Organic Gardening
Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.

Gradually Growing a Butterfly Garden (while Finding a Community)

 Horn Like Osmeterium Caterpillar jpg

Horn-like Osmeterium

It started with a backyard like many others. Some lawn, trees, and shrubs — just a random mix of gardening inherited from a long line of previous homeowners.

Without much thought, I added in some flowers from the local nurseries: peonies, roses, and a few of the commonly sold exotics. In response, I noticed very little wildlife. I convinced my husband to build a large pond, complete with a bubbly cobblestone river for the birds. The pond caused some action — birds arrived and toads began to visit the pond for spring mating rituals. I saw an occasional butterfly pass through, but they would never linger for long.

As a child, I had been fascinated with butterflies, bees, and all other sorts of insects. I had played in the fields and delighted in the array of amazing insects that lived and dined on the native wildflowers. I decided to rethink my backyard with the goal of attracting butterflies.

I learned a bit more about nectar flowers and began planting coneflowers, bee balm and a few zinnias. A couple of Monarchs showed up late in the season to nectar, but still no major results. Then one day, in early summer, things began to change.

Backyards as Essential Butterfly Habitat

Butterfly Egg On Fennel

Eastern Black Swallowtail egg on fennel

I had a planter of herbs located near my deck door, perfect for grabbing a handful for cooking. To my surprise, I noticed a beautiful Eastern Black Swallowtail frequenting that little herb garden. And then I found a few lovely seed-pearl eggs clinging to the fennel. In that moment, I recognized that host plants are the foundation of a butterfly garden.

Over time, and after reading some of the writings of University of Delaware Professor, Doug Tallamy, I also came to realize that many species of butterflies are in desperate need of habitat — and that backyards have the potential to play a large role in helping many species survive to be enjoyed by future generations.

As they say, the rest is history. I researched regional butterflies and their host plants. Soon I was rewarded with a yard dancing with butterflies — and crawling with caterpillars.

Finding Community through Pollinator Gardening

Black Swallowtail Caterpillar Green

Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillar

This journey of awareness also introduced me to some wonderful kindred spirits; gardeners who are equally concerned about the obvious decline in butterfly (and pollinator) populations. Through our shared experiences, and encouragement – our backyard habitats expanded and so did our winged populations. Indeed, meeting these unexpected friends seemed like a serendipitous occurrence; something that was meant to be.

With this in mind, I began a Facebook group, and chose the name Serendipity. Serendipity is a friendly place that encourages others to share their ideas, learn about host plants, post photos of their amazing backyard visitors, and promote pollinator gardening by inspiring others. It is an amazing experience working with these like-minded people — and being a part of this important grassroots movement to save the pollinators one yard at a time.

 Orange And Black Butterfly Swallowtail

Newly eclosed Papilio polyxenes asterius drying its wings

Photos by Shannon Mach, SE Michigan Butterfly and Pollinator Habitat 2018

Shannon Mach believes residential backyards have the potential to support long-term conservation efforts. Her own garden is certified as a Monarch Waystation, a Wildlife Habitat, a Butterfly Garden, and a Pollinator Habitat. The philosophy of her Facebook group, Serendipity, is to create a place that feels like a nature walk with friends.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

How to Prepare Your Garden Against Frost

Photo by Getty Images / Grahamphoto23

Preparing the garden for the colder months ahead helps keep overwintering plants and your soil in prime condition.

Cover soil with a 1-2-inch-thick layer of organic matter such as well-rotted manure or compost before it gets too cold. It will keep soil life fed while protecting the soil itself from erosion caused by winter weather.

Protect Plants

Store clean row covers rolled up somewhere dry and off the ground, ready to throw over winter salads and other vegetables when frost threatens.

Cold frames can be simply made with a wooden frame and a hinged lid made of glass or polycarbonate, or create a low tunnel using lengths of PVC water pipe. Flex them into hoops and connect them with a central ridge of water pipe at the top. Slide them onto lengths of rebar hammered into the soil for stability.

Clear plastic bottles cut in half are a good way to protect individual small plants, either outdoors or as additional insulation within a greenhouse or hoop house.

