Local Growing, Local Eating

Growing our own vegetables means a fundamental shift in our eating patterns as we strive to consume only locally grown produce, beans, and grains.

Fresh Produce Storage Tips for Peppers, Lettuce, Tomatoes, and More

Fresh produce is one of the cornerstones of healthy diet, and each season brings its own cornucopia of fruits and vegetables into supermarket aisles, farmers’ markets and, of course, backyard gardens. But how do you make the best of your garden harvest (or even supermarket harvest) to extend its shelf life?

Using Poultry in the Garden

If you think that poultry will only bring eggs and meat to your homestead, think again! Most birds bring some incredibly helpful personalities to your garden as well as your farm. With a little bit of strategizing you can learn how to best use chickens, ducks, geese, and more to help combat bugs and keep your soil fertile.

How to Make City Streets More Friendly

Laughter, lively music and lip-smacking appreciation of food from many cultures animates St. Anthony Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota, as a crowd whoops it up at the Better Bridges Bash. Even chilly temperatures and gusty winds can’t dampen folks’ enthusiasm — nor does the unpromising location right next to the roaring traffic on the I-94 freeway. That’s the point of the event: to better connect neighborhoods on either side of the freeway by improving the bridges and to explore ways to make the area more friendly to people when they are not in cars.

Cover Crops: Better Soil in a Month

Cover crops or green manures have improved soil for thousands of years. We look at what one month of growth provides in an average raised bed.

Know Your DIY Limits: Safety on the Homestead

Not everyone who has the time and inclination for DIY projects should necessarily engage in such endeavors on every level. Some completed self-done projects have function and form, some exhibit neither, and some are outright dangerous. Knowing your limits and when to trade your skills and products for those of others is a fundamental safety issue on a homestead. Sustainability, stewardship, and homesteading are much more than DIY.

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.

The ABCs of Homesteading: H is for 'Horticulture'

This is the sixth blog post in an alphabetically organized introduction to homesteading. It covers an understanding of what horticulture is and why it is important to homesteading. You'll find reading recommendations, information on plant selection, garden planning, plant propagation, seed saving, and food security.

Mullein: A Common Medicinal for Home Remedies

Cowboy’s Toilet Paper, Our Lady’s Candle, Bunny’s Ear, Beggar’s Blanket, & Quaker’s Rouge are just a few nicknames for Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus), a member of the snapdragon family. You will find this fuzzy, biennial plant growing on roadsides and in areas that have been disturbed in almost every state. A pioneer plant, it grows well in any type of soil, enhancing the soil as it grows (nitrogen fixer) which means it is a great plant to keep on your permaculture property for more than just an herbal remedy (or toilet paper emergency).

How My Husband and I Went From Corporate Drones to Tropical Organic Farmers in Puerto Rico

Learn what the catalyst was behind the huge leap from corporate drones to becoming organic farmers in Puerto Rico — despite knowing nothing about farming, not speaking the language and knowing only a handful of people. Although family and friends thought we were crazy, it was the sanest decision we ever made, and we couldn’t be happier with the way our life has turned out. Amid animals being dropped off to us, frequent power and water outages, and being separated from our family, we are truly happy for the first time in our lives.

Locavores (Eating Local Food) and Preparedness

Here are The Prepared Homestead‘s top 5 reasons to become a locavore. By the way, you don’t need to join groups or pay membership fees to become a locavore, you can just do it. Now. Today. You can also call it whatever you like.

Meet Delilah, Our Black-Mouth Cur Guardian Dog

The Black Mouth Cur mountain dog is not one of the more popular breeds in the homesteading community, and yet, it used to be one of the most popular homestead dogs around. Let me introduce you to our new pup, Delilah, the Black-Mouth Cur, and tell you about the amazing abilities and history of this homestead dog breed.

Building with Physical Limitations

Living with injury is a constant struggle for everyone, especially someone aiming to homestead. Even a simple thing such as getting a sack of chicken feed out of the car can be a problem, and we often ask a neighbor for help with that. Here is what to do when health issues interfere with building the home of your dreams.

