Sunday, January 14, 2018

Just two ingredients to make-your-own Probiotic Sauerkraut #GardenCuizine #guthealth #probiotics

Probiotic Sauerkraut

The joy in preparing for my probiotic foods cooking class was introducing myself and the participants to homemade and store-bought fermented foods with live-cultures. Being new to fermentation myself, I ordered a few educational, how-to-ferment, cook books by James Beard Award-winning and NY Times bestselling author Sandor Ellix Katz. He is considered "The Johnny Appleseed of Fermentation" by Michael Pollan. Katz says in his book, Wild Fermentation, that for him, it all started with sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut is a good place to start for making food with probiotics. Our first batch of sauerkraut is fermenting now. We used the dry-salt method and did not add any water. When enjoying probiotic kraut in meals it is important to remember to eat it at room temperature or not to heat it too high or the beneficial live probiotic microorganisms will die.

Clean your Jars or Crock
To start your adventure in fermented food preparation, first decide what containers you would use. We washed out a few Mason canning jars that we had in our basement. We use them in jelly making and preserving our Jersey tomatoes - now they have yet another purpose - sauerkraut! 

You can readily find Mason jars at grocery markets and stores like Walmart and Target. Our next batch of kraut is going in our crock pot, for an even larger batch!

Trouble Shooting
If Brine Does Not Cover Top of Cabbage
As you can see from my photo above, our brine is not covering the top layer of cabbage. I'm thinking that the green cabbage that we used may not have had as much water in it's cell walls like homegrown, fresher cabbage probably would have. If that happens to your kraut too, an option would be to make a small amount of brine (non-iodized sea salt and water) and add it to the jars.

Only Two (2) Ingredients
Ferment time: 9 days* to ? - taste and you decide!

  1. 1 head Green Cabbage  (note the weight)
  2. non-iodized course sea salt- 1 Tablespoon per 2 lbs. (2% salt)
Method
  • Rinse cabbage; discard any dirty, bruised leaves and core and shred the cabbage like you would for cole slaw. 
  • Add cabbage to large bowl and sprinkle top with salt. Squeeze and massage salt into shredded cabbage until you start to notice sweating and moistening of the cabbage. This indicates that cell walls are breaking and water within the veggie can seep out. 
  • Stuff the cabbage loosely into clean jars. Then firmly tamp down using tongs or a wooden spoon. Cover and let nature do the rest!
  • Check your kraut daily and open the lid to allow any natural gas to escape. Tamp down each time to press down the top cabbage pieces into the brine.
  • For best results temperature should be between 68°F and 75°F
Congratulations! You've just completed Sauerkraut Fermentation 101. In your next batch try using other types of veggies. In his book, Sandor Katz suggests radishes, turnips, carrots, beets, garlic, greens, peppers and other veggies. Other options include: caraway seeds, turmeric, ginger or whatever else you can imagine.

People use many different methods to weigh down the top layer of cabbage to keep it under the brine. We didn't do anything. When we try a larger batch in a crock, I may use a stainelss steel pot lid to press down the top.

There are several strains of desirable lactic acid bacteria that will develop and preserve your sauerkraut by lowering the pH. This type of bacteria are anaerobic so it won't matter if you want to cover your kraut with an airtight lid. Just remember to allow the natural gas that forms to escape daily.

We used a huge 4 lb. head of store-bought cabbage. Sliced it and added 2 T of salt. After massaging in the salt I took a taste. It tasted too salty. After one week I took another taste and it was so much better; still crunchy, but had the familiar flavor of sauerkraut. Success!

* fermentation for at least 9 days may yield a more diverse group of microorganisms

References and Related Links

Katz S., Wild Fermentation, Chelsea Green Publishing 2016

Plengvidhya V, Breidt F., Lu Z. et al, Applied Environmental Microbiology. DNA Fingerprinting of Lactic Acid Bacteria; 2007 Dec; 73(23): 7697–7702. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2168044/


Recommendations for Safe Production of Fermented Vegetables
 
Blog post and photo Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Prebiotics and Probiotics #GardenCuizine #probiotics #guthealth

Prebiotics and Probiotics

In recent years there has been a surge of interest in Gut Health and Gut Microbiota. As a Clinical Outpatient Registered Dietitian I provide nutrition counseling for patients battling or wanting to prevent diseases that include: Obesity, Insulin Resistance, Diabetes, Dyslipidemia, Crohn's disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS). Scientific research is ongoing and showing promise for all ages across the lifespan - infants, children and adults - including Individuals with these diseases (and other conditions) for health benefits from Pre- and Probiotics.