Root Crops

In milder regions, root crops such as carrots and beets can be left in the ground until they’re needed. A frost can actually improve the flavor of some crops, such as parsnips.

Add a six-inch thick mulch of compost, straw, dried leaves or leaf mold to help keep frosts at bay. If the ground will freeze solid for an extended period of time, dig up your root crops beforehand and store them in a dry, cool but frost-free place.

Protect Containers

In winter the biggest enemy of crops in containers is wet potting soil. Lift pots up off the ground using pot feet or small rocks to improve drainage.

Some containers can crack when potting soil freezes and expands. Help protect them by wrapping pots up in bubble plastic or burlap, and move them to a sheltered spot, such as next to a South-facing house wall or inside a greenhouse.

Insulating Your Greenhouse 

Heating an entire greenhouse gets expensive. If you must heat it, section off an area of and heat this smaller space instead.

Wrap frost-sensitive plants in row cover fabric. Use old polystyrene fish boxes to insulate smaller plants like winter salad leaves against the cold. Most have drainage holes, so you can fill the boxes with potting soil and plant into it, or simply place trays and pots into the boxes. Cover with fabric or plastic overnight for extra insulation.

Know Your First Frost Date   

Know when to expect your first frost so you can more effectively plan your frost protection. Our Garden Planner uses your location to anticipate the date when this is likely to occur. Keep an eye on the weather forecast too.

Get More Tips with These Great Gardening Resources

Our popular Vegetable Garden Planner can help you map out your garden design, space crops, know when to plant which crops in your exact location, and much more.

Need crop-specific growing information? Browse our Crops at a Glance Guide for advice on planting and caring for dozens of garden crops.

More Videos

Watch more videos on gardening techniques and other self-reliance, DIY topics on our Wiser Living Videos page.

8 Ways to Garden in Harmony With Nature

In this video and article we share eight great gardening techniques to help you reduce your impact on Mother Earth.

Photo by Getty Images / kupicco

1. Opt for Human Power 

Save natural resources by replacing electric or gasoline-powered equipment such as lawnmowers, tillers and leaf-blowers with human-powered alternatives wherever possible. Break down big jobs into regular smaller blocks to make them easier and help you keep fit and active.

2. Work with Nature to Solve Problems

Instead of using artificial fertilizers and pesticides, which are energy intensive to manufacture and carry many undesirable side effects such as polluting rivers and harming beneficial insects and soil life, take a natural approach instead. Regularly add organic materials to the soil to build fertility in the long term, and plant flowers to attract pest predators.

3. Plant Trees

Plant trees to help lock up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and help to mitigate the effects of climate change. Trees also offer birds somewhere to nest, feed and shelter, and in return they will keep many plant pests in check.

Trees are available in all sizes from tiny to gigantic, and can be planted into otherwise underused parts of the garden. Most are easy to grow and many are productive as well as beautiful – apple trees, for instance.

4. Compost Your Waste

Composting is a natural process and far more environmentally friendly than throwing away organic matter. Garden-made compost is often more nutrient-dense than bought-in sources, so plants will love it.

Setting up a simple compost pile or bin is easy, and don’t worry – it won’t smell!

5. Green Up Your Lawn

Lawns need a lot of effort and water to maintain, especially in hotter climates. Consider whether any of your lawn could be repurposed. A native wildflower meadow only needs mowing once or twice a year, so it’s less work and more beautiful than a plain green lawn.

Make any lawn that remains more sustainable by allowing the grass to grow a little longer between cuts. Leave the clippings where they fall at least once a month to feed the soil.

6. Reuse and Recycle

Reuse pots and seed containers as often as possible by washing them after each season so they’re ready and clean for the next. Keep your tools in top condition by storing them somewhere dry, keeping moving parts oiled, and sharpening blades regularly so they work like new.

Choose natural materials in the garden that are less energy-intensive to manufacture. For instance, opt for biodegradable pots made of coconut fiber (coir), cardboard or old newspaper, and greenhouses built from sustainable wood instead of aluminium.

