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Container Soils - Water Movement & Retention XIV

posted by: tapla on 06.05.2011 at 10:17 pm in Container Gardening Forum

I first posted this thread back in March of '05. Thirteen times it has reached the maximum number of posts GW allows to a single thread, which is much more attention than I ever imagined it would garner. I have reposted it, in no small part because it has been great fun, and a wonderful catalyst in the forging of new friendships and in increasing my list of acquaintances with similar growing interests. The forum and email exchanges that stem so often from the subject are, in themselves, enough to make me hope the subject continues to pique interest, and the exchanges provide helpful information. Most of the motivation for posting this thread another time comes from the reinforcement of hundreds of participants over the years that the idea some of the information provided in good-spirited collective exchange has made a significant difference in the quality of their growing experience.
I'll provide links to some of the more recent of the previous dozen threads and nearly 2,000 posts at the end of what I have written - just in case you have interest in reviewing them. Thank you for taking the time to examine this topic - I hope that any/all who read it take at least something interesting and helpful from it. I know it's long; my hope is that you find it worth the read.

Container Soils - Water Movement and Retention

A Discussion About Container Soils

As container gardeners, our first priority should be to ensure the soils we use are adequately aerated for the life of the planting, or in the case of perennial material (trees, shrubs, garden perennials), from repot to repot. Soil aeration/drainage is the most important consideration in any container planting. Soils are the foundation that all container plantings are built on, and aeration is the very cornerstone of that foundation. Since aeration and drainage are inversely linked to soil particle size, it makes good sense to try to find and use soils or primary components with particles larger than peat/compost/coir. Durability and stability of soil components so they contribute to the retention of soil structure for extended periods is also extremely important. Pine and some other types of conifer bark fit the bill nicely, but I'll talk more about various components later.

What I will write also hits pretty hard against the futility in using a drainage layer of coarse materials in attempt to improve drainage. It just doesn't work. All it does is reduce the total volume of soil available for root colonization. A wick can be employed to remove water from the saturated layer of soil at the container bottom, but a drainage layer is not effective. A wick can be made to work in reverse of the self-watering pots widely being discussed on this forum now.

Since there are many questions about soils appropriate for use in containers, I'll post basic mix recipes later, in case any would like to try the soil. It will follow the Water Movement information.

Consider this if you will:

Container soils are all about structure, and particle size plays the primary role in determining whether a soil is suited or unsuited to the application. Soil fills only a few needs in container culture. Among them are: Anchorage - a place for roots to extend, securing the plant and preventing it from toppling. Nutrient Retention - it must retain a nutrient supply in available form sufficient to sustain plant systems. Gas Exchange - it must be amply porous to allow air to move through the root system and gasses that are the by-product of decomposition to escape. Water - it must retain water enough in liquid and/or vapor form to sustain plants between waterings. Air - it must contain a volume of air sufficient to ensure that root function/metabolism/growth is not impaired. This is extremely important and the primary reason that heavy, water-retentive soils are so limiting in their affect. Most plants can be grown without soil as long as we can provide air, nutrients, and water, (witness hydroponics). Here, I will concentrate primarily on the movement and retention of water in container soil(s).

There are two forces that cause water to move through soil - one is gravity, the other capillary action. Gravity needs little explanation, but for this writing I would like to note: Gravitational flow potential (GFP) is greater for water at the top of the container than it is for water at the bottom. I'll return to that later.

Capillarity is a function of the natural forces of adhesion and cohesion. Adhesion is water's tendency to stick to solid objects like soil particles and the sides of the pot. Cohesion is the tendency for water to stick to itself. Cohesion is why we often find water in droplet form - because cohesion is at times stronger than adhesion; in other words, water's bond to itself can be stronger than the bond to the object it might be in contact with; cohesion is what makes water form drops. Capillary action is in evidence when we dip a paper towel in water. The water will soak into the towel and rise several inches above the surface of the water. It will not drain back into the source, and it will stop rising when the GFP equals the capillary attraction of the fibers in the paper.

There will be a naturally occurring "perched water table" (PWT) in containers when soil particulate size is under about .100 (just under 1/8) inch. Perched water is water that occupies a layer of soil at the bottom of containers or above coarse drainage layers that tends to remain saturated & will not drain from the portion of the pot it occupies. It can evaporate or be used by the plant, but physical forces will not allow it to drain. It is there because the capillary pull of the soil at some point will surpass the GFP; therefore, the water does not drain, it is said to be 'perched'. The smaller the size of the particles in a soil, the greater the height of the PWT. Perched water can be tightly held in heavy (comprised of small particles) soils where it perches (think of a bird on a perch) just above the container bottom where it will not drain; or, it can perch in a layer of heavy soil on top of a coarse drainage layer, where it will not drain.

Imagine that we have five cylinders of varying heights, shapes, and diameters, each with drain holes. If we fill them all with the same soil mix, then saturate the soil, the PWT will be exactly the same height in each container. This saturated area of the container is where roots initially seldom penetrate & where root problems frequently begin due to a lack of aeration and the production of noxious gasses. Water and nutrient uptake are also compromised by lack of air in the root zone. Keeping in mind the fact that the PWT height is dependent on soil particle size and has nothing to do with height or shape of the container, we can draw the conclusion that: If using a soil that supports perched water, tall growing containers will always have a higher percentage of unsaturated soil than squat containers when using the same soil mix. The reason: The level of the PWT will be the same in each container, with the taller container providing more usable, air holding soil above the PWT. From this, we could make a good case that taller containers are easier to grow in.

A given volume of large soil particles has less overall surface area when compared to the same volume of small particles and therefore less overall adhesive attraction to water. So, in soils with large particles, GFP more readily overcomes capillary attraction. They simply drain better and hold more air. We all know this, but the reason, often unclear, is that the height of the PWT is lower in coarse soils than in fine soils. The key to good drainage is size and uniformity of soil particles. Mixing large particles with small is often very ineffective because the smaller particles fit between the large, increasing surface area which increases the capillary attraction and thus the water holding potential. An illustrative question: How much perlite do we need to add to pudding to make it drain well?

I already stated I hold as true that the grower's soil choice when establishing a planting for the long term is the most important decision he/she will make. There is no question that the roots are the heart of the plant, and plant vitality is inextricably linked in a hard lock-up with root vitality. In order to get the best from your plants, you absolutely must have happy roots.

If you start with a water-retentive medium, you cannot improve it's aeration or drainage characteristics by adding larger particulates. Sand, perlite, Turface, calcined DE ...... none of them will work. To visualize why sand and perlite can't change drainage/aeration, think of how well a pot full of BBs would drain (perlite), then think of how poorly a pot full of pudding would drain (bagged soil). Even mixing the pudding and perlite/BBs together 1:1 in a third pot yields a mix that retains the drainage characteristics and PWT height of the pudding. It's only after the perlite become the largest fraction of the mix (60-75%) that drainage & PWT height begins to improve. At that point, you're growing in perlite amended with a little potting soil.

You cannot add coarse material to fine material and improve drainage or the ht of the PWT. Use the same example as above & replace the pudding with play sand or peat moss or a peat-based potting soil - same results. The benefit in adding perlite to heavy soils doesn't come from the fact that they drain better. The fine peat or pudding particles simply 'fill in' around the perlite, so drainage & the ht of the PWT remains the same. All perlite does in heavy soils is occupy space that would otherwise be full of water. Perlite simply reduces the amount of water a soil is capable of holding because it is not internally porous. IOW - all it does is take up space. That can be a considerable benefit, but it makes more sense to approach the problem from an angle that also allows us to increase the aeration AND durability of the soil. That is where Pine bark comes in, and I will get to that soon.

If you want to profit from a soil that offers superior drainage and aeration, you need to start with an ingredient as the basis for your soils that already HAVE those properties, by ensuring that the soil is primarily comprised of particles much larger than those in peat/compost/coir.sand/topsoil, which is why the recipes I suggest as starting points all direct readers to START with the foremost fraction of the soil being large particles, to ensure excellent aeration. From there, if you choose, you can add an appropriate volume of finer particles to increase water retention. You do not have that option with a soil that is already extremely water-retentive right out of the bag.

I fully understand that many are happy with the results they get when using commercially prepared soils, and I'm not trying to get anyone to change anything. My intent is to make sure that those who are having trouble with issues related to soil, understand why the issues occur, that there are options, and what they are.

We have seen that adding a coarse drainage layer at the container bottom does not improve drainage. It does though, reduce the volume of soil required to fill a container, making the container lighter. When we employ a drainage layer in an attempt to improve drainage, what we are actually doing is moving the level of the PWT higher in the pot. This simply reduces the volume of soil available for roots to colonize. Containers with uniform soil particle size from top of container to bottom will yield better and more uniform drainage and have a lower PWT than containers using the same soil with added drainage layers.

The coarser the drainage layer, the more detrimental to drainage it is because water is more (for lack of a better scientific word) reluctant to make the downward transition because the capillary pull of the soil above the drainage layer is stronger than the GFP. The reason for this is there is far more surface area on soil particles for water to be attracted to in the soil above the drainage layer than there is in the drainage layer, so the water perches. I know this goes against what most have thought to be true, but the principle is scientifically sound, and experiments have shown it as so. Many nurserymen employ the pot-in-pot or the pot-in-trench method of growing to capitalize on the science.

If you discover you need to increase drainage, you can simply insert an absorbent wick into a drainage hole & allow it to extend from the saturated soil in the container to a few inches below the bottom of the pot, or allow it to contact soil below the container where the earth acts as a giant wick and will absorb all or most of the perched water in the container, in most cases. Eliminating the PWT has much the same effect as providing your plants much more soil to grow in, as well as allowing more, much needed air in the root zone.

In simple terms: Plants that expire because of drainage problems either die of thirst because the roots have rotted and can no longer take up water, or they suffer/die because there is insufficient air at the root zone to insure normal root function, so water/nutrient uptake and root metabolism become seriously impaired.

To confirm the existence of the PWT and how effective a wick is at removing it, try this experiment: Fill a soft drink cup nearly full of garden soil. Add enough water to fill to the top, being sure all soil is saturated. Punch a drain hole in the bottom of the cup and allow the water to drain. When drainage has stopped, insert a wick into the drain hole . Take note of how much additional water drains. Even touching the soil with a toothpick through the drain hole will cause substantial additional water to drain. The water that drains is water that occupied the PWT. A greatly simplified explanation of what occurs is: The wick or toothpick "fools" the water into thinking the pot is deeper than it is, so water begins to move downward seeking the "new" bottom of the pot, pulling the rest of the water in the PWT along with it. If there is interest, there are other simple and interesting experiments you can perform to confirm the existence of a PWT in container soils. I can expand later in the thread.

