Now that the weather’s warming up, we know you want to get out in the garden!
Step One: Know your Hardiness Zone
When is the best time to plant your garden? It really depends on where you live and what you want to plant. In the map below, you can see that the US has been divided up into hardiness zones by the USDA.These are determined by the average minimum winter temperature of that region, then divided into 10 degree F increments.
DIY ways to use a Garden Hose
Don’t throw away those old beat up garden hoses!!!
Get creative and make something out of it.
Spring time is coming! Do you need something new to hang on your front door? What about a garden hose wreath?
What do you need to make this adorable wreath!?
- 1 garden hose (Garden Hose @ RuralKing.com)
- Fake Flowers
- Extra Large Twist Ties
Start by wrapping the hose is the look that you desire and securing the hose with the extra large twist tie. From there you will need to separate and possibly trim the fake flowers. After they are too your desired length place them in the extra large twist tie as well. Wrap your ribbon up around all of the item and tie it into the bow of your choice. And you have a pretty new door decoration!
Do you have to carry have buckets and the handle cuts into your hand? Not anymore! Use your garden hose as a grip!
All you have to do is cut down your hose to the length of your bucket handle and slip the hose onto the handle. And no more hand cramps!
Do you have kiddies? Are you a handy man!? If so you probably have some sharp tools that you don’t want those kids getting hurt on. So use your hose to cover your sharp tools.
What you need:
- A nice new saw from Rural King (Buy Me!)
- Your garden hose
- A Knife
Measure your hose to the length of your tool and cut that away from the rest of the hose. Then make a slit in a side of the hose. Then you just have to slide the hose over your blade! No more worrying about those sharp tools and the children!
SPRING IS ALMOST HERE…..ARE YOU READY!?
If your garden has produced more vegetables than you can eat or know what to do with, you may want to consider freezing the excess harvest in order to enjoy your hard work later on in the year. Most garden veggies can be frozen and will keep well if stored properly in airtight containers. When freezing veggies always start with the highest quality of your yield to ensure best results and you will also need to blanch most veggies using boiling water or steam before loading up your freezer.
Preparing the Veggies
- Select young, freshly picked veggies. Garden veggies that have already been sitting out for several days will lose some of their freshness, and freezing may cause them to lose additional flavor. To ensure that the vegetables stay fresh for as long as possible, choose vegetables that are just barely ripe or slightly unripe. Steer clear of overripe veggies which may go bad even when frozen.
- Avoid veggies with blemishes, bruises, and soft spots. If you do use damaged garden veggies, remove these damaged spots before beginning the process.
- Wash your vegetables. Even if the garden they came from is organic and free of potentially harmful pesticides, they will still be covered in dirt and bacteria. If necessary, use a potato brush to gently scrub away any stuck-on grime.
- Cut up your veggies. Remove any non-edible parts and chop the veggies into your preferred size for eventual serving.
- Fill a large pot with at least 1 to 2 gallons of water. A blancher pot, which holds 6 to 8 quarts of water and contains a perforated basket for holding food works best, but any large pot that comes with a lid will also work.
- Boil the water over high heat. The water should reach a full boil before you add your veggies.
- Place 1 lb of your prepared veggies into a metal steaming basket. A wire-mesh strainer or cheesecloth may also work.
- Lower the veggies into the water. Make sure they are completely immersed.
- Cover your pot with a lid. Boil the veggies for as long as necessary according to expert boiling times. These do vary. For instance, cut corn takes 5 minutes while asparagus takes only 4.
- Remove the veggies from the pot and immediately transfer to large container of ice water. By shocking the veggies with ice water, you halt the cooking process and preserve the color of the veggies. Keep the veggies in the cold water for the same amount of time as you boiled them. Water must be at least below 60 degrees Fahrenheit and use approximately 1 pint of water for each pound of veggies.
- Drain veggies completely.
- Boil 1 to 2 inches of water in large pot. You need a pot that has a lid and fits an interior rack. The rack must be positioned 3 inches or more above the bottom of the pot.
- Place a single layer of prepared veggies in a steaming basket or cheesecloth bag. Do not pile the veggies so the steam can be evenly distributed. Asparagus, broccoli, and chili peppers do the best using this method.
- Set basket onto rack. Cover the pot and continue heating for as long as necessary for each veggie.
- Remove veggies from the pot. Shock veggies by transferring to ice bath. Allow ice bath for as long as steam.
- Drain veggies completely using strainer or large pasta drainer.
Packing and storing
- Lay blanched, drained veggies flat on shallow tray. Veggies should be arranged loosely in a single layer and should not overlap.
- Place the tray in the freezer. Wait until the veggies are firm before removing tray.
- Fill freezer bags or freezer containers with frozen veggies. You must leave an appropriate amount of empty space to allow food a chance to expand as it freezes.
- Label each bag/container with a felt tip marker. Write down the contents of the package and the date food was frozen.
- Place the sealed, labeled packages into your freezer. For best results, only pack 2 to 3 pounds of veggies for each cubic foot. If the veggies are packed any tighter than that, they may take too long to freeze.
- Keep the temp of your freezer set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The majority of garden veggies will retain their freshness, taste, and nutritional value for a year or longer if kept at this temperature.
- Start with easy-to-freeze veggies if you are new to the process. These include green beans, carrots, peas, peppers, squash, and sweet corn.
- If freezing your garden veggies goes well, consider freezing fruits as well. Most fruits freeze well, especially those in the berry family.
- Make sure to look up the exact recommendations for each garden veggie before blanching and packing. Each veggie has its own specifications concerning selection, preparation, blanching method, blanching time, and packing method. Under-blanching may stimulate the enzymes inside the veggies, causing them to decay. Over-blanching may cause your fresh garden veggies to lose nutritional value and flavor.
- Avoid freezing garden veggies that are almost always eaten raw, like celery, lettuce, and cucumbers. These veggies do not survive the blanching and freezing process well. However, veggies that can either be eaten raw or cooked, like carrots, do very well in the freezing process.
Things You Will Need
- Knife (Buffalo Tools Butcher’s Knife Set MPKS10; SKU 10555224)
- Blancher (Columbian Home Products, 7.5 qt Canning Blancher 6140-4; SKU 9420869)
- Steaming basket (Norpro, Stainless Steel Vegetable Steamer 175; SKU 6201227)
- Cheesecloth bag (Norpro, 36” Cheesecloth 357; SKU 6201780)
- Freezer bags (Ziploc, 1gal Freezer bags 00389; SKU 6660761)
- Freezer containers (Ball 8oz Plastic Freezer Jars; SKU 1281200)
- Shallow trays (Wilton Recipe Right Cookie Sheet; SKU 17480257)
- Felt tip marker (Sharpie Black Single 35010-SH; SKU 4215590)
It’s time to get out there and start planting your gardens and flower beds. Here at Rural King we have a lot of gardening options. One thing I love is the watering globes. It can be tough to know how often and how much to water your plants or flowers, but with the watering globes things have gotten a lot easier. What you do is fill the globe with water and place it in the ground. When the soil dries out it releases oxygen in the globe which then pushes the water into the ground. The plants will never get over watered or have too little water with this handy device.
Another item we have that is especially handy is the Step2 Garden Kneeler Seat. After spending an hour bent over the garden trying to get everything planted, your back starts to ache and you can no longer ignore the pain. Well, why not avoid all the hassle and just use the Garden Kneeler Seat? This will give you the perfect height to get down there and do what needs to be done without having to continuously strain yourself. It makes gardening easier and more enjoyable, the way it’s supposed to be!