Senior Homesteading: The Reality

Seniors face different challenges when homesteading than those who are younger, and so have to adjust accordingly to bring their self-sufficiency dreams to reality.

5 Easy Ways to Recycle Wooden Pallets

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.

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.

Botanical Wonders Abound in West Virginia’s ‘Cranberry Glades’

The Cranberry Glades are situated within the Monongahela National Forest, which comprises almost 1 million acres of land, making it the third largest national forest east of the Rocky Mountains. Within The Glades are many natural areas and attractions such as the “Cranberry Glades Botanical Area.” This 750-acre preserve is home to many unusual plants, and this is where you’ll find “the bogs.”

'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.

How to Grow, Harvest and Cure Garlic

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.

Renewing Old-World Skills with a Modern-Day Twist

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.

Local Herbal Remedies Using Violets, Plantain, and Dock

These three underappreciated plants deserve their time in the sun, so to speak! Let’s dive into Local First Aid, learning about the edible and medicinal uses of these common wild plants: violets, plantain, and yellow dock.

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.

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.

The Grasses are Alive and Teeming with Wildlife

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.

Gardening at High Elevation

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.

Grow Shade-Loving Vegetables and Fruits

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.

4 Reasons To Grow Hops In Your Backyard

In the case of hops, Humulus lupulus, there is too much goodness to not consider this addition to the homestead. The quick answer? Hops provide excellent shade, prolific forage for animals, superb medicinal benefits and, of course, they are great for home brewing beer and cider.

How to Warm Soil and Protect Seedlings from Frost

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.

Repel Mosquitoes with These Plants, Part 2: Thyme, Rosemary, Mint, and Lavender

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.

5 Gardening Hacks for Sowing Seeds

You reap what you sow, but sometimes what you sow refuses to cooperate. Follow these seed-sowing tips to prevent gardening disasters.

Homesteading Checklist for June: Wild Food Foraging, Berry Preservation, and More

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.

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.

How to Build Raised Beds for Next to Nothing

Building raised garden beds for your garden does not need to be expensive. Here is how I built a number of raised beds in my garden for the cost of one box of wood screws.

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."

Delayed Weeding Can Yield Garden Treasures

Selective weeding can result in finding delightfully surprising volunteers in your garden. I’m sure most of you have heard some version of the old adage, “A weed is simply any plant growing in an unwanted place.” When combined with “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” you can sometimes have eye-opening conversations (especially with neighbors).

Making 'Lemonade' from Seedling Failure

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.

Entertaining Yourself When Living Off-Grid

How do you currently fill your spare time? Is it with things that are time wasters or things that are productive? How do you entertain yourself when Living Off Grid, Really?!?!

5 Considerations for Year-Round Greenhouse Growing

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.

How to Build A Vegetable Bed Biodynamically, Part 2

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.

‘Goldenseal’ Charms and Heals in the Garden

“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.

Recycling in the Garden

There are a wide variety of ways to recycle, repurpose, reclaim, and reuse items in the garden. Blythe shares several useful tips in this blog about recreating her gourd patch for the season.

Keep Track of Your Preserving Projects with a Canning Journal

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.

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.

Homesteading and Wild Food Foraging Under the Poplar Moon: May To-Do List

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.

The Ideal Spot for a Garden

Want the money-saving and health benefits of a personal garden? Where to put it is the first question to ask. Learn the basics here.

The Importance of Community for Homesteaders

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.

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.

Ethical Questions in a Carrot Bed

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.

How To Build a Vegetable Bed Biodynamically, Part 1

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.

'Taters Gone Wild: Planting Potatoes from Sprouts

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.

Organized Community Homesteading

We thought we were doing the right thing when we moved to a remote area to live 19 years ago. The community is a landowners association with some who desire to change a beautiful remote-living area on acreage to resemble what they left. We thought living in an area with covenants and rules would protect our investment, but one should recognize that living remotely in a covenant community offers both positive and negative aspects.

