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.

Cookies from the Toaster Oven

My little toaster oven does a great job baking eight or 10 cookies, uses very little electricity itself, doesn’t heat up the kitchen, and saves the air conditioning. The variety is endless — see some flavor ideas below. Start with the basic dough and add to it, such as for these Toasted Almond Cookies. They’re buttery, tender, melt-in-your-mouth cookies.

Install a Solar Gate Opener to Save Energy and Money

An automatic gate opener is a great example of how simple and convenient it can be to use solar panels to power all of its tools and equipment. You can also get a 30% federal residential tax credit toward the cost of a new solar powered gate opener, accessories and installation, as long as you do it before December of this year.

Have Seed Libraries Gone Mainstream?

Just a few years ago, it seemed like seed libraries were being legislated out of existence. Now they are popping up everywhere. Here's the story of my local seed libraries and how I've been involved.

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.

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.

Seed Saving: Fun, Easy and a Cost Saver

The seeds you save from your favorite or best producing plants will with each season become even more adapted to your garden, growing more robust for your specific conditions with each passing year. It is super simple to do and a great cost saver, too.

Cork the Caulk

Did you know that every caulking tube comes with a cork? Save money by sealing your caulking between projects with this simple hack.

Planning for Seed Saving

When you save your own seeds,you choose what characteristics you want to preserve by your careful selections. Seed saving is an adventure waiting to happen in your own garden.

'Seed Libraries' Is Here

Imagine if you had one source to refer to with the basics of starting and maintaining a seed library to use with your seed-saving partners. "Seed Libraries: And Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People" is that source! It will provide you background about the seed library movement and help you establish your own seed sharing initiative.

How to Join the Seed-Sharing Movement

Seed sharing has come under attack and seed libraries across the country are being threatened with extinction. Here are nine ways to join the movement to keep seed sharing legal and free.

The Story of Seed, Part 1: An Introduction to Seed Saving

The first of 12 posts, seed saving begins with an introduction to the stories behind seeds and why they are so important. From preserving our shared botanical heritage to protecting a diverse and decentralized food supply, the story of seed is as varied as the people who plant them.

'Seed Libraries' Coming Soon

Seed libraries are seed sharing programs designed to promote local seed growing and sharing, leading to resilient communities. Learn about how to establish such a program and other ways to celebrate seeds in the soon-to-be published book, 'Seed Libraries and Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People,' by Cindy Conner.

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.

Seed School

The most basic part of food is the seed. Learn to grow and save your own. You can do this at home, but if you want to further hone your skills, attend Seed School.

Seed Saving and Line Breeding: Preparing for Climate Change

Climate change is a sign of the end of the industrial age. If humans are going to survive the end of the industrial age it will be because individuals and groups of neighbors take these matters into their own hands. It cannot happen any other way.

How to Save Seeds From Peppers

Saving seeds from peppers is easy. All you need is a pot of water, a drying screen, and peppers. And gloves if you're processing hot peppers...

Steadfast Garlic

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

Seed Libraries: Challenges and Opportunities

Seed libraries are meeting new challenges that point to the need for better education and understanding with the public, and with those charged with enforcing seed laws. Learn about the opportunities that are open in this evolving social movement.

How to Save Seeds From Dry-Seeded Crops

How you harvest and save seeds depends on whether a crop is dry-seeded or wet-seeded. Here are the steps for collecting and cleaning seed from a dry-seeded crop like chervil.

Subsistence Farming in Romania

While the grinding work of a Romanian subsistence farm isn’t anything that I would choose for myself, there are aspects of the life that are attractive. In particular, the practices that I think of as the circles of life — eating food one has grown oneself, saving seeds, feeding poultry with garden scraps, and then eating their eggs (or them), and preserving a fruit harvest to cement friendships with strangers.

Seed Cleaning Screens

Cleaning the chaff from the seeds you want to save can be done with screens of different sizes. There are options for all budgets, including using the strainers and colanders you already have in your kitchen.

Sales and Seed Banks

How to get a vegetable garden on the cheap with low-cost starts and (almost)free seeds.

Lessons Learned On a Seed Farm

Achieving real food independence means gaining the knowledge and skills to grow, harvest and store food. The best way to do this is working on a small, local farm.

