This has been a very exciting month and this issue is PACKED with great information. The Microgreen kits are in, click here! Chef Greg took the photo to the right after his first week! We also just obtained "powered vanilla" in a much more economical form, it is based on artificial flavoring and cane sugar. We find it more intense than the natural vanilla powder that is spray dried onto dextrose. Because many people prefer the natural version, we will continue to carry that as well. Click here to order the new powdered vanilla version. It is great on berries, in mason jar recipes, granola, coffee, chai and so much more. Click thumbnail (photo to the right) for more detail.
I am just starting to understand how wonderful the Balsamico vinegar is, after I asked Greg, our Chef, what do you use it on? Vanilla ice cream was one of his replies. I was like, HUH? So, last night I made some coconut ice cream, (just coconut milk in the normal ice cream recipe) and swirled Agave Nectar all over it with some of the Balsamico and toped it all with sesame seeds. Talk about something you cannot stop eating!!!! Another friend of mine makes me the same type of desert, except he adds toasted wheat germ all over mine, along with bananas. He knows I need fiber and his trick always works just great.
I love the Agave Nectar so much, I quickly made a ton of my own granola one morning with it--and the result was a coolness level 10. Making your own gourmet granola is so economical and fast. It also lasts a long time, depending, of course, on how much you make and eat! So, that gets breakfast out of the way, and lunch, we do different recipes with our new line of dip mixes. They will be formally introduced before football season starts, but just to give you a tease--here is the site we are still working on. It has not been submitted for public purchase yet and we do have to conform to certain Federal Acts regarding food first. There are additional laws passed just recently regarding bio-terrorism. http://www.wholesaledipmixes.com/ I consider the dip mixes a well rounded meal! Wheat Crackers, Cream Cheese, as well as the mix and a can of shrimp, crab, or clams, depending on what we are making.
The new Designer Fragrance oils turned out to be more popular than I thought. Even my mail man, UPS guy, Fed Ex personnel, guests I have over and just about anyone who knows me-- has taken a very open interest in this area of Mabel! I roll Casmir on and everyone wants to know what I am wearing, just as when I wore the $400 an ounce perfume! No longer will I pay $400 for a bottle of perfume, it will cost me under $2 an ounce and it is JUST as good. As I said before, Cool Waters Type is just like what it says, Oscar is Oscar and so on. They can not only be used straight up on the skin, they can be dropped in the bath, into soaps, candles, room sprays and whatever is not plastic. They must ultimately be in glass.
Chef Greg took the photos in this article of his trial Microgreens just after just one week. The Kits come in 12 cell mini-greenhouse trays that are 1/2 pound each. We determined two kits will be the minimum purchase, instead of one, because we offer a few varieties and the shipping would be at one pound minimum with Fed Ex no matter what. I am excited to get mine!
Chef Greg and all of our other staff across the United States have theirs and they reported they grew in ONE week! Two weeks is what we promise. I wanted all of my favorites in one kit, but our growers explained some grow in a different medium than others, thus have to be split in kit with Microgreens that grow well together. So we came up with a few kits. If you buy these, you will need a spray bottle to spray them three times a day with normal water. I was shocked to see Chives, the one I would use the most, not on the list of arrangements because it needs to be grown solo. Thus we are selling Chives in a tray by itself. You can pick any two of the blends below for each purchase, just notate them in the comment box of our order form. Click here to buy your Microgreens!
Seed repurchase: We are selling the Microgreen seeds individually at the best price possible. By then, you will have the hang of growing Microgreen and what your preferences are.
SINGLE KIT INCLUDES:
Chef’s Rainbow Blend– includes an assortment of varieties including
Arugula, Amaranth, Mizuna, Red Giant Mustard, Red Cabbage, and Cress.
Spicy Blend – Arugula, China Rose Radish, Cress, Mizuna, Red Giant
Mustard, and Yellow Mustard.
