Indian Corn With Curry

Ingredients:

4 large ears corn, shucked and cleaned

1 (7-ounce) container Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon honey

1 lime, juiced, plus wedges for serving

1 teaspoon curry powder

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:

Preheat a stovetop grill pan to medium-high heat. Grill the corn, turning frequently, until evenly browned, 10 to 12 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, honey, lime juice, and curry until smooth.

Transfer the corn to a cutting board, cut them in half crosswise and serve immediately with a drizzle of curry yogurt, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and squeeze of fresh lime, if desired. Corn can also be refrigerated and served cold.

Milk as Soil Food

Using milk on your compost and in your garden will probably come as a surprise to most. Upon closer inspection, however, it starts to make sense. The amino acids, proteins, enzymes and natural sugars that make milk a food for humans and animals are the same ingredients in nurturing healthy communities of microbes, fungi and beneficial bacteria in your compost and garden soil. Raw milk is the best, as it hasn’t been exposed to heat that alters the components in milk that provide a perfect food for the soil and plants, but any milk will provide nutrition and benefits. Using milk on crops and soils is another ancient technique that has been lost to large scale modern industrial agriculture.

Milk is a research-proven fungicide and soft bodied insecticide as insects have no pancreas to digest the milk sugars. Dr. Wagner Bettiol, a Brazilian research scientist, found that milk was effective in the treatment of powdery mildew on zucchini. His research was subsequently replicated by New Zealand melon growers who tested it against the leading commercially available chemical fungicide and found that milk out-performed everything else. To their surprise, they also found that the milk worked as a foliar fertilizer, producing larger and tastier melons than the control group.

David Wetzel, a Nebraska farmer completed a ten year study on applying milk at different rates to his pastures, and recorded the results with the help of the local Agricultural Extension agent Terry Gompert , a university soil specialist, a weed specialist and an insect researcher.

What they found was the grass production was drastically increased; the soil porosity or to absorb air and water doubled; microbe activity and populations increased; cows were healthier and produced more milk on treated pastures; the brix or sugar level in the pasture tripled, indicating more nutrients were stored in the grass than before. Grasshoppers abandoned the treated pastures- the sugars are a poison to soft bodied insects as they do not have a pancreas to process the sugars. This also explains why insects will leave healthy, high brix level plants alone, as they contain more sugars than the stressed and sickly ones.

The ratio can range from 100% milk to a 20% mixture with water, with no loss of benefits. Use as a spray on the compost and garden soil prior to planting, and as needed when insects appear. Spray directly on the insects and around the areas they inhabit. When combined with molasses, it becomes a highly beneficial soil drench. A proven solution is 20% milk (1 cup of milk to 4 cups of water, or 2 cups milk to 8 cups water for larger gardens).

* According to a US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) calculation, Americans toss the equivalent of about a third a glass of milk per person, per day. Basic math translates that 310 million people, ounces into gallons, gallons into pounds of milk and nearly 800,000 cows’ worth of milk down the drain.

Yam Or Sweet Potato

The sweet, orange-colored root vegetable that is often thought of as a yam in the United States is actually a sweet potato. All so-called yams are sweet potatoes. Most people think that long, red-skinned sweet potatoes are yams, but they really are just one of many varieties of sweet potatoes.

A true yam is a starchy edible tuber that is generally imported from the Caribbean. It differs greatly from the sweet potato in taste, texture, appearance and family.

Depending on the variety, sweet potato flesh can vary from white to orange and even purple. The orange-fleshed variety was introduced to the United States several decades ago. In order to distinguish it from the white variety everyone was accustomed to, producers and shippers chose the English form of the African word “nyami” and labeled them “yams.”

Even though the USDA requires that orange-colored sweet potatoes always be labeled “sweet potato,” most people still think of sweet potatoes as yams regardless of their true identity.

Photoperiodism

Ever wonder why you have trouble getting your Christmas cactus or poinsettia to bloom again? Or have trouble with bolting spinach and lettuce in your summer garden?

To understand plant flowering, you need to get a handle on “photoperiodism,” or amount of light and darkness a plant is exposed to. The amount of uninterrupted darkness is what determines the formation of flowers on most types of plants, explained Ann Marie VanDerZanden, horticulturist with the Oregon State University Extension Service.

Botanists used to think that the length of daylight a plant was exposed to determined whether a plant would form flowers. But experiments proved otherwise. It is the length of darkness that a plant experiences that plays the most crucial role.

A plant that requires a long period of darkness, is termed a “short day” (long night) plant. Short-day plants form flowers only when day length is less than about 12 hours. Many spring and fall flowering plants are short day plants, including chrysanthemums, poinsettias and Christmas cactus. If these are exposed to more than 12 hours of light per day, bloom formation does not occur.

Other plants require only a short night to flower. These are termed “long day” plants. These bloom only when they receive more than 12 hours of light. Many of our summer blooming flowers and garden vegetables are long day plants, such as asters, coneflowers, California poppies, lettuce, spinach and potatoes. These all bloom when the days are long, during our temperate summers.

And some plants form flowers regardless of day length. Botanists call these “day neutral” plants. Tomatoes, corn, cucumbers and some strawberries are day-neutral. Some plants, such as petunias defy categorization, said VanDerZanden. “They flower regardless of day length, but flower earlier and more profusely with long days,” she said.

