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How To Cook A Turkey In 10 Different Ways

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Nov 13, 2018

cook-a-turkey-10-different-ways

Do you have a Thanksgiving Day meal planned for your family? Maybe you prepare the turkey the same way every year. Traditions like that can be very special as well as comforting. But if you're looking to try a little something new this Thanksgiving, I have some ideas on how to cook your turkey in a non-traditional way. Enjoy!

  1. Roasting: Rinse the parts of the raw turkey. Rub its skin with your favorite spices and put it in the oven on a roasting rack for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. Then, lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for another 2 hours and 45 minutes.
  2. Braising: To braise a turkey, combine one cup of sugar and one cup of salt in two gallons of cold water. Immerse the turkey in this mixture, cover, and put it in the refrigerator for four hours. Remove the turkey from the mixture, pat it dry with paper towels, and put it in the pan with onions, celery, carrots, and garlic in a 500-degree oven for about 20 minutes. Take the turkey out of the oven and reduce the heat to 325 degrees. Pour broth over your turkey and into the pan so it reaches about three quarters of the way up its thighs. Cover it with foil and cook for another hour and 45 minutes. The turkey is done when the temperature of the thickest part of its thigh is 170 degrees.
  3. Deep-Frying: First, wash your thawed turkey and set up your turkey fryer outside. Put your turkey in the fryer and pour water on top of it until it's covered, then take the turkey out and make note of the level of water. This is how much peanut oil you will need to deep-fry the turkey. Remove the water, pour in the peanut oil, and heat it to 350 degrees. A turkey requires 3 minutes of frying per pound. After the turkey is finished, put it on paper towels to soak up excess oil. And remember, NEVER fry a frozen turkey that hasn't been thawed; putting a frozen turkey into hot oil can cause it to explode.
  4. Grilled: Preheat your grill to 350 degrees. Wash the turkey and rub it with your favorite spices. Next, put the turkey on the grill and close the lid. Your cooking time will be about 11 minutes per pound of bird. Put a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the turkey breast. It is done when it reaches 165 degrees.
  5. Smoked: Cooking a Thanksgiving turkey in a smoker is an easy process. Of course, you have to have a smoker that can do the job. Put a little pepper and salt on your raw turkey before putting it in the smoker. The cooking time here is 30 to 40 minutes per pound of bird.
  6. Beer Can Turkey: This is a fun way to cook a delicious turkey using your grill. Start with a half-full can of beer and pour your favorite spices right into the can. Wash the parts of your raw turkey, set the beer can on a pan, and place the bird on top of it: The opening of the beer can should be up inside the bird. Rub the outside of the turkey with more of your favorite spices. Next, place the turkey inside a grill heated to about 375 degrees. Cook for about an hour, then turn the bird around in the grill and cook for an additional hour. The beer and spices in the can add flavor and keep the inside of the turkey moist. Take care when removing the beer can at the end of the process: The can and the beer inside will be hot.
  7. Spatchcocking: This method involves removing the backbone of the turkey, rubbing its skin with spices, and putting it into the refrigerator overnight. Cook it in a 450-degree oven for an hour and 30 minutes or until the thermometer reads 170 degrees when stuck into the thickest part of the turkey's thigh. This method helps your turkey to cook evenly and more quickly than other methods.
  8. Turducken: Making turducken involves stuffing a turkey with a chicken and a duck. This method for Turkey Day is one of the more time-consuming options, but it's a delicious change of pace.
  9. Stewed: A stewed turkey is an option if you want to keep the meat as moist as possible. This cooking method takes about two hours and 20 minutes. I like the idea of enjoying carrots, peas, onions, and other vegetables with the turkey in one dish.
  10. Sous Vide: Do you want to sous vide a turkey this year? If so, you must commit 16 hours to the process. Vacuum-sealing the turkey in a pouch and cooking it in a hot water bath can help the bird to cook more evenly than it might in a conventional oven. If you're feeling adventurous this year, sous vide may be for you!