Solar Backyard Chicken-Coop Building Plans

A community of smaller portable chicken coops are better than one, big, stationary one. Download building plans for a solar heated design that’s also great in hot climates.

Minimalism and the Homesteading Life, Part 2

Whenever I fancy an item for which I lack funds, I remind myself of what the item would cost in terms of that freedom. Fortunately, and perhaps because I live a joy-filled life, these material desires rarely beckon.

Working with Nature to Build Organic Soil, Part 3: Compost

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.

Brooders for Waterfowl

Find out the unique needs of ducklings and goslings and how best to care for waterfowl.

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.

Starting a Garden From Seeds

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.

Tomatoes from Seed: My 10 Most Important Seed-Starting Success Factors

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.

Minimalism and the Homesteading Life, Part 1

Our kitchen cabinets hold an array of mismatched cups and utensils and plates purchased at thrift shops or bartered with neighbors and friends. The effect is not quaint like that of a country house in a glossy magazine. Rather, it speaks the truth of its owners: people who refuse employment that chafes against ethics and spirit. People who value a frugal life.

‘Worst Walking City’ in U.S. Gets Back on its Feet

We are in the midst of a walking renaissance as millions of people discover a daily stroll can prevent disease, boost energy, ease stress, connect us with our communities, and is just plain fun. The number of us who regularly take a walk has risen six percent in the last decade. Oklahoma City is taking part to improve life for people who walk — and reaping big benefits.

Designing a Medicinal Guild

Last weekend I spent an afternoon studying different bushes, trees, and herbaceous plants in order to design the newest guild on our Permafarm.

Accidents Happen

Accidents happen that divert us from our plans. Learning ahead to be flexible can make things easier. Here is Cindy Conner's take on having a broken wrist.

Introducing the Farming With Carnivores Network

This blog post introduces you to the new educational website www.FarmingwithCarnivoresNetwork.com. It is a collaborative effort of leading farmers, experts on guardian animals and fencing, and biologists whose work focuses on carnivores. Its purpose is to help create a farming of the future by sharing knowledge and experience with each other.

Water Strategies for the Homestead

This post covers the importance of having a comprehensive water plan for your property. Most homesteaders are simply dependent on their wells, which are predicated on cheap and reliable energy. Don’t misunderstand me: I love being able to flip a switch and get light and turn on a faucet and get water — it’s wonderful! However, we need to develop a resilient water plan that accounts for potential disruption in that system but also to develop other systems to increase the fertility of the land.

Rock Polypody: One Helluva Tough Fern

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.

Create a Wildlife Condominium in Your Own Backyard

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.

Dealing With Outside Criticism as a Homesteader

Sometimes living off the land can be pretty counter-cultural. My decision to start raising meat rabbits on my homestead was met with a lot of criticism from others. Learn how homesteaders can deal with unwanted (and sometimes unwarranted) remarks.

About Livestock Guardian Dogs

Livestock Guardian Dogs, or LGDs, have been used by shepherds and farmers for centuries. Bred and trained to instinctively protect their herd from predators, LGDs are an alternative to attempting to hunt or scare off threats to your farmyard. Read on to learn the basics for how LGDs work and tips for choosing the right livestock guardian for your homestead.

Feed the Soil First

What we know about the community of life in a healthy soil is that it is wildly diverse with a broad range of species. With so many members in the community, there is an answer for every problem. Every pest has a mortal foe waiting to attack it. There might be some occasional pest damage but very rarely a complete takeover by a particular pest or disease.

Gardening While Using a Wheelchair: How One Man Recovered from Injury to Grow Again

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.

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.

Working With Nature to Build Organic Soil

Understanding a bit of the chemistry and biology behind building healthy soil allows us to work in harmony with nature to contribute to the health of our soil, plants, food and planet.

Partridge Berry as a Non-Aggressive, Pest-Resistant Groundcover

Native to 35 states and 3 provinces of Canada east of the Mississippi, Partridge Berry is rarely seen in the trade. I fail to see why, as it's very easy to propagate by rooting cuttings or from seed. In fact, it forms adventitious roots as it gently winds its way around the garden. It could never, by any stretch of the imagination, be considered aggressive or invasive.