In October 2013, an expert panel was formed by the International Scientific Association for Prebiotics and Probiotics (ISAPP) to further discuss and study the emerging science of how they benefit human health.

Recently, I taught a Cooking Class at Inspira Health Network on this very topic. I had more people sign up than I expected! Most participants had heard of probiotics; more so than prebiotics. Below is a brief RD chat on the subject. Recipes will follow.

Prebiotics
Prebiotics are non-digestible dietary fibers that feed Probiotics. Prebiotics are usually found in plant foods; but, did you know that there are a number of prebiotics in human milk too? Yet, another reason making breastfeeding superior nourishment for babies. Prebiotics enhance calcium absorption and help in the relief of constipation and diarrhea. 

Prebiotic foods include: whole grains, onions, bananas, garlic, honey, leeks, asparagus, cabbage, soybeans, dandelion greens, artichokes, chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, bran and of course Prebiotic fortified foods and Prebiotic dietary supplements.

Probiotics
Probiotics are microorganisms that when ingested have a positive benefit on our health; especially digestive health and immune system. Foods and beverages that offer probiotics must contain live cultures as found in Macrobiotic, Vegan products, such as: miso, tempeh, soy sauce and fermented soybeans called natto. 

Other, more common probiotic foods include: fermented vegetables, such as: sauerkraut, pickles; aged cheeses, yogurt (with live active cultures), kefir and kombucha tea. Other functional foods include products such as Siggi's Filmjölk, a Swedish drinkable yogurt, and Special K Nourish cereal with added probiotics.
  • It is important to note that some yogurts and most store sold sauerkraut and pickles are heat treated at high temperature, which kills probiotic cultures. 
  • Fermented dairy products are often better tolerated by individuals who are lactose intolerant because the good bacteria metabolizes the lactose into lactic acid. The result is a creamy buttermilk-like flavor. 
  • Yeast-risen breads, Coffee, some teas and Chocolate have fermentation involved in their production. However, they are not considered probiotic foods since the cultures are not living when consumed.
Read Labels
Carefully reading product labels helps in selecting foods containing beneficial pre- and probiotics. Look for the freshness date and the name of the microorganisms. Look for the National Yogurt Associations "Live and Active Culture" seal on yogurts with probiotics. 

Probiotics work by colonizing and crowding out the bad potential pathogens, replacing the bad bacteria with good bacteria; breaking down toxins in the gut. Probiotics play an important role in digesting proteins. They produce anti-microbial substances along with needed B vitamins and Vitamin K.

Low Sodium Diet Helpful
Gut microbiota is sensitive to a high sodium diet. To improve immune dysfunction, hypertension and autoimmune diseases a low sodium diet may be helpful to gut lactobacilli. Limiting added salt at the table and cooking more at home is the best way to control dietary sodium. Sodium is high in most prepared foods eaten out in restaurants. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends keeping dietary sodium under 2,300 mg per day.

Check with your Doctor if you have unwanted symptoms or medical conditions. Blog post and photo Copyright (C) Diana Wind. All rights reserved.

References:

  1. Younis K, Ahmad S, Jahan K (2015) Health Benefits and Application of Prebiotics in Foods. J Food Process Technology 6:433. doi: 10.4172/2157-7110.1000433
  2. Mozaffarian, D., Hao, T., Rimm, E. B., Willett, W. C. & Hu, F. B. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. N. Engl. J. Med. 364, 2392–2404 (2011). 
  3. Gibson GR. Dietary Modulation of the Human Gut Microflora Using the Prebiotics Oligofructose and Inulin. Am Socity Nutr Sci. 1999;129:1438S-1441S.
  4. American Nutrition Assoc. Nutrition Digest. Vol 38 No.2 Assessed 1/13/17 http://americannutritionassociation.org/newsletter/science-probiotics
Related Links
Consumer Reports Top 5 Probiotics of 2017
Live and Active Cultures Yogurt Facts
The Microbiology of Chocolate 
What dose is recommended? Is more better? 
Do Probiotics Work?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Farm-to-Table Cranberry Farming video #GardenCuizine #cranberrybogs #cranberries @pinesadventures @pinesalliance

New Jersey
Farm-to-Table
Cranberry Farming
Video

As you know from my previous blog post, we recently explored a NJ cranberry bog with Pinelands Adventures. Harry and I toured just a small portion of Quoexin Cranberry Company's 1,000 acre farm. You may enjoy this video by SavetheSource.org, which features the fourth-generation cranberry farm owner, Tom Gerber, talking about his background and historic family farm. 