Repurpose old items from the house into new ones for the garden. There’s all sorts of fun to be had in getting creative!

7. Free Natural Resources

Set up barrels to collect rainfall and cut your consumption of treated water – and your water bill! (Check that this is allowed in your area first.)

Rake up fallen leaves to make leaf mold, which can be used to improve soil structure or as a component of a homemade, packaging-free potting mix.

Grow flowers rich in nectar. This will draw in pollinators and pest predators to feed on the bugs you don’t want. Frogs and toads are the ultimate slug controllers, so include a pond for them if you can.

Making room for wildlife doesn’t have to mean sacrificing valuable space on the ground. Why not install a green roof on your shed, or put together a simple bug hotel. Many projects are easily completed in a weekend to bring long-lasting benefits, and they’re great fun!

8. Grow What Thrives

Grow plants that naturally thrive in your garden. Pick the right plant for the right place: for example, reserve the sunniest areas for vegetables like tomatoes and beans, and grow leafy salads in the shade. Accept that sometimes it’s too soon to plant, and save money and energy. Work back from the last frost date so tender crops like squashes aren’t sown too early and are ready to plant when the time’s right, without resorting to using costly heating or growing lights. Our Garden Planner includes a handy Plant List to help with this too. Grow as much as you can to reduce the food miles you rack up: plan ahead, re-sow throughout the growing season, and preserve some of your homegrown harvest for enjoying throughout the year.

Get More Tips with These Great Gardening Resources

Our popular Vegetable Garden Planner can help you map out your garden design, space crops, know when to plant which crops in your exact location, and much more.

Need crop-specific growing information? Browse our Crops at a Glance Guide for advice on planting and caring for dozens of garden crops.

More Videos

Watch more videos on gardening techniques and other self-reliance, DIY topics on our Wiser Living Videos page.

Annual Soil Building: An Organic Year in Review


Photo by Pixabay/Wiselywoven

The season is wrapping up for the calendar year. That said, here in the sub-tropical Bay Area, we have a 365 days of growing opportunity. As we clear out our fall tomato beds and perhaps seed lava and garlic into the beds for winter, now is a good time to give some love to your farming soil.

Safety first: Test your soil. For those of you hashing out new growing space into your homes, it can be important to bring in O.M.R.I. labeled bag soil. When a bag of soil shows this O.M.R.I label, you know that it has been tested to be free of pesticide residues. For those of you farming the ground, a lab test can be a good first step, to ensure soil safety.

I recommend Wallace Labs. They are California-based and offer a 1-week turnaround. They also offer a lab analysis of the soil profile, as well as sentences from the lab technicians to interpret the data into regular human terms.

Note: A  lab test not only can detect harmful elements (ie.. lead and heavy metals) but also determine soil nutrient levels and the important pH of the soil. By spending the $70 on a test, you can get a jumpstart on assessing your soils current status.

Cover crop for winter. Cover crops benefit your soil in many ways:

Increase winter bio-diverisity (and food)
Protects soil from compaction from raindrop
Supports the pollinators in winter when there are far fewer blossoms around to provide nectar to native ecology.

Feed the soil! Organic farming requires the seasonal amendments to continue to build yummy soil texture. When it is rich, yet crumbly and aerated, soil can achieve exponentially compared to poor soil.

One thing I encounter each week as a Bay Area horticultural consultant is people planting into hard pan clay without breaking it up and amending it. Thus, they can get flustered with poor, sad plants.

Worm castings. By amending your soil, you can ensure steady abundance.  I recommend broad casting worm castings at the rate of 1 bag per 200 square feet. This light feed is pH-balanced, so you do not have to worry about burning the plants. Though pricey, worm castings is a miracle food that you cannot go wrong with.

Manures. Manures are cheaper than worm castings. However, they can burn plants if you do not broadcast. Also, you should wear a breathing mask, as steer and chicken manures are toxic to breathe in. Broadcast at rate of 1 bag per 200 square feet.

Crop residues. You can continue to compost in a compost bin or directly in your garden beds.  Simply chop up all the non-woody and non-diseased leaves and stems and continually mulch with them around your planted plants.