Homestead Planning

Having a plan allows all our energy to go toward accomplishing the necessary tasks rather than having to prioritize and build objectives on a daily basis.

Here is What Happens When You Save Hybrid Seeds

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.

My 22-Bucket Yield from a 5-Hour Stint of Relaxed Composting

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.

Solemn Confession of a Rookie Off-Grid Homesteader

When we started our off grid homesteading adventure, we had all sorts of elaborate plans as to what we would accomplish our first year. Six months into our journey, it seems that we underestimated our workload, by a long shot!

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.

The Homesteader's Journey

If you have ever considered the change of lifestyle to be more self-sufficient, here are some of our thoughts and experiences from this journey.

Living Off-Grid, Really?!

Aur Beck, who has lived off-grid with solar electricity as his main power source for 18 years, shares some of his personal experiences with renewable resources throughout his life.

After the Storm, Getting Back on the Horse

Sometimes life’s events get in the way of our goals and aspirations in homesteading. This story is about how events in 2015 derailed our homestead activities and how in 2016 we’re trying to “get back on the horse”. We welcome your comments and advice.

Grow Up!: Vertical Gardening

Increase your garden’s productivity with growing vertically. Beans, peas, squash and cucumbers love vertical growth. Culinary herbs love the vertical pocket gardens.

A Gradual Wakening to Spring

Following the Wheel of the Year gives us monthly moments to celebrate. Imbolc is a reminder that half of winter is now behind us.

Goal-Setting for the Homestead, Part 2

This blog is part of a homestead goal-setting series. Goal-setting for the homestead is so crucial it can’t be overstated. There is always a gap between a dream and reality. Goals are the glue that makes those two much closer together. This iteration is how to take your major goals and get them accomplished. You must support your major goals with mid-term and short-term goals. After that, you have to make a plan to get stuff done! It is geared toward homesteading but can and should be applied to all areas of life.

7 Mad Gardening Skills

To be an avid gardener means you need to have special skills. Here's a list of 7 abilities that will take you to the next level.

Goal-Setting for the Homestead, Part 1

Goal setting for the homestead is so crucial it can’t be overstated. There is always a gap between a dream and reality. Goals are the glue that makes those two much closer together. This blog is about the nuts and bolts of goal setting. It starts with a dream, moves toward purpose and ends with goals. It is geared toward homesteading but can and should be applied to all areas of life.

Start Your Own Easy Kitchen Garden

It is easy, fun and a great time saver to have a small kitchen garden at your door. Follow these 6 steps to start your own kitchen garden this year.

Hugelkultur on Rented Land

Hugelkultur is the building of raised beds by burying wood and other organic material. Just because you are renting doesn’t mean you can’t implement one this season.

Honoring the Seasons Through Land-Based Living

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.

Make an Annual Garden Report

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.

Recycling in the Garden During the Not-So-Dead of Winter

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.

Foliar Spraying for Improved Plant Health

Increase your garden’s productivity with foliar spraying. Improve your success rate with cuttings by foliar feeding. Organic dilutions of lime juice, peppermint essential oil and kelp can each help your plant thrive. Reduce disease and pestilence by spraying weekly at sundown on your plant’s leaves and achieve larger harvests.

Let's All Start 2016 Right: 5 Resolutions for Tomato Lovers

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.

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!

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.

6 Tips for Winter Organic-Gardening Success

Follow these simple tips for winter garden success. Increase winter garden capacity and yield while protecting crops from the winter cold with these helpful organic farming tips.

Harvest Your Mistakes

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

Planting Garlic in Our Fall Front Yard Garden

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!

'Orange Jazz' is an Excellent New Beefsteak Tomato

'Orange Jazz' is a productive new tomato variety bred on Baia Nicchia Farm. It has a sweet-complex flavor, with hints of stone-fruit and unique coloration with yellow stripes over orange flesh.

