Green lawn or green living? It doesn't have to be one or the other, building a small homestead in your backyard will allow you to save money, eat fresh and nutritious food and reduce your carbon foot step. To fit all the pieces together can take sometime, but next time when you plan your landscaping, consider implementing some of these ideas. Planting fruit trees instead of the regular landscaping trees, they can be beautiful as well as functional. An herb and vegetable garden will allow you to enjoy fine dinning right at your dinner table. Raising chickens or ducks if circumstances allow, is a great way to form a mini eco-cycle, not only you can get the fresh eggs, the animals will eat any leftover food you may have and they are great at keeping the insect pressure low on in the garden. Following a few simple steps, you can too enjoy the green living and reap all the benefits from it.
Fresh cucumbers from the garden is not the same as the super market kind. To grow cucumbers successfully, you need to learn a few tricks. Cucumbers are very sensitive to the soil temperature so do not sow cucumbers until the ground is warmed up significantly. Soil temperature should be at least 55F before you sow cucumbers. Tips for starting the seeds indoors and then transplanting to the garden: The ideal germinating temperature for cucumber is 75 to 80F. Time the starts so they are ready to be transplanted when they have two sets of leaves plus the tip growth. How long you can achieve this depends on the growing condition, but usually you can do this in 4 weeks. The seedlings will need to be "hardened off" before being transplanted to the garden. Hardening off is a process of exposing the seedlings to the environment where they are going to be growing so they won't experience the transplanting shock. Cucumbers are notorious difficult to transplant, the reason being their root system do not recover well. So if you could sow them directly in the garden.
June 20. Potato plants are lush and full, a few started to flower. This is the indication that new potatoes are forming underground. Carefully remove the dirt under the plants and you can "steal" a few. After stealing the potatoes, be sure to back fill at the root level with some compost, cover as much stem as you can. There will be new potatoes developing.
|Garlic shoot pesto|
Garlic (Allium Sativum L.) is an essential ingredient in many cuisines and for good reason. Garlic not only adds flavors to foods, it also possess great health benefit. Eating garlic regularly can lower cholesterol level, ease hypertension. Garlic also has anti-bacterial and antioxidant quality, therefore can help prevent improve your health. Home grown garlic has a special pungent and sweet taste.
There are many different varieties of garlic; they can be divided into hard-neck types and soft-neck types. The hard-neck varieties produce fewer, larger cloves surrounding a hard center woody stem. The soft-neck varieties do not have a stiff stem growing in the center; instead the center of the bulb is filled with smaller sized cloves. Farmer’s markets are a good source to obtain seed garlic. If you can find a garlic festival nearby, it will be well worth a trip. You will be able to find all kinds of varieties to grow in your own garden.
The garlic will start to grow prior to the arrival of winter, and then become dormant during the winter. When spring arrives, the garlic start to grow again and ready to be harvested in the summer. It is important to plant garlic in near the autumn equinox, this will ensure the garlic develop just enough before going to dormant, but not too much. If the garlic developed too much before going into dormancy, it will hurt the development of the bulb later.
1. Soil preparation
Work soil up by digging with a shovel to about 8” deep, loose up the soil and break up the clumps. Form a 3 feet wide bed. Add 2”-3” compost to the bed and rack it into the soil
2. See Garlic Selection: Select large firm garlic bulbs for planting. Separate the bulbs into individual cloves, discard the small ones, keep only the large healthy cloves for planting. The size of the seed garlic has the greatest impact on the quality of bulbs it produces.
3. Planting: Garlic typically takes 7-8 months to develop. Plant garlic the fall, bottom side down 1.5”-2” deep, space the garlic cloves 4-5” apart. It is important to leave enough space so it is easier when you weed the garlic later on.
4. Care of garlic in the growing season:
a) Water the garlic when the ground is dry in the spring.
b) Remove weeds to they do not compete nutrients with the garlic, at the same time, loosen the soil so the garlic bulbs will have an easier time to grow and expand.
c) Garlic will develop shoots (also called garlic scapes) in early summer; remove them as they develop. The shoots are garlic’s way of producing seeds, removing the scapes will direct more energy towards developing the garlic bulbs. Plus, they are delicious in stir-fries (see recipe).
d) Water the garlic well again after the scapes are removed, this will allow the garlic bulbs to expand.
e) Harvest the garlic in later summer when the tips of the garlic begin to show some yellowing. Harvest garlic bulbs by digging them up, leave them in the ground for a day or two to allow some drying.
f) Braid the garlic together and hang them up to allow continued drying, this process is called curing. Properly cured garlic will last 8-10 month.
Making your own candy allows you to add special flavors that you do not normally get. This recipe uses a traditional caramel recipe, incorporates with nuts of your choice. The key to make caramel is the temperature control. An infrared thermometer with digital display comes in handy for this application.
Caramel is basically made with sugar, cream and butter. The key to make the caramel with the right consistency is to control the temperatures. There are two key temperatures for this process: (1) When melting the sugar, allow the sugar to melt completely, and then continue to heat it until it reaches 310 F. (2) After adding cream, the temperature should drop to around 210 F. Let the moisture to bubbles out, and continue to cook until it reaches 340-345 F., this is the soft candy stage.
2 cups of cane sugar;
1 cup of light corn syrup;
1.5 cups of heavy cream;
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract;
1/2 cup of butter, cut into small cubes;
1/4 teaspoon of salt;
1 cup roasted pine nuts, or other nuts of your choice.
Step1: Combine sugar and syrup, cook on medium heat until sugar melt. This process can take over 10 minutes. Check the temperature frequently with the digital infrared thermometer until it registers 310F. Reduce the heat to low.
[Did you know? The temperature of the mixture will not rise until all the sugar crystal is melted. This is because the sugar is going through a phase change-from solid to liquid. This process takes heat, therefore the heat inputted will go to melting the sugar crystals instead of raising the temperature of the mixture.]
Step2: Heat the cream with vanilla extract in the microwave until hot (not boiling), gradually add the cream to the molten syrup. Stir (careful keeping the bubbling down, remove from heat if necessary). This will reduce the temperature to around 210F. Keep cooking the mixture until most moisture is boiled out. Once that happens, the temperature will tart to rise again. Keep cooking until the temperature reaches 240-245F.
Step3: Remove the mixture from the heat. Add the butter cubes, salt and nuts, stir to distribute them evenly in the mixture. Pour the mixture in a flat baking sheet. Allow to cool, then cut into small pieces. Wrap with wax paper. Enjoy!