Add Variety and Fun from Garden to Table with 'Yard-Long' Beans

Each year we choose a vegetable for our garden that we have never grown before and will offer fun and variety. This year, we chose the yard-long bean based on its name alone. After a little bit of experimenting in the kitchen, we learned to love its unusual texture and flavor.

Italian-Style Pressed Sandwich Recipe

Years ago, a friend who once lived in Italy described a sandwich she had prepared for a picnic. Adapted to foods we can buy locally, it works well for late-summer suppers after a sweltering day in the gardens. It’s a lifesaver for days when I just don’t know what time dinner will happen until it happens.

Heat-Tolerant Eggplant Varieties

For several years, we have been trialing eggplant varieties to find one better in hot weather than our favorite 'Nadia', which is great in temperate summer weather. We love the classic pear shape and glossy purple-black skin of 'Nadia', and we want something looking similar, but better at setting fruit in hot weather.

Salvaging Campus Trees for Education

Indiana University of Pennsylvania's groundbreaking "Harvest to Use" program uses a portable sawmill to salvage campus trees for education and community projects.

'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.

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.

Make Gazpacho Soup with Heirloom Tomatoes

I never much cared for gazpacho, and that’s probably because I lived in Colorado and Alaska most of my adult life. You must have great tomatoes to make great Gazpacho. After I tasted gazpacho made with heirloom tomatoes like 'Cherokee Purple', 'Brandywine', 'Marmonde' and others from my garden, I realized what I had been missing.

Woodworking Arborist Salvages Urban Trees

Working as an arborist in Colorado, Ryan Baldwin saw an opportunity to salvage city trees destined for the dump into usable lumber for woodworking projects.

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.

Creating A Project Plan For Your Garden

Start your dream garden as you would any project — with a project plan. If you break down your end goal into step-by-step tasks, you will see your dream come to fruition in no time.

An Ecotourism Escape to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Come early or linger for a few days after the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR and cool off at Elkhart Lake. Explore some of the spectacular natural areas, savor farm-to-table meals, or relax at an eco-spa at the Osthoff Resort.

Growing Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are easy to grow, if you have 90 frost-free days. The work involved happens at times of year when you probably have fewer other garden tasks. Planting on ridges reduces damage from flooding. Biodegradable mulch warms the soil and increases yields, while reducing weed growth.

10 Tips for New Garden Farmers

Now, 4 years into growing much of the produce we eat, I realize that garden farming connects me even more deeply than I had imagined to the earth, the life cycle, my body and food. It is also more difficult not only physically, but mentally as well. Had I known more from the start, no doubt it would have been easier and more effective. It is in this spirit that I am sharing some of what I’ve learned.

Common and Rare Types of Tomato Foliage

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."

A Primer on Specialty Mushrooms (with Royal Trumpet Mushroom Soba Salad Recipe)

Here is a primer on specialty mushrooms. Exotic mushroom varieties are daunting to most consumers. They ought not be intimidated by these strange but tasty morsels. There are several sources for recipes including the Mushroom Council, my website, or by using search engines. Mushrooms deserve a place at your table due to taste, availability, and purported health benefits.

Watering: Not too Much, Not too Little

When and how to water a garden can be challenging especially for beginner gardeners. Read the tips that will make you feel like an expert on garden watering.

How to Dehydrate Fresh Spinach

It seems spinach is a feast-or-famine kind of vegetable — it's gloriously prolific when it grows, then BOOM! Gone for the season. I wanted to preserve this spring goodness to enjoy later in the year, so I decided to dehydrate it. Learn how to dehydrate spinach here.

Ecotourism in San Diego, Part 2

Surprisingly, the San Diego area is home to one of the largest collections of small farms in any county in America. Green travel is boosted by these farmers supplying the farmers' markets and farm-to-table restaurants. There's a few lodging options for the eco-minded, too.

Fast and Easy Homemade Salad Dressings

If people knew how easy and delicious homemade salad dressings can be, store-bought dressing sales would plummet. You, too, can make your own salad dressings without having a culinary school degree or cooking experience. Learn to make Oil and Vinegar with Tarragon and Homemade Ranch with Roasted Garlic here.

Oregon Company Salvages Urban Timber

After seeing beautiful trees in Oregon going to waste, Seth Filippo realized the Pacific Northwest had a huge underutilized resource in urban wood.

Growing Asparagus from Seed

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.

Transplanting Seedlings into Hay Mulch

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.

