Even here where the temperatures reach above 100 degrees for more than three months and winter months dropping in the teens, these succulents grow and spread across the bench cheering up a blank space in a corner of the yard. Simply cover the seat of the bench and up the back a ways in burlap and then a layer of thick weed mat. Burlap is more appealing to look at then the weed mat, so that is the only reason for using it. Use a good potting soil to fill in the seat and up the back and start planting your favorite succulents. They will fill in with time but for an instant look plant thickly. Tuck the burlap in and around the plants to cover any potting soil and weed mat. Water in! I only water about 2 to 3 times a week here in the desert and no water during the winter unless we have had a complete drought. Use Hen and Chicks, Dragons Blood Sedums, Stonecrop and anything available. Once they start to crowd out, thin out and share with a friend for their new bench.
Corn Gluten Meal AKA Corn Weed BlockerDerived from corn, it contains 10 percent nitrogen fertilizer. Apply it only to actively growing plants, because it inhibits the growth of seeds. Allow 4-6 months after using it before planting seeds. Use it on lawns in early spring to green up the perennial grasses and prevent annual weeds like crabgrass! We love it in our corn patch after seeds have germinated! Works great!
Value of Wood AshesWood Ashes are a high source of potash, but they are also alkaline. If your soil is high on the pH scale, skip the ashes! If your soil is acidic ashes are a great amendment to add!
Saving Tomatoes from FreezeIf you have some space in your garage this works great! When expecting a frost and you have lots of tomatoes that are not quit ripe, you can pull up the entire tomato bush, hang upside down in the garage and let them ripen on the vine. By doing it this way the tomatoes will still have that great vine ripened flavor. If space is limited, pick the tomatoes, wrap them separately in newspaper and place in a shallow box in the garage or a cool, but not freezing place. Watch them closely for ripening. If tomatoes are very immature they will only rot, so keep only larger sized tomatoes or the ones with a slight coloring.
Zucchini PicklesWhen you have an over abundance of zucchini, make pickles. You will be amazed at how good they taste during the cold winter months or anytime! They are great for gifts too! Cut zucchini into long spears, pack them into jars, add whole garlic cloves and fresh dill and fill with a basic pickle brine. Just like the real deal!
Composting IdeaYou can build a compost pile on an unused growing bed so the next crop grown in that bed will pick up and utilize any nutrients leached out from the pile into the soil.
Veggie WashIt's still the season! Whether your fresh fruits and vegetables are from a home garden, a market, or roadside stand they need to be washed. Stores offer expensive sprays, washes, and soaks. Here are simple and economical homemade ones. Spray: combine 1 T lemon juice, 1 T baking soda, 2 T salt, and 1 cup water OR 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar and 1 T vinegar. For the sprays, combine in a deep pitcher because the mixtures will foam up; then pour into a spray bottle. To use, shake gently, spray on fruits or veggies, let them sit for a few minutes and then rinse under cold water.
Herb FactsDried herbs are more potent than fresh - 1 teas. dried equals 1 T. fresh. To store fresh herbs, wrap them in barely damp paper towels, place inside resealable plastic bags, and keep refrigerated. Add most herbs about 30 minutes before the end of cooking time; simmer slowly to release flavor and retain volatile oils. The chopped leaves of fresh hervs may be frozen with water into ice cubes and then stored in labeled, airtight freezer bags. Use to impart an herbal flavor in soups or stews. Use herbs in moderation. Some may be overpowering if to much is used. Flavor to taste.
How to get rid of that garlic smell on your hands!Rub your hands all over any stainless steel utensil under running water and the garlic smell with magically disappear.
Pea, Radish and Pea Shoot SaladWhisk together 3 T. shallot, 2 t. white wine vinegar, and 1/2 t. kosher salt in a medium bowl and set aside for at least 5 minutes. Whisk in 2 T. sour cream and 1/4 c. good olive oil. Season with with pepper. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Add 1/2 t. kosher salt per cup of water. Add 2 c. sugar snap peas and 1 c. freshly shelled garden peas and cook for 1 minute, then use a slotted spoon or strainer to transfer them into the ice water to stop the cooking and set their color. Drain the peas, pat dry, and transfer into a meduim bowl. Add 1 c. thinly slice radishes and dressing and stir gently to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Cut 2 c. pea shoots (tendrils from the top of pea plants) into bite-sized and arrange on a serving plater. Spoon the pea and radish mixtue over the shoots, scatter with cubed farmer cheese.
Bouquet garni are simply bundles of herbs and armoatics wrapped with a 5-inch long dark greed leek leaf and tied together with kitchen string. To make the bouquet, spread the leek leaf open and place herbs and aromatics in the middle. Fold the leaf tightly around the herbs, then wrap a peice of kitchen string around the leaf multiple times and tie to secure.