I always remain cognizant of these physical principles whenever I build a soil. I have not used a commercially prepared soil in many years, preferring to build a soil or amend one of my 2 basic mixes to suit individual plantings. I keep many ingredients at the ready for building soils, but the basic building process usually starts with conifer bark and perlite. Sphagnum peat plays a secondary role in my container soils because it breaks down too quickly to suit me, and when it does, it impedes drainage and reduces aeration. Size matters. Partially composted conifer bark fines (pine is easiest to find and least expensive) works best in the following recipes, followed by uncomposted bark in the <3/8" range.

Bark fines of pine, fir or hemlock, are excellent as the primary component of your soils. The lignin contained in bark keeps it rigid and the rigidity provides air-holding pockets in the root zone far longer than peat or compost mixes that too quickly break down to a soup-like consistency. Conifer bark also contains suberin, a lipid sometimes referred to as nature's preservative. Suberin, more scarce as a presence in sapwood products and hardwood bark, dramatically slows the decomposition of conifer bark-based soils. It contains highly varied hydrocarbon chains and the microorganisms that turn peat to soup have great difficulty cleaving these chains - it retains its structure.

Note that there is no sand or compost in the soils I use. Sand, as most of you think of it, can improve drainage in some cases, but it reduces aeration by filling valuable macro-pores in soils. Unless sand particle size is fairly uniform and/or larger than about BB size, I leave it out of soils. Compost is too fine and unstable for me to consider using in soils in any significant volume as well. The small amount of micro-nutrients it supplies can easily be delivered by one or more of a number of chemical or organic sources that do not detract from drainage/aeration.

My Basic Soils ....

5 parts pine bark fines (partially composted fines are best)
1 part sphagnum peat (not reed or sedge peat please)
1-2 parts perlite
garden lime (or gypsum in some cases)
controlled release fertilizer (if preferred)

Big batch:
2-3 cu ft pine bark fines
5 gallons peat
5 gallons perlite
2 cups dolomitic (garden) lime (or gypsum in some cases)
2 cups CRF (if preferred)

Small batch:
3 gallons pine bark
1/2 gallon peat
1/2 gallon perlite
4 tbsp lime (or gypsum in some cases)
1/4 cup CRF (if preferred)

I have seen advice that some highly organic (practically speaking - almost all container soils are highly organic) container soils are productive for up to 5 years or more. I disagree and will explain why if there is interest. Even if you were to substitute fir bark for pine bark in this recipe (and this recipe will long outlast any peat based soil) you should only expect a maximum of two to three years life before a repot is in order. Usually perennials, including trees (they're perennials too) should be repotted more frequently to insure they can grow at as close to their genetic potential within the limits of other cultural factors as possible. If a soil is desired that will retain structure for long periods, we need to look more to inorganic components. Some examples are crushed granite, fine stone, VERY coarse sand (see above - usually no smaller than BB size in containers, please), Haydite, lava rock (pumice), Turface, calcined DE, and others.

For long term (especially woody) plantings and houseplants, I use a superb soil that is extremely durable and structurally sound. The basic mix is equal parts of pine bark, Turface, and crushed granite.

1 part uncomposted screened pine or fir bark (1/8-1/4")
1 part screened Turface
1 part crushed Gran-I-Grit (grower size) or #2 cherrystone
1 Tbsp gypsum per gallon of soil
CRF (if desired)

I use 1/8 -1/4 tsp Epsom salts (MgSO4) per gallon of fertilizer solution when I fertilize if the fertilizer does not contain Mg (check your fertilizer - if it is soluble, it is probable it does not contain Ca or Mg. If I am using my currently favored fertilizer (I use it on everything), Dyna-Gro's Foliage-Pro in the 9-3-6 formulation, and I don't use gypsum or Epsom salts in the fertilizer solution.

If there is interest, you'll find some of the more recent continuations of the thread at the links below:


Post XII

Post XI

Post X

Post IX


Post VII

If you feel you were benefited by having read this offering, you might also find this thread about Fertilizing Containerized Plants helpful, as well.

If you do find yourself using soils you feel are too water-retentive, You'll find some Help Dealing with Water-retentive Soils by following this embedded link.

If you happen to be at all curious about How Plant Gowth is Limited, just click the embedded link.

As always - best luck. Good growing!! Let me know if you think there is anything I might be able to help you with.



clipped on: 02.04.2012 at 01:43 pm    last updated on: 02.04.2012 at 01:44 pm

RE: disease on leaves of plum tree (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: santi2 on 07.02.2009 at 06:55 am in Fruit & Orchards Forum

If you are in organic growing, apply sulpur (late evening) now. And the next year, one and two months after petal fall sulphur as well.
If the problem is severe, apply (now) azoxystrobin or pyraclostrobin but an limited number of times (not more than 4).
The usual control method would be preventive, with sulphur.

Sorry for my English


clipped on: 07.02.2009 at 10:59 pm    last updated on: 12.19.2011 at 04:38 pm

This weeks episode of 'Bob In The Garden'

posted by: BobInTheGarden on 11.14.2011 at 12:42 pm in California Gardening Forum

Thanks for all your input on these gardening videos! Hope you enjoy the new one. Lots of planting happened this weekend... Below is the link. Would love to hear your thoughts!


Here is a link that might be useful: Bob In The Garden - Episode 5


clipped on: 11.30.2011 at 12:05 pm    last updated on: 11.30.2011 at 12:05 pm

Trees in Containers II

posted by: tapla on 12.07.2010 at 07:19 pm in Container Gardening Forum

The tree is more than first a seed, then a stem, then a living trunk, and then dead timber. The tree is a slow, enduring force straining to win the sky. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This is a continuation of another thread that has topped out at 150 posts. You can find a link to the previous thread ant the helpful information it contaihns at the bottom of this post.

It's not much of a secret to many, that a good part of what I've learned about plants and plant-related science has come as an outgrowth of my pursuit of at least some degree of proficiency at bonsai. Please, make no mistake, the principles applied to containerized trees under bonsai culture can, and in most cases SHOULD be applied to all containerized trees grown for the long term. Because of the small volumes of soil and small containers these trees are grown in, you might look at bonsai as a form of container culture taken to another level. Before most of the plants I grow become bonsai, they often undergo many years of preparation and manipulation while still in the same size containers you are growing in, so while I am intimately familiar with growing plants in bonsai culture, it would have been impossible for me to arrive at that familiarity w/o an even more thorough understanding of growing woody plants in larger, pre-bonsai size containers like you grow in. This thread is a continuation of one I previously posted on the same topic.

I grow and manage a wide variety of temperate trees and shrubs, both deciduous and conifers, and 75 or more tropical/subtropical woody plants. I'd like to invite you to join the discussion with questions about your own containerized trees and/or your tree problems. I will try to answer your questions whenever I can.

The timing of certain procedures is closely related to energy management, which gets too little consideration by most growers tending trees in containers. Because repotting and root pruning seem to be most misunderstood on the list of what it takes to maintain trees that will continually grow at close to their genetic potential, I will include some observations about those procedures to open the discussion.

I have spent literally thousands of hours digging around in root-balls of trees (let's allow that trees means any woody plant material with tree-like roots) - tropical/subtropical trees, temperate trees collected from the wild and temperate nursery stock. The wild collected trees are a challenge, usually for their lack of roots close to the trunk, and have stories of their own. The nursery stock is probably the closest examples to what most of your trees are like below the soil line, so I'll offer my thoughts for you to consider or discard as you find fitting.

I've purchased many trees from nurseries that have been containerized for long periods. Our bonsai club, just this summer, invited a visiting artist to conduct a workshop on mugo pines. The nursery (a huge operation) where we have our meetings happened to have purchased several thousand of the mugos somewhere around 10 - 12 years ago and they had been potted-up into continually larger containers ever since. Why relate these uninteresting snippets? In the cases of material that has been progressively potted-up only, large perennial roots occupied nearly the entire volume of the container, plant vitality was in severe decline, and soil in the original root-ball had become so hard that in some cases a chisel was required to remove it.

In plants that are potted-up, rootage becomes entangled. As root diameters increase, portions of roots constrict flow of water and nutrients through other roots, much the same as in the case of girdling or encircling roots on trees grown in-ground. The ratio of fine, feeder roots to more lignified and perennial roots becomes skewed to favor the larger, and practically speaking, useless roots.

Initial symptoms of poor root conditions are progressive diminishing of branch extension and reduced vitality. As rootage becomes continually compressed and restricted, branch extension stops and individual branches might die as water/nutrient translocation is further compromised. Foliage quality may not (important to understand) indicate the tree is struggling until the condition is severe, but if you observe your trees carefully, you will find them increasingly unable to cope with stressful conditions - too much/little water, heat, sun, etc. Trees that are operating under conditions of stress that has progressed to strain, will usually be diagnosed in the end as suffering from attack by insects or other bio-agents while the underlying cause goes unnoticed.

I want to mention that I draw distinct delineation between simply potting up and repotting. Potting up temporarily offers room for fine rootage to grow and do the necessary work of water/nutrient uptake, but these new roots soon lignify, while rootage in the old root mass continues to grow and become increasingly restrictive. The larger and larger containers required for potting-up & the difficulty in handling them also makes us increasingly reluctant to undertake even potting-up, let alone undertake the task of repotting/root-pruning which grows increasingly difficult with each up-potting.

So we are clear on terminology, potting up simply involves moving the plant with its root mass and soil intact, or nearly so, to a larger container and filling in around the root/soil mass with additional soil. Repotting, on the other hand, includes the removal of all or part of the soil and the pruning of roots, with an eye to removing the largest roots, as well as those that would be considered defective. Examples are roots that are dead, those growing back toward the center of the root mass, encircling, girdling or j-hooked roots, and otherwise damaged roots.

