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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Q and A: what to grow in a shady area and storing canned goods with rings on them

Original Article

Under Pressure
by Jackie Clay
What to grow in a shady area
Our homestead is very small, and in a biggish city, Youngstown, OH. We bought a fixer-upper here about a year ago. The back yard is very small, and it’s on a hillside. Our back and side yard blends into a large park here, Mill Creek Park. I don’t mean a manicured garden park, I mean small lakes, at least one waterfall, wild critters, etc. It’s beautiful! But, while our yard is cleared of most trees, huge, towering maple trees, lots of them, are right on the boundary. So it’s a pretty darn shady hillside a large part of the day. It’s on the north side of the house.

Personally, I think we could grow some herbs there, since I have better luck with partial shade than full sun, which seems to burn my herbs up. I think green would grow well there. But what about fruit trees and bushes? When I was young, I found elderberries, raspberries, etc, in the woods, and on the edges of forest and meadow. So I am going to research what I might plant there, since fruit, in and out of season, is very expensive (to me).

Sorry I am so long-winded. I see in some catalogs trees that are grafted with a few different kinds of one fruit, such as apples, or even with 6 different fruits, like apple, pear, nectarine, etc. Do you know anything about this kind of tree? Are they a good idea? This would be fruit for the table, since I expect that I wouldn’t get a canning amount of any one of the fruits. Do they produce enough to be worth the space? Are they a hardy, long bearing kind of tree?

Barb Mundorff
Youngstown, Ohio
Yes, your herbs should work in your partially-shaded yard. Many other garden plants from salad greens to even green beans and tomatoes will often work. Yes, some fruits, too, will grow in partial shade. In Michigan I had a pie cherry that grew in the dense shade of a huge weeping willow in the front yard. It produced very well, too! Elderberries, plums, paw paws, and persimmons also grow quite well in shady areas.
The “fruit salad” grafted fruit trees can work well for many urban homesteaders. All varieties on the tree don’t ripen at the same time so these trees are quite useful. And you will get enough to can jelly, jams, preserves, or sauce (depending on the fruits!). They do eventually produce well and are as hardy and long-bearing as any other kind of fruit tree meant for your zone. They prefer a more sunny yard but I sure would give it a try. It’s amazing at how many things folks have told me I “couldn’t possibly grow” did very well, indeed. Homesteaders are an experimenting bunch! — Jackie
Storing canned goods with rings on them
I have been canning for about a year now, careful to follow all of your instructions, and those in the Ball Blue Book. Once I am sure my jars are sealed properly I have re-attached the ring to some of them as a sort of insurance & a way to “store” the number of rings I am collecting. I have recently read that this can be dangerous – that should a jar unseal the ring will hold it on and allow bacteria to grow and re-seal the jar. Is this cause for alarm? Do I have to discard any jars I have with rings on them?
Judith Almand
Brandon, Florida
Jars that have become unsealed will NOT reseal if you screw the ring back on a jar lightly. Once unsealed, a jar remains unsealed. As always, when opening a jar, first look at the contents, open the jar, being sure it IS sealed, smell the contents, then bring to boiling temperature for 10-15 minutes. Sometimes a “bad” jar will pop “sealed” and “unsealed” several times but when you open the jar, the lid comes off very easily and you can sure tell it isn’t normal. I frequently store my washed jars that I’ve taken the rings off and washed both then dried, with the clean rings back on, lightly, just to store them without clutter. — Jackie
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