Farmer Gerber is dedicated to growing cranberries and educating people about the importance of agriculture and water preservation in the NJ Pinelands.
Blog post Copyright (C) Wind. All rights reserved. Video by SavetheSource.org.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Hand picked our first Jersey Cranberries! #gardenchat @PinesAdventures #GardenCuizine @JerseyFreshNJDA @USCranberries

Vaccinium macrocarpon
Harvesting
Jersey Cranberries!
High in Vitamin C and dietary Fiber
New Jersey ranks in the top 5 in the nation of Cranberry producers. Wisconsin and home of Ocean Spray in Massachusetts are also top producers. October always features tours for Cranberry Farms during harvest season. We finally got a chance to attend one yesterday! We drove to New Jersey's Pinelands where cranberries (and blueberries) grow and thrive.
Dry Harvesting at Quoexin Cranberry Co. in NJ 10/28/17
The sandy soil, pH and water in New Jersey's Pinelands is perfect for growing cranberries. Here is my recap of our fantastic tour hosted by Pinelands Adventures to one of the oldest independent cranberry growers in NJ: Quoexin Cranberry Company located in Medford, NJ - owned by Tom and Christine Gerber. 

As supporting members of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance we received a discount on the cost to attend, which was an added bonus.  

Quoexin Cranberry Farm features 50 beautiful acres of pinelands and cranberry bogs. "The cranberries color up late September," according to our tour guide Rob Ferber, Director of Pineland Adventures
Both cranberries and blueberries have a long history of cultivation in the Jersey Pines. Quoexin farm operated their first bogs as far back as 1835-1840.

I always thought cranberries grew in water. This trip taught me that cranberries actually grow on short vines in soil. Flooded bogs with red berries floating on the top are examples of wet harvesting. The wet harvesting method is used for the bulk of Jersey cranberry harvesting. The bogs are flooded with water and cranberries float to the top to be scooped.

Farmers who sell cranberries as fresh fruit use a dry vs. wet method of cranberry harvesting. Bogs are not flooded with water. Instead, they are raked out of the cranberry vines with special equipment that look like lawn mowers.
Quoexin Farm uses self-propelled Western Dry Picker equipment that has a burlap bag in the back to catches the cranberries as they get pulled off the weedy vines. 
Quoexin Farm owner Tom Gerber looking over a fresh Cranberry Harvest
As the bags are collected they are dumped into large holding bins before going to the packing house for sorting.
We were able to get up close to the cranberry bog edge. Once up close, we could see the red berries all over the low growing vines. This was the first time I ever picked cranberries! The raw cranberry's tasted good and not as tart as I expected.
 
Cultivars of cranberries include:
  • Howe (discovered 1843 in East Dennis, MA)
  • Champion
  • Early Blacks (discovered 1852 in Harwich, MA)
  • Jerseys
  • Wisconsin Gray Leski #1
  • Stephens - (discovered 1940 in Whitesbog, NJ)
  • Ben Lear
The Jersey Pinelands sits atop the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer, a water source with 17 trillion vital gallons of water.
After the tour, for dinner we used some of the fresh cranberries in a dish called Ruby Chicken. We will make it again! It combines cranberries with flavors of orange, cinnamon and ginger.

This trip reminded us not to wait until Thanksgiving to enjoy fresh cranberries. We plan to keep enjoying them in recipes and will look for Top Crop brand, which is the label to support this local NJ farmer.

We really enjoyed visiting Quoexin Cranberry Farms beautiful property. Thanks to Tom Gerber and family and Rob and to all involved. We look forward to more outdoor adventures and learning more about our states precious resources, environment, history and where our foods come from.

I planted a few sprigs of fresh cranberry vines in one of our raised beds. It isn't very sandy and is certainly not a bog. But, we'll see... today is raining and maybe some will take root and we can have the thrill of picking a handful of our own cranberries in the New Year!

