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Tonight, it is Sheila's turn to answer the gardening questions. She speaks on preserving, raised beds, and so much more! Even how she "puts up with Greg".

Ask a Gardening Expert

Q & A

What tips can you share for someone just getting started with canning and preserving their harvest?

  • Find a mentor with experience
  • Use fresh produce in good condition
  • Have all the proper equipment/ingredients before you start
  • Set aside the time, once you start you have to finish
  • Follow directions/recipe ingredients exactly

What are things you can every single year?

  • Soup
  • Tomatoes (stweed, Italian, Juice, Cherry)
  • Green Beans
  • Pickles

Can you recommend some books on canning that would have information on what to look for in a pressure canner and recipes?

Sheila uses the "Ball, Blue Book - guide to preserving". It has a lot of information on the different types of pressure canners, as well as recipes.

How is irrigation systems set up in raised beds?

Currently, Sheila is using a water hose, watering can, and sometimes a sprinkler due to the fact that her 20 year+ old raised beds and the wood is "giving way". There is no system set up right now but Greg plans on redesigning the raised beds and getting the system put down.

So, you use cover crops in your raised beds?

"Not intentionally but I do plant mustard in the Fall, and in the summer I will rotate sunflowers in most of the beds.", Sheila says. It's really easy to do. I never keep my raised beds empty.

Hello, Mrs. Hoss. What are your favorite recipes for making pickled okra and whole pickles? Thank you.

"I do 3 types of pickled okra, sweet, spicy, and dill. My "go-to" book for these recipes is the Pickled Pantry. Hoss prefers the spicy okra. If you will email, and request the recipes, we will be happy to send them to you. As far as pickle recipes, I always use my grandmother's recipes for sweet pickles, fermented dill, and bread and butter.", Sheila says.

What is the best way to get into canning? Books first or jump right in?

Definitely go by a recipe from a trusted source. I love the Ball Book. Begin with something simple that requires just a water bath, such as tomatoes.

Should I add compost every year to my raised beds? I have mostly flowers. Some are perennials. Most are annuals; I had some red snapper tomatoes. Can I plant tomatoes there next year? I've heard it's not a good idea.

I add compost twice a year to my raised beds. Before my summer crop and before my fall crops. Yes, tomatoes can be planted behind the flowers.

What do you personally water bath can?

Any type of tomatoes and bread and butter pickles. I use my pressure canner for vegetables, meats, poultry, and soups/stews because of the low acidity.

Do you have any recipes for preserving homegrown ginger? (Not candied ginger)

I do not but if any of our listeners do, please send them in so we can share them.

Besides fermenting, what other ways can you preserve cabbage? Is it possible to freeze it in shreds?

I have a recipe in the Blue Book for Freezer Slaw, it includes shredded cabbage, peppers, onions, and carrots. You can email us at for the recipe. We will send it out to you.

How do you amend your raised beds?

I use the compost and complete organic fertilizer twice a year. If you follow @mamahosstools on TikTok, there is a video from back in the spring of how I amend my beds.

I'm in Zone 8 (in Auburn) and can't grow carrots to save my life. Any advice would be helpful.

Loose, well-drained soil in a sunny spot. The soil needs to be rich high in organic matter. One of the most important things to remember is the keep them watered. I water twice a day until they germinate. Needs at least 1" of water per week. 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.

What is the best layout for raised beds in a small yard? What to plant, how many per bed, etc. Ya'll are closer to my zone here in North Carolina.

My space is about 1000 sq. feet. (32 x 32) I have 6- 4x8 beds, 1- 4 x 24 in the very back, and a fish pond in the middle. I use the water in my fish pond to water/fertilize about once a week. I would suggest starting small but have an area that you can add too.

What is your favorite flower to grow and why? What material are your raised beds made of? Type of soil do you grow in(bought, made, native?) How do you water your beds? What is something you don't preserve anymore? Love the show ya'll!

Favorite flowers are sunflowers and zinnias. The raised beds were made out of pressure-treated lumber and Greg made those in 1996, Greg isn't sure he would do it the same way if he had to. Greg says he would probably use bricks, or cement block, even though it is probably the most expensive, you don't run the risk of any chemicals from pressure-treated wood. As far as soil, we originally started with some good topsoil and mixed it with a majority of mushroom compost. I used to can potatoes but don't anymore because we always have an abundance of them.

What are your thoughts and opinions on freeze-drying garden produce? Love the show, especially when you are on with Greg.

That is something I want to look into, a lot of our affiliates do it and I've seen it done on YouTube. It does take a lot of room as far as the equipment.

I had a bumper crop of mild jalapenos this year. But to be honest with you we're all getting a little sick of them. Besides picking, what else can you do with them to preserve them? Freezing them never keeps them very long, in my opinion. Is there another method?

I made hot sauce from mine this year. Pecan jalapenos Pepper Jelly is also very easy and delicious. Also, I've seen a lot people make "cowboy candy" but we are staying away from sweets.

How do I know that what I canned is definitely safe to give to friends?

Follow trusted recipes and directions exactly. Always check your seal to make sure they are sealed properly.

How do you put up with Greg?

My Roselle Homemade Wine! :)

Products of the Week:

Sweet Dumpling Squash

Onion Plants

Sugar Prince Pea

Mr. Big Pea

Granular Garden Soil Inoculant

Watch the Complete Show on YouTube Below:

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