Another option is to make a mini trench on at the edge of your raised beds and bury the crop residues in the trench and then cover with garden soil.

Mulch. Wood chips are great because they can: insulate the soil from temperature spikes, hold irrigation water longer, reduce weeds, and break down slowly to support mycorrhyzzae (beneficial fungi) growth. Contact your local tree company and request 6 to 12 yards of free chips. You will need to have a free driveway and they may only give you a 2-week span of time to receive if free or cheap. Ask if there is Eucalyptus, Sycamore or Black Walnut (“Make you Sick-A-More”) in the mix — you do not want these species.

Joshua Burman Thayer is a landscape designer and permaculture consultant with Native Sun GardensHe is the Urban Agriculture Supervisor for Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation in San Francisco, Calif. Find him at Native Sun Gardens and read his other MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Dealing with Snow on Your Hoophouse


Bouncing snow off the hoophouse from inside, using a broom. Photo Dripping Springs Garden.

For some hoophouse owners, this will be your first winter. Some others will be remembering last winter, and hoping to find a better way of dealing with snow. Snow can be heavy stuff, so removing it is worthwhile. This can be done from the outside, pulling the snow down to ground level, and from the inside, bouncing the snow off the plastic. It isn’t necessary to remove all the snow. Once you have removed what you can, the daytime temperature inside the hoophouse will rise and help melt the rest of the snow. We have never needed to get out of bed in the night to tackle snow, but you might.

First we tackle the outside, or if snow is still falling or it’s frozen onto the plastic, we start with the inside. Either way, start with the south side, to get as much advantage from solar gain as possible. The important rule of snow removal is “First, do no harm.” Don’t make holes in the plastic in your efforts to remove snow! A hoophouse is most stable when the snow is evenly distributed. Since houses are stronger at the ends where they have end walls for support, it makes sense to start at the weaker middle and work in both directions if removing heavy snow.

Snow scraper mounted on a telescopic painter's pole. Photo by Pam Dawling

For outside we use a tool (SnoBrūm™) which is sold for scraping snow off cars. It’s a foam board about 6" × 18" (15 × 45 cm) with a threaded insert that takes a telescoping pole. It is sold with a short pole, but a painter’s pole will give a much longer reach. If you haven’t yet got one of these handy tools, carefully use the back of a rake (wrapped in thick cloth). Pull the snow down between the bows, avoiding pulling the tool over the framework as much as possible, as that can easily make holes. Alternate with shoveling the snow away from the base of the hoophouse if the snow is deep (piles of snow pressing against the lower walls can do damage). Be careful not to hit the plastic with any metal tools. Don’t attempt to use the relatively fragile foam-board tool for pushing snow along the ground; keep it free of grit and use it only on the plastic.

Repurposed car snow scraper. Photo by Pam Dawling.

Inside, don a visor (to keep blobs of icy water from landing on your face) and grab an old broom with its head covered in a cloth or bubble plastic, taped on. Make sure there are no sharp protrusions from the broom head. First walk along the paths nearest the walls banging the broom against the plastic – use the bristle end. We find a double bouncing action works best, and we can get in a rhythm. This can be a long and tiring job! Start at waist height because if the lower snow falls down, sometimes the higher stuff will follow it down, saving you work. When you need to reach higher, tie or tape the broom to a longer stick. Or find something that screws onto your painter’s pole, such as a paint roller (!) and cover that with bubble plastic. Balance applying your energy with being gentle with the plastic. Do not use the foam-board scraper for bouncing snow — it will crack.

When you’re tired and no more snow is easy to move, wait and try again later. The warming effect of incoming daylight will help melt the snow next to the plastic, so that it is easier to start it sliding off next time you do the rounds.

Sometimes ice accumulates on the plastic. If you get freezing rain that sticks on the plastic, it creates a rough surface that keeps any snow that settles on top from sliding off until the ice thaws. The best way to remove ice is to melt it using warmth from inside. If you have double plastic and it is not windy, shut off the inflation blower — the heat from inside will reach the ice sooner. Be very careful if you try to break the ice free mechanically, as there is a big risk of the sharp edges of the ice cutting the plastic. You also risk abrasion every time you use a device on the outside of the plastic to pull snow or ice off the tunnel. This makes the plastic rough, and snow won’t slide off as well in the future.

