'Scratch & sniff' test finds freshness every time
By Farmer Bubba Scott
I hope everyone is enjoying the heat. I've come to the conclusion that if the heat doesn''t keep you out of the garden, the mosquitoes will. Are there a lot of those bad little black, winged biters in your garden? One thing I've learned from those little dive-bombers is how to water my plants and pick my harvest real fast.
Now that we're in the middle of July, I would guess most gardens are giving in to the heat, and you're not spending as much time working the soil. That's time you can now use to plan your fall garden.
Here are some things I'm doing on the farm to prepare for my next planting:
> Thinking about what fall seeds to start.
> Keeping my compost pile heated up by adding alfalfa and fresh horse manure.
> Checking my mature plants to see if they need additional compost or fertilizer.
> Preparing my special seed starting mix and getting seedling starter trays ready. If you need more info on seed starting mix, Google it.
That's a lot to do in a short time but you have more time now!
This week's Farmer Bubba made a visit to the place where a lot of people get their produce. That is, unless you grow your own and you can or freeze what you don't eat right away.
I'm talking about the produce department of your local grocery store. I personally don't buy produce from these stores. I grow my own vegetables and save my veggies for future use in the old style canning way.
I don't want to scare you away from buying vegetables in these handy markets, but sometimes the veggies there look a whole lot better than they taste. So, I want to give you a few ideas on lookin' for that veggie that tastes as good as it looks.
Even though I don't buy veggies from these stores, sometimes I go to check out the competition. When I do, the first thing I notice in a grocery's produce area is the amount of produce. There's a lot to choose from.
BUBBA NOTE: Next time you're in the produce section, close your eyes and take a big sniff. Can you smell the vegetables? They're everywhere, and you're right in the middle of it all, but can you smell 'em? I'll bet you can't. Go ahead give it a try the next time you're in the market.
Most of the vegetables at your market are picked green and sprayed with ethylene gas to extend their shelf life. Some claim ethylene gas doesn't change the taste of vegetables. However, what does change the taste is not allowing a vegetable to ripen on the vine. Vine ripened, homegrown vegetables have a taste that green-picked vegetables can't seem to match.
Now all of these veggies are pretty. There is nary a blemish to be found on any of 'em. Also, you will find veggies in bags--I stay away from bagged greens of any kind because they can have problems with bacteria; $$$$ organic veggies--the dollar signs are because organic vegetables usually cost more; veggies from other countries, and some veggies grown in the USA.
It's time to sniff again: When I visit a grocery store produce department, I like to perform the 'Farmer Bubba Sniff Test' on some of the vegetables and fruits. It let's me know just how much taste the produce has.
I know, you're thinking, "You're kidding me right, Farmer Bubba?"
No I'm not. The best way to check fruit and veggies for freshness and flavor is the scratch and sniff test.
Use your fingernail to scratch the stem end of the vegetable. This is where you will find a large amount of nutrients in the veggie.
Next time you're in the market, try it! Find yourself a watermelon. Pick it up, scratch where the stem was cut, and give it a good sniff. If it doesn't smell like a watermelon and or has only a vague or distant aroma, the watermelon was picked green.
You wouldn't have to do the scratch and sniff test on vine ripened produce. You'd begin to smell it as soon as you hold it in your hands. There is a difference between home grown and store bought. But you have to grow your own to know the difference.
BUBBA NOTE: Some may wonder if I make all this stuff up. The answer is: Yes, I do! It's called inventing new ways to grow vegetables and to farm. I've been given a gift, and I stay in the gift. I may work on 20 new ideas and fail 19 times. However, It's the one that works that counts. Never be afraid to try something new.
When you visit a vegetable stand along the side of the road, you can always tell if the stuff is fresh -- and just because it's being sold on the side of the road does not guarantee it's fresh. Just like in the grocery store, you should be able to smell the produce the closer you get to the stand. For folks growing their own food this year, remember how the garden smelled when you walked through it. And how about that red tomato you picked and took a bite of. That's vine ripe and fresh.
Here's a final test to see how fresh that tomato is after you've brought it home. Cut the tomato in half and look at the insides. If you see a lot of white around the seeds and white veins inside of the tomato, it was picked green (Top of page.).
BUBBA NOTE: It's overwhelming to think of the amount of food this country needs to feed everyone, and how few farmers there are to produce it. It's also sad to see a farm field mowed down and houses going up. Thats Farmer Bubba's opinion for today.
There are so many benefits to growing your own food, and I understand a lot of GLOBers have a limited amount of space for gardening. If you only have a small area to grow in, try growing in containers. You can grow a lot of food in one container. Just be careful. You might just get hooked on Farmer Bubba's way of gardening.
Have fun in the produce department the next time you visit one. And if someone asks why you're sniffing the veggies, tell them Farmer Bubba told you to give it a try. Or my favorite rejoinder is: "I want to make sure they don't taste like chicken."
Aloha from the desk, on Farmer Bubba's Farm.
Do you have a gardening question for Farmer Bubba or a photo of your garden you would like to share? Email Bubba or add your question in the comment window below, and Bubba will try to reply as quickly as possible.
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Bubba Scott Thursday, 19 July 2012 21:11 Comment Link
FARMER BUBBA comment. I know the 'scratch and sniff' test may sound a bit out there. But it is the one true test of any vegetable. The one thing I forgot to say in the article is about the 'scratch' part. You see, when vegetables are picked, the stem part hardends over. Just smell'n the vegetable or fruit isn't enough. You have to break through the hard part to get to the true aroma. I've tried this on produce of all sorts and the results keep coming back the same. You all have a great day in the market.
Bob Thursday, 19 July 2012 06:24 Comment Link
A very good article again.It is a shame that we settle for store bought. Bob the paint guy.