First Lettuce Crop and a Sandwich, Too

After you grow your own organic greens, it’s hard to go back to grocery store crap. The good news is that greens are easy to grow in a multitude of environments. If you are short on space, try building a salad tray and grow your own greens on a patios or balcony. If you have a small patch of ground, do what I did and install a raised bed.

The Growing Economy of Salvaged Urban Wood

Megan Offner of New York Heartwoods is salvaging downed and damaged city trees to redirect material from our waste stream, decrease greenhouse emissions, and fuel the demand for local wood products.

Achocha: The Unknown Cucumber Relative

Achocha is a delicious and unknown member of the cucumber family with almost complete immunity from the diseases and pests which attack other cucurbits.

What's Growing in the Early-April Edible Garden

This is the time of year that salad greens and herbs shine in the edible garden. Lettuce, chard, parsley, cilantro, mustard, corn salad, and many other greens love the cool and moist spring days.

A Successful, Sustainable Forest

By managing his family's forestland with natural and environmentally friendly practices, Jim Birkemeier has created a sustainable forest model that is being taught and implemented all over the world.

10 Super-Easy Veggies to Grow

Afraid you have a brown thumb? Here are worry-free veggies that can be grown in pots or in the garden. Try one or two or all ten for your first garden!

Buying a Pork Share

Buying a half-pig directly from a farmer ensures quality and well-raised pork, although it will cost more than supermarket pork. Understanding how to fill out a cut sheet guarantees you get what you paid for.

Building a Cabin with a Portable Sawmill

By sawing his own lumber from fallen trees, Billy Reeder not only built his cabin debt-free on family land, he also built a new life — a deliberate life. A good life.

How to Make Great Kale Chips

Kale chips are the rage and they cook up quickly, but they can be tricky to make. Here are some tips to making great kale chips.

Winter for the Tomato Grower, Part 1: Your-End-of-Season Questions Answered

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.

10 Tips for Better Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasting enhances the flavor of root vegetables, as long as the vegetables are cut in uniform pieces and aren't crowded in the pan and are roasted in a hot oven.

Fermented Kale Tips and a Recipe for Kale Kimchi

Kale doesn't ferment as well as some of the other members of the brassica family but we still find ourselves wanting to preserve this delicious and nutritious green. Here are tips and a recipe to ensure success fermenting kale.

A Kansas Family’s Journey to Self-Sufficiency Begins

Even though our goal is to be completely self-sufficient, one thing that I stress is that you don't have to be completely self-sufficient — just make it your goal to become more self-sufficient than you are right now. This blog will help people become more self-sufficient by leading by example, right or wrong. Here is your official invitation: Please come and join us!

Keep Track of Crop Rotation (Video)

Crop rotation is good for your garden, but can be difficult to track. These tools will help you chart which crop families you plant so you can mix it up the following season.

Listing Of Most-Nutritious Vegetables And Fruits

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a study on the nutritional value of vegetables and fruits. Check out the top "powerhouse" vegetables and fruits to add a few to your garden this year.

Winter Vegetables in Your Hoop House

Here is an idea of daily hoop house tasks and information on growing and harvesting abundant, healthy winter vegetables in your hoophouse, avoiding hazardous nitrate accumulation in greens.

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!

Late-Season Garden Vegetables

Keep those vegetable plants growing for a second harvest late in the year. Organically-grown, heirloom varieties will survive with a little help.

How to Grow and Use Heirloom Ground Cherries

Ground cherries were once a popular staple in backyard gardens. Urbanization and lost space to grow our food led to ground cherries falling out of favor. Though older folks may remember eating ground cherry jam, they’ve only recently begun reappearing at farmers markets and in seed catalogs. Ground cherries are easy to grow and pack an unusual flavor punch in jams, pies, savory sauces.

Steadfast Garlic

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

Lithuanian Radishes

A Lithuanian farmers market seller displays sculpted red radishes with faces!

Pickled Asparagus Recipe

Pickled vegetables are a great way to jazz up your meals, especially in the late winter, early spring time when the grocery store vegetables are looking a little worse for the wear.

Ecotourism Adventures in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Part 3

Nested amongst the skyscrapers and tucked between white-powdery beaches and either the buzz of South Beach or nature preserves in Hollywood are some eco-minded hotels and restaurants offering patrons a taste of local and sustainable cuisine.

Favorite Spring Root Crops in the Southeast and Beyond

March brings us into spring - celebrate the season in your garden with easy-to-grow root crops: potatoes, sweet potatoes, and yacon. Learn how to give these roots the best start in your garden this spring.

Sawing Sycamore With a Norwood Portable Sawmill

Sawing oversized sycamore logs with my Norwood portable sawmill was a huge job, but yielded a lot of great lumber, and salvaged the logs instead of dozing them into a pile and burning them.

