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.
When you have become a good enough gardener that you are producing more than your family can eat, it is natural to think about selling some of your bounty. Here are some tips about making that jump from a homestead garden to a market garden.
A good snowfall now and then helps to test the limits of our resources. You never know if you are prepared for disruptions until you are disrupted. Here are some hints to help things go smoothly when there are real possibilities that they might not otherwise.
You always hear about making your garden plan ahead of time, but part of good garden planning should include evaluating that plan at the end of the season. Take time now to write yourself a letter about how last season went. Include the good and the bad and how you felt about everything. This will become your annual garden report.
Learning to do things for yourself at home is empowering. You don’t need a degree in home economics, although it helped Cindy, to get started. She even makes her own blue jeans! Just as important to her are projects such as making a bench grinder stand, which you can learn more about here.
If you have a garden, then you have garden tools and supplies and you need a place to put them. Carefully evaluate what you have and what kind of space you need to store them. That allows you to choose (if you are buying) or to build a garden shed special to you.
Shelling corn by hand will soon put blisters on your thumbs. You can acquire a corn sheller to help you do the job. Learn how to make a sturdy box to mount your corn sheller on to make your work easier.
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.
Tomatoes and peppers are plentiful in backyard gardens and at the farmers markets right now. Preserve this bounty in the form of salsa with your water bath canner and you can enjoy the goodness the whole year.
Once your onions are harvested you need to store them so they will last as long as possible. Here are some tips for hanging your onions to dry and for braiding for storage. Also, learn about some of the health benefits of eating onions. They should be an important part of everyone's diet.
Using the sun to dry our clothes naturally is part of a permaculture lifestyle. Learn tips for drying your clothes both outside and inside your house, allowing you to get rid of your clothes dryer and opening up space for other things, such as crocks for fermenting.
If your garden is becoming a bit overwhelming this summer it might be because your paths have become overgrown with weeds. Getting (and keeping) your paths under control will make less work for you overall, and a more enjoyable experience in your garden. Here are some ideas for working with your paths.
Summer with children can be exciting. It is an opportunity to spend time with your children like never before. Here are some ideas for putting your children to work in meaningful ways that will benefit everyone.
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.
Imagine if you had one source to refer to with the basics of starting and maintaining a seed library to use with your seed-saving partners. "Seed Libraries: And Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People" is that source! It will provide you background about the seed library movement and help you establish your own seed sharing initiative.
Seed libraries are seed sharing programs designed to promote local seed growing and sharing, leading to resilient communities. Learn about how to establish such a program and other ways to celebrate seeds in the soon-to-be published book, 'Seed Libraries and Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People,' by Cindy Conner.
Low tunnels are easy structures to build to protect your winter veggies. Keeping the covers on in windy conditions can be a challenge. Learn simple steps you can take to make your low tunnel covers stable, no matter what the weather brings.
Winter is the best time to step back from your garden and learn something new. Do some research, participate in learning programs, and work on your garden notebook. When the opportunity arises next year, visit the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR.
The options for obtaining locally grown food have expanded in recent years, particularly with farmers markets. Expand your diet beyond your garden and meet the folks who can help you do that and stay local.
Seed libraries are meeting new challenges that point to the need for better education and understanding with the public, and with those charged with enforcing seed laws. Learn about the opportunities that are open in this evolving social movement.
Cleaning the chaff from the seeds you want to save can be done with screens of different sizes. There are options for all budgets, including using the strainers and colanders you already have in your kitchen.
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.
A seed library is a place to get free seeds to grow out and donate back. It is a means of keeping seeds in the hands of the people and out of corporate control. Learn how to begin to start a seed library in your community.
Noticing the cycles of the plants, animals and insects around you, which is the study of phenology, will help you become more attuned to your garden. Soil temperature has a lot to do with those cycles.
Seed Savers Exchange members and friends in the southeast region of the U.S. gathered on September 8, 2013 in Louisa, VA. This event was facilitated by Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and the Virginia Association for Biological Farming.
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.
Animal products provide vitamin B12 in your diet, which is necessary for a healthy nervous system. Learn what and how much you would have to eat to meet your daily B12 need and other considerations for adding animals to a sustainable diet.
Eat carrots from your garden all winter! A little planning goes a long way toward more food with less work. Learn how to start with a winter cover crop of rye, with carrots following next in the rotation, maturing by the time the first frost.
Grow calcium in your garden with collards, kale, and parsley. Suggestions are given for including these crops in your meals. Learn about companions to plant among your collards and kale to deter harmful insects.
A wedding using homegrown and local food and no disposable items. Decorations were things already on hand. The ceremony took place in a field and the reception was in a barn...and there was love-lots of it!