Helpful tips from The Garden Plot

Ray Baird

A SOLUTION TO PREVENT TOMATO WILT: As tomato plants get taller and begin producing, many of the vines will develop yellow wilting leaves at the bottom of the plants. You should apply an application of Daconil which is anti-fungal spray that comes in a spray bottle that can be purchased at hardware’s and in garden departments of Lowes and Home Depot. Spay around the affected leaves and upward to the tops of the plants. Apply liquid tomato fertilizer and give the vines a new energy boost.

APPLYING A LAYER OF PEAT MOSS WHEN PLANTING MID-SUMMER VEGETABLES: The late July soil is hot and dry and a layer of peat moss applied to newly sown seeds will help the seeds retain moisture from summer thunderstorms as well as improve the texture of the soil, Peat moss is a totally organic soil booster that acts like a sponge to retain moisture and improve soil tilth as well as adding organic matter.

INVEST IN A CORN SILK BRUSH: The corn is now in season, so take advantage of this timely harvest and freeze some for a winter treat. In preparing corn for cooking or freezing, a good tool to have on hand is a corn silking brush, which can be purchased in houseware departments of many stores. These brushes have stiff bristles that make the silks easy to remove. A good brush costs around two or three dollars and will last for many years. Always shuck and silk corn outside on the porch or deck to avoid a mess in the kitchen.

A SHORT-LIVED CORN HARVEST: Corn is a crop that requires a 90- to 95-day maturity cycle, and many gardeners do not have the space to grow a corn crop, but that does not prevent obtaining a supply of fresh corn for eating and freezing. Many farms sell corn by the dozen and many will sell a burlap bag of twelve dozen ears for a good price. There is nothing any better in the dead of winter than a meal of corn from the freezer, thawed and fried in an iron frying pan. Store bought and canned corn does not have that moist, juicy flavor and sweetness.

A SIMPLE RECIPE FOR FRIED CORN: If you use fresh corn, cut the kernels from the cob and then scrape the cob. Use about eight ears of corn. Use an iron frying pan (other frying pans also work well), place a half cup of Crisco corn oil or 1½ sticks of light margarine in the pan and heat it up, add the corn to the hot oil or margarine. Reduce heat and fry until golden brown, add salt and pepper to taste. Usually the corn will be ready to remove from the pan in about five or six minutes. If the corn is not sweet enough for your taste, add a tablespoon of white Karo syrup or a teaspoon of sugar.

CORN PUDDING: A VEGGIE AND A DESSERT: Corn is good no matter what season you serve it. This is a corn recipe you can use with fresh ears of corn or with a can of creamed yellow corn and both will make a nice pudding. Use eight fresh ears of corn, cut from the cob and chopped in pieces or run through a blender in “chop” mode, or you can use a 16oz can of cream corn and ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, one cup sugar, one tablespoon vanilla, two teaspoons cornstarch, three eggs and one cup of milk. Beat the eggs, salt, pepper, sugar and a half of a stick of margarine, milk and vanilla, Add the corn and cornstarch and mix again. Spray a baking dish or pan with PAM or Baker’s Joy. Pour in the pudding mixture and bake at 350-degrees for 50 or 60 minutes. Stir the pudding two or three times during the baking process. When the pudding gets stiff, it is done. You can set the oven on broil and brown the top if you would like, but don’t let it burn.

RABBITS LOVE VEGETABLES, BUT THEY WILL HATE THIS CONCOCTION AND RUN FROM IT! Gardeners love their veggies and so do rabbits in mid-July! Other than blasting them with a shotgun like Elmer Fudd would do; this stinky solution is less harmless but will move the “wabbit” on his merry way. In a plastic bucket or pail, mix a tablespoon of dish detergent, ½ cup of ammonia, a cup of urine and two tablespoons of hot sauce. Mix this concoction in a gallon of water and pour into a sprinkler can and pour around (not in) the row or bed. You may want to pinch your nose while applying a mixture!

A PERK UP FOR PUNY TOMATO VINES IN JULY: The Dog Day heat does its part to stress out tomatoes. There is a special natural perker upper called Alaska fish emulsion that will give tomato vines a shot where they need it. The emulsion comes in bottles and is mixed with water and poured around the bottom of the vines. Yes, it does smell like fish and it may attract a cat or two to the garden plot, but the cats will drive the rabbits away! Fish emulsion is a powerful solution and all you will need for a gallon container is four or five tablespoons. Your vines and tomatoes will quickly respond to this application and you will see quick results.

FREEZING FRESH EARS OF SUMMER’S CORN CROP: You can freeze yellow or white ears of corn but yellow corn is sweeter and more flavorful for the freezer. The most tasty way to freeze corn is to cut the kernels from the ears after washing and silking. After cutting the kernels, scrape the milky liquid from the cob into the cut kernels. Cover the kernels with warm water and boil for three to four minutes. Stir and allow the corn to cool before pouring into quart or pint plastic freezer containers. Leave one half inch space at the top of the container. When ready to use, let frozen corn thaw in the container for an hour. Pour into an iron frying pan or skillet. Add salt, pepper, bacon bits or light margarine and simmer for several minutes.

STARTING CABBAGE AND BROCCOLI PLATS FROM SEED: Late July is the time to start cabbage and broccoli from seed and it is easy to raise your own plants and know exactly what you are starting. Start a packet of broccoli and a packet of cabbage in a medium flower pot filled with seed-starting medium mixed with prescribed amount of water. Reserve a hand full of prepared medium. Sprinkle seeds on the medium and cover the seed with the reserved prepared medium. At the end of two weeks, they should be ready to transplant into individual pots and ready for the garden in 14 to 20 days. As the days get hotter, place seedlings in shady area.

Ray Baird

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