Monday, December 14, 2015

Home Grown: Tabletop Christmas Trees

Not everyone is able to enjoy a full sized Christmas tree in their home. For some, budgets may be stretched or space can be at a premium. Others may not have the time to put up a tree this holiday season.

Whatever the reason, an alternative to full sized Christmas trees are tabletop plants that can be decorated for the holidays, offered as holiday gifts, and in some cases can be used for several years.

Continued in... Tabletop Christmas Trees

Home Grown
Christmas Trees
Christmas Ornamentations
Artwork: Snow Tip Pine/Berry Tree

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Brighten Winter With Holly

How can we brighten up a bleak winter landscape?

One way is by incorporating evergreen and semi-evergreen shrubs into landscape plantings.

For centuries Europeans have been using hollies to dress up their winter landscapes, indoors and out. To brighten up your surroundings, consider these holly and holly-look-a-likes in your landscaping plans for the coming year...

Continued in... Brighten Winter With Holly

Home Grown
Christmas Ornamentations
Artwork: Holly

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Living Christmas Trees

A living Christmas tree is a wonderful way to celebrate the Christmas holiday and then cherish the memory of those special times throughout the year.

Before planting a living Christmas tree, however, some preparations and precautions will greatly increase chances of tree survival.

First, be sure you have a suitable site for planting the tree. Heavy clay soils are not ideal for planting most evergreen trees because they will not tolerate wet feet and it may be necessary to create a berm or mound of topsoil to assure good drainage.

Continued in... Living Christmas Trees

Home Grown
Christmas Trees
Artwork: Fresh-Cut Fraser Fir Christmas Tree

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Gifts for Gardeners

If you have gardeners on your shopping list, whatever you do, don’t give them cheap tools. Give them something they’ll remember.

Most serious gardeners would much rather receive one high-quality garden tool than a bunch of cheap ones that won’t last a year. And please don’t give an adult a set of child-size tools.

Continued in... Gifts for Gardeners.

Home Grown
Garden Tools
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Garden Cart

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Home Grown: Hold the Salt and Save the Plants.

Salt can cause problems for gardeners, especially if they live in a northern climate and use salt to clear ice from driveways or sidewalks.

There are many de-icing compounds on the market, and while they all set out to do the same job, there are some that are more friendly to lawns and other plants growing in the garden.

When shopping for de-icing agents, read the package label for ingredients. It may not be wise to choose the cheapest one on the shelf.

Continued in... Hold the Salt and Save the Plants.

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Hand Held Spreader For Ice Melt

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Home Grown: Overwintering Geraniums.

You can beat the frost and save your geraniums by taking them inside to overwinter.

In freezing temperatures, unprotected annual geraniums will turn a mushy green and die. They can be preserved, however, by overwintering indoors before they get nipped by a hard frost.

Pot up the plants, take cuttings, or store the plants as bare-root specimens.Whichever method you choose, understand that success isn’t guaranteed.

Continued in... Overwintering Geraniums.

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Geraniums

Thursday, November 12, 2015

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.

Plants and Seeds
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Wooden Basket with 6 Live Plants

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Home Grown: Selecting Holiday Plants

When the winter holiday season approaches, it is time to purchase holiday plants.

As with most holiday purchases, shop early to ensure that you get the plant of your choice. Purchase clean, healthy plants that are properly identified.

Plants should have dark green foliage and abundant unopened flower buds or fruit. Wrap them carefully before transporting them to avoid subjecting them to freezing outdoor temperatures.

Continued in... Selecting Holiday Plants.

Plants and Seeds
Artwork: Poinsettia

Monday, November 9, 2015

Home Grown: Preventing Sunscald

Homeowners who planted new trees this year, especially ones with thin bark, will want to protect the southwest side of the new tree this winter to protect it from sunscald.

Many young, smooth, thin-barked trees like honey locusts, fruit trees, ashes, oaks, maples, lindens, red buds and willows are susceptible to sunscald and bark cracks.

Sunscald normally develops on the south or southwest side of a tree during late winter. Sunscald and bark cracks can lead to the death of a tree if it is not given special care.

Continued in... Preventing Sunscald.

Home and Garden Center
Garden Tools
Artwork: Tree Wrap

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Here's How To... Make An Arrowhead

Flintknapping is the making of flaked or chipped stone tools. This technology was used in historic times to manufacture gun flints and in prehistoric times to make spear and dart points, arrow heads, knives, scrapers, blades, gravers, perforators, and many other tools.

Flintknapping requires the ability to control the way rocks break when they are struck. The best rock is somewhat brittle and uniform in texture and structure, lacking frost fractures, inclusions, or other flaws. This type of rock is very fine grained or non-grained. The best rocks for flint-knapping are chert, flint, chalcedony, quartzite, jasper, and obsidian. These rock types, when struck with another rock, piece of antler, or bone, will fracture or break in a characteristic pattern called a conchoidal fracture. This creates a rock fragment called a flake.

