Butternut squash is one of the many different kinds of winter squash such as pumpkin. Characterized by a distinctive pale yellow color and a pear-shaped fruit, the squash is a valuable crop with high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients. Learn the essential details and some expert tips on how to grow butternut squash from seeds. You will also learn how to harvest butternut and other important information.
For those gardeners who wish to grow year-round longtime MOTHER EARTH NEWS Contributing Editor and home-energy expert Dan Chiras has a solution for you: the Chinese greenhouse. Typically earth-banked into a hillside or girded by mounded earth, Chinese greenhouses bring many principles of passive-solar design into the greenhouse in order to grow using 100-percent solar radiation.
I have heard the term "biodynamic" and wondered what was involved. Some consider biodynamic gardening or farming as voodoo science and quackery — or simply a scam. Others feel it is holistic, natural way of gardening leveraging mystical forces. The description I like is defines it as organic permaculture with a spiritual twist.
Wineberries are one of the most abundant wild summer fruits, and just as delicious as their blackberry cousins. They also happen to be an invasive species and you’re doing a good deed when you eat them. Here’s how to identify, gather, and eat wineberries.
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.
If you’re a homeowner weighing your renewable energy options, you already know that thorough research is the best way to find the right system for your home. Here’s everything you need to know about the benefits of residential wind vs. solar power so that you can make your decision with confidence.
Hops have not been recognized for their full potential! I often ask people, "do you know what hops are?" I always get the same response: "It's what people use to make beer, isn't it?" Well, yes, but they are much more than that. Read about how to grow hops in your backyard and the many uses beyond brewing for this specialty crop.
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.
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.
This is the first post in an alphabetically organized introduction to homesteading. It will start with simple preparation ideas (Asceticism, Borrowing, Creativity) and move into more hard-hitting how-to advice (Ducks, Edible landscaping, Fodder, Goats, Horticulture, etc.).
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.
A good snowfall now and then helps to test the limits of our resources. You never know if you are prepared for disruptions until you are disrupted. Here are some hints to help things go smoothly when there are real possibilities that they might not otherwise.
Winters can be brutal, especially on our homes when it comes to our energy costs. Winter tends to drive up energy costs but there is a way to prevent that from happening this winter including eliminating drafts, smart thermostats, and more.
Whether it’s as simple as switching our water bottles for crocks, or something more complicated, like stacking hay around your hutches — here are a few quick tips on how to keep your homestead rabbits warm this winter.
Putting out food for the wild birds in your area will help them get the nutrition they need to thrive through the cold months. Avian nutrition means much more than tossing out a few seeds. If you’re not sure what to put on your wild bird grocery shopping list, check out this list to get started.
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!
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.
So you finally took the leap and installed a home wind turbine. Congratulations! You’ve just taken a big step to make your home energy generation more sustainable and secure, but what comes next? Wind turbines require maintenance and this post will outline some wind turbine maintenance essentials to consider.
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.
The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts for our area “Winter will be cooler and rainier than normal, with above-normal snowfall." To quote a popular television show “Winter is coming." Prepare for winter with this checklist and weatherization ideas.
There are five main areas of the home responsible for wasting the most energy. At the top of that list is windows, and one of the most effective ways to decrease your home’s carbon footprint is by replacing old, drafty windows with new, air-tight Energy Star-qualified windows.
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.
Shelling corn by hand will soon put blisters on your thumbs. You can acquire a corn sheller to help you do the job. Learn how to make a sturdy box to mount your corn sheller on to make your work easier.
Fig Salami is a unique substitute for the usual cured sausage on a cheese plate; because it’s fruity, it works as well before or after dinner. It takes minutes to make, but plan ahead so it has time to set up and “cure” four or five days — after that, it will keep weeks in the refrigerator.
Learn the correct method for safely making home canned pumpkin and winter squash. A few jars of ready-to-use canned pumpkin on your pantry shelf can save time when you want to bake a pumpkin pie, simmer a squash soup, or make any other favorite recipe calling for pumpkin puree.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that the amount of energy lost annually through windows costs consumers $35 billion. Heat loss and heat gain through and around windows accounts for between 10 and 25 percent of our heating and air conditioning usage, the largest consumer of energy in a modern home. Here are some ways to make sure your windows are as energy-efficient as possible.