I often explain the effects of repotting vs potting up like this:

Let's rate growth/vitality potential on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best. We're going to say that trees in containers can only achieve a growth/vitality rating of 9, due to the somewhat limiting effects of container culture. Lets also imagine that for every year a tree goes w/o repotting or potting up, its measure of growth/vitality slips by 1 number, That is to say you pot a tree and the first year it grows at a level of 9, the next year, an 8, the next year a 7. Lets also imagine we're going to go 3 years between repotting or potting up.

Here's what happens to the tree you repot/root prune:
year 1: 9
year 2: 8
year 3: 7
year 1: 9
year 2: 8
year 3: 7
year 1: 9
year 2: 8
year 3: 7
You can see that a full repotting and root pruning returns the plant to its full potential within the limits of other cultural influences for as long as you care to repot/root prune.

Looking now at how woody plants respond to only potting up:
year 1: 9
year 2: 8
year 3: 7
pot up
year 1: 8
year 2: 7
year 3: 6
pot up
year 1: 7
year 2: 6
year 3: 5
pot up
year 1: 6
year 2: 5
year 3: 4
pot up
year 1: 5
year 2: 4
year 3: 3
pot up
year 1: 4
year 2: 3
year 3: 2
pot up
year 1: 3
year 2: 2
year 3: 1

This is a fairly accurate illustration of the influence tight roots have on a woody plant's growth/vitality. You might think of it for a moment in the context of the longevity of bonsai trees vs the life expectancy of most trees grown as houseplants, the difference between 4 years and 400 years, lying primarily in how the roots are treated.

I haven't yet mentioned that the dissimilar characteristics of the old soil as compared to the new soil when potting-up are also a recipe for trouble. With a compacted soil in the old roots and a fresh batch of soil surrounding the roots of a freshly potted-up tree, it is nearly impossible to establish a watering regimen that doesn't keep the differing soils either too wet or too dry, both conditions occurring concurrently being the rule rather than the exception.

Most who read this would have great difficulty showing me a containerized tree that's more than 10 years old and as vigorous as it could be, unless it has been root-pruned at repotting time; yet I can show you hundreds of trees 20 years to 200 years old and older that are in perfect health. All have been root-pruned and given a fresh footing in in new soil at regular and frequent intervals.

Deciduous trees are some of the most forgiving of trees when it comes to root pruning. The process is quite simple and the long term benefits include best opportunities for plants to grow at or near their potential genetic vigor, and stronger plants that are able to resist the day to day perils that bring down weaker plants. Root-pruning is a procedure that might be considered borrowed from bonsai culture, but as noted above, bonsai culture is nothing more than highly refined container culture, and to restrict the practice of root-pruning to bonsai only, is an injustice to those of us who simply enjoy growing trees in containers.

Trees are much like human beings and enjoy each other's company. Only a few love to be alone. ~Jens Jensen

Now that I have made the case for why it is important to regularly perform full repots (not to be confused with potting-up) and prune the roots of your containerized trees regularly, I will offer some direction. Root-pruning is the systematic removal of the largest roots in the container with emphasis on removal of rootage growing directly under the trunk and at the perimeter of the root mass.

Root pruning can start immediately with year-old seedlings by removing the taproot just below the basal flare of dormant material, repotting, and treating the plant as a cutting. This will produce a plant with flat rootage that radiates outward from the base and that will be easy to care for in the future.

Young trees (under 10 yrs old) are nearly all dynamic mass and will tolerate root-pruning well. Most deciduous trees are extremely tolerant of root work. Acer buergerianum (trident maple) is routinely reduced to a main trunk with roots pruned all the way back to the basal flare and responds to the treatment with a fresh growth of fine, fibrous roots and a fresh flush of foliage each spring. The point here is, you don't need to be concerned about the pruning if you follow a few simple guidelines.

First, some generalities: undertake repotting of most deciduous material while the plant is quiescent (this is the period after the tree has met its chill requirement and has been released from dormancy, but has not begun to grow yet because of low soil temps). Most conifers are best repotted soon after the onset of spring growth. Most tropical and subtropical trees are best repotted in the month prior to their most robust growth period (summer). Citrus are probably best repotted in spring, but they can also be repotted successfully immediately after a push of top growth.

For most plants that have not been root-pruned before: With a pruning saw, saw off the bottom 1/3 of the root ball. With a hand-rake (like you use for scratching in the garden soil) and/or a wooden chopstick and/or the aid of water under high pressure from a garden hose, remove all the loose soil. Using a jet of water from the hose and the chopstick, remove the remaining soil - ALL of it. The exception here would be those plants that form dense mats of fine roots (citrus, bougainvillea, rhododendron ...). This should be done out of sun and wind to prevent the fine roots from drying. 5 minutes in the sun or wind can kill fine roots & set the tree back a week or more, so keep roots moist by misting very frequently or dipping the roots in a tub of water as you work. After the soil is removed, remove up to another 1/3 of the remaining mass of roots with a sharp pruning tool, taking the largest roots, and those roots growing directly under the trunk. Stop your pruning cuts just beyond where a smaller root branches toward the outside of the root you are pruning. Be sure to remove any J-hooked roots, encircling/girdling roots or others exhibiting abnormal growth.

Before you begin the pruning operation, be sure you have the soil & new container ready to go (drain screens in place, etc). The tree should fit loosely inside the walls of the container. Fill the container with soil to the desired ht, mounded in the center, & place tree on the mound. Add soil to cover roots & with a chopstick/skewer, or sharpened wood dowel, work soil into all voids in the roots, eliminating the air pockets and adding soil to the bottom of the basal root-flare. Temporarily securing the tree to the container with twine or small rope, even staking, against movement from wind or being jostled will fractionalize recovery time by helping to prevent breakage of newly-formed fine rootage. Place the tree in shade & out of wind until it leafs out and re-establishes in the container.

The first time you root-prune a tree will be the most difficult & will likely take up to an hour from start to finish, unless the tree is in larger than a 5 gallon container. When you're satisfied with the work, repot into a soil that you are certain will retain its structure until the next root-pruning/repot. Tree (genetic) vigor will dictate the length of time between repots. The slow growing, less vigorous species, and older trees will likely go 5 years between repots. For these slow growing trees, it is extremely important that soils retain aeration. For these trees, a soil of 2/3 inorganic parts and 1/3 organic (I prefer pine or fir bark) is a good choice. The more vigorous plants that will only go 2 years between repots can be planted in a soil with a higher organic component if you wish, but would still benefit from the 2/3 inorganic mix.

Most trees treated this way will fully recover within about 4 weeks after the repot By the end of 8 weeks, they will normally have caught & passed, in both development and in vitality, a similar root-bound plant that was only potted up

When root-pruning a quiescent plant, you needn't worry much about "balancing" top growth with rootage removed. The plant will tend to only "activate" the buds it can supply with water. It is, however, the optimum time to undertake any pruning you may wish to attend to.

This is how I treat most of my trees. Though I have many growing in bonsai pots, more of my plants are in nursery containers or terra-cotta and look very much like your trees, as they await the beginning of intensive training. With a little effort at developing a soil from what's available to you and some knowledge and application of root-pruning and repotting techniques, I'm absolutely sure that a good % of those nurturing trees in containers could look forward to results they can be very pleased with. This is the repotting technique described that allows bonsai trees to live for hundreds of years & be passed from generation to generation while other containerized trees that have not had their roots tended to, and have only been potted-up, are likely to be in severe decline, or compost, well before they're old enough to vote. ;o)

I hope you're bold enough to make it a part of your containerized tree maintenance, and I hope what I've written makes sense - it's well past prudent bedtime for me.

Knowing grass, I understand the meaning of persistence.
Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of perseverance.
Knowing bonsai I understand the meaning of patience. ~ Al

Click Me to go to the Previous Thread



clipped on: 10.17.2011 at 09:25 pm    last updated on: 10.17.2011 at 09:25 pm

RE: What is the largest plant sale in California? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: gardenguru1950 on 03.18.2009 at 11:41 pm in California Gardening Forum

We have LOTS of plants sales in California, of all sizes. Most are pretty different from others and each deserves a look. Some are specialty sales, others big, fund-raising sales.

Are you coming to visit us soon? Or are you putting together a list of plant sales in California for others?

Here's a list that I've put together. I've made some changes (I think) based on input from this forum. But it might need some updating. Many of these sales have websites and many of them show availabilty list for upcoming sales;


January -- South Bay Spring Home & Garden Show
Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA

February -- Alameda County Spring Home & Garden Show
Alameda County Fairgrounds, Pleasanton, CA

February -- Peninsula Spring Home & Garden Show
San Mateo Expo Center, San Mateo, CA

February -- Markham Regional Arboretum
The plant sales are held at the Garden Center located at 1202 La Vista Avenue in Concord.

February -- Descanso Gardens
Camellia Festival and Camellia Plant Sale
1418 Descanso Drive
La Caada Flintridge, CA 91011

March -- UC Irvine Arboretum
Spring Plant Sale
North Campus Drive and Jamboree Road, Irvine
Early spring perennials and spring bulbs will be on sale
(949) 824-5833

March -- Fresno Home & Garden Show
Fresno Fairgrounds, Fresno, CA

March -- San Francisco Flower & Garden Show
Cow Palace, San Francisco, CA

March -- Ventura County Home & Garden Show
Ventura County Fairgrounds, Ventura, CA

March -- Yuba City Total Home, Garden & Recreation Show
Yuba-Sutter Fairgrounds, Yuba City, CA

March -- Long Beach Home & Garden Show
Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, CA

March -- Contra Costa Spring Home & Garden Show
Sleep Train Pavilion, Concord, CA

April -- American Bamboo Society; The Northern California Chapter
"Annual Spring Bamboo Festival, Sale and Auction"
San Francisco County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park.

April California Horticultural Society
"Specialty Nursery Plant Sale", In collaboration with a variety of specialty nurseries
Lakeside Garden Center in Oakland

April -- Annies Annuals
"Spring Party"
740 Market Ave., Richmond, CA

April -- Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Spring Plant Sale
1500 N. College Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711
or website:

April -- Fullerton Arboretum
"Green Scene Plant Sale & Garden Show"
$6 admission <12 free.
1900 Associated Rd. Fullerton, CA 92831
A large multi-vendor sale

April -- Markham Regional Arboretum
The plant sales are held at the Garden Center located at 1202 La Vista Avenue in Concord.