Nutrition Data Cranberries
Excellent Source: Vitamin C, dietary Fiber
1 cup chopped (110 grams) = 51 calories, 15 mg (24% DV) Vitamin C; dietary Fiber 5.1g (20% DV); Vitamin E 1.3mg (7% DV) and other nutrients. 
Cranberries also contain proanthocyanidins that can enhance gut microbiota. Cranberries have bioactive catabolites that have been found to contribute to mechanisms affecting bacterial adhesion, coaggregation, and biofilm formation that may underlie potential clinical benefits on gastrointestinal and urinary tract infections, as well as on systemic anti-inflammatory actions mediated via the gut microbiome.*
http://advances.nutrition.org/content/7/4/759S.full 
 
Related Links
SavetheSource.org

7 Things You Didn't Know About Cranberries 
Health Benefits of Cranberries
The Cranberry Story 
Blog post and photos Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Camembert Cranberry Puffed Pastry Appetizer #GardenCuizine #recipe

Camembert Cranberry Appetizer
This fun-to-prepare appetizer came from a Camembert Snowflake video recipe making the rounds on Facebook. Great timing for us, since I was looking for something special to make as an appetizer for company. Camembert cheese is an artisan cow's milk cheese made in Normandy France. The texture is soft and creamy, similar to Brie cheese. Camembert's mild flavor can be enjoyed fresh or baked. I made a few modifications to the online recipe.

The video recipe pinched two dough twists together to make a snowflake. That would make a large serving size. I thought the twists were perfect individual servings, so I decided not to pinch them together. 

The video recipe left the white rind on the top of the cheese. My Aunt Jane - a gourmet cook - suggested that we trim it off. I'm glad we did. 
Uncle Al, me, Mom, Aunt Jane
The video recipe also called for bacon. I made it with the bacon, but next time will omit the bacon or substitute chopped roasted walnuts. The bacon flavor overpowered the delicate cheese and tarragon.

For the whole cranberry jelly, I made it the same way as at Thanksgiving - from whole cranberries and a hint of orange. We happened to have some frozen cranberries that worked well. A thin layer is all you will need. The extra cranberry jelly can be served during your main course.

In our oven, the puffed pastry cooked to a nice golden brown at 20 minutes, but the bottom layer needed just a little more time: 25 minutes would be perfect. Keep an eye on it in your oven and use your judgement. The cheese gets gooey and melted; the rind will act like a wall and keep it from oozing out.

Allow to cool slightly before serving for best flavor. Serve with a small butter knife to spread the cheese. Our family gave it a thumbs up! We would make it again for company.

Ingredients
Camembert cheese round
2 sheets Puff Pastry dough
whole cranberry jelly

1-2 slices cooked bacon
dried tarragon leaves
olive oil
egg wash


Putting it all together

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare a baking sheet with aluminum foil lightly sprayed with oil.
  • Make a batch of whole berry cranberry jelly. Allow to gel.
  • Allow frozen puff pastry dough to unthaw


  • Use a rolling pin and pin out the first layer of pastry dough to make it a little thinner. Place a glass pie dish upside down on the dough and using a small knife, cut out a circle. 
  • Use a round ring or biscuit cutter that is close to the size of your cheese and cut a smaller circle out of the dough center. Move to a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with second layer of puff pastry.
  • Before placing the second layer of dough on the baking sheet, spread cranberry jelly on the first pastry dough. Place the second piece of dough over the jelly.
  • Cut even strips around the dough ring. Give each one one twist. pinch together the bottom and press with a fork on the end of each piece. 
  • Brush the pastry (not the cheese) with egg wash. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil atop the cheese.
  • Sprinkle everything with dried tarragon leaves.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes.
Enjoy!
Related Links
Camembert Snowflake video recipe  
What's the difference between Camembert and Brie cheese?
Photos and blog post Copyright (C) Wind. All rights reserved. Thanks Aunt Jo and Aunt Jane!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Can you ID this fig? Lattarula Fig? #GardenCuizine Late summer FIG harvest @EatRight_NJ

Lattarula Fig?
Ficus carica Italian Honey 
Can you help me identify this fig variety? Today, I picked a few small bowls of delicious, ripe figs off a healthy shrub in Woodbury, New Jersey. And, noticed so many more still to ripen! As you may remember from previous GardenCuizine postings, we have a few fig trees at our house. But, our little fig trees are not growing like the hearty shrub I saw today. 

