August 27, 2013 - Kim’s Weekly Garden Newsletter
From Kim Willis
These weekly garden notes are written by Kim Willis, unless another author is noted, and the opinions expressed in these notes are her opinions and do not represent any other individual, group or organizations opinions.
I am sitting here hoping for rain. Everything is dusty and dry and just begging for rain. We have had only sprinkles so far and I hope the prediction for wider rain this evening pans out. There may be severe storms too so keep an eye out. At least I no longer have to worry about my corn blowing over.
|Bee on marigold|
My sweet corn harvest is over; I put lots in the freezer. I am working on putting up tomatoes now. The early apples are starting to fall, I noticed them all along the road when I went to town, the deer should be happy. I have a tree that was once chewed by rabbits and grew back from the roots. It was obviously on crabapple rootstock because I have hundreds of tiny yellow crabapples falling. They taste good though, and there are no worms in them. I may try to make applesauce or jelly if the heat lets up.
I noticed an abundance of silver lace vine blooming along the roads this year. It’s funny how some plants are more prevalent one year than another. I tried to get a silver lace vine to grow on my fence once but it died. Yet I saw some in a field that had climbed 30 feet into a dead tree. On the other hand my Sweet Autumn Clematis which generally tries to overpower everything in its bed is not very big this year and just starting to bloom. The Allegany vine, which looks like white bleeding hearts on a ferny vine has bloomed heavily and it has climbed into a catalpa tree. It’s close to the Sweet Autumn Clematis, maybe it inhibits it.
My fears for a low population of bees and frogs and toads have been eased by an abundance of those species this summer. I have toads in my one remaining outside dog kennel; rather they are inside the indoor part of her kennel. They hang around by the dog’s water dish and I can even scratch their sides. I don’t know why they came inside to live. I sure am happy to see them though. Mowing has been interesting with little frogs hopping everywhere. And bees are everywhere at my place, I have to be careful not to get stung as I try to weed or harvest.
|Giant Swallowtail on Black Beauty lilies.|
I am still not seeing many monarchs. I have seen a lot of Giant Swallowtail butterflies though and other people are telling me they are seeing them too. These butterflies are huge. I am also seeing many tiger swallowtails and smaller butterflies like skippers. The Giant Swallowtails are said to like thistle, Joe Pye weed, butterfly bush for nectar and prickly ash for egg laying but I see them most around my lilies. The caterpillars are brown and white and resemble a large bird dropping for camouflage.
Tomato anthracnose – fruit rot
A common tomato problem is really prevalent this season. I have it in my own garden. Tomato anthracnose is one of those nasty fungal diseases that are so hard to control. This disease also affects the leaves, stems and roots of tomato plants but it’s the infection of the fruit that is most problematic.
Tomato’s that are ripe or nearly ripe develop what is called “watersoaked” spots, sunken, kind of shiny areas that eventually develop a dark center and the fruit rots around and under the lesion. When you cut the tomato you often see a black area inside below the outer spot.
Tomatoes vary in how susceptible they are to “fruit rot”. At any time you may have some tomatoes with the spots and some without, even on the same plant. Your plants won’t die from the disease, although the disease often combines with other tomato fungal diseases to limit production and make the plants look horrible. Plants without many leaves don’t have the sugars and other nutrients that make fruit tasty and you may notice the tomato’s flavor isn’t as good.
You can cut off small rotted areas and eat the fruit without problems but if you like to can tomatoes you may have a problem. Tomatoes with anthracnose often cause bacterial problems in canned products resulting in spoilage. Don’t use any fruit with rotted spots for canning. It’s not wise to use them in frozen products such as tomato sauces either. Ripe tomatoes without rotted spots, even if you know anthracnose is around, are safe to use.
Don’t allow your fruits to get over ripe on the vine. Pick them while red and still firm if you suspect you have anthracnose in the garden. Discard tomatoes with the rotted spots away from your garden, not in the compost pile either. If you pick tomatoes and notice small rotted spots cut out the spot and use them at once or toss them as they will quickly rot.
When storing tomatoes for a few days before use, try to put them in a single layer, not touching each other. (I line mine up on a kitchen shelf.) If one has anthracnose that you didn’t spot it is less likely to spread to the other fruit if they don’t touch. And tomatoes should not be stored in the refrigerator! It ruins the flavor and they will actually spoil faster.
Anthracnose can be prevented with fungicide sprays started as soon as there is fruit on the vine. Like other fungal diseases mulching and keeping plants off the ground helps. Some weeds harbor the disease so keep your garden weeded. If you get it in the garden it’s very important to remove all tomato plant debris and rotted fruits to a separate, remote compost pile or to plastic trash bags and the landfill. The fungus spores overwinter in tomato debris. And rotate your crops! This disease will live in the soil and infect your plants next year.
Tomatoes are not the only plants that get anthracnose. Peppers, eggplant, potatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, some squash and pumpkins also get anthracnose. Some of these strains of anthracnose can “crossover” especially in closely related species like tomatoes and peppers.
Why men should eat pizza
Researchers have found that oregano, a common pizza seasoning, can help prevent prostrate cancer.
Oregano has anti-bacterial as well as anti-inflammatory properties so use it generously on pizza and other foods. Carvacrol, a constituent of oregano, is actually being used to cure prostrate cancer. All the antioxidants in tomato sauce and other herbs used for pizza seasoning also promote prostrate health. So guys, if you need an excuse to order pizza, just say it’s good for your health!