Horticulturists and home gardeners manipulate the day and night length (indoors with lights) to get plants to bloom at times other than they would naturally. For example, chrysanthemums, short day plants, naturally set flower and bloom with the long nights of spring or fall. But by making the days shorter by covering the chrysanthemums for at least 12 hours a day for several weeks over the late spring and early summer, you can simulate the light and darkness pattern of spring or fall, thereby stimulating summer blooming.

Storing Apples

The length of time apples remain good in storage depends on the apple cultivars, stage of maturity at picking, handling before storage, how soon they are cooled down, and the temperature and humidity of the storage area. If large quantities are to be stored for an extended period of time, selecting the proper cultivar is important. Some cultivars will keep quite well if stored under the proper conditions, while others will not. Most early ripening cultivars, such as Lodi, are good for immediate use but have a very short storage life. Red Delicious, and Golden Delicious are considered good storage apples.

Storage life of several apple cultivar at 30-32°F. and 90-95 percent relative humidity are; Lodi one to two weeks, Cortland and McIntosh four months, Golden Delicious, Jonathan and Red Delicious five months and Chieftain between three and six months.

Sort the apples that are to be stored. Remove any that are bruised, cut, or show signs of decay. Plan to consume the larger fruit of any cultivar first, saving the smaller ones for later in the season. The larger apples are usually the first to lose their quality and show signs of internal breakdown.

Low temperature slows the respiration rate and preserves good quality. Apples last several times longer at 32°F than they do at 70°F. Most apple cultivars should be stored at 30 to 32°F for optimum storage. However, McIntosh apples should be kept around 36°F. If possible, the storage temperature should remain constant. The freezing temperature of apples is 27.8 to 29.4°F, so it is best not to store apples in unheated locations where the temperature may get too low. Once thawed, frozen apples deteriorate quickly, resulting in softening of flesh and loss of texture.

Relative humidity must be kept high, between 90 and 95 percent, in a fruit storage area. If the humidity is not maintained, apples dehydrate and shrivel, particularly Golden Delicious.

Apples can be kept well in humid cellars that maintain a cool temperature below 40°F. They also can be stored in unheated outbuildings or garages, in Styrofoam chests, or with hay or other insulating materials piled around them to prevent them from freezing.

Apples should be kept in containers lined and covered with polyethylene to help retain the humidity

Small quantities of apples are usually sold in perforated plastic bags. Storing the fruit in these or similar bags in a cool refrigerator will greatly reduce the respiration rate and the fruit should remain firm and crisp until used. The atmosphere inside the plastic bags is usually quite humid, whereas the atmosphere of the refrigerator has a lower humidity that tends to pull moisture out of the fruit, causing it to shrivel. The holes in the bags eliminate the buildup of carbon dioxide and excess moisture inside the plastic bags.

Apples also can be stored in unperforated polyethylene bags. However, the bags should not be tied shut. After the fruit has cooled down, the open ends should be folded over.

Anthocyanins

Soils may dictate the array of fall colors as much as the trees rooted in them, according to a forest survey out of North Carolina. By taking careful stock and laboratory analyses of the autumn foliage of sweetgum and red maple trees along transects from floodplains to ridge-tops in a nature preserve in Charlotte, N.C., former University of North Carolina at Charlotte graduate student Emily M. Habinck found that in places where the soil was relatively low in nitrogen and other essential elements, trees produced more red pigments known as anthocyanins.

Habinck’s discovery supports a 2003 hypothesis put forward to explain why trees bother to make red pigments, by plant physiologist William Hoch of Montana State University, Bozeman. Hoch found that if he genetically blocked anthocyanin production in red-leafed plants, their leaves were unusually vulnerable to fall sunlight, and so sent less nutrients to the plant roots for winter storage.

For trees living in nutrient-poor soils, then, it makes sense to produce more anthocyanins, which protect the leaves longer, so as much nutrient as possible can be recovered from leaves before winter sets in. It is, after all, the process of recovering of nutrients from leaves which turns leaves from green to yellow, orange and sometimes anthocyanin-red.

The trees Habinck studied appear to be acting in accordance with Hoch’s hypothesis. “It makes sense that anthocyanin production would have a function, because it requires energy expenditure,” said Habinck. Put in economic terms, anthocyanins are an investment made by stressed trees in situations where they stand to gain from the extra recovery of nutrients from leaves. It’s not about the showy color, but about survival.

“The rainbow of color we see in the fall is not just for our personal human enjoyment — rather, it is the trees going on about their lives and trying to survive,” said Habinck’s advisor, Martha C. Eppes, a soil scientist and assistant professor of Earth sciences at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Eppes will present the research at the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Monday, 29 October, in Denver, CO.

The reason the soil-leaf color connection wasn’t made long ago is partly because Hoch’s hypothesis was needed to put it into perspective. It also might be that many plant researchers were missing the forest for the trees.

“I think that most of the work has been done by biologists looking at production of anthocyanins in trees themselves,” said Eppes. They hadn’t stepped back and looked at patterns of tree color.

I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air – Nathaniel Hawthorne