The Garden Plot: How to freeze your fresh-picked strawberries – The Stokes News

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                                    Strawberries have caps, not hulls. At most pick-your-own fields, you can purchase strawberry capers that will make taking the caps off much easier. Never run water over strawberries because this makes them mushy and destroys their small seeds. Run cold water in the sink and place a quart of capped strawberries at a time in the water, then remove berries and place on a towel to drain.

Gently place the whole berries in plastic quart containers until half an inch from top of container. Repeat the process with each quart. Do not pack berries tightly in the plastic containers. When you get ready for a quart of frozen strawberries from the freezer, they will taste almost like fresh.
Strawberry Pie
After a visit to the strawberry patch, prepare this simple strawberry pie with only five ingredients.
2 qt. fresh strawberries
1 cup sugar
1 box Vanilla Wafers
1 can condensed milk
1 large carton of Cool Whip
Cap, clean and slice fresh strawberries, and add a cup of sugar. In a 13x9x2 inch pan or baking dish, layer Vanilla Wafers, then strawberries and Cool Whip. Repeat with another layer of each. Refrigerate one hour before serving.
Growing straight-neck squash
You can grow squash in the straight-neck or crookneck varieties. The straight neck is the best because they have less water, smaller seed and are much more meatier and can be cubed into uniform chunks for better casseroles, frying with onions or for squash sonkers. Sow squash in a furrow about three feet deep. Apply a layer of peat moss in bottom of furrow and sow seed three to four each hill. Cover seed with another layer of peat moss. Allow a foot or more between each hill of squash. Apply a layer of Black Kow composted cow manure on the seed and peat moss before hilling up soil on each side of the furrow and tamping down with the hoe blade.
When the squash have two leaves, thin to two plants per hill. Side dress the squash every 20 days with Plant-Tone organic vegetable food and hill up soil to cover the Plant-Tone. The hilled up soil will give extra support to the vines.
Starting a container of coleus
The coleus is also known as “Joseph’s coat” and it will produce colorful foliage into autumn. You can purchase four- or six-packs of assorted colors. As they grow, they will produce clusters of light purple flowers. To keep coleus producing more foliage, keep pinching off the flowers once a week. Plant all four assorted coleus plants in one pot for a lot of color all summer long. Feed coleus with organic flower food once a month.
Impatiens make pretty hanging baskets
Impatiens make great bordering displays and are beautiful in pots and containers, but are at their very best in a hanging basket. In a basket, allow the impatiens plenty of room to spread out and never set more than three or four plants in a basket to provide space for them to cascade over the basket. Keep baskets watered daily until water runs from the bottom of the basket. Feed the baskets with Flower-Tone organic flower food every two weeks. Impatiens love plenty of sun and therefore need a fresh drink of water in late afternoon or early evenings.
Cucumbers perform well
Cucumbers love warm days and nights and when sown now, they will rapidly grow and produce a large harvest over quite a few weeks if you cleanly harvest them. Check them daily when they begin to produce, because fruits can be hid under the vines and get to large to harvest.
Plant cucumbers in a furrow about two or three inches deep. Apply a layer of peat moss and sow seed four seed to a hill about one foot apart. Cover seed with another layer of peat moss and a layer of Black Kow and top with an application of Plant-Tone and hill up soil on each side of the furrow and tamp down for good soil contact.
When cucumbers sprout two leaves, thin cucumbers to two plants per hill. Side dress every two weeks with Plant-Tone and hill up soil on each side of the row.
A second crop of green beans
One of the attributes of green beans is with their harvest date of 65 to 70 days, they can continually be sown in successive crops for harvest all during the summer and even into early autumn. Green beans are certainly one of summers most universal vegetables because they can be eaten fresh or canned and frozen for year-round use. Many gardeners use them raw in salads. Start another crop this week for a harvest in late July. A pound will plant more than a 50-foot row.
Keeping the feeders filled
The honeysuckles are winding down and summer annuals are just beginning to begin their bloom cycle. The days and nights continue to get warmer. The hummingbirds will be visiting the feeders more often as the month winds it way down. As days get warmer, change the nectar twice a week to avoid fermentation. If the hummers are not consuming as much, fill feeders only half full to save nectar and avoid waste.
You can make your own nectar by mixing one quart sugar to quart and a half of water and several drops of red food coloring. Keep the nectar in the refrigerator until ready for use.
Keep setting out tomato plants
For as long as you can still find healthy tomato plants, set out a four-pack each week for a long tomato harvest. A wise choice at this time of season is to plant determinants such as Celebrity, Marglobe, Rutgers, Homestead, and Better Boy for late summer harvest in late July and through August.
Using calcium-enriched plant food
Calcium in the form of powdered lime calcium carbondale or vigaro tomato food with enriched calcium as well as keeping the base of the tomato plants watered during dry spells will help prevent blossom end rot. Using Tomato-Tone organic tomato food will also give tomatoes a boost in preventing blossom end rot.
Keep Christmas cactus watered
The Christmas cactus are enjoying summer outside on the porch. Feed them once a month with Flower-Tone organic flower food and a drink of water twice a week. If foliage looks reddish in color, move the plants away from direct sun.
The “Full Flower Moon”
The full moon of the month of May will occur next Wednesday. This moon will be named “Full Flower Moon,” as many annuals are now being planted and honeysuckles now in full bloom.

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