pgtruspace's blog

about things that interest me.

Tag Archives: garden

Blue Wizard

Burning aromatic woods and Blackberry Brandy wave offerings

Blue Wizard Celebration of the changing of the seasons a Strawberry moon followed by the summer solstice. A blessing to all and may you enjoy the fruits of the marriage of carbon and sunlight…pg

Inexpensive Rooting Box

An inexpensive rooting box.

Inexpensive Root starter box

Inexpensive Root starter box

To create a good environment for rooting cuttings you need  good light and control of humidity until the roots can support the needs of the new plant

PETE Grow box

PETE Grow box

An inexpensive rooting grow box can be created by using clear PETE, vacuum molded,  salad containers.

To the left you will see a drawing that demonstrates the concept of removing enough of the flange of one container to set the top one into the bottom containers’ flange.

I remove the flange in two passes as the convolutions make it difficult to get a good job done in one pass. Remember to remove only the amount needed to set one into the other as the remaining flange stiffens the edge.

PETE container labels

PETE container labels

The first thing to do is remove the labels from the container that you will be using for the top. Important! do this as soon as possible. A dry, new label peels cleanly off easily.  Just lift the edge and peel slowly, use a sharp knife to assist with sticky spots.  A wet or old label is very difficult to remove. Use that container for the bottom!  😦   PETE is resistant to most solvents if you really do need to clean up old glue.

Top flange fit into lower flange

Top flange fit into lower flange

If the shape and cutting is correct the top will fit into the lower tray flange. This will preserve a high humidity environment for the cuttings while they force roots to form. The clear PETE transmits a maximum amount of light so that the cuttings can make sugar to feed themselves.  And you can see any water in the base.  Be sure to open the box from time to time and talk to your new babies. they don’t care what you have to say. But they do appreciate the CO2.     😎    pg

Important note: store out of the summer sun! A dry empty clear PETE container will warp badly if left in hot direct sun. Even in the Green House.  pg


Canned Spiced Beets

Canned Spiced Beets

Plate of canned spiced beets

Plate of canned spiced beets

Canned spiced beets are a great way to preserve a beet crop for salad addition, vegetable dish or even desert.

After asking several people for their favorite recipe for canned beets, I put them together for this recipe that has turned out to be a tasty way to preserve part of my gardens production.  After a full season of growth and several fall frosts I harvested about 50 feet of single row of “torpedo” beets, “Fortex” from Johnny’s seeds.  A very sweet red beet when mature and good eating, thumb size young or fist size late harvest.

Beets to be cleaned

Beets to be cleaned

Pot of beets

Pot of scrubbed beets for the first cooking

Taste test of Canned Spice Beets

Taste test of Canned Spice Beets

Prepare beets by trimming off root tips and leaf head.  Scrub the beets very clean as we will be saving the juice to preserve all of the nutrients. As I picked beets enough to fill a 18 quart cook pot, this recipe is sized for this amount, 12 pounds of beets, 12 quarts yield.

12 pounds cleaned beets.

12 cups apple cider vinegar

the saved beet liquid

5 cups sugar

2 table spoons salt

10 table spoons spices

ground cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg            one third each or to suit your taste

Add 6 cups water and half the salt to the beets, in the pot .  Cover and cook 20 minuets and then allow to cool to working temperature.  remove beets from pot and save liquid. Scrape off skin, a small knife held 90 degrees to the beet surface works best. If the beets are cooked to just soft, the skins will slip off with thumb and finger pressure, Fun!

Add ingredients to liquid in pot and simmer/low boil for 30 minuets, stir occasionally while you skin and slice beets. Slice 1/4 inch or thinner,  smaller pieces will pack tighter in jars.  Suit your needs, be creative.  Pack jars to 1/2 inch of jar rim. 12 pounds should yield 12 quarts of packed jars.

After liqueur has settled pour over packed beets, leave at least 1/4 inch of head space in jars,  clean jar rims and add jar lids and rings. You should have extra liquor left over, a little more then a cup. I save the left over and add it to carrots canned with the same recipe  to improve their flavor.

