Thursday, April 25, 2013

Aphids In The Garden

Signs Of Aphid Infestation - Image: M Burgess
Yesterday I noticed the curling leaves on my newly set garden. 

I turned the leaf over and sure enough we have aphids. 

Aphids are tiny yellow and green creatures that remind me of fleas, mites, or lice. They are creepy and can devastate anything they land on. By eventually draining your plants of nutrients, these little sap suckers need to be removed as soon as possible. They are more common on roses but they do find vegetable plants a good environment for their colonies.

Remove them as soon as you see them by spraying the leaves with soapy water. I wash the leaves off gently removing the egg sacks, larvae, and the adults. Finding them early will help prevent them from getting too well established.

You may spray tobacco juice on them, too, if you want to remain organic. There are pesticides out there that can treat your garden pests but you have to be very careful with it. I personally don't like adding poisons to the healthy foods I grow. That's the whole point of having a garden is it not?
Live Ladybugs - Amazon

One of the best remedies for treating these smaller pests are live ladybugs. they can be ordered online or through your local nursery. They consume these dreaded creatures and will reproduce their young in your garden if the conditions are right.

What else can you use to ORGANICALLY treat garden pests? 

I am just learning this side of gardening. I am working my way to being as organic as possible. Thanks for your help! =)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Preparedness And Preserves - Canning Foods

Gathering is a small part of your emergency preparedness and survival planning. 


Learning how to preserve and process your own foods be it out of your garden or the market are also important strategies to your family's survival plan. 


The more you learn about being self-sufficient the better. Canning is a great way to get that accomplished. Not only are you producing your own food stock, you have the ability to control the ingredients. A simple exercise in jam making can be the doorway to foods that are a bit more complex to preserve. 

Pressure Canners

Recently I purchased a pressure canner / cooker and will eventually put it to use in preparing my own vegetables, fruits, meats, and sauces. There are tons of foods you can store by having this very handy piece of equipment. It can be a lifesaver if you invest in the time and effort put into making your own preserved foods. 

Your foods are healthier because the contents of the foods can be controlled by you. I am planning on putting up stews and chili and preserving things like grapefruit in jars. With the pressure canner the higher acid foods are stabilized and sealed.

Making Strawberry Jam

This past week I took the time out to put up some strawberry jam. I used the canner for my water bath. This is a simple process but it does take up a little bit of time. Jam is probably the easiest way to get started with the canning process. And it is a very tasty lesson! When you are fully educated on making jam you will be able to understand how to move onto more complex food items like pickles.

The simple strawberry jam recipe is 1 package of pectin, 1/2 cup of lemon juice, 5 Quarts of mashed berries, and 7 cups of sugar. Oh, don't forget a pat of butter! The pectin will have a guide in it that will help you along in the processing. To preserve it you will need a dozen jars and a very large kettle for a water bath so that when you pack the jam into the sterilized jars you can submerge them in water and simmer them in the boiling liquid for 10 minutes. This process eliminates bacteria growth and seals the jars. Jam has a shelf life of about a year. See the steps I took in this article: Making Delicious Strawberry Jam 

This video is from my jam project -- It is under 14 minutes and will show you the steps you need to take to preserve your own strawberry jam!

Strawberry Jammin'!

(bear with me it is my first food video!)

My favorite canning project is jam but I am looking forward to trying out my new equipment on other foods like bottle pears in syrup! 

What foods do you like to preserve?