I *often* freeze hamburger, hotdog, and sliced bread. I just freeze them in the standard bag they came in. Nearly every time I buy sliced bread, I buy four to eight loaves, and freeze all but the two I leave on my counter.
Right now I have four or five packs of hamburger buns.
They last fine for months. After about maybe six months, they do get freezer burn, but 99% of the time I eat them by then.
The biggest concern of mine is not letting them get squashed prior to freezing, or they won't recover their shape once thawed.
That'd be my concern with vacuum sealing: they'd either be squashed, or if not squashed, they'd still have air in them defeating the purpose.
To thaw, put them on your counter at room temp, and in less than 15 mins they are perfectly normal. Easy peasy!
I had to dig two up today, because I was building something, and both were sprouted! They hadn't stuck up above the woodchips, but this gives me hope for all the rest hidden in the ground. I thought it was all dead.
I'm in the process of trying it right now, for four trees (three apples, one apricot).
Alas, but after nearly six weeks, I still don't see any roots. I had a later frost early on, and think that may have ruined my attempt, but plan to keep trying, keeping the bag moist, to see what happens.
Anne Miller wrote:I don't understand the description "turn black and shrink up into almost non-existance".
To me, the picture looks like something ate all the leaves overnight.
There is so much black in the picture on the mulch that I am not seeing any black leaves. Maybe a white piece of paper over the mulch would help show the leaves.
I should've used a piece of paper, that's a good idea.
It might've be eaten - I do have a hrair of wild rabbits scampering about.
I was thinking it was some form of blight, because I saw the leaves had black on them, and some turned brown, and shriveled in almost nothing, but I suppose it's likelier that some had black and brown on them, shriveled up, and unrelated to that, a rabbit came by and ate all the green ones?
Another one got stricken. =(...
I'll put cages over everything if that's the case, and sprinkle diatomaceous earth incase it's bugs.
The newly stricken one has I think an unopened leaf bud, so if I act now, it may still make it.
It takes me about 12 mins total to cook bacon.
Bacon - and eggs, and fish - are all part of the original "fast food". You can do fish, or eggs, or bacon, and have the entire meal, including side dishes, cooked in less than 20 minutes. Many times in less than 15 if you're fast (which I'm not).
Heat up a pan for 2 mins (med-high), lay the bacon in it (keep pan on med-low), flip after 5 mins, done. 12 mins from turning on pan. If you're having eggs, they can cook in the same pan at the same time, unless you have to much grease in the pan from too much bacon.
Here are two things I do differently from you, that are a matter of personal preference:
First, you are *way* overcooking the bacon. I like my bacon much softer. If you prefer it crunchy, fine! But if you are cooking it like that because you think it's neccessary for food safety or because it's the "right way" you were taught, just know you're cooking it alot crispier than many others do.
Second, you're dumping out the grease?! That stuff is gold, man! Yes, you want to drain it, but I keep mason jars of bacon grease near the stove for use instead of cooking oils when greasing pans for eggs, potatoes, and etc...
I actually freeze jars of bacon fat, duck fat, chicken fat, turkey fat, etc... for use in cooking. Small amounts of it can really add a great amount of flavor for food, and is potentially healthier than vegetable oils (though I use oils if I don't have fat).
If you have a rooster, she's likely that rooster's favorite.
When a rooster mounts a hen, roosters sink their claws into the back of the hen. Repeated mountings of a single hen ends up pulling a substantial amount of feathers out, extending all the way up the back.
I'm not aware of anything you can do about that.
I have one rooster, 22 hens. But he doesn't spread his "affection" evenly amongst them - in my last three flocks, there have always been one or two hens who got it worst.
Maybe if you had a dancing rooster, it'd help? I don't know, I never had a dancer.
(Roosters who dance before a hen are asking consent before mounting - maybe then the hen could decline to be mounted if she's overused?)
You could seperate her for awhile so she could recover, but they are flock animals and being separated might bother her.