April -- Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Spring Plant Sale
1500 N. College Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711
For further information, call (909) 625-8767
or check our website:
Native California plants

April -- San Jose Home & Garden Show and Plant Sale
San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, CA

April -- UC Berkeley Botanic Garden
Spring Plant Sale
200 Centennial Drive #5045
Berkeley, CA 94720-5045

April -- UC Santa Cruz Arboretum
Spring Plant Sale
Held in the Eucalyptus Grove.
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
(831) 427-2998 phone
(831) 427-1524 fax

May Cabrillo College
Annual Spring Plant Sale
(Mothers Day Weekend)
Environmental Horticulture Center & Botanic Gardens
6500 Soquel Drive (top of campus), Aptos, CA
(831) 477-5671
Over 1000 different annuals, bedding plants, culinary & medicinal herbs, cut flowers, natives, perennials, salvias, species & hybrid fuchsias, succulents and vines.

May Foothill College
The Foothill College Environmental Horticulture & Design Program springtime inventory sale; in the college's horticulture facilities adjacent to Lot 8 at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. Admission is free; parking is $2.
Items for sale include bamboo, succulents, cacti, grasses, tropicals, orchids, ornamental and fruit trees, shrubs, perennials and more.

May -- Annies Annuals
"Mothers Day Party"
740 Market Ave., Richmond, CA

May Huntington Botanical Garden
Annual Plant Sale (the BIG one)
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, CA 91108
(626) 405-2100
Free with museum admission.
May Quail Botanic Garden
Palm and Cycad Sale
230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas CA

May Los Angeles Arboretum
Annual Epiphyllum Show & Sale
Ayres Hall & Gate & Patios
301 N. Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007

May-June -- Inland Empire Home & Outdoor Living Show
Ontario Convention Center, Ontario, CA

June -- Theodore Payne Foundation
Plant Sale
For more information go to their website
Or call 818-768-1802
10459 Tuxford St. in Sun Valley.

June San Diego County Master Gardeners
"Summer Plant Sale"
Casa del Prado, Balboa Park

June -- San Francisco Botanical Garden
General Sale with emphasis on Perennials
located in the southwest corner of the Gardens, a five minute walk from the Main Gate at Ninth Avenue at Lincoln Way.

June -- Markham Regional Arboretum
The plant sales are held at the Garden Center located at 1202 La Vista Avenue in Concord.
June -- Lompoc Valley Flower Festival Flower Show
Ryon Park, Lompoc, CA

July -- Aril Society International
Aril iris bulb and plant sale; open to members only.
Each June, a price list is mailed out to all the ASI members. New members can join the ASI at the same time they place their order (see membership info for details). Sale chair: Betsy Higgins,
608 S. Buena Vista Dr., Hendersonville, NC 28792

July -- Huntington Botanical Garden
Cactus & Succulent Show and Sale
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, CA 91108
(626) 405-2100
Free with museum admission.

July -- San Francisco Botanical Garden
General Sale with emphasis on Salvias & Shrubs
located in the southwest corner of the Gardens, a five minute walk from the Main Gate at Ninth Avenue at Lincoln Way.

July -- Northern California Cactus & Succulent Association
Annual cactus and succulent show and sale
San Francisco County Fair Building
9th and Lincoln Way in Golden Gate Park

July -- Los Angeles Cactus and Succulent Society
Annual Show and Sale
Sepulveda Garden Center
16633 Magnolia Blvd.,
Encino, CA
Contact: Artie Chavez 818-363-3432

August San Francisco Botanical Garden
Summer Gardening Fair
Located in the southwest corner of the Gardens, a five minute walk from the Main Gate at Ninth Avenue at Lincoln Way.

August -- San Francisco Botanical Garden
General Sale (with emphasis on Shade Plants)
Located in the southwest corner of the Gardens, a five minute walk from the Main Gate at Ninth Avenue at Lincoln Way.

August -- Markham Regional Arboretum
The plant sales are held at the Garden Center located at 1202 La Vista Avenue in Concord.

August Los Angeles Arboretum
Inter-City Cactus Show and Sale
Ayres Hall, Gate, Kitchen, Patios
301 N. Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007

August -- Southern California Home & Garden Show
Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, CA

August-September UC Irvine Arboretum
Summer Bulb Sale
North Campus, UCI - building 96
Irvine, CA 92697
Contact: Laura Lyons
Annual sale of dormant bulbs from our winter-growing southern Africa bulb collection, evergreen and summer bulbs in containers, and perennials for planting with bulbs.

September UC Davis Botanical Conservatory
Specialty Plant Sale
Driving east on Interstate 80 from the San Francisco Bay Area or driving west on I-80 from Sacramento, take the UC Davis exit onto Old Davis Road to the campus.
In conjunction with the International Carnivorous Plant Society, Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society and Bay Area Carnivorous Plant Society. A huge selection of cacti, succulents, Sarracenia, and house/greenhouse plants at this sale.

September San Diego Fall Home/Garden Show
Del Mar Fairgrounds
Contact: Westward Expos, 2120 Jimmy Durante Blvd. #106, Del Mar, CA 92014
858-350-3738 phone
858-350-3740 fax

September -- UC Berkeley Botanical Garden
Annual Fall Sale
Features a large selection of perennials, including extensive selections from the gardens Mediterranean, South American, and Australasian collections. Numerous cacti and succulents from the gardens collections will also be on sale, as will orchids, tropicals, California natives, grasses, vines, trees, and shrubs.
The sale for the general public will be preceded by a members-only sale and silent auction from 9 to 10 a.m. Memberships are available at the gate. For a list of plants available at the fall sale, see

September -- San Francisco Botanical Garden
General Sale (with emphasis on Native Plants & Succulents)
located in the southwest corner of the Gardens, a five minute walk from the Main Gate at Ninth Avenue at Lincoln Way.

September -- Diablo College
Fall Sale
321 Golf Club Road
Pleasant Hill, California 94523
Phone: 925-685-1230 ext. 1958
Diablo Valley College Horticulture Club offers new and unusual plants for the garden. Other plant Sales are 4 times a year with thousands of unusual plants for sale.

September -- Markham Regional Arboretum
The plant sales are held at the Garden Center located at 1202 La Vista Avenue in Concord.

September Quail Botanical Gardens
"Worlds Greatest Bamboo Sale"
Presented by the American Bamboo Society - Southern California Chapter
Quail Botanical Gardens
230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas
Admission: Members: Free to Bamboo Society & Quail Gardens Members.
Non-Members: $8 for adults, $5 for Seniors, Students and Active Military, and $3 for children 3-12. Under 3 is free.
For more information call: (951) 359-1706
Over 100 species grown by collectors and local growers with a special auction of rare bamboo. Most items not yet commercially available.

September Los Angeles Arboretum
Fern & Exotic Plant Show and Sale
Ayres Hall & Gate & Kitchen
301 N. Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007

September -- UC Berkeley Botanic Garden
Fall Plant Sale
200 Centennial Drive #5045
Berkeley, CA 94720-5045
UC Berkeley also has several special/themed plant sales (e.g., drought-tolerant plants, bulbs) several times a year.

September -- Mendocino Coast Botanic Garden
Fall Plant Sale
In the "Gardens Nursery"
18220 North Highway One
Fort Bragg, CA 95437
(707) 964-4352
All plants 20% off for nonmembers and 30% for members

September-October -- Annies Annuals
"Fall Planting Party"
740 Market Ave., Richmond, CA

September-October -- Fullerton Arboretum
"Fall Vine Sale"
Free admission
1900 Associated Rd. Fullerton CA 92831

October -- Chico Total Home and Garden Show
Silver Dollar Fairgrounds, Chico, CA

October -- Quail Botanic Garden
"Annual Fall Plant Sale"
230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas CA
Fee: Members Free; Non-members: Free with Garden Admission
A very wide range of plants, at extremely reasonable prices because all plants are donated. Over 100 growers, wholesalers, retail nurseries, and individuals donate to this event.

October -- Theodore Payne Foundation
"Fall Festival"
For more information go to their website
Or call 818-768-1802
10459 Tuxford St. in Sun Valley.

October Huntington Botanical Garden
Fall Plant Sale
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, CA 91108
(626) 405-2100
Free with museum admission.

October UC Davis Arboretum
"Plant Faire"
At the Arboretum Orchard Park Nursery.
I-80 to Hwy 113 North to Arboretum
A great selection of the Arboretum plants.

October San Francisco Botanical Garden
Trees, Ferns & Rhododendrons Sale
Located in the southwest corner of the Gardens, a five minute walk from the Main Gate at Ninth Avenue at Lincoln Way.

October -- Ruth Bancroft Gardens
Fall Plant Sale
1552 Bancroft Road
Walnut Creek, CA 94598
A wide assortment of succulents and other drought tolerant plants for sale as well as gardening books, t-shirts, note cards, gardening gifts, and more. Guided and self-guided tours will be offered throughout the day. Reservations are not required for this event.

October Los Angeles Arboretum
Winter Cactus Show & Sale
Ayres Hall & Gate, Kitchen
301 N. Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007

October -- UC Santa Cruz Arboretum
Arboretum Fall Plant Sale, Held in the Eucalyptus Grove
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
(831) 427-2998 phone (831) 427-1524 fax

October-November -- Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
Fall Plant Sale
1212 Mission Canyon Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Phone: 805-682-4726 fax: 805-563-0352

November -- Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Fall Plant Sale
1500 N. College Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711
or website:

November San Francisco Botanical Garden
End-of-the-Season Sale
Located in the southwest corner of the Gardens, a five minute walk from the Main Gate at Ninth Avenue at Lincoln Way.

November -- Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden
Fall plant sale
1500 N. College Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711
For further information, call (909) 625-8767
or check our website:
Featuring thousands of native California plants

December -- Markham Regional Arboretum
"Half-price Sale"
The plant sales are held at the Garden Center located at 1202 La Vista Avenue in Concord.



clipped on: 05.22.2011 at 06:19 pm    last updated on: 05.22.2011 at 06:19 pm

RE: 09/10 late fall/winter/spring order experiences (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: thisisme on 12.09.2009 at 02:08 am in Fruit & Orchards Forum

Hi sk290 we are in the same zone but mine is much dryer and with fewer chill hours and hotter summers and less rain.

I have found that listed chill hours can be drastically different from nursery to nursery. This is true even when they both use the same cultivars and rootstock. Both cannot be true so its best to find a source you trust and stick to it. For me that source for better or worse is Dave Wilson Nursery in SoCal. They do a lot of collaborations with UCD Cooperative Extension and with others throughout the state and even in some other states like Nev. I'm not saying they are perfect but I trust their numbers more than others.