Health Blend – includes an assortment of cruciferous vegetables recognized
for their antioxidant and cancer fighting properties including Broccoli,
Collards, Kohlrabi, Red Cabbage, Tokyo Bekana Cabbage, and Rapini.
seeds include: Amaranth,
That Oil in Your Pasta Water? by Chef Gregory
If it is, that’s ok. I’ve seen oil in the pasta water all over the world and have heard some reasons close to making me a believer…but to this day like to ask my chefs a few questions to really find out: “do you need oil in the pasta water?”
The art of cooking pasta is better left untouched for now, as we will most definitely dive into it another day. Cooking pasta to perfection is one of the things I strive for when I cook pasta, and I cook a lot of pasta! When I cook pasta, I boil a gallon of water for every pound of pasta I am going to cook. Salt is a must, about 2 tablespoons per gallon. Quite simply, it makes the pasta taste good! I will go into further detail in our pasta cooking lesson.
Countless times I’ve read instructions to, and seen so many cooks pour a tablespoon or more of olive oil into the water after the pasta begins to cook. Oil floats in water…always! The pasta is doing its thing at the bottom of the pot. When the time comes to drain the pasta, you tip the pot and dump the noodles into a strainer. What goes first? The oil… down the drain…never to see your pasta again.
I’ve heard oil makes the water boil faster…it doesn’t. I’ve heard the oil keeps the pasta from sticking…it doesn’t. How can it when it is simply floating on top? I’ve heard the oil adds flavor to the pasta…no. Not floating on the top. My olive oil here at the house cost me $10 per bottle, and I don’t throw it down the drain. I don’t think you do either. A nice olive oil and pasta is a match made in heaven, but when they are on the same plate…not in the same pot of water.
I have yet to discover an advantage to olive oil in pasta water. Next time you are watching the oil floating on top of your pasta water, ask yourself “what is it doing”. As you watch it go down the drain, ask yourself “did I need it in there to cook pasta properly”. You might just find a much better use for that olive oil! (Greg we all commit this crime because we heard it keeps the pasta from sticking together and we have to appear to be doing something in the kitchen! DRD-Editor)
you next issue- Chef Gregory Engelhardt
Natural Wax Jelly Balm Base: Better Way far than Petroleum
Recently a wax manufacturer sent me a natural wax jelly that is made of all natural waxes and purported to be a superior replacement for petroleum based jelly. At first, I was, ho hum, another sample and did not open it for a month. Well, after using it in several ways, including right on the lips to start with, I cannot even begin to describe how wonderful this product is. Not only is it better than petroleum, it is more economical and it does not contain beeswax. I found it melted very fast in the microwave--so fast it only takes a few seconds and must be watched. I also found flavor oils mixed in just fine and made up a batch to replace my more heavy duty fall/winter balms I love to make with SoyWax™.
At first I wanted to call it "lip jelly" but that would narrow its wonderful usage greatly. This clear gel can also be used in salve recipes, and just about anything but Lip Balm Stick. I think it is great for kids to make and thought of doing a Jamming Jelly lip kit with the typical jelly flavors, strawberry, apple, grape and raspberry. I still may do that, when time permits, but right now, for the adults, it is just a wonderfully versatile product. We now sell it below our all purpose balm base, in 4 ounce and 2 pound sizes. Click here for our new jelly made by S&P.
Using the jelly I described above, along with skin safe body glitter, dance crews have found out it suspends and stays on nicely. Simply add the glitter after it is out of the microwave, stir well, and allow to cool. Do not add glitter while in the microwave as many glitters have metal in them.
Essentially Yours by Leane Ketcherside
Our Essential Oil department is evolving! We’ve added some new Essential Oils, such as Clary Sage, Cedarwood and Bug Off!, a very special blend to address the serious need to keep mosquitoes and insects at bay. We've also added Litsea cubeba to anchor those beautiful, yet fleeting Citrus scents in soaps, candles and all other products involving Citrus oils. (See accompanying articles in this issue to learn about these oils and how to use them).
