Carnivorous plants!

July 31, 2009

Well, the plants I ordered finally arrived…the seller had apparently had some difficulties with a computer virus that had knocked him instantaneously back into the 20th century. But anyway, once that was straintened out, my CPs (that stands for ‘Carnivorous Plants’, btw, not ‘Complementizer Phrases’) arrived forthwith.  2 flytraps, a sundew (D. dielsiana), 2 pitcher plants (S. rubra and S x Dixie Lace), a pinguicula, and Nepenthes copelandii.

Now is the time to form your betting pools with respect to how many of the plants I will kill, how soon, and in what order. Personally, I think it’s a toss-up between the Nepenthes (just because it’s my favorite, that means it has to be the first to go, right?) and the flytraps (because I repotted them, and then 15 minutes later read that I should not repot them). On the bright side, it’s nice and humid and sunny where I’ve got them, they’re in a 1:1 sand/peat mix, and I water only with distilled water.  Skipping over the total newbie mistakes, moving on to the intermediate-newbie mistakes. I am only a second level carnivorous plant grower, I fear. *sigh*

My Sarracenia purpurea continues to thrive, at least. Growing a new pitcher every other week, it seems like!

Canning tomatoes

July 30, 2009

Scored a large box of tomatoes for canning and went to town on them this past week.  Came out of it with several tomato-stained shirts, a lot of tomato skins for the compost pile, and 6 pints each of crushed tomatoes, roasted tomato garlic soup, and chunky basil pasta sauce.  The pasta sauce was the most challenging, mainly because I had to simmer it for something like 3 hours (rather than the 40 minutes the recipe predicts), and it had an alarmingly sharp flavor at first due to all the vinegar (which you can’t reduce, since it’s necessary for making the recipe safe to can). The good news is that after all the simmering, the flavors mellowed and it turned out to be very tasty– bet it’ll be good on pizza as well as pasta.

The first time I canned tomatoes was many years ago, using the “Putting Food By” book as a guide. I had all these little yellow pear tomatoes, and believe it or not, I skinned them all and canned them up. Not sure we ever used them (my mother: “What do we DO with them?”  Me[exasperated]:” Mom, they’re TOMATOES.”), which is probably for the best, since Putting Food By doesn’t exactly use the most up-to-date canning methods– no acid (in the form of bottled lemon juice or citric acid) was added, so who knows what lurked within. Especially since they were Boiling Water processed, and they were yellow tomatoe s(already lower in acid than red tomatoes). Yikes.  Nowadays I not only go by the book, I make sure it’s the most up-to-date book available.

For the best info on canning tomatoes, visit the NCHFP website. If you have questions, visit the friendly and experienced crowd at the GardenWeb Harvest forum.

July 24, 2009

Despite my earlier resolve to continue to eat dandelion greens throughout the year in order to determine whether they are in fact less bitter in early spring, I have failed to do so. (And it’s not for want of dandelions in the yard, believe you me). Some things, you have them once a year and that’s quite enough. Sorry, dandelions, but apparently that’s true of you, too, no matter your ample nutritive properties

In jam-making news, I made some blueberry lavender jam. I’d give the recipe, but I don’t think I need to. Just find any old recipe for blueberry  jam (from the pectin recipe insert, for example), and add a sprig or three of lavender to it.Fish out the lavender before jarring it up. There you go.

It’s also the height of peach season, so peaches are next up in line for the canning pot. Think I’m gonna try peach cardamom this year.  I picked up a Spanish tarragon plant recently– that’s what I have in store for the plums come August. Plum tarragon. I’m not yet sure what I’ll do to the pears.  Maple, maybe. Pear maple. With pecans!  Yes, I think that’s it.

For the first time in many years of buying stuff online, someone has failed to follow through with the product. It makes me sad; I really wanted the stuff I bought! It was a good deal! Now we’ll see how well Paypal’s dispute resolution system works.