Remember imprellis, the weed killer applied to lawns that killed trees? Three years later researchers are saying it’s generally safe to replant trees on soil treated with imprellis. However woodchips or compost made from trees killed by imprellis may still be toxic. The chemicals in imprellis can leach from them and kill plants.
Be extremely careful when you purchase compost and wood chips. There are many horror stories floating around about tainted compost and wood chips. Even some manure has been found to be plant toxic because of chemicals in animal feed, which survive and are excreted in the manure.
Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
If you have eaten a FiberOne bar you have eaten chicory. The roots of this lovely roadside weed with its daisy-like blue flowers yields an interesting food additive, inulin. Inulin is a sugar molecule with a different makeup than other sugars, a sugar molecule that doesn’t cause a rise in blood sugar levels when consumed. Inulin also imparts a smooth creamy mouth feel to foods that allows food makers to reduce fats and it adds dietary fiber in the form of indigestible carbs called fructans. So much fiber in fact that if you eat FiberOne bars you may have experienced some of the gastrointestinal side effects, especially if you pigged out because they taste so good. (I read some of the comments on various sites talking about Fiberone bars and they were hilarious. Explosive farting is common.)
The fructans in inulin also cause the digestive system to absorb more calcium and magnesium, and studies show they can help prevent osteoporosis. They also stimulate the production of intestinal bifidobacteria, the good bacteria in our guts that help us digest food properly and ramp up our immune system. Fructans are being added to some yogurts that promise to build good intestinal bacteria. And if you start with small amounts of food with fructans or inulin you build up tolerance to the gastro effects and won’t blow everyone out of the room.
In other countries inulin powder is being widely used in dairy products like ice cream, baked goods, cereals and granola bars. It reduces the need for sugar and fat and doesn’t cause the problems associated with other artificial sweeteners and fat substitutes in the cooking/preparation process and it doesn’t have an unpleasant taste. It can be used exactly like sugar, although it isn’t quite as sweet. It is an excellent substitute for high fructose corn syrup.
Inulin has been pushed as a good food additive for diabetics for many years. Besides chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, garlic and a few other foods also contain inulin. Agave is the newest inulin producer, being promoted in more tropical areas. Most food grade inulin is being produced from chicory roots however and the largest factories producing it are in the Netherlands and France.
There is a company in the US that is producing inulin for pet foods, but the US is slow to get behind this product, probably because we have so many sugar producing plants in the US that aren’t happy about a new rival. Idaho and Nebraska however have studies in place to see if chicory can become an economically important crop.
Inulin is produced much like sugar is produced from sugar beets and sugar beet factories could easily be converted to inulin production. Harvesting equipment for chicory roots can be adapted from beet harvesting equipment. But US farmers do not like perennial crops, and chicory is a perennial plant. Still there is hope that this valuable plant could become another money making crop for US farmers.
Other Chicory uses
Chicory is being studied as a forage crop for livestock and is getting good reviews. Chicory has as much protein as alfalfa, high amounts of vitamins and minerals and evens inhibits the growth of intestinal worms in livestock. Livestock enjoy eating chicory and well managed fields produce as much forage as alfalfa and specially selected pasture grasses. It also grows well in poor soil and under drought conditions. (You can see that as chicory grows well along dusty road edges.) In New Zealand chicory is widely used as a forage crop and named varieties have been developed. West Virginia in the US is sponsoring several large forage trials of chicory.
People have been eating a type of chicory that forms loose heads of leaves, called wiltlof chicory for hundreds of years and it is still a specialty greens crop. The dried and ground roots of chicory have long been used as a coffee substitute or additive. Some people even prefer the chicory coffee over regular coffee. Beer brewers sometimes add chicory root powder to beers, especially Belgian style ales.
In Germany the chicory flower is much used in herbal medicine and is claimed to cure almost any ailment. It is said that chicory can magically open locked doors. Bruised chicory leaves have long been used as a poultice for wounds and bruises. The leaves of chicory are used to make a blue dye.
As a caution, in herbal remedies chicory has been used as an emmenagogue and abortifacient. That means the herb was used to bring on a menstrual period or cause an abortion. Anyone who is pregnant may want to avoid the use of chicory in herbal remedies or as a coffee drink although using products containing commercial inulin is perfectly safe.
Chicory grows just about everywhere in the US but it’s not a native plant. Like the dandelion it was brought over here by European settlers. Its origins are from central Europe. In its first year it forms a rosette of leaves and a long straight tan taproot like a carrot. The leaves are similar to dandelion leaves. In the second and subsequent years it will put up long stems of blue flowers in late summer unless it is kept mowed or grazed. Leaves and stems may leak a milky sap when broken. It reproduces from seed.
Chicory flowers are blue and daisy like although the plant is rather straggly and not much to look at in the garden setting, the flowers can look quite pretty along the roads and meadows mixed with white Queen Anne’s lace and yellow goldenrod. Occasionally chicory may have pink, purple or white flowers. Each flower opens and closes at the same time each day and chicory is sometimes used in floral clocks. Common names include blue daisy, blue sailors, and coffeeweed. The type of chicory used as greens is sometimes called Belgian endive, and a red form is called radicchio.
Watch out for storms tonight
Garden as though you will live forever. William Kent