The best way to defrost your frozen turkey is to put it into the refrigerator. Be sure it's on the bottom shelf so it won't drip onto other foods in your fridge. Allow 24 hours of thawing time for every four to five pounds of turkey.

The amount of time you cook your turkey depends on the weight of the bird. It breaks down to about 15 minutes of cooking time for every pound of turkey.

I hope you try something new for your turkey dinner this year. Thanks for reading! - Alan

Topics: cook a turkey

10 Ways To Reuse Leftover Pumpkins

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Nov 13, 2018

pumpkin-soup

Halloween night has passed, and the last piece of candy has been eaten. Do you still have a few lonely jack-o'-lanterns sitting on your porch? Maybe you have a couple of uncarved pumpkins in your home. Well, before you throw them out with the trash, I have ten suggestions for how those sensational squash can help you continue to celebrate the fall season.

10 Ways to Reuse Leftover Pumpkins

  1. Make Pumpkin Puree. Make a batch of pumpkin puree to use in pumpkin soup, chili, or dip. You can even throw it into the blender with some milk and whip up a nutritious smoothie for a snack.
  2. Roast Pumpkin Seeds. Roasting pumpkin seeds is a favorite activity of many families. Take the seeds out of a whole pumpkin, or put them aside after carving your jack-o'-lantern. Mix the seeds in a bowl with a couple teaspoons of melted butter and a pinch of salt. Next, spread them on a cookie sheet and bake them at 300 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. Feed the Local Wildlife. Squirrels, rabbits, deer, porcupines, and tons of insects are just as fond of pumpkins as you are. Slice your old jack-o'-lantern into big pieces or simply throw it into a wooded area so local wildlife can enjoy an unexpected, tasty feast.
  4. Make an Air Freshener. Cut your old jack-o-lantern in half widthwise. Rub some of your favorite spices, such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, or allspice, on the fleshy inside of your pumpkin. Next, put a tea candle in the pumpkin and light it. This will send the spicy fragrance wafting into the air.
  5. Create a Flowerpot. Cut off the top third of your jack-o'-lantern and line the bottom with newspaper. Put soil on the newspaper and plant some beautiful chrysanthemums in your pumpkin pot. If you want, you can plant your pumpkin pot in the ground. The pumpkin will decompose over time, leaving behind your planted chrysanthemum.
  6. Donate Them to a Local Farmer. Sheep, goats, pigs, and other farm animals go crazy for pumpkin flesh. Load up your old jack-o'-lanterns and whole pumpkins to take to a local farmer who likes to give their livestock a special fall snack.
  7. Decorate Uncarved Pumpkins. If you have a bunch of smaller, uncarved pumpkins sitting on tables around your home, dust off your decorating skills and put some designs on them with acrylic paint. Templates are great for painting animals or words or making scrollwork. These decorated pumpkins can be added to the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving table.
  8. Donate Them to a Chuck-the-Pumpkin Contest. Check the local newspaper for any pumpkin-chucking contests happening nearby. This type of contest usually involves a tall catapult, pumpkins, and a long roll of measuring tape.
  9. Add Them to Your Compost Pile. Pumpkins are full of vitamins that can be absorbed back into the earth. Be sure to cover your pumpkins with a layer of leaves after adding them to your compost pile.
  10. Make a Bird Feeder. To make a pumpkin bird feeder, all you need is half a pumpkin and a bag of wild birdseed. I suggest making a pair of matching bird feeders with a whole pumpkin. Your local feathered friends will be thrilled with their delicious find!

See? Your carved and uncarved pumpkins can still serve a purpose. Get creative, and let me know how you reused your pumpkins this fall. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: leftover pumpkin

The Best Methods For Protecting Trees And Shrubs In Winter

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Tue, Nov 6, 2018

protecting-trees-in-winter

'Trees Need Protection in the Wintertime'

In the wintertime, trees and shrubs can be damaged by the extreme cold, dry winds, snow, sleet, frost and even the harsh, low sunlight. Young trees are especially vulnerable to damage from environmental changes over the wintertime. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to protect your costly trees and shrubs through the cold weather months.

