God in Nature

Sometimes it is hard for me to understand how people can not see some existence of God when they look at the beauty around them.

This video is not to influence your beliefs but to challenge you to truly look at the amazing beauty around you and wonder

Harvest Time!

harvest.jpgThis past week has found me harvesting many different items from my garden and the gardens of others.  I have preserved green beans and I have made several jams.  This week I will be making and canning salsa from the many yummy things that I have grown in my garden.  Soon after that I will be freezing corn for the winter.

I love the satisfaction that I get when I preserve foods.  I feel I have accomplished something great for my family because I am putting to use the things we have grown in the garden.  I also know exactly what we are getting when I can the items and I know exactly what is in them.  I love having that control.

I have several favorite recipes that I use when I am preserving foods for the winter.  Whether I am freezing items or processing them in jars, I have definite tastes and likes and dislikes.  I have found that I like to have green beans both canned in jars as well as some frozen on hand.  I use them for different meals and I prefer the differences in texture and taste in different meals.  Variety is good for the soul and the pantry.

Since I didn’t get very many zucchini recipes, I thought that perhaps I would try again with a collection of recipes from all of you.  I will again compile the recipes into a downloadable FREE e-book.  I will also include the small number of zucchini recipes and ideas that I received in the book.  We are just going to expand it a bit.  So here is what I would like for you to do:

Leave a comment below this post with your favorite HARVEST recipe.  This can be anything that you like as long as it uses items from the garden.  You can even include canning and freezing recipes for inclusion in the e-book.  I am looking for recipes for breads, muffins, jams and jellies, beverages, relish, salsa, skillet dinners, casseroles, side dishes, main dishes, desserts.  If you can think of a recipe that includes garden items, then leave a comment with the recipe and your name so I can credit you properly.

I can’t wait to see what we can create from the Harvest of our gardens!  

Photo Provided by  ppdigital

PODCAST: More Strawberry Recipes and a Little Rhubarb

podcast.jpgI have had several requests for some more yummy strawberry recipes. So this week, I am indulging your palette with even more strawberry creations. We are also beginning to harvest another great item in the garden…rhubarb. As so many people love to mix the great flavors of strawberries and rhubarb together, I am including a couple of recipes for the Strawberry-Rhubarb lovers as well. Your mouth will zing with the sweet and tangy combination. I hope you enjoy the recipes I have chosen to share with you!

Please remember, if you have a question for us here at Her Gardening Blog, please leave a comment below the podcast. We will be happy to answer your questions and build an entire weekly podcast around them. Enjoy!

more-strawberry-recipes-and-a-little-rhubarb.mp3

Gardening 101: Planting Tomatoes

tomato.JPGMany people are already planting or preparing to plant tomatoes in their vegetable gardens. It seems that many people want to know what the secrets to growing Terrific Tomatoes really are. I will be covering this soon, but to help you get started on the right foot, I highly recommend this great post by Debra Roby:

I promised you an entire post on planting, growing and carrying for your tomato plants. Almost everyone with a garden of some kind decides to grow tomatoes; they are by far the most popular vegetable (well, actually fruit.. ) that’s grown. So let’s get digging.

Start by digging your tomato its appropriately healthy hole in soil that is completely warmed. Don’t rush to plant these too early, because tomato plants will just sit in the soil until it warms up. Sit and invite disease and insects.

Loosen the soil about 2.5 times larger than the size of root ball, and dig the hole DEEP. Sprinkle some bone meal or powdered milk around the bottom of the hole; the calcium should help prevent blossom end rot if summer weather fluctuates much this year. If you’ve thought past years tomatoes weren’t very flavorful, slip some chopped up banana peel into the hole too. As it composts (rots) it will add necessary potassium to the soil as the fruit is forming. Do not add fertilizer with a high nitrogen level (first number 20-30). This nitrogen will give you lush green plants but not much fruit. ~Debra Roby

To finish reading Debra’s great post, I suggest you visit her here. It is full of some great information to help you to get started on the right foot with your tomatoes.

There are still many different things that you can do to help your tomatoes be the talk of the neighborhood and the star of your summer dining table. There is nothing better than a garden fresh tomato and I for one, will not do without one!

What are some of your favorite tips or tricks to growing tomatoes? Or perhaps you have a question? I would be happy to help you all that I can. Please leave a comment and let’s get those tomatoes growing for your summer barbecue.

Photo by Derek Benjamin Lilly

 

PODCAST: Strawberry Solutions and a Recipe

podcast.jpgStrawberries…this week we have covered everything from how to choose strawberry plants to how to plant them up.  We have talked about strawberry varieties and even what to do with all of those strawberries at harvest.  Who doesn’t love a good strawberry shortcake or strawberry cheesecake? 

In today’s podcast, we are going to answer some of your strawberry questions and I will even give you my Famous Strawberry Bread recipe.  It is a favorite item around here and is similar to banana bread, only we think it is better.