Hoop houses have proven themselves to be invaluable for extending the gardening season in both spring and fall. But I didn’t expect to get even more use out of mine during our frequent and unpredictable hail storms!
A 150-mile transmission line project proposed in 2012 costing up to $1.3 billon is a “dinosaur” that is still haunting the Hudson Valley. But rooftop solar energy, battery storage, and community microgrids can replace the ancient, costly, and vulnerable centralized generation and transmission electricity system that has dominated New York and the entire nation — and advanced little technologically — for over a century.
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.
Ripping apart old clothing and other rags to remake into useful items takes more time than purchasing new fabric, but the rewards – reducing landfill overload, reviving an old-fashioned skill, conserving a treasured memento and saving money – are worth the extra trouble.
Installation timing, system sizing, and federal and state energy policies are all important components for financing renewable energy as part of a home construction project. One couple shares their experience with trying to put all the pieces in order.
I started my first batch of mead after all these years back in October-November. You all may remember my post about the mead. Well, I had trouble with getting the damn thing to start. Here's what happened.
Rhubarb, a once-neglected fruit (or vegetable) that was hard to find, is making a comeback as a result of the real food movement among gardeners and cooks. Based on decades of self-reliant living, I give the reader all the information that is needed to produce a perfect rhubarb pie from garden to table, from planting, growing, and harvesting, to producing a pie with a never-fail pie crust.
The previous installment focused on the benefits of small wind turbines for homeowners who are grid-tied, off-grid, or have battery backup systems. In this short episode, we’ll go over the main terminology associated with small wind turbines.
Calendula flowers make a lovely floral component for an organic vegetable garden. Plus, they pull their weight in terms of productivity: The petals are edible and can be used in skin-healing salves and balms.
In our first installment, we covered the basics of electricity generation and the process by which a wind turbine creates power. This time, we’ll look at the benefits of adding a wind turbine as a source of clean power for your home.
The sun is shining, the breeze is starting to warm, but there's still three feet of snow outside. It's driving you crazy — why can't spring get here now? Well, you're not the only one because those chickens have cabin fever too!
Wintering pigs outside is both fun and rewarding, if you plan accordingly. The most important aspect for pigs wintering outside is that they have adequate shelter and protection from the weather and cold. Water and proper forage, even during cold months, are also important.
"An Unlikely Vineyard" by Deirdre Heekin tells her story of growing wine in the unlikely hills of Vermont and her quest to express the essence of place in every bottle. It is about the evolution of her farm from overgrown fields to a fertile, productive, and beautiful landscape that melds with its natural environment. A gentle narrative with lush photography, this book will appeal to anyone who loves food, farms, and living well.
The short period of time each year where homesteaders and summer-business owners like us get to freely bask in open-ended unscheduled time is as short as it is sweet, and it reaches its peak right now in January.
Before you begin to make your own wine in the Midwest, it’s good to have an overview of the craft itself and also determine if your area of the country is an area where grapes be successfully grown and utilized for wine production. As with many hobbies, it is not just the end result, but the process itself, that provides an intriguing experience.
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."
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.
Low tunnels are easy structures to build to protect your winter veggies. Keeping the covers on in windy conditions can be a challenge. Learn simple steps you can take to make your low tunnel covers stable, no matter what the weather brings.
Contrary to popular belief, most breeds are very well equipped to deal with the cold. But good husbandry skills will ensure very little frostbite irritation for your rooster and other large-combed chicken breeds. This blog post is about protecting your chickens' comb, but frostbite can also afflict the feet, mainly on snowy days.
Being a homesteader and living off the land often means being subjected to natural conditions beyond our control, sometimes predictable changes of seasons and temperatures, other times curve balls such as unseen pest pressure, hard frosts in late May or heavy snow in early November. A lifestyle where these natural circumstances is the main determining factor for what gets done when is getting increasingly rarer – humans have gained what some consider an advantage by manipulating the world into a state where we, in many ways, can remain unaffected from the forces of nature.
A new film called 'Behind the Water' is an engaging story of the men and women searching to find clean water. The film takes viewers on a wild ride through some of the world’s most rural and restricted areas, many captured on film for the first time.
Way back when, I made mead. I think it was back with Leif Erickson or some guy by that name. Of course, back then we had rotary phones, the Internet existed as ARPANET (look it up), and I was on the cutting edge when it came to computer development. I also stumbled across a USENET post for how to make mead.
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!
It’s absolutely possible to be gardening in winter. You simply need to understand what to plant, when to plant it and how to maintain the best possible growing conditions in your home for indoor agriculture.
Chard is a wonderful green, chock full of vitamins. It can be eaten when small in salads. The large leaves can be harvested for steamed/cooked greens. It is a perennial that with cover can be harvested all winter.
We are trialing 135 varieties of cucumber, winter squash and muskmelon - with a focus on Downy Mildew resistance and fruit quality. An introduction to our trials and to the importance of variety trials in general.
The Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution from existing power plants, proposed on June 2, 2014, by the Environmental Protection Agency, under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan not only limits our carbon pollution but also injects life back into our domestic workforce.
Reader Jenna Winkeller of Gilbert, Ariz., wrote to us about a homemade device that can make small-scale wheat cultivation far more efficient: a DIY wheat thresher crafted from just a bucket, drill and chain. Check out a video of it in action, and get instructions for assembling your own version of this wallet-friendly, timesaving tool.
This blog post takes a look at some of the methods we have developed over the last 25 years growing vegetable seedlings in our certified organic greenhouses. This time we take a look at the conditions required for healthy seedling growth.
Creating a micro-climate is an essential tool for your survival and homesteading skills. Making the right micro-climate for your plants specific needs will not only help them survive, but thrive as well.
While you may already look for eco-friendly organic wine when you select a bottle, you're probably not aware of the environmental implications of opting for a wine closed with natural cork in lieu of a less sustainable synthetic stopper.
It is possible to grow fresh crops through the dark months even without a greenhouse, and even where we live, a thousand miles from the Arctic Circle, where the winter sun brings only brief and meager light.
White Family Rotary treadle sewing machines are well-made and easy to operate – but the hand wheel operates backward of other treadles. Modern bobbins can be used, if one extra step is taken when winding on thread.
Outside of a few rare equipment failures, we’ve never had a power outage in the past 20 years that wasn’t our own fault — usually caused by not paying attention to power use or proper battery charging. Weather failures, on the other hand, are starting to become noticeable.
A homesteader's year is over for this time. Nothing cleans the yard up as a foot of snow, and I think it's here to stay. winter on Deer Isle is great, so great I consider it something we deserve after getting through the summer, both for us as homesteaders and for us as a part of this community.
One way that I work through problems is by baking bread. It is my therapy, and it works for me. Getting lost in the recipe and wondering how you might make some changes to make it better is always good for the mind.
The December garden is still full of life, both in the beds and under cover, providing fresh ingredients for home cooked meals. Winter farmers markets and CSA's are a great way to learn what grows well in your zone.
This is the first in a 5-part series of blogs on the process and issues involved in plating gourmet garlic. Part 1 discusses options for acquiring seed and also provides information regarding calculating the amount of seed required.
The Keystone Center, in partnership with the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center, is hosting a regional food workshop called “The Traditional Winter Garden: Fresh Food From December to March.”
Allowing children the space to discover the beauty and wonder of plants through tending to their own garden builds character, teaches responsibility, gives insight into the beauty of nature and fosters their connection with where their food comes from.
As I go along, I pull out pebbles occasionally, but only one large stone. Time and time again, however, my hands pry free the remnants of bricks. As late afternoon turns to early evening and my work for the day is nearing completion, a collection of the ruddy-colored artifacts is stacked to one side. The sight of them calls up something nostalgic in me, broken bits suggesting a history that is largely lost.
It was becoming pretty obvious the crowding and lack of light were real limitations to my mini garden. Then, the idea of a trough on the windowsill came to mind, combining a way to water all the plants uniformly and efficiently all at once. Great, now how to make this trough? Wood? Sheet metal? The choices all seemed expensive, clumsy, prone to leaking...then the light bulb went on in my head: gutters!
On our journey to self-reliance, my husband, Darren, and I have been gathering human-powered tools when we can find them. It’s surprising and sad how quickly hand- and foot-powered tools were junked when electricity became available. From 1850 to 1890, more than 100 apple-pealing devices were patented. Then none, except those running on electric power. And so it goes with thousands of other nifty human-powered appliances.