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.

Mistakes to Avoid When Putting New Plastic on Your Hoophouse

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.

Planting an Herb Garden

Herbs are an easy way to start gardening or expand your current gardens. The benefits are countless, including helping your health, adding spice to your recipes, and adding beauty to your garden.

Grow Native, Shade-Loving, Large-Flowered Bellwort in the Garden

The emergence of the long-lasting flowers of 'Uvularia grandiflora' is something I really anticipate every spring. And every spring, my robust stand of ‘Large-Flowered Bellwort’ slowly opens their large, pendulous, bright golden yellow flowers that resemble inverted flowing candle flames. Learn how to grow and where to find this ornamental native flower.

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.”

6 Low-Maintenance Gardening Ideas

Gardening is often hard work and often costly, but it doesn't always have to be. Here are some low maintenance techniques to help you garden smarter, not harder.

Plan for Cotton and Flax in Your Garden

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.

‘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.

How and When to String-Weave Tomatoes (with Video)

String weaving is a good method for training and supporting long rows of tomato plants. Plan now for next year’s crop. All you need is a simple handmade tool, stakes and twine. The winter storage space for the equipment is much smaller than with other support systems.

How to Sheet Mulch to Improve Your Yields

Sheet mulch fosters soil life, reduces weeds and feeds the soil. By sheet mulching you will reduce ongoing weeding and free up more time to make your garden more productive.

An Heirloom Sicilian Kitchen Garden

My grandfather emigrated from Sicily and loved to cook. A recent trip back to the island by my mom, sister and cousin triggered a desire for me to learn what would be in a typical kitchen Sicilian garden. Much research later, this is what a heirloom "l’orto biologico" you would see growing in Sicily at the time my grandfather left his homeland for America in the early 1900s and is being brought back to life through efforts like the Slow Foods organization today.

Plant Garlic This Fall

As your summer crops wane, no doubt you are planting cover crops in their space, but leave room for garlic! Plant it this fall, mulch, and harvest in early summer.

Use the ‘Shoulders’ of the Season to Increase Farm Profits

My brother told me about breeding fruit trees in order for them to go to market both earlier and later than the main crop. He said, “The real money is made on the shoulders of the season.” But it takes some real thought and effort to bring in your crop on the shoulders of the season.

Plan Your Diet and Garden Together

Cover crops will build your soil and provide compost material. The time to plant is this fall, but you need to know what the next crop will be when deciding just which cover crop to plant where. Think through your garden plan for next year to make the best choices.

10 Reasons You Need Tasslerue in Your Garden

There are probably over 100 reasons that you should be growing shade-loving and native ‘Tasslerue’ Trautvetteria caroliniensis, but the main reason that you aren't growing it is because you've probably never heard of it, let alone had someone offer to share some with you. All that's about to change.

Traditional Medicinal Plants at Guam’s Amot Taotao Tano Farm

In the months before our move, I did extensive research to familiarize myself with gardening in Guam. I found Amot TaoTao Tano Farm and I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a free tour of the farm to learn about native plants grown to educate the public about traditional healing practices of the Chamorro people. Here I share some of what I learned.

Plant Pest-Proof, Perennial Bloodroot in Your Garden

The commonly used name for our beloved early-spring, native wildflower Sanguinaria canadensis is "bloodroot." Bloodroot was once used as a dye and as an herbal remedy by early Native Americans. Sanguinaria canadensis is native to every state in the US and to every Canadian province east of the Rockies. Consequently, it's considered hardy down to Zone 3.

Permaculture Companion Planting on Steroids

Permaculture premise is creating a self-sustaining garden that has a nurturing relationship with your yard’s environment and symbiotic relationship among the plantings.

Managing Garden Paths

If your garden is becoming a bit overwhelming this summer it might be because your paths have become overgrown with weeds. Getting (and keeping) your paths under control will make less work for you overall, and a more enjoyable experience in your garden. Here are some ideas for working with your paths.