If you have a question for us here at Her Gardening Blog, please leave a comment below the podcast.  We will be happy to answer your questions and build an entire weekly podcast around them.  Enjoy! 

 strawberry-solutions-and-a-recipe.mp3

Strawberry Varieties–Oh, the Possibilities

One of the biggest questions for gardeners is what varieties of strawberries grow in their area. While the list is vast and might seem complex, here is a list of strawberries that should grow in most areas. For a more detailed list that is specific to your area, you should always visit your local garden center and nursery.

strawberry-basket.jpgEarly Season Strawberry Varieties

  • Veestar-This is a variety from Canada that is very popular. It is considered to be very productive, but the size of the fruit is smaller after the initial picking. The fruit has good flavor, but is soft.
  • Earliglow-This is perhaps one of the best tasting strawberries. The fruit that is produced is firm and has an excellent color and flavor.
  • Sable-This strawberry variety is a newer one. The fruit is soft, but the flavor is good. The size of the fruit may vary.
  • Mowhawk-This strawberry ripens very early and the fruit that is produced is of high quality. The flavor is considered to be good.
  • Northeaster-The fruit in this strawberry variety is large and firm. The flavor is strong and not everyone may like it.

Early Mid Season Strawberry Varieties

  • AnnapolisThe fruit is large and is considered to have a good color and flavor. However, the fruit can be on the softer side.
  • Honeoye-A very popular variety of strawberry, as it produces high yields of firm, large, attractive strawberries. Some people may find the taste to be too tart.
  • BrunswickThis is a newer variety of strawberry. The yield is similar to that of the Honeoye. The fruit tends to have a squatty round shape and has a tendency to bruise easily and be dark. The flavor is considered to be good, although tart when not fully ripened.
  • Cornwallis-This variety produces a good yield of fruit. The strawberries are medium sized and have a good color and flavor.
  • Cavendish-The fruit in this variety of strawberry is large and firm with a good flavor. The plant produces high yields during a good year.
  • Mira-This strawberry variety produces fruit which is large and light red in color. The quality is considered to be good.
  • L’Amour (NY1829)-This was a new variety in 2004. The berries are attractive, bright red, and firm. The quality and flavor are considered to be excellent.
  • Darselect-The flavor of this strawberry is considered to be very good. The berries are uniform and attractive, with a bright red color and a shape that is long and conical. The berries may be slightly soft, but large and high yields should be expected.
  • KentA medium to large berry that has very good flavor. The yields are considered to be excellent, but will decline after a year or two.

Late Mid Season Strawberry Varieties

  • Allstar-The color of this strawberry is a pale red to a slight orange color. The berries are large and possess a mild and sweet flavor.
  • Jewel-A popular berry with large fruit that is glossy and attractive. The texture is firm and the flavor is good.
  • WinonaThe berries are large and firm with an average yield. The fruit is considered to not be as attractive as the Jewel variety.
  • Seneca-The fruit is bright red in color and considered to be large and attractive. However, the flavor is mild and is only considered to be acceptable.
  • Mesabi-This variety produces yields which are high. The berries are medium to large and have a good flavor. However, this berry does not store well.
  • Mic Mac-This variety produces a good yield of fruit. The fruit is light red in color, large and firm.
  • Sparkle-The fruit in this strawberry variety is dark red in color and slightly soft. The flavor is excellent.

Late Season Strawberry Varieties

  • Clancy (NYUS304B)-This is a newer release. The fruit is a round and conical shape and is a dark red color. The flavor is considered to be good.
  • Cabot-The strawberries are large and pale. The yields are average to high.
  • Lateglow-The strawberries are medium to large in size. The fruit is bright red and is firm with a good flavor.

Day Neutral Strawberry Varieties

  • Tribute-This is one of the standard day neutral varieties. The fruit is small with a lower yield.
  • Tristar-This is another standard day neutral variety. The fruit is small with a low yield, but the flavor is good.
  • Seascape-This variety bears a large fruit and is very attractive. It is firm and has a good flavor.
  • Everest-This variety is fairly new. The berries are large, firm and a bright red color.

How many of these varieties have you heard of before or grown in your garden? Which are your favorites? Any other varieties that I didn’t mention but you love?

Photo by Rich DuBose

Strawberries in the Kitchen

strawberries-2.jpg
If you look around, you will find that strawberry festivals are abundant these next few weeks. Check your local listings to find one that is near you. It is sure to be a pleasant interlude for your appetite. It will also help you to dream of your own strawberry fields in your garden at home.

With all of this talk of strawberries this week, I am sure that you are dreaming of all of the things you can do with them once they are ready to be picked. The possibilities are endless. There are so many different culinary confections available to tickle your taste buds.

One of the most popular is strawberry shortcake. There are many different variations of this popular recipe and personal preference is the most important part of culinary satisfaction. Many people will make an old fashioned shortcake recipe that is similar to a biscuit and ladle the sweet berries over it. Still others prefer to use an angel food cake and ladle the berry concoction and glaze over the white fluffy cake. In either recipe, the strawberry plays a starring role and are joined with whipped cream.

