Sunday, August 24, 2014

How to Collect Seeds from Fleshy Fruits and Vegetables

Are you interested in learning how to collect seeds from fleshy fruits and vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers?  Perhaps you have some heirloom tomatoes you'd like to grow next year from this year's crop.  Here's how you do it:

1.  Scoop out the insides of the vegetable and leave in a container to ferment.

2.  In three to five days, a mold will have formed over it.  This is fine.  It encourages germination.

3.  Scoop the mold off with a spoon and then add water to the container and swish around.

4.  Some seeds will float, others will sink.  Keep the ones that sink.

5.  Rinse and dry on a tray out of direct sunlight.

6.  When dry, store in a labelled envelope.  Include date on the envelope.

7.  Seeds should be stored in a cool, dark place.  They are viable for about three years, but it's better if they are used the following season.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Canning Your Fruits and Vegetables

Canning is a great way to preserve the fruits and vegetables you have harvested, and enjoy them year round.  Here's how to do it:

1. Peel the fruit.  (Tomato and peach skin can be removed by placing the fruit in boiling water for 30-60 seconds.  The skin will crack.  Remove the fruit and place in cool water.  Once cool enough to handle, slip the skin off.)

2.  Remove the cores, pits, or damaged parts.  Tomatoes can be canned whole.

3. Slice fruit to preferred size.

4.  Place fruit in a pot with water and turn on high heat.

5.  Add sugar to fruit:  approximately one cup per quart of fruit.

6.  If desired, add seasonings.

7.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Simmer for twenty minutes.

8.  Prepare jars.  Use clean, sanitary jars.

9.  Turn off heat and fill jars to about a half inch from teh top.

10.  Place lids on each one and screw on a band, tightening snugly.

11.  Process the filled jars by bringing a large pot of water to a boil.  Boil the jars with water level a half inch above the tops of the jar.  This kills any remaining microorganisms.  (Process times are listed below these instructions, or follow your recipe.) Start timing when water comes to full boil."

12.  Remove jars carefully and place on a dish towel to cool.

13.  Jar lids should snap down and make a "pop" sound.  When the lids are pressed, they should not pop up.  If the jar is not properly sealed, refrigerate.

14.  Dry the jar lids to prevent rusting.

15.  Store in a cool, dry place.

Process times for jars:

Quart:  Apples:  20 minutes,  Apricots:  25 minutes,  Berries:  15 minutes,  Cherries:  20 minutes,  Peaches:  25 minutes, Pears:  25 minutes, Tomatoes:  45 minutes.

Pint:  Apples:  20 minutes,  Apricots:  20 minutes,  Berries:  15 minutes,  Cherries:  15 minutes,  Peaches:  20 minutes,  Pears:  20 minutes,  Tomatoes:  40 minutes.


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Bok Tower Gardens

Bok Tower Gardens, located in Lake Wales, Florida, covers 157 acres, and sits on top of Iron Mountain, one of Florida's highest points (298 feet above sea level.  For Florida, this is high!).   This National Historic Landmark was begun in 1921, when Edward Bok, editor of the magazine, Ladies Home Journal, decided to create a bird sanctuary.  Mr. Bok died in 1930, and is buried at the base of the bell tower, which is located on the property.

Not only are there thousands of beautiful flowering plants, there are other interesting sites and events to see while visiting this place.  There is the bell tower, which contains 60 bells, and chimes at 1:00 and 3:00 daily.  Tours are available to see the inside of the bell tower.  The Pinewood Estate Mansion, located on the grounds, is also available to see.  There's a short 3/4 mile trail to wander down, too.  And as an added bonus, throughout the summer months, there are live orchestra and jazz concerts at 7:30 PM.

   The gardens are open daily from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM.  Admission is $12.00 for adults and $3.00 for children.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Butterfly Rainforest

If you like butterflies, the Butterfly Rainforest, in Gainesville, Florida, is the place to go.  This 6400 square foot enclosure is part of the Florida Museum of Natural History.  It houses gorgeous tropical plants, birds, and over 1,000 butterflies.  There's also a butterfly hatchery, for those who are interested in seeing the life cycle of a butterfly.  Visitors walking through the rainforest will see waterfalls, ponds containing koi and turtles, and plenty of feeding stations for the birds and butterflies.

Admission is $10.50 for adults and $6.00 for children.  The rainforest is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Sunday from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Biltmore Estate Gardens

If you are ever in Asheville, North Carolina, the Biltmore Estate Gardens are something you definitely want to visit!  The estate sits on 8,000 acres of beautifully manicured grounds, and includes a four-acre walled garden, and Italian garden with statues and a pool, a spring garden, an azalea garden, a bass pond, and woodland trails.

The chateau is quite a masterpiece.  This former residence of George Vanderbilt was completed in 1895 and has 250 rooms!  Visitors will see vintage clothing, furniture, and beautiful artwork.

The estate is open from the end of March to the beginning of November. Hours are from 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM daily.  Admission for adults is $44.00.  Kids are free with adult admission.  The price of admission includes a self guided tour through the mansion and the grounds.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Airlie Gardens

Airlie Gardens, located in Wilmington, North Carolina, was founded in 1901 and covers 67 acres.  There is a Spring Garden which features azaleas in the spring, a Camellia Garden, which features camellias in the fall, and a Rain Garden  which features magnolias in the summer.  There are also beautiful statues and fountains on the grounds.  One thing you won't want to miss, is a giant 467 year old oak tree, lovingly named, "Airlie Oak."

The garden is open March through December, daily from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Admission for adults is $9.00.  Admission for children is $3.00.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

North Carolina Botanical Gardens

North Carolina Botanical Gardens are located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and are part of the University of North Carolina.  They were begun in 1903 and have grown over the years.  Today, they cover 700 acres.  The purpose of the garden is to research, catalog, and promote native plants of North Carolina.  There are 14 display gardens, including carnivorous plants, a fern collection, water garden, and mountain habitat.

The gardens are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Saturday from 9:00 - 5:00, and Sunday from 1:00 - 5:00.  Admission is free.