Wrap Your Trees

Wrapping your trees can protect them from cold temperatures, dry winds, excessive moisture and ice. Many people use burlap to wrap their trees because it is a flexible, inexpensive material that is environmentally-friendly. Another option is to wrap the trunk of a tree using a roll of brown paper specially designed to protect trees. In addition, there are flexible wraps made of plastic that are durable and can be reused over several winter seasons. I think this is an especially good method of protection because a wrap can deter deer, rodents and other animals from chewing on a tree's trunk causing damage.

Road Salt and Trees Don't Mix

The salt that your city or county sprinkles on the icy roads can help your car or truck get more traction as you drive along. Unfortunately, it can wreak havoc on your trees and shrubs. Evergreens and other trees that grow near a road can suffer damage from exposure to the chemicals in road salt. The salt can be thrown onto the trees by cars passing by. Wrapping trees and shrubs in burlap can keep them safe from damage caused by road salt.

Paint Your Tree Trunks

Maybe you have some young trees with narrow trunks that still have a lot of growing to do. One way to protect them from sunscald is to paint them! Dilute some white interior latex paint and put a layer on the tree's south side. The white paint helps to reflect the harsh winter sunlight.

Using Mulch to Protect a Tree's Roots

Putting mulch or shredded leaves around the base of your trees and shrubs can help to keep their roots warm and moist during the cold weather. The mulch pile should be about four to six inches deep and not touch the base of the tree or shrub. Keep in mind that rodents are more apt to make homes in your mulch if it sits up against a tree's trunk or touches the base of a shrub.

Create a Wind Barrier

If you have a tree that stands alone in your yard without the natural protection of other trees, consider making a wind barrier. Put four stakes in the ground around your tree and wrap a large sheet of canvas or a tarp around the stakes using twine to secure it. The height of the wooden stakes depends on how tall the tree is that you're trying to protect. Think of this canvas as a tent that goes around your tree as opposed to over its top. This barrier will prevent your tree from taking direct hits from the harsh winter winds that can crack or break weaker branches.

Taking one or more of these precautions with your trees and shrubs before winter can keep them in good condition and looking beautiful next spring. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: protecting trees in winter

12 Household Items To Repurpose Into Halloween Decor

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Mon, Oct 22, 2018

halloween-decor

Do you like to decorate your home and yard for Halloween? Filling up your cart with Halloween decorations at the craft store can get expensive. Today, I'm thinking about ways to save money by turning simple household items into fabulous Halloween décor. Try out these projects to make your home spookier!

