- Author: Noni Todd
By Carol Michael, UCCE Master Food Preserver
We had little rain in February. Drought can increase risk for wildfires. What can I do to keep food safe during planned or unplanned power outages? Debbie V., Paso Robles
Regional power outages can result from earthquakes, wildfires, or power shutdowns to prevent fires. Transformer failures, vehicle accidents involving power poles, even bird interactions with power lines are other causes. Power outages can be large, affecting multiple communities, or they can be small as when an old freezer quits working on the weekend and the nearest appliance dealer is 25 miles away.
Regardless of the cause, the feeling of panic is the same. How long will my refrigerated and frozen food be safe? What can I do to keep food safe? It is important to prepare yourself before an outage occurs. First, keep an appliance thermometer in your refrigerator and freezer to help you know and safely set the temperature of your appliance before an outage, and once power has been restored. This will help you determine if your food is safe. Your refrigerator should be set at 40˚F or below and your freezer at 0˚F or below. Then remember USDA's 4-hour rule. Your refrigerator will keep food safe for up to 4 hours during a power outage. After 4 hours without power, discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs and leftovers. Never taste foods to determine their safety! You often cannot see, smell, or taste bacteria and viruses in food that can make you ill.
A full freezer will keep frozen food at a safe temperature for up to 2 full days(or only one day) if it's less full. Keeping several containers of clean drinking water in the freezer on a regular basis will help keep food cold in your freezer, refrigerator, or in a cooler when power is out, and they provide backup drinking water in case your water supply is compromised.
As soon as power is restored, check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer. If the power was out for less than 4 hours and you've kept the door closed, your food should be safe. Check the thermometer to make sure. Refer to www.Foodsafety.gov and www.fda.gov for more information about food safety during power outages. It's important to remember “When in Doubt, Throw it Out!”
- Author: Ardis Neilsen
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Ardis Neilsen UCCE Master Gardener
Common Name: Lantana ‘Rose Sunrise'
Scientific Name: Lantana camara
Planting Zone: Sunset 8-10, 12-24
Size: 1 -2 feet high, 2-4 feet wide
Bloom Season: continuously except when frost occurs, long lasting blooms
Exposure: Full sun, requires a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight
Pruning Needs: Trim to control size and shape, remove woody growth in spring
Water Needs: Drought tolerant, infrequent deep watering after established
If you want a plant that is easy to grow, colorful, always blooming, drought tolerant and animal resistant, the Lantana ‘Rose Sunrise' cultivar might be the perfect fit for your garden. It is low maintenance, hardy, deer and rabbit resistant, and it attracts pollinators. It can be planted in beds, pots or hanging baskets, where it will show off its petite, brightly colored rose-pink and yellow blossoms which contrast nicely with its dark green leaves. The leathery leaves are opposite, heavily veined, a bit rough like sandpaper, and approximately two inches long. Lantana's flowers form in one to two-inch clusters and put on a non-stop show that few plants can compete with. The eye-catching blossoms are attractive to hummingbirds, bees and butterflies, making lantana an excellent choice for pollinator gardens.
This hardy, mounding, perennial shrub is happiest in full sun with warm temperatures and a bit of fertilizer. Lantana will grow in varied soils but prefers soil that is amended, slightly acidic and drains well. Lantana can be prone to mildew if it is planted in shade, receives too much water, or when prolonged fog or overcast conditions occur. Light frost keeps the plant's growth in check. In areas where there is no frost, it will bloom continuously. If frost damages the plant, do not remove the blackened leaves. They offer a “winter coat” of protection until the soil and air temperature warm up in spring, and new growth emerges. When the frost season passes, you can safely prune debris and continue to enjoy this hardy, colorful plant.
The lantana genus consists of about 150 species of perennial flowering plants in the verbena family, Verbenaceae. It is non-native to California but popular in many Central Coast garden landscapes.
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- Author: Leslie Stevens
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Leslie Stevens UCCE Master Gardener
Planting area: Sunset zones 2 -24; USDA Hardiness zones 5 - 10
Size: Approx. 1 foot tall by 12 feet wide on trailing stems
Bloom season: small white flowers in late spring
Exposure: full sun to light shade
Pruning Needs: prune primarily to remove dead or awkwardly growing branches
Water needs: moderate to little water once established
Snapshot: If you're looking for a low-maintenance groundcover, it's hard to beat Bearberry Cotoneaster. Its low arching branches can quickly cover 12 feet of flat ground or sloping hillsides. It thrives in poor soils and is thrifty with water.