I purchased two Asian Pear trees three years ago from Edible Landscaping. They were large trees and I expected to see fruit. Here it is three years later and not one piece of fruit from either tree. Oh they both have continued to grow and flower every year and they look beautiful. However they flower at different times each year and never pollinate each other.
That is why I purchased the "SHINSEIKI" this year. The SHINSEIKI is self-fruitful and does not need another tree to pollinate it. With any luck it will bloom this year and pollinate one or both of the two Asian Pears I already have. I plan on giving them two more years and if they don't give me any fruit I am going to chop them down. After all I now have a SHINSEIKI and I will have fruit with or without them.

Here's Dave Wilsons description.

Juicy, sweet, refreshing, crisp like an apple. Easy to grow. Keeps well. Harvest late July/early August in Central Calif. Bright yellow skin. Vigorous, heavy bearing (usually by 2nd year). 350-450 hours. Self-fruitful.

Here's a link to Dave Wilsons Nursery. They have tons and tons of information.

Here are two video's on home orchards grown in right in your back yard that are very and I stress very informative. I highly recommend everyone who lives in a dry hot or desert climate watch these. They cover information important for back yard orchard growers everywhere but especially for us because it is all done in SoCal.

The Home Orchard Part 1

The Home Orchard Part 2


clipped on: 12.28.2009 at 12:55 pm    last updated on: 12.28.2009 at 12:56 pm

RE: Preserving liqueur? (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: skeip on 12.16.2009 at 01:43 pm in Harvest Forum

I have been making fresh fruit Liqueurs for years with absolutely no problems, and outstanding results. So long as you are using the vodka / brandy at full strength right out of the bottles to steep the fruit there is no problem. You don't even need to store it in the fridge to steep, in fact, that tends to slow down the extraction process. I do it right on the counter. Give the jar a good shake every day or so. Strain our your fruit, sweeten to taste and bottle as you wish, I use wine bottles and corks, but absolutely no heat processing is necessary. Storing the finished product in the fridge tends to mute the flavors, and they are brighter at room temperature. Just as canning has requirements about acidity, etc, so does cordial making. The trick with using fresh fruit is to keep the proof up to retard any spoilage during extraction.

Here are a few recipes you might like to try:


8 Cups (4 bags) Raw Cranberries
6 cups Sugar
1 Litre Amber Rum
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

Place the Cranberries in batches in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the berries are coarsely chopped. Transfer the berries to a glass gallon jug with tight fitting lid.

Add the Sugar, Rum and Vanilla and stir until mixed. The sugar may not completely dissolve at this time. Tightly cap and store in a cool dark place.

For the next 6 weeks, gently shake the jar every day to mix the contents.

When matured, strain the cordial through a double layer of cheese cloth into decorative bottles. Seal with corks and let age. The liqueur will be mellower after a month of age, and is excellent even after one year.


2 Cups Fresh Blackberries, picked over and rinsed
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Vodka
1 Cup Brandy
1 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1 Tablespoon Fresh Lemon Juice

Place Berries in a clean 1 gallon jar and add Sugar. Crush the berries with a wooden spoon and let stand for one hour. Add Vodka and Brandy, cap tightly and shake. Add Corn Syrup and Lemon Juice. Let stand in a cool dark place for 2 weeks.

Use a fine mesh strainer to strain our solids and discard them. Rack or filter into final containers. Cover and age one month more before serving.


1 1/2 Pounds Fresh Raspberries, picked over and washed
1 Cup Sugar
3 Cups White Zinfandel
1 1/2 Cups Vodka
2 Cups Water

Crush the Raspberries and Sugar together in a bowl, let stand for one hour. Transfer to a clean glass gallon jar and add the Wine, Vodka, and Water. Cover tightly and shake gently. Let stand in a cool dark place for 3 days, shaking daily.

Use a fine mesh strainer to strain out solids and discard. Rack or filter into bottles, seal with corks and age at least one more month before serving.


2 Cups 100-proof Vodka
Zest of Five Lemons
2 Cups Water
1 Cups Sugar

Combine Vodka and Lemon Zest in a 1-quart covered glass Jar, let stand at room temperature for 3 days.

Make a simple syrup by heating the Water and Sugar over medium heat, stir until Sugar dissolves.

Stir the syrup into the jar containing the Vodka. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, discard the Lemon Zest. Pour into clean jars, cap tightly and store in the freezer. Serve well chilled in small glasses.

Have fun and enjoy the final product.



clipped on: 12.18.2009 at 11:24 am    last updated on: 12.18.2009 at 11:24 am

What'cha doin' with your GREEN tomatoes?

posted by: dgkritch on 10.08.2009 at 05:22 pm in Harvest Forum

Let's start a thread just for GREEN tomato recipes.
Seems like we need it every year about this time....

I'm hoping to try this one this weekend so it's NOT T&T...yet.
I've included the website where I found it.


3 eggs
1 C. oil
2 C. sugar
2 C. Green Tomato Puree (small amount of water if needed, can be frozen for use later)
1 T Vanilla
3 C. Flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 C. chopped walnuts (optional)
1 C. raisins (optional)
Mix eggs, oil, and sugar. Add green tomato puree and vanilla. Sift dry ingredients together and add to other ingredients. Add nuts and /or raisins if desired. Grease and Flour two 9x5 loaf pans. Divide batter evenly and pour into pans. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes.

Mini choc. chips= a sweet dessert cake
Pecans= very nutty flavored
Raisins = chewy, great if you like raisins
Lime zest = wow, my favorite! I used 1/2 tsp. for a small loaf.


clipped on: 10.10.2009 at 12:16 pm    last updated on: 10.10.2009 at 12:16 pm

RE: Habanero Gold recipe question about pectin (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: usmc0352 on 08.23.2008 at 09:07 pm in Harvest Forum

Here are the two different recipes. The first one is the one I used.

Habanero Gold Jelly Recipe #132932
Love the hot and sweet of this jelly. Like most hot pepper jellies, it is wonderful spread over a block of cream cheese. I also sometimes melt it down and use as a final baste on grilled back bacon, pork chops or chicken. Prep time does not include sitting time for apricots and vinegar.
by Jan in Lanark
45 min : 30 min prep
3 250 ml jars
1/3 cup finely sliced dried apricot
3/4 cup white vinegar or cider vinegar
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup finely diced red pepper
1/4 cup finely diced habanero pepper, with seeds or finely diced jalapeno, and scotch bonnet peppers combined
3 cups white sugar
1 (3 ounce) envelope bernardin liquid pectin
1. Cut apricots into 1/8 inch slices and measure into large stainless steel saucepan with the vinegar; let stand for four hours.
2. Cut onions and peppers into 1/8 inch slices; cut slices into a 1/4 inch dice.
3. Add to apricots and stir in sugar.
4. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil.
5. Stirring constantly, boil hard for one minute.
6. Remove from heat and immediately stir in liquid pectin, mixing well.
7. Stir for about 3 minutes to mix solids, but put into jars before it gets too firm.
8. Pour into hot sterilized jars, dividing solids equally and fill to within 1/4 inch from top of jar.
9. Apply snap lids and process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes if you choose.
10. Once sealed you can rotate or invert jars while still warm to distribute solids if needed.

Big Batch Habanero Gold (Carol calls it Hot N Sweet Confetti Jelly)
1 cup minced dried apricots (1/8" dice)
Note: Could use dried peaches or pears instead.
1 1/4 total cups minced red sweet pepper and minced red onion (1/8" dice), approximately half-and-half.
1/4 cup Habanero peppers
Note: For extra-hot, increase Habaneros to 1/2 cup and reduce red sweet pepper/red onion combination to 1 cup total.
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
6 cups sugar
1 3-oz. pouch liquid pectin (I used Ball, which I've decided I like better than Certo.)
Prep apricots, peppers and onion. Place in a large, stainless or other non-reactive pot. Add sugar and vinegar. Bring to the boil and cook 5 minutes. Pull off the burner; allow to cool, cover and let sit overnight.
Stir occasionally if convenient.
Note: 4-6 hours would be plenty, so the time doesn't need to be any greater than the soaking time for apricots in the original recipe.
Next day, bring the mixture back to the boil. Stir in liquid pectin. Boil hard 1 minute. Pull off the heat. If necessary, skim foam. (I did need to skim a bit.) Let cool 2 minutes, stirring to distribute solids. Pour into jars. Stir to distribute and remove air bubbles. Do the usual with the jars and lids, BWB 10 minutes.
When jars are sealed, "agitate" to distribute solids throughout the jelly.
Yield: 6 8-oz. jars.


clipped on: 07.20.2009 at 02:12 pm    last updated on: 08.25.2009 at 01:53 pm

Sun Dried Tomatoes

posted by: brokenbar on 08.20.2008 at 09:54 pm in Harvest Forum

I raise tomatoes for sun drying. I do about 1000 to 2000 lbs a year which I sell to the upscale restaurants in Cody Wyoming & Billings Montana. I wanted to pass on my favorites for you considering doing some drying. Any tomato can be used for drying but some varieties are better than others.

I grow 15 mainstay varieties that I have kept as I culled others that did not meet my criteria.
I also try at least 5 new varieties of paste types each year and am lucky if one makes it into my herd. I am looking for specific things:

Meaty with a low moisture content
Few seeds
A rich and tangy flavor
Size-Small tomatoes are just more work for me.
Not fussy-Take heat and cold and wind. No primadonnas!
Bloom well and set lots and lots of fruit
Dry to a nice pliable consistency

These are my Top Five
Chinese Giant
Carol Chyko
Cuoro D Toro
San Marzano Redorta

I wanted to add that were I to be stranded on a desert Island with only one tomato it would be Russo Sicilian Togeta. This is my gallstarh that sets fruit first, ripens the earliest, bears heavy crops in any weather and is producing right up until hard frost. It is not a true paste but rather a stuffing tomato. None-the-less, the flavor of these dried is as good as it gets. It is also wonderful for just eating or slicing and the fruit is extra large.