Our struggling figs include a Chicago Fig. I'm not sure what variety the other fig tree is. Both fig trees we have are not producing, even after surviving several years in the ground outside with no pampering or winter cover. 

The figs I picked today are from a shrub-like fig tree that is thriving! It is growing in NJ and planted directly in the ground with no special attention. In fact, I was told it has been chopped to the ground from landscapers a few times in years past. It must be around 8 to10 foot high and wide.The leaves are not exactly the same as the fig trees we have.
The greenish figs are soft and a little bit yellow when fully ripe. I'm thinking it may be a Lattarula Fig. What do you think? I've never heard of or seen that variety for sale locally, have you? 

Whatever variety it is, I will try to propagate it from cuttings and let you know how it works. Or, I may try saving seeds like I do tomato seeds and see if they grow.

Happy Gardening!

Blog post and photos Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Pasta Sauce Prep * Preserve your fresh Tomato harvest #GardenCuizine #HealthyCooking #PomodoroSauce

Pasta Sauce Prep
Whole Peeled Tomatoes
We make Pomodoro (tomato) Sauce from scratch most of the time. We do not always have fresh locally grown or homegrown Jersey tomatoes to use though, so we often use canned San Marzanos. At the end of the summer, when our homegrown tomatoes are plentiful, we make homemade sauce in batches as the tomatoes vine ripen. Once picked, if the tomatoes ripen too fast, we move them to the fridge until we are ready to cook them.

This year was a challenging tomato year for us. We got Tomato Blight really bad in our main garden. But, even so, we are surprised and thankful to be harvesting lots of fresh tomatoes.

Yesterday, Harry started preparing our first batch of sauce. We plan to save it for Christmas lasagna dinner. We all enjoy a taste of our garden in December. 

The first step to making homemade pasta sauce is to prepare the tomatoes. Sort through and pick out tomatoes that would make the best sauce. Meaty tomatoes such as San Marzano Plum and Goldman's heirloom make the best pasta sauce, or "gravy" as some Italians call it. We often add and cook down other heirloom tomatoes too; otherwise, we could never eat them fast enough!

Sauce Prep (can be done day or week ahead of cooking)
Gather all the ripe tomatoes you plan on using for your first batch of sauce. You will need one large pot of boiling water and one large pot of water with ice.  
Note: you do NOT have to score the tomatoes with an X on the bottom before blanching! This is very time consuming and not necessary when you are working with a lot of tomatoes.

1) Boil water in a large pot. In batches, blanch the tomatoes for about one minute in the boiling water
3) Remove with a slotted spoon to ice bath. The water just has to be cold; if your ice melts, don't worry about it. Let tomatoes float in the cold water until the skins wrinkle.
4) Remove and core the tomatoes. Harry likes his new Hullster Tomato Corer from Gardener's Supply Co.

5) Peel tomato skins. For sauce, place whole peeled tomatoes in a bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to cook your Pomodoro sauce.

Besides high quality tomato sauce, peeled whole tomatoes can be frozen for later use in soup, stewed tomatoes, chili and other recipes.

Blog post and photos Copyright (C) Wind. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Surround your home with gardens that benefit #pollinators #nativeplants #Clematisvirginiana

Clematis virginiana
Virgin's Bower
 Hardiness Zone: 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b

Over the past few years we've been transforming our yard and gardens to feature more native plants to feed and attract wildlife. This beautiful native plant just appeared in our yard and gardens a few years ago. At first I thought of it as just a non-wanted weed and always pulled it out. Last summer I spotted the plant for sale at Bowman's Hill - a native garden supplier. I thought to myself, "We have that!" Their sign identified it as Clematis virginiana - also called Virgin's Bower or Devil's Darning Needles. 

We decided to let our free native grow. It spread here and there around our yard. Why let it? Because pollinators desperately need more essential food and habitat in neighborhoods. Non-native plants, such as Sweet Autumn Clematis, have replaced many native plants in home gardens. 

