5 Things You Can Repurpose Into Homestead 'Mojo'

Repurposing building materials is at the heart of sustainability and mojo is what you build with. I’ve tried many ideas at my homestead and here’s the tips I’ve found are the most affordable, brings that homestead mojo to work for you, and instead of filling up the landfill you’re helping save the planet.

Add Variety and Fun from Garden to Table with 'Yard-Long' Beans

Each year we choose a vegetable for our garden that we have never grown before and will offer fun and variety. This year, we chose the yard-long bean based on its name alone. After a little bit of experimenting in the kitchen, we learned to love its unusual texture and flavor.

Italian-Style Pressed Sandwich Recipe

Years ago, a friend who once lived in Italy described a sandwich she had prepared for a picnic. Adapted to foods we can buy locally, it works well for late-summer suppers after a sweltering day in the gardens. It’s a lifesaver for days when I just don’t know what time dinner will happen until it happens.

Heat-Tolerant Eggplant Varieties

For several years, we have been trialing eggplant varieties to find one better in hot weather than our favorite 'Nadia', which is great in temperate summer weather. We love the classic pear shape and glossy purple-black skin of 'Nadia', and we want something looking similar, but better at setting fruit in hot weather.

Make Blue-Ribbon-Winning Pickles (with Homemade Condiment Recipes)

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.

Troubleshooting Planting the Humble Potato

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.

You Can't 'Beet' This Root Crop for Versatility

If you have a small amount of garden space and need a crop that is versatile, beets should be your crop of choice. Here are ideas for market use of beets and a Pickled Beets recipe for homestead use.

'Taters Gone Wild: 2 Bushels and Counting

The harvest begins. Whatever happened to those wild and crazily overgrown potatoes (written about in a previous post)? Check out the bushels of newly dug potatoes that resulted from that botanical experiment started this spring.

Maybe Your Brown Thumb is Not as Brown as You Think

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!

Unplugging to Reconnect: Homesteading and the Kids' Higher Education, Part 4

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.

The Market Gardener: A Successful Growers Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming

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.

Slug Wars: Slug Control for Organic Gardens

Slugs can do a good amount of damage in the garden and quickly! Here are different methods to combat them in ways that are safe for you, your family, and the environment.

Fermenting Knowledge at Fermentation Festivals (with Kombucha Recipe)

Filling in the information gap is exactly what the Fermenters Club’s Fermentation Festivals in San Diego and Oregon are all about. A transition to a diet filled with more live culture foods is a natural step to get our gut, and the microbes living there, in a healthier balance.

Conducting Experiments in the Garden

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.

Potential Health Impacts from Photovoltaics

We all know that renewable energy is an important part of a greener, more sustainable future, but are there health risks associated with home-scale photovoltaic installations? The jury is still out in the world of industry-sponsored and independent research, but there is a fast-growing segment of the population who feels ill from our ever-increasing use of electricity and wireless frequencies.

Make Gazpacho Soup with Heirloom Tomatoes

I never much cared for gazpacho, and that’s probably because I lived in Colorado and Alaska most of my adult life. You must have great tomatoes to make great Gazpacho. After I tasted gazpacho made with heirloom tomatoes like 'Cherokee Purple', 'Brandywine', 'Marmonde' and others from my garden, I realized what I had been missing.

Hardening Off Plants and Seedlings

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.

Get Past Your Fears and Start Composting

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.

Start an Annual 'Farmers and Friends' Meeting

Getting to know your local farmers and learning more about how to farm can be an annual event. From the novice to the experienced farmer, chef, or backyard gardener, an annual meeting is a great way to expand the knowledge base and make new friends.

How to Create Green Garage Storage

Creating garage storage often requires going out to buy new plastic storage containers. Here are a few ways to make your garage storage green.

Light Straw-Clay Building Coming of Age in North America

This past year has been a hallmark year for the advancement of Light Straw-Clay building. The publication of our new book The EcoNest Home and the latest edition of Franz Volhard’s book Light Earth Building translated into English, and the inclusion of Light Straw-Clay Building in the International Residential Code has made this beautiful form of construction accessible to more people than ever before in modern times.

The ABCs of Homesteading: E is for 'Edible Landscaping'

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.

Creating A Project Plan For Your Garden

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.

Growing Sweet Potatoes

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.

10 Tips for New Garden Farmers

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.

Free-Range Chickens? No Way!

How we manage our small flock of urban chickens for maximum health and happiness for all concerned.

Common and Rare Types of Tomato Foliage

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."

Drummer Shares Tips for Healthy Living While on the Road

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.

Watering: Not too Much, Not too Little

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.

