How to Ripen Pears After Picking

It’s a good time to learn how to ripen pears because they’re about ready for picking.  Actually, pears have to be picked before they are ripe; otherwise their skin gets that gritty feeling when you eat them.

My friend told me how to ripen pears after you pick them by putting them into the refrigerator for a week or two. But this is the slow way.  A quicker way is to put them in a bowl and store them at room temperature.  Depending on how un-ripe they are, they should be ripe in about a week.

You can also put them in a paper bag, like you do with avocados, to speed up the process.  And if you’re in a big hurry, here’s how to ripen pears even faster!

Put them in a paper bag, and then add bananas or apples to the bag.  This has been known to increase the concentration of gasses around the fruit that helps them ripen.

You will know when the pear is ripe when the skin around the stem is slightly soft when pressed.  Then, if you have a bunch of pears that are ripe but you’re not ready to eat them yet, put them in the refrigerator.  This will slow down ripening, but you will still need to eat them within a few days.

Now you know how to ripen pears, so go out and pick some!  Yum Yum!

Our Grand Potato Harvest of 2010

Well, here’s our potato harvest for this year.  Only a few of the plants had turned brown, but once Jeff got the pitch fork in hand and started digging, he got a little excited about his little potato harvesting adventure and just kept harvesting.

It might look small in the picture, but actually this little potato harvest filled up one of those small plastic shopping bags – so we’re very happy since we only had about six plants, and they were all in a small space garden.

Only Jeff could get a potato harvest like this from potatoes planted under a tree, in the shade, in Seattle Washington!  He’s really got a green thumb! We’re going to boil up the baby reds for dinner – I can’t wait!

If you don’t like to eat potatoes, perhaps you would like to learn How to make a Potato Gun?

The Perfect Time to Harvest Potatoes

Jeff's First Potato - 9/20/2010

Jeff and I were taking a look at what still needed to be done in the garden for Fall when we had a discussion on when to harvest potatoes.  He has about six plants of various varieties growing in the back yard, and they still look lush and green.  I reached under one and to our surprise, pulled out a beautiful medium red potato

As a kid, I remember my Mom harvesting potatoes when the plants were brown and almost dead looking, so I called her, and indeed, this is when you should do your potato harvest.  It usually happens in late August or early September; some people even wait until after the first frost. The plants will get yellow, then brown, and then look practically dead; THIS is the perfect time to harvest potatoes.

I was afraid that if we left them in too long, they would start to rot, but actually, if there is still green on the plants, the potatoes are still growing.  If you harvest potatoes too soon, you will only get small potatoes, so it’s worth waiting. You can dig around at the top of the plant and pull a few out to see how big they are getting if you’re curious, then at least you’ll get a taste of what’s to come.

Since potatoes are tubers (not roots) they CAN withstand light frosts in the spring and will grow nicely in the cooler part of the growing season. So for now, we will continue to keep an eye on the plants and will probably harvest potatoes at the end of September.  One of the plants is already starting to get brown, so I’m sure it won’t be long before we are eating our organic harvested potatoes. I can’t wait!

Vegetable Garden Planting For Maximum Efficiency

When you’re planning a vegetable garden, there’s more to consider than just what plants grow in your area.  In fact, that should be your secondary concern as you get ready for your vegetable garden planting.

There are four questions you need to ask yourself before you even begin planning a vegetable garden:

  • What do you and your family like to eat
  • How much of these things CAN you eat
  • How much space do you have for growing vegetables
  • What grows best in your area

Taking these factors into account before you even begin will prevent you from wasting the food you grow, making vegetable gardening just that much more pleasant.  After all, the sight of rotting vegetables after you’ve done all that work to plant vegetable gardens is never pleasant.

Vegetable Garden Planting:

Depending on how much room you have, you might consider vegetable container gardening.  In fact, if you already have a flower container garden that grows a little tall, you can plant some herbs in with the flowers and make a border out of lettuce.

Green onions, carrots and herbs all make excellent vegetable container gardening plants, and are actually nice green plants to look at.

Also, when planning a vegetable garden, plan for the timing of harvesting your crop. Just because you get a million seeds in a packet doesn’t mean you have to plant them all at once.  If you plant everything at once, it will all become eatable at once.  Plant a few seeds the first time, then maybe a week or two plant a few more depending on how long it takes them to grow.

Hopefully this gives you some ideas to start planning a vegetable garden, and also how to do your vegetable garden planting so you’ll be eating fresh garden greens all summer long – and beyond!

For more good advice, check out Bartholomews All New Square Foot Gardening Cookbook: Taking the Harvest to the Table

Herbs – Spice Up Your Food – And Your Health

Garlic_herb.jpgI’m sure you use herbs almost daily to spice up your food, but did you know that certain herbs can give you that extra kick you need to reduce stress, maintain optimal health and make your life just a little bit more exciting?  Here’s just a few that I’ve read about: Ginger - Good in stir-fries, and fish and chicken marinades. Ginger is a renowned anti-inflammatory and circulation booster. It’s also soothing in both summer and winter. 

Fennel – You can roast the bulb of fennel as well as use the herb for spice, and you can munch on the seeds also! Fennel is good for gas and indigestion, and is a strong antioxidant! It could also help prevent cancer.

Thyme – Grows like a weed in our garden, and it’s great in stews and soups. Not to mention the fact that it has a lot of immune-enhancing properties.

Garlic – My favorite, I put it on everything! Also known as the poor man’s penicillin, it could protect against gastrointestinal and colorectal cancer.

