3 Fertilizer Teas for Plants

If you are trying to stay away from chemical fertilizers, stack the functions of the plants and animals on your property and save money then these simple fertilizer teas are just for you. There are many different kinds of fertilizer “teas” and we will be covering three of them in this blog. We will talk about comfrey, rabbit manure and vermicompost tea!

Women Farmers Connect, Share and Grow

The strength of the sustainable and organic agriculture movement deepens and widens through the support of fellow women farmers. Create a local women farmer or homesteader network in your community to build a more vibrant local economy.

Transforming Precambrian-Shield Soil into Rich Garden Loam

Being above the 56th parallel, we are in Zone 0, the harshest zone per Ag Canada. We're faced with a short, fickle growing season where frost can occur at any time during the summer months. We were faced with the daunting task of improving the poor boreal forest soil. Here is how we transformed the shallow, poor soils of the Precambrian Shield of our wilderness homestead into a rich garden loam.

Low-Cost Garden Fertilizer from Sardines (with Recipe)

Garden fertilizer comes in all shapes, sizes, and formulas. Books and magazines maintain you can make your own by mixing this and that, and you’re flowers and veggies will amaze you. You can, however, follow our simple, sardine-based recipe for homemade garden fertilizer and not have to spend any extra money.

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.

Cover Crops for Spring, Summer, and Fall

If your cover crop was successful, and crowded out all of the weeds, you can go ahead and plant your new crop right into the cut cover crop. If your timing is right (with your cover crop in flower, cut very low to the ground, and is one of the crops listed) you can plant right into the undisturbed roots of your cover crop.

Working with Nature to Build Organic Soil, Part 5: Sustainable Grazing

Ruminants have been maligned for causing desertification and worsening climate change, but when we emulate the way nature designed herds to graze, the result is a rapid improvement in soil, forage and animal health. Our planet's health is also improved because rotational and mob-grazing takes atmospheric carbon and stores it as organic topsoil.

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.

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.

Composting FAQs Answered

There are many types of composting methods available for the urban homesteader — from fermentation bins called Bokashi systems that allow you to compost cooked foods, fish, dairy and meat, to vermicomposting, or worm composting systems, and everything in between. Learn the types of composting systems, along with what is compostable, the best compost material ratios for your situation, and troubleshooting tips for common compost problems.

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.

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.

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.

Why and How to Test Soil in Your Garden

Wondering how to test your soil? Get the scoop on proper garden soil testing, evaluating soil pH, and home soil testing kits before you plant this season.

Rich Soil, Rich People (with Video}

This is an exciting time for the healthy food movement. The number of tools and techniques that inform organic farming and gardening is exploding. Evidence is pouring in that the conventional food system is broken and the interest in food that can lead to health grows daily.

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.

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.

Cover Crops: Building Soil the Natural Way

What is a cover crop? Understand how to build the health of your soil the natural way by planting cover crop seeds. Explore seed types, when to plant, and the step-by-step process for planting a healthy cover crop in your garden.

Using a Worm Bin to Create Compost in Your Kitchen

Make exceptionally rich compost quickly and easily by utilizing some of the planets very best eaters - worms! Vermicomposting, or using worms to break down waste materials, is a fast and effective way to turn kitchen scraps into worm castings, a highly valued form of compost.

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.

A Simple Guide to Using a Tiller: Why? When? How?

If you are planning to set up a garden with a surface that is bigger than 300 square meters, a tiller will help you save a lot of time and energy. Its sharp, heavy blades might be a little intimidating for first-time users, but with a little practice, you will get the hang of it.

Woody Tasch: The State of the Soil

In February, the Slow Money founder gave a "State of the Soil" address. Here are his thoughts on the quality of American soil, economics and general discourse.

The Biodynamic Farm Body, Part 1

Biodynamic agriculture views the farm as a living organism. By tapping into the ecology that makes up your farm and viewing these systems holistically, you can utilize the natural world to grow healthy crops and achieve true sustainability. Your farm has a body and seeks wellness through biodiversity and habitat variability.

