AFTER MY EDGER, MY FAVORITE TOOL IS THE COMPUTER. Mea culpa. The latest harvest: the secrets of Kosher salts, above (and why your pickles taste too salty some years); tactics for going pesticide-free indoors and out—and even how to save heirloom tomato seeds the Amy Goldman way. Sound useful? If I share, will you forgive me all my rooting around indoors instead of being outside on nonstop edging duty?
THANK YOU DEB PERELMAN OF SMITTEN KITCHEN, who cooks up a giant food blog from her tiny, 42-square-foot New York City kitchen. Just in time for peak pickling season, Deb unlocked the riddle that had been puzzling her (and me) for years: why recipes come out too salty sometimes and not others. Turns out that not all brands of Kosher salt (shown above, in my Grandma’s glass salt cellar) are created equal. The scoop from Deb (thank you, thank you).
WANT TO USE LESS CHEMICALS in and around the home and garden? Who doesn’t? Beyond Pesticides dot org is an essential resource to help in the plight. Just look at this list of factsheets (each a PDF). I love the one on “Reading Your Lawn Weeds,” for instance, a tactic that will really help you think before dumping on some needless toxin; you can find it partway down this page of theirs, at the link “Creating a Healthy Lawn.” A handy tactic for finding least-toxic pest-control companies near you is offered in this state-by-state online tool.
SPEAKING OF PESTS, WHAT ABOUT TICKS? The Wall Street Journal posted this rundown the other day of where we are in the fight against them (not faring so well), citing research from Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station revealing that more than 80 percent of ticks on a property “are within 3 yards of the lawn perimeter, particularly along woodlands, stone walls, and ornamental plantings.” In other words, you don’t have to go deep-woods hunting or hiking to come into contact.
I’m not sure if the further update that cedar chips are a good repellent—meaning that you could theoretically surround yourself with them as a barrier zone—is good news or bad. You know how I feel about chunky in mulch (hint: I prefer it in peanut butter).
Nobody knows the proper seed-saving step-by-step better than preservationist and author Amy Goldman. It’s all in the fermentation (which is much easier than it sounds).
The amazing Amy also has tips for saving melon and squash seed, should you be blessed enough to have an open-pollinated (a.k.a. heirloom) one of them that you hope to grow again next year. Try it!