  1. An Old-Fashioned Homemade Scarecrow: An old shirt and pants, boots, and twine are among the supplies you need to make a scarecrow for your front yard.
  2. Ghosts on a Haunted Walkway: Wash six or seven empty gallon milk jugs and cut a small access hole in the back of each one. Next, draw a ghost face on each of them with a black marker. Put an LED light or a colorful glow stick in each jug. Place them along the border of your walkway to create a scary glow at night.
  3. Mummy Mason Jars: Make a mummy Mason jar using a few extra Mason jars, black paint, first aid tape, googly eyes, and glue. Use the jars to hold straws, candy, flowers, or utensils on the buffet table at your Halloween party.
  4. Scary Signs: Perhaps you have a small chalkboard in your kitchen or in your kids' playroom, If so, put it outside on your porch and write a message on it in chalk. "Happy Halloween," "Welcome to Our Haunted House," or "Enter at Your Own Risk" are all fun ideas.
  5. Toilet Paper Roll Pumpkins: Take a new roll of toilet paper and put it on top of a sheet of orange tissue paper. Bring the sides of the tissue paper up around the toilet paper and secure the top with a pipe cleaner. Glue small triangles cut from black construction paper on the front of your pumpkin to make its face. Don't forget to unwrap your pumpkins and put the toilet paper back into the closet after the party's over!
  6. A Vase With Halloween Flair: If you have a clear glass vase in any shape, give it some flair by filling it with alternating layers of candy corn and marshmallow pumpkins. I especially like edible décor; don't you?
  7. A Mummy Door: Get a roll of toilet paper and tape long strips of it width-wise across your front door all the way down. Take two paper plates, color them black, and tape them to the door to be the mummy's eyes.
  8. A Witch's Broom: If you have a dusty old broom in a closet or your garage, make it a part of your Halloween décor. Set the broom on your porch and put a stuffed black cat and an old pair of black shoes with buckles next to it. Bring your chalkboard (see #4) into the picture by writing "Witch Parking Only" on it.
  9. Miniature Can Pumpkins: If you have empty soup or vegetable cans, cover them with newspaper and paint them orange. When the orange is dry, paint pumpkin faces on them with black acrylic paint.
  10. Ghosts on Your Porch: Take a few white trash bags, fill them with leaves from your yard, and fasten the tops with black pipe cleaners. Use a black marker to make a ghost face on each one. This is a great way to decorate AND get your kids to help with the raking!
  11. Monster at the Door: Two paper plates, a roll of masking tape, black construction paper, and scissors are the supplies you need to make this easy Halloween craft. Cut two big circles from the black construction paper and glue one to each paper plate. Tape the two paper plates to your front door for the monster's eyes. Use a long strip of the masking tape to make the monster's mouth and maybe some little pieces to make some pointy teeth. Don't forget to make some eyebrows out of masking tape for your monster!
  12. Tomato Cage Ghosts: Dig those tomato cages out of your garden shed and make them into ghosts. LED lights, an old pillowcase, and a black marker can help you transform your tomato cages into ghosts.

I hope these ideas put your creativity into high gear for this year's Halloween décor! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Why Do Leaves Change Color In Autumn

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Oct 12, 2018

leaves-change-color-autumn

Leaves start turning all sorts of beautiful colors this time of year. It seems like they are green one day and yellow, red, orange, or gold the next. Have you ever wondered why leaves change color in the autumn? I did some digging, and this is what I found. Enjoy!

A Look at the Changes Inside a Tree's Leaves

There are many cells inside a single leaf. These cells contain chlorophyll and food (glucose) for the tree. It's the chlorophyll that gives a leaf its green color. In the spring and summer seasons, a lot of food is being made inside the leaves of trees. But as the days get shorter and temperatures begin to drop in the autumn, food production inside a leaf slows down. This is how a tree prepares for dormancy in the cold weather months. As a result, the chlorophyll starts to disappear, leaving behind the yellows, oranges, purples, reds, and golds we see in our fall foliage.

The Effect of Temperature and Light on Leaf Color

Temperature and sunlight have an influence on the colors of leaves. For instance, red maple trees are known for their brilliant red leaves. A combination of lots of sunlight and temperatures that don't fall below freezing in the fall boosts the development of anthocyanin in maple leaves. It's the anthocyanin that turns this tree's leaves bright red. However, if there's an early frost, the colder temperatures will lessen the production of anthocyanin, reducing the brightness of the red maple's leaves.

Why Do Some Leaves Change Color Sooner Than Others?

Sometimes, a tree's leaves change color early due to stress. The tree may be experiencing the stress of an infestation of pests eating its leaves. It changes its leaf color as a defense mechanism against the pests. Also, a nitrogen deficiency can cause a tree's leaves to change color early.

Why Do Some Leaves Change Color Later Than Others?

A mild autumn can cause a slowdown in leaf color changes. The mild weather prompts the continued production of chlorophyll, causing the leaves to stay green. A rainy autumn can also cause a slowdown in leaf color changes. Moisture makes leaves hardier, so they keep their green color longer. I guess that's the upside of having a rainy autumn!

