Learn the secret to getting better harvests by making your very own natural liquid fertilizers to use in the garden. Find recipes for homemade seaweed fertilizer and one that I like called Gardener's Revenge fertilizer that uses weeds from the garden.
For those gardeners who wish to grow year-round longtime MOTHER EARTH NEWS Contributing Editor and home-energy expert Dan Chiras has a solution for you: the Chinese greenhouse. Typically earth-banked into a hillside or girded by mounded earth, Chinese greenhouses bring many principles of passive-solar design into the greenhouse in order to grow using 100-percent solar radiation.
Our travails continue with the head-on collision of our aesthetics and the Village Council. Read this blog post to discover more about how personal opinion tries to trump Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.
Mammalian garden pests can do serious damage to your crops in a short period of time. Humane live traps such as those made by Havahart are a practical answer to this situation, but outwitting the animal can also be frustrating. Properly setting, baiting, and managing these traps can increase your success in removing problem animals from your property.
Forestry and climate change are complex and emotionally charged issues. In this post, we focus on the forests themselves and how they can contribute to global cooling when forest management practices are adjusted through the incentives in the multi-billion dollar carbon credit programs being launched.
Spiders are beneficial arachnids, meaning they have eight legs. They can be found in or near a home. Relocating spiders to a more appropriate place is a much wiser idea than killing them when they're in our way.
These pickles have won a blue ribbon each time I entered them in the State Fair. They’re quite sweet with a spicy tang. We use them mostly on sandwiches and burgers. Here is my award-winning recipe for sweet pickles with bonus recipes for relish, tartar sauce and sandwiches.
Coyotes live among us just as they have with our Native Peoples in the past. But unlike our Native Peoples understanding and respect of coyotes, our present day culture has little knowledge, and this greatly takes away from all the positive experiences we can have with America’s wild canine.
This yummy loaf is a little darker than regular oatmeal bread, due to the molasses, which also gives it some sweetness. Once again, I’m using home ground hard red wheat flour, which gives an indescribable flavor. No flour mill? No problem, just substitute regular whole wheat flour and all purpose white, respectively. The blend of whole wheat and white flour makes a lighter loaf than if made from 100% whole wheat.
Not only is recycling your used wooden pallets helpful for the planet, but it can help you stay young in brain and body by encouraging you to learn new skills. You can also have great fun as a family working on wooden pallet recycling ideas.
Gardening is, at its heart, an Art and a Mystery, as well as a science. There are things we can know, and control, and things that we cannot. And I am constantly learning the difference. There are always crops which keep me humble, which raise questions of timing, fertilization, and care, which do not come out as I intended. One year it was beans, another year, winter squash. My 'Russian Banana' fingerling potatoes were the crop this year.
Summertime for many of us means taking advantage of all the wonderful spoils and capturing that by using different methods of food preservation so that we have garden-fresh produce for many seasons to come. The videos below will show you how, along with a recipe for homemade fruit leather.
Even though we live remotely in the mountains with bear, coyote, mountain lion, deer, elk, and bobcats, the lowly little packrat may be the most dangerous critter we face. Here's how we deal with packrats on our remote homestead.
Since we were in the process of establishing a garden on our northern Utah homestead, we wondered if we could grow garlic ourselves. If the established farmers at the market failed to grow ample bulbs, perhaps the soil or climate forbade it. Still, we decided to try — and we had success growing garlic. Here are our tips for how to grow garlic and all that goes into cultivating a successful harvest.
The revitalization of the “Back-to-Basics” movement has brought with it the old-world skills that the pioneers once used to survive, but with a modern-day twist. While no longer essential to survival, these skills are now being used by modern homesteaders to gain their freedom from dependence.
Years ago, if anyone would have told me I would be playing around in a vegetable garden I would have laughed at them. Not because I was too good or too stuck up to be doing that, but I kind of stink at making things grow. Don’t be so hard on yourself, keep trying, reading and learning. That’s the best way to turn that brown thumb into a green one!
A step-by-step guide that lays out practical know-how, Fortier has done his due diligence to learn from those who have innovated in the past and compiled successful strategies into one small successful farm. In a time of “feel good stories” that may or may not be financially solvent, Fortier simply hands over to the reader the blueprints to confidently launch and run a small-scale market garden.
