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2014 August
Pg 8 - The Sunshine Express
Veggies galore? Make the most
of your garden goodies
(BPT) You¡¯ve spent the summer tending and
nurturing vegetables that have flourished, and
now you have such an abundance of tomatoes,
cucumbers, peppers and leafy greens, your
home is starting to resemble the produce sec-
tion of a grocery store.
Some people think harvest season is when the
work stops for growing fresh fruits and vegeta-
bles in the backyard. If you want to be able to
enjoy your hard work all year long and incor-
porate your vegetables into meals throughout
the winter, though, there¡¯s still some work to be
You can use your vegetables and fruits in meals
all year long, and these tips also provide you
with great ideas for sharing what you¡¯ve grown
with friends and family. As you reap the benefits
of summer¡¯s growing season and the care you
provided your garden, consider these ways to
preserve and share the bounty you¡¯ve grown in
your backyard:
* Host a canning party - Canning is making
a comeback, even for urban families who grow
their vegetables in container gardens. If you
have tomatoes, peppers, berries, beans, carrots
and even peas, canning and freezing are two
ways to preserve these items for use through-
out the winter months. Both options preserve
the nutrients of the fruits and vegetables, and
most canning and freezing processes don¡¯t re-
quire any additional ingredients to be added to
the product. If you¡¯re looking for a way to add
more variety to your pantry, chop tomatoes,
peppers and onions into a salsa mixture to be
If you have friends in the same situation with
an abundance of food, host a canning party. Ask
everyone to bring extra pots, hot pads, stirring
utensils, knives and cutting boards so you have
enough equipment to keep all hands busy.
* Pickle your veggies - All pickling recipes are
different, and it¡¯s fun to experiment with differ-
ent seasonings and techniques. To get started,
try this basic pickling spice recipe from Frontier
Co-op. It features a balance of flavor that blends
several different responsibly sourced seasonings:
Balanced Basic Pickle Seasoning
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon turmeric root powder
For other recipes for preserving your vegetables
and incorporating them into delicious dishes all
year long, visit:
* Gift your garden goodies - Ask your cowork-
ers, neighbors and friends if anyone would be
interested in some of your fresh produce. Or,
better yet, can some of the produce in smaller
batches to hand out as gifts. Everyone loves a
batch of raspberry jam or a jar of homemade
salsa in their holiday stocking or as a thank-you
gift. To make the gift look nice, decorate the jar
with ribbons or wrap it in a pretty gift bag.
* Make fun drinks - If you grow herbs in your
yard, you can either freeze or dry the leaves
to preserve their flavors for future use. Or try
making herbal soda, which is usually a mixture
of lemons, herbs, soda water and simple syrup
stirred together for a refreshing summery drink
on ice. Invite guests over for a relaxing after-
noon on the patio and impress them with your
simple, tasty drinks. Your family will also love
them for a way to cool down after having fun in
the sun.
* Share your harvest - Families that are food
insecure appreciate the fresh produce found at
harvest season. Contact your local food pantry to
Food & Garden
Maximize Abundance
door spaces a facelift.
* Refresh or add a deck
A deck is a great way to add more living space to
your home. If you do not currently have a deck,
consider adding one. Whether you do it yourself
or hire a contractor, a deck addition offers an
impressive return on investment. Remodeling
Magazine¡¯s 2014 Cost vs. Value Report states a
wood deck addition recoups 87.4 percent of its
cost, while a composite deck addition has a 74.3
percent recouped cost.
Of course, if you already have a deck, there¡¯s
typically no need to demo - you can just give it
a refresh. Add a fresh coat of stain if you have a
wood deck and rails, or give a composite deck a
thorough cleaning with a hose or power sprayer.
If your wood rails are in good condition, give
them a fresh look by replacing the wood balusters
with aluminum or glass balusters.
Next, consider lighting enhancements. If you
have a deck with stairs, recessed lights are
easy to install in risers and they add an element
of safety, too. Deckorators solar accent lights
secured to posts create subtle illumination that
adds elegance and ambience. New post caps are
a simple way to boost railing style, and stunning
solar caps are guaranteed to complement any
exterior design.
Finally, if you crave a garden but don¡¯t have
the additional space or time for a full-size plot,
your deck can serve as a simple solution. Install
planter boxes on your deck rails and select a few
favorite vegetables or herbs. Another trending
option is to create a wall garden with small plants
hung independently or on small shelves at differ-
ent levels. Whatever you choose, you¡¯ll have fresh
fare just steps from your kitchen.
* Renovate the patio area
If your home has a concrete patio in addition to
or in place of a deck, start by applying a coat of
concrete stain to give the space new life. Con-
crete stain is affordable and readily available at
home improvement stores. This DIY weekend
project will have dramatic visual results.
Next, dress up the patio with new furniture. Com-
fort is key whether you¡¯re relaxing after a long
week of work or hosting a neighborhood barbecue
with slews of guests. If you have existing furni-
ture that is still in good shape, you can refresh
the style with a fresh coat of outdoor paint and
new cushions.
Enhance your patio facelift by adding solar light-
ing along pathways. Not only does this illuminate
the night for safe and easy access, it adds a soft
glow that beautifies the yard. Add even more
drama by highlighting landscape features of note
- such as fountains, flowerbeds and statues - with
hardscape lighting.
One outdoor living trend that continues to gain
interest is the addition of pergolas to outdoor
spaces. Typically installed on patios and low-level
decks, pergolas provide a gorgeous focal point
that adds a touch of shade in sunny places. Dress
up a plain pergola with postcovers and vine plants
that grow upward throughout the season to pro-
vide additional levels of shade.
* Express your style
No matter what outdoor home improvements
you plan to make this year, embrace your own
style. Especially when entertaining, you want
your spaces to express who you are. Visit www. for more inspiration on how to
create or update a deck.
ask how you can share
your harvest with oth-
ers. They may require
specific kinds of pro-
duce, or need vegeta-
bles to be harvested in
a specific way.
Outdoor living made
easy with home
improvements that
boost comfort &
(BPT) Beautiful weath-
er begs to be enjoyed,
but a drab deck, dated
patio and dull lighting
can drive homeown-
ers indoors fast. A few
home improvements
can ensure seasons
full of outdoor com-
fort, all while enhanc-
ing your house¡¯s value
and exterior aesthetic.
Outdoor home im-
provements extend
livable space so home-
owners can relax solo
or entertain guests
with Mother Nature
as the backdrop. With
that in mind, 56 per-
cent of homeowners
plan to update their
landscapes to create
a better entertaining
space, according to a
2014 Houzz Landscap-
ing Survey.
Consider these home
improvement tips to
give your favorite out-
are quite
they are
and fun.
¡°Every garden is unique with
a multitude of choices in soils,
plants and themes. Finding
your garden theme is as easy
as seeing what brings a smile
to your face.¡±
- Teresa Watkins