Thursday, February 27, 2014

Home Grown: Growing Blueberries.

The blueberry is a small fruit that is very popular, but can be challenging and frustrating for some home gardeners.

Blueberries require acidic soils with high organic matter content. They can be injured by late-spring and early fall frosts and also midwinter temperatures below negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Blueberry plants are also expensive --  2- or 3-year-old plants can cost over $7 per plant.

Blossom removal is recommended for the first 2 years after planting in order for the plants to channel energy into shoot and root development. Hence, there is no crop for the first two years.

Continued at... Growing Blueberries

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Plants and Seeds
Seed, Plant, and Nursery Catalogs
Artwork: 'Top Hat' Dwarf Blueberry Plant

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rural Delivery: Winter Visitors.

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1994. All rights reserved.

Among the most common sounds of winter in the country, along with rustling leaves and crackling fires, is the scratching and scurrying that can be heard inside walls and rafters of almost every rural dwelling.

These are the sounds of the house mouse, mus musculus, one of the least welcome of guests and most difficult to dissuade. This uninvited visitor will eat, or chew on, almost anything and defecate everywhere. He contaminates food, causes damage to structures and property, and  carries dangerous diseases.

Introduced by 16th century pilgrims in the holds of their Atlantic-crossing ships, house mice followed the progress of Europeans in the New World, traveling in wagons and rucksacks and saddlebags and trains and trucks and planes across the continent and back, occupying pantries from Maine to Malibu.

Grayish brown with a naked scaly tail, the pointy-snouted house mouse puts down 50 droppings a day, on average, and gives off 300 squirts of urine in between. Messy, ugly, and presumptuous, this uninvited guest inspires desperate measures.

Continued at... Winter Visitors

Rural Delivery
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Hairless Mouse - Mus Musculus.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Here's How To... Start Farming.

A couple working six months per year for 50 hours per week on 20 acres can net $25,000-$30,000 per year with an investment equivalent to the price of one new medium-sized tractor. Seldom has agriculture held out such a plum.

In a day when main-line farm experts predict the continued demise of the family farm, the pastured poultry opportunity shines like a beacon in the night, guiding the way to a brighter future..

Follow the link to... Pastured Poultry Profits.

Here's How To...
How To Do It
Pastured Poultry Profits
Artwork: Chicken Tractor

Rural Delivery: How America Lost Its Marbles

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1995. All rights reserved.

I used to carry a small canvas bag with me everywhere I went. Inside that bag was my prized shooter, an oversized aggie with distinctive caramel-colored swirls, and an assortment of smaller clearies, puries, clays and jaspers.
We played for keeps on the playground of my youth, circles scratched in the dirt, knuckles drawn, shooters poised. I can still hear the loud CRACK! of a successful shot and remember the agony of watching helplessly as some 10-year-old sharpshooter cleared the ring of my last target marble.
The size of my marble bag reflected my fortunes. Some days it bulged with booty; other times I had only my shooter.
I no longer measure my worth in rounded bits of glass. It's been a long time since I was on my knees in the dirt taking aim at a purple-tinted brandie. But it saddens me that no one has taken my place at the ring and that few schoolchildren these days have any interest in the game.

Continued at... How America Lost Its Marbles

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Out of the Past blog
Artwork: Playing marbles.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Home Grown Plant of the Week: Viscum.

The mistletoe genus contains between 70 and 100 species of woody, partially parasitic shrubs. They have a unique strategy of acquiring nutrients though a combination of their own photosynthetic activity and the absorption of materials from their host.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rural Delivery: Out of Line

In the town where I live, there's just one streetlight with one color: red. It flashes the same in all directions at a four-way stop where one state highway crosses another. The traffic bottles up when a freight train passes through, blocking the north-south lanes. I've seen cars backed up five, maybe six deep...

Queued up in one of these small-town traffic jams the other day, I started to reflect on the lines I've waited through and the ones I missed. I used to work in midtown Manhattan, you see, once of the most densely populated places on earth.

In the town where I live, there's just one streetlight with one color: red. It flashes the same in all directions at a four-way stop where one state highway crosses another.

We called it waiting "on line" rather than "in line," I suppose, to show that we were individuals and not anonymous segments in a line. Either way, I spent a lot of time waiting.

Continued at... Out of Line

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved.
Rural Delivery
Outrider Reading Group
Artwork: People Waiting On Line

Friday, February 14, 2014

Home Grown: Clearing the Air with Houseplants

Houseplants certainly add to a home’s d├ęcor, but they can also purify indoor air.

“This is an area that’s been largely ignored, and the health issues are potentially astronomical,” says University of Georgia horticulturist Stanley Kays. “We spend as much as 90 percent of our time indoors breathing indoor air that often contains a diverse range of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), many of which are toxic.”

House plants can absorb those VOCs. To determine the best air-purifying houseplants, researchers at the University of Georgia evaluated 32 plant species.  Of those tested, purple waffle plant (Hemigraphis alternata) best removed VOCs from the air.

Continued at... Clearing the Air with Houseplants

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Plants and Seeds
Seed, Plant, and Nursery Catalogs
Artwork: Houseplant by Don Schaeffer

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Here's How To... Grow Your Own Starts.

Some gardeners pick dates at random when sowing seed indoors. This often results in very tall, overgrown, poor-quality seedlings because they were sown too early.

Sowing schedules are based upon knowing how long it takes to produce a useable transplant from seed (number of weeks) and when you can safely plant the resulting transplants outdoors (based upon frost-free dates for your area). For instance, eggplant and pepper seeds require 8 to 10 weeks, while tomato, cabbage and brassicas need 6 to 8 weeks, and lettuce, melons and cucumber about 4 weeks.

For example, zinnias or tomatoes take about four to five weeks to produce useable transplants for the garden from seed.  They are also tender plants, preferring to be placed outdoors after the frost- free date.  If your frost-free date is May 15 and it takes four to five weeks to grow transplants, the seed needs to be sown between April 5 and 12 (four to five weeks ahead of the frost-free date).

Follow the link to... Grow Your Own Starts.

Here's How To...
How To Do It
Artwork: Grow Light System

Monday, February 10, 2014

Recipe Archive: Torta di Formaggio Fresco

adapted from "Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food" by Ken Albala.

Take three pounds of cheese and pound in a mortar, making sure it's fat enough, and add a pound an a half of rich ricotta, a pound of pine nuts that have been soaked in rose water, and pound everything together.

Add a pound of cream, 10 egg yolks, half ounce of cinnamon and 6 ounces of sugar, mix everything well, make a fine pastry leaf, and a pan of the right size buttered, and place on the leaf, then the composition and cook it in an oven.

It's served hot with sugar on top.

Recipe: Torta di Formaggio Fresco
Grow Food, Cook Food, Share Food by Ken Albala.
Recipe Archive
Farm Kitchen

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Here's How To... Compost

Each year more than 3.5 million tons of recyclable yard waste is unnecessarily sent to landfills. Viewed by many as rubbish, home gardeners see this waste as "gardener's gold."

Yard waste can be converted into compost. It's simple to construct a container which would save much in purchasing bags of amendments.

Follow the link to... Compost.

Here's How To...
How To Do It
Artwork: Compost

Monday, February 3, 2014

Vegetable Seeds from Bay City, Michigan

Vegetable seeds available direct from Main Street Seed & Supply in Bay City, Michigan.

Seeds are available in quantities large and small year-round. This includes a large variety of vegetable seeds for home gardens.

Main Street Seed & Supply also has a a full selection of organic seeds including beans, beats, carrots, herbs, lettuce and many more.

Vegetable Seeds
Farm Supply
add your seeds to Farm Supply