You could cull and eat her if it gets too bad, and then someone else would become the favorite but would likely be fine for a few months.
You could cull the rooster, eat him, and then all the hens could have a break while you grow new rooster.
I don't know of any way to make a rooster rotate hens in a more equitable manner.
I grow peppers, and dehydrate some and grind up into hot pepper spice which I use in moderation to many dishs. Just a tiny amount (I'm a wuss when it comes to heat) adds a nice additional subtle nuance to the dishes.
I also use buttloads of smoked paprika. Imagine my surprise finding out paprika is just ground up sweet peppers, like bell peppers. This year I'd like to try that, if I get a decent haul of peppers.
I've had great luck storing rice, sugar, and salt in half-gallon mason jars and using a FoodSaver vacuum sealer's mason jar attachment to suck all the air out.
My store-bought rice has lasted 8 years without *any* deterioration in quality, before I got around to eating it.
Freeze the rice for at least 24 hours first to kill any bugs (all store-bought rice is infested with rice weevil eggs). Then wait at least several hours at room temperature before unbagging the rice (or moisture gets on then due to condensation).
For beans, the reason I don't vacuum seal dry beans, is because it's much nicer to have already cooked food canned up. I have quart jars of canned pinto beans, black beans, red beans, split pea soup, and chili. This to me is the ideal way to store them, and super easy to do. I forget whether they need to be waterbath-canned or pressure-canned, but you can look that up.
I've never stored corn, but if I did, I'd do the same: I like precooked canned corn from the store, so I'd consider canning your corn cooked (by which I mean, the canning process cooks it).
I strongly encourage learning how to can food. While it may seem dangerous and time consuming at first, it's super easy and convenient to can a seven or eight jars here or there in the mornings or evenings without alot of fuss.
Once you get used to pressure canning, it's like 15 mins work, then just listen for the timer for 30 mins to adjust temperature, and set a timer again for when to turn it off. It's like doing laundry: put in wash, go do other stuff, put in dryer for longer, go do other stuff, then come back.
There are some risks/dangers involved, but mostly just from people leaving their house and forgetting they had their stove burning turned on. If you're in the house, you can audibly (and loudly) hear if it's going bad and easily turn it off with plenty of advance warning. You could even just set the timers on your phone instead of the stove, incase you go outside and out of timer range.
When I have done wine caps, it took me a lot longer than a month to get noticeable growth. I am impressed that you got some visible growth before. I would just wait a bit and see what happens.
Good job so far!
That's a relief! I was thinking a month is the "definitely should be done by now" point. I'm happy to leave them another month or two, or even until fall.
How long do Winecaps normally take, and are you using sterilized nars/bags, or growing outdoors?
Jonathan Baldwerm wrote:From what I've read in Stamets books, winecaps need soil bacteria to really thrive. [...] I've grown lots of winecaps, but only in unsterilized outdoor beds. If you put down spawn and a preferrably woody substrate, they take off in that environment.
I'm trying to grow the spawn from spores, so I can put them outside in woodchip'd beds with my tomatoes. Right now I don't have much of the spawn colonized... maybe I should've used a different medium for Winecap, though the Portabello seem to love it!
I suppose I could take one of the Winecap jars that are doing semi-acceptable, and move it to the woodchip beds now.
I could also try moving one of the "dead" jars to a garden bed of woodchips.
About 45 days ago, I planted an entire 4x8 garden bed full of ginger. None of it has sprouted.
I planted it in a shaded area, and we've been getting plenty of light rains at a decent cadence, so the soil has stayed damp but not muddy.
The garden bed is loose soil, I planted them an inch deep, but then I put another inch of woodchips over that.
These are store-bought ginger, which I understand may be sprayed with growth retardants, but many people seem to grow store-bought ginger successfully.
I got large whole ginger that looked very lively, cut them into large 2" chunks with multiple eyes, rinsed them loosely and waited 24 hours for their cut ends to do whatever, then soaked then for an hour and planted them.