Cilantro – Great for salads, in salsa, or in fish and chicken marinades. Cilantro revitalizes the body and helps counter indigestion. There is also some research that suggests it could help remove toxic metals (such as mercury) from the body. AND, the seed of the cilantro plant is coriander, which also has health benefits.

Basil – Another of my favorites for chicken, pasta, pesto and sandwiches (try a Bacon, Avocado Basil sandwich someday – you’ll never have a regular BLT again!) Basil also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and contains a wealth of nutrients, including beta-carotene and magnesium. Amazing!

These are just a few of the spices that you can add to improve your health. Next time, instead of reaching for the salt and pepper, try a little cayenne pepper instead. According to David Heber, M.D., Chili peppers have been found to help people boost metabolism and lose weight. And a little bit goes a long way!

Here’s to your health!


Spicy Reading:

“Stop Being poisoned By Over-the-Counter Drugs – And Slash Your Medicine
Expenses By $300 – $500 Every Year” Home Remedies For Better Health.- The Complete Health Guide To Self-Healing. Shows You How To Treat Any Disease, With Herbs.


Did you know that some herbs can make it through the winter?

Yes, sage, thyme, oregano, parsley, spearmint, peppermint, and wornwood are perennial herbs and can all be winterized. 

All you need to do is wait for the first frost.  Then, after the frost, trim away any browned and dead stems and mulch lightly around, but not over the plants.

If you have snow, don’t worry, that’s a good thing!  Snow acts as an insulator and protects plants from excessive cold, so keep the snow cover on the plant when you get it.  In the spring, just remove any winter damage and carefully get rid of any debris that has blown in and become wedged in the plants.

Then just sit back and watch them grow again!

Try Fried Green Tomatoes for those Leftovers

As summer comes to an end, it’s sad to see all of those tomatoes on the plant that aren’t ripe yet, and whenever I pick them green, they don’t seem to ripen very well in the house. 

So, I went looking and found this secret to getting them to ripen.  Here’s what you do:

  1. Pick the mature green tomatoes (those with a pinkish-yellow tinge on the blossom end) before it frosts.
  2. Wash the skin with a 1% bleach solution, rinse with water and dry.
  3. Place in a 60F to 70F room, not touching each other.


And then again, you could always make Fried Green Tomatoes.  Here’s one of the easier recipes I found:

30 min 20 min prep

4  medium tomatoes
1  cup cornmeal
2  tablespoons bacon drippings
 salt and pepper

1. Cut the tomatoes into thick slices and sprinkle with the salt and pepper.
2.   Roll the tomato slices in the corn meal until both sides are covered.
3.   Heat the bacon drippings in a frying pan and add the tomatoes.
4.   Fry slowly until golden brown.

This way, you can enjoy ALL of your tomatoes!



How to Freeze Basil – Or Other Herbs


The basil Jeff planted is going gangbusters!  Each plant grew into a nice leafy basil provider and now we have basil coming out of our ears!  I was wondering how to save some of it, and thanks to a tip I received in a newsletter, now I know.  I’ll just freeze it!

All you need to do is chop up the leaves, pack them into an ice cube tray, and cover it with water.  Then freeze.  After they’re frozen, you can move them into a freezer bag.

Now I won’t have to spend money on those little packets of frozen herbs; I’ll have it right at my fingertips.

Be sure to get your Fall Bulbs now, you will want to plant them soon.


Huge Tomato Plants – and Pepper Maintenance

tomato_8_15_06_30.jpgOur tomato plants are HUGE this year.  They’re planted in containers, with the usual tomato fence around them and they’re doing great.  Jeff waters with a little miracle grow about once a week, and he makes sure they get water every day.  They will let you know when they’re dry by looking very wilty.  Tomatoes need a lot of sun, so if you have them in containers, be sure to water them every day and yours could look like this too! 

So far, we have eaten the red ones as soon as they appear, YUM!  I Love homegrown tomatoes, they actually taste like tomatoes, not like water, like the store bought ones.

I’m not sure if tomatoes have the same problem as peppers, but I have heard some people complaining that their peppers rot before they get ripe.  If this happens, you might want to get more sunlight to them.  Peppers need a long, warm season to mature, so if you use a dark colored mulch to absorb the heat during the daytime you will be one step ahead.  Peppers need about 8-10 hours of direct sunlight each day.  I think tomatoes need the same, ours get sunlight in the morning, and then constantly until about 4:00 p.m.  If you don’t have enough heat, try attaching some tinfoil to a board, and then nailing it to a stick (kind of like a sign).  Put this by the plant, making the sun bounce off the tinfoil and onto the plant.

Water both tomatoes and peppers from below, being careful not to get too many leaves wet. 

If you follow these simple steps, you should have a great harvest!  If you’ve never had a great harvest, you might want to try Gardners Supply Tomato Success method.  Just click on the picture below for more info.

Gardener's Supply Company


Who Knew Cherry Seeds Could Kill?

A lady in one of the forums I subscribe to was concerned  because her daughter swallowed a cherry seed. One forum member posted this reply:

“LOL If I had a dime for every cherry pit I swallowed when I was a kid I could afford to landscape my lawn! If they don’t get stuck in the throat, they won’t do a bit of damage. “this, too, will pass”

As I laughed at this “passing” joke, I kept reading and saw this post from another member:

“Whole cherry pits aren’t a problem; they will pass thru the system. But the seed within contains cyanide. If you don’t break the pit you should be ok. Canned cherries could be a problem, between cooking, and breaking of the pit itself, exposing the seed. One seed hasn’t enough cyanide to do damage. But 1/4 cup or more can easily kill. Beware.”

Who knew cherry seeds could kill?  I sure didn’t, until today!

 Find Tons of interesting reading material at the Online Nature Mall.