Flowers are Pest Control – Nature’s Aphid Repellent

I found the following information to be incredibly useful, and have since used this tactic in my gardens. They talk more about orchard management, but it works for any garden plant prone to aphids – this year I’ve had trouble with hops and brassica already. Bugger!

The article, “Flowers Promote Aphid Suppression in Apple Orchards,” was published in the July 2013 issue of Biological Control, and is available online at http://bit.ly/165spKS. WSU entomologist William Snyder was also a co-author. Continue reading

How to Test Your Soil

Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades is one of my favorite books and I am definitely an obsessive fan of Steve Solomon, the author. In a section titled “What Our Soils Need to Grow Vegetables,” he writes…… “The first idea I want to disabuse you of is that you need to pay for a soil test. such tests are largely useless, as most soil testing does not provide information that a nutrition-minded gardener can really use. Your money would be better spent on buying soil amendments that you’ll certainly need anyway. All of our regional soils are deficient in almost everything except potassium. These deficiencies range from moderate to extreme. It’s best simply to assume that this is so and add to the soil what the vegetables need to grow well. Only if you were farming significant acreage and could, with soil testing, reduce your inputs by the amounts already … Continue reading

Canning How To – Prepping & Sealing Jars

urban pantryCanning 101
EXCERPTED FROM URBAN PANTRY
 BY AMY PENNINGTON (SKIPSTONE 2010)

This is a step-by-step guide to water-bath canning at home. There are a few options to choose from, but all work well. Be sure to set up your jars and workspace beforehand so you can establish a rhythm. Also, be mindful of the processing times given in each recipe.

For recipe inspiration, check out my tested recipes for Boozy Blood Orange Marmalade, Spiced Apple Chutney or Foraging & Preserving Nettles. Or here for tips on preserving fruit in alcohol.

CLEANING JARS
  Wash your jars and lids in hot soapy water and set them to dry completely on a rack or on a clean dish towel.

PREPARING JARS
  Glass jars and lids do not need to be sterilized before Continue reading