For those wanting to know my Secret Recipe for drying, here you go:

Wash, stem and slice each tomato into 1/4" thick slices. Place in a very large bowl or clean bucket and cover with cheap red wine. I use Merlot but if you prefer something else, knock yourself out. I have a friend that swears by cheap Chianti! Soak tomato slices 24 hours in the wine. Drain well. Lay tomatoes just touching on dehydrator shelves or on screen in your sun-drying apparatus. Sprinkle each slice with a mixture containing equal parts of dried basil-oregano-parsley and then sprinkle each slice with Kosher Salt. You may choose to forego the salt if you wish but tomatoes will take longer to dry. Dry tomatoes until they are firm and leatherlike with no moisture pockets, but NOT brittle. (If you get them too dry, soak them in lemon juice for a few minutes.) To store, place in vacuum bags or ziplock bags and freeze.

IMPORTANT!!! If you will be storing sun-dried tomatoes in Olive oil you !!!MUST!!! dip each slice in vinegar before adding to oil.

To pack in oil:
Dip each tomato into a small dish of white wine vinegar. Shake off theexcess vinegar and pack them in olive oil adding 1/4 cup red wine. For tomatoes in oil I am selling, I put the tomatoes into the oil two weeks ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. Make sure they are completely immersed in the oil. When the jar is full, cap it tightly. I use my vacuum sealer to seal the canning lids on. Store at *cool* room temperature for at least a month before using. They may be stored in the refrigerator, but the oil will solidify at
refrigerator temperatures (it quickly reliquifies at room temperature however). As tomatoes are removed from the jar, add more olive oil as necessary to keep the remaining tomatoes covered. I have stored oil-packed tomatoes in m root cellar for over a year. . I have tried a number of methods to pack the tomatoes in oil, but the vinegar treatment is the difference between a good dried tomato and a great one. It is also important from a food safety standpoint, as it acidifies the oil and discourages growth of bacteria and mold. Soaking in the wine also acidifies them.

****** WARNING ********

Do *NOT* add fresh garlic cloves or fresh herbs of any kind to oil-packed dried tomatoes, UNLESS you store them in the refrigerator and plan on using them within 7 days. Garlic is a low-acid food which, when placed in oil, creates a low-acid anaerobic environment just
perfect growth medium for botulinum bacteria if the mixture is not refrigerated. Be safe and add your garlic to the dried tomatoes as part of the recipe for them *after* they come out of the oil.


clipped on: 08.24.2009 at 03:41 pm    last updated on: 08.24.2009 at 03:42 pm

RE: Annie's Salsa (Follow-Up #9)

posted by: malna on 07.26.2009 at 08:36 pm in Harvest Forum

Don't know if this will help, but these are my notes from the last couple of years as far as changes, discussions, etc. but please don't ask WHICH thread they were on or if there was a subsequent comment that I didn't see or make a note of :-)

After the carat (>) is a comment I found somewhere here.

Annie's Salsa Ingredient Checklist:

8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained

2-1/2 cups onion, chopped

1-1/2 cups green pepper, chopped
3 - 5 jalapenos, chopped
>Any combination of green, red, whatever color peppers is fine. 3-5 jalapenos equates to roughly 1/4 cup, so total peppers cannot exceed 1-3/4 cups.

6 cloves garlic, minced
>Do not increase. But small differences in size of cloves should not matter.

2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons pepper

1/8 cup canning salt
>For taste only. Can be reduced or left out entirely.

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
>Can be reduced or left out entirely. Do not increase.

1/3 cup sugar
>For taste only. Can be reduced or left out entirely.

1 cup 5% cider vinegar
>Pressure canning is no longer recommended, which specified 1/3 cup vinegar. Must include full 1 cup of vinegar for BWB processing. However, may substitute bottled lemon or lime juice in any proportions according to taste (for example, 1/3 cup vinegar, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1/3 cup lime juice). Can use any flavor vinegar (white, cider, etc.) as long as acidity is at least 5%.

2 cups (16 oz.) tomato sauce
>For texture only. Can be reduced or left out entirely.

2 cups (16 oz.)tomato paste
>For texture only. Can be reduced or left out entirely.

Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Pour into hot pint jars, seal and process in a hot water canning bath for 15 minutes. Makes about 6 pints.
>Cannot BWB quarts. If doing half-pints or smaller, process for the pint time of 15 minutes.


clipped on: 08.24.2009 at 02:11 pm    last updated on: 08.24.2009 at 02:12 pm

Bring Out Your Soups and Stews!

posted by: zabby17 on 09.22.2008 at 10:16 am in Harvest Forum

Fall is in the air---and on the calendar. It's the equinox, which means two things: my first wedding anniversary, and time to bring out the soup and stew recipes!

Inspired by jude's request for the recipes I used to fill my new-mom sister's freezer, I am starting a thread that asks for your fave soup & stew recipes. They don't have to be canning ones; any good recipe (they surely all use a harvest of some kind, so we're on topic!). It would help if you mentioned if they freeze well, if you know.

I LOVE to make a big batch of something hearty and tasty, filling the house with yummy smells, then freeze it in portions so as to be able to grab one for a supper some night I don't feel like cooking.

Here are the two jude asked for to start it off:


4 Tbsp butter or safflower oil
2 cups chopped leeks
4 Tbsp flour
4 cups water or stock
3 cups cubed raw potatoes
1 tsp salt
ground pepper
3 cups milk
1 cup corn
1/2 cup diced red pepper

Saute the leeks till soft. Sprinkle with flour. Cook a minute or two, then add water/stock, potatoes, salt, pepper.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer (covered) for 15 minutes. Puree or mash (I use a blender; you can use a potato masher for a chunkier soup). Return to the pot. Add corn & peppers and cook 5 minutes more.

Add milk. Heat gently for a few minutes (DON'T return to boil).

**Freezes well. You can freeze it before adding the milk and it takes less room. A dollop of cream and a few chives added at serving time makes it ultra-special.

**I made it with just-dug new potatoes from the Halifax Farmers' Market, with thin, curling-off-themselves peels, so I didn't even peel them; the result is a great flavour but a somewhat beige soup; for fancy company I would peel and have a more attractive pale colour.

**This is a slight adaptation of from _Mrs. Restino's Country Kitchen_ by Susan Restino (Bolinas, CA: Shelter Publications, 1996), a lovely Nova Scotia cookbook. She gives a recipe for a basic Potato bisque (uses everything above but the corn & peppers, and calls for one cup of onion where I used two cups of leek). It can then be adapted into corn chowder, fish chowder, asparagus bisque, etc.


This is a fave of my husband's. I made it for him the first time he came to visit me, when we were living 1500 miles apart and were only a few months into a long-distance courtship. His plane arrived just before dinnertime and I served him this with freshly made rosemary foccaccia bread. After a few bites, he looked at me with his big, brown eyes and said, "I can't tell you how strong the temptation is to propose to you right this moment."

He didn't (it was only the second time we'd met in person!)---but he moved up to Toronto to be with me within the year. We always call it "Proposal Stew." Last year when we finally got organized enough to plan a wedding, I told him I wouldn't need to make the stew for him any more once I had a ring. He threatened to call off the marriage. ;-)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 lbs beef stewing cubes
6 slices bacon, chopped [I find 2 or 3 is enough]
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups water
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 each sweet red and green pepper, chopped [I use all red]
1 Tbsp wine vinegar
[I often use the last dregs of a bottle of wine from a dinner party a few days before]
1 tsp hot pepper sauce (or to taste)

-- In large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over high heat; brown beef in batches & transfer to plate.
-- Add bacon to pan; cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until crisp. Drain off fat. Add onions and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until softened.
-- Sprinkle with flour; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add stock & water; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Return beef and any juices to pan; add tomato paste, thyme, salt and pepper.
-- Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.
-- Add sweet potatoes and red and green peppers; cook, covered, for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. [Freezes well at this point; reheat to continue.]
-- Stir in vinegar and hot pepper sauce.

Makes about 16 cups (8 to 10 servings). About 300 calories and 10 g of fat per serving.

** from _Canadian Living_ Magazine


clipped on: 07.23.2009 at 01:34 pm    last updated on: 07.23.2009 at 01:34 pm

RE: Your Greatest Hit Recipes for Leesa (Follow-Up #26)

posted by: Karen_B on 11.02.2005 at 04:29 pm in Harvest Forum

I know Apple chutney has already been listed but I've received such rave reviews on this recipe I'd like to offer another choice:

Apple Chutney
2 quarts chopped, cored, pared tart apples (about 10 medium)
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped sweet red bell peppers (about 2 medium)
2 hot red peppers, seeded and chopped
1 pounds seedless raisins
4 cups brown sugar
3 tablespoons mustard seed
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons canning salt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 quart white vinegar (5%)
Yield: About 6 pint jars

Procedure: Combine all ingredients; simmer until thick, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. As mixture thickens stir frequently to prevent sticking.

Pour boiling hot chutney into hot jars, leaving inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed. Wipe rims of jars with a dampened clean paper towel; adjust two-piece metal canning lids. Process in a Boiling Water Canner 10 minutes for pints or 1/2 pints.


clipped on: 07.23.2009 at 12:51 pm    last updated on: 07.23.2009 at 12:51 pm

RE: Your Greatest Hit Recipes for Leesa (Follow-Up #7)

posted by: annie1992 on 07.28.2005 at 11:38 pm in Harvest Forum

OK, here are my favorites. The salsa is my own recipe, the soup is Katie C's and the Habanero Gold is wonderful, but I don't know where in the world I got the recipe.


8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped and drained
2 cups chopped onion
1 cups chopped green pepper
3 5 chopped jalapenos
6 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp pepper
1/8 cup canning salt
cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vinegar
16 oz. tomato sauce
16 oz tomato paste
Mix all ingredients, bring to a boil, boil 10 minutes. Pour into hot jars, process at 10 lbs of pressure for 30 minutes for pints.

Makes 6 pints

Roasted Tomato Garlic Soup
Recipe By :Katie
12 tomatoes -- *see Note
2 carrots -- cut in 1" pieces
1 large onion -- quartered
2 whole heads garlic -- peeled (or more, to taste)
olive oil
2 cups chicken broth -- (or 3)

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil -- (or 1 Tbsp. dried)
Core tomatoes and cut in half. Place, cut side up, on foil covered cookie sheet with carrots, onion and garlic. Brush with olive oil. Bake at 400F for about an hour, or until vegies are roasted and a little blackened. Place in a large saucepan with the chicken broth and basil and simmer for about 10 minutes. Blend with a stick blender (or in small batches in a blender) until almost smooth. To can: Process in a pressure canner, pints for 60 min. and quarts for 70 min.For dial gauge canners use 11 pounds pressure at 0-2000 ft., 12 lbs. at 2001-4000 ft., 13 lbs. at 4001-6000 ft. and 14 lbs. above 6000 ft. For weighted gauge canners use 10 lbs. pressure at 0-1000 ft., and 15 lbs. over 1000 ft. *Note: These measurements are approximate...I use whatever it takes to cover the cookie sheet. This makes 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of soup. Cream may be added to taste when the soup is served.

