This is the third blog post in an alphabetically organized introduction to homesteading. It covers ideas for starting an edible landscape on your homestead including: soil improvement, cover crops, perennials, attracting beneficial insects, and home-based food production.
Pulses are tried and true — people in temperate climates have been growing and eating them for more than 10,000 years. Pulses are still the most essential part of the diets of billions of people worldwide. Learn to grow and eat this nutritional powerhouse.
Hops have not been recognized for their full potential! I often ask people, "do you know what hops are?" I always get the same response: "It's what people use to make beer, isn't it?" Well, yes, but they are much more than that. Read about how to grow hops in your backyard and the many uses beyond brewing for this specialty crop.
What do you do when you don’t have a root cellar and the potatoes you store in the basement have decided to volunteer for planting? This post will show you the beginning of one of my botanical adventures growing potatoes in abundance.
Plant pea seeds the easy way by using rain guttering to keep them safe from mice and ensure an early crop.
When we plant cover crops, we mimic nature's way of putting carbon into the soil and building humus. Cover crops also nurture the soil microbes; this gives us healthy plants and nutritious food.
Weeds have been the bane of gardeners for time and eternity. Use these techniques to mitigate unwanted plants in your garden this season and beyond.
‘Bloody Butcher’ usually takes 110 days for full maturity. If you want to dry the corn for use, there are a couple of methods we use here in the mountains. This post will outline what works for us and give tips for shelling and grinding your harvested corn.
Looking to do some early seed starting to get a jump on the gardening season? Late-winter seed starting is possible if you follow these easy techniques.
We were looking for an organic product we could grow on the farm and provide food for chickens, goats and pigs. We wanted something that was heirloom and not hybrid so we could save our own seeds to plant and not have to buy seeds each year. We found just the product: ‘Bloody Butcher’ corn.
In February the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR went to Texas. Many people travel long distances to attend these Fairs. As long as you are making the trip, get the most out of it as you can. Read the schedule of speakers ahead and plan your weekend. Also, take time to enjoy the sights in the surrounding area. Here is a bit about my time in Texas for the FAIR.
A hybrid is simply two different plant varieties crossed for specific reasons. You can save the seeds produced by these, contrary to what you may have heard. It’s just more complicated than saving heirloom or open-pollinated seeds.
Hugelkultur is the building of raised beds by burying wood and other organic material. Just because you are renting doesn’t mean you can’t implement one this season.
What is a cover crop? Understand how to build the health of your soil the natural way by planting cover crop seeds. Explore seed types, when to plant, and the step-by-step process for planting a healthy cover crop in your garden.
Considering five lessons learned in the garden this year - mini-cloches, cover crops, etc.
Growing plants to produce fiber for textiles can be an adventure. If your climate permits, you could grow cotton in your garden—even in your flower bed. Most climates can support flax that you can turn into linen fabric. Plan for that now when you plant cover crops so your garden beds are ready for cotton and flax when planting time comes around.
Cover crops will build your soil and provide compost material. The time to plant is this fall, but you need to know what the next crop will be when deciding just which cover crop to plant where. Think through your garden plan for next year to make the best choices.
The principles of intercropping apply also to undersowing cover crops in existing vegetable crops. This article lists the advantages of undersowing cover crops, gives some examples that work for late summer and fall vegetable crops, distinguishes suitable and unsuitable situations, and provides links to several useful resources.
Planting cover crops to build soil fertility will benefit any garden. The soil is what gives the plants the necessary nutrients to grow strong, fight off pests and disease, and produce the best flavored, most nutrient-dense food possible and it requires those nutrients to be given back. Cover crops will give back to the soil.
Compost piles don't have to be relegated to an out of the way bin. If your compost-making materials are being produced in your garden, as they are following biointensive methods, the best place for the compost piles are in rotation right on your garden beds.
Crop rotation is good for your garden, but can be difficult to track. These tools will help you chart which crop families you plant so you can mix it up the following season.
You can eat carrots and greens from your garden and grow cover crops to feed back the soil the rest of the year. Learn how Cindy Conner does it with this 3-bed plan.
Though summer vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, basil and cucumbers grow at a reduced pace in the fall, cool season crops like lettuce, carrots, radishes, peas, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are coming into maturity throughout October and into November.
Clean up your garden now and plant cover crops that will protect your garden soil through the winter and provide compost and mulch material for next year.
