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Ask Jackie headline

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Jackie Clay answers questions for BHM Subscribers & Customers
on any aspect of low-tech, self-reliant living.

Jackie Clay

Q and A: refrigerator pickles and slow germinating carrots

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Refrigerator pickles

Here is a recipe I really like for Refrigerator Pickles. Can I put these in a water bath or canner to preserve? Or does that change the way they taste?

6-7 sliced cucumbers
1 med. onion
1 cup vinegar
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. celery seed

Combine salt, vinegar, sugar and celery seed in saucepan. Boil. Let cool. Put sliced cucumbers and onion in jars. When sauce is cool, pour over cucumber and onions. Refrigerate.

Becky in Iowa

I’m not sure but you can try a batch and see. Heat the vinegar, sugar, and celery seed. Then pack your sliced cukes into a jar and pour the hot brine over the cukes, leaving 1/2″ of headspace. Put them in a water bath canner and process for 10 minutes. (Our grandmothers just poured the hot brine over the cukes, quickly put a hot lid on the jars, screwed the ring down, and they sealed; the cukes stay crisper. But this is no longer an “approved” method.) Do a batch and let them sit for a week and try a jar to see how you like them. Let us know, okay? — Jackie

Slow germinating carrots

Any way to get carrots to germinate quicker? Have used a lot of manure on the garden and the weeds get started quicker than the carrots. It requires a lot of weeding. Any suggestions?

Brad & Rhona Barrie
Strong, Maine

One thing I’ve done is to use a bag or two of commercial potting soil on the carrot rows only, about three inches deep, put right on after tilling and immediately before you plant your carrots. This smothers down the weeds, acting like a mulch. And it has no weed seeds, as does garden compost sometimes. You then plant your carrot seed and water them in gently. BE SURE to water these rows every day as the potting soil dries out quickly and nothing keeps carrots from germinating or kills tiny seedlings more often than drying out. As soon as your carrots are coming up, mulch on both sides of them, deepening the mulch as the seedlings gain size. This should help your weed problem. Meantime, be sure to either deeply mulch your entire garden with weed-free mulch or keep all the weeds pulled so none can go to seed. One weed let go to seed will sprinkle thousands of seeds on your soil for you to fight next year. We’ve solved our weed problem with deep mulch with straw or reed canary grass. Both rot away by the next spring, enriching the soil. — Jackie

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