Our garden seems parched this year, the sun is blazing hot and seems to be drying the soil out quickly. Here are some ways you can save your water to reuse in your garden. My husband and I do this in the summer, and when we find the garden is dry. We use rain barrels, we also use the hose, but if we can save our water and re-use it, then it’s doing double duty and not just swirling down the drain. These are not yucky ways – my husband would love to set up a grey water system to empty the tub, but I’m not going that far.
- Fruit and vegetable rinse water. A small pot or tub in your sink under your colander when you are rinsing your vegetables to capture your water.
- Spaghetti or pasta water – pasta water won’t hurt your plants, just be sure to let it cool first.
- Canning water – same as spaghetti or pasta – let it cool first, even the water used to boil your jars or lids can be used.
- Hose water from rinsing your hands or feet after gardening before you go in the house. You know you do it so you won’t drag dirt through the house. Just set up a tub near by that you can put under your hands or feet while you rinse.
- Rain barrels – or even buckets next to the garden beds. Just be sure to empty them frequently so you don’t get mosquitoes. If it’s not dry weather, then keep the buckets upside down until you need it to keep the pests away.
- Keep a bowl or lid under your pot to catch the water when you are watering your houseplants and use that water for the plants outside, don’t waste it.
- Empty your waterbottles on your plants after a trip when you know that no one will drink anymore. You know there are leftover bottles sometimes and if you haven’t written names on them, no one will drink for fear it has someone else’s cooties.
- Reroute the water from the dehumiifier, one of the most constant water sources in the summer. Be vigilant about emptying the bucket so that you don’t have overflow.
Where do you find water to reuse in your garden?Diana
There’s a frost on the way tonight, and I’m a little more worried tonight than the last time they predicted it. I guess because it was so cold all day today, even with the cloud cover that I think it could be a serious threat. We still have plenty of veggies gathering up the last bit of sun that they can. It will be time for me to dig up the potatoes and the sweet potatoes, now that there’s is a real frost. We have pea flowers but haven’t tried a fall pea crop before. It may be that we planted the peas too late, but we thought we’d try. We also have cabbage and what would have been broccoli, if an animal hadn’t come along and peeled the plant back to the stems. How do they know they like broccoli, but not cabbage? Here are a few things to do to the garden to prepare for a frost.
First pick what you can – If it’s not able to be covered – for example, I had a couple of plants in separate beds that were individuals. I decided not to cover them, but to pick them instead. The tomatoes are green, but they will ripen. I also picked any peppers that were a good size, because it would be a shame to lose any of them. My husband wants to keep them out as long as possible, but I decided to make the executive decision to pick any that were large enough. The smaller ones I left behind, so that they might have a chance to finish growing next week, and to pacify my husband, who likes to see every little thing grow as long as it can.
Cover what you are able – I used sheets to cover the big bed. What ever you cover must cover from ground up and over like a tent with no peek throughs. I used a rather large tarp to cover three other beds in a row. It will block all of the light, but we’ll pull it off in the morning after the frost is gone. Plastic will work fine, as well as old table cloths, towels, shower curtains, or what ever you have that will cover it.
Bring in whatever you need to – Rosemary – bring it in. Any tender perennials need to come in, because if the frost is cold enough you won’t be able to bring it back. My sister in law – lives in Virginia and is one lucky lady because she has a big beautiful Rosemary bush that keeps on getting bigger. Not me, if I don’t bring mine in it will just be a dead rosemary stick in the spring. One summer another sister in law and I both bought hibiscus plants. I brought mine in, but she thought she would take a chance. I still have mine.
Wrap it up – We had friends in Queens who used to wrap their fig tree every winter, and it lasted a good while that way. There are some bigger tender trees that can be wrapped for the winter, and moved out of the wind. I won’t guarantee it will work, but it’s worth a try. We enjoyed their figs for many summers.
And if the worst happens – there’s always the composter.Diana
Strawberry season is winding down in Ohio, but they will probably still be around for another week or so in some other places. We love strawberries, (we love most berries) and when I can, I’ll freeze some to use later. They go bad pretty quickly, so here are some tips from the California Strawberry Commission to help you get the most out of your strawberry picking/eating season.
Here are 10 tips from California Chef, Luca Rutigliano:
1) Choose strawberries with a consistent red color from top to bottom.
2) Make sure the stem is green and the skin is shiny and firm.
3) Inspect berries in container for signs of bruising or mold.
4) Refrigerate strawberries immediately after purchasing.
5) Before eating, rinse under cool water, pat dry and then remove stems.
1) After rinsing, gently blot dry.
2) Slice stem off at top of berry.
3) Place cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper.
4) Place uncovered in freezer for 24 hours.
5) Transfer strawberries to a freezer bag or container.
Serving Tips from the California Strawberry Commission
1) Strawberries are most flavorful served at room temperature.
2) Serve just as they are or sliced in cereals, salads and served with any meal, any time of day.
3) For 50 ways to eat strawberries, download the free strawberries iPhone App: http://bit.ly/8LANJo
‘How to Select and Store Strawberries’ -
Tips for Selecting, Storing and Freezing Strawberries
What a nice surprise after a dreary, cloud covered day, chard from my garden that I used for our dinner. Isn’t that the coolest – in the middle of winter?! It’s just a little bit, but it was so delicious. ( PS ignore the wilty looking stems – I pulled that part out).
