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Dear Editor,

If I take dried food (lima beans) and put them in jars that were washed the day before in a dishwasher (but have dried out thoroughly) and then I put the dried products in them and seal with a lid accessory tool to draw the air out, will the food be okay? I will cook it later.

Also, when I have dried food, after I wash the jars, can I seal the top on with the lids after I have washed and dried the lids? I don’t want water to get into the lids. They have sealed fine. Does the seal still need to be wet and hot?



Dear J—,

Thanks for writing! If you think about it, the dried foods you buy at the grocery store are not stored in airtight containers that have had a vacuum pulled on them. They’re in plastic bags (beans and dried fruit), in plastic or paper sleeves or boxes (pasta), and in plastic jars with just a simple cap on them (herbs and seasonings). If you feel better sealing them in a jar, then you can certainly do so, but it’s not necessary. I like jars just because they’re easy to use and sit nicely on my pantry shelves (although I use simple plastic lids and not screw bands and sealing rings). The main thing with dried foods is making sure you’ve dried them enough that the moisture content won’t make mold grow on the food and that the food is stored in a relatively cool place away from direct light.

The Editor


Dear Editor,

Hello. I’m somewhat new to gardening, and I’m encountering some problems. First of all, I’m trying very hard to go organic, but I cannot find truly organic (USDA approved) fertilizer. Therefore, my veggies are looking very small, or not growing at all. Second of all, I’m planting in earth boxes. My squash plants are blooming, but they are small, plus they have whiteflies. I do not know how to destroy the whiteflies naturally. Can you help with this problem?

Thank you,



Dear A—,

Let’s take your questions one at a time. For an all-natural fertilizer, I can heartily recommend ProtoGrow™, a product sold exclusively by Solutions From Science. The product contains no harmful chemicals whatsoever. Its ingredients are a unique blend of the micronutrients from a very special kelp extract and the macronutrients from North Atlantic fish. I use it in my garden and can tell you it is everything it’s advertised to be.

Now to your question on whiteflies. Whiteflies are tiny, sap-sucking insects. They’re more related to aphids than flies. They love warm weather and have a variety of hosts – which include many weeds and crops. Pest management is a little harder in that they lay their eggs on the underside of leaves, so any pest management solution is going to involve a little more effort on your part since you’ll need to reach those areas. Successfully controlling your whitefly population has to include preventing the nymphs (the infant stages of the insect) from being able to reproduce.

A soap spray alone will cut into the adult population. Mix one tablespoon of dishwashing detergent with one cup of cooking oil to make a stock solution. For a gallon of spray, add five to eight tablespoons of stock solution to a gallon of water.  You can also just mix the dishwashing detergent directly into the water, at a rate of two and a half tablespoons of detergent to a gallon of water, but the oil method does help the solution adhere to the leaf surfaces and stay there.

In order to attack the whiteflies at the nymph stage, however, you need a little more. This is where neem oil comes in so nicely. Totally organic, neem oil comes from the seeds of the neem tree, an evergreen that originated in India. Add neem oil into your spray schedule to control the whiteflies at the nymph stage. Mix two tablespoons of neem oil, three ounces of liquid soap, and a gallon of water to make this spray.

The Editor


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