Which Herbs Grow Best Together

Love herbs and gardening? Here are a few things you should know when it comes to companion planting and herbs.

Small Growers Offer Organic, Rare Heirloom Plants

Planting seedlings from large garden centers often delays production as plants must overcome neonicotinoid insecticides, hormones, and chemical fertilizers when planted in your garden. Learn more about the toxins used by large growers and then support small producers for a healthy garden.

‘The Tao of Vegetable Gardening’ by Carol Deppe

The Tao of Vegetable Gardening by groundbreaking garden writer Carol Deppe explores the practical methods as well as the deeper essence of gardening. She focuses on some of the most popular home garden vegetables—tomatoes, green beans, peas, and leafy greens—and through them illustrates the key principles and practices that gardeners need to know to successfully plant and grow just about any food crop.

Attract Beneficials to Your Garden

Attracting beneficial insects to your garden is easy once you follow some basic guidelines. With a few management techniques, you will have the good bugs flying into your garden to help you out.

Caretaking in Paradise

Caretaking wild places is a great way to homestead in paradise without having to afford land.

Mothering the Earth

A story about Indigenous women taking care of their land in the Pacific Northwest by restoring the native ecosystem.

‘The Wild Wisdom of Weeds’ by Katrina Blair

"The Wild Wisdom of Weeds," by wild-foods advocate and author Katrina Blair, is the only book on foraging and wild edibles to focus on thirteen weeds found all over the world, which together comprise a complete food source and extensive medical pharmacy and first-aid kit. Blair’s philosophy is sobering, realistic, and ultimately optimistic: If we can open our eyes to see the wisdom found in these weeds right under our feet, instead of trying to eradicate an “invasive,” we could potentially achieve true food security and optimal health.

Tostones Plantain Recipe

Tostones, or twice-fried plantains, are a crispy and delicious taste of the tropics.

Homestead Planning with Bonus Morel Mushroom Hunting

As one couple plans their homestead-to-be, they spend time learning the lay of their land. One happy fringe benefit: They used this time as an excuse to go morel mushroom hunting. The results of their efforts were delicious.

DIY Teacup Cactus Planter

A tiny teacup and an even tinier cactus make an adorable planter that’s easy to assemble. Small children’s toys, pebbles and other little decorative items add a whimsical touch.

What America’s Most Walkable Suburb Can Teach Towns Everywhere

Suburban life has always been synonymous with long hours in the car. That’s changing now. Arlington, Virginia, shows how feet on the street helps a community thrive. Learn about how Arlington is promoting walking through city initiatives as well as 10 more cities that are striving to make their communities more walkable.

This Year's Garden Plan

Here is what I am planning on growing this year in our garden. Some tips for how to choose what you should plant this year, customized for your space and what you like to eat.

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.

Foraging for Redbud's Flavorful Flowers

Redbud's bright pink blossoms are one of the glories of spring, but they're not just eye candy. Those lovely blossoms have a delicious flavor that is like a green bean with a lemony aftertaste.

Intercropping: Companion Planting that Really Works

Tangible benefits of companion planting come from intercropping (also known as relay planting, interplanting or undersowing), which is when one crop (or cover crop) is sown or transplanted in the spaces between the standing crop before it’s finished. Here, I write about relay planting in the early spring, particularly interplanting peas in spinach beds.

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.

March Garden Planner

March heralds the coming of spring and gardening. It is a great time to start your seeds and plants for veggies that thrive in cool temperatures.

Who Will Draw Our House Plans?

After finding some basic online building plans, the next step to getting a future home built is to find a designer to draw the house plans.

Cold-Weather Foraging for Hardy Henbit Greens

Henbit and red dead nettle are two tasty leafy greens that are available even when there is snow on the ground. Here's how to identify them in the field and use them in recipes.

Winter Bird Survival

Birds are survivors. Learn about different adaptations birds have to thrive during the dark, cold winter days. And, what you can do to support winter bird survival in your backyard.