Not a single one has sprouted above the ground. Any ideas what I did wrong?
My new garden bed used alot of mostly-aged cow manure. Does ginger not like manure?
Is it too shaded? It's not full shade, but it's more than partial shade, and gets maybe two hours of full direct sun.
I'm in Zone 6A.
Tomorrow I'll dig some up to see what's what, but I don't know what to look for.
On May 6th (24 days ago), I started my first ever batch of mushrooms.
I have twelve quart mason jars with pressure-canned sterilized material, that I injected with Portabello and Winecap spores (liquid syringes). Six jars are Portabello, and seem to be doing great! They almost fully colonized the jars. Six jars are Winecaps, and have barely colonized theirs, and two jars seem entirely dead.
My substrate was:
Mostly aged sawdust (pine)
Partially composted chicken manure
Partially composted cow manure
Some pelletized gypsum
A little bit of dirt
A tiny amount of shredded straw and wood shavings
I forget exactly what my moisture content was, but I looked up a good balance and did it as precisely as I could.
I sterilized everything in mason jars, waited 24 hours, then drilled holes through one lid (with a sterilized drill bit), squirted on top three different spots of liquid spores from the syringe (the 1" of empty space on the top of the mason jar prevented me from actually *injecting*), and then put on some microporous tape over the drilled hole.
I put all twelve jars in a dark-ish pantry, that's usually around 65-70°F, but they get a little indirect light from a mostly curtained window behind them.
After a week or two, I realized I had a spare seed heat mat, and put that under them also.
All twelve jars started forming white fluffy areas on top where I squirted them. After a week or so, I gently shook up four jars of each mushroom type (to disperse the spores in the jar more, to speed colonization), and left two jars of each alone.
The portabello jars took off real well, but two of the winecaps barely recovered, and are colonizing somewhat, and the other two seem entirely dead. The two unshaken Winecap jars have continued to colonize, but very very slowly in comparison to the portabello.
There are zero miscolored areas, as far as I can see, in any of the jars.
A week ago, because the two jars looked dead, I risked contamination by squirting a little sanitized water into each of the two dead ones, just incase I got the moisture levels wrong. A week later, no difference.
I attached two photos - one of the portabello thriving, and one of a "dead" Winecap jar. The white spots you see in the dead jar are gypsum pellets.
1) Why did loosely shaking the Winecap colonies kill them?
2) Is my substrate wrong for Winecaps? (sawdust and manure)
3) Do Winecaps take longer than four weeks?
4) How would you suggest I proceed with my four Winecap jars that are still alive but haven't colonized much of the jars?
This is what I bought, which has electrically-ran sharpening stones as well as manual ones... but I almost exclusively use the manual part, have never really plugged it in much, mostly because I haven't read how to use it properly. =P
I can't recommend it as "good", as I'm not using it's full potential. But it certainly hasn't been bad. I really need to read the manual, and sharpen all my kitchen knives and poultry-processing knives.
Definitely not ruined. Far from it; that looks like a great start that'd be perfectly fine for growing plants in. You can always work in more manure next spring if you find it neccesary.
If you have some aged manure, you can also mix in maybe half a handful under each plant as you plant them. That's what I normally do.
The only thing I'd suggest doing is making sure you mulch to retain moisture and keep the soil cool. If you got more cardboard or straw, that'd work fine, or woodchips are even better (or straw and then woodchips!).
I'd also encourage you to see if you can find free sources of mulch and manure. You're literally buying animal poop and shards of wood - surely someone nearby would be happy to give you some if you look hard enough.
My local city/county has a free pile 14ft tall of woodchips where they dump the shredded wood from cutting tree branches away from powerlines or after storms. My local dump has composted yard waste (warning: may be herbicide heavy, so I use it on test beds first). A nearby neighbor raises cows. If you are interested in free garden stuff, most of it is probably available for you.