The production process begins with a piece of raw material, called a core. Flakes are removed by striking the edge of the core with a sharp, forceful blow, in what is called percussion flaking.

Follow the link to... Make An Arrowhead.

Here's How To...
How To Do It
Artwork: Spearhead Points

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Mount St. Helens Christmas Ornaments from Curtis, Washington

Now available in The Gift Shop:
Mount St. Helens Christmas Ornaments direct from the artist in Curtis, Washington

Hand blown from the volcanic ash of Mount St Helen’s, these colorful glass Christmas ornaments are perfect gifts for the ornament collector and anyone who enjoys and appreciates fine art glass.

An ornament stand is included with each ornament display year-round on a desk or table.

Available in four different colors: Azure, Evergreen, Ice, Rose.

Holidays and Notable Events
add your Christmas ornaments to the Buy Direct Directory
advertise with Christmas

Monday, November 2, 2015

Home Grown: Preparing a Lawn for Winter.

When it's time for the last cutting of your lawn, how low should you cut? Your area's winter snowcover should help you decide whether to cut it short or leave it long.

If you live in a heavy snow area, cut the grass to about 1.5 inches in fall to prevent it from matting down beneath the snow and forming a haven for the snow mold fungus.

In areas with little snowcover, grass dries out and the crowns may be injured from a lack of insulation. In those areas, leave the grass long over the winter to help protect the crowns from drying out.

Continued in... Preparing a Lawn for Winter

Home Grown
Lawn Tools and Equipment
Home and Garden Center

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Husbandry: Beekeeping In The City

Banned in the city limits of Los Angeles since 1879, beekeeping is returning to the nation's second largest city after the Los Angeles City Council voted this month to repeal the old law. New York City made beekeeping legal within its jurisdiction in 2010.

While legalization of urban beekeeping may be trending positively, Homegrown Honey Bees author Alethea Morrison cautions beginning beekeepers to check with local authorities before setting up a hive. "Many municipalities regulate beekeeping or prohibit it outright. Find out what the rules are where you live, ideally from your local bee association."

Talk to your neighbors before setting up a hive, Morrison suggests. She blames much of the public's fear of bees on yellowjackets, or wasps, which have similar coloring and are considerably more aggressive. Educating them on the differences can help make urban beekeeping less frightening.

An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Beekeeping
by Alethea Morrison
Storey Publishing, 2013
Artwork: Yellowjacket Eating a Bee
Beekeeping In The City
Here's How To... Control Yellow Jackets
Homegrown Honey Bees

Monday, October 26, 2015

Home Grown: Big Trees Felled By Tiny Fungi.

Urban trees tend to have shortened lives, some living no more than 50 to 80 years. Urban forests in many metro areas have started to mature and decline, and are very susceptible to trunk-rotting and buttress root-rotting organisms.

Wood-rotting organisms can slowly nibble away at trunks and buttress roots. Trees often regenerate new, nonstructurally supportive feeder roots that mask the signs of structural root loss. Many trees that topple look perfectly healthy before they fall. Afterward, it becomes clear that there were absolutely no structural roots remaining for support.

The best time to scout for symptoms of a fungal infection is just after a long period of cool, wet weather.

Continued in... Big Trees Felled By Tiny Fungi

Home Grown
Growing Guides
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Tree Roots, 1890, by Vincent Van Gogh

Monday, October 19, 2015

Here's How To... Make a Gingerbread House.

Decide on the type of house you will build: thatched-roof cottage, cabin, holiday theme, etc. Purchase decorative materials to give the house to life and interest. See suggested list below.

One week in advance: Make dough and chill. Bake walls and let dry thoroughly for at least three days.

Three days in advance: Construct base of house. Let dry.

Two days in advance: Decorate and attach roof. Let dry.

Follow the link to... Make a Gingerbread House.

Here's How To...
How To Do It
Artwork: Gingerbread House Mold

Farm-Raised Venison from Moundridge, Kansas

Now available with Venison in Meats:
Farm-Raised Venison from Moundridge, Kansas

USDA inspected farm-raised venison available direct from the farm in Moundridge, Kansas.

At 2.4 grams of fat and 120 calories per 100 grams of meat, venison is probably the healthiest choice of all the red meats.

This venison comes from one of the few Fallow Deer farms in the United States. "You will find our Fallow Deer and Rocky Mountain Elk to be of superior quality and our venison products are pure, natural and the healthy choice," says owner Lyn Kaufman.