A Look at Goose Eggs

A rare treat, goose eggs are prized for their large yolks and tough shells.

How to Dehydrate Fresh Spinach

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.

Fast and Easy Homemade Salad Dressings

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.

Oregon Company Salvages Urban Timber

After seeing beautiful trees in Oregon going to waste, Seth Filippo realized the Pacific Northwest had a huge underutilized resource in urban wood.

The Power of Pulses

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.

DIY Outdoor Patios: What You Need to Know

Why pay for someone to come and install an outdoor patio when you could do it yourself? Outdoor patios are perfect for people who love to entertain. They don’t require a lot of maintenance and they can be completed within a single weekend. This post covers sizing, siting, and building materials.

Can I Hatch an Egg I Found?

Springtime is egg season, and often wild bird eggs are found unattended, either in nests or simply lying on the ground. What is the best course of action when you find an egg? Find out here!

Growing Asparagus from Seed

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.

Transplanting Seedlings into Hay Mulch

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.

When Life Hands You Garlic Mustard, Ferment It!

Garlic mustard is the poster child of invasive species. Brought as a food crop for home gardens by settlers, this is a great wild food to pick with wild abandon. Eat it and ferment it while helping out local ecosystems.

Fun Facts About Eggs

Easy to produce and good for your health, eggs are a universal food. Here are some things you might not know about this versatile food.

5 Clever Chicken Egg-Incubation Tips

While chickens are natural incubation experts, many breeders find that utilizing an incubator can give them more control over their hatch, ultimately leading to higher hatch rates than nature provides. Want to increase chicken egg hatch rates? Check out these fives tips to help you become an egg-incubation master.

First Lettuce Crop and a Sandwich, Too

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.

Soil Sisters: 3 Ways Women Cultivate Food Change

Women make up one of the fastest growing groups of new farmers today, increasing over twenty percent in the last ten years alone. More than mounting numbers, these women rock fresh ideas when it comes to agriculture, farming and – ultimately – what’s on America’s plates. Here’s a sneak peak summary of what I’ll be speaking on at the FAIRS: Three ways women today are cultivating food system change.

Achocha: The Unknown Cucumber Relative

Achocha is a delicious and unknown member of the cucumber family with almost complete immunity from the diseases and pests which attack other cucurbits.

What's Growing in the Early-April Edible Garden

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.

How and Why to Support Beneficial Bacteria During Pregnancy and Beyond

Recent scientific studies show that the baby is interacting and takes in the mother´s beneficial bacteria throughout pregnancy and during natural birth and breastfeeding. The risk for pregnancy complications seems to partially depend on whether mother´s bacteria are dominated by beneficial or potentially pathogenic strains. This new knowledge means that we need to pay close attention to the symbiotic bacteria of pregnant women and new mothers and help beneficial strains thrive and prosper.

Healthy Salad in a Jar

The Salad in a Jar (aka Mason Jar Salad) has become popular for a reason. You, too, can make these delicious, easy, healthy, and convenient grab-and-go lunches!

Stacking Functions in the Greenhouse

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.

Rebuilding a New England Barn

Turning an old barn into something useable is a challenge, and it is a valuable skill to have when you are starting a farm.

Biosolids: More Harm than Good, Part 2

This is Part 2 of an interview with David Lewis, Ph.D. - formerly a senior-level research microbiologist at EPA-ORD. He currently serves as director of research for the Focus for Health Foundation.

Seed-Starting, Part 2

The results are in: Starting even cool-weather crops inside is faster. See Seed-Starting, Part 1 for details on the set up.

Unplugging to Reconnect: Homesteading and the Kids' Higher Education, Part 3

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.

Biosolids: More Harm than Good, Part 1

Dr. David Lewis, Ph.D., who was formerly a senior level research microbiologist at EPA-ORD, kindly agreed to an interview for the MOTHER EARTH NEWS blog addressing the issue of agricultural use of sewage and industrial sludge, aka – biosolids. He is one of the most prominent scientific voices in the growing opposition to biosolids land application. Dr. Lewis’ publications are frequently cited as an example of solid, unbiased scientific evidence of the danger posed by this practice.

10 Super-Easy Veggies to Grow

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!

Seed-Starting, Part 1

Several experiments in seed starting: inside, in the greenhouse and in the ground.

The Joys of Raising Ducks

Raising ducks not only provides you with the opportunity to have fresh eggs and meat available, but also provides you with hours of enjoyment. From chasing minnows to quacking their greetings to a caretaker, ducks can be fun to own!

A Right and Wrong Way to Squat When Giving Birth

There is a right and a wrong way to squat when in labor and giving birth. Unfortunately, most women are taught the wrong way. Learn the true birth-squat position and why it will lead to a more comfortable birth.