Non-native Sweet Autumn Clematis is also called Virgin's Bower. We have that vine too. They are both beautiful, but now I am pulling out some Sweet Autumn and and letting more native clematis grow. They both are vigorous growers. You can tell them apart by the plant's leaves. Sweet Autumn Clematis has round leaves and Clematis virginiana has toothed or jagged edged leaves.

Twining Clematis virginiana has fragrant, white, feathery flowers. The blooms appear late summer into fall: August through October. Pollinating insects like bees and butterflies benefit from the nectar.

Clematis virginiana will climb and cascade over anything including other plants, arbors, trellises, or fences. The vine is delicate and easy to pull up if it grows where you decide you don't want it.

Photo Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Related Links
For more information see: Jersey Friendly Yards 
Why Native Plants Matter

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Simple Solar Eclipse Viewer made from a whole grain cereal box #GardenCuizine @Eatright @KidsEatRight

Make Your Own
Solar Eclipse Viewing Box

For the first time in about 40 years a total Solar Eclipse will be happening tomorrow August 21, 2017. Because of where we are on Earth, the Eclipse will be visible across America. Depending on where you live within the USA, only some will experience a total eclipse and others will see a partial eclipse. In NJ, we will see a partial eclipse as it tracks in a narrow band from Oregon to South Carolina.

After you make your viewing box, to avoid damage to the eyes, NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN. Stand outside with your back to the sun. Hold your homemade Solar Eclipse Viewing Box up to allow the sun to enter a hole that you made in the foil. As the moon passes in front of the sun, the solar eclipse will be projected onto your white paper "screen". 

Nasa posted a link with easy directions on how to make your own Eclipse Viewer simply and quickly out of a cereal box. As we get closer to the eclipse, the directions are showing up online just about everywhere. I just made mine! Click here for the directions.

I'll be working tomorrow and plan to take a short break at show time! I used a Cheerio's cereal box. I have another Cheerio's box for a label reading lesson just prior to the event.

Have fun!
 

Related Links
Eclipse Education
Next Total Eclipse across America 2024
 
Blog post Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Double Trouble in Our Jersey Garden #TomatoBlight #TomatoEndRot #TomatoTrouble

Double Trouble 
in Our Jersey Garden
Tomato Blossom End Rot
and Tomato Blight

Rainy weather was a garden blessing at first. Jersey Peaches were reported to be one of the best harvests in years. But, now our hopes of having a bumper crop of Jersey tomatoes from over 50 heirloom, homegrown plants is gone. We're having one of our worst years ever for tomatoes. Struggling Jersey tomatoes may be a result from all the heavy rains we've had this summer. 


This year Harry has been diligent about weeding beneath our tomatoes leaving uncovered dirt. Some gardeners use black weed covers beneath their plants. I bet that would have helped us. 

When rain falls hard, it splashes dirt and spreads fungal spores up from the soil onto plant leaves. Blight disease can travel fast and kill tomato plants. Frequent rain can cause it to spread like a forest fire... sigh.
Tomato Blight
I noticed a few wilted plants with some yellowing leaves on plants in a few raised beds. I wasn't overly concerned because we have had wilt issues in the past and still had a bountiful harvest.

Looking at our garden now you'll see yellow, spotted, wilted - brown and dying leaves hanging everywhere. Pretty much all our raised beds appear to be affected by this soil-borne fungal disease.

The environmental stress has caused some tomatoes to drop even before ripening. Some fruits appear stunted in growth. Some just didn't have a chance to develop before the plants died.

Tomato Blossom End Rot
And, as if Tomato Blight wasn't enough, we also noticed Tomato Blossom End Rot too. Luckily, End Rot is treatable. The good parts of the tomato are still edible.

Like people, tomatoes need calcium to develop. If the plant is calcium deficient the tomatoes will develop a black spot on the bottom end. Variable soil moisture of either too dry or too wet can trigger end rot. Soil that is too wet limits available oxygen to the plant. 

We have a soil test kit and plan to test our soil pH again and adjust accordingly before next season. According to BonniePlants.com, if you have tomato end rot the soil should be between pH of 6.5 and 6.8 to free up more calcium in the soil. Rutgers Cooperative Extension, on the other hand, recommends pH should be between 5.8 and 6.3. I think ours tested higher (7.0?) in the Spring. Any comments about pH recommendations?

What do you do? 
We know about spacing out the plants for air circulation and about crop rotation. We do try. Harry had them more spaced out this year. Maybe next year we will avoid planting tomatoes all together.

