Being above the 56th parallel, we are in Zone 0, the harshest zone per Ag Canada. We're faced with a short, fickle growing season where frost can occur at any time during the summer months. We were faced with the daunting task of improving the poor boreal forest soil. Here is how we transformed the shallow, poor soils of the Precambrian Shield of our wilderness homestead into a rich garden loam.
This cocktail makes use of honey simple syrup, and simple to make it is. It’s just a 50/50 concentration of honey and water, simmered together. (Regular simple syrup is just water and white sugar, same ratio. Try it for sweetening ice tea.) The recipe calls for Ungava gin, and if you can’t find it, use any high quality gin that’s readily available, although Ungava would be preferred for its unique flavor.
When I first started building my garden and raised beds, I ordered several bulk bags of garden loam and bark mulch. The bags are made of a sturdy, heavy-duty fabric, and I didn’t want to just throw them away, so I had to give some thought as to how I could use them. I decided to recycle the bulk bags into flexible raised beds in which I could grow potatoes and carrots. What this gave me were three extra raised beds with very little effort.
A summer update from our wilderness homestead with an emphasis on how we get an early seasonal start to our gardens.
We give the reader a better sense of the obstacles we were faced with when we decided to homestead in the Canadian wilderness.
Installing solar panels for your home is becoming more and more affordable. In addition to the generous federal investment tax credit of 30%, there are over 900 financial and regulatory incentive programs across the United States. Combined with falling solar costs and rising electricity prices, these programs are helping to make solar panels an investment that can save you money in the long run.
Milling your own flour is a delicious way to add nutrition and flavor to your recipes. Want maximum taste? Mill your own buckwheat for these Blueberry Corn Muffins.
Building raised garden beds for your garden does not need to be expensive. Here is how I built a number of raised beds in my garden for the cost of one box of wood screws.
The second of a two-part series which recounts our experience with the terror of forest fires and how we survived them.
Who says inanimate objects can’t talk! The well-used tractor tire that washed up on the beach during an early winter storm had been pleading with me for months for a chance to prove its worth. Learn to build a hotbox from an old tire for season extension using permaculture techniques.
Since moving to our isolated piece of heaven in 2000, we've had at least four serious forest-fire scares. One doesn't hear much about these fires in the north unless they threaten a community like Fort McMurray, Alberta. But the fires that have burned around us were equally as vicious and consumed over ¾ million acres. This 2-part blog series will look at the terror of forest fires and how to survive them.
Making the switch to solar energy for your home is a big decision. It pays to spend a little time and effort researching your solar options, whether it be how to finance your system, deciding which installer to hire or which size system to install. Avoiding the most common mistakes will help you through the process so that you can make the most of your investment.
Grind your own flour for maximum taste and nutrition with a home grain mill. Our needs were basic — just something to grind whole-wheat flour or whatever strikes my fancy. Here I review the options.
Ice out! The lake is finally ice free — it's time to put the boat in the water, dust off the fishing rods and stalk the creatures of the deep! Learn about springtime preparation on an ultra-remote homestead.
Got a basement “cold room” that doesn’t keep your fruits and veggies properly? You can make things better. A few simple modifications can turn that disappointing space into a reliable spot to store food without electricity and boost self reliance.
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.
They're back. The wolves. During breakfast one morning this past week, we heard a chorus of howling. Racing down to the shoreline, we saw 3 wolves in the center of the lake about a mile away. The wolves are a symbol of our wilderness location. Learn how we live with them and stay in touch with civilization.
Our first salad is a big deal for us, considering we were hitting -20 degrees Fahrenheit two weeks ago, and we still have patches of snow on the ground.
Living remotely is wonderful but it does force us to evaluate our actions knowing that we are ultimately responsible for our own safety. Taking the precautions outlined here is just one example of how we try to cover all the bases. Safety is paramount and slush on a lake can become a safety concern.
A community of smaller portable chicken coops are better than one, big, stationary one. Download building plans for a solar heated design that’s also great in hot climates.
Choosing the right size solar photovoltaic system for your home depends on where you live, how much electricity you use, the specifications of your roof, as well as the policies in place at the state, municipal and utility level. By optimizing your system, you can make the most of your solar investment.
Ron Melchiore shares his unconventional lifestyle with readers. Together with his wife, Johanna, they have carved out an off-grid homestead so deep in the Canadian wilderness that a float plane is the only way to reach them.
Usually the words Canadian, spiced rum, boreal herbs and spices, don’t go together. Enter Chic Choc Spiced Rum by Domaine Pinnacle. Usually I write about food, but this time, it’s drink. One does need a little spice in one’s life, after all.
Solar energy is growing in popularity! But installing rooftop panels is a big investment, so homeowners naturally have a number of questions. By answering some of the most common questions, I hope to set your mind at ease and help you discover the many benefits of solar energy. Before long, you could be producing your own clean, green electricity.
