It is often difficult to gauge how much water for container garden plants is necessary. There is a fine line between drought and soggy soil, and either one can be detrimental to plant health. Summer is the most difficult time for container plant watering. Some tips and hints can help the gardener determine when to water container plants. Tools like moisture gauges are helpful for ascertaining how much water for container garden plants is the healthy amount. [Read more...]
Living in an apartment doesn’t have to mean living without plants. Gardening on a small scale can be enjoyable and fulfilling. Experts will enjoy focusing their attention on a few of the more exotic and exciting species, while apartment gardening for beginners may mean getting to know some spectacular, easy-to-grow plants that can help you find your green thumb. Let’s take a look at some ideas for urban gardening in apartments. [Read more...]
Your zucchini plant looks healthy. It is covered in lovely blossoms. Then one morning you walk out to your garden to find all those blossoms lying on the ground. The stem is still intact and it looks as though someone took a pair scissors and cut the blossoms right off the stem. Is there a crazy marauder cutting your zucchini blossoms off? No, not at all. This is perfectly normal. There is nothing wrong with your zucchini plant. [Read more...]
Cucumbers are tender, warm-season vegetables that thrive when given proper care. Cucumber plants have shallow roots and require frequent watering throughout the growing season. They are also fast growers, so frequent cucumber harvesting is important in order to prevent getting a yellow cucumber. Let’s look at how to know when a cucumber is ripe and, on a related note, why are my cucumbers turning yellow. [Read more...]
Are you getting tomato plant blossoms but no tomatoes? When a tomato plant is not producing, it can leave you at a loss as to what to do. Several factors can lead to a lack of fruit setting, such as temperature, irregular watering practices, and poor growing conditions. You don’t need two plants in order to produce fruit either—this is a popular misconception. [Read more...]
On his all-new series Barbecue Addiction: Bobby’s Basics (Sundays at 11a|10c), grill master Bobby Flay is focusing on those essential summertime favorites all of us should have in our arsenals. Each week he’ll break down the how-tos for various authentic plates and share his secrets for turning out the most-authentic true barbecue, which are largely dependent upon his grilling commandments. Read on below to learn Bobby’s 10 must-know pieces of advice for all things grilling, from juicy burgers and smoky barbecue sauce to entertaining tips and the ultimate pantry ingredients.
1. Direct/Indirect Heat: Set up your grill with two zones — one for direct heat, and the other for indirect heat. Use the direct heat to sear meats and veggies, and move them to the cool side to allow the food to finish grilling without overcooking.
2. Lid On or Off? That Is the Question! My rule of thumb is to leave the lid off for ingredients that cook quickly like shrimp and vegetables and put the lid on for longer-grilling items like poultry and steak, to use the grill like an oven and prevent burning or overcooking.
3. Burger Basics: There’s nothing more classic than a burger on the grill, but you’d be surprised how many people tell me they’re intimidated by it. Here are my rules:
- Purchase ground beef that has a 80:20 meat-to-fat ratio.
- Season the meat liberally with salt, pepper and canola oil. Adding anything else turns the dish into meatloaf, in my opinion!
- Form thin, 6-ounce patties by hand, and don’t overwork the meat. I like to create a well in the center with my thumb, because the patties tend to puff up in the center. Remember: NEVER press the burger on the grill (you’ll lose all the delicious juices!).
- And my #1 burger rule: Melt the cheese completely! Use two slices of cheese — I like classic American — and close the lid to allow the cheese to get nice and melty.
4. Juicy, Crunchy Grilled Corn on the Cob: My signature technique for perfectly grilled corn is a simple three-step process. Pull back the husk and remove the silks. Re-cover the corn with the husk and soak the ears in water for about 20 minutes. Fire up the grill and place the corn directly on the grates so it gets a nice charred flavor and color. Just a little bit of extra effort will result in a big payoff — the juiciest and crunchiest corn ever.