Habanero Gold Jelly

1/3 cup finely sliced dried apricots
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 up finely diced red onion
1/4 cup finely diced sweet red pepper
1/4 cup finely diced habanero peppers, including seeds
OR 1/4 cup diced, combined jalapeno and Scotch Bonnet peppers
3 cups granulated sugar
1 pouch Certo liquid pectin

Cut apricots into 1/8 inch slices. Measure into a large deep stainless steel saucepan with vinegar; let stand 4 hours. Individually, cut onion and seeded peppers into 1/8 inch slices; cut slices into 1/4 inch dice. Measure each ingredient; add to apricots. Stir in sugar.
Over high heat, bring to a full roiling boil. Stirring constantly, boil hard 1 minute. Remove from heat. Immediately stir in pectin, mixing well.
Pour jelly into hot jar, dividing solids equally among jars and filling each jar to within 1/4 inch of top rim. Wipe rims. Apply lids.

Process 10 minutes in BWB. Cool upright, until lids pop down, about 30 minutes. When lids are concave but the jelly is still hot, carefully grasp jar without disturbing lid and invert, twist, or rotate each jar to distribute solids throughout jelly. The jar can be inverted temporarily but do not allow it to stand upside-down for prolonged periods.

Repeat as necessary during the cooling/setting time, until solids remain suspended in the jelly.



clipped on: 07.22.2009 at 06:52 pm    last updated on: 07.22.2009 at 06:52 pm

RE: Your Greatest Hit Recipes for Leesa (Follow-Up #5)

posted by: booberry85 on 07.28.2005 at 07:53 pm in Harvest Forum

Someone had started a post of favorite recipes a day or two ago. I posted these there too but they're worth repeating. These are two of my favorites I got off of the Harvest forum. Grape jam (Ball Blue Book) is a favorite too. The roasted red pepper spread recipe is Linda Lou's too.

Linda Lou's Apple Pie Jam
4 cups tart apples, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
4 cups sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 box pectin
1/2 teaspoon butter
Add water to chopped apples to measure 4 cups. Place apples and water into large, heavy saucepan. Stir in lemon juice, cinnamon and allspice. Measure sugars. Stir pectin into fruit. Add butter. Bring mixture to full rolling boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Quickly stir in both sugars. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon. Ladle quickly into hot, clean jars, leaving 1/4" headspace. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands on finger tight. Process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Roasted Red Pepper Spread
6 lb. large red sweet peppers
1 lb. Roma tomatoes
2 large garlic cloves
1 small white onion
2 Tbsp. minced basil
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
Roast peppers under broiler or on a grill at 425 degrees until skin wrinkles and chars in spots. Turn over and roast other side. Remove from heat.Place in a paper bag, secure opening, cool 15 minutes. Roast tomatoes, onion, and garlic under broiler or grill 10 - 15 minutes. Place tomatoes in a paper bag. Peel onion and garlic. Finely mince onion and garlic.
Measure 1/4 cup and set aside. Peel and seed tomatoes and peppers. Puree in food processor or blender. Combine in a large pan.Bring to a boil over med.high heat, stir to prevent sticking. Reduce heat, simmer until spread thickens. Ladle hot spread into hot jars, leave 1/4 inch headspace. Process in water bath canner for 10 minutes.


clipped on: 07.22.2009 at 06:51 pm    last updated on: 07.22.2009 at 06:51 pm

RE: Apricot jam (Follow-Up #6)

posted by: digdirt on 07.22.2009 at 03:04 pm in Harvest Forum

Sure, as I already mentioned above there are several recipes here for Apricot Pineapple Jam that a search will pull up for you with a bit of digging (can't recall for sure which threads they are in).

Here's the one we use:

Apricot Pineapple Jam

3 cups apricots, pitted and chopped
1 20 ounce can crushed pineapple in juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 package pectin (any powdered brand)
1/2 teaspoon butter
8 cups sugar (can be reduced slightly)

Measure apricots into 6-8 qt. saucepot. Add pineapple and lemon juice. Stir pectin into fruit mixture. Bring mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Add butter. Stir in sugar quickly and bring back to a rolling boil and boil exactly 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, skim foam, ladle into prepared jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads, cover with two piece lids, and process for 10 mins. in BWB. Makes about 9 cups of jam.



clipped on: 07.22.2009 at 05:33 pm    last updated on: 07.22.2009 at 05:33 pm

RE: cranberry salsa (Follow-Up #15)

posted by: annie1992 on 01.28.2008 at 01:17 pm in Harvest Forum

sorry, jt. I'vwe been gone for a few days. Dad had surgery on Tuesday, then an arterial bypass in his "good" leg (the only one he has left since they amputated the other one 3 years ago!). Friday night he had a heart attack, at least he was already in the hospital. It's been exciting, so I've been kind of tied up.

Anyway, the boss loves the cranberry salsa, so I just made her a batch of it for her birthday. I did put extra hot peppers in it because she likes it HOT. I like it better than cranberry sauce just because it's not quite as sweet. I seldom make regular cranberry sauce, I make cranberry jezebel, thanks to LindaC at the Cooking Forum. It's a less sweet cranberry relish with horseradish, I love it.

Here are those recipes for anyone who wants them:

Spicy Cranberry Salsa

6 cups chopped red onion
4 finely chopped large serrano peppers
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar 5% acidity
1 T. canning salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 T. clover honey
12 cups ( approx. 2 3/4 lbs.) rinsed whole fresh cranberries

Wash and rinse six pint canning jars, keep hot until ready to use. Prepare lids according to manufacturers directions.
Combine all ingredients except cranberries in a large Dutch oven or saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat slightly and boil gently for 5 minutes. Add cranberries, reduce heat, slightly and simmer for 20 minutes.Stir occasionally to prevent scorching. Pour into jars, leave 1/4 inch headspace. Leave saucepot over low heat while filling jars. Remove air bubbles, adjust headspace if needed. Seal with lids, process in water bath canner for 10 minutes. Remove jars from canner and allow to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours and check for seals.

This is a pretty nice chutney:

Pear Apple'n Cranberry Chutney

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Makes 6 half-pints

2 Cinnamon Sticks , broken in half
1 teaspoon Whole Allspice
1/2 teaspoon Whole Cloves
1/2 teaspoon Whole Black Pepper
2 pounds pears, peeled, cored, and finely chopped, (about 5 cups)
1 1/2 pounds green apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped, (about 4 cups)
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 package (6 ounces) dried cranberries or one 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped, (1 cup)
1/3 cup Crystallized Ginger, finely chopped
1. Tie cinnamon, allspice, cloves and pepper in a cheesecloth bag.
2. Combine all ingredients in 6-quart saucepot; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cook until thickened, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. As mixture starts to thicken, stir more frequently. Remove spice bag; discard.
3. Ladle into hot half-pint-size canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Run thin, non-metallic utensil down inside of jars to remove air bubbles. Wipe rim of jars clean with damp cloth.
4. Cover jars with metal lids and screw on bands. Process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

And finally, the Jezebel, which I've done with artificial sweetener for Dad and it isn't as "firm" but it is sugarfree.

Cranberry Jezebel

12 oz bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1 c. water
3/4 c. white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
3 Tablespoons horseradish
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

Wash and pick over the berries. Put water and sugars in saucepan (large enough to prevent boil over) and bring to a boil, add berries and return to a boil, cook on medium for 15 to 20 minutes from the time it returns to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cool to lukewarm then stir in horseradish and Dijon mustard. Refrigerate for a few hours at least and enjoy!

Cindy's Notes: Reduce the amount of white sugar and substitute some fresh-squeezed orange juice for some, or all of the water. I also like to add a couple tablespoons of Cointreau. Sometimes I'll stir in a little orange zest along with the horseradish and Dijon.



clipped on: 07.18.2009 at 10:32 am    last updated on: 07.18.2009 at 10:32 am

Liqueur making questions

posted by: lpinkmountain on 11.11.2007 at 11:20 am in Harvest Forum

I'm going to try my hand at making some liqueurs, recipes from a book I have called "The Herbal Pantry" by Emile Tolley. The recipe calls for vodka and white wine, although she says brandy can be substituted. Seems like the brandy I'm familiar with would be so strong tasting it would add an additional flavor that I'm not sure will be good or bad, so I'm wondering if I should just stick with the vodka that the written recipe has in it? Also what type of wine would be best? I'm thinking a dry white, or should I go with a sweet wine or med. wine?

Also, I don't know what to age it in. I don't have any big crocks and can't afford to buy them. I am thinking about aging it in quart canning jars, then storing them down in a cupboard in the basement. I'm just wondering about the lids, will they be OK? They are coated with enamel.

Then, when the stuff is finished, what should I put it in? I'm assuming I don't have to BWB. The recipe just says to seal tightly. I have some old rounded salad dressing bottles with long necks that I've saved and I'm wondering about using them?

I'm going to make the apricot thyme and ginger pear recipes.


clipped on: 07.16.2009 at 03:39 pm    last updated on: 07.16.2009 at 03:40 pm

RE: zone 9b-ers: When are you starting veggie seeds indoors? (Follow-Up #1)

posted by: gardenguru1950 on 07.06.2009 at 03:57 pm in California Gardening Forum

For Zone 14 Veggie Gardeners:



Broad bean (fava)
Chinese Cabbage
Daikon radish
Endive, Chicory
French (green) bean
Onion ("sets")
Potato ("seed potatoes")


Soup/leaf celery

TO SOW DIRECT IN FALL (October-November)


Bok Choy
Broad bean (fava)
Chinese broccoli
Chinese Cabbage
Chinese mustard
Corn salad
Daikon radish
Endive, Chicory
Fennel ("bulb" type)
Garland chrysanthemum
Lambs Quarters
Lettuce, head
Lettuce, loose-leaf
Onion ("sets")
Pak Choy
Potatoes ("seed potatoes")
Snow peas
Sugar peas


Soup/leaf celery
Cilantro, coriander
Garlic (cloves)



Brussels Sprouts



clipped on: 07.14.2009 at 03:16 pm    last updated on: 07.14.2009 at 03:16 pm

RE: Peach recipes (Follow-Up #8)

posted by: susandonb on 07.13.2007 at 09:26 am in Harvest Forum


Something I have done with peaches for years is a recipe I made up myself. Well, you really can't call it a recipe, it is just an "idea".