You can Google Tomato Blossom End Rot and Tomato Blight to find plenty of info that is out there on what to do when you have these situations. See below for a few links that I looked at that you may find helpful too.

Gardening always provides good times and bad. Each year we never know what will be great and what will be a bust. That is just how gardening goes. 

.... Linda, if you are out there and listening... you are the MASTER GARDENER! We just go through the motions and have fun along the way.

Garden On!

Related Links
Conquer Blossom End Rot
Blossom End Rot 
Diagnosing and Controlling Fungal Diseases
Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden

Friday, July 28, 2017

@BranRiverMuseum Brandywine Conservancy Native Garden Tour recap #nativegardens #gardenchat


Brandywine Conservancy
Native Garden Tour

This post gives you a brief online tour of Brandywine Conservancy's Native Garden Tour to six diverse gardens. Only we never made it to all six! We made it to half.

The self-guided tours opened Noon to 5 pm, July 23, 2017. We drove our own car and used our GPS to follow a map that was provided to each location. We sure could have used more time as there was so much to see and enjoy.

Our first stop was to LeeAnn and Tim's garden in West Chester, PA. Upon arrival, we were given a map and plant list of their yard. Tall native shrubs, trees and flowering plants, such as: Phlox, Ecineacea and Rudbeckia lined curvy garden paths and beds. 

Along with compost bins and rain barrels, their small urban ecosystem sure beats the typical rectangle backyard with grass to mow. We saw many birds and butterflies.

Along their back fence, Cup-plant (Silphium) was in bloom. Now we know what to expect when ours blooms. The cheery, small, yellow sunflower-like blooms were clustered at the top of the tall plants vs.  single blooms seen in similarly tall Jerusalem Artichoke plants.
Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)
USDA zones 3-8, grows 2-4', shade loving

Other plants that caught my attention included: Zigzag Goldenrod, Sweet Fern, Mountain Mint and Winterberry.
Sweet Fern (Comptonia peregrina)
Full sun to light shade. USDA zones 2 to 6
Leaves have a pleasant fragrance when crushed
Larval host for Grey Hairstreak butterfly

The second home we visited was also located in West Chester. We drove up a hillside and past a meadow of 300 acres of protected land. When we arrived at Nancy and Barney's home, Barney and his 2 friendly dogs walked down their driveway to meet us. 

A Brandywine greeter was sitting under an umbrella at the entrance. She provided us with some plant info and an impressive map that the home owners had created by landscape architects. 

The large property featured many native plantings along pathways and meadows. We parked in front of a courtyard meadow. We walked along a stone path in between native plants to their backyard.

Their beautiful home was built with a metal roof (how often do you see a metal roof?), large stone fireplace and lots of windows to view the scenery. Their stone patio with pergola (shown below) looked like a lovely spot to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
Showy white blooms of Bottlebrush buckeye shrubs lined the woodland edge.
 Bottlebrush buckeye (Aesculus parviflora)
Part shade to full shade. USDA zones 4 to 8
As we walked around the house back to our car, we passed a grove of Redbuds loaded with hanging pods. The pods look like peas because the tree is a member of the pea family.


Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
pink blooms early Spring 
USDA zones 6a-7b, full sun to shade, grows 20-30'

Our next stop was a little bit south to Kennett Square to tour Margot's property certified by SITES (sustainable landscape design). Her 1.69 acre property is the only SITES-certified residential property on the East Coast.
She had lots of sculptures and artistic touches throughout her sustainable landscape that she created as a Landscape Architect. 
I loved the Ironwork by her friend, Eric Zandotti. Some of his work was for sale. We bought a small vase-like metal gazing globe holder for our garden. I think he also made the bottle trees that we saw (shown above).
Green roof Sustainable storm water capture and reuse
chain into fish pond

Needless to say, we ended up taking our time walking around the hillside vegetation checking out her water features, living roof, etc. We ran out of time to go see the other 3 properties! I'm sure they were just as interesting and beautiful.

By 4 o'clock we were ready to go indoors for a break. We made our way back to Brandywine River Museum and ended our great day with a walk through the Andrew Wyeth in Retrospect works.

Hope you enjoyed the tour recap
Happy Gardening!
Related Links
Kennett Square House for SITES

Blog post and photos Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.