Monday, March 23, 2020

D,s Easy Apple Pie

D's Easy Apple Pie

5 apples (I used gala)

peeled, cored and sliced (thick slices)

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 TBS. apple pie spice
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 stick of butter
1 tsp Salt.

  a sprinkle of salt and sugar for crust

Put all ingredients except butter into a 1-gallon ziplock bag.
Seal the bag and shake it well.
Set aside
Pre-heat oven to 375

Spray your favorite pie plate with cooking spray and line with your favorite pie crust recipe. My favorite recipe is Pilsbury pre-made refrigerated, roll-out crusts!

Grate 1/2 of the butter into the bottom crust and distribute evenly. Sprinkle granulated sugar and salt on the bottom of the crust. Add the apple mixture to the crust. Place the second crust over the top. You can seal your edges with a fork and cut off the excess but I prefer to roll the edges. It is not as pretty but my family loves the crust. Grate the remaining butter on to the top of the crust and sprinkle about a tablespoon of granulated sugar and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt on the top of the crust. Be sure to butter the edges of your crust well so the sugar and salt stick. Poke holes in the top with a knife or a fork.

Bake for 45 min. If your crust begins to get too brown you can add foil to the edge to cover it but it has been my experience that 45 minutes is perfect.

let us know how it turns out!

Azaleas: A simple Guide for Happy Blooms

A Simple Guide for Happy Blooms

  Azaleas have been a long-time southern staple in most yards and landscapes. Most people recognize their abundant spring blooms even if they don’t know much about them. As the blooms fade and you are left with just an attractive shrub you may be longing for the color that was there in the not so distant past. 
It is these azaleas that are so lovingly planted in front of your grandmother’s house and are now blocking every window within 10 feet. Sadly these are also the ones that get dug up and discarded because of their over achievement in the growth department. Now, don’t get me wrong, these take many years to reach their full potential but the next generation is not amused when they inherit these beauties. Thankfully there are alternatives now that grow much smaller. Some actually as small as twelve inches at maturity. This gives you many more options when deciding where you want to plant.

   When considering azaleas for inclusion in your landscape there are many factors to contemplate. You want to be mindful of your space. Be sure to pay close attention to the growing habits of your selection. You don’t want to put an azalea in a corner area with tight spacing if its mature size is going to be 6 ft tall and 5 ft wide.  Lighting is also a huge consideration. If your area is full sun you may love one variety but that variety may not fare well. And you must always think about soil drainage. You definitely do not want to try to plant an azalea in a swampy area and likewise, you don’t want to try to get it to grow in a barren wasteland where even the grass has packed up and left the area. Within this article, we will try to make it easy and painless to decide what is best for your area to bring years of enjoyment and beauty. Hopefully, without it landing on the demolition list for the next generation.

 Deciduous azaleas are those that lose their leaves prior to the onset of winter. These are a good choice for areas that are prone to more extreme heat and are cold hardy in zones 4 through 9. While all azaleas do well in partial shade or filtered light, some deciduous varieties can tolerate more direct sunlight. Azaleas that are grown in full sun tend to grow just a bit smaller and their blooms will fade much faster. Generally, these azaleas only bloom one time per growing season.

 Re-blooming azaleas keep their foliage year-round.  Most of these varieties are hardy in zones 5 through 8. These will usually thrive in more sun. You can choose a Bloom-A-Thon or Encore variety and enjoy blooms two or three times within a growing season.

   The perfect location for your azalea will be one where the plant is sheltered from harsh winds, dappled light, and good drainage. Fall is the best time to plant your azalea. However, you can plant anytime during the colder months if the ground is not frozen. If your azalea is going into new ground, be sure to till or loosen the soil to a depth of about eighteen inches and add organic compost to the soil, taking care to mix it well. Poor drainage is a sure-fire way to kill your azalea since they have a shallow root system, you don’t want to smother them with heavy clay or too much mulch. Be sure to plant your azalea with the root ball one to two inches above the ground level. Backfill the hole with loose amended soil.  You will want to finish off your planting with a light layer of mulch. Not more than 2 inches and be sure not to pile it around the trunk of the azalea as it may cause rot.

 If planted properly, azaleas are low maintenance. Azaleas need very little pruning. If you feel the need to shape them up a bit, you can do so after they are done blooming. Only taking off the leggiest branches and pinching back the tips will encourage fullness. Avoid late summer pruning as the evergreen varieties will be setting buds for the next growing season.  During dry weather, you may need to provide extra irrigation. Water your azalea deeply when you water so that the ground is soaked through the root system. You will also want to water well before the first hard freeze. Fertilize after blooming in the spring with a timed-release fertilizer. Never put lime on an azalea. 

  Most problems that arise with azaleas are due to poor soil, improper drainage or watering or aggressive pruning. If you are having issues with your azalea and none of these are a factor, there are a few other things that can cause problems for your azaleas, such as lace bugs. These are the most common pests that affect azaleas, causing yellowing foliage. You can usually find tiny black bugs on the underside of the leaves. This can be treated with insecticidal soap, available at most garden centers and farm supply stores.
Powdery mildew is another problem that can damage your azalea causing leaf drop. This is treated with fungicidal sprays.

Azaleas can offer up years of beauty and satisfaction for even the pickiest of plant connoisseurs. Once you decide on the best fit for your space and preferences just plant and enjoy.

For more interesting facts and information check out this book:

"American Azaleas"
By: L. Clarence Towe

Available on Google Books and Amazon

Happy Planting!!!


Squash, Melons and Cucumbers 

Most people don't think of vining vegetables when they think of container gardens.
The biggest thing to remember is anything that vines like melons and squash and cucumbers need a lot of room to grow. But don't let that scare you into thinking you can't do it.  Start with a pot large enough to accommodate your vine. Then understand that your vine needs to spread. If you are limited on space, think vertical. Adding a trellis will allow your vine to grow upward. But, when the vines go up they are weighted down when they begin to fruit. You will need to fashion a system of slings to support larger fruit such as cantaloupe and watermelon.  Most squash and cucumbers will be fine. 
Mulch the top of the soil to retain moisture. Keep the soil moisture consistent. Don't allow it to dry too much for too long and then water or it could cause the fruit to split. The soil should be moist but allow to dry between watering, being sure to soak the soil until the excess drains out.

It is recommended that you use a container no less than 12 inches across per plant or 24 inches across per 2 plants. when adding your support you may use tomato cages that you have turned upside down and wired the "legs" together at the top or simple trellises. If you are using 2 containers you can fashion an arch between them out of rabbit wire and PVC pipe. It may be necessary to prune back some of the ends as they reach beyond their designated areas. However, you do not want to trim off any blooms as that will reduce your yield. Be sure you twist the vines around the support as they grow to keep them growing upward.
It is quite possible to grow enough for sharing or even freezing or canning. However, I wouldn't plan on preserving large quantities from a pot or two.
 Many plant lovers are joining the trend of container gardening as they move toward a more self-sufficient lifestyle. Who doesn't love the thought of eating organic vegetables without the cost that is so often associated with organics?
There is a peace of mind in knowing exactly where your fresh produce is coming from. Who knows, you may find yourself an avid container gardener before it is all said and done.