We are now offering our Essential Oils in 10 ml (approximately 1/3 of an ounce) and 2 ounce sizes, in beautiful Cobalt blue bottles, when possible. We have changed suppliers, as well, and I can tell you this: These are absolutely the best quality oils I have ever worked with, and I have worked with many EO suppliers over the years. Our new Bulgarian Lavender is absolute heaven! I am both excited and proud to endorse our new line of Essential Oils.
Our goal at Mabel, as always, is to offer you the best quality products at the fairest prices we can afford, and our Essential Oils are no exception. I have researched prices and oils from other suppliers into the wee hours and am shocked at some of the things I found. The Catnip oil used in our Bug Off! blend sells for more than $28 to $43 for 10 ml from various suppliers, while our blend of TEN of the most effective insect deterrent oils on the planet sells for less than $9 an ounce. We think that’s bad business and will never gouge you, our valued customers, in such a way.
We now have a page where you can see the properties, descriptions and uses of every oil we offer, plus information on where the oil comes from, how it’s produced, and some other oils good for blending with each oil. This information comes from my own experience working with these oils, rather than by parroting other sites or books, as many others do. You will never get an untried Essential Oil recipe from us. My guinea pigs are my family, friends, myself, and yes, my four dogs. If it helps, I’ll pass it along. If it doesn’t, I won’t waste your time or money. Click here to see our new Essential Oils Division!
As we continue to add more Essential Oils, we will let you know, so keep reading the Essential Oils 101 articles for information and recipes to heal, delight and enhance your lives with these precious gifts from Nature.
Bug Off! by Leane Ketcherside
I don’t like crawly, flying or biting things, but I don’t like to kill anything, either. Usually I’ll try to evade, shoo-away or scoop the hapless creeper up in a piece of paper and put it outdoors if it finds its way into the house.
My compassion for all things living does not, however, extend to mosquitoes.
I will kill, stomp, swat, chase and otherwise stalk these evil biters to the point of absurdity. I feel it’s only fair, since the blasted things have literally nearly killed me four times in my life.
It works something like this: A mosquito bites an infected bird, carries the infection and passes it along to the people it feeds on. I just happened to be that person FOUR TIMES! (What do you suppose the odds are on this one?)
My first experience with a mosquito-borne illness was St. Louis Encephalitis. I remember the excruciating head, neck and back pain, the fact that the Morphine pain pump made me itch all over but did little to ease the pain, and my husband crying when I opened my eyes three days later, which meant I would probably make it. And the Lumbar Puncture—I can remember that, too.
Experiences two, three and four were with a mosquito-borne illness called Viral Meningitis. The experience is mostly the same, but the brain swells in a different region. The Lumbar punctures, Morphine pain pump, awful itch reaction and the pain are pretty much the same.
Now we have the West Nile Virus to contend with. Oh, and by the way, there is no treatment or cure for any of these diseases—the medical establishment can only treat the pain and take a wait-and-see approach. That’s not good enough for me—I intend never to get bit again in the first place, and I haven’t, thanks to gifts from Nature in the form of Essential Oils. It’s been seven years since my last mosquito bite.
We have created a special blend of TEN Essential Oils known to deter mosquitoes and other annoying and harmful bugs and insects. You may have noticed that Citronella alone doesn't help much, no matter how many candles you burn. One of the best things about Essential oils is that, with proper blending of appropriate oils, each oil adds its properties to the others, creating a synergy. This blend will always be more powerful than any one oil, and our Bug Off! Blend is mighty, indeed. One of the chief oils used is Catnip, proven by a study at the University of Iowa to be TEN TIMES more effective than DEET, and without the health risks, to boot! Please see the Essential Oils 101 article in this newsletter for recipes and my own proven methods to protect your family this summer. Click here to see our new BUG OFF! blend.
You can tell a lot about a chef just by the upkeep and organization of his or her kitchen. Same can be said about you and the upkeep of your car, or even how you keep your bedroom. The bedroom is your own personal space, and home to two essential activities…sex and sleep. Do you have better sex in a cool bedroom?
A cool kitchen is almost a given when quality food starts to emerge from the room. The act of cooking allows the chef to put things in place in order to make the experience more productive and enjoyable. Although the meal is consumed that evening and only lives on in memory, it leaves a lasting impression in our kitchen for weeks to come.
