Posts Tagged Peppers

What Vegetables are Good for Freezing? Handling and Storage Ideas

The plan this growing season for me is to can, freeze, preserve, and dehydrate fruits and vegetables we do not consume and have an abundance of (i.e. peak of tomato season where we have lots of tomatoes). This is a big endeavor for me since it will be my first time preserving what I grow. I have gotten a lot of books detailing how to  preserve vegetables from your garden. I have been busily reading and noting what techniques to use. A great reference book I would recommend is Ball’s Complete Book of Home Preserving. It details every vegetable you can grow and how to preserve them. It’s an invaluable resource to any gardener who wants to pursue this adventure.

I have read a lot about preserving vegetables by blanching and freezing. Freezing is a great way to lock in nutrients. Blanching is the process of dropping your desired vegetable in boiling water for a set time (typically for 30 seconds to 3 minutes). After blanching, you will take the veggies out and place them in an ice bath consisting of water and ice cubes. After they have cooled, you can freeze them flat on a tray in the freezer before packaging. Since, you’re not completely cooking the vegetables you keep the nutrients and texture of the vegetables. Happy gardening everyone!

What you’ll need to freeze vegetables is simple:

-desired vegetable you want to preserve
-pot
-water
-bowl
-ice water
-bags (sandwhich or freezer) and/or small containers (1 quart)
-freezer

Here’s a chart of vegetables that will do well freezing, when to freeze, and how to handle and store them:

What to Freeze

Time to Freeze

How to Freeze

Berries Spring to Fall Wash your produce, air dry and freeze
Broccoli Spring and Fall Cut into bite-size pieces, blanch in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, cool in ice bath for 2 minutes, drain and freeze
Chard Spring, Summer, and Fall Blanch until wilted (several minutes) It will look like wilted spinach. Cool in ice bath, drain, and freeze in small batches
Edamame (soybeans) Summer to Fall Simmer pods in salted water for approximately 5 minutes. Cool in ice bath for 2 minutes, drain, and freeze
Peas Spring to Fall Blanch in boiling water for a minute. Cool in ice bath for 2 minutes, drain and freeze
Peppers Summer to Fall Slice, blanch in boiling water for 1 minute, cool in ice bath for 2 minutes, drain and freeze
Snap beans Summer to Fall Blanch in boiling water for a minute. Cool in ice bath for 2 minutes, drain and freeze
Spinach Spring to Fall Blanch until wilted (several minutes) Cool in ice bath, drain, and freeze in small batches
Sweet corn Summer Cut kernels from cobs, simmer in hot water for 2-3 minutes. Cool in ice bath, drain, and freeze in small batches
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Repotting seedlings

In the past 3 years I have been vegetable gardening, I would plant all my seeds in seed trays with 72 divisions. And since I am not the greenest of gardeners, I normally did not get 100% germination on all my seeds so my seed trays always had bare spots sprinkled amongst the divisions. This always bothered me because I was a perfectionist and the fact that I could have had other seeds that would have germinated in those spots. I am sure other gardeners have also felt this frustration. So I promised myself that I would not do this the next year. However, my forgetfulness got to me and I continued with my habit of taking out my large seed trays and planting my seeds in them. Then I remembered my promise to myself the previous year. So, I pulled out some old trays I had laying around (a cheap way to get your hands on these is to save the trays you get from the frozen dinner meals. They’re perfect size to start seeds). I planted a lot of veggie seeds in these and once they developed their true leaves, I pricked them out and set them in my seed trays with divisions. That way I got a full tray of seedlings and no empty spots! I thought I would share my “aha” moment with yal.

Yesterday, I took some endive seedlings I had planted in a pot and moved them into their individual spot in a six-pack I had. Afterwards, I marvelled at how pretty and neat it looked with seedlings in every spot! I was very proud of myself. I also moved some bibb and buttercrunch lettuces into their own spot.

My tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings are doing well. Although they have been slow to germinate, I’ve been getting several pop up on me daily. To aide in germination, I decided to take the trays with me to work in my car. My car gets a lot of sun throughout the day and I thought it would be a perfect spot for my seeds to get some heat. So in the car they went yesterday along with my seed potatoes I have been chitting.