Interesting Autumn Facts

  • Leaves aren't actually turning gold, orange, red, purple, and yellow. These colors appear when the chlorophyll fades from a leaf; they were there all along, but the chlorophyll hides these bright colors during the warmer months.
  • A dry summer that is not too hot usually produces vibrant leaf colors in the fall.
  • A windy autumn can blow lots of leaves off of the trees without allowing them the opportunity to change color.
  • Fallen leaves serve the purpose of protecting tree seeds as they germinate over the colder months.

Now that you know why leaves change in the autumn, why not take a drive and look at some of the beautiful leaves throughout our country? Whether you take a drive or look out your window, don't miss the opportunity to admire the beauty of the season. Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: leaves change color

The 9 Best Places To Road Trip Through Fall Foliage

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Sep 22, 2018

fall-foliage-view

Are you in the mood for a road trip? If so, this is the perfect time of year to travel somewhere new to see the leaves turning brilliant yellows, reds, purples, and oranges. Today, I have some fun ideas for if you'd like to get behind the wheel with your family and set out to admire some beautiful foliage.

The Nine Best Places to Road-Trip Through Fall Foliage

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina. If you want to take a road trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you have an opportunity to see brilliantly colored leaves from mid-October to early November. Mountain maples, American beech, sugar maples, and hickories are just a few of the trees in this tremendous park.
  2. Northwest Ohio, Route 65. This drive takes you on a 50-mile tour of the lovely changing leaves in northwest Ohio, starting on Route 65 and going on to routes 110 and 424. This winding road runs beside the Maumee River from Perrysburg to Defiance, Ohio. Be sure to look for Mary Jane Thurston State Park along the way! The leaves are at their peak color here in late October.
  3. Hocking Hills State Park in Southeast Ohio. Travel to Logan, Ohio, and drive through Hocking Hills State Park to admire the changing foliage all around you. This short 15-mile jaunt runs on routes 664 and 374. There is a walking trail at Ash Cave if you want to get out and walk a bit. Late October is the peak time for leaves around Hocking Hills State Park.
  4. Michigan's Gold Coast. Starting at Traverse City, you can see the changing colors of maple and oak trees as you cruise along for 100 miles near Grand Traverse Bay. I like the idea of traveling to a place to see leaves along with a lot of other interesting sights like windmills, lighthouses, and fishing towns. Mid- to late October is the best time to see leaves in peak color.
  5. Wolf Pen Gap Road in North Georgia. The 11.8 miles of this curvy road are bordered by trees with leaves at their peak color in early November. Be sure to take a look at Lake Trahlyta along your route.
  6. Trap Pond State Park in Delaware. The reds, golds, and yellows of the leaves in this Laurel, Delaware, park will astound you! They are at their peak from mid-October to early November. Enjoy the endless sights throughout this 3,600-plus-acre park.
  7. Scenic Fairfield County in Connecticut. No leaf-peeping season is complete without a visit to Connecticut. Did you know the state has the longest season for fall foliage? Take the Scenic Fairfield County tour and get your fill of beautiful leaves for 115 miles. The best time to take this specific road trip is from mid-October through the end of the month.
  8. Vermont Green Mountain Byway. This 220-mile road trip travels through Waterbury and Stowe. You'll see an abundance of colorful leaves along with a collection of villages, quaint shops, pastures, and other picturesque scenery. The leaves are at their best from the last week of September into early October.
  9. Marinette County Waterfall Tour in Wisconsin. A 125-mile loop takes you on a drive where you can observe changing leaves on elms, birches, maples, and more. Plus, there are 14 majestic waterfalls, including Caldron and High Falls, to see along the way. The peak time for leaf color in this area runs from late September to early October.

