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The plants and flowers in your garden are only the surface of the overall look. They cannot have character without structure – beds to lie in, containers to spill over, bricks and stones to offset them, and a collection of items to provide interest, height, or focal points. What you choose for this last category depends on your style. If you like a less-than-traditional, whimsical look, then found items are a must.

Using found items takes a little more time than stopping by your local gardening center and choosing traditional items like plant stands and trellises. But the search is so much more fun.

Start looking at home

Before you go hunting for others’ discarded junk, why not free up some of your own storage space? Dig through your attic, garage, and storage sheds. Look through your kitchen cupboards and closets. Search for items you will not use again that would hold up well in the elements. A worn pair of gardening boots would serve well as planters in the garden – a fitting end to their employment.

Choose items based on shape, texture, and color

Your found items should enhance your garden and stand out a little. An old wooden ladder, for instance, can serve as a plant stand in a spot where you need a little visual height. A pink or mustard cast iron bath tub provides a splash of color and will blend in to the landscape with proper placement and a few cascading plants.

Peruse found-items

Flea markets, yard sales and thrift stores are familiar territory for folks looking for bargains. Visit antique stores, estate sales, and auctions both actual and virtual. Sometimes you can find a few gems discarded on the sidewalk in exclusive neighborhoods. Check your phone book for salvage companies for homes.

Be selective

Sure, you are doing the earth a favor by repurposing something that was headed to a landfill. But be forewarned: It’s easy to go overboard when you start collecting old treasures. As you hunt, keep a lonely space in your garden in mind. Measure it first if necessary.

Drill or fill for drainage

With an electric drill you can turn just about any vessel into a planter. You will need different bits depending on whether you are drilling wood, metal or stone. If you don’t trust your own expertise, take the container to your hardware store, and they should be able to help you.

Planting in pots with no drainage is a no-no, but it would be a greater shame to put a hole in that antique teapot. Some materials are easily damaged by drilling, like ceramic, porcelain and enamel-covered cast iron. If you must plant something in there, fill the bottom of your container with a dense layer of pebbles or gravel, burying a plastic flexible tube into it that curls over the lip of the container and to the ground. After you fill your flowerpot with soil, the tube will act as a siphon to draw off water from the bottom.

Even the most traditional gardens improve with the addition of a carefully chosen and placed found item. When you are done, you can give yourself a well-deserving pat on the back. Using found items that otherwise would only be tossed into the landfill is a very green act. And, besides, now you have a garden that has your own mark of creativity and style.

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Preserving Your Harvest: A Canning Overview

There’s nothing more satisfying than raking in a good harvest and it almost makes you feel like you can finally take a break from all that farming. But not so fast! You still have to make sure that your harvest stays fresh and preserved for the upcoming months. There are numerous ways of storing your harvest and keeping it fresh, such as freezing, drying, and canning it.

Canning is an age-old practice that was used by farmers to preserve their tomatoes and vegetables at a time when refrigeration wasn’t a service that was easily available. It involves adding produce to a jar and then heating it to a point when the air is driven out from it.

Two Methods

So there are two main methods that are completed through pressure canning and a boiling water bath. You can use a boiling water bath to drive out the air from cans that contain tomatoes, or other processes jams or jellies. This even works for pickles, as long as preservatives are added. The jars containing produce are heated by being completely submerged in boiling water.

Pressure canning, on the other hand, is practiced as a way to store vegetables and other products like poultry. In this method, the jars of food have to be placed in a few inches of water while inside of a pressure cooker. The entire setup is then heated to 240 o F at least.

Which Method to Use

High Acidic Foods

The boiling water bath method works well for high acidic foods like tomatoes and other fruits. These contain a pH that is lower than 4.6.

Low Acidic Foods

Pressure canning is implemented for low acidic foods (vegetables), which have a pH above 4.6. The reason why they can only be preserved this way is due to the growth of Clostridium botulinum, a microorganism that can leave behind deadly spores which thrive in low acidic conditions.

How To

The main difference between both methods is that pressure canning is achieved through a high temperature of the boiling water bath. So you’ll need a special pressure cooker to prepare vegetables using this method.

In both methods, you’ll need clean jars and brand new caps. You need to thoroughly sterilize each jar and keep them in boiling water until you’re ready to store your produce. Whether you’ve added the jars to a pressure cooker, or a boiling water bath, you need to give time until the right temperature is achieved. This is 212 o F for the boiling water bath method.

After removing your jars to cool, listen for a popping sound which indicates that the jars have sealed. You can check this by looking for a depression in the lid. If it hasn’t sealed, you should keep them in the fridge to eat soon.

Should You Try Canning?

While the boiling water bath method is great for preserving pickles, jams and salsas, the same can’t be said for a variety of foods that can be stored by the pressure canning process. If you’re looking to store beans, broccoli or other such veggies, you’ll find that other ways to preserve them, such as freezing, are much more suitable. On the other hand, if you want to store produce using the boiling water bath method only, you can add acidic mediums like vinegar or lemon juice that can keep botulinum from growing. Happy Farming!

More about canning here: Can Do


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