Mint can get rather tall (up to 24"), but often stays small for a long time. It smells pleasant, and can be used in mojitosuh, tea.
Because it does get tall, eventually, you'd probably have to mow it, but maybe just twice a year.
Some types of mint stays low, but is much more persnickety in terms of moisture and shade - definitely not achievable in my area. But I could plant 'normal' mint in a lawn here - mint volunteers over my lawn as it is!
Any variety you have a taste for. Apple trees can be excessively pruned to be kept at the height you want. Apple trees marked "standard","dwarf", or "semi-dwarf", has to do with putting one type of apple (e.g. Honeycrisp) on different rootstock (i.e. grafted into the roots of a different apple species) to keep the tree naturally smaller (based on the natural size of the rootstock).
A "standard" tree can still be pruned into whatever size you want - some people prune them and train them along wires like grape vines or up the sides of walls like climbing roses (google 'espalier' for cool pictures). Not all trees can be pruned dramatically like that - e.g. nut trees can't be - but apples can and are the most common example.
So, yea, get whatever varieties you personally enjoy!
Buying store-bought apples, my go-to apples were always "Honeycrisp" as an eating apple, and "Grannysmith" as a slightly-sour baking apple. When I planted my trees, I planted those, but I also planted multiple other varieties to see what else I might enjoy. There may be better-tasting apples that stores won't carry because they select breeds for long shelf-life or uniform appearances.
My trees are just starting to reach fruiting age, so I haven't gotten a chance to see what my varieties taste like, but am looking forward to it.
"Will I need to cross-pollinate?"
Yes. All this really means is, have two or three compatible apples within 30 ft of each other, and you'll be fine.
"compatibility" mostly is just making sure they have overlapping blossoming periods, so pollen from one can reach another.
Just figure out what varieties you want, then look up if they are compatible with each other, or what other varieties people recommend pairing with them.
Sounds complicated, but it's really not. Just pick what apple varieties you want, post them here, and ask people if they'll cross-pollinate well, or if there is a substitution or addition they'd recommend.
But if you arbitrarily picked based on what your tastes are, there's a decent chance they'll happen to be compatible anyway.
"If growing in containers, is it realistic to expect any fruit?"
Yes. I've never grown them in containers personally, but heavily pruned apple trees do still produce apples.
Get a decent size pot to give room for root growth. Also you'll have to pay more attention to watering compared to planting in the ground; you'll also need to eventually work more nutrients into the soil of the pot after a few years, as the soil will be stripped of all beneficial nutrients by the tree and will need more.
Personally, I'd just plant them in the ground, even if you want them small, and keep them pruned to the size you want. Your USDA Zone 6B (same zone as me) can support apples outdoors just fine.
"Do apples suffer any insect, fungus, or similar problems I need to watch out for?"
Depends on your area. In Missouri, my apples were eaten by bugs that lay eggs in the inside of the apple shortly after blossoming, and then when the apple is almost ready for harvest, they burrow their way out and eat the apple.
Since I don't use pesticides, the supposed solution to that that I'm doing this year, is covering each individual apple with a little baggy once blossoming is finished (I'm using disposable ziplock bags, but in Japan they make little fabric baggies, and some people in the USA make bags out of nylon stockings or something).
Daron Williams wrote:If your plants are wilting and the soil is still moist, then there are likely 2 causes:
1) Something has damaged or eaten the roots.
2) Your plant was recently planted and hasn’t had time to grow enough roots to get the water it needs.
3) If your plants are wilting, the soil is still moist, the roots are not damaged, and you plant is well established... it might just be too damned hot!
True dat! My pumpkin/squash/melon vines have very broad leaves that wilt and recover during days with >95°F temperatures in direct sun - but they have plenty of water, being on irrigation timers (and I've checked the soil moisture when I see the wilting). I give them extra water on those 'so-hot-it-wilts' days, but sometimes it's almost a daily cycle of wilt-and-recover during the hottest days of summer (we reach up to 110°F).