Find the best place for your kitchen elements by tuning into each cooking experience. Your basic kitchen elements include: your pots/pans, your tools (knives, tongs, peeler, etc., your dry goods (pantry items such as sugar, flour, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper), the fridge (fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, dairy, and such), and of course you- the chef. As you cook, these items will naturally find their way into a comfortable place while you prepare the recipes. The trick is to clean up the kitchen at the end of the night while leaving your elements in their home for the next time you come in to make culinary magic. This gives you a huge head start for your next round of creation.
Your pots and pans want to be kept close to where you use them, the stove. I hang mine directly above the range so they can come right down and on to the fire for action. Your tools should be in a drawer under or your work area or within arms reach. Your work area is where you will have your cutting board set up ready for action. A nice amount of counter-space is great for making pizza or some ravioli. The best place for the cutting board is near the sink to make easy cleanup of peelings and trimmings, or to simply wash the vegetables making them ready for cutting. Think like Henry Ford…assembly line! Move things in a line from start to finish (raw to cooked) without too many wasted steps (like back and forth from one side of the kitchen to the other). Have a small container filled with your favorite salt and your pepper mill next to your stove top. That is where you will use your seasonings while preparing hot foods. Don’t be afraid to have two salts and two pepper mills in your kitchen. Your kitchen is a collage of great recipes and memorable meals.
Cooking every day in the same environment lets us learn from our experiences. In my professional kitchen at work, I am constantly evolving my organization and steps in production, always trying to make my mise en place (things in place) as thorough and well-thought out as possible.
As I have mentioned in previous articles, getting set up before we begin our cooking adventures is key. We need to have our kitchen elements in areas that make our movements more fluid and effortless. The great chefs spend little time getting set up properly, because half of the job is left behind from their previous performance. At the end of a long day, do you not take your shoes off and leave them in a convenient spot to jump back into them the next work day? Flipping the shoes off into a different spot every day not only makes for a unorganized bedroom, but when the time comes to jump back into them (and you know you have too!), you have a hunt on your hands. Moving your shoes on a regular basis would be a whole mess more work and you’d have to find them every time. Have your things ready and know where they are.
me next time to cook pasta properly…making your dish perfect!
Agave Granola Recipe by Deborah R. Dolen
Hiya! Thanks again for hooking me up with the extras- I really appreciate it. I used one to add to my kids drink- I mix half apple juice and half chamomile tea then I used honey and an agave stick to sweeten, DELICIOUS!!!! Kari
Above is just one of many rave reviews I received about some Agave nectar I sent to random customers. I use it not only to sweeten just about everything, I made some happening granola the other day. Every month I usually make a batch of granola. It is outrageous priced in the stores. Hey, if you have oatmeal around, it only takes a few minutes to make a ton of granola. The morning I made it I eyed the Agave instead of the honey. I poured the 11 ounce bottle of Agave Nectar on about 40 ounces of oatmeal a few ounces of walnuts, dates, toasted wheat germ, and dried strawberries, mixed well and toasted in the oven for no more than ten minutes on 350. I typically grab whatever nuts are around, almond are great also. To make the dried fruit lump, I simply take a can of jelly that I got on sale and dehydrate them into little lumps, coat them in powdered vanilla, for moments just like this! I have written more specific recipes if you do a search in archives below. Click here for Agave Nectar, buy two get one free! Light or Amber. Click here for our Granola Recipe PDF.
The Rock of Gibraltar: Breaking Down Kidney Stones: For Those Who Have Them
Tang the Dang Stone! I am not used to being ill, and the last year has played havoc on me. I was actually playing havoc on myself by not drinking enough water or getting enough physical activity. Typically, you do not know you have a kidney stone until you are in the Emergency Room--or crawling to it. Many of our customers report having these issues, chronic stones, and it is kind of like someone saying they have a headache. You feel bad, but you have no clue how it feels. Last years abdominal discomfort that was radiating and hard to tell what it was---had me writing my Last Will and saying good bye to loved ones!