Gardening Is Biology not Chemistry

Gardening is a biological process, not a chemical one. For a healthy, productive garden, help your plants cultivate the biology in the soil that will feed them.

Meet the Polyface Farm Pastured Turkeys

During my time as a Polyface Farm intern, I never was able to grasp the turkeys as my personal responsibility. Now things are different. Get a glimpse through the eyes of a Polyface Apprentice as he raises Polyface Farm’s pastured turkeys.

‘Lucky’ Young Farmers

Farming may be the dream, but sometimes it can also be the nightmare. Balancing the good, the bad, and the ugly poses challenges.

Benefits of Planting Cover Crops

Planting cover crops to build soil fertility will benefit any garden. The soil is what gives the plants the necessary nutrients to grow strong, fight off pests and disease, and produce the best flavored, most nutrient-dense food possible and it requires those nutrients to be given back. Cover crops will give back to the soil.

How Important Is Soil Temperature?

Just as people are more comfortable and productive at certain temperatures, so are your seeds. Consider the soil temperature before you plant.

‘Perc’ Test: What It Is and How It’s Done

In order to secure a building permit to construct a new home, many counties require a septic system inspection and approval. Here’s how one couple had a successful “perc” test done at their future home site, along with a quick explanation of what a perc test is.

Gardening with Chickens in the High Desert

My garden started out as just a need for feeding my family in the summer months. Over time, it not only needed to feed my family, but needed protection from various critters—including backyard chickens—that inhabit my yard. Learn how to construct raised beds, install shade cloth and build a fence to protect your plants.

How Do We Get a Septic System Installed?

In order to secure a building permit to construct their future home, we must first complete a soil evaluation and meet the county's requirements for septic system installations.

A Quick Guide to Reclaiming Your Garden's Soil

A newly acquired garden or an over-spent allotment can have poor-quality soil, making it more difficult to manage and use, and leading to potential problems for those wishing to grow a new lush, green lawn or plant some daffodils, crocus or hyacinths bulbs in the spring.

How to Supercharge Your Soil with Minerals

Your veggies contain the nutritional content that the soil can provide the plant. Saying a plant only needs NPK is like saying all humans need is carbs, fat and protein. It is much more complicated than that.

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.

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.

How To Make A Soil Block

Learning how to make a soil block is a simple skill capable of permitting one to become involved within their local CSA or farm. It can also be a great way to meet local farmers, reduce CSA membership fees, and learn about organic gardening. Before each seed is sowed it must have a soil block to grow in. Being part of that initial step brings great joy.

Creating Your Own Mycorrhiza

The symbiotic relationship between plants and fungi are showing more than ever how life depends on life. Learn how to encourage what beneficial microbes you have in your soil for a powerful ally in your garden and fields.

How to Improve Clay Soil

Gardeners in certain regions frequently ask about how to improve clay soil. Lighten up your heavy clay soil by using organic matter, sand and other soil conditioners.

Improving Garden Soil: Milk and Molasses Magic

Do you know about the magic of milk and molasses in improving your garden? Yes, plain old milk of any kind – whole, 2%, raw, dried, skim or nonfat – is a miracle in the garden for plants, soil and compost. Molasses only boosts the benefits! Let’s see how and why they work.

Preparing Soil in Our Community Garden

Garden like the Native Americans by digging up 18-inch-diameter hills on four foot centers. Get your crops started, then worry about working the areas in between the hills.

Phenology And Soil Temperature

Noticing the cycles of the plants, animals and insects around you, which is the study of phenology, will help you become more attuned to your garden. Soil temperature has a lot to do with those cycles.

Organic Materials Review Institute

At the Mother Earth News Fair, I always enjoy speaking with fellow farmers and gardeners about inputs, organic standards and sound practices in the field. At the OMRI booth, we always provide free OMRI Products Lists of approved input materials, to help you find the right fertilizer or livestock feed additive and keep your farm or garden truly organic .

