Sunday, July 26, 2015

Book Stall Review: The Illustrated Guide to Cows.

Written for backyard farmers and smallholders interested in pasturing cows, this book describes some 50 breeds and their temperaments, giving basic advice on selecting animals and their husbandry. Nicely illustrated, the volume is certainly not encyclopedic in its coverage, but is rather more a friendly homage to keeping cows.

"Cattle are one of the most undemanding and rewarding domestic animals to keep, being in the main healthy and temperate. They are the smallholder's staple, providing the essentials of milk and beef. There are numerous breeds to choose from...," author and illustrator Celia Lewis explains.

A practical volume with useful advice on how to milk a cow, acquire stock, feed, tan a hide, and even make a cow horn, this handsome guidebook will make a decorative addition to the ranch-style decor of any living room or library.

How to Choose Them, How to Keep Them
by Celia Lewis 
Bloomsbury USA, 2014
continued in The Book Stall
Reviews Archive
Animal Husbandry Books
Outrider Reading Group

Monday, July 20, 2015

Home Grown: Planting a Second Crop

It may be midsummer, but you can make it spring again in your vegetable garden. Don't let the summer heat cheat you out of more fresh vegetables. Go for two crops this year.

Gardeners across much of North America generally plant summer vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, sweet corn, southern peas, snap beans, cantaloupes and eggplant in March and April and finish the harvest around the middle of summer.

Much of the continent has a subtropical climate, however, and that means another round of summer crops can be squeezed in before the first frost in  mid-October or November.

Continued in... Planting a Second Crop

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Growing Guides
Artwork: Kentucky Wonder Beans

Monday, July 6, 2015

Home Grown: Sun Protection for Tomato Skins

The sun's rays are tough on our faces and arms, but we can wear sunscreen to reduce the damage to our skin. Tomatoes don't have that option. Exposed to bright sun, the fruit can heat up dramatically, reaching temperatures as much as 18 degrees warmer than the surrounding air.

Sunscald damage to your tomatoes depends on their stage of maturity, and the intensity and duration of the heat. The fruit is most susceptible when it is green or when the first pink color begins to show (called the breaker state).

If the fruit's temperature exceeds 86 degrees Fahrenheit on its sunny side, the flesh remains hard and will not ripen. At this temperature, the fruit can't produce the red pigment, lycopene, but still produces the yellow pigment, carotene. At a sizzling 104 degrees, the tomato stops producing carotene and the damaged area turns white. Damaged cells eventually collapse and the area may become sunken.

Continued in... Home Grown

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Growing Guides
Artwork: Better Boy Tomato

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Home Grown: Trellis Home Vegetables for Better Fruit, Bigger Harvest

Trellising gets the plant and fruit up off the ground. This makes for better quality fruit and less disease. It also helps maintain order in the garden and makes harvesting easier.

For tomatoes, some people simply put cages over the plant to support it as it grows. Another method is to drive a 1-inch- square, 4-foot stake into the ground by each plant and tie the plant to the stake.

If you have a long row of tomatoes, you can set a large post at each end of the row and again about every 20 feet within it. Attach a wire across the top of the posts and about 4 inches above the ground. Use twine to tie each plant to the wires for support.

Continued in... Home Grown

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Plants and Seeds
Garden Tools
Artwork: Cucumber Trellis

Monday, June 1, 2015

Recipe File: Chocolate-Praline Cake in a Jar

Chocolate cake by the pint.

Adapted from Chocolate & Vanilla by Gale Gand, one of the country's most high-profile pastry chefs, this may be the ultimate portable cake.

Pour the batter into 1-pint canning jars and bake them in the oven; then pour in praline topping, let them cool, screw on the lids and go.

full recipe in The Recipe Archive

Chocolate and Vanilla by Gale Gand.
Recipe Archive
Farm Kitchen

Artwork: Pint Mason Jar

Friday, May 29, 2015

Home Grown: Saving Rainfall

When summer arrives, gardeners will wish they could have saved some of the rain that ran down their driveways in the spring.

Outdoor use is a major component of the total water demand for urban areas.But in times of drought and water restrictions, landscape irrigation will most likely be a low priority for potable water supplies.

Using rainwater can significantly reduce the amount of drinkable water used for irrigation.

Continued at... Saving Rainfall

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Rain Barrels
Garden Tools

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Here's How To... Smoke Seeds.

The seeds of some plants do not germinate readily. Hard seed coats on flowering sweet peas, lupine and candle bush need scarification in order to sprout and grow. This means the seed must be nicked, sanded or scratched to allow the embryo to break through and emerge.

Other seeds won't give up their dormancy until they smell smoke. Plants like salvia, protea, senna, tea trees and kangaroo paw that have been removed from their natural environments need a smoke signal to begin germination.

Follow the link to... Smoke Seeds.

Here's How To...
How To Do It
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Seed Saving and Starting
Liquid Smoke