Natural Landscaping and Harsh Municipal Code Realities

Our travails continue with the head-on collision of our aesthetics and the Village Council. Read this blog post to discover more about how personal opinion tries to trump Constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.

'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.

Finding Solace in the Garden

A day full of learning and fun created the perfect respite to my recent turmoil about lawn ordinances and greater world tragedies. There are so many friends and animal family that I have yet to discover—I will hold onto this day as a lovely treasure of proof that there are people who understand and walk similar paths.

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.

Natural Landscaping and City Codes (with Edible Weeds Fish Tacos Recipe)

There is a growing, sometimes contentious movement afoot: traditional lawns vs natural landscaping. Two years ago, we came up against Ohio’s laws regarding lawns and weeds and were heartbroken to have to mow our luscious long grasses. Last year, we enjoyed a reprieve and the serenity of our natural garden. This year, the grasses back!

Make A DIY Painted Coffee Mug

If you’re looking for a special, one-of-a-kind gift for Father’s Day, this hand-painted coffee mug might be the DIY project idea for you.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

'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.

A Fairy's-Eye View of My Garden

I recently spent time visiting the micro worlds of my garden. It always thrills me to do such a thing and I often find surprises.

Simple Whole-Wheat Sourdough Starter

If you have flour, water and time, you can capture yeast from the air and make your very own sourdough starter. It's a surprisingly simple process with delicious results!

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.

Hard Work Now Means Relaxed Gardening Later

There are many ways to manage your garden beds and weeds. Read about my own relaxed way of mulching plants this year that becomes amended soil next year as I rotate my crops from bed to bed.

5 Best Ways to Keep Evil Weeds at Bay

Weeds have been the bane of gardeners for time and eternity. Use these techniques to mitigate unwanted plants in your garden this season and beyond.

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.

Inspiring Eco-Consciousness in Kids Without a Load of Eco-Guilt

How do you talk to young children about caring for the environment without loading them with guilt? Here are five environmental education suggestions that create natural opportunities for kids to learn about what they can do to be immersed in nature and help our planet.

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.

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.

Using Phenology to Better Know Your Land

Observing and documenting the seasonal phenomena that happen on your land can be a fascinating and important way to get an understanding of how it changes through the year. And it can be fun, too!

This Stuff is for the Birds

Creating a friendly environment for wild birds on your property can help them and provide for hours of viewing opportunities for you.

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.

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.

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.

Simple Whole-Wheat Sourdough Bread Recipe

This is my go-to recipe for making our weekly bread. It provides consistent, crusty results, uses only three (ish) ingredients, and takes about 40 minutes of active time. It’s also 100 percent whole-wheat/whole grain, which is the rule for bread in our house. Don’t be put off by the 7 hours of time required — most of that is passive time while you wait for your bread to rise.

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.

Confessions of a Relaxed Gardener

If you want permission to garden with your own goals and comforts in mind, you'll find it here. Gardening is a consummate joy that can easily reflect the personality of its practitioner.

Gardening While Renting

Gardening includes permanent features like raised beds, perennials, fencing, and soil building. How can one think permanently when renting is all about the temporary?

Creating Catnip Mousies with Dried Herbs

Learn how to create a simple catnip mouse toy for your cats. This project is a great one for children and other beginning sewers, or someone with a lot of cats on their gift list.

Growing Gourds into Artful Canvases

Growing your own gourds can provide for years of creative endeavors. If you haven’t grown gourds and have the space (remember, they can go vertical — my luffas actually climbed a nearby tree), I urge you to try them. There are several varieties of shapes and sizes available. Just imagine what fun you could have when you’re gourdening — before, during and after the harvest!

Gardening, Artistry and a Beer-Infused Honey Mustard Recipe

Winter signals a retreating indoors for a slower speed in lifing — one filled with thoughtful reflection, the finishing up in processing of the foods my garden has gifted me, and returning to my arting. As a preview to my forthcoming cookbook, I have included my favorite, beer-infused honey mustard recipe below.

Nail-Polish Marbling

Upcycle old nail polish by using it in a DIY project: marbling! This craft can be used to brighten up a ton of items, from a plain coffee mug to a decorative cardboard box.

How Do I Find a Humane Bee Removal Service in My Community?

Bees have nested in your home. How do you get rid of them humanely? There are no easy answers to this situation. The editor of Bee Culture magazine outlines your options for safe, non-lethal bee removal options that are available to you.

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.

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.

Preserving My Tomato Harvest (with Tomato Paste Recipe)

So, what to do when you are eating tomatoes at every meal and still have them coming? It is time to preserve them! There are 3 easy ways to preserve the tomato harvest for fresh from the garden taste year round: freezing, water bath canning, and drying.

