Saturday, August 27, 2011

Late Summer & Fall Garden Tips

The summer is slowly coming to an end and it's time to start making a list of the garden and landscape chores that will need to be done before cold weather. Today I have a few chores that you may need to do too.

Herbaceous peonies should be cut back to soil level, and the ground under and around the plant should be kept free of debris. Moving or dividing peonies can also be done this time of year. Add compost when replanting, water well, and mulch.

Hydrangeas can be planted this time of year as well. Choose a fertile, fairly moist, but not wet, location in partial shade if possible. If the location is in full sun the soil should be on the moist side. They don't do well in dry soil and full sun unless they can be watered on a regular basis. Hydrangeas won't bloom as well their best in a full shade, woodland environment either. Most hydrangeas can be pruned by 1/3 during the winter months when the plant has lost it's leaves. This makes it easier to prune evenly.

Fall is a good time to divide or transplant perennial plants such as hosta, yarrow, day lily, Lily of the Valley, bleeding hearts, and other plants that bloomed in the spring or early summer. One rule of thumb is to transplant after the perennial has bloomed, not during or before blooming. Water well for the first two weeks after transplanting, especially if there isn't sufficient rain. Mulch can add an extra protection to newly transplanted perennials if it's 3-5 inches thick, and removed in early spring.

I found this great tip from Clemson University Extension Office:
Blossom end rot - check your late tomatoes for blossom end rot on the fruit as it begins to form. This is usually an indication of a calcium deficiency. Place a handful of gypsum (land plaster) in the soil beside the tomato at planting (or later) to prevent this. Foliar sprays such as blossom end rot spray will also help alleviate the problem. Nothing will "heal" the fruit with rot on it, so remove and discard them.

One last chore that I need to do soon myself, is dividing and moving bearded iris. I have two tall varieties, and one cream colored dwarf iris. I love how easy they are to grow, but I spaced mine too close together and I need to thin and divide the rhizomes. The perfect time to do this is after a hard rain. Dig up the iris, cut off the foliage to 5-6 inches above the root/rhizome and set them to dry for a day or two before replanting.

On OFL I have more tips on dividing iris and looking for insect damage:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Breakfast Breads for Back to School

Teenagers in particular tend to grumble when reminded they need to eat something other than a toaster pastry before school in the morning. We always have cereal and granola bars on hand at our house, but breakfast breads are a nice alternative too. I've found that variation helps keep the kids interested in breakfast. Today I have recipes for easy breakfast breads that can be made ahead of time.

The first recipe makes TWO 9x13 pans, which will last a couple of mornings. This makes a nice after school snack as well.

Apple Breakfast Bread

7 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 cup baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup shortening
3 large eggs, beaten
2 1/4 cups water
3 1/2 cups of diced baking apples
3 tbsp. melted butter
4 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Mix flour, baking powder, salt and 6 tbsp. sugar with the shortening using a fork or pastry cutter. Add the eggs and water; mix until it forms a soft dough. Place the batter equally into two well buttered 9x13 baking pans. Spread evenly. Combine the apples, butter, cinnamon and 1 2/3 cups sugar. Spread evenly over batter in each pan. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. Makes 25 servings.

Apple Coffee Cake

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups chopped apples
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Cream the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup butter with an electric mixer til light. Add the egg, vanilla, apples, flour, soda and salt. Pour into a square baking pan. Top with a mixture of 2 tbsp. butter, brown sugar and cinnamon. Bake in 350 degree F. oven for 30-35 minutes. 6 servings.

Spicy Coffee Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 tsp. vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt

Combine the flour, shortening and brown sugar with a fork or pastry blender. Measure out 1 cup of the flour mixture and mix in a small bowl with the pecans for a topping; set aside. Combine the egg, milk, vinegar and salt-- whisk well. Mix together the spices and baking soda. Add to the egg mixture with the remaining flour mixture. Put into a 8x8 square pan that has been buttered or sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle with the reserved topping. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Serve with butter.

Peach Coffee Cake

3 cups flour
3 cups granulated sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 lb. 13 oz. can sliced peaches, drained
cinnamon sugar mixture*
1/2 lb. margarine

Sift the dry ingredients; add eggs and mix with a fork or pastry cutter until it's resembles crumbs. Add milk. Spread 1/3 of the mixture in a 9x13 pan. Arrange 1/2 of peaches over the crumble layer. Repeat layers, ending with the crumble mixture. Top with cinnamon sugar mixture and dot with the margarine. Bake at 350 F. for 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean. 12 servings.

*mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

On OFL we have recipes for muffins, another favorite breakfast: