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.
Start your dream garden as you would any project — with a project plan. If you break down your end goal into step-by-step tasks, you will see your dream come to fruition in no time.
Sweet potatoes are easy to grow, if you have 90 frost-free days. The work involved happens at times of year when you probably have fewer other garden tasks. Planting on ridges reduces damage from flooding. Biodegradable mulch warms the soil and increases yields, while reducing weed growth.
Now, 4 years into growing much of the produce we eat, I realize that garden farming connects me even more deeply than I had imagined to the earth, the life cycle, my body and food. It is also more difficult not only physically, but mentally as well. Had I known more from the start, no doubt it would have been easier and more effective. It is in this spirit that I am sharing some of what I’ve learned.
The more tomato varieties you grow – especially if you delve into the wonderful world of heirlooms – the more you realize that not all tomato plants look alike. Look closely at the leaves and you will find lots of variations; once you become familiar with a particularly favorite variety, you may even be able to distinguish it early on just by its leaves. Pictures tell the story and take the mystery away from the commonly used tomato foliage terms "regular leaf" and "potato leaf."
When and how to water a garden can be challenging especially for beginner gardeners. Read the tips that will make you feel like an expert on garden watering.
It seems spinach is a feast-or-famine kind of vegetable — it's gloriously prolific when it grows, then BOOM! Gone for the season. I wanted to preserve this spring goodness to enjoy later in the year, so I decided to dehydrate it. Learn how to dehydrate spinach here.
If people knew how easy and delicious homemade salad dressings can be, store-bought dressing sales would plummet. You, too, can make your own salad dressings without having a culinary school degree or cooking experience. Learn to make Oil and Vinegar with Tarragon and Homemade Ranch with Roasted Garlic here.
It’s a common misconception in the home gardening arena that asparagus is a crop that should never be started from seed. I am not sure when this became the standard dogma, but it is far from the actual truth. Asparagus is a crop that thrives when started from seed and those plants that are derived from home-grown stock tend to be larger and more robust than store-bought crowns. Growing asparagus from seed is a rewarding experience that is easier than you think.
In spring, we plant several crops into hay mulch to help control weeds, including reducing the "weed seed bank". Few weeds other than perennial grasses will come up through a 4-inch layer of hay. Mulches of natural materials keep the soil damper, which can mean higher yields and less need to water. This method is quick and easy, and more effective than mulching around the plants after transplanting.
There is nothing like growing your own veggies and canning the excess. A good place to start your search is your local farmer’s market. Ask one of the veggie farmers if you can come out and help on their farm and see where it goes from there. All it takes is a couple hours every week or two to learn the basics.
Growing your own localized varieties of vegetables allows you to customize the taste to your liking.
After you grow your own organic greens, it’s hard to go back to grocery store crap. The good news is that greens are easy to grow in a multitude of environments. If you are short on space, try building a salad tray and grow your own greens on a patios or balcony. If you have a small patch of ground, do what I did and install a raised bed.
Achocha is a delicious and unknown member of the cucumber family with almost complete immunity from the diseases and pests which attack other cucurbits.
This is the time of year that salad greens and herbs shine in the edible garden. Lettuce, chard, parsley, cilantro, mustard, corn salad, and many other greens love the cool and moist spring days.
Will you bake a ham for your Easter dinner? Don’t throw out the bone or the fat scraps! One of the best ham “leftovers” is the stock you’ll make with the bone and scraps.
Beets are a wonderful tonic in the spring. Increase the potency of this marvelous ruby root with fermentation.
There are always more decisions for the tomato enthusiast. This blog will help to untangle the confusion around often-misused terms and lead to more appropriate choices for each gardener.
Afraid you have a brown thumb? Here are worry-free veggies that can be grown in pots or in the garden. Try one or two or all ten for your first garden!
With so many tomato varieties available, choosing which to grow can be a daunting challenge. By understanding the difference between indeterminate, determinate and dwarf tomato varieties, better decisions for your particular growing conditions and needs can be made.
A list of my 2016 vegetable catalogs that carry heirloom varieties, along with the veggies I chose for this year.
Kale chips are the rage and they cook up quickly, but they can be tricky to make. Here are some tips to making great kale chips.
This spicy green kimchi recipe uses bok choy and other vegetables flavored with zesty red chile. Use this kimchi as a condiment or in favorite dishes such as fried rice, grilled cheese, or even a Bloody Mary.
For much of the country, the tomatoes we are eating now are not the prized specimens plucked from our gardens. They are emerging from our cupboards (dried, canned) or freezers – certainly wonderful enhancements to our cooking endeavors, but not elucidating the summer time level of excitement. But the end of the growing season doesn’t equate to a long, tomato thoughts-free sabbatical. This post outlines how to be planning for next tomato-growing season.
Roasting enhances the flavor of root vegetables, as long as the vegetables are cut in uniform pieces and aren't crowded in the pan and are roasted in a hot oven.