DIY Medal Key Chain and Magnets

Old trophies and medals are special reminders of triumphs in our past, but they can quickly pile up and become a large collection. Instead of discarding old medals, why not turn them into a keepsake that is both functional and practical?

Sustainable Poultry Network National Conference

You’re invited to the 2015 Sustainable Poultry Network–USA National Conference! This conference will be the most complete, comprehensive conference for sustainable poultry production in North America. This conference features some of the very best instructors to teach on the current critical subjects of sustainable poultry production.

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.

DIY French Press Terrarium

This unique terrarium is a great way to repurpose a French press that has seen better days. Small terrarium plants or mosses are perfect for this tiny terrarium.

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.

Repurposed Clementine Crate

Repurpose an empty wooden clementine crate into a stylish organizer. All you need is some paint, papers to collage with and glue!

Carpet-Sample Rug

Turn a collection of carpet-sample pieces into an eclectic rug for your kitchen or bathroom! This resourceful DIY project can be made with just four materials - some of which may already be in your home.

DIY Framed Floral Arrangement

This framed floral arrangement made with dried flowers and corsages is a lovely and sentimental art piece. It can be made with flowers saved and preserved from many occasions, or from this year’s Valentine’s Day flowers.

Control Grasshoppers Naturally

Grasshoppers can be devastating in a garden, an insect in the locust family. There are ways to control them naturally without chemicals.

Homemade Cat Toys

It's important to keep indoor cats occupied to help them live long, healthy and happy lives. These homemade toys will do just the trick! The supplies are low cost and/or can be made by re-purposing items you already have at home.

DIY Holiday Card and Mail Holder

This simple DIY project is a great way to display this seasons' holiday greetings, or to keep your mail organized. The materials are free or low-cost, depending on what’s in your recycling bin and craft or junk drawer!

DIY Metal Tray Magnet Board with Button Magnets

This simple DIY project is a quick and easy way to repurpose a metal tray into a pretty place to display photos, notes, even holiday cards. The supplies needed may be found in your home or bought inexpensively at a local craft/home improvement store or found at a thrift shop.

The Cost of Solar Panels for Your Home

Whether you choose renewable energy for ecological or financial reasons, this article will help you see how solar panels and a solar hot water heating system can be financed and get you closer to being a sustainable household.

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.

Pre- and Post-Frost Garden Tasks

The first frost of fall is a significant change in the garden. It is a sign of summer vegetables finishing and cold crops coming into prominence.

How to Build a Smokehouse for Smoked Cheese and Meat

A homemade smokehouse can be built to give you a new way to preserve and flavor your meat and cheese. By building the firebox at a distance from the smokehouse, you will have a cold smoker that can preserve meat and flavor cheese.

Make Your Own Teas From Garden-Grown Herbs

Herbs have so many healthful properties. It just makes great sense to take advantage of their benefits and taste in warming teas. The only limits to homemade tea from homegrown ingredients is your imagination!

Onions: Everything You Need To Know to Grow 'Em

If you are confused about what type of onion to grow in your garden, this blog will give you the info you need. Onions are perennials, easy to grow, and have little to no pest problems. A must have addition to every garden!

October Garden Planner for Growing Cool-Season Crops

Though summer vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, basil and cucumbers grow at a reduced pace in the fall, cool season crops like lettuce, carrots, radishes, peas, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are coming into maturity throughout October and into November.

Grow Chard for Year-Round Steamed Greens

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.

Canning Summer's Bounty: Easy And Low Tox

Canning is a great way to preserve your own harvest. When canning acidic foods like fruit or tomatoes or anything using vinegar or sugar, you can likely use only a water bath. There are many chemical free canning jars available today for low tox canning.

What to Do With All That Zucchini

The zucchini harvest overflows. Learn how to preserve zucchini for year-round enjoyment and creative ways to eat it now.

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.

Preserving the Tomato Harvest

With bumper crops of tomatoes coming, there are some simple ways to preserve the fresh off the vine taste year round, no special equipment required.

All About Lovely Lavender

Lavender has many uses, from culinary to medicinal. It is a beautiful plant and easy to grow.

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.

Time Management Tools for the Homestead

Time management tools can help a homestead run smoothly as well as make the work more enjoyable. By focusing on different tasks in different seasons, assigning different tasks to different days and by sharing tasks, the work becomes both manageable and fun.

Easy Ways To Make a New Vegetable Garden

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

July Garden Planner

This is the time of year for harvesting the heat lovers like tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, fava beans, green beans, all types of peppers, garlic, basil, along with other Mediterranean herbs.

