Hassle-Free Winter Composting For Any Region

Winter composting shouldn’t be a hassle. There are many easy ways to create and maintain usable compost year-round, and winter composting actually has several advantages.

It produces fertilizer for spring planting, so there is no rush to the garden center to pick up compost. Outdoor bins can handle more compost than indoor bins or containers. Winter composting can also act as a secondary heat source for a greenhouse or cold frame. Produce added to compost in the winter decomposes more slowly, and though it may freeze it will thaw, and this continual process breaks down organic fibers. This is how winter temperatures actually help gardeners with the composting. Continue Reading

The Health Benefits Of Peanuts Make Them A Must-Have

Bad reputations tend to stick around, even when it comes to food. For the past few years, peanuts have gotten a lot of negative press mainly because of peanut allergies. But for those of us without a peanut allergy, peanuts are a great addition to our diets. They are a good source of protein and have been shown to lower your total cholesterol and your “bad” cholesterol. And if that wasn’t enough, recent studies have confirmed that eating peanuts can actually lower your risk for coronary heart disease.

Best of all, peanuts give our bodies these added health benefits without causing weight gain. (When eaten in moderation, of course.) Peanuts are a great snack and a real “stick-to-the-ribs” kind of food that fills you up and keeps you going. Just a small handful of peanuts will give you the late afternoon pick-me-up you need without reaching for an unhealthy candy bar!

We gardeners grow all sorts of things we like to eat – from potatoes to tomatoes to squash and beyond. But have you ever thought about growing your own peanuts? You can! It’s amazingly easy to do…

Peanuts are a great addition to your home garden. They require just a minimal amount of care and reward you with large harvests. If you’re looking to grow something new or different this year, maybe you should consider growing peanuts.

With homegrown peanuts you can:

  • Roast them in their shells for quick & healthy snacks.
  • Grind them into a healthy, homemade peanut butter!
  • Boil them and enjoy a true “Southern” delicacy.
  • Use them as a salad topping…
  • Make candies, desserts, and homemade peanut brittle.
  • Add them to your casseroles and other dishes. (Crushed peanuts make a wonderful breadcrumb substitute)
  • Make a delicious Asian peanut sauce and even peanut soup…

You can even feed peanuts to your birds as a healthy source of homegrown birdseed. Now, that’s a real “peanut gallery” of uses! These are just a few ideas we have for using your homegrown peanuts. You are only limited by your own imagination.

One peanut plant will yield approximately 50-60 pods, with each pod containing 2-3 nuts. One half-pound of peanuts will give you enough peanut plants to grow a 35-foot row. That’s makes for a remarkable yield you can eat fresh and still have plenty to store for later use. You really will be going nuts for peanuts!  Check them out!

Black Valentine Bean Soup

Ingredients for Bean Preparation:

5 cups of water (may need a little extra)

1 pound (2 ½ cups) of dried black beans

1 ham hock

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon salt

 

Ingredients for Soup:

3 tablespoons of oil

2 large onions chopped

1 large carrot chopped

3 celery ribs chopped

½ teaspoon salt

5-6 garlic cloves minced

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 ½ tablespoon ground cumin

6 cups of chicken broth

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

 

Instructions:

  1. First you will want to prepare your dried beans.  There are different methods on dried bean preparation.  I put my beans in a pot, covered with water and let soak for about 6 hours.
  2. Then I added the other ingredients listed above in the bean preparation section and brought it to a boil over medium-high heat.
  3. After reaching a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 1 ½ hours (until beans are tender).
  4. Take out the bay leaves.
  5. To make the soup, put oil in a pot, heating to medium-heat and add onions, carrot, celery and salt. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft – around 10-15 minutes.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic, pepper flakes and cumin, stirring constantly about 2-5 minutes.
  7. Stir in beans with liquid, and chicken broth, increasing heat back up to medium-high and bring to a boil. After reaching a boil, reduce to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.
  8. If you want to thicken the soup, take 1 ½ cup of beans and 2 cups of the liquid and put in a blender. Return to soup.  Combine the cornstarch and water and add to the soup.
  9. Time to eat!  Serve with a dollop of sour cream!
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