With favorable legislation in the form of a generous tax credit, along with low interest rates and stabilizing costs, switching to solar energy has never made more sense for homeowners frustrated by rising electricity rates and/or wanting to help the environment.
Chocolate bark: Possibly the most effective way to eat chocolate, short of a bar of the pure stuff.
Cam describes how much he has learned after running a CSA for 5 years and offers a workshop for those interested in learning from his experience.
Learn what to look for in order to select the best broadfork for your farm and garden tilling needs.
Determining the best places to go solar is not just about finding the sunniest places, but also about the economics of going solar. That means taking a look at electricity prices and available financial incentives as well.
Let’s go to Germany for great lebkuchen (aka, gingerbread)! Aside from great beer and sausages, you will find that this is one of the country's ancient but addicting Christmas treats.
At Sunflower Farm we strive to provide our chickens with the best accommodations!
Many people in the world long for a life in the country, lived on their own terms, close to nature, honest and hands-on. But too many of these people find that homesteading is harder, less fulfilling and more painful than they imagined. Learn how to thrive on the land without burnout, despair and failure.
If you love shortbread — and a lot of people do — this is the cookie to make. The colorful cranberries make them really pop at Christmas time. This delightful recipe comes from "Christmas Cookies: Dozens of Yuletide Treats for the Whole Family" by Monika Römer.
With rising utility rates, more and more homeowners are considering solar energy for their home. In a number of states, the cost of electricity from rooftop solar panels is the same or cheaper than electricity from the utility. A brief look at historical trends in utility rates across the U.S., is followed by an explanation of the available solar options.
Add butter leaves and dried cranberries to make these pancakes a winning breakfast dish.
Kefir culture can be used to start a broad range of dairy ferments. This recipe shows how kefir grains will culture cream into delicious creme fraiche - a tasty, healthy alternative to whipped cream. Part 2 of a series of articles explaining how to use traditional cultures for cheesemaking.
Does solar energy make financial sense for you? Have a look at these considerations before deciding.
The beauty of this soup is it makes use of what ever vegetables you have on hand, is completely vegetarian (unless you want to add chicken or beef), and cooks up pretty quickly. This is a crowd-sized recipe, and I have already cut the recipe in half for you. If you’re feeding two armies, by all means double it.
Kefir (rhymes with deer) is a traditional yogurt culture from Central Asia. Often described as a fermented milk, kefir is a flavorful, drinkable and slightly effervescent yogurt.
This is a chocolate pie unlike any others I have made. It starts with a crumb crust consisting of granola and macadamia nuts ground together, and bound with melted butter, like an extravagant graham cracker crust, only better. The filling consists of silken or extra soft tofu with over half a pound of chocolate.
It could well be that you have never heard of the Big Green Egg, a lot of folks haven’t, so this is where this blog comes in. Big Green Eggs originated in Japan, a number of centuries ago, and at that time they were called Kamado cookers. Learn how to cook with a Big Green Egg for the ultimate outdoor cooking experience.
Hospitals traditionally are famous for their terrible food. A recent experience shows it has not changed much.
What do you have when chemicals and preservatives are added to a simple tortilla?
Cam shares his experience trying to fix a broken hot-water tank.
Here are some ideas to make your cooking and baking easier in the New Year.
In this blog post we describe the choices we made in producing and editing our film, "Life Off Grid."
White rot is an invasive fungus that every garlic grower needs to be aware of!
Haven't we heard of a semi-mythical liquor that has pure gold in it? Well, here it is.
What is the true nature of artificial sweeteners? Are they safe? Read on and find out the latest on these questionable products.
This initial blog post tells the story of how Phillip Vannini became interested in off-grid living and how he began — together with Jonathan Taggart — to do research on the off-grid lifestyle in Canada.
Almost 30 years ago I made one of the best decisions ever when I began my homesteading adventure. It's no "Little House on the Prarie" but you can see it from there.
Cam Mather tries out a battery-powered chainsaw at his off-grid homestead in Ontario.
The last of my series of posts discussing the different types of gourmet garlic will explore Artichokes, the giants of the garlic world!
Modern, industrial agriculture as we know it today is running out of time, and it's much later than we think.
Silverskins are an ideal garlic for braiding and long-term storage!
Is your growing season a bit too short for gourmet garlic? Turban garlic cultivars may be the solution!
My own special recipe for Pumpkin Maple Butter using organic pumpkin and Canadian maple syrup.
Originating from Spain, Creole garlics can be difficult to grow but are highly regarded for their delicious taste!
If you're overrun with cucumbers, here's a Scandinavian cucumber salad for the solution!
Homesteader Cam Mather describes integrating new backyard chickens into his existing flock and the wonderful life his "ladies" lead.
Asiatic garlic cultivars may be difficult to find, but their great taste and easy-growing nature make them a great choice for garlic lovers and growers alike!
Homemade ice cream is delicious, and with the help of new ice cream makers, quick, easy and fast.