5. Make the Most of Your Spice Pantry: If you don’t have time to marinate, spice rubs are a great shortcut. By keeping a well-stocked spice pantry you can create your own flavor combination that’s versatile enough to use on fish, vegetables, chicken and more. Bonus tip: Make a big batch and store in an airtight container so you can use it all grilling season — up to 3 months. Spice rubs not only add huge flavor, but also form a nice crust on proteins for added texture.
6. BBQ Sauce Basics: Every home cook should be able to make a basic barbecue sauce from their pantry staples. What I like to do is make a basic sauce in a large batch and place portions of it in freezer-safe, pint-size containers. That way I always have some on hand and can even flavor it, depending on my mood, with things like habanero peppers, pineapples or molasses.
7. Flavor-Infused Oils: If I’m short on time and can’t marinade, I like to blend a simple infused olive oil to use as a finishing sauce on things like shellfish, chicken and even potatoes. I use ingredients like garlic, herbs and chiles that have bold, impactful flavors in each bite.
8. Party Drinks: I like to mix up a big pitcher of party drinks like sangria or flavored teas and lemonades. Not only are they crowd pleasers, but they also free me from playing bartender and mixing individual cocktails all night. And remember, keep the ice separate to prevent the melted cubes from diluting the flavor of the beverage.
9. Size Matters: Many people ask me how to prevent food from falling through the grates, and my answer is simple: Cut things in bigger pieces! Keep vegetables whole or in larger sections so they’re easier to manage on the grill. You can always cut them smaller after they’re grilled. For things like shrimp or cherry tomatoes, I like to use water-soaked wooden skewers, which makes transferring and flipping them on the grill easier and quicker too!
10. Let the Grill Do Its Job! The No. 1 mistake people make at the grill is touching the food too much. Most of the time you’ll see me at the grill doing absolutely nothing! Whether it’s fish, chicken, steak or veggies, I like to add a light touch of canola oil — which has a mild flavor and high smoke point — and then let the grill do its job. If you check on the food and it’s sticking a little, it’s not done cooking. Turn the food only once and let the fire be your guide.
Take a few boneless pork chops, add some bacon and a little creativity, and Pig Wings are on the menu! The bacon adds great flavor and keeps the loin meat from getting dry. These look great and are a little unusual, so they make a fabulous smoked appetizer with barbecue sauce for dipping. The kids will love them. [Read more...]
In the past few years, we’ve seen a change in the way the World proceeds about its doings. People have gone through quite a few revelations, which have in general placed an impact upon their perceptions and outlook. Ever since, we’ve grown more aware of the toxicity rates of chemicals and chemical products, an organic trend has swarmed over the multitudes with people making choices to lead an ‘organic lifestyle’. Supermarkets and flea markets now have separate sections labeled as ‘organic produce’. And organic farming means that the farmers use the most conservative feed, and fertilizers, only then can their produce be termed as organic.
In farming, organic or natural fertilizers have gained a special place and there are several types of fertilizers today that cater to the needs of organic farming. In order for a fertilizer to be considered organic, it has to come from natural sources. Some of these have been gone over and detailed below. [Read more...]
Plant tomatoes where they will get at least 10 hours of light in summer. When temperatures hit the 100 degree mark, I recommend that you place 50% shade cloth over the plant to avoid your plant getting sunburned. Leave room between plants for air to circulate. Alternate growing areas for tomatoes and you diminish the risk of soil-borne diseases such as bacterial spot and early blight. Plant your tomato seedlings up to the first true leaves. New roots will quickly sprout on the stems. More roots means more fruits. Feed your plants on a regular basis.
Plan & Purchase
Nurseries are full-to-bursting now with fruit tree, berries, edible landscaping shrubs, six-packs of peppers, beans, squash, corn and little starts of peas. If you haven’t been starting your own early season crops, you can put a spring garden in with purchased starts. It’s just going to cost you a bit more. [Read more...]