- Author: Noni Todd
- Editor: Dawn Peters
By Dawn Peters UCCE Master Food Preserver
Who does not love a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich or after school toast with strawberry jelly?
Now it's time to explore the more exciting, mature side of jelly. Rosy wine jellies that pair with delicate soft cheeses, or bold pepper jellies that are wonderful with a smoked gouda. Fresh herb jellies used as a condiment on a sandwich. Onion, garlic, and curry jellies as accompaniments to roasted meats or as a final touch in basting a fish or poultry give a hint of depth and contrast to the savory flavors.
Jellies are the shimmery, translucent spreads made by extracting the juice from produce; then cooking it with sugar, acid and sometimes added pectin.
Jellies can be more time consuming than jam as they are often cooked twice, once for extracting the juice, and again for the final cooking of the jelly. There can be a waiting period when the juice is filtered from the pulp. Since a jelly needs the correct ratio of fruit, pectin, acid, and sugar follow the directions of your recipe.
The ideal jelly is clear, sparkling with a fresh flavor. It is a balance of sweet and tart making it a perfect addition to savory dishes, sandwiches, and cheese boards.
Wine Lavender Jelly
Yield: four 4-oz. jars or two 8-oz. jars
2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
2 cups granulated sugar
1 pouch (3 oz.) liquid pectin
Prepare canning jars and lids according to manufacturer's directions.
1. In a large stainless-steel pan, combine wine and lavender. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat, cover, and steep for 20 minutes.
2. Transfer to a dampened jelly bag or strainer lined with several layers of dampened cheesecloth set over a bowl. Let drip, undisturbed, for 20 minutes. Measure 1‐3/4 cups.
3. Transfer infused wine to a clean large stainless-steel saucepan. Stir in sugar.
4. Over high heat, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.
5. Stir in pectin. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
6. Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam.
7. Pour hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4‐inch headspace. Wipe rims; add two‐piece metal canning lids.
8. Process in a boiling water or atmospheric steam canner for 10 minutes at 0‐1,000 feet elevation.
Source: Ball Complete Book of Home Canning, ©2012
For more information about safe canning procedures contact our UC Cooperative Extension office at 805-781-1429 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Author: Andrea Peck
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Andrea Peck UCCE Master Gardener
Common name of plant: Passion Flower
Scientific name: Passiflora spp.
Planting area: USDA Zones 7-10
Size: 30+ Feet
Bloom Season: Spring-Fall
Exposure: Full Sun
Pruning Needs: Prune to encourage healthy growth.
Water Needs: Moderate
The exotic passiflora vine is a beautiful addition to any garden. Like many pretty plants, this one thrives in a 'just right' climate, neither too cold nor too hot. Freezing winter climates may kill the plant and relentless hot, dry temperatures may leave them wilting. In the right situation, the passiflora, of which there are many varieties, grow lush green leaves, eye-catching flowers, and delicious fruit. Typical of a tropical plant, the passion flower requires consistent, moderate irrigation---not over-watering, which can contribute to soil-borne disease. Fertilize twice yearly, once in early spring, and again in midsummer with a 10-5-20 fertilizer. In order to thrive, make sure the soil is well-drained and loamy with a pH between 6.5 and 7. If you experience frost in your area, mulch the base of the plant heavily and you may keep it from dying, though the exposed vine may surrender to the cold. If you are successful in keeping Ms. Passion warm, she will reward you with new growth in the spring—and, depending on the varietal, fruit. Passion fruit, for the uninitiated, is ultimately worth getting beyond the goopy-insides factor. Maybe close your eyes and don't look---it's a bit like eating an oyster but definitely worth every last bite. Make sure you do your research and select a plant that is suitable to your area---there is quite a lot of variation in this species. The flower type can be remarkably different between varietals and not all passion vines produce edible fruit. The types that do produce fruit will need pollination; some are self-pollinating while others need more than one vine planted nearby to fruit properly. Keep in mind, also, that this lovely likes to get comfortable and spread out along a fence. Prune regularly to keep her in check and then sit back and enjoy.
- Author: Linda Lewis Griffith
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Linda Lewis Griffith UCCE Master Gardener
Planting Zone: All zones
Bloom Season: Plants flower in summer, fruit ripens in fall
Exposure: Full sun
Water Needs: Water regularly but keep foliage dry to prevent disease
Narrative:Nothing says fall like a home-grown pumpkin. This member of the Cucurbitacea family is native to the Andes and related to gourds and melons. All are large, low-growing vines with yellow or orange blossoms. Male flowers are smaller, appear first and produce pollen. Larger female flowers produce the fruit.
