Picture Snob

July 29, 2011

The Backyard Beekeepers Handbook for beginners


If you would like to start with bee keeping, this is a good beginners guide which should help you understand what's necessary and fun about keeping bees. The Backyard Beekeeper is now revised and expanded and makes the time-honored and complex tradition of beekeeping an enjoyable and accessible pastime that will appeal to gardeners, crafters, and cooks everywhere.

This expanded edition gives you plenty of information on "greening" your beekeeping with sustainable practices, pesticide-resistant bees, and urban and suburban beekeeping. It is also a handbook for harvesting the products of a beehive and a honey cookbook. The book contains general information on bees; a how-to guide to the art of bee keeping and how to set up, care for, and harvest honey from your own colonies; as well as tons of bee-related facts and projects.

You'll learn the best place to locate your new bee colonies for their safety and yours, and you'll study the best organic and nontoxic ways to care for your bees, from providing fresh water and protection from the elements to keeping them healthy, happy, and productive. Recipes of delicious treats, and instructions on how to use honey and beeswax to make candles and beauty treatments are also included.

At Backyard Beekeeper's Guide

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July 28, 2011

A Stainless Steel Compost keeper for kitchen


Here is a very good container to store kitchen waste until you can take it out to the compost pile. Food scraps can be kept in this odor-eliminating container. It works great for egg shells, peelings, coffee grounds. It ts made of stainless-steel and has a non-slip handle that ensures simple transport.

In addition, the unit's tight-fitting lid holds a charcoal filter for odor-free use for up to six months, plus offers a center knob for easy lid removal. The container will fit under the sink, but the durable stainless-steel construction makes it attractive enough to leave out on the countertop. The surface cleans quickly with a soapy sponge, and Three set's of replacement filters comes included. The container measures 7 by 7 by 11 inches.

At Stainless Steel Composter

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July 27, 2011

Growing Chinese vegetables in your backyard

Growing Chinese Vegetables in Your Own Backyard gives the interested gardener some plant-by-plant advice on planting, growing, and harvesting each vegetable. It includes more than 40 Chinese vegetables and herbs. We are all familiar with the snow pea but maybe not the Chinese pumpkin. For every plant, you will also find simple recipes and tips for culinary uses.

Many Chinese herbs and vegetables are very easy to grow in containers as well as in traditional beds. Container gardeners will find a section dedicated to plants that thrive in containers and specific advice on how to keep plants healthy, happy, and productive in their small gardens.

There is also a chapter on water gardens. Water chestnuts, taro, arrowhead, and Chinese lotus can be grown successfully in tubs as small as 25 gallons. Best of all, water gardens never need to be watered, mulched, or weeded. If you're interested in expanding your range of vegetables and love Chinese greens and exotic vegetables, this book will get you started with great advice and detailed instruction for both growing and cooking.

At Growing Chinese vegetables

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July 26, 2011

Pac Choi is a perfect winter vegetable


This chinese cabbage will grow well planted in July or August and allowed to over winter in mild areas. It grows to about 10 inches and the leaves are mild and thick making them excellent for stir frys or salads while the stalk is thick and a good substitute for celery. The slight mustardy flavor of Pak Choi makes it a delightful addition to stir-fries, soups, noodle and meat dishes, and salads, if the young leaves are used

Pac Choi, sometimes spelled Bok Choy has spread throughout the world after being brought to Korea and Japan. It has been used in Chinese cooking since before the Ming dynasty. Pac Choi contains a high amount of Vitamin A and also some Vitamin C. It is easy to grow and will take a light freeze.

At Pac Choi

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July 22, 2011

Mid summer planting for fall harvest


After harvesting early-maturing vegetables such as salad greens, radishes, peas and spinach, gardeners can plant other crops in midsummer for fall harvest. Some root crops, greens and other vegetables can be successfully grown from late June, July or even August plantings. It's important to know the average first frost date in your area, in order to calculate when to plant these late vegetables so they'll mature before being killed by cold weather. Find the average first fall frost dates in your area.

Some vegetables will tolerate a fair amount of frost and keep growing even when temperatures are in the low forties. Others can't tolerate frost and stop growing in cool weather. Bush snap beans, for instance, mature in 45-65 days, but even a light frost (temperatures between 30º and 32ºF) will kill the plants. Kale, on the other hand, takes just as long to mature, but plants continue to grow when temperatures are cool, and can survive cold down to about 20ºF. So cool-season vegetables including kale and others in the cabbage family may be the best choice for mid-summer sowing, because an earlier-than-expected frost won't kill them before they're ready to eat.