I ought to plant them in partial shade... The broad-leafed vines just have too much surface area to be hit by such intense sun and heat. But they all grew fine and produced fine!
Leaf mulch is great! It breaks down quickly though - barely lasting me through winter, but improves the soil well.
Pulling up grass/weeds and using those as mulch works great too, and lasts me about a year (ditto for straw).
Cardboard (cut holes for planting) and newspaper (water it good when laying it, so it doesn't blow away, and it'll stay put thereafter) both work great too, lasting for a year or two. Your local recycling center may give you some for free.
The best, though, is woodchips, which last 2-3 years and retain moisture very well, while also letting water through at excellent rates.
My city (or maybe it's the county?) has a giant woodchip pile where I can get all I want for free. Tree cutting companies have to dump theirs somewhere, as well as the local government clearing powerlines of tree growth.
You shouldn't need to *buy* mulch. I view store-bought bags of mulch as a scam for middle-class people to put on their front lawns. =P
Mulch is available for free all over the place if you know where to look. Compost too (check your local dump - those bags of leaves people rake off their lawns gotta go somewhere - ditto for all those green yard waste trash cans filled with the grass clippings from mowing everyone's lawns). Manure is also often available for free if you can find some animals and ask their owner.
I bought some of the big tomato plants my local shop got in, two weeks ago, but I knew enough to bring them indoors when below 50°F, and 99% of my tomatos I started from seed. I just wanted one slicing tomato and one cherry tomato that'd fruit earlier, as theirs were maybe two weeks further along than the largest of mine. They weren't all that root-bound, as far as I could tell.
If the merchants had any integrity they would not sell plants that have little to no chance of growing successfully in the area you are buying them.
I think it's not an issue of integrity, but corporate dysfunction when large companies' middle managers assume one-size-fits-all nationally, with no clear way for people lower down to communicate obvious issues. A common problem shared by large organizations, whether commercial, charitable, or governmental.
An employee at Menards told me that for years HQ shipped snowblowers in winter to every store as a seasonal product for sale. *Every* store, including in states like Florida where it never snows...
I can easily imagine a similar manager saying, "April 10th, make sure every store has tomatoes", not realizing that some areas it should be weeks earlier or later, or selling unsuitable fruit trees in areas that can't quite support it.
"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." - Hanlon's Razor
Alot of chefs, notably Bobby Flay, enjoy Calabrese chili peppers; it's a hot pepper sometimes described as spicy, smoke-flavoured, with hint of something almost fruity.
Unfortunately, they are now somewhat trendy, so people sell mislabeled packets of unrelated pepper seeds (e.g. from China), and my two favorite online seed stores (Baker Creek and Johnny Seeds) don't carry them.
I'd really like to try them, and start propogating them from seed for myself.
(I know I'm a tad late in the season - all my other seeds have been started indoors weeks ago, and planted outdoors yesterday! But I just heard of this type of pepper a few hours ago, and based on some discussions, I think it'd be a perfect fit for my cooking style)
Does anyone within the continental USA have some they'd be willing to mail me? I'm in the Midwest USA, shipping should be inexpensive if you're also within the country (shipping should be about $3), and I'd reimburse shipping costs via PayPal.
I'd like about 30-40 seeds to get my seed saving started, but if you have other heirlooms you'd like to share as well (especially bell peppers! Or melons, etc...), I'd be willing to pay a small fee, depending on how many varieties and quantity of seeds you'd mail.
Alternatively, I recently bulk-ordered some heirloom and hybrid seeds, and vacuum sealed them in collections of small seed packets - see attached photos. (I forget which are heirloom and which are hybrid, but you can look that up based on their names).
I could trade a collection of my (store-bought) seeds in exchange for a roughly equal collection of your seeds (store bought or seed-saved heirlooms). You can see what seeds I already have (as well as a mostly-accurate list of what you'd get in trade, though some of my collections are missing an item or two) by looking at the list in the picture.