No matter where you roam, make sure you consult the fall foliage map to determine the peak time for changing leaves. Thanks for reading. - Alan

8 Gardening Trends We Saw Grow Over Summer 2018

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Sat, Sep 22, 2018

hens-and-chicks

The summer of 2018 yielded a lot of popular gardening trends. Did you try to grow some different vegetables or flowers in your garden this summer? Or maybe you challenged yourself by starting a whole new type of garden. Check out eight of the most popular gardening trends from this summer.

  1. Vertical Gardens. This unique style of garden was a special favorite during the summer of 2018. Starting a vertical garden is as easy as setting a wooden pallet against a wall and filling its various levels with soil and your favorite flowers. Many people like them because it brings a garden to eye level, making it even more enjoyable.
  2. A Garden With Water Features. The soothing sounds of water fountains in a garden were very popular this summer. Whether it's a large, Roman-inspired garden fountain with a small bowl overflowing into a larger one beneath it or a simple birdbath with a solar powered fountain, both humans and birds can enjoy their presence in a garden. I especially like this gardening trend. You could even go as far as creating a small fish pond with a soothing trickle of water, lily pads, and, of course, a collection of colorful fish.
  3. Succulent Gardens. A succulent garden brings color and drama to a yard without requiring a lot of maintenance. Woolly senecio, burro's tail, hens and chicks, and panda plant are just a few of the popular types of succulents. They can be planted in attractive containers such as an old fountain, clay bowls, or even a group of elegant garden urns.
  4. Ground Cover Doubling as a Lawn. Planting ground cover such as blue star creeper, miniature brass buttons, or creeping phlox provides more interest and color than stretches of grass around a patio or in between stepping stones. This was a particularly popular trend for people who wanted to reduce their grass-cutting duties this summer.
  5. A Dining Area/Garden. Many people decided to set up a dining area in the midst of their garden this summer. Just imagine a table complete with tablecloth, dishes, and silverware set up beneath a pergola or in a shady area of a flourishing garden. This is the perfect way to dine al fresco while enjoying your beautiful flowers.
  6. Vegetable Planters. This trend puts a spin on a traditional vegetable garden. Instead of having a vegetable garden tucked into one corner of their yard, many people planted their veggies in a collection of large, elegant planters. One planter could be dedicated to growing lettuce, while another holds tomatoes or banana peppers. Keep this trend in mind and consider putting your vegetable garden into the spotlight next summer!
  7. Eco-Gardening. Eco-gardens were a popular choice in the summer of 2018. They are low-maintenance, beautiful gardens made up of plants and flowers that need very little water. Plants and flowers are grouped together according to the amount of water they need so water won't be wasted on plants that don't need as much.
  8. Small Gardens. Small gardens were popular in the summer of 2018 and will continue to be a favorite with many green thumbs. They allow you to be as creative as you want with your garden. Making a small garden can be as simple as planting flowers in pots and containers and placing them in one area on your patio. Not only can you be creative with the types of flowers you plant, but you can be creative with the sizes, shapes, and colors of the pots you put them in.

I hope some of these trends will stir up even more imaginative ideas for future summer gardens! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: gardening trends 2018

The Do's and Don't of Mowing Your Lawn In The Fall

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Wed, Sep 19, 2018

metal-garages-storage-building

Alan's Factory Outlet metal garages are custom built in the size, layout and color you want.  This metal garage storage building is built with a vertical style roof, one garage door, two walk in doors and 3 windows with evergreen color sides. 

With the end of summer upon us, you may be ready to roll or drive that lawnmower back into your storage shed so it can get some well-deserved sleep during the cold weather months. Not so fast! Fall is the time to prep your lawn so it can withstand the winter months and be ready to start growing again when springtime arrives. Today, I have some do's and don'ts to keep in mind when it comes to autumn lawn care.

