Posts tagged salsa

More Winter Gardening

   Gardeners love to share their plants, knowledge and extra produce. If you were one of the 525 people at the Winter Gardening Fair, feel free to share something you learned in a comment below. With more than 50 sessions, no one could make it to all of them and there were numerous workshops I would have liked to have heard, if I could be in two places at once.

   I’ll share a couple of my favorite points that I learned in each session I attended and would love to hear from you.

   Of course, workshops with edibles are always a bonus and I was in two of those. Linn County Master Gardener Judy Bemer was as entertaining as she was informative in her session on using herbs.

Master Gardener Judy Bemer discusses edible flowers during herbs class.

Master Gardener Judy Bemer discusses edible flowers during herbs class.

   Judy’s herb biscuits were great. She noted that herbs have the most oil content before they bloom, so that is when you should pick them. Different varieties of mints – peppermint, chocolate mint, etc., should be planted at least 8-12 feet apart. Plant them too close together, and after a few years, the flavors will intermingle and, as Judy put it, will be “yuck.”

   Linn County Master Gardeners Sherri and Marty Baldonado spiced up their session with samples of salsa and chili. Sherri noted that peppers grow better in warmer weather. Even they had a miserable pepper crop last year, a nice consolation for me, since mine also did poorly last summer.

 

Sherri and Marty Baldonado demonstrate their salsa-making skills.

Sherri and Marty Baldonado demonstrate their salsa-making skills.

   Tomatoes love sunshine – the more the better. And once picked, they should not be refrigerated. Temperatures below 55 degrees tend to ruin their flavor – which is why homegrown and farmers market tomatoes taste decidedly different than the ones you buy at the grocery store. Marty prefers using canned tomatoes in his salsa, which was delicious. His five ingredients for salsa: peppers, tomatoes (don’t drain the can if using canned ones) garlic, onions and cilantro.

  Master Gardener Ellen Skripsky is also a master composter and an organic gardener. She emphasized growing your vegetables nearby – outside your kitchen door, if possible, in her session on kitchen gardens.

Ellen Skripsky shows foam peanuts and pinecones, two fillers that can be used at the bottom of pots for container gardening.

Ellen Skripsky shows foam peanuts and pinecones, two fillers that can be used at the bottom of pots for container gardening.

   Ellen said that garden soil shouldn’t be used is you’re making a new raised bed, which she called one of the hottest trends in gardening. Her “recipe” for the perfet soil for a 4x4x12 foot raised bed is: 6 cubic feet of peat moss; 4 cubic feet of coarse vermiculite; 3 cubic feet of sand and 3 cubic feet of compost. Mix well. Ellen is an expert on companion gardening. Onions and peas are not friends, so don’t plant the two near each other, she said. Tomatoes love carrots, so those are two that go well together. Peas like radishes and lettuce and green beans do well near onions, which, she noted, also repel rabbits. So plant onions at the end of your garden to keep the bunnies away.

   Master Gardener Bill Oliver amazed me in his session on extending the growing season, by saying that, with the right protection, vegetables can survive an Iowa winter.

Master Gardener Bill Oliver answers questions during his session on extending the growing season.

Master Gardener Bill Oliver answers questions during his session on extending the growing season.

   Spinach, for example, can survive temperatures of just 10 degrees. Root crops, such as beets, turnips and carrots, can be left in the ground and harvested during the winter, as long as 12 inches of loose mulch, such as straw, is kept on top. I’m not sure anything could have survived our record low temps this winter in Iowa, but Bill’s point was that the season can last longer than the last frost until the first frost. As for the spinach, Bill said that plants established in October can be covered with mulch. When the snow melts, pull the mulch back and you’ve got a jump on your growing season.

   The average first frost date for Linn County is October 10, plus or minus two weeks. And the average last frost for Linn County, he said, is April 29, again, plus or minus two weeks. So even though the Winter Gardening Fair inspired me to go out and buy seeds this weekend, we’ve got some time to plan before our actual outdoor planting begins.

Leave a comment »

Winter Gardening – part II

The following is Part II of information on the Winter Gardening Fair 2009 by Linn County Master Gardener, Becki Lynch:

 

One week closer to the Fair!  I want to highlight some of the topics and speakers we are offering this year. 

 

First, we have numerous repeats of seminars about those beautiful perennials and other plants and trees that some could not get into last year – Daylilies, Lawns, Garden Lighting, Hillside Gardening, Pruning Trees and Shrubs, Ornamental Grasses, Using Herbs, Composting, and Prairie Gardens are just a few.

 

Second, we’ve added additional seminars specifically about Vegetable Gardening, a topic people requested last year in our evaluations.  Vegetable Gardening Problems and Solutions, Tomatoes, Peppers, and Salsa, Food Preservation, and The Kitchen Garden are all available.

 

Third, we’ve added a variety of new seminars that range from Bee Keeping, Tree Identification, Rain Gardens, House Plants, Tropical Plants, and Ponds, Gardening with Kids, to Everlastings – to name a few – Whew!

 

And finally, we have hands-on seminars that allow you to learn and participate directly in making garden related items:   The Garden Journal, Plant Propagation, Creating Nosegays, Terra Cotta Fountains, and Toad Houses are all examples.

 

And that’s not all – I urge all of you to go to www.extension.iastate.edu/linn to look at all the offerings available.   Simply click on Winter Gardening Fair on that page to see the full program, and instructions on how to register.

 

Overall, we have a selection of over 45 individual seminars, something for everyone!  The Fair will be held on February 7, 2009, with a back-up date of February 21, just in case of bad weather.  Hope to see you there!

 

Linn County Master Gardener, Becki Lynch.

Comments (1) »

New farmer’s market

  

    The Amana Colonies will have a farmers market for the first time in decades.

   “TGIF: Thank Goodness It’s FRESH” is the theme for the markets, which begin May 23 and run 4-8 p.m. every Friday through Labor Day weekend.

   The market, in midtown Amana, will feature fresh produce, Millstream beer and root beer, free entertainment, educational programming and a weekly “Grill Master.”

   The grill master — a restaurant or meat market — will offer food for sale, “so you can pick up a meal while you’re there,” said Kristie Wetjen, executive director of the Amana Colonies Convention & Visitors Bureau.

   About 20 vendors will sell fruit and vegetables, organic meat and eggs, honey, baked goods, jams, flowers and other products.

   Wetjen said Amana last had a farmers market about 20 years ago.

    Wetjen said the market is not intended to compete with Friday markets in Cedar Rapids and Williamsburg, but to offer “something different.”

   “Especially in a smaller town, there’s not always a lot to do on a Friday night,” she said.

   Topics for the educational sessions will include uses for rhubarb, Iowa wines, beer brewing, gardening, salsa-making and apple recipes.

   A local group of bluegrass musicians will be among the live music scheduled at the market.

 

 

Leave a comment »