You can easily make your own glace cherries for fruit cakes and your Christmas stollen. The cherries you do yourself will be a darker red instead of that false neon color and will be made with only cane sugar and very little or no GMOs. These will actually taste like sweet cherries, with no odd chemical aftertaste. You’ll also save money.
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.
The pieces have all come together. Proper restraint has been shown and I managed to put together a pretty darn good homemade (all but the cheese) Reuben sandwich. However, it is not without some consequences and revelations of a none too proud family tradition.
Sun protection is important, and although sunblock is marketed as safe and effective, I'd rather not slather chemicals on my skin every day. Although sunblock has its place in my skin-protection arsenal, here are seven easy ways I'm able to protect my skin from the sun's harmful rays without resorting to sunblock.
Although you may hear the term "master gardener", there is no one right way to grow your garden. For all gardeners out there, the surefire way to learn how to garden is by conducting experiments — by setting a hypothesis, testing it, and recording your results in a gardening journal.
Planting the seedlings you’ve raised carefully indoors is a proud moment. But be sure to acclimatize them to their new outdoor home first, or you’ll risk losing your plants and wasting all that hard work. This is a process known to gardeners as hardening off plants.
Meet some of our outdoor family members as I work to comply with the lawn ordinances being forced upon us. Hopefully, more of them are still alive and are adapting to something more akin to cave dwelling than open-forested lands.
Growing vegetables at a high elevation can be very challenging. Over the years we have had to be flexible and creative in order to manage a small garden. We grow enough for our needs but not enough to put any vegetables up for future use. This blog post outlines some of the challenges we have faced and how we overcame them.
My little toaster oven does a great job baking eight or 10 cookies, uses very little electricity itself, doesn’t heat up the kitchen, and saves the air conditioning. The variety is endless — see some flavor ideas below. Start with the basic dough and add to it, such as for these Toasted Almond Cookies. They’re buttery, tender, melt-in-your-mouth cookies.
Most forests are working forests. They are cut regularly for lumber production and other uses. Only 12.7% of the earth's forests are protected. Wood is carbon. Carbon volumes sequestered in the woods need to multiply to significantly contribute to global cooling. Without this, the carbon credit market is mostly wasted as a tool for significant global cooling. We still have time to save our forests.
While shade presents a challenge, it certainly needn’t stop you from growing your own fruit and vegetables. In this video we’ll suggest shade-tolerant vegetables and fruits, and share a few tricks of the trade to maximize the light your garden does receive.
Hard to find and surrounded in rumor, 'Hastings’ Prolific' corn is an heirloom dent corn that you don’t see often sold. Learn more about the true development of this variety as we grow it at Wolf Branch Homestead in 2016.
Beekeeping is a fun yet rewarding experience. Not only you can produce a sustainable, nutritious natural sweetener, but you can also benefit the environment by keeping bees in your backyard. This post will help you get into beekeeping.
When we bought our homestead, the only gardening area was at the bottom of a fairly steep hill. Though fine for growing a winter’s worth of potatoes and squash, it’s less convenient for greens, which we prefer to grow close to the house. Having read about a method called "lasagna gardening" (named for its layers; learn the basics here), we decided to try it. Egged on by its success, we extended the garden the following year only this time incorporating hugelkultur techniques. Here’s how we did it.
I used to think I needed a fancy juicer and special ingredients to make a smoothie. Not so. I pulled out my old blender that I hadn't used since my margarita days a decade ago. Then, I poked around in the fridge to see what kind of fruit was on hand. I clipped some lettuce from the garden, added water and cinnamon and — voila — a terrific smoothie, easier than pie.
With herbs and lemongrass in your garden, you can keep out mosquitoes, add flavor and spice to your summer menu, and have the ingredients for your own homemade bug spray. This blog post shows you how to harvest and cook with lemongrass and offers two easy, all-natural mosquito repellents you can make yourself.
Composting is beneficial for the earth in many ways: amending soil for gardening and diverting trash from landfills. But many people don't ever get started due to fears and misguided notions of composting. Learn your composting basics here.