Prevent Hoophouse Frame Collapse

Snow comes in various consistencies and weights. A foot (30 cm) of light fluffy snow may only contain as much water as 1" (2.5 cm) of rain. But heavy wet snow can equal 1" (2.5 cm) of rain in only 3"–4" (8–10 cm) of snow. Each inch (2.5 cm) of rainwater-equivalent will load a structure with 5.2 lbs/ft2 (25 kg/m2). This is about 6.5 tons (5.9 metric tons) on a 25' × 96' (7.6 × 29.2 m) hoophouse! Uneven snow loads make a frame more likely to collapse because there are points of higher pressure. This happens if snow is thicker on one side of the hoophouse or if adjacent hoophouses are too close and snow piles up between them when it slides off the roof. The weight of snow can buckle the side of the frame.

When heavy snow is predicted, turn a heater on a couple hours before the storm begins, with the thermostat at 70°F (21°C) or higher. The cost of the fuel is less than a new hoophouse. A portable propane heater (non-electric!) is a good thing to have on hand for unheated tunnels or if a furnace fails. If you have a very heavy snowfall and it is not possible to remove the snow, then cut the plastic and let the snow fall into the hoophouse to relieve the pressure and save the frame.

We have an “If this, do that” card at the front of our hoophouse log book, to help with decisions. It divides snow events into three types:

If the night temperature will be higher than 25°F (−4°C) and you expect less than 6" (15 cm) of wet snow, leave the inflation on, go to bed and hope the snow will slide off.

If the night temperature will be lower than 25°F (−4°C), or there will be more than 6" (15 cm) of snow and no wind, turn off the inflation until the morning, letting the interior heat do its best to melt the snow.

If there is hard sleet or freezing rain, cycle the inflation off for three hours, on for three hours, with the goal of letting the interior heat melt some of the accumulation, and then using the inflation to push the slush off (give it some help in the morning). Repeat this cycle as needed.

Two great resources are Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension, Prevent Greenhouse Collapse and the Rimol Greenhouses Blog How to Reduce Storm Damage to Your Greenhouse and High Tunnel.

Pam Dawling works in the vegetable gardens at Twin Oaks Community in central Virginia. She often presents workshops at MEN Fairs, as well as sustainable agriculture conferences. Pam also writes for Growing for Market and other magazines. Her books, Sustainable Market Farming: Intensive Vegetable Production on a Few Acres, and The Year-Round Hoophouse: Polytunnels for All Seasons and All Climates, are available at Her blog is on her website and also on Some of the material in this post is from The Year-Round Hoophouse.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Setting Up An Urban Homestead: Thinking Outside the Box

junk yard plot 

Our future garden: full of junk and weeds.

In my previous post, I told how downcast I felt when we arrived at our new home and saw a small plot all smothered in concrete, with no room for a garden. My first impulse was to sit down and cry, but soon enough, we rallied and started looking at our options.

There was a small abandoned plot right next to ours. It was basically a blank space in the town landscape that has been sitting disused or, to be exact, unofficially used as a junk yard/trash heap. There were old mattresses and bottles, broken plastic chairs and old moldy clothes, and everything was overgrown with thorns as tall as my waist. There were also broken slabs of concrete too heavy for us to move on our own.

Our first move was to call the town council and ask for permission to use this plot for gardening. That was easy enough. The nice fellow we spoke to popped over the next morning to see what we were talking about, and seemed genuinely surprised and pleased that someone was interested in that little godforsaken piece of land.

The next stage was junk removal and getting the plot in proper shape for planting. This proved to be trickier. Our budget was nearly nonexistent. Could the city council send a tractor as a one-time gesture and remove the heavy junk? After all, this little investment would permanently remove a huge eyesore from the neighborhood. Unfortunately, after a few weeks of dodged phone calls and vague “maybes”, we realized this just isn’t going to happen. We were lucky enough to snag a tractor that was working on some other project in the area, and got the plot cleared with comparatively very little cost.