Kale doesn't ferment as well as some of the other members of the brassica family but we still find ourselves wanting to preserve this delicious and nutritious green. Here are tips and a recipe to ensure success fermenting kale.
Even though our goal is to be completely self-sufficient, one thing that I stress is that you don't have to be completely self-sufficient — just make it your goal to become more self-sufficient than you are right now. This blog will help people become more self-sufficient by leading by example, right or wrong. Here is your official invitation: Please come and join us!
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.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a study on the nutritional value of vegetables and fruits. Check out the top "powerhouse" vegetables and fruits to add a few to your garden this year.
Here is an idea of daily hoop house tasks and information on growing and harvesting abundant, healthy winter vegetables in your hoophouse, avoiding hazardous nitrate accumulation in greens.
The methods of landrace gardening can provide food, even when social or family troubles take us away from the garden.
Making a roasted-root vegetable pot pie with biscuits in the shape of angels is the perfect comfort food.
Why it is important to stay on top of a garden.
If you are confused about what type of onion to grow in your garden, this blog will give you the info you need. Onions are perennials, easy to grow, and have little to no pest problems. A must have addition to every garden!
Keep those vegetable plants growing for a second harvest late in the year. Organically-grown, heirloom varieties will survive with a little help.
Ground cherries were once a popular staple in backyard gardens. Urbanization and lost space to grow our food led to ground cherries falling out of favor. Though older folks may remember eating ground cherry jam, they’ve only recently begun reappearing at farmers markets and in seed catalogs. Ground cherries are easy to grow and pack an unusual flavor punch in jams, pies, savory sauces.
Garlic is resilient, easy-to-grow, highly nutritious, and a natural antibiotic.
A Lithuanian farmers market seller displays sculpted red radishes with faces!
Chinese water chestnuts are a delicious nutty root that are also easy to grow. Learn more in this article!
Pickled vegetables are a great way to jazz up your meals, especially in the late winter, early spring time when the grocery store vegetables are looking a little worse for the wear.
March brings us into spring - celebrate the season in your garden with easy-to-grow root crops: potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yacon. Learn how to give these roots the best start in your garden this spring.
Some crops survived the cold temperatures while others died. Which ones are most reliable for winter outdoors and in the hoophouse?
There are some veggies, herbs and edible flowers that are self seeders. Plant them once, let them go to seed, and you will have continuous plants year after year.
Reading between the lines of the seed catalog variety descriptions is a science and an art. How not to get carried away by all the positive exclamations and miss some basic fact that would tell you this variety is not for your farm? This post provides tips.
Review of The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast, a new book written by Ira Wallace.
In “The Root Development of Vegetable Crops” botanist John E. Weaver meticulously illustrates the complex layers of vegetable root growth.
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.
It was becoming pretty obvious the crowding and lack of light were real limitations to my mini garden. Then, the idea of a trough on the windowsill came to mind, combining a way to water all the plants uniformly and efficiently all at once. Great, now how to make this trough? Wood? Sheet metal? The choices all seemed expensive, clumsy, prone to leaking...then the light bulb went on in my head: gutters!
By starting seeds indoors, you get a jump start on spring garden planting.
Des Moines, Iowa, gardeners may soon find themselves in hot water with their City. A local resident recently took front yard veggie growers to task for what the resident feels to be unsightly lawn growth. Beets and berries, it seems, do not have the same aesthetic appeal as a green, freshly-mowed front lawn.
Confused about the difference between hybrids and genetically modified organisms (GMOs)? Learn more about how cultivating hybrids is different from developing GM vegetable varieties.
A brief description of how we grow fresh vegetables in our long cold winters.
Puhwem Native American corn was the mother corn of native people. It's one of the best corns for making corn flour.
Growing some of the most delicious and sometimes expensive gourmet vegetables doesn't have to be hard. Artichoke, bronze fennel, kohlrabi, leek, and savoy cabbage are among the vegetables that grow well from seed.
A family meal favorite that was shared with us for years by a beloved aunt. This is one green salad that I crave and never get enough of!
Killing frosts are arriving, but Ira's staying self-sustaining all winter, with winter-hardy greens and plenty in storage, from sweet potatoes to pickled peppers. Get inspired with ideas for kimchi and a fresh twist on winter salads, with yacon.
This guide on how to wash produce will help keep your foods safe. Avoid food-borne illness by washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
Deciding which vegetables to grow can be an important step for any gardener. It is efficient to fill the space that you have with vegetables that keep for the longest periods of time, which can also mean a lot to the bottom line of any garden.
Heirloom vegetables are multi-use crops that have been passed down from gardeners for decades, sometimes centuries. Respected author and gardener, William Woys Weaver, discusses his reasons for using heirloom plants and saving seed.
A humble homegrown pumpkin yields delicious seeds and tasty pies. Meanwhile, a beautiful and fancy dessert squash disappoints and is thrown to the dogs. Recipes ensue.