Blueberries are a superfood — one of the fruits highest in lycopene and antioxidants. Take advantage of their season and stock up. They do very well in the dehydrator and make scrumptious preserves to dollop on plain yogurt, slather on toast, or to fill quick little tartlets. This is a very thick, low-sugar preserve, very different from the Sure-Jel type.
What needs to happen is a change in attitudes. Such a change is not coming soon enough to your favorite grocery store. If more of us buy imperfect-looking produce, grocery stores will be able to change our dependence on harsh chemicals used to grow perfect-looking fruits and veggies. It’s up to all of us to support the imperfect produce movement and bring back taste, nutrition and a healthier planet. How will you vote?
Spring is without a doubt the most exciting time of year for us gardeners. It’s the time to get sowing in earnest! But before you so much as tear open a seed packet, you’ll need to make sure your soil is warm enough and that late frosts won’t hamper your efforts.
This article highlights four herbs that repel mosquitoes naturally and you’re probably already growing them in your garden: 'Creeping Lemon' thyme, Rosemary, Mint, and Lavender! All these mosquito-repellent plants are easy to grow, do well in containers, and actually attract beneficial birds and insects.
What's it like to be a woman off the grid? Dirty? Chore-filled? Sacrificial? Modern day off-grid homesteading is a wonderful, empowering lifestyle for those women who choose to take this path. Yet, finding practical, reality-based feedback is getting harder! Media and networks are often misleading in their depiction of off-grid life, because they need to feed a audience who is thirsting for excitement. Here is on woman's reality check.
Both tart and sweet, June is infused with the tangy taste of wild cherries, the sweetness of plump raspberries, and the succulence of wineberries. Though feasting, harvesting and preserving this sweetness is a priority, there is much more to do to make the most of this month. Below is a guide to homesteading and wild-food foraging in this juicy season.
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.
Are you worried about mosquitoes but want an alternative to chemical bug sprays? This post shows you how to add easy-to-grow and beautiful mosquito-repellent plants to your landscapes and get back outside with your family.
Strawberries are a core component of our annual diet, as they’re one of the easiest fruits to grow and preserve. Many guidelines for strawberry preservation call for extraordinary amounts of added sugar, which we’ve found quite unnecessary for the fresh, sweet, high-quality berries we grow. Here are the three main ways we handle our fresh berries.
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.
Cougars, our American lion, historically have been the most widespread large carnivore of both North and South America. After being almost systematically annihilated from our continent by those who came before us, our big cat is making heroic attempts to return to their lost homeland. Will we let them?
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.
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.
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."
Being a touring musician poses challenges for a healthy life. I’m always trying to figure out how to get vitamins and nutrients without having to carry a garden behind the tour bus. There are things you can do in almost every profession to live more sustainably and help the environment, and I share some of my go-to tips here.
Enemy forces seemed to converge over my indoor green thumbs this year, resulting in a near complete seedling failure. What happens when undetermined circumstances produce "lemons?" You make lemonade, of course. Blythe shares how her failed seedling crop may just have changed how she manages her springtimes from here on out.
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.
Heirloom Gardener magazine is looking for bloggers and reader-submitted gardening photos, stories, and more. The magazine has been acquired by Ogden Publications, the publisher of MOTHER EARTH NEWS, GRIT, and Mother Earth Living magazines.
Starting a garden can be intimidating, especially when there are all sorts of guru-gardening methods on the internet, but we are choosing to take an extremely straightforward approach that we want to share with you all!
Many people believe they can grow anything anytime when they just got their own greenhouse. You can, but that’s not always the case. Sure, it depends on what you’re planting in the first place. But, it also depends on the greenhouse itself and how you plant it.
Water is the liquid-gold standard for off-grid sustainability. However, how does a new off-grid homesteader prepare for their water needs? Here are some simple tips from seasoned veterans on how to successfully have a backup plan for water.
I gave you five things you should consider when building your chicken coop in the first part of this blog series. Here are the remaining few points that you should take into consideration when building your fluffy chicken friends their perfect home.
Building raised vegetable garden beds has many benefits: They negate contending with poor soil, you can make them tall to avoid bending, avoid soil compaction and they look appealing to name a few. But how can you make them biodynamic? This post will tell you how.
“Golden” will be the first word to enter your mind when you see the roots, rhizomes and dormant buds of Hydrastis canadensis. You’ll understand immediately why the common name is “Goldenseal.” This very useful native woodland plant will not only charm and entertain you spring, summer, and autumn — it can even heal you.
