Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hickery Holler Farm: 2010 Canning Tally

Imagine if 90 percent of the food you eat was grown on your own land. How cool would that be? This lady has got it down. Check out this Blog!
Hickery Holler Farm: 2010 Canning Tally

Friday, April 22, 2011

Seed Swap for Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day I would like to propose a seed swap. One advantage of a seed swap is that you can save money and still get a wide variety of plants in your garden and the seeds will get planted before they get too old to sprout.

To host a seed swap you will need:
• Small Envelopes
• Labels and Pens
• Location with table space
• Willing participants with non-hybrid seeds

Invite family, friends and neighbors to bring their extra seeds. You can make your swap into a bigger event by telling your guests to spread the word and bring their friends with them. By doing this you will have a greater variety of seeds to exchange.

Or you could keep it private and much more coordinated buy limiting it to a small group of friends and assign each person a basic garden staple like carrots, beans, corn or pea seeds; that way you can all save money on your basic seeds and still buy something unusual you’ve never tried before to share with you seed swapping buddies.

To save time instruct everyone to bring their extra seeds already packaged and properly labeled with planting instructions. Be prepared with envelopes and pens just incase someone needs them.

Decide before hand how you are going orchestrate the seed swap. There are several ways to do it. Some use a tally and ticket system others prefer to go by an honor code and trust that participants won’t take more seeds than they contributed. Be sure to plan ahead of time how you want to organize the actual exchange and any special rules or instructions so there is no confusion.

If there are any seeds left donate them to someone in need or to a local community garden.

Have Fun!

“Seed Swap” looks like in interesting documentary. Check out the trailer.

Comments appreciated!
How do you organize your seed exchange? What method works best? How could you improve on the next one?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Time to Sow . . . Sow What?

As gardening season begins here are some ideas about what to plant in your garden depending on what food you want to preserve for the winter.

First thing to consider is what will you actually eat? If you don’t like beats don’t plant them. If you enjoy green beans plant some and plan on canning or freezing the excess. Home grown green beans taste great and are easy to preserve for the winter.

Vegetable soup is a tasty way to get your vegetable intake for the day. If you like soup, decide what kind of vegetables you like best in soup and plant them in your garden; like carrots, celery, potatoes, tomatoes and garlic.

Spaghetti makes a great meal and is even better when the sauce is made from scratch using produce you have grown yourself. It takes a lot of effort but it’s worth it in the end especially if you make a huge batch and seal it in jars using a pressure cooker. Plant tomatoes, onions and, garlic and depending on how ambitious you are you may even want to plant an herb garden for seasonings.

There are more reasons to plant pumpkins than for Jack-O-Lanterns. Making your own pumpkin puree is super easy and you can’t beat the taste of fresh pumpkin in homemade pumpkin cookies. Really it’s unbeatable.

With all the necessary ingredients grown in your own backyard you will feel a great sense of pride at what you have accomplished. That fresh produce from your garden doesn’t have to go to waste if you can’t consume it all; you can share it with your friends or preserve it for later. Invest in home canning equipment and begin the joyful and satisfying process of food preservation.

Make sure to use a trusted source for your canning recipes and that your jars have all sealed properly before you put them up for storage. Canning is not an experimental process and must be done properly to keep dangerous bacteria from growing.

Think of the possibilities! Decide what you want to can this year and then order the seeds to plant in your garden. Please post your comments below. We love comments.

Planning a garden design tool: Better Homes and Gardens

Planting Zones Map

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Fire Up the Barbecue!

It’s not unusual for a grill to get black and crusty, if it’s not cleaned regularly. However, cooking on a dirty grill will ruin the flavor of your food; thanks to residue from last weeks barbecue or smoke from grease buildup burning off. Aside from regular clean-up you should give your grill a thorough cleaning every year, so if you find that your grill is a mess, here are some tips get it ready to fire up for the season.

Cleaning instructions for your grill will differ depending of the kind of grill you have; charcoal or propane. Also, the surface of your grill will also determine what you can use to clean it; painted surfaces should not be exposed to some cleaners as it could damage the coating on your grill. Make sure you review your grills instruction manual before you begin cleaning.

If your grill is really crusty turn it on and let the flames take care of the chunky stuff for you. This may take about 30 minutes or more; you’ll know it’s done when the remains have burned to gray ash. Once it’s cool use a brass bristle grill brush to scrub off the ash. While almost any grill brush will work I recommend investing in a Brushtech Grill Brush because they are designed to last. They can be used on hot and cold grills and they have a well built handle so you can scrub as hard as you think is necessary.

If there is still stubborn carbon spots left you may need to use a carbon removing chemical like Sokoff, to remove any residual carbon. This product can be used from the very beginning in place of burning and brushing and will almost eliminate the need to scrub. Be sure to follow the instructions for proper use and application of chemicals. Always use rubber gloves and wash chemicals off with warm soapy water before grilling on that surface.

Don’t forget to clean the lid, drip pan and wipe down the outside of the grill. Also scoop out the ash and dispose of it properly. Never throw hot or warm ash in the garbage bin as it could cause a fire; wait until it’s completely cool.

Prevention is the best practice when it comes to grilling. According to Applying a high-temperature cooking oil; such as peanut, canola, safflower, or cottonseed, to the meat will help to even the heat transfer thereby reducing sticking and make cleanup easier.

When you have finished grilling close lid and allow flames to burn off residual food for about 10 minutes. Scrub grate with a brass grill brush and clean out drip pans. If you clean your grill every time you use it, your food will taste better and cleaning will take less time in the long run.


For more tips and tricks in grilling visit,

Grilled burgers are a classic, but only if you know how to make them right.
Follow this link to find a recipe for grilling the perfect burger:

Comments Please:
If you have any tips or tricks you would like to share please feel free to leave a comment below.