Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Home Grown: The Benefits of Earthworms

> Rainfall is better able to enter the soil when lots of earthworms are burrowing. This eliminates the water erosion and puddling which can kill young plants.

> In the case of Lumbricus Terrestris and about 50 other species of earthworms which have similar habits, the digging of deep semi-permanent burrows brings mineral rich sub-soils to the surface in reach of plant roots.

> A large population of worms will attract Robins among other species of birds. While Robins will prey on the worms in the early months when worms are near the surface, the birds will turn to feeding on insect pests later in the season.

Continued in... The Benefits of Earthworms

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Home Grown: Rabbit Resistant Flowers

Rabbits can cause a great deal of damage to plants. Though fencing is an effective control, it may be too unattractive for some uses.

In cases where fencing isn't wanted, using plants that are unattractive to rabbits can be helpful. Just remember, these plants are resistant; not immune to attack.

Young plants or those that are succulent due to over fertilization are more likely to be damaged. The unavailability of other food sources can result in rabbits feeding on plants that are normally rejected.

Continued in... Rabbit Resistant Flowers

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Cedar Fence Posts from Humble, Texas

Now available in Farm Supply:
Cedar Fence Posts available direct from Discount Cedar in Humble, Texas.

These are Number One Grade Mountain Cedar Posts - straight, strong, dense heartwood, long lasting - shipped from the Ozark Mountains in Missouri.

Unlike Texas cedar, Ozark Mountain cedar does not rot and is very dense. The heartwood, or red center of the post comprises 80% of these fence posts, making the wood very strong. The white outer layer of the post, sapwood, is more common in Texas cedar species and will rot in a few years. Also, Missouri cedar grows tall and straight, making these fence posts almost as uniform as milled lumber.

Small quantities can be picked up at the cedar yard in Humble, Texas. Truckload order are shipped directly from a cedar mill in Missouri to any location in the United States.

Cedar Fence Posts
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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Home Grown: Potted Perennials in Winter

Taking care of your potted perennial plants over the winter will ensure they are around next season to provide another year of enjoyment.

Container gardening is a form of gardening everyone can enjoy no matter how large or small their garden may be. Those with only a balcony or patio can enjoy the pleasures of gardening just as those with areas of space.  Containers can be quite elaborate, and the types of plant material can be quite varied. When it comes to what gardeners are putting into containers, the trend is leaning toward just about anything.

At one time annuals were the majority, if not the only type, of plant material being used in containers.  Now everything from perennials to small trees and shrubs are being grown.

Continued in... Potted Perennials in Winter

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Artwork: Black Bat Tacca Flower

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Recipe Archive: Asian-Style Plum Sauce

Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry
Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving
by Cathy Barrow

"Late-season plums, arriving at the end of summer, are dusky and deep, dark violet, with golden, sweet flesh. When cooked, they turn a deeper purple with reddish under-tones, like garnets. This is a very versatile sauce. Bright and fruity, acidic, and eye-opening  with the surprise of heat from the chile, it’s wonderful with Spiced Pork Chops, mixed with hot mustard for dipping spring rolls or dumplings, or stirred together with fermented black beans and brushed on grilled tofu. Just one jar has the potential to bring many new flavors to the table."

1½ cups (12 oz., 340 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
¾ cup (5 oz., 138 g) granulated sugar
¾ cup (6 oz., 180 ml) cider  vinegar
1 cup (4 oz., 110 g) finely minced onion
1 medium jalapeƱo pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped 3 garlic cloves, minced
1½ tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
3 pounds (1350 g) late-season or Damson plums, pitted and chopped into ½-inch dice

full recipe in The Book Stall

Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preserving
by Cathy Barrow
W. W. Norton & Company, 2014
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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Home Grown: Planting Fall Wildflowers

Native wildflowers and their cultivars — yellow goldenrod, purple asters,  golden sunflowers, and dusty rose Joe Pye — are not only attractive flowers, but provide nourishment for an amazing variety of butterflies, moths, and other insects.

Fall wildflowers are particularly outstanding at attracting adult moths and butterflies, which lay eggs that hatch into larva (caterpillars). The larvae provide a high-protein source of food for many birds, particularly warblers and neo-tropical migrant birds of conservation concern. Birds are very good at keeping populations of these insects in check, so it is a good situation for all.

Some flowers that bloom in the fall are tall, up to 2 to 6 feet or more, depending on the species and cultivar, and in a garden these work best at the back of a flower border.

Continued in... Planting Fall Wildflowers

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Artwork: Aromatic Aster Seeds

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
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