After tons of supertronic exams, all that were found were several small stones in my kidneys they felt would pass. I was very disappointed, with all that pain, that is ALL it was. But after some treatment and relief at the hospital, I felt better and all too soon forgot that experience.
This year, those "little stones" turned into what I felt was the "Rock of Gibraltar" and what a disabling and unreal experience. You can hardly walk. It is worse than child birth because child birth usually cannot go on longer then 24 hours. With kidney stones, most therapy has to be done at home after the Doctors do what they do best, which is to bill you. Drinking a gallon of water, and having a stone almost out--stopping the normal flow of life, is even more frustrating. It took me three solid days to drink gallons of water and beer to pass them aIl. I was told to drink a lot of Miller Light, which was hard since I do not drink. They say a beer a day will help the kidney stones away and/or any drink with potassium citrate, such as Crystal Light Lemonade. Beer is supposed to make you expend more fluid than you took in. Kind of like a diuretic. I find it hard to acquire a taste for beer, so a friend in Ottawa suggested chips and salsa. That made sense and why bars hand out chips and salsa for free.
I love Tang and I know the sugar free Tang has potassium citrate. Not an easy version to get in most stores. So I should have had a glass a day of that all year as well as more water. Then maybe I can be an astronaut! I am out in space half the time, and I do qualify for their program.
So, Tang the Dang Kidney stone is my plan for prevention and maybe a beer here and there, as well as to slow down on the milk consumption as I do love milk, ice cream, and all other milk products so much. They seem to be a big factor in the stone formulation. Again, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Hope this helps! Deborah
Essential Oils 101 Vol. VI by Leane Ketcherside
This issue is very exciting, as we have new Essential Oils to introduce, as well as our new Bug Off! blend to help protect your family from the ever-growing threats from mosquito-borne illnesses.
In University of Iowa studies conducted in 2000 and 2003, researchers found that nepetalactone, an active chemical found in Catnip, is ten times more effective than DEET at warding off mosquitoes. It also deters flies and other annoying pests! This is such important news for all of us, since up until now we had to rely on toxic sprays containing DEET to protect ourselves, choosing between two evils. Well, not anymore!
Bug Off! is designed to be used with various carriers to apply to skin and clothing, and in outdoor candles. It contains ten of the best insect-deterrent Essential Oils on the planet, including Catnip. Even men won’t object to the scent, as they tend to do with Skin-So-Soft and other DEET alternatives. In fact, since I started making this blend two years ago, the men my husband works with, who often work outside, have requested so many jars of Bug Off! Body Butter and sprays that I automatically make it by the pound early each spring.
Bug Off! Dog shampoo bars! I wish I could give you a recipe using melt and pour soap base, but I can’t. It isn’t possible to get the abundant lather necessary for a shampoo bar without loads of Castor and other oils and the CP method. The good news is that I am offering the finished bars of CP Bug Off! Dog Shampoo that I use on my four little beasties. Chock full of goodies such as Oatmeal infusions, Shea Butter, Avocado, Macadamia and natural Vitamin E oils, these 3"round bars are easy to hold and use, and contain the just right amount of our Bug Off! EO blend. I must admit that they aren’t the prettiest bars in the world, but they are mighty! They lather like crazy, clean very well and leave the fur smelling fresh and lemony, rather than like chemicals and medicine. My four white girls come out clean with unbelievably fluffy coats, moisturized and less-itchy skin. With added mosquito and other insect deterrents you can’t beat these handy bars. People can use them, too, and they’re perfect to take along on camping trips or to send with the kids to summer camp, to be used as both soap and shampoo! Just don’t tell them they were designed for dogs! Click here to purchase Leane's Doggie Shampoo Soap Bar.
Litsea, aka May Chang, is here just in time to use with those heavenly, but fleeting summer Citrus EOs. It smells lemony, and is often used by soapers to replace the scent of lemon in their soaps. The best news for this EO, however, is that it acts as a fixative, anchoring Citrus EO blends so they last longer in candles, soaps, lotions—anything you choose to make using the beautiful Citrus EOs. Use one part Litsea to three parts Citrus oils and have a blast with the perfect scents for summer!