Strawberries are often used in salads. You will find them in fresh fruit salads and spinach and strawberry salads. Strawberry ice cream is a favorite flavor for many. You can’t beat a homemade ice cream with fresh strawberries added. My personal favorite is fresh strawberry-peach ice cream when both strawberries from the garden are available and the peaches are on.

Strawberry smoothies are fantastic for breakfast. Strawberry-rhubarb pie is a favorite of many people. Of course you can always make a good strawberry jam to enjoy the fruits of your labor all year.

For the adventurous, you can’t go wrong with a good strawberry bread, strawberry muffins or strawberry crepes. Don’t forget the tantalizing old standard of chocolate-covered strawberries.

Now lest you think that I would mention all of this great strawberry goodness and not help to satisfy your cravings think again. I have found a video that will show you how to make strawberry cheesecake. Mmmmm…

Now that you have read about some of my favorites, I would like to invite you to share some of your favorite strawberry recipes. We will put up a recipe page for all of those garden recipe gems that you have and are willing to share with the rest of us. So think strawberries and show me what you are willing to share.

Photo by Andrea Fantoni

How to Plant Strawberries

strawberry-planter.JPGNearly any soil that will grow a vegetable or flower garden will also grow a great crop of luscious strawberries. The best spot to grow your strawberries will be in full sun, which will have sunlight for at least 6 hours. The spot should also have good drainage.

Spread a couple of inches of organic matter such as compost, manure, peat moss or soil pep onto the bed. If you have an alkaline soil, you will want to add sulfur to the bed to acidify the soil and lower the ph level. On the flip side, if you have acidic soil, you will need to add lime to the bed in order to raise the ph level and make it more neutral. Ideally, you should have a ph level between 6 and 7 for the best results with your strawberries. Now spade or rototill to a depth of around 6 inches.

There are two common methods that are used when planting strawberries: the single-plant method, also known as the hill method, and the matted-row method.

  • Single-plant Method-This method will result in the largest and strongest plants and will produce the biggest strawberries. However, it takes time to cut off the runners every season. You will also most likely need to replace the plants every two to three years.

For this method, you will want to space the plants approximately 12 to 18 inches apart in the row with each row being approximately 18 to 36 inches apart. If you are planting day-neutral varieties, you will want to use the closer spacing as they do not produce as many runners. Keep all runners clipped as they form. The first year, if you pick off all of the blossoms until mid July, you will have a larger crop of strawberries in the fall.

  • Matted-row Method-This method is perhaps the most popular with most gardeners because it requires less work and the plants will not need to be replaced as often. The strawberry beds often produce very well for many years. However, it is more difficult to weed and the strawberries do not grow as large.

For this method, you will want to set the plants 12 to 18 inches apart in rows that are set 3 to 4 feet apart. The runners will gradually fill in the row until a dense mat is formed. Leave a path that is free of the runners to allow you access between the rows.

If the plant roots are too long, you will want to cut them off to 4 or 5 inches rather than bending them over. Dig a hole which is about 6 inches deep and spread the roots of the plant out somewhat as you fill the soil back in around them. It is important that strawberries be planted the correct depth. The plants are not apt to live if their roots are exposed or if they are planted too deeply. Be sure that all of the roots are covered, but that the crown of the plant is not covered with soil. Water the strawberry plants in well.

When planted properly, your strawberry plants will flourish and will bring you lots of joy to your taste buds and tummy. What are you planning to do with all of those juicy red berries this year?

Photo by ali

 

Strawberries, Strawberries, Strawberries

A physician during the 16th century once said, “Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.” ~Dr. William Butler

strawberries.jpgStrawberries are perhaps the fruit which is most commonly grown in the home garden. There are several different reasons why they are so popular with the home gardener. The plants are both inexpensive and very easy to grow. They also take up very little space and will produce fruit the very first season. But perhaps the biggest reason is that they are full of flavor and do not have the cardboard-taste of some of the berries available at the grocery store.

Choosing Your Strawberries

Most people will purchase their strawberry plants in the early spring, anywhere from late March to the early part of May. The bare root plants are less expensive and will do just as well as the potted plants if they are planted early. Bare root plants can also be kept for as long as two to three weeks in the refrigerator if they are left in their plastic bag so they do not dry out. You can plant them as soon as the soil is workable, as frost will not hurt them. If you cannot find any bare root plants, then you should purchase plants that are already established in packs or pots. These are generally available in the late spring to early summer.

Strawberries are divided into two main groups: June-bearing and everbearing. There is a third group, the day-neutral, but it is really a sub-group of the everbearing.

  • June-bearing-These strawberries produce one crop per season in the early summer. They are sometimes considered to be the best choice if you desire to use them primarily to make preserves.
  • Everbearing-These strawberries produce two crops per season, one in the late spring and the second in the fall.
  • Day-neutral-These strawberries produce fruit all summer long. However, their largest crops are produced in the spring and fall. These varieties will produce more total fruit over the course of the season than any of the other types.

There are literally dozens of varieties of strawberries available to purchase. Tomorrow we will discuss how to plant your strawberry plants. What are your favorite strawberry varieties and why?

Photo by missyredboots