Brandied Peaches
I peel the peaches, they shouldnt be too ripe need to still be firm but not green or sour.

I then cut them into quarters, I think they look and work best like this. Pack into jars firmly but dont squish too much. I then make a simple syrup, which I make as 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. I usually start with 10 c water to 5 cups sugar. Heat to a boil and sugar is melted, taste syrup if you want it sweeter add more sugar by the cup full, heating and melting then taste again.

Then I add 2 cups amber color brandy. Bring syrup back to boil and boil for a couple minutes to illiminate alcohol.

Pour syrup over peaches in jar and seal. Process for 10 minutes in BWB.

I serve these over ice cream. I have never had a problem with shelf life, usually having them a good 9-12 months.

I have also added cinnamon stick to the syrup while cooking and it adds a nice flavor.

Susan in NC


clipped on: 07.07.2009 at 01:27 pm    last updated on: 07.07.2009 at 01:27 pm

RE: Your Greatest Hit Recipes for Leesa (Follow-Up #14)

posted by: Flowerkitty on 08.01.2005 at 01:12 am in Harvest Forum

I am very pleased with this jam I just made. The trick is to boil down the fruit before adding the sugar. Because these jams don't last as long after they are opened, I made my second batch in 4 ounce jelly jars, which works out great for us. Those tiny jars fell right through the wires of my canner rack, so I used my graniteware pasta pot to can them. The pasta pot has an inner pot with holes in it, which drain the pasta as you lift out the pot. The inner pot functioned as my canner rack. I add the fruit fresh just to get more acidity. Just a great tasting jam

No Pectin Strawberry Jam

4 cups strawberries hulled and cut about 1/4 inch pieces
- this takes about 2 quarts whole berries
between 2 and 2-1/2 cups cane sugar according to tartness of berries
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Fruit Fresh (vitamin C and citric acid powder) or 2 tablespoons more lemon juice
4 half-pint canning jars

Put strawberries only into graniteware or stainless steel pot Mash a bit with a masher or flat bottom glass to bring out juices. Cover. Cook on medium low just until simmering stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to maintain gentle simmer. After about 5 minutes a lot of water will come out of the berries. Uncover pot and simmer 15-20 minutes stirring often until reduced, thicker, not watery. Add sugar, lemon juice,fruit fresh. Mix well and bring to simmer over medium low heat. Do not leave pot alone or cook higher than low, or medium low heat. If the sugars overheat they can burn on the bottom of the pan, and ruin the jam. You can't ruin it on a low simmer if you watch. Cook another 15-20 minutes, stirring often until mixture is reduced like a thin jam. You can test it by putting a teaspoon on a saucer and putting in the freezer for a minute or two. If the tester is jam-like it is ready. It doesnt have to be super thick. Total cooking time should be 25-30 minutes not counting times to bring up to a simmer. Don't try to boil it super thick
Fill half pint jars to 1/4 inch of top. Make sure water is 1-1/2 to 2 inches above tops of the jars. Put in canner covered with 1 to 2 inches boiling water. Bring to boil, cover, and process 10 minutes. Turn off heat. Remove canner lid. Let jars sit in water 5 minutes. Remove jars to a towel to cool. Let sit 12 to 24 hours before testing the seal. Should store for one year. Refrigerate after opening. Should be good for a week or two, or maybe more, after opening.


clipped on: 07.03.2009 at 07:15 pm    last updated on: 07.03.2009 at 07:15 pm

RE: Your Greatest Hit Recipes for Leesa (Follow-Up #3)

posted by: SuzyQ2 on 07.28.2005 at 01:58 pm in Harvest Forum

Here are two of my favorites that I haven't seen posted recently.

Shoot, I did not print out the name of the original poster of this recipe. It's not canning, but it is pretty wonderful...

Sour Cream Walnuts

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups walnuts

Cook and stir sugars and sour cream to soft ball stage (240 degress F on candy thermometer). Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Add walnuts stirring gently til coated. Spread on pan to cool [no stick wax paper helps later removal]

This next recipe came from KatieC & Annie....

Plum Sauce

4lbs plums
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 tbls mustard seed
2 tbls chopped green chili peppers (I used jalapeno)
1 1/4x1 piece of fresh ginger (I used 1/2 tsp ground ginger)
1 tbls salt
1 clove mined garlic
1 cup cider vinegar

Pit & chop plums [don't peel], Combine remiaining ingredients in a large pot, bring to boil, reduce heat. Add plums, cook until thick and syrupy, about 1 1/2 hrs. Ladle hot sauce into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Adjust caps and process 20 minutes in a BWB.

Yeild: about 4 pints.

I adore this on egg rolls and chicken fingers (I don't even like chicken). I also like a bit of it mixed w/ balsamic vinager and over a salad.


clipped on: 07.03.2009 at 07:14 pm    last updated on: 07.03.2009 at 07:14 pm

Your Greatest Hit Recipes for Leesa

posted by: zabby17 on 07.27.2005 at 06:27 pm in Harvest Forum

OK, Leesa is new here and she is sad that she'd missed out on so many great-sounding recipes because the search engine on GW is not exactly up to par. So I thought I'd share my best ones (there are only a few, I haven't been at this long) that people have often asked for, in a new thread for her, and maybe anyone else, if you have a minute, you could post one or two, even if you already posted it this season, for Leesa and anyone else new?

Here is one for summer fruit jam (peach, apricot, yellow plum --- we're just coming up to these being ripe around here!), and one for a cranberry-apple relish I like for the holidays.



Summer Fruit Jam
[from Foodland Ontario]

Yield: 8 cups

3 c Peaches, peeled & chopped
3 c Apricots, chopped
2 c yellow plums, sliced
2 Tb lemon juice
6 c Sugar

In a Dutch oven, combine 2 c each of the peaches & apricots with the
remaining ingredients excepting the margarine. Mash enough to break
the fruit. Stir in the remaining peaches & apricots.

Bring to a slow boil, stirring. Boil, continuing to stir frequently,
for 20 minutes or until setting point is reached.

Ladle into sterile 250mL (half-pint) canning jars leaving 1/2" headspace. Wipe
rim & seal. Process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath. Remove,
cool, label & store.

Cranapple Relish
(from _Canadian Living_ magazine)

For each pint of relish:

2 apples
1 1/2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup golden raisins
4 tsp cider vinegar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
dash hot pepper sauce

Peel, core, and chop apples. Chop cranberries coarsely. In heavy saucepan,
stir together apples, cranberries, 3/4 cup water, sugar, onion, raisins, vinegar, cinnamon,
salt, and hot pepper sauce. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer,
stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until thickened and no liquid remains. Ladle into hot sterilized jars and seal. (Or simply refrigerate for up to 3 days.)

* I never bother to chop the cranberries.
* I assumed processing was 20 minutes, like for applesauce.


clipped on: 07.03.2009 at 07:13 pm    last updated on: 07.03.2009 at 07:13 pm

RE: Apple tree loss (Follow-Up #12)

posted by: h.teder on 07.31.2008 at 08:46 pm in Fruit & Orchards Forum

Electric fence on fruit trees.
Both squirrels and raccoons are a problem for me. Squirrels stripped my 2 plum trees of fruit in days, most apples disappeared, raccoons broke a young apple tree by climbing it. For the last 5-6 years, the electric fence has kept the varmints out. I set up the fence when my plums are showing some color, keep it going until apples have been picked. One year I disconnected it while grandkids were visiting and forgot for 2-3 days, and every plum disappeared.
I use a fence charger that Fleet Farm used to sell (about $ 18), meant to keep dogs and cats out . They may still have it, or any other low-priced unit will do. The idea is to keep the varmints from climbing up the trunk of the tree.
I wrap the trunk of every tree with wire mesh (hardware cloth), from ground up to about 2 ft. high, this will be the ground terminal. Connect a wire from from the cloth to a large nail stuck in the ground. Run a wire from the ground terminal of the charger to the nail. You only need this charger wire on one tree, the others will connect through the ground.
The charger hot terminal connects to a spiral of galvanized wire (16 or 18 gauge) around the trunk, with turns about 6 inches apart and spaced about 3 inches above the wire mesh with insulators. The idea is to have the hot wire high enough above the mesh so the squirrel cannot just jump over it, but low enough so it cannot climb under it.

The spirals need to be insulated from the ground mesh. I made the insulators by cutting wide pieces of 3" plastic pipe, then cutting the circles in half. A hole drilled at each end of the half-circle, one hole for the wire, other for the nail that attaches it to the tree. I suspect there are better ways to make the insulators.

An insulated wire connects from the hot spiral to the hot (red) terminal of the fence charger. I run this wire to the nearest tree, then from there to the next tree, keeping wire about 2 feet above the ground. If it touches the ground, it will short out quickly, unless the insulation is very heavy duty, like 1000 volt rating. The charger voltage is quite high (several hundred volts) , but limited to very low current for safety. This means that a human would get a unpleasant shock, but not enough to injure (or be unable to let go). I did find a red squirrel dead under the hot wire once, apparently it was not safe for him.
My fence charger sits outside, under a 5 gallon bucket (with a heavy rock on top). I check every few days to make sure the setup is still working, bought a cheap tester (about $ $ 2-3).


clipped on: 07.02.2009 at 11:20 pm    last updated on: 07.02.2009 at 11:20 pm

How to Grow the Tomato and 115 Ways to Prepare it for the Table

posted by: gumby_ct on 08.10.2007 at 11:20 pm in Growing Tomatoes Forum

It seems that GW has deleted a previous post of the same topic.
'tis the season to be using the many tomatoes and the web site is still active... so here it is again.

is a link to

How to Grow the Tomato and 115 Ways to Prepare it for the Table

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Grow the Tomato and 115 Ways to Prepare it for the Table


clipped on: 08.11.2007 at 11:47 am    last updated on: 08.11.2007 at 11:47 am