After the water in the wet bath reaches 210F. Boil sealed jars of beets 20 minuets to complete cooking and canning. Age a week or more and enjoy!  pg

Update: this recipe works well for carrot’s as well.  pg


a comment from Chiefio that I just had to appropriate!

E.M.Smith says:


Cloves are a known anesthetic. ( Just put a bag of ground cloves on a sore spot in your mouth and notice how it stops hurting ) so I’d guess it to be part of the fix. I try to make sure there are always cloves in the house for just that sort of need. ( Making a tooth ache go away at 3 AM until the dentist wakes up, for example…).

Apple Cider Vinegar is also reputed to have beneficial effects on health, though I have no plausible reason (other than a rampant speculation that it might help get the acid / base balance back in line if you are at a basic fringe state).

Cinnamon tends to have a bit of ‘burn’ and most anesthetics burn when first applied, then shift to anesthesia, so perhaps it does a bit of that too? ( he does a search…) Yup.

Health benefits of cinnamon

The active principles in the cinnamon spice are known to have anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-septic, local anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, rubefacient (warming and soothing), carminative and anti-flatulent properties.

Cinnamon spice has the highest anti-oxidant strength of all the food sources in nature. The total measured ORAC (Oxygen radical absorbance capacity) value for this novel spice is 2,67,536 trolex equivalents (TE), which is many hundred times more than in chokeberry, apples, etc.

The spice contains health benefiting essential oils such as eugenol, a phenylpropanoids class of chemical compound, which gives pleasant, sweet aromatic fragrance to it. Eugenol has got local anesthetic and antiseptic properties, hence; employed in the dental and gum treatment procedures.

Other important essential oils in cinnamon include ethyl cinnamate, linalool, cinnamaldehyde, beta-caryophyllene, and methyl chavicol.

Cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon-sticks has been found to have anti-clotting action, prevents platelet clogging inside the blood vessels, and thereby helps prevent stroke, peripheral arterial and coronary artery diseases.

So in addition to general health promoting properties like mineral content and such, there are a couple of essential oils with anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Nutmeg is known to have mild effects on the nerves ( in high doses is reputed to be a very mild hallucinogen)

Medicinal uses

Since ancient times, nutmeg and its oil were being used in Chinese and Indian traditional medicines for illnesses related to the nervous and digestive systems. The compounds in this spice such as myristicin and elemicin have been soothing as well as stimulant properties on brain.
Nutmeg oil contains eugenol, which has been used in dentistry for toothache relief.
The oil is also used as a local massage to reduce muscular pain and rheumatic pain of joints.

Freshly prepared decoction with honey has been used to relief of nausea, gastritis, and indigestion ailments.

So looks to me like a decoction of those three spices, long with the vinegar and all the minerals and such from the beets would be not only generally health supporting, but likely have some effect on joint discomfort.

And what do you mean by my “fixation”??? 😉

It’s not a fixation, just a fruitful area of exploration 8-0 …

I wonder if that’s why I like the occasional pickled beets and odd cucumber pickle…

@R. de Haan:

Yup, fish oil is a known way to get the Omega-3 oil up, so shift the 3 / 6 ratio rapidly in the ‘good’ way.

Nice link on Devil’s Claw. Answered a question or two for me (like what the active ingredient is thought to be and that it blocks some inflammation pathways).


Interesting too. Any “synopsis” of his proposed method?

FWIW, I was referred to a specialist for a root canal / patch on a lower molar that had (on the x-ray) the root pulp pushing a small abscess out of the root tip. Hurt a lot, and was clearly a big issue. But, at the time, I had no job and not much money. A couple of $K was not on the cards. This was a couple of years ago. Well, at home in a drawer I had some antibiotics… I decided to run an experiment.

Took a normal dose of the antibiotic ( don’t remember which one, but think it was doxycycline ) and did mouth rinses with peroxide. In a day the pain was going down. In a couple it was gone. End of the week, everything was fine.