How to Sprout Mung Beans (Video)

In this short video, you’ll learn how to sprout mung beans using a juice carton, so you can have fresh bean sprouts in a few days for dishes such as stir-fries and soups.

Unplugging to Reconnect: Homesteading and the Kids' Higher Education, Part 2

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.

How to Make Great Kale Chips

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.

2016 Goals for the Garden

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!

Marchand de Vin Sauce Recipe

I love classic New Orleans food! Sometimes, though, the chefs are absolutely reckless with the butter, so I adapted this rich and very savory, New Orleans-style mushroom ragu for a healthier diet. I use portions of this Marchand de Vin sauce to enrich beef stews, other sauces, and in the version of Eggs Benedict called Eggs Hussarde. A dollop of this makes a plain meal into something really special.

Technological Challenges of Off-Grid Homestead Living, Part 5: Heat

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.

Winter for the Tomato Grower, Part 1: Your-End-of-Season Questions Answered

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.

Fun to Watch, Fun to Eat: Pickled Mixed Vegetables Brined in Glass

I love to ferment vegetables in gallon glass jars, which I leave on the kitchen counter so I can watch the colors mellow. A mixed-vegetable pickle is not only a thing of beauty and an adventure to eat; it’s also a practical use for homegrown produce. Here are complete instructions for making fermented pickles in a gallon jar, with suggestions for varying both the vegetables and the aromatic ingredients.

Technological Challenges of Off-Grid Homestead Living, Part 4: Food

This is part four in a series of articles on how I made the transition to off grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable techniques practiced for thousands of years. 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.

Harvest Your Mistakes

Considering five lessons learned in the garden this year - mini-cloches, cover crops, etc.

10 Tips for Better Roasted Root Vegetables

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.

Technological Challenges of Off-Grid Homestead Living, Part 3: Water

This is part three in a series of articles on how I made the transition to off grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable techniques practiced for thousands of years. 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.

Unplugging to Reconnect: Homesteading and the Kids' Higher Education, Part 1

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.

Technological Challenges of Off-Grid Homestead Living, Part 2: Electricity

This is Part 2 in a series of articles 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. The author is currently entering the first winter of full-time off-grid living at his mountain homestead after completing the construction of a small house.

Fermented Kale Tips and a Recipe for Kale Kimchi

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.

Know Your Egg Shed, Part 1

An egg shed could be defined as: the eggs produced within a certain distance that go to a specific place. That place could be your kitchen. In chicken-friendly, local food-supportive, low carbon-footprint communities, backyard flocks and small family farms produce eggs. The takeaway message is that egg shed needs for a family, or a community, are relatively easy to meet. A household or a community can somewhat easily be protein self-sufficient.

How We Became Caretakers of a Historic Appalachian Homestead

As part of their Americorps positions at Big Laurel in West Virginia, for the next 11 months, the author and her husband will be living in and maintaining an historic homestead, working in the local schools as teacher aids, and doing whatever they can on the premises of Big Laurel to help further its mission as an Appalachian ecological learning and retreat center.

Technological Challenges of Off-Grid Homestead Living, Part 1: Resources

This is the first of a series of articles on how I made the transition to off-grid homestead living by combining appropriate modern technology and reliable old-school 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 home.

Simple Bean Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Squash Recipe

Pressure cooking is a quick, healthy and efficient way to cook a myriad of dishes. In this recipe from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Topeka, Kan., vegan cookbook author Jill Nussinow introduces a simple bean chili recipe that includes nutritious fall favorites, sweet potatoes and squash.

Things Get Easier One Step at a Time

Dream big, build a small house or make home improvements, and enjoy the benefit of every task when you tap into your Zen of Building.

Fall and Winter Crops

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.

Lacto-Fermented Pickled Peppers Recipe

Instructions for lacto-fermenting hot peppers into delicious pickles. These tips will help turn your peppers, whatever the variety, into pickled peppers.

Organizing a Neighborhood Permaculture Convergence, Part 2

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.”

Vegetable Quiche Recipe from Leanne Brown’s 'Good and Cheap'

"Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day" is a cookbook demonstrating why having kitchen skills, not budget, is the key to great food. "Good and Cheap" is not a challenge to live on so little — it’s a resource for those who face this reality, or anyone in need of stretching a tight budget.

Step-By-Step Construction for Owner-Built Small Homes

Estimating the work load and minimizing re-work is the key to happy owner-builders of small homes. The basic steps are similar wither you build a straw-bale, stick-frame, or masonry structure, all must be completed within the relatively short building season.