Clary Sage, another new addition to our growing EO collection, is truly a gift! It has a heavenly scent, and when combined with our Bulgarian Lavender and Geranium, produces a blend that will cause even the most stressed-out person to chill-out in a major way! Many cosmetic companies incorporate this gorgeous EO in their skin care products for its effectiveness in fighting wrinkles, and its ability to ease stress, depression, PMS and other emotional problems is legendary. It is known as one of the “Women’s Oils” and I can personally attest to its value. Every bath bomb, night cream, pillow spray and bath salt blend I make for evening use contains this EO because it works!
Cedarwood, Atlas, is sweet, smoky, woody and long-lasting. This is another EO that acts as an anchor to other, more fleeting EOs. Perfect in any men’s blend, its uses are numerous. From acne to dandruff, hair loss to insect deterrent, this hard working EO is part of our Bug Off! blend and is included in every soap, aftershave balm, candle and shampoo bar I make for the men in my family. Slightly reminiscent of Granny’s cedar chest, this warm, uplifting and calming Essential Oil is worth including in every EO collection.
The Bug Off! Recipes
Bug Off! Candles
Use .8 to1 ounce per pound of SoyWax™. Make several and surround the area. See the article below for instructions to make the large candles in galvanized pails.
Bug Off! M& P Soap
Add 3/4 to 1 ounce per pound of slightly cooled M&P soap base. Mold and use as you would any soap.
Bug Off! Body Butter
2 ounces Mabel’s Aloe Butter
2 ounces Mabel’s Shea Butter
3 drops ROE
1/4 teaspoons Dendritic Salt
3/4 teaspoons Bug Off! Blend
Melt the butters in the microwave and allow to cool slightly. Stir the ROE into the warm oils. Mix the EO blend into the dendritic salt and then stir into the warm oil mix, making sure to dissolve the salt. Pour into a 4 oz container. Stir this every so often to help keep everything suspended evenly. This is ready to apply directly to the skin after it has set up.
Bug Off! Body Butter
(Children, pregnant women and the elderly)
Follow the instructions above, but cut the EO blend in half, down to 27 drops, and cut the dendritic salt down to 1/8 teaspoon. Another option is to use the same EO amount, but double the butters to 4 ounces each, for a total of 8 ounces of butters.
Bug Off! Spray (Everyone)
One Mabel’s ½ ounce Spray Mister Bottle
One plastic pipette
1/4 ounce Glycerin
3/4 ounce Distilled water
6 drops Bug Off! Blend
Mix everything together in the spray bottle. You will have to shake this well, before and during use, as there is no emulsifier. Use this to spray clothing, hair and surrounding areas (like tablecloth overhangs, porous rocks, etc.) Also, saturate strips if cloth with the mixture and tie around legs, arms, etc., if you don’t want to spray directly on clothing. You can also place or hang these saturated strips around the area in several places. Make up several bottles so everyone can keep one with them!
2 drops Bug Off! Blend
8 ounces Distilled water
Bug Off! Dog Shampoo bar
Get the dog’s coat really wet and rub the wet shampoo bar all over the fur. Rub the lather in with your hands to work it down to the skin. The Oatmeal infusions, Shea Butter and other hydrating oils will soothe and protect the dry, itchy skin dogs so often have due to allergies and other factors. Rinse well and groom as usual.
For in-between-baths, swirl the 2 drops of the Bug Off! blend into the water with the dog’s brush and brush the fur all over. Avoid the face, but be sure to get all around the ears, under arms and legs, tail, etc. Repeat often when the dog is playing outside for extended periods.
Other Uses for Bug Off!
Storing Seeds and Propagation by Deborah R. Dolen
would not adore these cute little seed collection boxes? The Mabel
Company does not sell them, but we are fascinated by the main idea
behind the kit: Motivation. Nothing happens without
motivation. Grow a bit of history, and your
own seeds for next year. You can make your own seed saving kits
as I discuss below.