Have you ever made a truly superb batch of jam – and then forgotten which recipe you used? Just like a personal journal can help you keep track of your life events, a canning journal is a valuable resource for those of us who can and preserve fresh food.
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.
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.
For this year's edible garden, I have my standby's I plant every year and new varieties to try. I plant a combination of vegetables, greens, herbs and flowers in my garden. Read on to learn which ones work best in the Midwest.
When we built our current home in 1992, there were very few rules and codes that could damage or destroy our dream of doing most of the work in building our cabin ourselves. Times like that are rapidly disappearing and those who build now must endure permits, inspections, delays and forced compliance. The dream of building your own home could be more complicated than just knowing construction techniques nowadays. Read our story.
As the days stretch closer to their full summer length, we are welcomed to sow directly into the warming ground. We are invited to harvest from the woods, which are coming to life with new abundance. Now, we step into the light of the growing season, and we plant beneath the poplar moon! Learn how to prepare your garden and what to harvest in the month of May.
If you have backyard chickens and you are not using them as composters and you have a garden, you are missing a valuable resource right at your fingertips. There are so many benefits to using your chickens, and it’s such a natural process for composting.
Homesteading is built upon a foundation of self sufficiency, but community is just as important. There is so much more to homesteading than the individual pleasure associated with it. There is true joy and friendship in the shared labor of land.
Goat packers who have goats with horns that have become an issue around the home or farm is that, depending on age and sexual hormone levels, there may be options less dire than surgical complete dehorning or banding at the base of the horn, which compromises your pack goat’s defensive capability and confidence on the trail. Certainly talk to at least two vets before committing to any plan of action regarding full removal of horns from goats over the age of 6 months old.
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.
When the performing of regular garden chores presents you with ethical or moral dilemmas, what is your normal course of action? Do you think about the wildlife surrounding you? Read here to find out who was hiding in Blythe’s carrot bed and what she decided to do.
Biodynamic growing can be thought of as the next step up from organic growing, as many of the principles of organic growing are followed in biodynamics. The biggest difference in biodynamics is that everything starts with the soil and the alignment of the sun and the moon in the cosmos for planting, harvesting and tending to types of plants. For those of you who are not familiar with biodynamics, let me set the scene for you here.
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.
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.
Compost tea allows you to take a small amount of compost and give your plants the microbes and nutrition they need to resist disease and give you nutritious food. Making and using compost tea is both economical and easy.
Building an eco-friendly deck involves many considerations. Choosing the right material is certainly one of them, but other factors are also involved, including climate, location, and budget. This post reviews the important factors.
Building a chicken coop is a big deal. It is something that will remain on your property for years to come. It is the beginning of turning your yard into your own ‘starter homesteader.’ But wait — there are a few things you should take into consideration before you break ground on your new friends’ home.
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.
You can turn kitchen and farm "wastes" into compost, which is full of microbes and nutrition for your crops. In return, you will be able to grow disease-resistant plants that produce highly nutritious food with fantastic flavors.
Most great ideas start small. That’s how Katie and Ben Reneker, founders of the Carmel Berry Company, started out handcrafting small batches of syrups and cordials with elderberries or elderflowers wild-harvested or grown on their small farm.
My freezer is full of beef fat and I finally rendered tallow for cooking oil. We raise some pastured beef for our family, and while we enjoy the grass-fed beef, we have been slower to learn the art of cooking with homemade oil. That's changing. Read how and why I learned to render oil from beef fat to make homemade cooking oil (tallow).
Each year at the start of planting season, I come to my senses and order only a few packets of things that I know will actually grow in my garden. This begins my annual process of starting a complete garden from little dry specks called seeds. Although seed catalogs can be pretty exciting and I want to grow everything I see, I need to be practical. Here are my personal priorities for buying and starting vegetable seedlings.
Installing a chimney chase cover is a common project among do-it-yourself homeowners. Many homes were built with galvanized chase covers which rust after a few years – causing leaks and rust stains. Homes that were built with a masonry chimney eventually end up with a cracked and weathered mortar crown, also causing leaks and damage to the home.