Garden Planning for Spring 2015: Index Your Plant Choices

It’s time to start garden planning for spring 2015! An uncomplicated way of collecting and organizing your information during those long winter days is to get some index cards, scissors and tape. Cut out the plant varieties from catalogues that you find interesting, with the pertinent information tape this information to the index card to take along to the nursery come spring.

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.

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.

Organic Seed Alliance: Stewardship of Genetic Resources

If you think it's important to prevent Monsanto and other corporate giants from controlling the seed supply, you may want to consider donating to Organic Seed Alliance. Here is a short video about the work they do.

Fight Next Year's Blight Now with 5 Easy Steps

Every year gardens suffer from the "blight effect" on tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplants. If left alone, the disease can prevent plants from flowering and maturing altogether. Here are 5 easy steps I encourage everyone to take before next year's garden even begins to sprout.

Planning Yard Projects for Next Year? Begin With a YardMap

The YardMap Network is a citizen science project designed to cultivate a richer understanding of bird habitat, for both people concerned with their local environments and professional scientists. The program is housed at the Lab of Ornithology, in Ithaca, New York. We collect data by asking individuals across the country to draw maps of their backyards, parks, farms, favorite birding locations, schools, and gardens.

Eco-Friendly Gardening Tips for Any Season

This blog post explores eco-friendly gardening tips to refreshing your garden tools, furniture, accessories and outbuildings without the need to buy mass-manufactured goods or use harmful chemical treatments.

Foraging for Ginkgo Nuts

Hidden inside the stinky orange pulp of the fruits of the ginkgo tree is a delicious, pistachio colored edible seed. Here's how to identify and prepare ginkgo (without the stinky parts) by foraging for ginkgo nuts!

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.

Cover Crops and Compost Crops

Clean up your garden now and plant cover crops that will protect your garden soil through the winter and provide compost and mulch material for next year.

Time to Plant the Fall Garden

You can be harvesting from your garden all year long, including through the winter months! It's time to plant the fall garden.

September Garden Planner

End of summer is a great time to tidy garden beds and harvest herbs. Now is the time to plant your fall, winter and overwintering transplants.

Meet Lovely Rosemary

Rosemary is known as a tasty condiment, but it has also long been used as medicine, and makes for a blissful foot soak.

Summer Garden Tips

Tips for keeping your summer garden producing at top output. This is the time of year that warm season crops are at their peak. These 7 tips will give you continued bountiful harvests through the heat.

Great Ways to Increase Your Harvest

The actual footprint of a garden is only one of many factors for how much food that can be produced there. With succession planting, good soil and some planning the same garden area can produce substantially more food.

Foraging Heart-Healthy Hawthorn

Hawthorn fruits are in season in late summer and early fall. They are delicious, and also heart-healthy — eat your medicine!

Propagating Lavender

This blog takes a look at the steps taken to propagate lavender by taking cuttings.

Water-Smart Gardening

Planting a water-smart garden with native plants can help you save water when temperatures heat up.

The Versatile Onion Family

Discover how to grow various members of the onion family: bulb onions and scallions, leeks, garlic, ramps, shallots, and chives. Each one has different requirements and habits, yet all are rewarding for organic gardeners.

Design Your Own Seed-Saving Course

Interested in seed saving but worried about mistakes? Have questions about seed saving? Here’s the chance to give your input in a new seed saving class!

A Green Home Lesson for Growing Tomatoes in Drought

With the Drought Pod, the organic mass is inside the pod where it never dries out and by planting the tomatoes, or any vegetable directly beside the barrel, the plant roots can tap into the nutrients and moisture as they so choose.

June Garden Planner

June is a beautiful and bountiful time in the garden. It is also not too late to put in a garden! With a few tips, you can get the best harvest ever.

Preparing for Seed Saving at Twin Oaks Seed Farm

Twin Oaks Seed Farm’s focus has been producing seeds on contract for a handful of small seed companies. The author discusses involvement in starting a new cooperative retail seed project, Common Wealth Seed Growers.

How We Transplant Vegetable Plugs

This post will take a look at how we transplant vegetable seedlings in our certified organic greenhouses, especially tomatoes, peppers and eggplants.