Using Wood Ash in the Garden

Using wood ash in the garden can be beneficial for raising the soil pH of your garden soil. These tips will help you know when to use wood ash in the garden. 

Swamp Bridge Stump Dirt

Fixing the swamp bridge and starting some new onion seeds along with a new experiment involving willow rooting hormone tea.

Off Grid Homesteading and Cover Crops in a No-Till Garden

Launching Anna's new E book on cover crops in a no till garden and talking about the recent power failure that prompted us to do some Off Grid Homesteading which taught us a few lessons on using golf cart batteries for supplemental lighting.

Pedal Powered Soil Testing

An update on generating electricity with pedal power and which exercise bike we decided on and testing soil for nutrient ratios along with fixing a pair of leaky boots with adhesive and inner tube scrap patch.

Piles of Dirt

Taking care of compost is essential to healthy soil and good food.

Think Cool: Winter Worm Composting

Describes a method of keeping red wiggler worms active and productive outside throughout the winter. Describes a method of sheltering and heating the worms using an active compost pile for heat and clear plastic glazing for shelter.

My First Time: A Garden Connection With My Grandpa

My first blog for MOTHER EARTH NEWS takes me back to a time when I didn't know I had a love of gardening. One of my first gardening experiences came during an unlikely encounter with my curmudgeon grandfather.

Gather Free Biomass from the Woods

Gathering leaves from the woods to mulch the garden and stump dirt to turn into potting soil not only provides free biomass for the garden, it also introduces beneficial microorganisms.

Composting Humanure

Humanure management for maximum nutrient secuestration and minimum resource loss.

Cover Crops: Add Some Oomph to Your Soil

Cover crops are grown between planting seasons as a way to give back to the soil what cultivation takes from it. And cover crops aren’t just for large-scale growers—they can help you get the most out of your backyard vegetable garden too!

Late-Summer Gardening

In July and August, it’s time to start thinking about planting crops for fall. But how do you get good seed germination when the soil is so hot?

Time to Celebrate Earth — Dirt!

Today we officially celebrate Earth Day, but we can celebrate healthy soil and all that it contributes to our lives every day.

I Love My 4X4 But...

Cam finds getting around in the country, especially in the winter, so much easier with his 4X4 truck.

Chicken Manure Fertilizer: Let Your Chickens Make Mulch

What’s your idea of a delicious and wholesome breakfast? A fluffy, organic egg omelet made with fresh vegetables? Perhaps scrambled eggs and roasted garden veggies? No matter what your preference, it may surprise you to learn the link between the

The Effect of Deforestation on the Climate and Environment

This posting discusses how deforestation increases global warming and ocean acidification. It also discusses the role of deforestation in triggering severe flooding,aquifer depletion, soil degradation and animal and plant extinction.

Attract Night Crawlers to Your Garden

Contributing editor Barbara Pleasant explains how night crawlers and other worms can improve the structure of your garden soil, and how to attract them by using piles of compost and mulch.

Got Leaves? Put 'Em to Work

Use autumn's bounty of fallen leaves to expand your garden, protect your plants and improve your soil.

How Do I Get Rid of Moss in My Strawberry Bed?

Abundant moisture and soil acidity are major factors in the growth of moss. There's nothing wrong with moss in your strawberry beds, but here's a tip on how to get more flavorful fruit.

Do You Recommend Peat Moss to Improve Soil?

Peat moss can help improve soil, but it can be expensive and its production can hurt the environment. Find out whether or not you should use it in your garden.

Worms Attack!

Who would have ever thought that worms could invade a forest and wreak havoc?

Time to Plant a Cover Crop

Now is a great time to sow a cover crop or two that will enrich your garden soil over the winter.

Free, Easy and All-Natural Mulch

It's easy to overlook how useful grass clippings can be, but early fall is a great time to collect this valuable 'yard waste' to use in your garden as mulch.