I have a long-standing fear and dislike of spiders — especially big ones. You could say I was not a likely candidate for conversion to a spider lover. This story is about the Yellow Agriope spider I found in my tomato plant and the unlikely garden friendship we developed.
I start a lot of seedlings each spring – far more than I can fit in my garden. We don’t have much room – this is our home, after all, not a nursery. Yet, with a sunny south facing window, some inexpensive heat mats, a garage with suspended shop lights and sunny driveway, I start hundreds (in some years, thousands) of seedlings successfully. Here are what I consider to be a list of the most important details to pay close attention to.
Wildfire is our greatest threat living in the mountains with all the dead vegetation and dead trees providing fuel. Here in Southern Colorado, where population density is less and forest growth is thick, sensible people plan ahead to mitigate wildfire risk. Plan ahead with these tips for wildfire mitigation.
An examination of flocking behavior in starlings and the beauty and mystery we see when those flocks, or “murmurations” are extraordinarily large and active. Also an inquiry into the 500-year-old history of collective nouns for groups of animals.
Do not let not owning or using a microwave prevent you from making up a batch of mozzarella cheese. Using this easy technique, you can have your mozzarella and ricotta without a microwave. We learned from a trip to the Belton, Texas, MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR and had a blast.
‘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.
Polypodium virginianum aka the "Rock Polypody" is native to just about every state east of the Mississippi, Alaska, almost every province in Canada and all the way north up to Greenland and Iceland. To grow it requires no master's degree in gardening or landscape architecture or any particularly colored thumb. It's really quite simple! This is the perfect fern for any shade garden or along the path of any shade border.
Building your own wildlife habitat in the style of a brush pile can be fun and easy. It can also help with several problems at once—where to dispose of clippings and branches, how to provide shelter for wildlife, and how to lower our carbon footprint are all solved in this one simple addition to your garden.
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.
Cymophyllus fraserianus is the perfect Hosta replacement for any native plant garden or any shade garden, especially if you have a deer problem as this is one plant that isn't on Bambi's menu or wish list.
Weeks after graduating high school, I was accidentally shot in the neck by a 14-year-old boy playing with a rifle in his home. This injury left me a quadriplegic. After months of hospitals and rehab, my desire for growing things began to reignite and I started with houseplants and a terrarium. That grew to lettuce and tomatoes on the patio. It doesn't matter if you plant something but have to have help somewhere along the way before your produce reaches the table. What is important is that you be involved in what you eat.
There is wild fruit nearly everywhere, free for the picking. This spring, as soon as leaf buds swell in your area, go looking for blooms. Take a ride, get somebody to drive for you, so you can search roadsides and fields, along railroad tracks, in power line right of ways, and maybe even an abandoned homesite, looking for brushy shrubs, brambles, vines and trees with white flowers.
ne of the principles of Permaculture is “Stacking Functions” or making every structure/addition to your plan serve at least two, if not more, functions in the landscape. When we added solar panels to the homestead, we wanted to honor this principle—and constructing a small greenhouse allowed us to install the panels, as the light was not great on the roof of the house. The number of functions we have stacked on this small structure became very clear to me as I prepared for an upcoming solar homes tour.
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.
Composting is a great way to lessen our carbon footprint and it doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming, or difficult. Read this article to learn about Blythe’s relaxed, easy going approach of turning scraps into treasure.
It's often much cheaper to buy a large bag of potatoes than to just pick up a few or buy a smaller bag. So when I see that large bag go on sale I grab them! But how to get good use of all those potatoes in that mammoth bag? I dehydrate them!
This blog post explains how the use of rodent poisons is having a serious effect on the health of carnivores. The very species that have the ability to control rodent populations are being negatively affected by the human use of poisons.
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.
With forces and circumstances intensifying all around, this is the optimum time to take positive action for your family, your community, and your planet. CSA Signup Day on Feb. 26 gives everyone an opportunity for intelligent action by joining and supporting a community farm (CSA).
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.
Planting for abundance without over-producing can be tricky. Here’s a brief overview on how to estimate yields and planting area for crops in your home vegetable garden based off of the unique needs of your household.
The Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative has a plan to take the local food movement to the next level. They're vying for big contracts with institutional buyers and competing with major corporations. And they're cooperatively owned and run by Maine's farmers and consumers.