Pumpkins vary widely in size. Miniature varieties, such as Jack Be Little and Munchkin, are used for decorations. White skinned Lumina is both novel and attractive, and is excellent for baking. Atlantic Giant tops the scale at 200 pounds. Pumpkins are easy and rewarding to grow. They do, however, require lots of space. An individual vine can cover 500 square feet. Plant seeds by June to have them ready for fall. They can be planted directly into the ground, or started in pots, then transplanted as the plants mature and the weather warms. Pumpkins do best in soil amended with compost or manure. Add a balanced fertilizer at planting time. Create a mound of soil, then plant three seeds one inch deep and one inch apart. After germination, thin to one seedling, ensuring the healthiest survives. If planting several mounds, space them three to four feet apart. Water daily at first. As vines mature and spread, switch to deep watering every five to seven days, allowing the soil surface to dry between watering. Avoid getting water on the foliage to prevent mildew and other disease. Fertilize monthly with one tablespoon vegetable fertilizer raked into the soil. As flowers set, bees will help pollinate the fruit. Consider planting herbs, ornamentals and other flowering vegetables nearby to attract bees and beneficial insects. To promote larger fruit, select one or two from each plant, removing all others on the vine. In late summer, slide wooden shingles or other materials to protect developing fruit from wet soil and rot. Leaves may wilt on extremely hot days but typically recover as the temperature cools at night. Depending on the variety, pumpkins are ready in 90 to 120 days. To harvest, use a sharp knife to cut the stem, leaving three to five inches. Avoid picking pumpkins up by the stem.
- Author: Ardis Neilsen
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Ardis Neilsen UCCE Master Gardener
Common Name: Columbine
Scientific Name: Aquilegia
Planting Zone: USDA zones 3-9
Size: six inches to four-feet tall; one to two-feet wide
Bloom Season: spring to summer, four to six weeks
Exposure: partial shade preferred , partly sunny in cooler climates
Pruning Needs: trim lightly
Water Needs: regular watering
Columbine plants are considered to be garden charmers, boasting of lacey foliage and exquisitely-shaped airy flowers in varying colors, depending on the variety. Layers of color often occur from soft pastels to intense hues with white and yellow accents. Columbines have sepals and petals that frequently contrast in color which create a layered effect. It is a popular cutting flower and lasts about two weeks in floral arrangements.
Columbines belong to the Ranuculaceae (buttercup) family with over 60 species and many hybrids. This herbaceous perennial is hardy once established and is found in the wild throughout North America.
The plant's scientific name, Aquilegia, is derived from a Latin word “aquilia,” which translates to “eagle,” because its spurred flower petals resemble eagle's claws. Most columbine varieties have long spurs, which are long, narrow strips projecting from the back of its blooms. These spurs contain nectar and attract hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.
Slender stems support the erect or nodding, bell-shaped blooms above its foliage. Columbines are frequently planted in cottage and rock gardens.
These plants live about three to four years, but produce seeds prolifically, so it could persist in your garden for years, if you decide not to deadhead the flowers and collect the seeds or let them fall to the ground. Cut back old stems for second crop of flowers. At the end of the growing season, cut stems once again to ground level. They should return next spring.
If you decide to grow columbine from seed, it is helpful to refrigerate the seeds for three to four weeks before planting. These plants thrive best in slightly acidic, well-drained, sandy, loamy, compost-enriched soil. They appreciate monthly liquid fertilizer feeding to promote healthy foliage and more blooms.
Columbine's colorful, graceful blooms will enliven any garden space whether in pots or borders. The hardest part is deciding which variety to grow - countless beautiful colors and exotic shapes abound.
- Author: Polly Nelson
- Editor: Noni Todd
By Polly Nelson UCCE Master Gardener
Planting area: Sunset 5, 6, 12-17, 21-24
Size: 15-30 feet if not diligently pruned, depending on variety
Bloom Season: Spring through Fall, year-round in some places
Exposure: Full sun
Pruning needs: At least yearly
Water needs: Moderate to regular
Snapshot: Spanish-themed architecture and bougainvillea plants are synonymous in frost-free areas of southwest California, although the plant is native to eastern South America. Richly colored petal-like bracts surround inconspicuous flowers that can be single or double types, depending on the variety. Colors range from deep shades of purple to red, and orange.
The rapidly growing vines have heart-shaped green leaves as well as long, needle-like thorns that line the stems. Vines grow well on trellises, arbors, fences, and walls.
Bougainvillea can be planted in-ground in well-draining soil; low-growing varieties do well in containers with sufficient drainage. Container-planted bougainvillea are easier to cover in regions where winter frost is a possibility.
It is essential to leave the roots intact when planting or repotting, as they are sensitive to movement and disruption, and may not recover if overly-disturbed. One way to minimize shock when planting is to cut off the container bottom, then set both the plant and container in the designated planting hole. Slide the container up over the leaves of the plant, filling in with soil at the same time. Tie the vines to a sturdy support, such as a trellis.
Fertilize when growing season begins and again in early summer, with a balanced formula (5-5-5 or 10-10-10) diluted with water to half-strength, or monthly for container plants. Worm compost can be used to amend the soil and improve moisture retention. Follow label instructions to avoid over fertilizing. Fewer blossoms can result from of too much fertilizer, insufficient sun or heat, overwatering, or over pruning.
Prune to manage growth during the growing season. Prune more vigorously annually after the blooms fade to prevent excessive woody growth. Blooms are produced on new growth. Without support and occasional corrective pruning, bougainvillea become a broad, sprawling shrub, but active pruning can produce trees, or ornamental shapes.
Pests include aphids, mealybugs, caterpillars, slugs or snails. Hand-removal is recommended. Neem oil, used as directed, is an additional option.