Defying conventional wisdom about the limits of wind power, in 2012 both Iowa and South Dakota generated close to one quarter of their electricity from wind farms. Wind power accounted for at least 10 percent of electricity generation in seven other states. Across the United States, wind power continues to strengthen its case as a serious energy source.
Simply by covering your potatoes with ample mulch, storing potatoes in the ground is not only possible but incredibly easy and successful. Learn how to store potatoes in your garden and enjoy crisp, homegrown spuds through winter and into spring.
Summing up pasture data where it relates to chickens and customizing land to better suit poultry and their behavior and stomachs. Measuring oil viscosity levels and rescuing a trailer with a portable winch were some of our favorite things.
Many criticize eliminating coal mining in West Virginia because of the amount of jobs the sector provides. A wind farm, however, would employ over 200 local residents during the two-year construction phase, and create 40-50 permanent maintenance jobs afterward. A wind farm would also allow the mountain to be used for other purposes, like sustainable forestry, mountain harvesting, and gathering of wild forest plants, creating additional jobs and the opportunity for stable income for locals.
The Classy Coop Giveaway grand prize was given a good home with our contest winner and her backyard chickens. We were happy to see this mobile chicken coop is already being broken in. Bring on the eggs!
Killing frosts are arriving, but Ira's staying self-sustaining all winter, with winter-hardy greens and plenty in storage, from sweet potatoes to pickled peppers. Get inspired with ideas for kimchi and a fresh twist on winter salads, with yacon.
Grow calcium in your garden with collards, kale, and parsley. Suggestions are given for including these crops in your meals. Learn about companions to plant among your collards and kale to deter harmful insects.
As part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above strategy to
expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced Nov. 7, 2012, a lease for commercial wind energy development 11 nautical miles off the coast of Delaware.
Join us in fighting the threat of GMOs: California's Right to Know (Prop 37) for GMO labeling leads the nation, and the Southern Exposure lawsuit against Monsanto continues to push through the courts. Plus, fall gardening can be easier than summer!
Tomatoes are the gray area of canning. They're not quite acidic enough to just straight can like fruit but the right amount of added acid can keep you from having to pressure can them. Here are the basics on canning tomatoes.
Growing Local Food is a new book that encompasses all the needed basics to grow plants, keep heritage breed animals and bees. The author is a homesteader and physician who gives the readers the basic information to grow or find nutritious, local food
Deciding which vegetables to grow can be an important step for any gardener. It is efficient to fill the space that you have with vegetables that keep for the longest periods of time, which can also mean a lot to the bottom line of any garden.
Homesteads are attempting to provide longer grazing times by dividing pasture into paddocks. The difficulty of getting water to each paddock can be solved by a windmill with underground pipes. No electric is needed--just wind!
Come rejoice in the bounty of heirloom tomatoes - experience the flavors and choose your favorites at tomato tastings throughout the Southeast. Plus, it's time to plant fall alliums - garlic and perennial onions - and fall crops for winter storage!
It may be sweltering hot outside, but we're still busily sowing seeds at the Southern Exposure farms! Learn how to plant your bountiful fall and winter garden, with abundant harvests through Thanksgiving and beyond.
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.
Sweet, healthy, root vegetables that love growing through the heat of summer? Learn about adding Jerusalem artichokes, yacon, and sweet potatoes to your gardens. Plus, more on the incredible health benefits of roselle (hibiscus).
The mild winter has led to an earlier than usual spring growing season and plenty of surprises in the way of plants making it through the winter that normally would never survive the cold season. Here's a peek at what's growing in my spring garden.
In this blog, Robert White of Quail Acres Farm shares some of his experiences in the Growing Farmers workshops as they relate to planning for his upcoming move to the farm to establish his market garden and small livestock business.
So, you can't wait for the weather to warm up enough to get out and plant a few seeds in the ground? Well here is a list of gardening ideas and activities to keep you occupied and happy right up until the day that spring arrives!
Winter wasn't very hard this year, well at least so far, and even if it gets more normal winter like, there's not much time left. Our bees have done well, and it looks like it might be a great summer ahead.
Clearly the NACE considers “useless” degrees to be ones in which pay is low and availability of jobs is scarce. However, shouldn’t measuring the usefulness of an education take into account the actual benefits bestowed upon the person doing the study