The potatoes already have little eyes on each one of them. They should be ready to pot up in the next couple of weeks. Since we haven’t gotten around to making raised beds, I have decided that I am going to plant almost everything in containers. I plan on planting the potato seeds I have in pots and moving them to their final place when we get everything set up. I hope this is okay for potatoes to do this. If not, I’ll know for next year.

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More Seed Starting

 

 Early spring veggies in 2008.

On Saturday, I planted more flower and veggie seeds. The other day when it was sunny, I decided to take my seed trays out for some fun in the sun. Unfortunately, when I brought them in, the tray snapped and some of the 9 packs fell out spilling dirt and I would assume some seeds. So, just to be safe, I decided to plant some more seeds. Instead of using 6 or 9 packs I decided to plant them in trays in little rows. I planted some more butterhead lettuce (Renee’s garden), black seeded simpson lettuce, romaine lettuce (trade), arrugula, coleus, cabbage, broccoli, bok choi, impatiens, violas, bells of irelands, and snap dragons! Whew….that was a lot.

I also got some elephant garlic on Monday from the grocery store. The garlic is from Christopher Ranch. I planted it that day and I hope to get some sprouting soon.

The lettuce, bok choi, savoy cabbage, butterhead lettuce, and la rossa lettuce sprouted and are under the grow light. There are more seeds that sprouted but I somehow forgot to label them. It’ll be easy to figure out once they’ve fully sprouted and I can check them out visually.

Still no progress on the eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes. I set them directly on top of the lights to get some heat to them but we’ll see in the next couple of days. I’m really excited to see if the “little prince” eggplants I got from Renee’s seeds turn out! I’ve been debating whether or not to purchase a heat mat for my seeds but it seems like setting them on top of my fluorescent lights is fine. I have two lights on the bottom of my rack and I balance trays on top of the 2 and set my containers on top and they seem to be fine. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. That’s all for now, happy gardening!

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Pepper Plants-Bell Pepper, Jalapeno, Kung Pao, etc

Peppers147days06-22-08

 Peppers 147 days

I just wanted to show a picture of some of my peppers I’ve been growing. They’ve taken awhile to get to fruit but I think it’s well worth it. My only regret this year is that I didn’t grow more bell peppers. Next year, I’ll plant twice as many seeds I did this year so I’ll be sure to have plenty of bell peppers. Lately, my DH and I have really liked roasted bell peppers on anything! They are wonderful on top of crusty bread!! Here are some other pics of my many pepper plants

BellPepper134days06-09-08

 Bell Pepper 134 days

 Numexbigjimpepperplant57days04-24-08

Numex Big Jim Pepper Plant 57 days

KungPaoPepperPlant133days06-09-08

Kung Pao Pepper Plant 133days 06-09-08

Jalapeno133days06-09-08

Jalapeno 133days 06-09-08

 I’m also growing some fish peppers and some other peppers I forgot the names of. I can’t wait to see the fish peppers. I’ve heard they are pretty colors and stripes. Can’t wait til harvest time!

 

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Vegetable (from seed) Gardening: A Garden Update

Most of my vegetables I started are setting and growing nicely. I have tiny blooms on my pepper plants. My bell pepper plant that I still have in a pot has a tiny little bell pepper. This year I’m growing a variety of peppers: California wonder, fish pepper, numex big jim, thai hots, kung pao peppers, and jalapeno. An observation I’ve made with peppers is that they take soooo long to grow. I mean it’s taken 122 days for them to flower.

For the past 3 weeks, I’ve had fruits develop on all my tomato plants. I have one ladybug hybrid tomato just turning a blush pink. I bet in a week or two, it’ll be ready to eat. I have tons of tomatoes planted this year as well! Varieties include: supersweet, ladybuy hybrid, jelly bean, tiny tim, red currant, gardener’s delight, marglobe, roma, black cherry, and fireball tomatoes.

One of my favorite garden chores lately has been pinching! I’ve been pinching everything from basil to coleus to mint! Pinching allows the plants to get bushier and fuller instead of tall and spindly. It’s great for basil since you will get more production from basils that are bushy then tall ones. Here are some results of my pinching.