‘Court of Two Sisters’ Eggplant Casserole Recipe

Twenty-five years ago, my daughter and I treated ourselves to New Orleans' famous Jazz Brunch at the Court of Two Sisters. One dish impressed me so much, I begged for the recipe. Our server took my plea to the kitchen and the chef actually sent down a copy! I have made some minor changes and offer it here that you, too, can enjoy this comforting eggplant dish.

Dehydrating Blueberries

The author tells how to dehydrate and use blueberries for delicious cooking and for snacks, such as in smoothies, muffins or even as flavoring for frostings. You can use an electric dehydrator or air-dry blueberries. Learn how fun and easy it is to do.

Cultivating Communities through School Gardens

As an educator and ecologist, I am learning from my students that the most important survival ingredient may actually be a sense of community. Grow Your Own! was born in 2012 to address a problem: Local teachers and parents were building school gardens that were lying empty from disuse. The mission of GYO! thus became support for school gardens and their leaders through guidance, curriculum, and resources to foster gardens that were at the same time beautiful, educational, and functional.

Cows Without Legs, Part 2: Forage Management

Here is the second half of my strangely-titled discourse on grass cattle management. I have come to the conclusion that on a correctly managed enterprise, cattle should appear not to have legs (hidden within tall grasses). In Part 1, I discussed the animal side of this philosophy. Now I’ll continue with the forage aspect of it.

How to Find the Right-Sized Town for You

The first question on the path to creating a sustainable homestead is: Where should I live? Find out how population and topography characterize a town and use a simple method to map your region and locate and research the right-sized town for your home.

Quick Visual Guide to Vegetable Fermentation Questions

Fermentation goes against many rules that we have grown up with — don’t eat food from a can with a dented lid, that is frothing, or that has a bit of mold on top. Here is a a quick visual guide to common fermentation sights — but I don’t want to call it troubleshooting because often these things that look wrong are in fact fine.

13 Signs You May Be an Urban Farmer

When I first started gardening in this place, I was surveying my four by ten raised bed of greens with pride one afternoon. “You really are a farmer, not a gardener,” a friend observed. Take this short quiz to see if you are a gardener or have slid into the realm of "urban farmer."

Plant Flowers to Attract Beneficial Pollinators

As my awareness of beneficial insects has grown, I find that it is getting easier to farm. It has become my second nature to consider and provide a place for them to live, eat, and raise a family year round. This practice is not only the right thing to do for the future of all, but it totally impacts my business bottom line for the good.

Livable Space Design for Tiny Homes

Designing a tiny home can seem like a Rubik’s cube challenge—finding ways to shift things around when needed and out-of-the-way when done. Find out how to integrate inside/outside rooms, single/multiple rooms, and built-ins and fold-outs into your tiny house design; plus learn about the “14 Basic Requirements of a Livable Home.”

Home-Canned Chicken and Ways to Use It, Part 2

This is Part 2 of a blog series for how to can chicken. It includes great ideas for meals using canned chicken. All of these meals can be made with either home-canned or store-bought canned chicken, but the most satisfying is the meals you make with foods you have had a hand in preserving and preparing, as far back up the chain as you are able to go.

Minto Island Growers Seek Balance As Their Farm Expands, Part 2

Elizabeth Miller and Chris Jenkins have turned Minto Island Growers into a multifaceted farm that features a tea plantation, vegetable CSA, u-pick berries, food cart, farm stand, and more. Now they’re finding that growth brings many new challenges.

Drying Herbs to Savor the Flavor

There are so many ways to dry herbs: in an oven on low heat, in a dehydrator, in the sun. However, overr time under well ventilated conditions, herbs will dry all by themselves with no additional encouragement.

Fermented Peach Vinegar

Making fermented fruit vinegars at home is a simple, fun, and delicious project.

Minto Island Growers Seek Balance As Their Farm Expands, Part 1

Elizabeth Miller and Chris Jenkins have turned Minto Island Growers into a multifaceted farm that features a tea plantation, vegetable CSA, u-pick berries, food cart, farm stand, and more. Now they’re finding that growth brings many new challenges.

Home-Canned Chicken and Ways to Use It, Part 1

The author tells how to can chicken at home, and gives some ideas on meals to make with it. Last year, the author raised and butchered 75 chickens. But when you stare at more than 70 quarts of chicken in the pantry you start wishing you had more ideas for using canned chicken.

Working with the Polyface Eggmobile

Tim Rohrer, a Polyface Apprentice, talks about his interaction with the Polyface Eggmobile. Here, Tim speaks about his perspective on one of the Polyface centerpieces.

Organizing a Neighborhood Permaculture Convergence, Part 1

The 2015 Northwest Permaculture Convergence will be held in a suburban neighborhood for the first time. Also for the first time, outreach to the general public is a core part of this convergence with site tours and educational Expo, free and open to the public.