Now, a couple of years later, it’s still fine. Odds are that I’ll go back to the dentist for a cleaning and check up when back in his area. It will be interesting when the question of “How did my root canal go?” comes up and he snaps an X-ray of it 😉

I’ve learned, from way too many cycles of it, that if I totally avoid sodas (coke, pepsi, etc.) I have no cavities. If I indulge in them, I end up at the dentist in about a year. Just don’t drink things with phosphoric acid in it and teeth are much more happy…

Now I drink iced tea, hot tea, coffee, beer, and a lot of water. Occasionally goat milk, but rarely (as it is $4 / quart…). Avoid all soda whenever possible. Been a couple of years now and nothing hurts…

I’m certain there is a large opportunity to stop / reverse / prevent tooth decay with diet alone and maybe with the occasional antibiotic treatment if things have gotten infected.


thank you Mr Smith


Pruning for the next Years crop

Unpruned Fig Tree

 Pruning a fig tree

This is a Desert King Fig. A type of white canning/fresh eating fig, very fast grower and good producer. Figs like heavy clay soil and some water for best production. This 15 year old tree really likes it here. Fig trees are started from suckers that sprout from the roots. I have cloned near a hundred trees from this one, and they start producing fruit in 3 to 4 years! Great gift for anyone with the space.  Great shade and fruit but very messy and draws birds. I cover it with a bird net in the early summer to protect the crop from birds. Then that must be replaced every year if you want fruit to enjoy and share. Because this is a fast grower it needs heavy pruning every winter, lots of brush to deal with! Other varieties grow much less but are slower to produce and produce less fruit. As they are slower they are later in the season to produce for an extended season.

Pruned Fig Tree

A pruned fig tree

For the production of fruit that can be easily harvested the fruiting area must be held down near the ground. As this is also a shade tree some compromise must be reached, In this case I want fruit 6 feet to 12 feet above the ground. Many fig trees produce 2 crops per year. The first, at bud points on last years growth in the early summer and the second, on the new growth in the late summer.  So there must be a method to your pruning. Every year I need to push the growth point down because it progresses up with every years growth. Every winter pruning starts with cutting the top down to the needed height and then thinning out the interior to achieve the needed effect.  Meanwhile keeping in mind the need to force new growth down lower for later years renewal.

Close up of pruned branches

Fig pruning

If you look closely ( click on images ) there is old wood that is grey,  and there is wood that is olive drab or gray green, that is last years wood and I leave 2 to 4 bud points for the early summer fig crop as well as a base for the next years growth. All other interior growth is cut away to thin growth points. You must remember not to get greedy, too many fruiting points will result in small fruit of poor quality. Too heavy pruning will result in heavy regrowth and little fruit. Fig trees are like apple trees You can’t kill them with too heavy pruning. So if you need to reclaim an old tree go for it, severely reshape the tree, it will reward you the second year.

Trellised Grapes

Grape vineyard

Every year the grape vines must be cut back to the main growth arms to restore the balance between roots and vines. Remember grape vines can grow themselves to death. and too heavy fruiting will result in small poor quality fruit. There are many different styles of staking and trellising the main trunk of a grape vine but the pruning follows two styles, One for wine and one for table fruit. This will depend on the variety used. These are wine varieties and are fixed to a 3 wire fence trellis with plants every 4.5 feet.

Pruned Grapes on Trellis

The rows are pairs 4feet apart with 8feet between pairs. For wine production the plants are heavily cut back to a few buds that will grow into canes with a few bunches per cane. Wine grape vines produce grape bunches on the 1st, 2ed, 3rd node points of the new canes and you want a bunch per foot of trellis.

For eating grapes, they produce fruiting canes from the 1st, 2ed, 3rd cane nodes and fruit bunches from the 3,4&5 nodes so they must be pruned to canes and buds. Canes for this years fruiting and buds for next years canes.  My eating grapes are grown on an overhead trellis.

To the left in this picture is an espaliered row of figs pruned low for handy fruit along the road way between the vineyard and the kitchen garden.  pg