 

Jelly Bean tomatoes 117 days 05-27-08

Tiny Tim tomatoes 117 days 05-27-08

Roma Tomatoes 117 days 05-27-08

Red and Gold Currant Tomatoes 117 days 05-27-08

One of my favorite garden chores lately has been pinching! I’ve been pinching everything from basil to coleus to mint! Pinching allows the plants to get bushier and fuller instead of tall and spindly. It’s great for basil since you will get more production from basils that are bushy then tall ones. Here are some results of my pinching.

Lemon Basil 93 days 05-27-08

Mix of Sweet Basil and Large Leaf Basil Plants 93 days 05-27-08

The only vegetable that have not produced any fruit has been my zucchini and squash plants. They’ve done very well at producing male flowers but no female flowers just yet. I hope they come soon! I can’t wait to have zucchini for our summer dinners. Well, that’s all folks. Stay tune for an update on my flower seeds that I planted this winter! And as always, happy gardening!

 

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More seed starting…04-25-08

Seedlings (click to enlarge)

I can’t believe we’re in the middle of spring already. During winter, I couldn’t wait for it to come and now it’s already here. I finally realized it was spring when I was walking around our campus with a couple of my coworkers as part of an “Active for Life” program. The weather was wonderfully nice: not too warm and with a slight breeze. Our campus is wonderful. It has the best scenery and landscape. My coworker showed me that the school has rosemary growing crazy at one of our buildings. I had to make sure it was rosemary and once I picked it up and smelled it, it was definitely rosemary. She said that if I ever need it to just take a handful. It would be doing the landscapers a favor. The rosemary bushes were growing like crazy all over the place and I could “prune” some for them. It was wonderful to see herbs being used in a great way.

Today, I planted several more seeds in my attempt at succession planting this spring. I started some more

  • watermelon radishes
  • cherry belle radishes
  • romaine/cos lettuce
  • fish pepper
  • Nardello sweet pepper
  • ornamental corn
  • snapdragons-apricot
  • watermelon sugar baby (pre-germinating in a bag)
  • spinach-giant noble (pre-germinating in a bag)

Tomorrow, I plan on planting out some more seedlings I have indoors: mainly beans and some stocks, zinnia, chicory, oriental and shirley poppies, and nasturtiums. Wish me luck and as always happy gardening!

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Garden Update 01-17-08

My celery seeds have finally sprouted. Most people said it was really hard for celery to germinate but I didn’t have any problems with it germinating. It took awhile, say around 12 days. Out of all the seeds I planted, I would say I had an 80% success rate with the seeds. I plan on pre-germinating eggplant-black beauty, various pepper seeds (Korean Hot, Hungarian yellow Wax, Jalapeno, California Wonder, Kung Pao and Long thin cayenne peppers), and more Swiss chard seeds since these are last years seeds I’d bet my best bet with pre-germinating since there’s a chance they might not germinate.

The way I pre-germinate my seeds is called the wet paper towel method. It’s as simple as that. All you need is a paper towel and a baggie.

Step 1: Get a paper towel and dampen it
Step 2: Lay seeds in one even layer on half the towel
Step 3: Cover the seeds with the other half of the towel to make a “seed package”
Step 4: Put the package into the baggie and close shut
Step 5: Place the baggie on something warm like the top of your fridge and check every couple of days until you see some growth. The seeds with growth are the good seeds and the seeds with no growth are the bad ones and should be thrown away. Plant the good seeds and presto-magic; you have germinated seeds, no more having empty cells in your trays to seeds that didn’t germinate!

Coleus from seed (approximately 79 days) (click on image for larger picture)
I just wanted to provide an update on the coleus I grew from seed. The seedlings are thriving into lush little plantlets. I love that they have different colors and that I don’t have to spend outrageous amounts of money for plants when I can just grow them from seed. I bought a packet of seeds from grocoseeds.com for 1,400 seeds for only $1.99 and I already have 20+ plants. I would typically spend around $3.00 for a six pack of coleus and I spent a fraction of that price if not less. If you did the math, I spent less than a penny for each seedling minus the cost of potting soil. I hope by the time spring comes around, I’ll be able to put them out in pots and as companion plants.

African Violet (click on image for larger picture)

I also wanted to show my African violets. They’ve been neglected since I’ve been busy with seeds and seedlings. They are doing well. I have one I bought last year in May that blooms a pretty white and purple flower. It just started blooming recently and it’s so pretty. It looks like a little pixie fairy came by and sprinkled it with glitter.

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