Wild Sauerkraut Recipe

Capturing flavor and the nutritional energy of foraged edibles through fermentation—one universal wild edibles sauerkraut recipe with unlimited options.

Dehydrate Potatoes for Various Uses

A potato can be sliced, diced, shredded, cooked, or uncooked for dehydrating. If you know how you plan to use them in a future use, you can customize how you prepare potatoes for dehydrating.

If a Chicken Never ...

If a chicken never sees the sun, never gets to hunt for food in thick grass, never gets to take a dirt bath with her friends, never gets to flirt with a rooster, can she lay an egg? She’ll lay something, but can you call it an egg?

5 Tips for Homestead Water Conservation

I’ve done what I can to reduce our household water usage; I am not sure how I could cut down any further and still keep my vegetable garden alive. These are the steps I have taken over the years. Use these five simple techniques to conserve water (and save money) on your homestead.

A Kansas Family’s Journey to Self-Sufficiency Begins

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!

Fermenting Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes, the young flower stems of the garlic plant, have delightful flavor and can be preserved through lactic-acid fermentation in pickles, a convenient flavor paste, or as an ingredient to kraut or kimchi.

Homegrown, Handspun Cotton Vest

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to make an article of clothing from seed to finished product? I have. Check out my homegrown, handspun, handwoven, naturally-colored cotton vest.

Working to Keep Seed Diversity in the Public Domain, Part 2

Dylana Kapuler and Mario DiBenedetto are public-domain plant breeders and seed-saving stewards. Their Corvallis, Oregon company, Peace Seedlings, is focused on continuing the work and building on the legacy of Dylana’s parents, Alan and Linda Kapuler.

How to Change Chicken Ordinances

Some communities have laws that ban keeping backyard chickens. Learn how to approach your city council to revise the rules with these tips from our readers.

Growing Up in Farm Country

HOMEGROWN Life blogger Bryce Oates reflects on how growing up in farm country impacts a student's choice for their future.

Working to Keep Seed Diversity in the Public Domain, Part 1

Dylana Kapuler and Mario DiBenedetto are public-domain plant breeders and seed-saving stewards. Their Corvallis, Oregon company, Peace Seedlings, is focused on continuing the work and building on the legacy of Dylana’s parents, Alan and Linda Kapuler.

Cubed Spring Radish Kimchi and 5 Reasons to Make It

Radishes are the red and white stars of my spring pickling classes. If you have more radishes in your garden than you can eat, or if you are just looking to try something new—I say pickle them! Not convinced? Here are five reasons radishes are to be fermented and a recipe for Spring Radish Kimchi to get you started.

How to Regrow Lettuce

Purchase romaine lettuce once, regrow it again and again! Use this simple tutorial to slash your salad bill while enjoying tasty, healthful greens.

Container Gardening to Feed Your Family

Container gardening can be a great way to feed your family healthy food right outside your door. Lyle provides specific information on varieties of vegetables and the set-up of your container gardens.

Raising Romeo: A Love Story

HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Maine dairy farmer Dyan shares a preview of her children's book about raising lambs.

The Waiting Game

Springtime on the homestead is all about timing--getting those colorful eggs into the incubator, sneaking in a crop of spinach in the high tunnel, but also being on-the-ready for lambing season!

Help Your Trees By Burning Firewood

Those who garden know that weeding is often essential to growing good vegetables or fruits. In a forest, sunlight too is a limiting factor. By knowing which tree to cut and which to leave, forest health can be improved. Cutting for firewood can serve as an incentive to "weed" on the ultra-perennial scale.

Mother Earth Embodied: Honoring Our Fertility

In this guest blog by Samantha Zipporah, full spectrum doula and holistic sexual health educator, the relationship between the natural cycles of the earth and the woman are poetically explored.

Neighbors Work Together on the Suburban Frontier

Greening our homes, neighborhoods and communities depends on friends and neighbors working together. This blog will show and tell several examples of friends and neighbors greening the neighborhood.

Growing Rice in the Home Garden

Rice is the quintessential food plant around the world and it provides a significant amount of brown biomass for composting. Growing rice in the garden can be help you achieve food security but you need to pick the right variety for your region. There are a couple of important sub-categories of rice that need to be taken into consideration. Rice is either an upland type with a greater tolerance to dryer and cooler conditions or it is a lowland “paddy” type.

Planning a Baby Food Garden

HOMEGROWN Life blogger and pregnant Pennsylvania mama Michelle (Congrats, Michelle!) shares her plans for planting a baby food garden, including her entire seed order.