Many of the cold-tolerant vegetables actually have better quality when grown in cool weather; it's said that the frost "sweetens" them. Carrots usually taste better after a frost and both broccoli and brussel sprouts withstand hard freezes.

At Organic Carrot seeds

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July 21, 2011

How to attract birds to your yard and garden


Wildbirds.com has this advice about attracting birds to your yard for you to enjoy and identify:

Plants & Flowers that Will Attract Birds

Planting a few flowers around your yard will attract hummingbirds and butterflies this summer. Longer-term, planting fruit trees for food and evergreens for shelter will make your yard more attractive to the birds for years into the future.

Here are some plants that will attract birds:

Bachelor Button
Black-eyed Susan
California Poppy
Purple Coneflower

Small Trees
Cedar (Juniper)
Crab Apple
Eastern Hemlock
Japanese Maple

Shrubs and Vines
English Ivy
Virginia Creeper

Don't forget to provide safe places for birds to hide. Dense trees around the perimeter of your yard will attract birds. Make a diagram of your yard and plan how it will look in five years, ten years and beyond. A pile of brush in a corner of the yard will give smaller birds a place to hide from Hawks.

At Birding Basics

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July 20, 2011

Oriental lettuces liven salads and stir frys


It's a good time now to replant lettuce and particularly the varieties of mustard greens that do well in hotter weather. You might try planting a short row every 15 days to have tasty salad all through the summer.

These same lettuce varieties can be used with other vegetables to add a spirited
tang in stir frys as well as salads. This packet of seeds contains Green Endive, Tango, Black Seeded Simpson, Oak Leaf, Arugula, Red Sails, Grand Rapids, Mizuna, and Red Salad Bowl. That's quite a collection of various tastes and textures.

At Gourmet Mesclun Blend

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July 19, 2011

Thinking ahead by planting Fava Beans


Some Fava Beans can be planted in late summer to get an early spring harvest. Favas are broad beans that have a long and storied history in the Mediterranean where they were on the first cultivated plants. They can also be grown as a cover crop to prevent erosion and because they are legumes, they fix nitrogen in the soil.

If Windsors or Negreta favas are planted in the late summer, they will overwinter in areas where winter temperatures as they are very frost hardy. Windsor will take temperatures down to 12 degrees! They take about 240 days to mature and so they will be ripe in spring before most any other crop is ready. The plants stand 3 to 4 feet high and have large pods.

The beans can be eaten when young and tender or cooked when mature and pureed into a variety of tasty snacks and dips when mixed with garlic and spices. Now they have become common in this form in gourmet restaurants. Their versatility of uses as a cover crop, an early vegetable and a gourmet treat make them worth a try in your garden.

At Windsor Fava Beans

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July 18, 2011

Orchid Rock Rose is great for a dry, rocky spot


Here the Orchid Rockrose flower is just awakening for the day. Each flower will flatten out, reveal its inner markings, and then fall petal by petal gracefully to the ground with the increasing heat of the afternoon. The next morning the show will start all over again. This lasts for about 4 weeks in early spring.

Rockrose family is a group of shrubs which are covered with flowers that open in the morning and whose petals have fallen by evening. This is a Mediterraen plant that does well with hot dry summers. They also have adapted to the wildfires that frequently eradicate large areas of forest. The plants cast their seeds in the soil during the growth period, but the latter don't germinate right in the next season. Their hard coating is impermeable to the water, and thus the seeds remain dormant for a long period of time. This together with their small size allows it to establish a large seed bank rather deep in the soil. Once the fire comes and kills the vegetation in the area, the seed coating softens or cracks as a result of the heating, and the surviving seeds germinate shortly after the fire.

Perhaps the most beautiful of all rockroses, Orchid Rockrosegrows up to five feet high and as wide. It spills over rocks and hillsides. It is good also in large open spaces. Orchid Rockrose can layer and root along its stem and spread out indefinitely. The plant sounds perfect for the cut bank in back of my house. I started looking for sources and came up with only one.

At Orchid Rockrose

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July 15, 2011

No good deed goes unpunished

Here's an article from Time that is at once amusing and distressing.


A Michigan woman is being charged with a misdemeanor offense and is facing up to 93 days in jail. Her crime? Planting a vegetable garden--in her own yard. Her front yard, that is.

Like many consumers today, Julie Bass, of Oak Park, Mich., appreciates the taste and healthfulness of organic vegetables, but isn't much of a fan of how much going organic costs at the store. So, like many health-minded consumers, she planted a vegetable garden on her property.

Read more

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July 11, 2011

Buckwheat makes a great summer cover crop

Buckwheat is an unusually fast-growing crop with a variety of uses. Most buckwheat is ground into flour and used for a variety of foods, including noodles in Japan and pancakes and breakfast cereals in the U.S. Russians and eastern Europeans make a wide range of foods with buckwheat, most famously, buchwheat groats or kasha.

