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Tuesday, March 10 , 2015

Don’t Plant Your Garden Wrong

Depending on what climate you live in, you might be getting ready to sow some seeds or plant some seedlings! Here's the word on what to put where, based on how much sun you get.

If a section of your garden is bathed in sunlight, consider growing corn, melons, peppers and/or tomatoes. They thrive in the sun.

If a section of your garden doesn’t get much sun, consider growing lettuce, pumpkins and/or spinach, which all thrive in the shade.

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Friday, June 27 , 2014

Beans, Beans Without the Gas...The More You Eat, the Less You Pass

We love beans, but we hate the intestinal gas they create! There are numerous ways to cook dry beans to lessen the gaseous effect they can cause. Some methods work for some people, others work for others. Here's a way that works for us that you might not have heard of...

Soak dry beans overnight in water with one teaspoon of fennel seeds (tied up in a piece of cheesecloth). The next morning, take out the seeds, spill out the water and cook the beans as usual in fresh water. During the cooking process, toss in a few pieces of raw peeled potato. When the beans are done, remove the potato pieces. Remember to add salt when the beans are soft, at the end of the cooking—salting too soon will impede the cooking process, and the beans will take forever to get done.

The only way to know if this method works for you is to test it...when you're dining alone.

Do you have a favorite way to cook dry beans that makes them less gassy? Tell us in the comments section below. We'd love to know!

More ways to ease digestive discomfort...

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Monday, June 02 , 2014

Lettuce-Growing Secrets

Want to grow a tasty, less bitter batch of lettuce? Here's how to do it...

Let your lettuce plants grow in a shady patch of your garden. The Farmers' Almanac suggests planning your garden so that lettuce will be sheltered by taller plants, such as tomatoes or sweet corn...and consider planting rows of chives or garlic between lettuce plants to control aphids. (The chives act as "barrier plants" for the lettuce.)

What, you've already planted your lettuce? Then go find a shady spot and plant some more. Lettuce plants mature quickly, so you can sow a new set of seeds every two to three weeks for a continuous harvest. If you keep the lettuce cool as a cucumber, it will mature without any bitterness...but then again, wouldn't we all?

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Thursday, May 22 , 2014

Give Your Geraniums a Boost

Geraniums are easy-to-grow perennials that bloom beautiful, bright colors. And, according to the National Gardening Association, deer pass them by! But geraniums are picky about one thing…

They love lots of water! But, as with any plant, you have to careful not to overwater—the roots should never sit in standing water.

Here’s a way to keep them happily hydrated without overwatering: After preparing your morning coffee, rinse off the coffee grounds to cool them and remove any residue. Then distribute the grounds in an even layer on top of the soil surrounding the geraniums. The grounds become a marvelous mulch that helps keep in moisture. Note: Be sure to use coffee grounds on full-grown plants only. Geranium seeds have a hard seed coat, and the grounds can inhibit germination.

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Tuesday, April 15 , 2014

How to Use Epsom Salt in the Garden

It's time to clean up your plots and get ready for gardening! It may be a little early to plant, but it's not too soon to start thinking soil enrichment. Here's what to do...

Some gardeners will not sow their crops (or anything) until they've enriched the soil with Epsom salt. It is said to help grow stalks stronger, leaves greener and blossoms more substantial. It also makes plants less vulnerable to disease.

Sprinkle about one cup of Epsom salt over every 100 square feet (or 10-foot-x-10-foot patch) of garden. You can do this while you're preparing your land or just before you plant your seeds or seedlings (after the final frost is the best).

You can also sprinkle one-half cup of Epsom salt around mature plants, such as rose bushes, which will help strengthen the color of the flowers and yield blossoms sooner, due to the magnesium content. For new rose plantings, feed your up-and-coming bushes according to their height—one teaspoon of Epsom salt per foot—worked into the soil around the stem. Expert rose growers suggest doing this during the first and third weeks of May and during the first and third weeks of June.

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Thursday, March 13 , 2014

Keep Plant Seeds for Years

Depending on what part of the country you live in, you may be itching to get planting! Many gardeners like to start seedlings indoors four to six weeks before the final frost. Most seed packets have way more than you need. You can share with a neighbor, or do this...

Whenever you finish a bottle (opaque plastic or dark glass) of vitamins or other supplements, save it, along with that little, moisture-absorbing silica gel packet that came in it. They are good to use when storing seeds.

Put any leftover seeds in your selection of saved bottles along with the silica gel pack. Close it tightly, and keep it refrigerated until next year. Most seeds will stay viable for two to three years. If you want to test before planting, just remember that dud seeds will float in a small bowl of water.

Note: Be sure to label the jar clearly so your seeds don’t become a salad topping.

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