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Gardeners make good friends, especially during the holidays when they give out foods preserved from their gardens.
The top five canning recipes used during the holidays are for applesauce, cranberry sauce, jalapeno jelly, apple pie filling and sauerkraut, according to a recent survey by Jarden Home Brands, makers of Ball-brand mason jars.
There appears to be a distinctive second season for food preservation a spike from late November into December made by canners who want to share homemade gifts in jars.
"Many consumers can syrups, jellies and sauces to give away as holiday gifts, along with crafting and decor use for the holidays," said Jeff Marvel, a Jarden spokesman.
The jars themselves can be collector's items, and serving accessories on tables or sideboards.
"People prefer to see the vibrant colors of their fresh-packed tomatoes or peaches in clear glass," said Judy Harrold, Jarden's Consumer Affairs manager. "Things like granola and layered cooking mixes tend to look better in colored jars. The same goes for non-food items like candles, potpourri, bath salts and collectibles."
Gardeners' holiday gifts are driven in part by the kinds of edibles harvested late in the growing season, and in part by traditional holiday menus.
Younger canners are using ingredients from all over, Harrold said. "They rely more on farmer's markets than they do backyard gardens for their produce. And they only go to the grocery store when they don't have an ingredient to fit into their recipes," she said.
All of the food preservation techniques canning, freezing, dehydrating, fermenting and cold storage delay or stop spoilage while sealing in flavor and nutritional value. But home canners must use the proper techniques so they don't pass along any food-borne illnesses.
Under-processing canned goods could lead to bacteria in the food without any outward signs of spoilage, said Elizabeth Andress, a University of Georgia food safety specialist.
"Gift giving is not a good time to experiment or try new procedures," Andress said. "If you're talking canning, don't experiment with anything in the low-acid realm at all." That would include meats and vegetables.
Also, ensure that the jars you use are meant for canning.
"Some jars are intended for non-canning purposes, like crafts," and can't withstand the heat or temperature changes of the canning process, Andress said.
Be descriptive with jar labels. You can make your own or find labels made to order online.
"In addition to letting the receiver know exactly what the food is by listing the ingredients on the label, it's a nice touch to recommend how to use it," Andress said. "Things like apple rings or chutneys or pepper jellies. The latter is especially good with cream cheese."
For more, see this Penn State University Extension fact sheet: http://extension.psu.edu/food/preservation/news/2012/gifts-from-the-kitchen
You can contact Dean Fosdick at email@example.com
That's why Hawkins County Agricultural Agent and master gardener Jack Price is utilizing Tennessee's dirt guru former Cherokee High School instructor Jim Wells to kick off this year's course.
He basically wrote the soils manual for soil judging for the state of Tennessee, Price told the Times-News Tuesday. He's the guru of dirt. He was also very instrumental in taking a lot of FFA (Future Farmers of America) kids to Kansas, Oklahoma, and other places to compete.
Price is hosting a Q&A meeting about this year's Master Gardener course on Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. at the UT Agricultural Extension Office, 850 W. Main Street in Rogersville.
The goal is to begin the 18-class, 40-hour course in late October.
A lot of material is covered during that time period. After the section on soil and water there are sections on basic botany, plant pathology, entomology, vegetable production, small fruit and nut trees, IPM (integrated pest management), weed control, wildlife management, fertilizer use and composting just to name a few..
And then I have what I call the fun subject, like container gardening, small area gardening, and this year we're going to do what I call organic gardening, Price said, The instructor calls it biological gardening. The difference is she doesn't use any kind of pesticide.
Classes are taught by agricultural agents, vocational teachers, and a few doctorates from UT.
I use a variety of people, and I do try to tie in some local instructors as well from Cherokee and Volunteer High Schools, as well as other master gardeners from Northeast Tennessee, Price said. I try to use as many local people as possible. There's a lot of talent right here in Hawkins County.
The class will average about two meetings per month, and is expected to conclude in April or May.
The Tennessee Master Gardener course is about community service through horticulture.
You're going to get a good knowledge base of research based information, Price said. You are going to learn some new topics. We hope that you'll correctly learn how to used different defense mechanisms in and around the yard, and in your garden. And hopefully when you become a master gardener, if someone has questions you'll be able to answer them with confidence.
And then there's the volunteering aspect. The course itself is 40 hours of instruction. In order to become a Tennessee Master Gardener you must also perform 40 hours of community service, and then perform another 25 hours annually to maintain certification.
There are a variety of locations available to earn those hours, such as the community garden in Rogersville managed by the UT Ag Extension Office; or the Church Hill community garden which is managed by Master Gardener instructor Marcia Van de Mause.
The fee for the course is $150 per person or $275 per couple. The fee covers the training materials and other course expenses.
The course is limited to the first 20 people who register.
Anyone who is interested in the course but unable to attend the Oct.. 4 meeting can call Price at 423-272-7241 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not everyone can afford basic home repairs -- but that can lead to larger problems down the road if they aren't taken care of right away.
Now, a group of volunteers in Grand Traverse County is taking care of those issues -- if there's a physical or financial hurdle.
The Tuesday Toolmen are volunteers who help low-income seniors with home repairs.
It's a project that's part of the 'United Way' of Northwest Michigan.
If it wasn't for this program, we could not be on our own. There's no way, said Chester Leatherman.
Chester and Karen Leatherman both suffer from several disabilities.
Chester used to take care of home repairs himself, but with two broken legs, he no longer can.
Things take me so long because of my legs being broke. They're needed quite bad. I can tell you through my wife and I experiences.
He is certainly grateful for the Tuesday Toolmen.
We do our best to make it more comfortable for people to live in their home is what we do, said Tuesday Toolmen Volunteer Al Swiderski.
When Tuesday Toolmen show up, they do whatever it is they know how to do. At Chester's house they worked on light fixtures and fixing up the sink.
There are some projects we do and some that we wish we could do. They're too big. We're for the small projects. Little plumbing projects, putting up some grab bars.
Home Depot gives the group gift cards so they can buy materials for the repairs.
The Toolmen always go out in pairs.
Right now one of four of them are hurt, so, they're looking for more volunteers.
You don't have to be a master craftsman. I'm definitely not, you know. But we'd like some more help.
A worthwhile project for both the volunteers and the people they help.
We would not have the money to do it. And this helps us to be able to stay at home instead of being in some nursing home, Leatherman said.
If you're interested in volunteering or getting help from the Tuesday Toolmen, then call or email KateKerr.
You can reach her by phone at (231) 947.3200 x. 203, or by email at email@example.com.
FAIRBANKS I dont belong to Facebook, largely because I have enough other time-sucks in my life, but recently a reader asked me about a gardening tip she had read on the Fairbanks Gardeners page. So I asked my husband, who does have a Facebook account, to join the group so I could look around. And here is what I found: tons of great encouragement and advice for new gardeners, seedlings for sale (some that looked deep green and stocky, while others looking so spindly and emaciated that they should have been headed for the compost bin and not for sale to unsuspecting and inexperienced gardeners), and a lot of err