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!

Start a Seed Library

A seed library is a place to get free seeds to grow out and donate back. It is a means of keeping seeds in the hands of the people and out of corporate control. Learn how to begin to start a seed library in your community.

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.

Guard Your Groundwater

Protect our water supplies during National Groundwater Awareness Week by saving water at home.

Lighten Up (and Save)

Fall is a great time to replace traditional light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs. Save up to $50 per year.

Save Your Seeds

Want to grow and save your own vegetable seeds? Meet Fruition Seeds. They produce regionally-adapted, organically-grown seeds. And they can show you how to do it too.

Coösauke Kale

The process of saving seed for next year begins while the growing season is still going strong

Why You Should Save Seeds

Reasons why you should save seeds from the vegetables in your garden from year to year.

30 Steps to Energy Efficiency - Step 12: Check Your Windows for Drafts

Did you know that heat transfer through windows can account for up to 25 percent of your energy bill by allowing heat out during the winter, and makes your air conditioner work overtime to combat the sun’s warming? Drafts and leaks can be the biggest culprit of energy waste but can also be fixed with relatively little effort.

Seed Libraries

A description of what a seed library is and suggestions for why you might want to be involved with one. Links are included for more information.

Energy Saving Window Film Could Save Tons of Oil

The International Window Film Association says older dwellings can reduce energy use with energy saving window film, which was recently voted into the new California building energy codes.

Heirloom Vegetables: Saving Seed

Heirloom vegetables are multi-use crops that have been passed down from gardeners for decades, sometimes centuries. Respected author and gardener, William Woys Weaver, discusses his reasons for using heirloom plants and saving seed.

Ways to Conserve Water in Your Home and Garden

More than 15 tips for saving water inside your home and outside in your yard and garden. Reducing your water use will not only lower your water bills and help prevent water shortages during drought periods in your area. It also...

Ragweed Wineberry Stir Fry

A report on the potato onion taste test and some details on the annual tomato harvest and storage methods along with digging up ragweed plants.

Seed Savers Exchange Conference and Campout: A Photo Review

The 32nd Annual Seed Savers Exchange Conference and Campout featured many hands-on learning activities, tours of the gorgeous Heritage Farm grounds and an insider look into the organization's seed-saving efforts and current projects.

Fun with PWM (Pulse Width Modulation)

Can party technology teach you about energy savings and even the theory behind electric cars? It sure can if you follow this simple video tutorial on pulse width modulation.

The New Beekeeper

Over the last 2 decades BeeWeaver has seen change in who keeps bees, and why they keep bees. The journey of the last 20 years has not been easy for the bees but the efforts of these New Beekeepers will keep the amazing honeybee a part of our word.

The Art of Saving Heirloom Vegetable Seeds

Heirloom Vegetable Gardening (1997) by Willam Woys Weaver profiles 280 heirloom varieties, with growing advice and recipes. This introdution is the beginning of a series of excerpts to be posted from Weaver’s book to walk gardeners through sowing, cooking recipes at harvest and saving heirloom seeds through the winter.   

Easy Ways to Save Money

Do easy ways to save money exist? Absolutely! Blissful saving is only a trip to the bulk section away! When you get home from the store, keep track of your finances on Mint.com; then look for Groupon's daily deal. Search the house for unused items and sell them on eBay. Use these tips to start saving today!

Use a Digital Tire Gauge to Get Better Gas Mileage

Use a digital tire gauge and learn how to check tire pressure regularly to get better gas mileage. While other types of gauges exist, the digital tire pressure gauge is an accurate and simple way to keep your tires properly inflated. Read this digital tire gauge review to see what digital tire pressure checkers you can buy.

Woodstove Air Supply

Woodstoves can have indoor or outdoor air supplies depending on factors and requirements for the building.

Become More Self-Sufficient by Saving Seeds

Learning to save seeds from one harvest to the next takes you a step further towards self-sufficiency and helps to save genetics of plants needed for the future.

Barn Cats Transform Barns into Houses

Saving the Barn’s Barn Cats is proud to announce it’s branching out with a new line of structures constructed of historic recycled materials.