May Garden Planner

May is a busy time in the garden for planting. Frost-free weather is the time to get summer veggies in their pots or garden spot.

Financial Incentives Increase Recycling Rates

Where environmental groups claim financial incentives for recycling to be a costly and unnecessary form of expenditure, we see them as the only realistic option available which actually produces the desired effect.

How Much To Grow

If you know much of each food from your garden you consume each year, you can better plan how much to grow.

Cold Weather Foraging: Birch

Birch trees are easy to identify in winter thanks to their distinctive bark, and they offer a hot drink, aromatic flour and sweet syrup to cold weather foragers.

Understanding Seed Catalogs: 15 Features to Look For

Reading between the lines of the seed catalog variety descriptions is a science and an art. How not to get carried away by all the positive exclamations and miss some basic fact that would tell you this variety is not for your farm? This post provides tips.

One of the Best Gifts for Gardeners!

A Garden Planner subscription is a budget-friendly gift that offers the satisfaction of spending the chillier chunks of the calendar plotting the bounty ahead.

Growing Pine Trees From Seed

Growing pine trees from seed will allow you to produce lots of trees very economically. Follow these instructions to propagate pine trees from seed.

Succession Planting for Space Saving and Season Extension

Even as far north as Maine I can harvest produce from March to December with parsnips to dig from under the frost in February without the use of row covers or a greenhouse. In some beds I do two or more succession plantings that together with the root cellar keeps me with fresh produce all year.

A Vision for a Better World, Part 2

For humanity to create a better world, we must address issues of economic equality and limited resources. The natural environment can recover from much damage if we gradually limit the human population and judge business success by quality rather than quantity.

A Vision for a Better World, Part 1

Humanity has the power to change and to take the actions needed to foster a healthy planet and a better standard of living for all. Choosing beauty and abundance will ensure a better future not only for humanity, but for the natural environment as well.

Planting a Fall Garden the Easy Way

Our Vegetable Garden Planner assists you in planting your fall garden by giving you planting dates specific to your location, projected harvest dates and more.

“Grow a Sustainable Diet” — the Book!

“Grow a Sustainable Diet” is an upcoming book (spring, 2014) that helps you plan what to eat and what to grow, feeding you and the Earth while maintaining a small ecological footprint.

It’s a Miracle!

I separate the fact from the fiction with use of soluble fertilizers.

Naturally Cool Cob Playhouse

If you're searching for kids' playhouse plans, look no further — this whimsical cob building provides an inexpensive child's oasis with a natural cooling system.

Pasteurize Your Own Compost

Pasteurizing your own compost can protect your new seedlings from damping-off and harmful bacteria.

Start Your Onion Seeds Today

Onions are daylight sensitive and need to have plenty of time to put on top growth before the days start to get shorter and the plant pulls its energy into the bulb. If you like to start onions from seed, don’t wait! The best time is already closing in.

From Gardener to Farmdener

I’d like to introduce the words farmden and farmdener into the English language. I wonder if there are any other farmdeners out there. And just what is a farmden? It’s more than a garden, less than a farm. That’s my definition, but it also could be described as a site with more plants and/or land than one person can care for sanely. A gardener and garden gone wild, out of control.

Cycling Tour to Benefit TREE Fund

The week-long STIHL Tour des Trees is an international cycling tour combining natural beauty, camaraderie and fundraising for the benefit of urban trees.

Seed Catalogs: Waiting for Winter to End

Sorting through seed catalogs is one of the most entertaining tasks we have here at MOTHER EARTH NEWS. These garden seed catalogs come in handy when searching for just the right variety of heirloom veggies to grow, and they're fun to look at too!

Winter Carrots

Eat carrots from your garden all winter! A little planning goes a long way toward more food with less work. Learn how to start with a winter cover crop of rye, with carrots following next in the rotation, maturing by the time the first frost.

Keeping Garden Records

Put together a notebook with your complete garden plan. Here's some tips to get you started.