Keep Track of Crop Rotation (Video)

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.

Why I Use a Chicken Tractor

Chicken tractors, which sit directly on garden beds during fallow times, maintain soil, reduce insect pests and even provide fresh eggs.

Pickled Apples Will Be Your New Favorite Food

Most of us grew up with pickled cucumbers, and possibly with beets or onions – but in other eras or parts of the world, humans pickled a much greater variety of foods, including mushrooms, meats, and fruits. Some cookbooks from the 1800s carried recipes for pickling apples, and old radio programs from the Depression promoted it as a cheap and delicious way to get vitamins all year.

Belly Dancing Through Pregnancy

She had ballet under her belt with her first birth and has turned to belly dance with the birth of her second. In a conversation with Jamie Rose Lyle, who dances with Gypsy Heart Tribal Belly Dance, she tells us about the birth of her first child and how she thinks belly dancing will change the birth of her second.

Water Catchment on the Suburban Frontier

Catching and storing rainwater is one of the most important tasks on the suburban frontier for "green preparedness." It's a great way to build "home economics" and connect more closely with taking care of basic needs.

Why a Farmer Stars in My Response to Fifty Shades of Grey with Recipe

A forty-something woman stumbles into a booth at a farmer's market, looks up, and sees a handsome farmer. You may know that the blockbuster Fifty Shades of Grey also begins with a tumble and winds up with love. It's no coincidence: my book Fifty Weeks of Green is a comic response to Fifty Shades that celebrates sustainable living.

Invest in Regular Family Dinners (With Recipe)

Gather your extended family around the table to share home-cooked, healthy meals on a regular basis. Reap the rewards of laughter, pleasure, and deepening relationships for very little money. Get started with my recipe for Beans with Caramelized Onions and Carrots. Ten servings cost about ten dollars using organic, heirloom beans and about seven dollars using pinto beans.

Shaking Off a DIY Fail

Homegrown.org's Amanda Hoover shakes off a DIY fail — an attempt at homemade natural food coloring — and holds her head high.

Deciding Which Seeds to Order

Homegrown.org blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel of Dog Island Farm shares tips for deciding which seeds to order — in other words, which vegetable varieties to grow.

Dried and Everlasting Flowers

Choosing, growing, and drying everlasting or dried flowers for beauty that can be enjoyed for seasons to come.

How Many Eggs Can a Chicken Lay?

Just how many eggs can a chicken lay? The answer depends on several factors. Learn which choices you make can affect your hens’ egg production.

Ideas to Strengthen Your Farmers Market or Help Get One Started

Farmers markets are becoming more common every day, but many fail after a year or so, and others are having trouble getting off the ground. Here are a few ideas from a couple of long-time Oregon farmers market pros that might help keep your market going strong.

The Problem with Pedestals

West Missouri farmer Bryce Oates explains why he has a problem with putting farmers, among others, on pedestals.

Transforming a Suburban Property: Removing a Driveway

Taking out a driveway and reclaiming automobile space can be one of the most rewarding projects on the suburban frontier. Replacing it with a walnut tree, blackberries and a storage shed with edible landscaping over the roof is even better.

Worms Eat My Poop: Building a Vermiculture Compost Toilet

A simple, low maintenance compost toilet that makes instant fertilizer by separating solids (worm food) from liquids (fertilizer, ready-to-use). Two chambers allows one to compost while you make deposits in the the other.

A Great Herdswoman's Legacy Lives On

Homegrown.org blogger Dyan Redick of Bittersweet Farm honors - and helps keep alive - the legacy of fellow Maine goat herdswoman Pixie Day.

Listing Of Most-Nutritious Vegetables And Fruits

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.

Getting to Know the Farmers at Winter Green Farm, Part 2

The six owners of Oregon’s Winter Green Farm have effectively navigated the journey from homestead to successful biodynamic farm. This profile of Winter Green Farm has been excerpted from "Planting A Future: Profiles from Oregon’s New Farm Movement."

Unplugging to Reconnect: A Journey Toward Full-Time Homesteading - Finances, Part 2

Welcome back to "Unplugging to Reconnect." In this post, we continue to explore key financial considerations of people who decide to move toward a full-time homesteading or farming lifestyle, all based on the accounts of those who have gone before us and as personally executed in my family's ongoing transition. The specific focus of this entry is on the need for flexible income streams, particularly ones that offer money-saving benefits in addition to pay, while in between the old and new lifestyles.

Seed Catalogs

Four questions I ask of new varieties, before ordering seeds.

So, You Want to Be a Beekeeper?

Don't wait if you plan to start beekeeping this year. If you want to be a beekeeper, now is the time and this blog post will provide you with information to prepare for the coming season.