Consider planting these three categories of vegetable crops during late summer and fall:
Warm weather crops that will die with frost.
Cool weather crops that grow well in spring and fall, but don’t thrive in your summer.
Cold-hardy crops to grow over the winter and get off to a fast start in early spring.
Biomass grass crops can be established on marginal lands and processed as a fuel replacement for heating oil or propane
Chinese water chestnuts are a delicious nutty root that are also easy to grow. Learn more in this article!
The release of new genetically modified crops resistant to 2,4-D herbicide will mean a huge increase of potent, dangerous chemicals on American farmland and a serious threat of herbicide drift problems for other growers.
The EPA is poised to deregulate a new generation of genetically modified crops, including those resistant to 2,4-D herbicide. Voice your concerns now.
Dig in to our wealth of food preservation resources to learn how to keep fall crops edible well into winter.
Once the frost has finished the warm weather crops, the cool weather crops take center stage for a fall and winter harvest. Learn how to make that happen.
Cover crops protect your soil over the winter and are beneficial for soil building. Learn more about your cover crop options and the time to plant them.
In “The Root Development of Vegetable Crops” botanist John E. Weaver meticulously illustrates the complex layers of vegetable root growth.
“Grow a Sustainable Diet” is an upcoming book (spring, 2014) that helps you plan what to eat and what to grow, feeding you and the Earth while maintaining a small ecological footprint.
Go beyond beginning vegetable gardening to include staple crops. Find links to Cindy Conner’s articles on staple crops and planning your diet from your garden. Conventionally grown food has less nutrients than ever before. Grow your own food to guarantee nutrient-dense food in your diet.
Joseph Lofthouse, seedsman from Paradise Utah, is now blogging about “Landrace Gardening” on Mother Earth News. The blog is a practical hands-on manual about how to improve crop production by localizing your plants to your unique garden.
Learn how to grow, harvest and process cassava – an amazing staple crop.
Launching Anna's new E book on cover crops in a no till garden and talking about the recent power failure that prompted us to do some Off Grid Homesteading which taught us a few lessons on using golf cart batteries for supplemental lighting.
Plan fall cover crops to feed back the soil and leave the bed ready for when you need to plant the main crop next year.
Nitrogen-fixing winter cover crops can save you money on fertilizer next year.
Tips for keeping your tomato plants healthy.
Transitioning seedlings from indoor starts to outdoor plants
We wanted to write up a post about asparagus to explain how farmers look at the crop, but also as a sort of apology to our customers. We have spent many hours in the field and on the phone seeking farmers with an existing asparagus supply. We had man
Tips for managing spring cover crops using only hand tools.
The mild winter has led to an earlier than usual spring growing season and plenty of surprises in the way of plants making it through the winter that normally would never survive the cold season. Here's a peek at what's growing in my spring garden.
You don't have to depend on nature to feed your bees. Take matters into your own hands and plant enough good food for your bees, so they have good, safe food all year long.
Potted greens are a good complement to greens in the hoop house soil.
Cover crops are grown between planting seasons as a way to give back to the soil what cultivation takes from it. And cover crops aren’t just for large-scale growers—they can help you get the most out of your backyard vegetable garden too!
It is not difficult to set up a backyard hoop house to extend your growing season. The result is abundant, delicious greens and extra months with your hands in the soil. Share information here on backyard hoop house gardening and cuisine.
The process of curing potatoes for winter storage.
"Organic farmers have the right to raise our organic crops without the threat of invasion by Monsanto's genetic contamination and without harassment by a reckless polluter. Beginning today, America asserts her right to justice and pure food."
Do you know the best time to plant garlic? Try planting in fall instead of spring for healthy, large garlic bulbs.
Garden soil left exposed in winter is easily damaged by compaction, erosion and leaching. Use mulches or cover crops to safeguard and build your soil during the winter months.
University of Florida entomologist Russell Mizell investigated ways to attract stink bugs to trap crops rather than cash crops—with great success. His experience can help you learn how to design trap crop scenarios of your own.
Honey bees began to disappear in October 2006 and continue to do so. Find out how you can help the problem.
Check out this expert advice for keeping an organic garden pest-free.
Learn how to calculate best planting times for fall harvested crops.
Don't like weeds? Well, maybe this will change your mind. An article in the New York Times, discusses possible ways that weeds could help fight global warming.
Now is a great time to sow a cover crop or two that will enrich your garden soil over the winter.