The Do's of Mowing Your Lawn in the Fall

  • Do cut your lawn so the grass measures about 2½ inches tall. Three inches is the absolute tallest it should be. Grass of this length is not likely to fall victim to snow mold during the winter.
  • Do water your lawn if you receive less than an inch of rain in a week. Keep up the watering routine until the end of October to keep your lawn in good condition. I suggest putting a rain gauge somewhere in your yard so you get an accurate reading of each week's rainfall total.
  • Do aerate your lawn so when you put fertilizer on it in the fall, the nutrients have easy access to the roots of the grass.
  • Do rake the leaves covering the grass in your yard. A layer of leaves on a lawn prevents sunlight and water from reaching the grass. Plus, fungus can grow beneath the leaves and harm your grass.
  • Do stop mowing when the grass stops growing instead of stopping on a random date on the calendar.

The Don'ts of Mowing Your Lawn in the Fall

  • Don't mow your grass to shorter than 2½ inches. Cutting grass too short can prompt it to go into early hibernation or cause it undue stress as the cold weather moves in.
  • Don't cut your grass to 2½ inches in height on a single day. Instead, cut your lawn once every six or seven days so you gradually reduce its height to 2½ inches before the cold weather arrives. Only trim a third of your lawn's length at one time so you don't cause it stress.
  • Don't use a mulching mower to remove the leaves from your yard once they start to pile up. It's more efficient to use a rake because wet leaves are heavy and stick together, making it hard for a mulching mower to do the job.
  • Don't forget clean to your mower and otherwise prepare it for storage over the winter so it will be ready to go next spring. You may even want to find a waterproof cover for it in addition to putting it in your shed over the winter.
  • Don't mow your lawn after the first frost. After the first frost, your grass goes dormant, and mowing it will cause major damage to the lawn.

Give your lawn a leg up for next spring by taking proper care of it this fall. Just imagine how happy you'll be in the springtime knowing that you contributed to the beauty and health of your grass. Thanks for reading. - Alan

The Top 10 Apples Ranked By Sweetness

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Sep 14, 2018

granny-smith-apples

It's so nice to wander the grocery store's produce department or local farmers' market at this time of year looking at the displays of colorful, sweet apples. You likely have a few favorite apples you enjoy in salads and desserts. Of course, there are many apples that are perfectly delicious to eat right off the tree! Today, I'm ranking apples from the tartest to the sweetest. Enjoy!

10. Jonagold. These apples have a tangy, sharp taste with a sweet scent. They were originally grown in New York but also grow in Washington state and across the central area of the United States. Tangy Jonagolds are perfect for cookies, pies, and salads.

9. Winesap. The most suitable adjectives to describe Winesap apples are "spicy" and "tart." This is why many apple ciders are made with Winesap apples. These apples are grown mostly in the eastern part of the United States.

8. Melrose. This fragrant apple is known for its tart taste, but that hasn't stopped it from earning the title of the official apple of Ohio. These apples can hold their shape in an apple pie recipe, making them great for baking. That's good because there's nothing worse than an apple pie with mushy apples; don't you agree?

7. Granny Smith. Whether it's at your local farmers' market or the grocery store, these beautiful green apples are hard to overlook. They are tart and tangy, which makes them very popular for baking. Though the Granny Smith is perfectly at home in American apple pie, this apple originates from Australia. They made the trip to America in the 1960s, when they were grown on farms in Washington state.

6. Cortland. The Cortland apple has a tartness to it that provides a little kick when you bite into it. The white flesh of this apple stays fresh for longer than many apples, making them a popular choice to eat raw. They are grown in the eastern part of the United States.

5. Golden (Yellow) Delicious. A sweet tasting apple that is great to put into desserts or salads, the Golden Delicious also freezes well if you want some slices to eat later on. Golden Delicious are grown in the midsection of the country.

4. Rome Beauty. The appearance of this apple is true to its name. It has a mild sweetness and a perfect shape. They grow mostly in the Midwest. I think a Rome Beauty would be a great addition to a child's lunchbox for school or an adult's work lunchbox, for that matter!

