the diet andage of the animals, and the nature and quantiy of bedding in the mix.
Chicken manurePoultry manure (chicken in particular) is the richest animal manure in N-P-K. Chicken manure is considered "hot" and must be composted before adding it to the garden. Otherwise, it will burn any plants it comes in contact with.Dairy (cow) manure"Dairy Manure may be the single most useful soil-builder around," says Ann Lovejoy, lifetime organic gardener and writer in Seattle, Washington. "Washed dairy manure from healthy cows is just about perfect for garden use; it can be used as a topdressing and for soil improvement," she adds. Dairy manure is preferable to steer manure, which has a higher salt and weed seed content. Though cow manure has low nutrient numbers, that's what makes ist safe to use in unlimited quantities.Horse manureHorse manure is about half as rich as chicken manure, but richer in nitrogen than cow manure. And, like chicken droppings, it's considered "hot". Horse manure often contains a lot of weed seeds, which means it's a good idea to compost it using a hot composting method.Steer manureSteer manure is one of the old standbys, but it's not the most beloved because it often contains unwanted salts and weed seeds.
Rabbit manureRabbit manure is even higher in nitrogen than some poultry manures and it also contains a large amount of phosphorus--important for flower and fruit formation. Sheep manureSheep manure is another "hot" manure. It is somewhat dry and very rich. Manure from sheep fed hay and grain will be more potent than manure from animals that live on pasture.
How to use manure
The bottom line
The best zoo doo? Elephant dung!
So there you have it: The scoop on poop!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Soybeans reached the western world by the early 1700s and were first grown in North America by 1804. Benjamin Franklin appears to have been involved in introducing soybeans from France to Philadelphia at that time. A number of varieties were grown and evaluated in the United States during the 1800s. The primary use for the crop was for forage, hay and green manure.
In the 1880s, French scientists discovered that the soybean contains practically no starch so its use in diabetic diets began. Later its high protein content was recognized.
Modern uses. In the early 1900s the first processing of seeds for oil and meal was done in England. For the most part soybeans were a neglected crop until World War II. Germany developed a soy oil lard substitute and a meat substitute. In the U.S. increasing amounts of soybean meal were used as livestock and poultry feed, especially after 1945 when consumption of meat increased dramatically. More recently, an increasing proportion of American soybean production has been used by the food processing industry--in such foods as margarine, shortening, ice cream, salad dressings and mayonnaise. Industry uses lesser amounts in products including paint, ink, putty, caulking, wallpaper, rubber substitutes, adhesives, fire extinguisher foam, electrical insulation and gasoline. The versatile soybean is a part of everyone's life in developed countries.
At present, most soybeans (over three-fourths of the world supply) are grown in the United States (especially in the cornbelt and Mississippi Valley), in Brazil and Argentina. China produces most of the soybeans grown in the Orient, while only a few are grown in Europe. In the U.S., the soybean is third in production (corn and wheat are first and second) and second in value (corn is first) of crops grown.
TO YOUR HEALTH
Soybeans are members of the pea (legume) family of vegetables. Eating soybean-based foods may reduce the risk of a range of health problems, including coronary heart disease. More research is needed, but the evidence so far suggests that it could be wise to include whole soy foods in the daily diet. Soybeans also contain hormone-like substances called phytoestrogens that mimic the action of the hormone oestrogen. The health benefits of soy for menopausal women could include fewer hot flushes, protection from coronary heart disease and lowered risk of osteoporosis. However, while whole soy foods have been shown to have health benefits, the benefits of taking phytoestrogen supplements are unproven. See your doctor or dietitian for further guidance. Nutrition profileSoy is a high quality protein. It is one of only two known plant foods to contain all the essential amino acids, similar to those found in meat (the other plant food is amaranth seed, a wild green). Some soy products can be a source of calcium and iron, such as Chinese tofu or tempeh (made with a calcium coagulant) and calcium fortified soy drinks. The soybean is:
High in fibre
High in protein
Low in saturated fat
A good source of omega-3 fatty acids
High in phytoestrogens.Phytoestrogens explainedSoybeans are thought to be of some health benefit to menopausal women. Soybeans contain hormone-like substances called phytoestrogens (‘phyto’ means plant). Given the right conditions, these compounds mimic the action of the female hormone oestrogen, but with much lower potency - about 1,000 times less. There are two types of phytoestrogen: isoflavones and lignans. Soybeans contain about 50 times more isoflavones than other members of the legume family, such as lentils and peanuts. (Lignans are found in cereals, vegetables and fruits.)Soybeans and menopausal hot flushesWomen in Japan and China typically have fewer hot flushes during menopause than their Western counterparts. This observation led to research into dietary differences, including the fact that Asian women tend to have soy-rich diets, while Western women have meat-rich diets. It is thought that a soy-rich diet helps reduce menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes because the phytoestrogens act like a mild form of hormone replacement therapy. The reduction rate of hot flushes varies from one study to the next, from 1.9 per cent to 45 per cent. However, it should be noted that some women in the studies experienced a reduction in hot flushes while taking dummy treatments too (the placebo effect). More research is needed, but soybeans seem to offer promise in helping some women to manage menopausal hot flushes. If phytoestrogens do work, studies suggest that you need at least 2-3 serves of soy products daily. This would mean either:
500ml soymilk per day
100g tofu per day
4-5 slices of soy linseed bread per day (depending on the brand).Soybeans and coronary heart diseaseOestrogen may protect women against coronary heart disease during their reproductive years, but rates of heart disease increase remarkably after menopause. Soybeans have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels as well as lipoproteins, both known risk factors for heart disease. A meta-analysis (an analysis of a number of studies on a topic) of 38 clinical trials found that 31-47g of soy protein can reduce blood cholesterol levels by as much as 20 per cent. This amount of soy protein is found in two to three serves of soy products. It isn’t known whether the phytoestrogens or the soy proteins (or both, working in combination) are responsible for this health benefit. However, studies have shown that eating soy protein without isoflavones results in only small cholesterol reductions and isoflavone supplements alone have minimal cholesterol lowering effects. The cholesterol lowering benefits of eating soy foods may be better if the total diet is high in carbohydrate. This seems to help with the breakdown of the isoflavones. In recognition of the evidence, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved a health claim in 1999 acknowledging the heart health benefits of including at least 25g soy protein daily in a diet low in saturated fat.Other possible health benefits of soyThe soybean needs further research before its health benefits are conclusively known. The health benefits of soy are not without controversy. Some research suggests that it may adversely affect thyroid function in some people. The suggested health benefits of whole soy foods include:
Lowered blood pressure
Improvements to blood vessels, such as greater elasticity of artery walls
Reduced risk of osteoporosis
Protection against various cancers, including those of the breast, colon, prostate and skin
Management of endometriosis.