But for our purposes, buckwheat can be used as a cover crop. It will smother weeds and improve the soil. Buckwheat flowers profusely, making it popular with bee keepers and an attractive crop in the landscape. Its flexibility and wide adaptation led it to be grown on more than a million acres in the U.S. in the late 1800s, even though it is not native to our country. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were two of the first American farmers to grow buckwheat and recognize the benefit to their crop rotations.

You might try it on a bare section of the garden or between the rows.

At Buckwheat Cover Crop

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July 8, 2011

Save the taste of summer with a pressure canner


Here's a real deal. This is a three hundred dollar canner for under $200! As you know,
a pressure cooker is generally recommended when canning vegetables and nonacid fruit, since the high heat that can be generated will kill more bacteria than a regular hot water bath. This canner is made from cast aluminum, with sturdy screws to seal the lid to the pot and because of this, it requires no rubber or plastic gaskets or rings. Its 21-1/2-quart capacity holds 19 pint jars or 7 quart jars. A three-setting pressure regulator valve is included, and the pressure gauge gives a clear reading.

It has a geared steam gauge with an automatic overpressure release. It has settings of 5 psi, 10 psi, and 15 psi. The size is 15-3/8 inches high with 12-1/4-inch inside diameter. These canners are made in the USA which is something to be aware of. No made in China on this pressure canner!

At All-American 21-1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner

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July 7, 2011

A Harvesting Bag to bring in the garden bounty


This harvesting bag is lightweight, durable and roomy. More importantly it's wearable. You can put it around your waist or over your shoulder and have your hands free to weed or pick the day's harvest. It has a patented ring held opening which keeps the bag open as you go along the rows. It holds five gallons of weeds or fruit and vegetables.

The opening is 10 inches in diameter so there's no fumbling around, trying to fit the fruit in the bag and it's almost two feet deep so there's plenty of room to bring in all you can eat and more. All parts of this product, including the packaging, are certified recycled materials. The design is extremely well thought out. It even has a Velcro pocket for your phone or ipod.

At Harvesting Bag

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July 6, 2011

Vine clips are easy to use and effective


This packet comes with fifteen durable clips that can support your flowers, vines and other plants as they start to mature. I have some newly planted trees that need these vine clips badly to keep them from bending into a C shape. The clips can be used for training roses, wisteria and grapevines as well as any other climbing plant.

Once the clips are in place they provide support while holding the plant securely in place.
You don't have to fool with twine, rope, wire or any other the other makeshift means we often find and grab when we need to keep a plant stable and upright. A very handy addition to the gardener's tool kit.

At Vine Clips

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July 5, 2011

Territorial Seed fall catalog arrives on the solstice


Summer planting means winter harvest is the by line on the magazine and so we get a reminder that now is the time to plant for fall. That is very hard to believe this year because the weather only now has turned hot so it's hard to think about cool weather crops when the tomatoes and peppers are just starting to prosper.

There are several mid summer chores I'm ready to take on. I'm going to till up the strawberry beds, both of them and get new plants. I'll build up a raised bed with a lot of chicken manure put in and all new plants. They should be bearing well next year when the grandchildren come and I look forward to starting all over again with strawberries. They are one of my favorite crops and i really like to have enought to freeze for winter and to make jam and that hasn't been happening for several years.

I noticed that my garlic is starting to make flowers heads and reminded myself to cut those off to let all the energy go to the bulb. The flowers on the swiss chard can be trimmed off also and a side dressing of manure is called for on the carrots.

But the first page I turned to in the Territorial seed catalog was the spinach. They are selling an organic an heirloom seed called Galilee which is heat tolerant and very suited for summer growing. The leaves can be used for salads and also can be cooked.

I think this is worth a try.

At Galilee Spinach

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July 1, 2011

Yellow Trefoil is growing well in rocky soil and drought


I would love to find some seeds for this plant but the only place online I found them was in the UK. These little clover like plants have established themselves in my rocky barren soil where the topsoil was scraped off to build the house. They grow low to the ground and are covered with small yellow flowers.

With some research I discovered they are considered invasive weeds. I should be so lucky. The picture above shows an upright plant, but they usually creep along the ground, making a nice ground cover and all the while fixing nitrogen in the soil. Yellow trefoil is native to Europe but has spread to North America and is often mixed with red clover seed. It may have come in the package of wildflowers I bought and scattered last fall. At any rate, I am very glad to see it and hope I can find a outlet that sells the seeds. If anyone knows of such, please let me know.

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