Rainy days and Sundays always get me down when I can not garden!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Canning Class @ Cook with Marisa from Food in Jars

Canning-To preserve food in cans or jars.  Also referred to as "putting up".

Food in Jars

253 south 20th st
Refrigerator Pickles

Sunday, July 29, 2012


 Cecropia Moth, or Hylaphora cecropia.

My husband found this beauty hanging out in the tomatoes.  It is a Cecropia Moth, which is the largest moth in North America.  Usually nocturnal (it was around dusk) with a wing span of 5-6 inches.  The moth itself does not eat, only the caterpillars.  The male is drawn to the females by her scent and may travel up to seven miles. They live only a few weeks, long enough to mate and lay eggs. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

THE DEEP FREEZE! Blanching Tomatoes

Bring a medium to large pot of water to a boil.

Fill a large bowl with ice water.

Rinse the tomatoes to remove any dirt.  Carefully add several tomatoes to the boiling water.  
Remove from boiling water with a slotted spoon.
This step is only 30-45 seconds (tops 1 minute).
Quickly, place the tomatoes into the ice water.  This step also helps facilitate the removal of the skins and stops the tomatoes from further cooking.
The skins will slide off very easily at this point.

Core the tomatoes and cut out any tough, soft or bruised areas.  Gently squeeze each tomato to remove seeds and excess water. 

Cut the tomatoes into quarters.  Use your finger to remove any additional seeds.  It is not necessary to get every single one.
Allow the tomatoes to drain a bit longer. 

The tomatoes are ready to be placed in Ziploc bags.  Avoid overfilling the bags. 

Remove as match air from the bags as possible.  Use a straw to suck out the air as you zip the bag shut. 

Label your bags with the content and date and place in freezer. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

“Knowledge is knowing the tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting in your fruit salad.”
Miles Kington


"Three tomatoes are walking down the street -- a poppa tomato, a momma tomato, and a little baby tomato. Baby tomato starts lagging behind. Poppa tomato gets angry, goes over to the baby tomato, and squishes him... and says, Ketchup"
          Pulp Fiction (1994)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Scarlet Tomato

Before a tomato turns red, it must first reach full size or what is called "a mature green stage".

Once it reaches "a mature green stage" the outside temperature needs to range between 50F and 85F.  Any cooler or warmer and the production of Lycopene and carotene are halted, preventing the tomatoes from turning green to red.

As the tomato matures, it produces an odorless, tasteless gas called ethylene. Ethylene permeates the air, interacting with the fruit and stimulates ripening. 

With ideal growing conditions, the mature tomatoes turn from dark green to light green to red, yellow, orange etc. 

From seed to tomatoe, this process takes about 45 to 100 days!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Passed on from act.credoaction.com

In the next week, the EPA is expected to issue a decision on the pesticide Clothianidin -- which scientists believe is a major factor in the alarming decline in U.S honey bee populations, known as Colony Collapse Disorder.
Since 2006, one third of U.S honey bee populations have been dying off. One third. Every year. That's a terrible rate of species destruction on its own, but it's also a serious threat to our food supply. Honey bees play a crucial role by pollinating 71 of the 100 most common crops, which account for 90% of the world's food supply.
 The EPA will be issuing a decision soon. If the agency doesn't act, it won't review Clothianidin again until 2018 -- and by then it could be too late for the bees.
 I just signed a petition to the EPA, and I thought you would want to add your name, too.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Sunflower
(Helianthus annuus)
Annual plant

 A symbol of devotion and loyalty (Dutch literature).

Did you know that the head of a sunflower is not a single flower, but rather a "composite flower"?  This "flower head" is comprised of 1000 to 2000 small flowers (florets) tightly compacted together.  The outer florets are sterile and vary in color.  The remaining florets mature into seeds.  The sunflower got it's name because it fallows the sun (phototropic) during the day.  There are over 60 species of sunflowers.

In 1903 the sunflower became the state flower of Kansas.
Inspired Van Gogh's famous still life, Sunflowers

 "And here the sunflower of the spring
Burns bright in morning's beam."

Ebenezer Elliott.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

 Allium sativum

Common Softneck garlic

A member of the lily family

  Related to shallots, garlic-chives, and leeks. 

(Elephant garlic is a type of leek)

Last fall my husband picked up 5 cloves of garlic for a $1 at a local produce stand.  These were the common white skin softneck garlic usually grown in the US (mostly grown in California, Louisiana, and Texas). Curious to see if it would grow, I planted the cloves of 1 bulb.  The problem with store bought garlic is that it may be treated with a sprout inhibitor.  This inhibitor interferes with the natural growing cycle of the garlic. 

Softneck garlic is easy to grow producing many small cloves per bulb.  They grow well in a variety of soils and climates but lack the complex flavors of hardnecks.  Softnecks store longer then hardnecks after harvesting.

Harvest garlic when 2/3 of the lower leaves have browned.  Do not wait until the entire plant has browned since this may lead to split bulbs or possible disease.  In my case, I came home one night to find that all the softnecks had fallen over, brought on from a heat wave. 

When ready to harvest, gently lift the garlic out by digging underneath the bulb with a garden fork or shovel, removing the entire plant.  Once harvested, dry or "cure"  the plants for 3 to 4 weeks to prepare for use and storage.