Archive for October, 2010

BPA- Free Canning Jar Lids

jars of home made jams and catsup

These aren’t they, but next year...

I’m not sure I’m really all that worried about it. Between the bacon and the barbeque we’re no doubt consuming enough carcinogenic material to make it a bit bogus to get all het up about the lids on the catsup – especially since after the jars are opened I  switch to one of my favorite products: plastic reusable caps like the one on the strawberry jam (reasonably easy to find although not, for reasons that elude me, available wherever canning supplies are sold).

Where was I?

About to say something about “better safe,” no doubt. BPA – free canning supplies do exist.

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Green Tomato and Lime Chutney – because we have frost at last

Choosing the date for “first frost”  is always tricky – do I count a tiny brush of wilt on the lowest dahlia in the lowest spot? Or do I wait for the day when the basil turns black, summer squash – what’s left of it – goes transparent and the zinnias are no more?

snapdragon bouquet

Goodbye to all that.

Either way, this year “first frost”  is now in the record books.

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Saving Summer Bulbs – Cannas and Dahlias

Nobody talks much about it, but the truth is the damn things tend to multiply.

canna tropicana in flower

While this is going on above ground, extension is transpiring underneath.

In the space of a single summer, one wizened little dahlia tuber can become a clutch of potatolike lumps the size of a basketball and the cannas are even worse – or better, if you’ve got a spot that could use a mass of something. Just because they got overused in the days of carpet bedding shouldn’t consign using cannas as hedging to the dustbin of horticultural history.

canna tropicana + millet purple majesty

A section of the side yard hedge (as seen from the driveway) at the Hudson Valley house. The canna is 'Tropicana;' the neat black grass is millet 'Purple Majesty.'

This is by way of saying that – assuming you’ve got room in the cellar or garage –  too much of a good thing may be just enough. And of course a bit more of an expensive thing is its own kind of gratification.

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Eric’s Pet Plant: Canna and Mealy-cup Sage (Canna species and Salvia farinacea)

canna pretoria and salvia farinacea victoria blue

Eric's Salvia farinacea 'Victoria Blue' and Canna x 'Pretoria'

We are in the season of summing up and looking ahead. Half-empty types (that would be me) are making careful notes of what failed to thrive, what failed to please and why. Those with sunnier dispositions (that would be our friend Eric, over at Yale) are reflecting on their successes and planning repeats.

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Tomato Savings Time

farmstand tomatoes

A recent sighting at Schoolhouse Farm, in Warren, Maine

We grow a lot of the food we put by for the winter, so most of the relevant posts here start in our own back yard. But as I was just saying on the radio, you don’t need to have a garden to take advantage of seasonal abundance; there’s plenty of it at farm stands and farmers markets. And it’s a bargain. When the fields are yielding full tilt, locally grown produce is not only far more delicious than the stuff in the supermarket, it’s also far less expensive.

Seasonal, however, is the magic word; if you want to eat well in the winter you have to stock up when the stocking is good. It’s easiest if you have a big freezer but even if your freezer is small and already full of pizza and ice cream, saving great produce for winter is not difficult.

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