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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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

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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

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Artwork: Better Boy Tomato