Fresh and snack venison is available as burger, sausage, medallions, chops and roasts.

add your venison to the Buy Direct Directory
advertise with Venison

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

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Garden Tools
Artwork: Earthworms

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

Home Grown
Growing Guides
Home and Garden Center
Plants and Seeds
Artwork: European Rabbit

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
Farm Supply
add your supplies to Farm Supply

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

Home Grown
Growing Guides
Home and Garden Center
Plants and Seeds
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
Recipe Archive
Farm Kitchen

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

Home Grown
Plants and Seeds
Growing Guides
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
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

Friday, May 22, 2015

Home Grown: Knowing What's What in the Garden.

Labeling and documenting data is the key...

Plants of the same genus look similar enough to one another that you may be able to make a good guess, but seeds vary considerably. Some seeds that are not even remotely connected look alike.

When labeling plant tags, always use a pencil or a botanical pen or marker.

Permanent markers tend to fade over time. Check your tags regularly as you walk through your garden.

Continued in...
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Seed Saving and Starting

Artwork: Garden Markers

Sunday, May 17, 2015

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

The seeds have all come up. The transplants are all in the ground. Your vegetable garden is growing, so it’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy. Well, not exactly.

As all veteran gardeners know, there are constantly chores to be accomplished. It’s now time to trellis some of those vegetables you planted.

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.

Continued at...
Trellis Home Vegetables for Better Fruit, Bigger Harvest.

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Garden Tools
Plants and Seeds
Artwork: A-Frame Garden Trellis

Here's How To... Dry Fruit.

There has been a recent resurgence in dried foods, yet it is one of the oldest methods of food preservation. Part of its popularity is that dried foods can be eaten alone or used in cooking.

Drying takes the moisture out of food and microorganisms that lead to spoilage can no longer grow. Consequently, foods that have been dried correctly have a long shelf life.

Follow the link to... Dry Fruit.

Here's How To...
How To Do It
Dried Fruit
Artwork: Food Dehydrator

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Home Grown: Preventing Thatch.

Thatch is a layer of living and dead roots, crowns and lower shoots that often develops in lawns. It can weaken and even destroy a lawn if not prevented or removed.

Excessive growth as well as conditions unfavorable to the microorganisms responsible for the decomposition of decaying plant parts aid in thatch development. Rapid and excessive growth is likely to produce heavy thatch because plant material is being produced more rapidly than it can be decomposed.

Thatch buildup varies from lawn to lawn. Some lawns never develop a thatch layer, while others become thatch-bound within a few years of being established.

Continued at... Preventing Thatch

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Lawn Tools and Equipment
Plants and Seeds
Artwork: Lawn Aerator

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Home Grown: Lawnmower Bites, Kills Tree

The lawn mower was supposed to circle the newly planted sapling, but instead it struck the base. Oops! Is that a problem?

Yes, it is.

Unlike skin, wounds that reach below the bark don't heal.  At best, the trunk seals off the injury, but there is no repair in the sense that our skin repairs itself.  Bark will form a callus along the edge of the wound, but it rarely can bridge the break.  The trunk typically loses the bark in the injured area, and the wound remains decades later.

Continued at...
Lawnmower Bites

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Lawn Tools and Equipment
Lawn Mowers
Artwork: Hedgehog in front of man with mower

Friday, April 17, 2015

Home Grown: How to Mulch a Tree.

Mulching the trees in our landscapes is a common practice, with many benefits.  Just remember, there is right way and a wrong way to mulch trees.

One of the most common mistakes is arranging the mulch ring around the tree in the shape of a volcano instead of a doughnut. Mulching against the tree trunk can lead to trunk problems, disease problems, habitat for rodents, and excessive soil moisture and root rots.

Continued at...
How to Mulch a Tree

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Lawn Tools and Equipment
Artwork: The Tree by the Road Side by Jon Macadam

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Home Grown: Selecting and Using a Lawn Spreader

Basically, two spreader equipment options are available for distributing crabgrass preventer, lawn fertilizer or turf seed.

Neither spreader is better or cheaper to use than the other; both are available to buy or rent. Choosing between them is just a matter of experience and opinion, according to horticulturist Rodney St. John, turfgrass specialist with Kansas State University Research and Extension.

One spreader drops granules or seeds directly to the ground beneath its wheels.

The other houses a rotary mechanism that broadcasts the lawn input out over a broader area.

Typically, both have wheels and a handle, and they go into action when pushed.

Continued at... Selecting and Using a Lawn Spreader

Home Grown
Lawn Tools and Equipment
Artwork: Spreader

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Here's How To... Test a Well.

Clean drinking water is a top priority for families. But homeowners who rely solely on well water can be open to certain risks.

If your water is provided by a city or county source, it isn't necessary to have it tested unless an in-house contamination is suspected. Public and municipal water supplies are routinely tested and must meet Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Since there are no federal or state monitoring regulations for private wells, it is the homeowner's responsibility to make sure their well water is safe to drink.

