I’m sorry I haven’t been blogging like usual, but Mom’s having a bad time lately. She’s having symptoms of a bladder infection (again), such as hallucinating at night, being confused and disoriented. But so far, nothing showed up on a UA at the lab. So more tests, more worried nights. And she is getting weaker all the time. I’ve not had much sleep and days have been a whirl. But in the greenhouse, our little plants are growing, thriving, and trying to keep us sane through everything. Pretty soon, I’ll have to transplant my first peppers. How exciting!
Last year, we used Miracle Gro potting soil to start the seeds and boy was that a bust! My friend, Jeri, did too and her seeds had poor germination and just didn’t grow at all, just like mine. This year, I bought professional seed starting mix from our local greenhouse and it’s made all the difference in the world. I’ve made my own seed starting soil in the past, but lately I just haven’t had the time. It’s made from good garden soil, well-rotted compost, vermiculite, and perlite. You bake the soil and compost to kill weed seeds and any pathogens present, then mix everything to lighten the soil. It works well and I hope to do it again soon. But for now, our plants are great and I can’t wait to get in the garden!
Bay leaves to deter moths
I am preparing a 12 month storage area in my home. I have read that bay leaves can be placed in grain to deter moths. Can bay leaves also be used in flour?
Jean Ann Wenger
Yes. Place a few on top of your flour, inside its container, for best results. Don’t mix it up IN the flour. And make sure the container you choose is airtight, rodent proof, and moisture proof. — Jackie
Canning sandwich spread
I make a sandwich spread that of course contains mayonnaise. If I made a large batch of it could it be canned?
No. There is no current information on safe canning of mayonnaise or salad dressing. — Jackie
Salsa using canned tomatoes
Do you have a salsa recipe using canned tomatoes? Would I be able to can it?
I have gotten a lot of flack about canning salsa from already canned tomatoes – “not safe,” “will be mush.”
Waretown, New Jersey
You can use any salsa recipe to use your already canned tomatoes. But it will be less chunky than fresh tomato salsa as tomatoes cook down quickly. It will be safe and tasty, though. — Jackie
Perennial vegetable bed
I talked to you on here before about a gas stove that wouldn’t go down low enough to let me pressure can. Just wanted to let you know we had a guy come and fix it, and now it works wonderful!
I recently ordered some garlic, walking (potato) onions, and horseradish from members of Seedsavers Exchange, and I was wondering about a perennial vegetable bed. I was thinking I would plant these all together, and was wondering if you had any advice on making a perennial garden bed. I’m concerned about it being taken over by weeds. Since all these items would need to be regularly dug up, my normal answer to weeds, semi-permanent mulch like black plastic, won’t work here.
I really don’t think I’d plant these together, if it were me. You’ll be digging the garlic and horseradish at different times, in all likelihood, and the walking onions at another time, if you do (you often just use the top bulbs). Horseradish has a way of taking over a garden, so I’d advise against putting it in at all. Put your horseradish far away from your garden and flower beds and you’ll be much happier! My friend, Jeri, now has horseradish in her flowers, rhubarb rows, and along her greenhouse, from a small planting on one end of her flower bed.
The walking onions and garlic could go together in the same bed, but in separate areas for ease of harvest. — Jackie
Goats hair falling out
I have a six year old Nubian doe, about twice a year all of her hair falls out. It isn’t lice or fleas. And it doesn’t ever affect our other goat that is penned with her. Someone said to try brewer yeast in her feed, didn’t help. Someone else said she must be Vitamin A deficient, that didn’t help either. They have a mineral block, get grass alfalfa hay, and a handful of three way grain daily. Neither doe has been bred in several years. When her hair falls out, I mean all of it. Not just patches. And sometimes its in the winter here in Montana so we have to set up heat lamps for her. Any ideas?
Our wether, Oreo, does the same thing. It’s kind of shocking, but the best I can figure out is that it is his body’s way of changing hair coats from winter to spring and vice versa. You might consider making a goat coat for her, similar to a horse blanket, to save on electricity from those heat lamps. — Jackie
Canning on a propane turkey cooker
We have recently moved into a house that has a glass top stove. After watching the stove cook for a while, I have decided that I will need to come up with an alternative way to can. I know you have talked about propane stoves. I have a propane turkey cooker, would that work?
I’ve never had or seen a turkey cooker in action, but anything that is sturdy enough to support a full canner and produces sufficient heat should do the job. Any readers have any thoughts here? I’m sure someone has a turkey cooker and could give Cindy some help. — Jackie
Canning pork loin
I canned pork loin on two different occasions months apart using the same instructions for raw pack loin with water. In the first batch the water is clear with no color. In the second batch the water has kind of a brothy color to it. It is still transparent just with a little tint. I’m wondering if the color difference could be due to different brands of pork or different solutions used when packaged back at the plant. I bought the loin at the same store just a few months apart. Should I be concerned with the difference?
Also, I wanted to let you know that we finally bought some chicks and I’ve been following the instructions in the Chickens: A beginner’s handbook. So far everything is going well. I look forward to gathering eggs late in the summer.
Mountain City, Tennessee
I wouldn’t worry about the color, provided you followed instructions and the jars are sealed. You’re right; it may be a different pork loin solution or even packing process. Some are packed with a mild brine to keep it moist; others are not. Enjoy it and have fun with your new chickens! — Jackie