I like to put some manure under a tree, deeper than I plant it (with a buffer of a few inches of dirt). If it's real fresh manure (less than 4 months old), better to skip that, and let it age longer, then just make rings a foot or more away from the trunks, where it's not on top of the new roots, but where it'll gradually seep into the soil.
You can still toss any kitchen scraps (especially bananas!), chicken bones, or best of all, fish corpses, in the hole (with two or more inches of dirt over it before planting the tree roots), before planting the tree. I hear rusty nails are supposed to be good long-term (iron and zinc and other minerals) as well - I almost always forget to do that, though. Whatever organic matter, or bones (long-term calcium), you have available is a great bonus if available, but not a necessity.
Planting in the natural soil is actually good for the trees, but supplementing it somewhat is helpful too, when possible. Digging a hole and putting in completely different soil actually isn't good for the tree, because you're raising it to adapt to the wrong soil that it'll grow out of after two years and not be prepared for, or worse, it's roots may try to keep circling inside the soil it's used to, and tangle up its own roots.
Digging square-ish holes also helps (but again, isn't strictly necessary) for the same reason - it helps reduce the roots circling around where the loose soil meets the compact soil.
If you never planted trees before, don't be discouraged if some of them die. That's the nature of learning to raise living plants. I lost a horrible number of trees early on - around 70% (mostly due to flooding). And even now, I lose about 20%. You'll do much better than me, but don't get discouraged by a few here or there.
Chicken wire is fine. I put chicken wire over some of my plants (flowers, young bushes, etc...), and my summers almost reach 110'F and haven't noticed any issue related to heat and etc...
The only issue I've had is if a fruit tree's branch moves back and forth in the wind and rubs some of its own bark off on the wire, but I haven't had issues with my young bushes *growing through* the chicken wire.
Also bear in mind many people use metal trellis for their tomatoes, raspberries, blackberries, etc... last year, I had pumpkins and squashes trellis'd (again, nearly 110'F some days) - no problem with the heat of the wire itself - at least that I noticed. The plants did struggle with the heat in-general, but then again, so did I. =P
As one last note, if the flowers grow through the wires, they'll be shading the wire - at least the parts nearest them.
My speculation is that after several years, the one in the tote will need watering, the ones in the ground won't, and the one in the tote will, due to limitation on root depth, not be able to produce as many consecutive harvesting of spears. I think it'll work but be less productive and need more watering.
I'd be very interested to hear how your experiment goes!
Mark Seasigh wrote:
I have a heated Greenhouse, and I was wondering:
If I plant asparagus in a deep 3’x2’ tote with proper drainage holes in it [...]
I'd first point out asparagus roots go *deep*. Some say as deep as 10ft, but I'd definitely assume at least 6 or 7ft. I don't know how they'd behave if you restricted their root depth.
This is the reason why you don't really need to water them.
Second, I'd question why waste precious greenhouse space? Asparagus is hardy from zones 3 to 8. That's a fairly broad range. They do fine in my -10°F winters and 105°F summers (zones 6A). What I like about asparagus is it's a perennial that doesn't have to be pampered and don't really need watering (because of their root depth).
will I get continual harvests of asparagus throughout the year, or will they just flush one time in the spring?
Just in spring - for about 5 weeks or so. As the spears come up and you harvest them, the spears will get thinner and thinner as you use up the asparagus' reserved energy. When they get thinner than a pencil, stop harvesting it, so it can branch out and absorb sunlight and store energy in its roots for next year.
I have *heard*, but have yet to try, that if you let your asparagus branch out without harvesting any, then cut everything down after summer, they'll send up new spears you can harvest as a fall harvest.
*If* this is true (which I don't know for sure), a setup I'd like to try in a year or so would look like this:
Four beds of asparagus:
- Spring: Cover one in a coldframe, so it breaks dormancy sooner. Harvest over 5 weeks.