We have been so busy with track meets, it’s difficult to find time to cook, never mind writing about cooking. Hot dogs or burgers at the meets, or fast food afterwards. Sometimes a group of us will go to a restaurant and hang out, though usually it’s a buffet and portion control is always an issue there. My son is doing terrific, but he is one of the runners on the 4 X 4 team and they run the last race at every meet. An exciting, but usually poorly attended race because everyone leaves during the 2 mile race right before it. Last night, it was damp, and then turned rainy and cold. We stopped for the thunder and lightning, then went back out for the last two races. The kids are real troopers. We didn’t eat until 10, then because we were so hungry, we ate too much and didn’t sleep well. Well, what does that have to do with an herb day sale? When I was looking for the meet results (although we won the 4 x 4, we came in fifth overall, drat) , I saw an ad in the paper for an Herb Days Sale at Engel’s Landscaping. We were late getting up, but I convinced my dear husband that it would be nice to take a ride out to this nursery and see what they have.
I had a little trouble finding the herbs because there wasn’t a sign pointing the way to the right greenhouse, but finally, I found some prizes. I already have some herbs, so I was looking for what I didn’t have, but wouldn’t mind trying. Engel’s is a small nursery that we haven’t been to before, but it looks like a nice place. I love planting herbs that I can just go out and pick as needed. If there is time, a bunch of herbs will be dried and put them into containers to use in my winter recipes. Some herbs come back every year like sage, chives, garlic chives, oregano, thyme, lemon thyme, lemon balm, some mints (in pots) and tarragon. There are others that I direct seed because they grow so fast, though I will buy small plants too, because I can use them earlier. Basil is an easy grow herb as well as dill and parsley, three of my must haves. At Engel’s today, I bought – Lemon Basil, lemon grass, nasturtiums, summer savory, arugula, sorrel, fennel, chervil and some mint that will be placed under the deck and hopefully it will spreads to cover the bank. Don’t they all sound delicious?
After we purchased our herbs, we went out to the back porch, where some herb themed things were going on. Ashville’s Good Friends-Good Thymes Herb Club set up shop. They had some pamphlets to take, some dried herbs to sell, plus you were able to taste some herbed dishes. I loved the herbed cream cheese (always one of my fav’s) and the lavender cookies. Unfortunately the lavender cookie recipe was out darn it. I’m going to find one though, because it was delicious.
On the porch, the author of 415 Raspberry Picket and the Seven Sacred Seeds, R. L. Patterson had his book set up to peruse and he gave away some free basil seeds. Basil is used in the book to call forth Prometheus the dragon spirit. A local artist had some garden decorations made out of bowling balls that were really cute, bumble bees and lady bugs. They were adorable. Unfortunately, I have no pictures because I didn’t bring my camera. My husband said that we should remember to bring the camera with me to grab a photo if I need one. I wasn’t expecting to post, so I didn’t have notes to go from either, sorry. It was a small gathering, but a really neat local event and a pleasant sunny trip for us.Diana
Basil hates the cold and I didn’t take care of it before the first frost. It’s such a waste. I will go out and try to pick and dry the rest of the herbs that are still alive. Usually, I cut them at the bottom of the stalk or stem, put a rubber band around a big bunch and hang it upside down into a bag. Then after it’s dry I will put it into a small container of some sort. I have some spice containers for that purpose. Too late for the basil though, darn it. The other green stuff is Swiss Chard which doesn’t seem to mind the cold. My husband threw a plastic cover over top to help keep some of the heat in and it is thriving. Poor, poor basil, poor poor me without basil.Diana
My husband loves to grow Tomatillos. Tomatillos are a tart sour tomato (or tomato-like). We’ve planted seeds in the ground or in pots to grow our plants every year. It’s not a plant we can find in a store or nursery, so I decided to try them one time and we’ve done it every year since. Usually we just add them to our salsa’s when we make them, but this year I decided to make Salsa Verde or Green Salsa. This salsa is more of a fresh salsa. Since tomatillos are sour on their own, I didn’t add any vinegar and while it is delicious, I’m not sure of storing it long term. So this is a fresh made salsa to be used up.
Tomatillos grow on plants and they hang down covered in a papery husk (my husband says they’re lanterns). The tomatillos are in the plant picture, but it’s like a where’s waldo you need to look closely to see them.Diana
I try to grow fresh vegetables and fruit on my little two acre plot. My husband would love to be self sufficient enough to live off the land. I’m not so ambitious. I just want to grow some stuff and I’ll supplement what we can’t. Here’s the deal though. Don’t limit yourself to doing only what you have tried before. Try something new.
We had a party recently and some people wanted to see what we are growing. I showed them and I apologized because my garden has some weeds and is a little messy. I was kind of embarrassed, but they were impressed. We have tried growing things that they had not seen in a regular garden. Some of it was not too far fetched. One guy thought the dill was asparagus. I did have asparagus, but not right there. We also had Kale and Chard, those were new for us this year.
We grow tomatillos, and have grown them for many years, but we haven’t met another person who grows them. A couple of years after we started growing tomatillos they showed up in the stores – at a hefty price. You wouldn’t believe how easy they are to grow and how vigorous and prolific those plants are. If you like green salsa – grow tomatillos. They even do really well in pots.
When we were walking around, they saw the composter and the one friend was interested, and then he turned to me and asked, if I still had rain barrels. I said yes. He said his wife was blown away the first time she came to the house and saw we had rain barrels. Hey, I had them before Ed Begley Jr. We got them about 14 years ago. I told him that my family grew up in the city, composting and recycling way back in the 70s, but I had the only rain barrels of the family. I told him that we water our plants with buckets of rainwater when they’re full.
We try new things with our garden and our kitchen. We discard the ones that don’t work out (Kale so taken over by cabbage worms got tossed this year and the Cauliflower just didn’t look nice), but when it works out, we’ll do it again and again. Two years ago I grew yellow squash. It worked out so well, I’ve done it every year since. My garden is an extension of my kitchen. When I grow something new, then I have a new ingredient to work with, being a better gardener, makes me a better cook.