Build a Log Deck for Splitting Firewood

Use materials at hand—stumps, logs, railroad ties, and sawmill slabs—to build a firewood log deck that takes the effort out of lifting the logs, and holds them at a convenient height for splitting.

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.

Understanding Seed Catalogs: 15 Features to Look For

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.

DIY Garden Lights

These DIY garden lights reuse plastic bottles and provide soft, natural lighting for evenings spent outdoors.

DIY Whiskey Barrel Chairs

You can make these outdoor chairs for less than $80 by recycling a whiskey barrel and using a few other supplies from your workshop.

Build a Rainwater Collection System

Save the rain for a sunny day with this homemade rainwater collection system. Using recycled water containers and storing up to 275 gallons, this setup is five times bigger than the typical rain barrel.

Make Your Own Fire Pit Using Concrete Tree Rings

This low-cost, easy-to-assemble fire pit from Instructables is made with concrete tree rings and rocks. Just add a grill and you've got the perfect backyard hangout, all for around $50.

Farming By the Book

Local farmers lease Amherst College land to provide for the school’s dining hall.

Build Your Own Yurt Using Papercrete

Papercrete – concrete made with paper – recycles household trash into a durable material that's perfect for heavy-duty DIY projects.

Naturally Cool Cob Playhouse

If you're searching for kids' playhouse plans, look no further — this whimsical cob building provides an inexpensive child's oasis with a natural cooling system.

Wet Spring

Stormy weather, wildlife and observations about trees.

Landrace Gardening: Localize Your Garden For a Better Harvest

Joseph Lofthouse, seedsman from Paradise Utah, is now blogging about “Landrace Gardening” on Mother Earth News. The blog is a practical hands-on manual about how to improve crop production by localizing your plants to your unique garden.

Tree-Planting Season

It is a busy time for planting here. Not tomatoes, peppers, or squash, though. We got in our order of trees from the Missouri Conservation Dept. last week. In the past, we had planted mostly walnut, but we have a good enough supply of our own walnut seedlings that we are focusing on native trees that could use a boost to restore the forest to what it once was. So we are planting pecan on the bottom areas, shortleaf pine on ridge tops where the soil is poor, and burr oak on the better upland areas.

Gutter-Planted Garden Greens

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!

Find a Portable Sawmill Service Near You

Knowing where lumber sawyers exist locally opens the door to all kinds of DIY projects. For example, storm-damaged trees can be turned into useable lumber instead of heading to a chipper or landfill. But you can take advantage of milling lumber at local sawmills only if you know where to find them. There are online resources to help you find a sawmill near you. Search by state or Zip code using the sawmill locators below and you will be on your way to turning raw wood into quality-cut lumber for DIY projects without the need to purchase any equipment yourself.

Portable Sawmill Options: Bandsaw and Chainsaw Mills

If you often find yourself in need of lumber for various homestead projects, consider a small, portable sawmill to cut your own lumber. Portable milling equipment makes it possible for you to create dimensioned lumber for all kinds of DIY projects. The videos below show the versatility of portable sawmills in action. You will also discover tips to assist with assembly.

Osage Orange: A Wood for All Seasons

Hedge (a.k.a. Osage orange, a.k.a. Bodark, a.k.a. horseapple) is a thorny problem, but also a remarkable resource, if you have the means to use it.

DIY Bicycle Turn Signals

Improve your nighttime cycling safety with these do-it-yourself bicycle turn signals.

Illegal Front Yard Vegetable Gardens: Des Moines Considers Home Garden Ban

Des Moines, Iowa, gardeners may soon find themselves in hot water with their City. A local resident recently took front yard veggie growers to task for what the resident feels to be unsightly lawn growth. Beets and berries, it seems, do not have the same aesthetic appeal as a green, freshly-mowed front lawn.

Hybrid Seeds vs. GMOs

Confused about the difference between hybrids and genetically modified organisms (GMOs)? Learn more about how cultivating hybrids is different from developing GM vegetable varieties.

Five Easy-to-Grow Gourmet Vegetables

Growing some of the most delicious and sometimes expensive gourmet vegetables doesn't have to be hard. Artichoke, bronze fennel, kohlrabi, leek, and savoy cabbage are among the vegetables that grow well from seed.

Veggie Lovers: Good Green Salad!

A family meal favorite that was shared with us for years by a beloved aunt. This is one green salad that I crave and never get enough of!

How to Make a Fruit Picker

Follow these easy instructions explaining how to make a fruit picker, and you'll never be tormented by out-of-reach fruit again.