At Wild Abundance, reconnecting with the land means living and working in sync with the cycles and seasons as they unfold. Here is a guide to the very beginnings of the East, when the earth is waking up, and moving from the slowness of winter into the flurry of action of spring: Harnessing the Maple Moon of February and the New Growth Moon of March on your homestead.
Making your own glace citrus peels is easy. You can save the peel from lemons, oranges, grapefruit and pomelos as you eat them. Just toss the peel into a zipper bag and keep in the refrigerator up to 4 days. I used Jacques Pepin’s method as guidance here.
This pastry dough recipe can be made in 10 minutes and rest overnight in the refrigerator. It’s simple and easy to work with as you bake up your choice of American or European pastries, including Italian Panettone, Cinnamon-Pecan Sticky Buns, and Brioche Raisinee. Dough and pastry recipes included.
Parasites catch a bad rap. Often feared and maligned, we tend to overlook the fact that they play an integral role in the ecological health of our ecosystems. Though animal and microbial parasites are most familiar, there are parasitic plants as well. What follows is a brief overview of the nature of parasitic plants.
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.
When our neighbors might not think we're gardening because the snow is flying and we're not as visible outdoors, there can be plenty of fun happening indoors. Dreaming, planning, plotting, and nurturing seedlings are all part of a gardener's life as well.
Recent studies have begun to spark a fresh debate about whether battery-powered electric vehicles are really better for the environment than gas-powered ones. The key point is asking how much the source of the electricity that powers an EV contributes to its green credentials. This post explores that question.
Have you been wondering what it is like to raise honeybees? Jennifer Ford of Bees of the Woods Apiary will offer a peek into the life of a beekeeper in part one of a year long series. She will share what goes into maintaining a beeyard throughout the course of a year.
This is a perfect time for reflection and planning, because the 2016 gardening season is peeking around the corner. Seed catalogs are arriving. I am sure that all of us are really missing freshly picked tomatoes. Here are 5 ideas to use in planning your 2016 tomato garden.
Buying a half-pig directly from a farmer ensures quality and well-raised pork, although it will cost more than supermarket pork. Understanding how to fill out a cut sheet guarantees you get what you paid for.
This last year I was able to preserve hops, apples, raspberries through making a puree and drying fruit leather, I made kale chips, dehydrated onions, dried mint and basil, zucchini, plums, and lavender. Yogurt was a common sight in my Excalibur up until our goats’ milk supply slowed down, we’re too busy drinking it to make yogurt right now. This is one of the appliances I really appreciate particularly in the summer/harvesting months. In addition to all of this, we even used the Excalibur to incubate chicks!
Back in the early 1950s, my family moved to northern Kentucky. We had the great fortune to live just down the street from Louella Schierland, one of the contributing authors of the iconic Joy of Cooking. Mrs. Schierland gave my mother this recipe and I remember that these bourbon balls were stored in a coffee can in the refrigerator. I’ve made some changes to the original to avoid today’s GMOs. Makes about 40 treats.
An urban homestead is as unique as the individuals who own the property. Our homestead developed slowly. In fact, my wife likes to joke that we are “accidental homesteaders.” We did not buy our village home nestled on 1/16th of an acre with the goal of becoming urban farmers, it just sort of happened, out of necessity.
I found a recipe in the King Arthur Cookie Companion that I developed a little so that I can now gift my gluten-intolerant friends with delicious cookies. Homemade almond paste is best here, but store-bought will do. Freshly made, these cookies have chewy texture; after a few days, they become airy and crunchy. Just as delicious either way. This recipe makes about 30 two-inch cookies.
While this young couple had dreams of buying land to start their homestead, they were still stuck in an apartment in the big city so they rented a community garden plot. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! Find ways to accomplish your goals and do what you love!
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.
My favorite, best cookie recipe just happens to actually be pretty healthy and a good choice for after-school snacks. I used to keep a tin in my office, available to anyone who hadn’t had time for lunch. They have enough protein, iron and whole grain to make them guilt-free. This recipe makes about 60 two-inch cookies that freeze well.
Sweet Home Farms Meats is located on acreage in the central Willamette Valley that includes a picturesque stream which offers both water for the farm and a great place to cool off on hot summer afternoons. The farm is a work in progress for two young urbanites who now love the country.
