Coastal and Tropical South
Preserving the Harvest
Yes, You Can! And Freeze and Dry It, Too is a new book by Daniel Gasteiger (Cool Springs Press, 2011, $19.95), who seems to be channeling my grandmother with his tips on ripening the best of autumn pears. They agree to let the first pear fall from the tree to signal that it is time to pick the rest and store them in the refrigerator crisper for a month before processing into pears. I will admit I had forgotten this important step and since pear preserves are my favorite, it will be put to good use shortly. That bit of wisdom is but one of many in Gasteiger's comprehensive book, whose subtitle tells the truth about the range of material covered here. More and more gardeners are discovering the joy of putting up seasonal bounty and we want to be smart and safe about it. Gasteiger's depth will give you the tools and confidence you need to can, freeze, and dry your harvest and that of local farmers.
Favorite or New Plant
Native to Myanmar, this is one terrestrial orchid that deserves more attention for its wacky good looks and easy-going attitude. Reedy stems look incongruous when the classic orchid shaped flowers peek out between the narrow leaves. The sight is striking whether it happens in your own backyard or the slopes of the Big Island in Hawaii. The flower sprays are held on graceful stems above plants that can tolerate dappled sun but will bloom best in partial sun with afternoon shade. Provide soil that is richly organic but also drains well and water regularly year round.