Monday, July 20, 2009

Can the Abundance

Do you have an abundance of tomatoes from your garden, and don't know how in the world you're going to eat them all before they go bad? Well, if you love homegrown tomatoes, and don't want them to go to waste, why not can them and enjoy them throughout the year? Here are some guidelines for canning taken from the Kitchen Gardeners International website:
1. Visually examine canning jars for nicks, cracks, uneven rims or sharp edges that may prevent sealing or cause breakage. Examine canning lids to ensure they are free of dents and sealing compound is even and complete. Check bands for proper fit.

2. Wash jars and two-piece caps in hot, soapy water. Rinse well. Dry bands; set aside. Heat jars and lids in a saucepot of simmering water (180°F or 82°C). DO NOT BOIL LIDS. Allow jars and lids to remain in hot water until ready for use, removing one at a time as needed.

3. Fill boiling-water canner half-full with hot water. Elevate rack in canner. Put canner lid in place. Heat water just to a simmer (180°F or 82°C). Keep water hot until used for processing.

4. Select fresh tomatoes at their peak of quality and flavor. Use firm tomatoes free of cracks, spots and growths. Prepare only enough for one canner load. Wash tomatoes; drain.

5. Place tomatoes in wire basket and lower into a large saucepot of boiling water. Blanch tomatoes 30 to 60 seconds or until skins start to crack. Remove from boiling water. Dip immediately into cold water.

6. Slip off skins; trim away any green areas; cut out core. Leave tomatoes whole or cut into halves or quarters.

7. For tomatoes packed in water, place tomatoes in a large saucepot, adding just enough water to cover. Boil gently 5 minutes.

8. Remove canning jar from hot water with a jar lifter; set jar on towel. Add 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice to each pint jar, 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice to each quart jar.

9. Carefully pack tomatoes into hot jar, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Ladle boiling water or cooking liquid over tomatoes, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt per pint jar or 1 teaspoon salt per quart jar, if desired.

10. Slide a nonmetallic spatula between tomatoes and jar; press back gently on tomatoes to release trapped' air bubbles. Repeat procedure 2 to 3 times around inside of jar.

11. Wipe rim and threads of jar with a dean, damp cloth. Remove lid from hot water using a lid wand. Place lid on jar, centering sealing compound on rim. Screw band down evenly and firmly, just until resistance is met-fingertip tight.

12. As each jar is filled, set it onto the elevated rack in the boiling-water canner. Water in canner should be kept at a simmer (180°F or 82°C). After all jars are filled and placed onto the rack, lower rack into canner. Water must cover the two-piece caps on the jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.

13. Put lid on canner. Bring water to a boil. Start counting processing time after water comes to a rolling boil. Process pints 40 minutes, quarts 45 minutes, at a gentle but steady boil for altitudes at or below 1,000 feet above sea level. For higher altitude areas, consult your local extension office.

15. After jars have cooled, check lids for a seal by pressing on the center of each lid. If the center is pulled down and does not flex, remove the band and gently try to lift the lid off with your fingertips. If the lid does not flex and you cannot lift it off the lid has a good vacuum seal. Wipe lid and jar surface with a clean, damp cloth to remove food particles or residue. Label. Store jars in a cool, dry, dark place.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It's over until next year, I can't wait.

Well, Moonlight Madness is over for another year. It is one of those long days that we all love. The Johnson's employees all get excited and do a great job. I used to think a 24 hour sale would be fun to try, but I think I would be the only person working the late shift. We did have a customer ask at about 11:30 pm 'Why is this the only day you stay open until midnight'? I think my first response was something about getting to old or something like that. I hope you made it by this year and enjoyed the fun.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Moonlight Madness Hourly Specials

2-3pm - 3 cu. ft. Cypress Mulch only $4.99, reg. $7.98.
3-4pm - 4.5" Butterfly Garden Perennials only $1.99, reg. $4.98.
4-5pm - All pots & pottery 50% OFF! Includes Terra cotta, glazed, plastic, concrete, etc.
5-6pm - 2 cu. ft. Cotton Boll Compost only $3.99, reg. $6.98.
6-7pm - Bayer Bermudagrass Control for Lawns, RTS qt., $10 OFF, reg. $32.98.
7-8pm - 3 cu. ft. All Bark Cedar Mulch only $5.99, reg. $8.98.
8-9pm - All garden tools 30% OFF.
9-10pm - 2 cu. ft. Cocoa Mulch $5.99, reg. $9.98.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cotinis nitida - Green June Beetle

Nancy notified me that there 'were these giant bugs attacking our corn plants' today. As I approached the corn patch, there were dozens of swarming beetles. These 1" long insects, Cotinis nitida were flying around the corn stalks, some resting on the top portion of the plants. They actually are pretty impressive. I didn't think that they were doing the garden much good, and decided they needed to go. I sprayed the plants with Hi-Yield Indoor/Outdoor insect spray containing Permetherin, a safe insecticide that can be sprayed today and the fruit harvested in as little as 1 day. At first I didn't know if my attempt to control the insects was working because the swarm was still active. After putting up my spray equipment, I went back to collect a sample of the insect and they had all but vanished. I consulted with Sedgwick Co Extension Agent, Bob Neier and he informed me that these insects feed on the fruit of vegetables. The large grubs that they come from live in compost or mulch piles.
The key to insect control is to used an insececticide that is labeled for the insect and plant to be sprayed on, use the proper sprayer, and wear proper safety clothing. Follow the directions carefully and the product will work for its intended use.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Get ready for the Madness!

When: Saturday, July 18
What: Moonlight Madness - 12 hours of savings!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I love Summer

Long warm days, Summer has got to be the best time of the year, at least today I think it is. I'll probably say the same about Fall in October. Harvesting fresh vegetables out of the garden has got to be hard to beet (no pun intended). We harvested tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash, cucumbers, dug onions, potatoes and yes, beets. I hope you are able to be harvesting out of your garden as well. If not, consider planting a fall garden starting August 1st. For now, enjoy the Summer.