Calling all gardeners — If you want to view a remarkable series of photographs of vegetables as art, check out Lynn Karlin’s exhibit, Taking a Stand: the Pedestal Series. You can view the series here http://goo.gl/K1apd or at the Maine Farmland Trust in Belfast, Maine from September 28 to November 14th.
Giving your ornamental and vegetable garden a thorough cleaning in midsummer not only leaves the landscape looking better, but can help prevent damage from diseases and pests by removing the conditions in which they thrive.
Sweet, healthy, root vegetables that love growing through the heat of summer? Learn about adding Jerusalem artichokes, yacon, and sweet potatoes to your gardens. Plus, more on the incredible health benefits of roselle (hibiscus).
An article about how we learned to double our growing season and have home grown fresh veggies almost all year long.
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.
Eggs aren't the only things that come from the business end of a chicken. But with a little time and materials, and even less ingenuity, the rest can set you up with a free and steady supply of valuable organic fertilizer.
Highlights from the catalog of Fedco Seeds, by the editor in chief of MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
Wendy Albright remembers visiting her grandparent's farm where practicing organic living was the preferred way of life; they exercised natural crop cultivation, gathered fresh chicken eggs, canned both vegetables and meat and the term "eating like a thrasher" became a reality.
Knowing your average last frost date is key to getting your garden off to a good start.
Judy Mimranek shares her father's time-tested tip for digging a root pit and covering it with layers of straw and cow manure in order to store fruits and vegetables through the winter.
Black winter storage radishes can be roasted with bright, pink radishes to create a warming vegetable side dish best served atop of bed of crunchy salad greens.
Southern Exposure celebrates Slow Food's Terra Madre Day with a fresh winter greens salad, featuring yacon, a South American root vegetable that tastes like fresh pear! Plus garden planning to have your own farm fresh food through the winter.
If Thanksgiving weekend left you craving light, nutritious meals, try these recipes for winter-friendly salads.
Andrea Chesman, author of Recipes from the Root Cellar, shares one of her favorite winter vegetable recipes.
Aside from the great stage presentations, the exhibitor booths have a lot to offer FAIR attendees.
My mission was to find like minded 'earth nurturers' in a neighborhood where there seems to be a dearth of us! What I found was humility and kindred spirits, and the makings of a great dinner party!
In July and August, it’s time to start thinking about planting crops for fall. But how do you get good seed germination when the soil is so hot?
Heirloom Vegetable Gardening (1997) by Willam Woys Weaver profiles 280 heirloom varieties, with growing advice and recipes. This introdution is the beginning of a series of excerpts to be posted from Weaver’s book to walk gardeners through sowing, cooking recipes at harvest and saving heirloom seeds through the winter.
Cam has found another way to save money - his wife cuts his hair now! He also describes how even though he isn't artistic he creates and enjoys the masterpieces from his garden.
Everyday families can now provide much of their fresh vegetables using Aquaponics. Aquaponics is the production of edible fish and vegetables growing in a drought proof, no weed, back saving growing system.
It's not difficult to eat locally during the long winter months if you have preserved the previous year's harvest. Even while we wait for spring to arrive, the root cellar may still be providing our dinner.
Go Greens - Super Fruits and Veggies supplies the natural antioxidant power of 6 servings of vibrantly colored organic fruits and vegetables in every handy “stick” pack. To Go Brands plans to continue to expand the Healthy To Go® product line.
Ready to start your first garden? To guarantee success with your first garden, stick with Barbara Pleasant's list of easy to grow vegetables. She has advice on when and what to plant for the first time gardener. Good luck on your first garden!
Make your New Year's Resolution to be healthier fun and family-oriented: Plant a vegetable garden, eat more vegetables and make 2011 The Year of the Vegetable.
There's no need to go to the grocery food in the winter if you have stored food in a root cellar, freezer or canning jars. Most of the work of preparing this food has already been done and so that winter meals are easy, nutritious and delicious.
Learn how to store yacon, a superhealthy root vegetable with a crunchy texture and sweet flavor.
Buttered corn and buttered double succotash in stores for fall season.
After a summer of growing sweet potatoes, fall is the long-awaited time to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Properly harvesting sweet potatoes, followed by sound curing and storage methods, will ensure you can enjoy your crop through the winter months.
Editor in chief Cheryl Long explains how to find the best-tasting vegetable varieties to plant in your garden, and talks about three of her favorites: ‘Carmen’ sweet peppers, ‘Sungold’ cherry tomatoes and ‘Floriani’ grain corn.
Radishes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Here are some tips and resources to get you started.
A reader from Pacifica, California wants to know what vegetables will grow best when.
Roasting is the best way to cook winter root vegetables, because dry heat coaxes out and concentrates flavors. Use this simple method and fool-proof tips to bring out the best in parsnips, carrots, rutabagas and other root vegetables.
Are there tiny white worms in your manure? They may be potworms!
Many gardeners save seeds from their plants for use the following year, but this technique doesn't work equally well with all vegetable varieties. Here's what you need to know to figure out which plants in your garden you can save seeds from.