Garlic will keep for months if properly cured, allowing you to enjoy it all winter long!
Starting a chicken flock and researching the Ameraucana chicken breed.
An unexpected lambing during mid-summer.
Your route to heaven can be paved with strawberries.
It's that time of year again! In this post I discuss how and when to harvest your garlic.
Solving the mystery of finding broken shards of china and pottery in an old garden. Discovering the history of the land and its first settlers.
Introducing glazed purple stripes, the beauty queens of the garlic world!
Immigrating to Canada can be a daunting process, but the Canadian government provides resources to help.
When traveling, consider checking out the community gardens in the area. You can meet local people who are passionate about gardening and learn about the climate and crops that may be different than yours.
In this post, I'll be discussing the Marbled Purple Stripe garlic variety, also known as the 'everyman' of the garlic world!
Summer is about fresh, beautiful, and flavourful. Fresh produce, and oh yes, a yummy recipe for devilled eggs.
Garlic scape season is nearly here. Learn how and when to cut the scapes to maximize the size of your gourmet garlic bulbs, and also how to use them as a delicious and versatile vegetable!
Ever wondered what ancient garlic tasted like? Try a Purple Stripe cultivar!
Here I describe how to make a spring meal on the Big Green Egg. Also, I announce my new web/blogsite.
Do you eat garlic for its health benefits? Choose a Porcelain cultivar for maximum impact!
Slightly sweet, wholesome and wonderful, toasted with butter or in a sandwich, oatmeal bread is my favourite.
In the second of this series of blog posts, I'll be discussing what are arguably the caviar of the garlic world: Rocamboles!
Gourmet garlic can be roughly separated into two categories: hardneck and softneck. This post discusses some of the differences between them.
Here's how to make truly unusual whole grain bread, with delicious results.
The best way to start a fire in your woodstove.
Often at a farmers market you'll see garlic designated as 'gourmet.' But what does this mean? Is it a marketing gimmick? Or is there actually something special behind the name?
The basics of using a woodstove to heat your home.
A new building insulation guide is available from NAIMA Canada to assist homeowners in choosing the right insulation for new building and DIY home renovation projects.
There is a way to heaven, all you have to do is make San Francisco sourdough bread!
In the last few years, gourmet black garlic has become an in-demand culinary ingredient. But what exactly is it? And what can you do with it?
After trying this super simple recipe, you'll never open a can of Campbell's again.
If you eat raw garlic for its health benefits but find it difficult to consume, garlic oil can be an effective alternative. You can even make it at home!
Our chickens aren't fond of the snow and the wind, but we found a way to let them enjoy the sunshine from the comfort of their coop!
Join Steve for a no-cost 75 minute video tutorial on building and managing a root cellar
Pickled garlic is both delicious and easy to make. Ever wondered why pickled garlic turns blue? Find out here!
Cam looks back at the challenges of moving to his off-grid home.
Another easy way to enjoy the fresh taste of gourmet garlic year-round is with these convenient cubes!
These are buttery, not too sweet Dutch cookies with a yummy cinnamon sugar and walnut topping.
Cam learns the hard way why it's never a good idea to procrastinate about important jobs!
Canadian homesteader Cam Mather sinks into the village life and discovers the joys of small-town living.
Learn how to dehydrate gourmet garlic so you can enjoy it year-round.It takes only a few simple steps to turn fat, juicy bulbs into crunchy, golden chips!
Steve shares 11 years of his experience with the newest mainstay power tool in the world, and offers three free chances to win an impact driver.
Steve explains a little about why he chose to install reclaimed cast-iron radiators, including a video tour of his installation.
Watch Steve tell you his homestead story and how his two trucks have helped make good things happen.
Weeks eight and nine of our cross country bicycle trip start in Brantford, Ont., and end in Bar Harbor, Maine.
Luke Dinan, a young man from Toronto, Ontario, is forging his way towards sustainable living and a self-reliant lifestyle; a path we can appreciate, strive for and maybe contribute to.
A TransCanada Keystone pipeline was shut down by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, due to two spills in May. Though it lasted only a day, the suspension raises bigger questions about the risks of TransCanada’s current piping of tar sands oil, as well as the company’s proposal to build an even longer pipeline, the Keystone XL.
This bread hearkens back to a time when Irish soda bread was a more rustic, country affair — not all gussied up with mostly white flour. We're talking about a somewhat large, delicious, nutty tasting loaf made with wholemeal flour and yes, a little bit of white flour to lighten up the texture. Get your St. Patrick's Day celebration off to a great start with this authentic, Irish Wholemeal Bread.
Steve Maxwell, Canada’s Handiest Man, answers a homeowner’s question about how best to apply a smooth finish to wood furniture.
Steve Maxwell, Canada’s Handiest Man, answers a homeowner’s question about how best to apply a smooth finish to wood furniture.
Canada is helping define "green" products for its advertising industry.