Straw bale garden
Do you have any idea how well the straw bale gardens work? My garden is covered in bindweed. I am not physically able to keep up with hoeing and can’t bend or kneel enough to pull it. I’m hoping the straw bales will work so I can still have a garden. I’ve researched how they work and with lots of water they seem to do well. I’m thinking if I use two bales stacked on top of each other and surround them with pallets to hold them in place I could garden without bending. I would put weed cloth under the bales and cover the empty ground with heavy mulch or cardboard to block the bindweed. Spraying chemicals is not an option. Raised beds of lumber are beyond my budget. What do you think? Thanks for any ideas you have.
I’m not so much a fan of straw bale gardening. The gardens seem susceptible to hot weather, regardless of watering and the bales will start to degrade, often before you harvest the crop. You might better try container gardening — you’d be surprised what you can use for containers! Some suggestions are: used stock tanks that have small rust holes in the bottom, tires stacked up, firewood logs (not cut and split but cut to whatever length you wish), doubled plastic totes with holes cut in the bottom, 5-gallon plastic buckets (I get mine for $1 each at the bakery department of our grocery store), used untreated lumber salvaged from neighbors or the dump, and pallets lined with black plastic to hold in the dirt. You can get very creative: friends have even used old bathtubs, 55-gallon drums cut in half, and livestock mineral tubs after farmers discarded them.
We had very bad bindweed in our garden in New Mexico. By covering half the garden one year with black plastic, weighted down by straw bales each year, then watching for seedlings every spring, we finally got rid of it. It IS a nasty, nasty weed! — Jackie
Freezing peppers to use later
I have a recipe for chili sauce that calls for a lot of tomatoes and peppers. My problem is that the peppers are seldom ready when the tomatoes are prime. My thought was to freeze peppers this year to use next year in my chili sauce. Do you think this would affect the quality?
That’s a very good option for any recipes calling for peppers in a sauce. Good thinking! — Jackie
Dry canned chicken meat
I canned 20+ quarts of chicken breast meat (chunked) when it went on sale last fall, and we’re now just starting to use it. I raw packed some of it and hot packed the rest, but boy, both are REALLY DRY! I made chicken noodle soup with it and found myself eating everything BUT the chicken meat… THAT’S how dry it is! What a disappointment! Is this how canned breast meat comes out? Should I stick to dark meat, even though I’m not a big fan of it? Any ideas for recipes where I could mix the meat in with something else in order to hide it, I mean, to make it palatable?
Chicken breast isn’t usually dry when canned. I’m assuming you canned in a broth? Often when folks raw pack, broth is not recommended and included, which can result in dry meat. Also, when you hot pack chicken breast, only minimally cook it, don’t cook it completely as this can result in dry meat.
I’d use the dry breast in such things as pulled/barbecue chicken sandwiches (the barbecue and shredding will help the dryness). Simmer the shredded chicken in the barbecue sauce for quite a while. Or use it mashed or pulled and make chicken and dumplings or chicken and biscuits with plenty of good gravy. Or make up a stir fry and add pulled chicken, simmering it in sauce first. Or use it shredded in chicken enchiladas. I’m sure you can figure out good uses for your dry canned meat and hopefully next time it’ll come out more moist! — Jackie