Solstice Night is the traditional time to set goals. On that night, we sit by the fire, review the year, and plan for the next. I’ve been thinking about the goals for the garden already; two are building upon existing systems and the third is new. Once I am clear on my goals, I am going to post them in the greenhouse, so I will see them almost every day!
Learn how to make Rosemary Gladstar's original Fire Cider recipe and chutney to help keep your immune system healthy, and to ward off infections. Also learn about the Fire Cider controversy, and why it should matter to you.
It would seem that most people don’t pay any attention to plants unless they are pretty or useful in some way. I reject this reality outright. From the smallest duckweed to the tallest redwood, the botanical world is full of wonder. I am here to defend that.
“Smallholding” is a UK term that’s broadly equivalent to the term “homestead” in the United States, meaning farming on a small scale with a strong element of self-sufficiency in food. Despite the geographical differences, there must be a great deal of common ground between the American homestead and the British smallholding — so let’s find out!
As climate chaos intensifies, we have many reasons to cultivate resilience - the strength and flexibility to endure shocks and yet still function. Through CSA farms the quality of consilience - the linking together of principles from different disciplines - becomes a way for all shareholders to enhance the resilience of farms and thereby strengthen community.
"Solar Empowerment" is a key component behind an educational development model that does more than trade third-world problems for first-world problems. The Integral Heart Foundation combines education for the poor with environmentalism in a way that bypasses the problems facing our developed world.
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.
A hearty and delicious soup, made with a leftover duck carcass (or other poultry), fresh vegetables, wild rice and mushrooms and flavored with smoked ham, sherry and curry powder. Just in time for the holidays!
Don't buy into the hype telling you that you aren't capable of doing it yourself! Learn the simple things you can start right now and build on it as you gain confidence. You may find, like me, that the difference you make in your life can be game changing!
Did you know you can grow potatoes in an apartment? Whether you live in an apartment or on a hundred acre farm, you can take steps towards self reliance and lifestyle independence. Living with limited space doesn't have to be a setback towards homesteading, and there are many creative ways you can take advantage of your space to get the most out of it.
As we enter into the cold and flu season, it is the perfect time to be thinking about your immune system and practical ways to help boost it. Here are 10 tips to stay your healthiest this season and all year round. These tips are our tried and true suggestions for increasing immunity and maintaining good health all year long.
This is the final article in a series on how I made the transition to off grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable techniques practiced for thousands of years of human history. Currently I’m entering the first winter of full-time off grid living at my mountain homestead after completing the construction of my small house.
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.
I’ve always enjoyed cooking — it’s something I’ve considered a serious hobby. One of the first goals I made when I moved here last year was to start baking all my own bread and other baked goods. Because we got through so many loaves a week (about eight) every day I am very grateful for my Bosch Universal Plus mixer. I would consider this one of the top five most-used appliances in my kitchen.
Losing power is a reality that homesteaders must prepare for. It is not a matter of if, but when, and for how long. As a homesteader/farmsteader we have a responsibility to keep the home running regardless of “power.” This series of blog posts discusses homestead preparedness for power outages, beginning with fuel storage, gas cooking and wood heat.
Abundant Fields Farm is receiving the support of a business incubator process in much the same way other types of start-up businesses do. Sharing infrastructure with other beginning farmers helps make success possible.
If you fall asleep or can't think straight at holiday gatherings, don't blame it on the turkey (or your relatives)! Research indicates that carbon dioxide is not only a greenhouse gas, but elevated levels of it are detrimental to human health and cognition. Learn how improving your indoor air quality will increase your health and stamina during holidays.
Bone broths are all the rage these days. And with good reason! You can find plenty of articles explaining that nourishing bone broths, rich in protein, gelatin and minerals, are soothing to the gut and healthy for bones, skin, hair and joints. And for someone recovering from surgery or illness that needs to be on a very light or liquid diet, bone broths are soothing, light and nutritious.
Here is help with planning for a successful installation of new plastic or replacement of old plastic over your hoophouse (high tunnel). This post provides a list of tools and step-by-step instructions.
