Pruning & Drying Herbs

Do you know how to prune and dry your herbs?  Preserving is the best way to get the most out of your herb garden.

Pruning Herbs

As you’re harvesting herbs such as basil, rosemary, and mint, snip off any flowers that form. This will encourage the creation of a bushier plant with more leaves that have better flavor.

Drying Herbs

Dry herbs such as basil, parsley, and sage to store through winter by cutting 6 -to 12-inch long stems, remove any dead or diseased leaves, and hang stems upside down in paper bags in a shaded, airy, cool location.

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Tip: Keep Picking Those Vegetables

Do you know exactly when to pick some of the more popular vegetables? Pick vegetables to keep them producing. Pick green beans when pods are 3 to 4 inches long, but still smooth and smaller around than your little finger. Pick zucchini when it’s less than 5 inches long. Tomatoes are best when left to ripen on the vine, they lose flavor when picked to soon. Cucumbers are meant to be picked before they start turning white on the bottom, remaining all green. Pumpkin last several months when picked after the stem is brown and the pumpkin is mostly orange. If corn cobs feel full through to the top and the silk are dark brown, then grab an ear and snap downwards.

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Happy Gardening from the Master Gardener Girl!!

4 Ways to Preserve Sweet Corn – For Eating or Planting

Do you know the ways to preserve corn? Every ear of corn is used in some form or fashion whether for eating or for planting. All the husk and hair goes into compost pile as do the stalks. I say waste not, want not.

Keep newly picked sweet corn fresh by keeping ears cool. Picking early in the morning is the best, but I still pick at night as well. Husk and place the ears in an ice bath, adding 2 drops of liquid bleach per gallon of water, cooling ears to 37F.

The two best ways to preserve corn long term are to freeze or can the corn. In canning corn, simply shuck the corn and shave off the cob with a flat bottom of the cob on the table while running a knife down the cob. Then, follow canning instructions on cooking the corn and then processing in jars.

To freeze corn, you could simply place your corn in freezer bags but they will get a little mushy unless you blanch them first. And yes, I know that from first hand experience. Blanch them in hot boiling water for a few minutes, then cool them off in a cold water bath. After cooling, then cut to desired lengths or leave whole and place them in freezer bags.

If you have grown heirloom corn and some of the cobs really aren’t worth saving or if they have already started the drying process, let them continue drying until separated rows form. After the cobs have dried, give them the indian rub and the kernels will fall off. Put the kernels in a brown paper sack or some type of paper envelope. Label and store in a cool dry place until next season.

I save a ton of money by seed saving my corn. Those of you who plant corn know just exactly how much corn costs. On average, each cob gives about 300 kernels. If you have a small garden, you might only need one cob. I on the other hand need about 20 ears as my corn is planted in 15 rows, 300 feet long.

Check out Organic Home and Gardening, there is a propagation and seed saving eBook that can teach you how to save a great deal of money by not having to buy seeds or plants.

Happy Gardening!! Subscribe to my blog and I will keep you informed with all the good stuff.

Harvesting Tomato Tips – Summer and Fall Harvesting

Do you know when to harvest tomatoes? Tomatoes should be firm and fully colored. They are of highest quality when they ripen on the vine and daily summer temperatures average about 75°F.

When the temperatures are high, at least 90°F, the softening process is accelerated and color development is retarded, reducing quality. For this reason, you should pick your tomatoes every day or two, harvest the fruits when color has started to develop and ripen them further indoors between 70 and 75°F.

On the day before a killing freeze is expected, harvest all green mature fruit that is desired for later use in the fall. If you wrap the tomatoes individually in newspaper and store at 60 to 65°F, they will continue to ripen slowly over the next several weeks. Whole plants can be uprooted and hung in sheltered locations, where fruit continues to ripen. Just don’t forget about your tomatoes sitting in a box in another room.

And now I would like to offer you a Free copy of my Gardeners Journal so that you can easily document your gardening experience and track what you do. Click on “Subscribe to Master Gardener Girls’ Gardening Blog by Email” and I will send you a copy of this file.

Happy Gardening from Master Gardener Girl!! A special thanks to those who have subscribed to my blog, you won’t regret it.