National Center for Home Food Preservation
Maybe you've been canning and freezing garden produce for years and just have an occasional question. Or perhaps you've decided that this is the year for your first foray into preserving. Whichever category you fall into, beginner or old-hand, the National Center for Home Food Preservation is a wonderful resource for current research-based recommendations for most methods of home food preservation. Established with funding from the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Center offers information on canning, freezing, drying, curing and smoking, fermenting, pickling, and making jams and jellies. There are seasonal tips, a frequently-asked-questions section, links, and publications available.
Favorite or New Plant
Some plants we love are drop-dead showstoppers, while others are more subtle but still work their way into being beloved in our gardens. Red valerian, Centranthus ruber, is just such a plant. An old-fashioned cottage garden perennial flower native to warm Mediterranean regions, red valerian tolerates drought and grows not only in areas with winter temperatures to -30 degrees F. but well into subtropical regions as well. It grows in a wide range of soils, but good drainage is a must. The rounded heads of fragrant, small bright-pink flowers, great for bouquets, begin appearing in late spring and continue for many weeks on plants 2 to 3 feet tall. Cutting back the spent stems encourages a second round of flowers. Other common names include Jupiter's Beard, Fox's-Brush, and Keys-of-Heaven.