- Spring: Harvest the second bed when it breaks dormancy normally. Harvest over 5 weeks.
- Early Fall: Cut the branches on the third bed, and harvest over the next 5 weeks.
- Late Fall: Cut the branches on the fourth bed, and harvest over the next 5 weeks (requiring a frost blanket if the night drops to 32°F).
James Landreth wrote:With enough mulch brought to bear, does anyone think fruit trees and vegetables could survive with little irrigation during a Pacific Northwest summer?
Not in the 1st year. In their 2nd and 3rd year, they can get by on less water, and eventually nearly no water (except what they pull from the ground) apart from the worst of summer heat/drought where they should be supplemented a little. Depends on your annual rainfall, and how water-retentive your ground is under the surface.
Thanks for sharing about pollination groups, Mike! I never knew they were categorized like that. I did a quick search, and supposedly Honeycrisp is G4, and Fuji is G3 or G4 (I'm finding mixed results - possibly due to different varieties of Fuji), so that's good.
Bear in mind that, in addition to what others said above, other things can affect blossom time - yearly fluctuation of weather (spring arriving earlier, for example), as well as microclimates around your trees (e.g. one may have nice rocks nearby that stabilize the temperature of the ground better, or be nestled in a dip in the land that holds in cold air, or is closer to your warm house, or is in the shade of your house, etc...). Watching over several years may show a different result. You're probably fine.
But if you think you need a third tree, you absolutely do - and a 4th, and a 5th, and however much you have space for. =P
I have three Honeycrisps (from two different suppliers) and a "Fuji" and a "Red Fuji" - they haven't blossomed yet this spring, but will in about 15-30 days. If you like, I'll pay attention and record the dates they each begin and end their blooming and report it here. Mine are still young-ish, some in slightly shady areas, some in full sun, and most in an dip in the ground that traps cool air, so it won't perfectly reflect your situation, but if it gives you peace of mind I could see how solidly their bloomings overlaps.
I really wouldn't sweat it though, many sites seem to *recommend* Fuji to pollinate Honeycrisp, or Honeycrisp to pollinate Fuji, so you're most likely fine. I'd give it a year or so, and see what happens.
Mj Patneaude wrote:they had two massive, beautiful fig trees. I was quickly saddened to hear they were removing them, tomorrow!
I'd ask if you could remove it for them, uproot the suckers, bring them to your place, replant them, and prune them heavily after planting (or prior to transporting). Figs are such that, even if you are rough to them, and to their roots, I'd think they'd survive and rebound fine.
I don't get enough rain consistently to water things on it's own (I get a decent amount, but concentrated at specific times of the year).
If I store rain in a barrel or even just in an open-topped bucket, long-term (say five months), does it lose it's acidity?
I'd use the leaves as a mulch, and then woodchips to hold them down.
Leaves do break down really quickly, but are great improvers of soil, at least for my garden. Leaves are nearly entirely decayed by spring in my area (so basically, they last about 4 months), but nicely improve the soil. Woodchips break down after about 2-3 years, so make better mulch.
I've had bad luck with blueberries. Here's the two things that killed mine:
A) They need *well* draining soil, but simultaneously love damp soil (I had mine on drip irrigation), and are very shallowly rooted (so they can't get water from down deep). I dug huge holes (3' deep, 2' wide) in my claylike soil, and planted them in great soil, but they'd drown because it'd basically become a clay bowl of water in heavy rains.
B) My next batch I mounded the dirt up more, to keep their roots above the water level in heavy rains, but they also need *very* acidic soil, and mine's way too alkaline. I tried supplementing their soil with acidifiers, but even my *water* is too alkaline.
However, I haven't given up hope! I intend to really focus more on acidifying my soil in the future, in a dedicated garden bed instead of planting them in the ground. I hear apple mash is great for them, as it's slightly acidic and also Blueberries love organic matter. My apple trees are just reaching old enough to fruit, this will be their second fruiting year, so I intend to try blueberries again in the fall.