3. Gala. If you make a recipe with gala apples, you don't have to add extra sugar because these apples come with their own sweetness. They are excellent for apple pie, cookies, muffins, and other desserts because they hold their shape during the cooking process. Gala apples originated in New Zealand in 1934, but they're relatively recent to our country, having been introduced commercially in the 1970s.

2. Honeycrisp. This apple has a distinctively sweet taste and is a favorite that is only around for a few months in the autumn. These hardy apples originated in Minnesota. Honeycrisps are memorable in pies, sauces, and salads as well as by themselves.

1. Fuji. Put together American favorite the Red Delicious and the Virginia Ralls Janet and you get the Fuji apple! Fujis are full of sweetness, earning them the number one spot on my list. They originated in Japan in the 1930s and arrived in America during the 1960s. Many are grown in Washington state. Fuji apples are a favorite for eating raw. They can also dress up any salad, sauce, or dessert recipe you have in mind.

If you'd like to add more to your apple knowledge, check out our chart featuring apple varieties. You're sure to discover some new ones to try! Thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: apples ranked by sweetness

The Fall Gardening Guide Part 2: Southern States

Posted by Alan Bernau Jr on Fri, Aug 31, 2018

carrots

'Vegetables in the Wintertime'

If you live in a southern state, you know the intense heat of the summer months can overwhelm some types of vegetables. You notice that your lima beans, eggplant and hot peppers are flourishing in your summer garden, while your spinach and lettuce are withering away under the sun.

Good news! The warm fall and winter temperatures in the south make it easy to create a flourishing vegetable garden late into the year. This week, I have some helpful tips for creating a fall and winter vegetable garden if you reside in a southern state.

What to Plant in the Fall and Winter

In your fall/winter vegetable garden be sure to reserve space for carrots, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, lettuce, English peas, radishes, beets, and spinach. These are all cool season vegetables containing vitamins A and C along with lots of other nutrients.

When to Plant

When you plant your vegetables depends upon the first frost date in your area. As an example, if you live in Decatur, Georgia you can plant your beans, carrots, Brussels sprouts and broccoli in late August. You can begin to harvest them in October. Just imagine yourself harvesting carrots from your Georgia garden in December! Or, if you live in Florida, there many types of vegetables to plant in October that you can enjoy in the wintertime. Planting at the right time in your southern state can help you make a success of your fall/winter garden.

Tips for Maintaining a Fall/Winter Garden in the South

Watering

Though the weather is cooler in the fall and winter, your garden still needs water. If you don't get two or three inches of rain in a week, be sure to water your garden to keep it in good health. Remember, it's best to water your garden in the morning so the water can soak into the roots of your vegetables.

Choose an Area with Lots of Sunlight

Be sure to put your garden in an area of your yard that receives the most sunlight during the day. You want to give all of your vegetables at least six hours of full sunlight so they can start to develop strong roots before the first frost arrives.

Organize Your Garden with Labels

Maybe you have a collection of labels for your spring garden. Perhaps you have colorful signs for your tomatoes, eggplants, hot peppers and more. Why not make some special labels for your fall/winter garden? I suggest getting your kids or grandkids in on the project by asking them to color your labels and attach each one to a small post, so you can stick them in your garden soil.

Check Your Soil

Set up your fall/winter garden for success by testing the soil before planting. You can get a testing kit at your local home and garden store. You may find that you need to mix some mulch or fertilizer into the soil so it's in tip-top shape for your veggies.

The Benefits of Creating a Fall/Winter Garden

  • Fewer insects will invade your garden during this non-traditional gardening time.
  • Enjoy reduced weed growth in your garden.
  • You get the chance to eat delicious, homegrown vegetables during the cooler months of the year.

When it comes to growing vegetables in the fall and winter, living in a southern state has its advantages. So, give it a try and thanks for reading. - Alan

Topics: fall gardening southern states

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