Once you get a container garden growing, you may want to harvest the seeds from what you see as the best performers. Since I am getting into the habit of doing this, I wanted to know how to store the seeds. I have never really seen seed packaged in plastic, so it made sense they may need to breathe while dormant.
Seeds must be carefully dried and then stored under the proper conditions in order to give the seeds the best chances of germinating and producing healthy plants when they are planted. Luckily, all the needs of seeds are easily provided once you are aware of their requirements. Some plants do not have seeds, and are reproduced by propagation. Split and divide, like an ameba. I discuss those below.
For purposes of storage, there are basically two types of seed: 'desiccation-tolerant' and 'desiccation-intolerant'. Most of the garden plants with which we are familiar produce desiccation-tolerant seeds, which means they can be safely dried for long-term storage. Here we discuss only desiccation-tolerant seeds.
How desiccation-tolerant seeds are dried and stored is very important to maintaining their viability and vigor over the long term. Drying should be gradual and thorough, and desiccants used when drying seeds in air above 30% relative humidity or so. During storage, seeds must be kept at appropriate temperature and moisture levels for greatest longevity.
Properly Drying Desiccation-Tolerant Seeds
Allow seed heads to become fully mature and to dry on the plant until the pod browns and splits open, or in the case of marigolds, zinnias etc., until the petals shrivel and detach. Choose a dry sunny day, after any morning dew has evaporated, for harvest. When saving seeds, getting them dry is a must, otherwise they'll mildew and not remain viable. I personally prefer to leave seeds spread thin and drying for at least 2 weeks before storing for next year. The seeds must be as dry as possible before storing.
Desiccation-tolerant seeds should be slowly dried in a shady spot. Spread seeds one or two thick in an airy, dry location—such as an air-conditioned environment or other place where relative humidity stays between 20% and 40%—for two or more weeks. Large seeds must be dried longer than smaller seeds. When dry, corn and beans will shatter when hit with a hammer, squash seeds will break instead of bending. Seeds which pass this test are dry enough for safe short-term storage. You Grow Girl, is a cute site. Click here to see her angle.
Using Silica Gels For Final Drying
I personally do not bother with silica, but it is a formidable option. Seeds air-dried during humid weather require additional drying with desiccants such as silica gel before final storage (but don't use heat!). Most seeds benefit from drying with silica gel if they are to be stored for very long. The longest storage life for desiccation-tolerant seeds is achieved by drying them to between 5% and 7% moisture content (by weight) and then storing them at several degrees below freezing. As storage temperature rises above freezing or moisture content rises above 5 to 7%, longevity in storage goes down and the incidence of mutation rises. Seeds dried to a low moisture content with silica gel and then stored in a freezer can usually retain viability for many years.
To use silica gels for drying seeds, place equal weights of silica gel and seeds to be dried in a well-sealed jar for 7 to 8 days. Then transfer the dried seeds quickly into airtight storage jars and place in a freezer, refrigerator or other cool, dark place.
Carefully follow the instructions which come with your silica gels for drying them after use, to avoid burning them and rendering them useless. Silica gels suitable for drying seeds can be purchased from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, PO Box 158, North Garden, VA 22959.
Packaging Your Seeds, Storage and Mold and Mildew
A common problem with stored seeds is mold or mildew resulting from incomplete drying before storage. Dry your seeds thoroughly before storing them (though drying them to 0% moisture will of course cause their death). If seeds sweat on insides of jars during storage, they are too wet and must be dried further in order to store successfully. Thus, we do not recommend any kind of jars as a storage unit. Plain regular sized paper envelopes are just fine. In fact, you can make many pretty labels to go on your envelopes using Avery's largest sized shipping label! I would say envelopes and pretty labels are much more important than any jar system. Adding some rice to each packet will also help to absorb any moisture. You could pre-make tinny return address labels for your tiny stakes while you are at it. These will come in handy when you do go to plant the gem.