How to Wash Produce Properly

This guide on how to wash produce will help keep your foods safe. Avoid food-borne illness by washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly.

Heirloom Vegetables: Saving Seed

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

Vegetable Art by Lynn Karlin

Calling all gardeners — If you want to view a remarkable series of photographs of vegetables as art, check out Lynn Karlin’s exhibit, Taking a Stand: the Pedestal Series.  You can view the series here or at the Maine Farmland Trust in Belfast, Maine from September 28 to November 14th.

Forty Years of Splitting Firewood

Splitting firewood has changed over the lsst 40 years. A sharp chain and hydraulic splitter make all the difference in the world.

The Wedding

A break from usual blogs to share the celebration of my daughter's wedding.

Ragweed Wineberry Stir Fry

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

A Midsummer Garden Haircut

Giving your ornamental and vegetable garden a thorough cleaning in midsummer not only leaves the landscape looking better, but can help prevent damage from diseases and pests by removing the conditions in which they thrive.

Bath house project

Experiences building a water-saving bath house out of salvaged logs.

Spring Greens and Other Things from the Early Vegetable Garden

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.

Compost: The Other Prize from the Business End of a Chicken

Eggs aren't the only things that come from the business end of a chicken. But with a little time and materials, and even less ingenuity, the rest can set you up with a free and steady supply of valuable organic fertilizer.

Organic Living During World War II

Wendy Albright remembers visiting her grandparent's farm where practicing organic living was the preferred way of life; they exercised natural crop cultivation, gathered fresh chicken eggs, canned both vegetables and meat and the term "eating like a thrasher" became a reality.

Pink and Black Radish Bake

Black winter storage radishes can be roasted with bright, pink radishes to create a warming vegetable side dish best served atop of bed of crunchy salad greens.

Urban Oases

My mission was to find like minded 'earth nurturers' in a neighborhood where there seems to be a dearth of us! What I found was humility and kindred spirits, and the makings of a great dinner party!

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?

The Art of Saving Heirloom Vegetable Seeds

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

Everyday Families Growing Their Own Vegetables

Everyday families can now provide much of their fresh vegetables using Aquaponics. Aquaponics is the production of edible fish and vegetables growing in a drought proof, no weed, back saving growing system.

Recipe from the Root Cellar

It's not difficult to eat locally during the long winter months if you have preserved the previous year's harvest. Even while we wait for spring to arrive, the root cellar may still be providing our dinner.

Going Green

Go Greens - Super Fruits and Veggies supplies the natural antioxidant power of 6 servings of vibrantly colored organic fruits and vegetables in every handy “stick” pack. To Go Brands plans to continue to expand the Healthy To Go® product line.

Easiest Vegetables to Grow

Ready to start your first garden? To guarantee success with your first garden, stick with Barbara Pleasant's list of easy to grow vegetables. She has advice on when and what to plant for the first time gardener. Good luck on your first garden!

Winter's Fast Food

There's no need to go to the grocery food in the winter if you have stored food in a root cellar, freezer or canning jars. Most of the work of preparing this food has already been done and so that winter meals are easy, nutritious and delicious.

How to Store Yacon

Learn how to store yacon, a superhealthy root vegetable with a crunchy texture and sweet flavor.

Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

After a summer of growing sweet potatoes, fall is the long-awaited time to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Properly harvesting sweet potatoes, followed by sound curing and storage methods, will ensure you can enjoy your crop through the winter months.  

Oxo Biodegradable Bag Test

When Woods End Labs recently tested biodegradable plastics and found that most aren't compostable under home compost conditions, one reader (known as Eco-Oxo) wrote that Oxo biodegradable bags aren't designed to biodegrade under compost conditions. Woods End Labs is following up, taking the reader's suggestion and testing Oxo under the conditions Eco-Oxo recommends. This is Part 1 of the new test, where you can follow along and see how Oxo fares under different conditions. 

Find the Best Seeds: Choose Great-Tasting Varieties

Editor in chief Cheryl Long explains how to find the best-tasting vegetable varieties to plant in your garden, and talks about three of her favorites: ‘Carmen’ sweet peppers, ‘Sungold’ cherry tomatoes and ‘Floriani’ grain corn.

Pegboard Tool Cart

Get organized and improve workshop efficiency with this nifty project.

A Toast to Roasted Vegetables

Roasting is the best way to cook winter root vegetables, because dry heat coaxes out and concentrates flavors. Use this simple method and fool-proof tips to bring out the best in  parsnips, carrots, rutabagas and other root vegetables.