Less common, but proven, strategies for securing a child's college education can keep the child involved in the building and running of the homestead through their years of higher education while producing a more well rounded, responsible, mature, and competitive graduate, all at a fraction of the cost of more typical approaches.
Have you ever wondered what was served at the very first thanksgiving feast? If the question has ever crossed your mind, follow Kiara Ashanti as he answers the questions and describes how he creates the First Feast for Thanksgiving 2015.
The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts for our area “Winter will be cooler and rainier than normal, with above-normal snowfall." To quote a popular television show “Winter is coming." Prepare for winter with this checklist and weatherization ideas.
Now that this couple has moved into their new country home, they take time to plant garlic and a small fall garden in their “front yard.” One small step toward an established homestead, one giant leap for family morale!
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.
Given a shift towards being indoors instead of out, engaging with technology instead of nature, and sitting instead of moving, what exactly are kids missing out on? Research shows that children’s physical and mental health are both taking a toll. Encouraging outside games for kids is important in promoting their health and well being.
One couple has finally moved to the country, with the hope that they’ll soon be eating a lot of homegrown peaches from their yet-to-be-planted orchard. The homestead dream continues, with this story of a successfully organized moving and unpacking experience — and beginning a lifetime of enjoying full view of the sunset from the back porch.
The time to be thinking about eating local food is in January, when you plan your garden, not in August and September, as you harvest and preserve. Fall and winter crops should be planted in June - but it is not too late to think about next year.
After four changes of plastic on our hoophouse (high tunnel we are ready to tell you some mistakes to avoid, mostly involving hoophouse plastic too tight or too loose, or cut wrong, and inflation blowers that didn't perform well enough. Our experience can save you from the same mistakes.
After drilling a well and hooking up the pressure tank, whole-house filter and water softener, one couple covers the steps in having the health department come and test well water for bacteria to ensure the well water is safe to drink.
After the first of the crisp fall apples have started to soften, I love to have a sip of this for dessert on a cold winter’s night. This homemade apple cordial tastes like the absolute best apple pie you ever drank! Here is how I preserve the goodness of apples laced with sweet spices.
I’d been experimenting with sourdough (no added yeast) bread for more than a year. The final result is the easiest—and best—bread I’ve EVER made or tasted. I mean seriously, I’m so excited about this recipe!
The world's population is growing but we're wasting much of the food that's being produced. There are protections in place for those donating edible food, and there are many things you can do in your own home to reduce food waste.
"Mastering Basic Cheesemaking" is the latest book from author and cheesemaking expert Gianaclis Caldwell. A follow-up to "Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking," Caldwell’s latest book is for those who are just getting started making cheese.
This post tells the story of how one couple seeded a buffalo grass lawn and began planting native grasses and wildflowers around their property. They started by seeding the open soil that was moved and exposed during the construction of their new country home.
Finding authentic, plant-derived, high quality essential oils and knowing what to look for is a challenge, particularly given the power of marketing. What do we mean by the terms genuine, authentic, plant-derived and unadulterated anyway? This post explains how to hone your senses and find the best suppliers of top-quality essential oils.
Using new design ideas in your home will help you create an aesthetic that is all your own, but you don’t have to go out and dump your bank account into new items. You can make some great updates to your home using recycled or salvaged pieces for very cheap. This article explores five design ideas anyone can do for a dime by incorporating recycled materials that will make your home look amazing.
A permaculture convergence is a coming together of people interested in permaculture, with presentations, plenary sessions, networking, hands-on skill building, and tours of the site or nearby places of interest that show what applied permaculture looks like. The 2015 Northwest Permaculture Convergence took place in August in Eugene, Ore., with the theme “Greening Our Neighborhoods with Permaculture.”
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.
Student loan debt continues to pressure young farmers and those considering taking up farming to give up on their dreams of working the land. The National Young Farmer Coalition hopes to secure student loan debt forgiveness by recognizing farming as a public service.
Canning your own foods can be a rewarding, economical and healthier way to preserve a garden’s bounty — but it’s not for everyone. Here is a bit of the lowdown on what is involved in the process for canning food so you can decide for yourself what will be best to preserve your garden bounty.
One couple set out to build a green home that incorporated sustainable materials and relied on the expertise of local businesses. This post highlights photos of a few of those features as the house-building process comes to a close.