I will make no bones about it. I love Impatiens, as they generally bloom year round (depending on where you live,) offer a wide variety of color to strike you, and is one of the most easiest plants to keep happy. They do not care for constant and direct sunlight, however. I find the new double bloom Impatiens (that look like little rose buds) to be more mite resistant and durable then the first variety we typically know. Also, the higher off the ground, the less likely to have leaf eaters at them. They do need water each day, so be nice to them. The New Guinea Version, I just do not like as it is VERY high maintenance and picky. The New Guinea version looks very much like Impatiens, so I would ask before you purchase. Mites do seem to be the main lover of Impatiens and tend to start at the bottom and eat all leaves until they make it to the top. I spray the insides about once a week with a mite killer.
I was thrilled when Chef Greg told me that the blooms are edible. I have many different colors around my yard. But then, I have to remember I spray the wahzoo out of them for mites--so not a cool idea after all. I may grow some bright Impatiens, such as red, and violet, in the kitchen, for salads. This way I know they have not been sprayed with an insecticide. But to make several plants out of just one, is ever so EASY to do. Geraniums propagate also, but when caring for them I understand a certain hormone does help these species take root better.
I pick my favorite performers and snip several limbs off of each, about 6 inches down. The plants are so full, you cannot tell if an intruder was present. I then line up 8 ounce mason jars along my windowsill, full of water and put the Impatiens cuttings in the water. Over a few weeks period of time, you will see roots! Yes lots of roots! During those few weeks, I check on them to remove dead leaves and blooms floating in the water and replace the water altogether. I do not use any hormone enhancers as some people do. Just plain old water. I may do this four times before I am ready to plant them somewhere I know will get fairly good shade and lots of water. Periwinkles are also beautiful to place in between white Impatiens, and they seem to come from the same family. Periwinkles are my favorite color, a slight pastel lavender/light blue. Periwinkle may also be propagated and the prettiest present I was ever given was a hanging basket overflowing with mixed white double-bloom Impatiens and Periwinkle. So, if you have the patience, GO FOR IT! Consider them just about cost free beautiful plants.
Making Marble Soap by Deborah R. Dolen
I made these soaps a few months ago for a friend. If you read my previous work, you know I like to prepare soap using the cold process method, but to cure them in the oven for 2 1/2 hours on 180 degrees in PVC pipes. That has just been a wonderful technique for me, so I do not have soap all over the house taking a month to cure as was a big issue in the past.
The soaps shown in the photo came out just beautiful, and the technique I used to make them was the following: I filled up my molds with scraps of former soap cuttings, and made sure to layer them in interesting colors. I prepared a simple white cold process soap base and added Cool Waters for Men in one white base, right a trace, (the pudding stage,) and PI for men in another batch. I then quickly and gently swirled in brightly colored mica powders, soap pigments, (we do not sell) and poured the mixture over the layers of former soap scraps. I was aiming for marble looking "veins" and sure got them! I was not sure how Mica, a metal, would react with the lye. I have always used cinnamon and natural spices to achieve color. The soaps are so beautiful, I now hate to actually use them, and their smell is beyond glorious! To read more about my soap making methods, please look though Archives below this sentence.
Soy Candles for Outdoors
I am reviving an old article that I still adore and will be making use of over the next few weeks. That is making large galvanized tin our does candles with three wicks and fragrance oils the critters just dislike. Click here for those previous easy instructions.
Six Herb by Numbers Map by Deborah R. Dolen
I wanted to give my first degree a try, which is graphic art's from Ringling School of Art. It has been 16 years since I drew free hand and my desire to start making and marketing garden plans fits right in. The Microgreens, what I dub the "little edible Chia pets" has also brought out the encouragement to "water a seed" in me. So, last week, I drafted my first "Garden by Numbers" map to offer free here and see how the response is. I began with a very basic herb garden, that, when mature, will offer a lot of movement, as well as be striking. If you notice in the drawing below, the cat plays a focal role and one of the herbs is designed to swag around the object. In this case I choose edible Violas. You can use an angel, bunny or any other stone type object to be your focal point. This garden I planned is about four feet wide by four feet long.