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.
Learn the secret to getting better harvests by making your very own natural liquid fertilizers to use in the garden. Find recipes for homemade seaweed fertilizer and one that I like called Gardener's Revenge fertilizer that uses weeds from the garden.
Homesteading is tricky enough without a full-time outside job. If you're passionate about where you live, it pays to think outside the conventional job market for full-time jobs that you can do right from home.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
With herbs and lemongrass in your garden, you can keep out mosquitoes, add flavor and spice to your summer menu, and have the ingredients for your own homemade bug spray. This blog post shows you how to harvest and cook with lemongrass and offers two easy, all-natural mosquito repellents you can make yourself.
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.
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.
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.
Are you worried about mosquitoes but want an alternative to chemical bug sprays? This post shows you how to add easy-to-grow and beautiful mosquito-repellent plants to your landscapes and get back outside with your family.
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."
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.
Starting a garden can be intimidating, especially when there are all sorts of guru-gardening methods on the internet, but we are choosing to take an extremely straightforward approach that we want to share with you all!
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There is nothing like growing your own veggies and canning the excess. A good place to start your search is your local farmer’s market. Ask one of the veggie farmers if you can come out and help on their farm and see where it goes from there. All it takes is a couple hours every week or two to learn the basics.
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.
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.
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.
Compost tea allows you to take a small amount of compost and give your plants the microbes and nutrition they need to resist disease and give you nutritious food. Making and using compost tea is both economical and easy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wildfire is our greatest threat living in the mountains with all the dead vegetation and dead trees providing fuel. Here in Southern Colorado, where population density is less and forest growth is thick, sensible people plan ahead to mitigate wildfire risk. Plan ahead with these tips for wildfire mitigation.
Do not let not owning or using a microwave prevent you from making up a batch of mozzarella cheese. Using this easy technique, you can have your mozzarella and ricotta without a microwave. We learned from a trip to the Belton, Texas, MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR and had a blast.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cymophyllus fraserianus is the perfect Hosta replacement for any native plant garden or any shade garden, especially if you have a deer problem as this is one plant that isn't on Bambi's menu or wish list.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
With so many tomato varieties available, choosing which to grow can be a daunting challenge. By understanding the difference between indeterminate, determinate and dwarf tomato varieties, better decisions for your particular growing conditions and needs can be made.
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.
Planting for abundance without over-producing can be tricky. Here’s a brief overview on how to estimate yields and planting area for crops in your home vegetable garden based off of the unique needs of your household.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Here is help with planning for a successful installation of new plastic or replacement of old plastic over your hoophouse (high tunnel). This post provides a list of tools and step-by-step instructions.
Have you ever wondered what was served at the very first thanksgiving feast? If the question has ever crossed your mind, follow Kiara Ashanti as he answers the questions and describes how he creates the First Feast for Thanksgiving 2015.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ira Wallace explores good winter gardening reads, gives advice on how to use the winter lull wisely to plan and prepare, and shares an update in the ongoing court battle to protect family farmers from agri-giant Monsanto.
A wedding using homegrown and local food and no disposable items. Decorations were things already on hand. The ceremony took place in a field and the reception was in a barn...and there was love-lots of it!
We have some exciting additions to announce about our award-winning Vegetable Garden Planner program and our new Grow Planner iPad app, including new seed company catalogs, a filter tool, a favorites button and an app update.
A tour of the gardens at Southern Exposure, where we're taking advantage of warm sunny days in February to get our gardens ready for intense planting ahead. But there's still plenty to sow, indoors and out.
These are the first steps we took to make the change from city living to off grid living. It describes the questions you should ask before you buy property and the research required to make sure you can do want you want with your property.
We sat down for an interview with James Duft, the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Fair Planner and Programming Manager. Read about what you can expect to see, do and participate in if you attend the upcoming Fair in Puyallup, Wash. Sheep dog training, cheese making, bread baking and antique tractors await!
An overview of groups, initiatives, planning certifications, and neighborhood developments that promote sustainable communities, including Transition initiatives, ecovillages, One Planet Communities, LEED for Neighborhood Development, and others.
Contributing Editor Barbara Pleasant provides tips to help users get the most out of the new MOTHER EARTH NEWS Vegetable Garden Planner. This interactive software will help you plan your best garden ever!
Don’t let the cost of gardening keep you out of the dirt this year. Cheap gardening can be fun and easy. With these tips for gardening on a budget, you’ll save on seeds, make your own fertilizer and impress your friends with your gardening know how.
The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force has proposed numerous changes, including coastal and marine spatial planning, to keep a constant eye on our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes. Will increased regulations help us avoid future accidents in our most treasured bodies of water? Tell us what you think about the proposed changes.
Time often isn't looked at as a resource - at least, not outside of corporate efficiency evaluations - but it's one of the most valuable resources any of us have. It's required for all the plans and hopes that we have, from learning to bake bread to building a self-sufficient homestead. How do you spend your time, and how would you like to?