Permaculture In a Midwest Garden and Yard

Permaculture is about a self sustaining system that provides the food, nutrients and water in one yard. It is easy to adopt many of these approaches in your own yard and garden in the Midwest.

Can Bee Propolis Be Sustainable?

Propolis is becoming a very popular “bee product” in the natural health arena. The fact that it is produced in nature does not make a product sustainable. We must always be aware of the toll that the harvest of that product makes on the organism that creates it.

Top 10 Tomato-Growing Myths

There are many tomato tales out there. If you want to know which farmer stories are true, read on to get tips on growing great tomatoes.

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.

Growing Fabulous Lettuce and Greens

If you love salads, lettuce and greens are a great vegetable to grow. They do great in pots or in garden beds. With a few pointers, you can grow salad ingredients for the entire season.

Help to Preserve Rare Heritage Breeds

We can all help to save rare breed genetics for future homesteaders by raising and using these animals ourselves. Furthermore, we can help preserve the animals by sharing their valuable genetics with others.

All About Zucchini

Zucchini is a summer crop that keeps on giving all season long. They are easy to grow.

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.

Midwest Perennial Vegetable Garden

You can plant a perennial vegetable garden in the Midwest. Perennial vegetables you only have to plant once and they come back year after year.

Overcoming Problems When Milking a Cow

Your homestead is complete when you get your own cow for milking. But problems such as a cow who holds her milk or who kicks can make milking difficult and even dangerous. Here are some helpful hints so that you can enjoy your cow and enjoy milking her.

Spicy, Healing Horseradish

Horseradish is often overlooked as a mere hot condiment. In reality it possesses many healing properties and is easily accessible to all.

How to Get Started With Chicks

Raising chicks is easy as long as you pay attention to their needs for food, water, and housing. It also helps to learn their language.

April Garden Planner

What to plant in April for your vegetable garden, and what sized pot you need for your vegetable plant.

Starting Seeds with Children

Starting seeds with children indoors is a project that extends into outdoor planting of the seedlings in spring and harvesting produce in the summer. It allows you to share success and satisfaction with children and makes it more likely they'll eat their vegetables!

Spring Homestead Projects

Homestead spring projects include honey bees, Dorking chickens, Ancona ducks, Narragansett turkeys, Dutch Belted calf, Red-Wattle hogs, the incubator, pruning fruit trees,starting seeds, and heirloom plants so we can eat healthful and delicious food all year.

March Vegetable Garden Planner

Overview of the activities of a garden in March. How to prepare the soil for spring. What varieties I am planting this March in our Zone 6 garden.

Feeding Chickens Sustainably

Feeding chickens sustainably means keeping them healthy by using a combination of free-range, good-quality commercial food, supplementing their diet with garden produce and perhaps even mixing your own poultry food.

Herbal Remedies: Fenugreek and Thyme for Winter Ailments

Fenugreek has been indicated in some historical texts as being used for inflammation of the stomach and digestive tract, too. It is said to be the oldest recorded herb found so far. When you couple this flower with another common flower, Thyme, there isn’t a swollen sinus passage that stands a chance!

Mediterranean Diet Garden

You can grow your own Mediterranean Diet garden in the Midwest. Even a small garden can provide the staples of a Mediterranean kitchen garden.

Four Season Garden Explained

If you have wondered what a four season garden is, the definition is simple. It is a garden that you can get produce from all year long through spring, summer, fall and winter.

Making Beeswax Candles with Molds

Beekeeping allows us to have not only honey, but also the wax. This is a story of how to make beeswax candles with molds and some of the difficulties I have yet to resolve.

Always Getting Ready on the Homestead

Each season brings its own work on a homestead. In the autumn, the garden and animals still require work, but this is also the time to put in a cistern and begin a smoke house.

Choosing What to Grow in a Small Yard

With a small space, how do you choose what to grow? You can grow an amazing variety and amount of vegetables and herbs in a very small space, integrate veggies and herbs into your flowers, and maximize the use of pots.

The December Garden

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.

Reducing and Re-Using Around the Barnyard

The diva of re-use, Annie Warmke, talks about simple steps to take in the barn yard for re-purposing and reducing waste. After reading this article you won’t be able to think about things like llama poo or beer bottles in the same way again.

The Zen of Painting

Christopher shares an experience of painting his family farmhouse, but when he used flat, not glossy paint, his uncle was not happy. How could the uncle have responded in a more productive manner?

Always Getting Ready

Homesteaders become similar to the self-sustaining people in the Arctic as they spend each season preparing to have food, warmth and shelter for the entire year. It is gratifying to eat well and be comfortable because of our year-round efforts.