Getting to Know the Farmers at Winter Green Farm, Part 1

Originally founded as a homestead in 1980 by Jack Gray and Mary Jo Wade, Winter Green Farm has grown to become a successful biodynamic farm in Oregon’s southern Willamette Valley. This profile of Winter Green Farm has been excerpted from "Planting A Future: Profiles from Oregon’s New Farm Movement."

Winter Vegetables in Your Hoop House

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.

A Beekeeper's Short Story

A beekeeper, acting as the Guardian, discovers a hive that appears to have been frozen in early spring and then sees it come back to life before his very eyes. This beekeeping short story may surprise you, too.

Transforming A Suburban Property: Early Projects

Transforming this suburban property has been one of the most satisfying and creative adventures in my life. No need to go anywhere. Making big changes was the plan from the beginning, 15 years ago, when I bought this quarter-acre property with a modest 1,100-square-foot mid-fifties suburban house. If I reincarnated as a house and suburban property, this would be it.

Cows Without Legs, Part 1: Choosing Genetics and Management for Pastured Beef Production

All the principles of sustainable grazing management can be summarized in one rather strange statement: your cattle should appear not to have legs! Their short legs should be hidden in tall grass. Both animal genetics and pasture management contribute to this philosophy. In this article, I’ll start with cattle selection and care protocols. In Part 2, I will cover forage considerations.

A Personal Perspective on Oregon's Sustainable Farm Movement

John Clark Vincent excerpts from his book Planting A Future: Profiles from Oregon’s New Farm Movement and shares information about new developments in sustainable farming practices coming out of the state of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. His interests range from seeds to slow food and include pretty much everything in between the two as they relate to Oregon’s sustainable farm movement.

Comparing Commercial and Locally Produced Raw Honey

What could be lurking in the commercial honey you buy? Maybe it’s not honey at all, and would you think honey is healthy if you knew it contained corn syrup? Let’s talk about how commercial honey is produced and why you might want to find a local source for raw honey.

Hatching Eggs in the Wintertime

Hatching eggs in the wintertime presents many challenges. Here are a few things you should take into consideration before hatching during the most bitter months of the year.

Spoon Carving from Green Wood

Spoon carving is good practice for hatchet and knife skills, and a spoon is a beautiful sculpture that feeds more than one hunger!

How to Store Carrots Under Straw for Winter

Not being a fan of frozen or canned carrots, I began to wonder how to store carrots under straw for winter to enjoy organic carrots throughout the winter. Living in Central Oregon where beach sand is not at the hand, I gathered garden straw from a local farmer. It is important that you know that straw for the garden has not come from crops treated with herbicides to control broad-leafed weeds.

Top 10 Comments from Home-Birth Mothers

In listening to the stories of mothers who have chosen home birth, the same sentiments are heard again and again. Here is what they have to say in their own words.

A Great-Grandmother's Onion-Celery Dressing Recipe

Some of the best recipes are never written down. Thankfully, Rachel's mom recently transcribed her own grandmother's onion-celery dressing recipe. Lucky for us, Rachel shares it here. Pass it along!

Winter Solstice

Everything pauses during the time around the winter solstice.

How to Extract Seeds

How to effectively remove seeds from vegetables, fruits, flowers or herbs isn’t always obvious. Or easy. Sometimes you have to get creative.

How to Build a Low-Cost DIY Yurt from Sticks, String and Mud

This variation on the (endlessly adaptable) traditional Mongolian yurt design was inspired by the work of master yurt builder, educator, and homesteader Bill Coperthwaite (who was also a neighbor and friend of the Nearings). This low-cost yurt design combines basketry, wattle and daub, and basic lashing (similar to skin-on-frame boats). Not much more than a glorified tent, this DIY yurt made from sticks, string and mud makes a very comfortable, durable and beautiful tiny house, studio, or meditation space.

Suburban Permaculture Transforms Neighborhoods

“You don't have to move to live in a better neighborhood.” Half of all Americans live in suburbia. It’s true that suburbia is on the receiving end of a lot of social, economic and environmental criticism with much of that criticism well deserved. While some of these criticisms may be justified, at the same time, suburbia offers enormous potential to become a critical new frontier for deep changes in our culture and economy through principles of suburban permaculture.

An Early Thanksgiving

When her parents fall ill, Michelle takes a step back to care for them, to take stock of all she has learned from them, and to observe an early Thanksgiving.

Brownie the Milking Angus

I can hear it now: “What the devil? Angus? They are not milk cows!” Well, it all got started when the neighbor purchased four, what he was led to believe were, Black Angus calves from someone in a valley some distance from us. But the udders on these two cows were huge! They clearly had more milk than the calves could handle.