Despite its toughness, this evergreen spreader provides year-round good looks. Tiny, fragrant white flowers dot the plant's dark-green elliptical leaves in spring. Bright red berries follow and last well into winter. And come fall, the leaves turn colorful shades of red and purple.
In addition to its visual appeal, this cotoneaster provides food for birds, tolerates air pollution and is considered fire resistant. It also thrives in all but the coldest and hottest climate zones.
A member of the Rosaceae family, cotoneasters are native to China, the Himalayas and northern India. More than a dozen known cotoneasters range from low groundcovers to 25-foot shrubs.
- Author: Linda Lewis Griffith
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Linda Lewis Griffith UCCE Master Gardener
Common Name: Wall Germander
Planting Zone: Sunset zones 2-24
Size: 1-2 ft. high, 3 ft. wide
Bloom Season: Summer to early autumn
Exposure: Full sun
Pruning Needs: Pinch to retain compact shape; shear back once or twice each year to keep neat and force side branching
Water Needs: Low water once established; a little more inland
Narrative: This member of the mint family is a small, mounding subshrub with deep green, fragrant leaves that have toothed margins. It is native to dry hillsides and open woods in the Mediterranean region. But it is equally adapted to the coastal, inland and valley gardens of California. Red-purple or white flowers bloom throughout summer on loose stalks. These should be trimmed off at the end of their season to maintain good foliage density. Older stalks and branches lying on the ground should be regularly removed. Wall germander loves poor, gritty soil but does well in a variety of other soil conditions as long as drainage is adequate. It is fire resistant if kept hydrated. Wall germander is found in both herb and wildlife gardens where it is attractive to bees and butterflies. Deer leave it alone. It is a popular topiary and border plant and may be kept in its pleasing natural form or clipped into a small hedge.
It may also be planted as a small-scale groundcover. A lower growing cultivar, ‘Prostratum,' grows to 4-6 in. high, spreading to 3 feet across. When planting for ground cover, set new plants two feet apart. Wall germander is generally free from pests and diseases. It is hardy to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Plants can easily be propagated in a variety of ways. Allow seed heads to dry on plants, then remove and collect in a small bag. Sow seeds directly in the ground outdoors in the fall. Or sow indoors and transplant seedlings in the spring. Cuttings can also be selected, rooted and planted when new growth appears.
- Author: Sarah Arana
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Sarah Arana UCCE Master Food Preserver
I'm trying to stay away from processed foods, what are some staples that I could start with? -Beth S. Los Osos, Ca.
One of best things to keep on hand that is the base for many dishes is homemade stock. This can be used for soups and stews or in place of water for rice and pastas to bolster the flavor. Homemade stock also makes a great sipping broth when you're feeling under the weather. You can make veggie or bone broth using different ingredients to allow for personal preference or tailored for certain recipes. Try making broth in your multi-use pressure cooker, or use your slow cooker, or you can even make it on your stove top. Allow it to simmer all day creating a wonderful aroma in your home announcing winter is here! Your homemade broth can then be pressure canned or frozen for safe keeping to use later.
Another great staple and a fun skill to develop is making homemade sourdough bread. It can seem daunting at first, but with a little knowledge and some practice, you too can dazzle both friends and family with fresh baked bread right out of the oven, perfect on cold chilly nights with your homemade soup. Sourdough bread is the quintessential classic and is made using a fermented “starter” that requires a bit of attention, but it is worth the effort. You can unlock the mystery of making sourdough and keep it on hand for sandwiches, croutons, bread pudding or just plain toast.
Beyond bread, your starter can be used in a variety of recipes including cakes, crackers, pizza dough, muffins, biscuits, pancakes, waffles…You get the picture? Who would have thought something as simple as flour and water could create such magic! Incredibly versatile, sourdough starter opens your kitchen to a variety of baked goods that you never thought possible! It is important to remember that flour is considered a raw ingredient and should not be consumed uncooked. Utilizing basic food safety principles in your kitchen are critical when working with raw flour products.
Come to our next UCCE Master Food Preserver class and learn how to safely prepare and preserve both staples, bread and broth. The class is Saturday, Feb. 22 from 10am-12pm located at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo. Register: http://ucanr.edu/warmwinter