The days were rapidly shortening and the rain season was just about to begin. I have never planted right before the winter before, but was too excited to keep myself from jumping feet-first into the experiment. I figured that our winter is about as warm as many people’s summer, so it made sense to try to plant and see what would grow. Over the next weeks, I prepared garden beds and sowed beans, squash, tomatoes, peppers, and greens, in addition to my row of perennial herbs. My first seedlings have started to come up, and I look forward to seeing how it all turns out.

There’s nothing like having the freedom to grow and raise whatever you want on your own piece of rural land, but town living has its potential for homesteading and sustainability. Our gas costs have dropped dramatically since we no longer need to drive for every little errand. Also, in a larger local network of people, there is bigger potential for swapping, trading and giving things away.

Coming, hopefully, soon: exploring the possibility of raising urban chickens.

Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna, her husband and their four children live on the outskirts of a small town in northern Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna's books are on her Author PageConnect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blogRead all Anna's Mother Earth News posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Autumn Garden: Harvesting, Planting, Sustaining and Eating

autumn garden with potatoes

Photo by Monte Larson

Six a.m. The thermometer reads 18 degrees. Quaking aspen leaves whirl in a gust of wind. Frost laces the pasture. We begin our morning work in the garden, which just a few weeks ago boasted an abundance of crops. Now many annuals have died. Perennials have gone dormant. Yet, much of our garden still thrives.

Before becoming homesteaders, we accepted the notion of short-season gardening. Based on the USDA hardiness zone map, the growing season in our area extends from late May to mid-September. Beyond that, we assumed the only way to garden involved greenhouses or cold frames.

Our first few years on the homestead, we spent several weeks each fall bottling, drying, freezing, and storing. In addition to all our other tasks, we became overwhelmed. In order to make this way of life sustainable, we needed to adjust how much time we allotted to processing food.

We still put up crops for the winter. Few aspects of our DIY life are more satisfying than the products of food preservation: mason jars filled with peaches and pears, dried lemon verbena, rehydrated tomatoes in a winter stew. Yet, over the years, we’ve become more selective about what and how we preserve. The main questions we ask ourselves are how much we enjoy the preserved product and how much time we’re willing to invest in the process.

Our favorite produce is seasonal and fresh. So we began questioning how to extend the season. Once we tried placing repurposed planters over tomatoes each night to keep them from freezing, but we didn’t enjoy using plastic in the garden. Another time we tried surrounding seeded beds with bales of straw, and then covering them at night. That worked, but required more labor than we had to spare. Eventually we discovered cold and frost-hardy crops. We tried to grow some. Much to our delight, we succeeded.

Now, on this cold November morning, the following edible plants continue to thrive: Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, collards, chard, horseradish, kale, lovage, mint, parsley, parsnips, potatoes, sage, rosemary, and sunchokes. So far this fall we’ve harvested nearly one hundred fifty pounds of organic produce in addition to the five hundred pounds we harvested in summer and spring.

For the past several years, we’ve eaten chard, collards, kale, parsnips, and sunchokes directly out of the garden well into winter. Brussels sprouts taste better after a good frost, so we’ll wait a while before harvesting them. (We would wait until winter but for deer.) This is our first successful year growing cabbage. We harvested a head in September, which was bitter and tough. A few weeks ago, we harvested several more, which were tender and sweet. No doubt, the colder weather and additional growing time improved them.

As for sunchokes, we look forward to our ritual of digging through snow to unearth these fabulous tubers. But for now, we spend the morning pruning asparagus fronds, amending the soil, and covering the bed with a layer of straw. We also cover the garlic bed, which we planted last week.

Then we move on to raking and placing the leaves in the garden as mulch. Since we do all of our work with hand tools, this process takes several hours. The physicality of it stimulates hunger. 11:00 a.m. The thermometer reads 40 degrees. We pinch off a handful of sage leaves, bake potatoes, and gather eggs from the coop. We poach the eggs and sauté the leaves until crisp. We savor our garden-fresh meal.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

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