Follow the link to... Test a Well.

Here's How To...
How To Do It
Farm Supply
Artwork: Classic Wooden Water Bucket

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Bites: Filling Up on Oatmeal.

According to research published in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, scientists have found that having oatmeal  for breakfast results in greater fullness, lower hunger ratings and fewer calories eaten at the next meal compared to a calorie-matched breakfast of a ready-to-eat cereal such as sugared corn flakes.

"Our results show that despite eating the same number of calories at breakfast, satiety values were significantly greater after consuming oatmeal compared to sugared corn flakes. After three hours, subjects reported the same level of hunger after having a corn flakes breakfast as they did when they consumed only water," explained lead researcher Allan Geliebter, PhD, research psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai St. Luke's Hospital.

"Interestingly, the results were more pronounced for the participants who were overweight, suggesting that overweight individuals may be more responsive to the satiety effects of the dietary fiber in oatmeal."

The study authors suggested that the greater satiety effect of oatmeal cereal compared to sugared corn flakes or water might be due to a slower gastric emptying (oatmeal took longer to leave the stomach).

Source: Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism

Artwork: Rolled Oats
Nuts and Grains
advertise with Oatmeal

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Farm Fresh: Breaking Eggs

I'm probably walking on eggs writing this, but sometimes the truth has to be told, even on eggshell white paper. Like the ham-and-egg boxer, I express myself as best I can with no excuses or high expectations. You might say, though, that I've got scrambled eggs for brains.

I'm not your butter-and-egg man like the guy in that Broadway play but I know an Easter egg when I see one -- hard boiled and dipped in dye -- whether it's hiding in the bushes for an Easter egg hunt or loping down the manicured lawn in an Easter egg roll.

I've also been out on the links a time or two, and I know a fried egg when I see one.

Continued at... Breaking Eggs

Farm Fresh!
Heard a Good One?
Artwork: Fresh Eggs

Monday, March 9, 2015

Home Grown: Cross-Pollinating Cherry Trees

If the fruit set on your cherry trees was a bust last year, the reason may be inadequate cross-pollination. Here's a little background so you can make big plans for the coming year.

Not all cultivars of sweet cherries will successfully pollinate all other cultivars. The more closely related they are, the less likely they are to cross-fertilize.

Continued at... Cross-Pollinating Cherry Trees

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Growing Guides
Artwork: Kirschen plate in  Meyers' Konversationslexikon, published 1902-1920

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Here's How To... Grow Organic.

Home gardeners who want to try their hand at growing organic vegetables should lower their expectations just a little and be prepared to put in more "sweat equity."

Growing organic vegetables takes extra planning. If you use organic fertilizer sources or organic soil amendments, these need to be tilled into the garden well in advance to be effective. (Ideally, this process should begin in the fall prior to spring planting.)

Organic amendments don't provide nutrients as quickly as synthetic fertilizers. So, if you want to gain the benefits of organic fertilizers, give them plenty of time to decompose. Soil microbes have to convert them into a form that plant roots can absorb. An added benefit of organic amendments is that they can act as a slow-release fertilizer throughout the season. This improves soil structure.

Follow the link to... Grow Organic.
Here's How To...
How To Do It
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Organic Garden by Roberta Staat

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Home Grown: Organic Production Guides

Free organic production guides are now available for farmers.

The guides provide information on how to produce certified organic apples, blueberries, grapes, lettuce, potatoes, spinach, strawberries and cole crops, including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. There is also a guide on management of dairy cattle  pests using organic integrated pest management (IPM) methods.

The guides offer clear, research-based information to help farmers interested in transitioning from conventional to organic production.

Continued at... Organic Production Guides
Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Organic Strawberry Poster

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Here's How To... Make a Dream Pillow.

Dream pillows are used to promote restful sleep and pleasant dreams. They are small and flat, placed in a standard pillow, and stuffed with a sachet of calming and sleep-inducing dried herbs. As the sleeper sleeps, movements of the head will gently crush the herbs to release delightful scents and please the senses throughout the night.

Such dream pillows have been used for centuries.  George Washington reportedly used one filled with hops, which have a decidedly sedative effect.

Follow the link to... Make a Dream Pillow.

Here's How To...
How To Do It
Artwork: Herbal Dream Sachet.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Recipe Archive: Salmon with Spiced Red Lentils and Bacon.

Salmon with Spiced Red Lentils and Bacon.
Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More, by Andrew Schloss.

This is a heady, aromatic, elegant one-pot meal. A rainbow of spices elevates this homey dish to a sure thing for a splash at a dinner party—and stirring them together may be the most labor-intensive part of the simple slow-cooking method.

1. To make the spice rub: In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients:

2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

full recipe at

Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More
by Andrew Schloss
Chronicle Books, 2013
Recipe Archive
Farm Kitchen