The Larder

Winter food storage in a naturally cooled space.

Biogas at Home

Renewable energy's ugly duckling comes of age.

How to Make Biogas in 5 Easy Steps

This article does not get into home biogas gas yields or what biogas can be used for, but it is a basic introduction to the five necessary conditions for how to make biogas at home to get you started.

Onions: Everything You Need To Know to Grow 'Em

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!

Late-Season Garden Vegetables

Keep those vegetable plants growing for a second harvest late in the year. Organically-grown, heirloom varieties will survive with a little help.

MAX Car 109: Reducing Rolling Resistance

MAX isn't just streamlined - MAX has its rolling resistance down to a minimum too, thanks to low-drag tires and lubricants. Here's a video to show how much it matters.

New Garden in the High Desert

Moving to a different climate and gardening zone can be a challenge, especially in the high desert. The best approach is to start small and add plenty of organic material.

Building Biology: Creating a Healthy Indoor Climate

There is an ideal relative humidity range for our health and that is somewhere between 35% and 55%. In modern life we have introduced many new sources of moisture into our homes. Daily showers, laundry, cooking and dishwashing tend to create concentrated bursts of humidity. Because conventional construction can tolerate very little increase in humidity without condensation/mold problems moisture from these sources must be mechanically sucked out of the home.

Discovering Dancing for Birth

A few words describing how I came to Dancing for Birth and why I believe every woman should dance through her birth.

How to Grow and Use Heirloom Ground Cherries

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.

Folk Medicine Book Advocates Honey and Vinegar

"Folk Medicine" by D.C. Jarvis, M.D., written in 1958, explains how humans would do well to watch animals that know instinctively how to stay healthy. Jarvis advises drinking raw honey and apple cider vinegar for good health and vigor.

The Chickens Have a Sleepover

Homesteader Cam Mather describes integrating new backyard chickens into his existing flock and the wonderful life his "ladies" lead.

Lessons from the Mother Earth News Fair

At the Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, Wash, I listened to lecturers cover topics from re-newable energy, small-scale farming, green building, organic gardening, simple living, and citizen solidarity building. While I listened, I pondered ways to weave these powerful themes into our children's lives.

Coming Home To Nature

Connecting deeply to place is crucial, explains bioregionalist Jesse Wolf Hardin, in this new series about reinhabiting the living land.

Complete Biogas: Food Waste and Biogas, Part 1

There’s a gold mine out back of your local restaurant in the form of wasted food. Learn to think like an ecologist and discover how nature turns “waste” into useable, renewable energy.

Steadfast Garlic

Garlic is resilient, easy-to-grow, highly nutritious, and a natural antibiotic.

Lithuanian Radishes

A Lithuanian farmers market seller displays sculpted red radishes with faces!

My Breastfeeding Relationship with My Kids

In honor of World Breastfeeding Month, this momma shares Part 1 of her relationship with breastfeeding including her beastfeeding timelines for each child and her variety of pumping locations.

Buildings that Pass the Test of Time

Building Biology advises us to look for a successful history of use when choosing building materials but in our ever changing product-based building environment we seldom have the luxury of evaluating track record. This becomes quickly apparent when vetting new products for client’s homes. I recently called a major manufacturer to find out what was in a new product developed to prevent mold growth on framing lumber.

A Granola Recipe to Feed the Masses

Going camping, hiking, or canoeing this summer? HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel shares a big-batch granola recipe that will feed your entire group—or one hungry teen.

Farmers Swim, Too

HOMEGROWN Life blogger and West Missourian Bryce Oates explains how he and his family survive summer on the farm. Two words: swimming pool.

Potato Independence: Finding Potato Varieties that Work

Maybe it is my Irish roots, maybe my working class dinner background of meat, potatoes, and frozen veggies, or maybe it is just the gorgeous variety of shapes and colors that emerge from the ground like buried treasure in early August, but I love growing our own potatoes.

Easy Ways To Make a New Vegetable Garden

Starting a new vegetable garden bed doesn't have to be a long, tedious, back breaking job. There are a few different ways to get the job done quickly and relatively easily!

Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training

The true essence of Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training and Archi’s Acres is about lending a helping hand and empowering veterans to create a sustainable positive future through agribusiness.

My Goats Have Green Thumbs

HOMEGROWN.org blogger and Bay Area homesteader Rachel of Dog Island Farm says keeping animals in the garden improves her soil and fights weeds and pests.

Uncovering My New Homestead's Old Secrets

When HOMEGROWN Life blogger and Pennsylvania mama Michelle Wire discovered a hidden treasure on her property, she found a new appreciation for her home along with it.