Thursday, November 16, 2017

Rural Delivery: Hitched to History


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2008. All rights reserved.

It hasn't been all that many years since horses were the primary mode of transportation all across the West. They not only pulled buggies and wagons, and sleighs in the winter, but they also powered the plows and cultivators that tamed an arid land.
   
Les Broadie remembered well those horse-drawn days. They were as near to him as his well-weathered hands, and as much a part of his life when I met him in 1995 as they were when he was youngster in the 1920s.

After his retirement from raising draft horses and cattle, Les operated Blizzard Mountain Carriages -- a one-man outfit specializing in buying and selling horse-drawn wagons, carriages, carts and sleighs. At the time, we was one of but a handful of American horse-drawn carriage dealers still in business.

Continued at... Hitched to History

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Out of the Past blog
Artwork: Horse-Drawn Sleigh Ride at Twilight in a Snowy Landscape by Ira Block

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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.

It is important to make sure the plants you attempt to overwinter are vigorous, healthy, and insect and disease free.

Continued in... Overwintering Geraniums

Home Grown
Geraniums
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Window Box Geraniums Garden Flag


Monday, November 13, 2017

Home Grown: Letting Leaves Lie


Ecologically, the best way to deal with leaves in the yard is to mulch them where they fall and let them decompose to release their minerals back to the soil.

In well managed turf, leaf drop from shade trees is not always a nuisance that requires raking. A moderate amount of leaves chopped with a mulching mower can be allowed to decompose into the turf.

Leaves are high in nutrients like iron, zinc and copper. They are also rich in organic matter, a valuable commodity for the turf, existing trees and shrubs.

The acidity of the leaves is a common concern with many homeowners. Fresh oak leaves may initially lower soil pH but as leaves decompose, the pH will gradually build to a neutral level causing little concern.

Continued in... Letting Leaves Lie

Home Grown
Lawn Tools and Equipment
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Grandpa and Me Raking Leaves by Norman Rockwell


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Rural Delivery: Cold Hardening


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

The crisp night is giving way to a warm morning glow. It will be an "Indian Summer" sort of day, the kind we missed out on last year when winter dropped in early. Some of our coldest weather came in November rather than January, where it belongs.

Most of nature depends on a steady progression of seasons.

These cool nights encourage the growth of fat and fur on dogs, cats, horses and most other warm-blooded critters.

My beard and waistline, too, seem to grow more readily this time of year. By winter solstice, or late December, we'll be well acclimated to the cold.

Continued at... Cold Hardening

Rural Delivery
The Nature Pages
Second Nature
Artwork: Winter Tree Line I by Ilona Wellman

Monday, November 6, 2017

Plant of the Week: Sneezeweed


Also known as Dogtooth Daisy, Helens Flower and Bittersweet, common sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale) is a perennial plant in the daisy or aster family (Asteraceae). As its name implies, it typically flowers in late summer or autumn.

Sneezeweed grows erect, clump-forming, in moist soils along streams, ponds and other riparian areas. It produces yellow or orange daisy-like composite flowers. These colors can be used to brighten a border, a meadow, or a wild garden.

continued at the Farmer's Market Online Guide to Sneezeweed

Home Grown
Plants & Seeds
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Sneezeweed


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Plant of the Week: Pinyon Pine


This is a short and scrubby tree, rarely reaching 30 feet or more, that is widely distributed across the Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions of western North America. A major indicator tree in the pinyon-juniper life zone, P. edulis grows very slowly; trees with diameters of 4 - 6 inches can be several hundred years old.

Typically growing in pure stands or with juniper, the pinyon pine produces chunky little cones that produce a tasty nut, the pine nut. The wood of this tree is very fragrant when burned.

continued at the Farmer's Market Online Guide to Pinyon Pine

Home Grown
Plants & Seeds
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Pinyon Pine

Monday, October 23, 2017

Recipe Archive: Puree of Asaragus Soup


from
The Historic Kentucky Kitchen
Traditional Recipes for Today's Cook
by Deirdre A. Scaggs and Andrew W. McGraw
The University Press of Kentucky, 2013

According to authors of The Historic Kentucky Kitchen, this 1897 soup recipe packs a lot of flavor, considering how simple it is and how few ingredients are in the recipe. To make the soup more elegant and add texture, reserve the tips of the asparagus spears after poaching to use as a garnish.

full recipe in The Recipe Archive

Artwork: Asparagus Soup
Recipe Archive
Farm Kitchen
Asparagus
Cookbooks

Monday, October 16, 2017

Home Grown: Identifying Emerald Ash Borer


As fall's colors emerge, it's hard to miss the striking gold and purple leaves of ash trees lining streets and roads in many Midwestern U.S. states. However, when emerald ash borer arrives, many ash trees planted in towns, cities and conservation plantings could be lost.
     
First detected in southeast Michigan in 2002, emerald ash borer, or EAB, is an exotic beetle that attacks and kills all native ash species, including white, green, black and autumn purple ash. To date, the beetle is present in 31 U.S. states as well as two Canadian provinces and has killed about 200 million ash trees.

Continued in... Identifying Emerald Ash Borer

Home Grown
Pest Control
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Emerald Ash Borer


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Rural Delivery: A Bite Most Deadly




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

Some folks are afraid of spiders, others snakes. Lightning puts the fear of God in many of us, and so do earthquakes, tornadoes and dark moonless nights. Living in the country presents many special worries, like the threat of wildfire or the potential for flash floods. More cars collide with wild animals on rural roads than city lanes and the chances of eating a poisonous mushroom or contracting the deadly hantavirus are much greater off the beaten path. But there is no threat so terrifying in rural places, or as fatally serious as rabies.

Growing up, I learned to keep a wary eye on grape arbors and tall, dark hedges of lilacs lest some crazed bat should emerge, grab hold of my hair, bite my scalp and infect me with rabies. Older cousins planted a terror of rabies in my pre-school mind with accounts of the terrible vaccination shots in the belly that bat bite victims had to endure and how, more often than not, the bitten person went crazy and was committed to an asylum, ranting and raving and foaming at the mouth.

Continued at... A Bite Most Deadly

Rural Delivery
Animal Husbandry
Out There
Artwork: Mad Dog

Home Grown: Composting Yard Waste


While it may seem easy to put those raked leaves and other yard waste in plastic bags and toss them out as garbage, composting can be just as easy and much better for the environment.

"Many landfills no longer even accept leaves or garden wastes," notes Bill Lamont, professor of vegetable crops at Penn State.  "Composting may be the easiest way for homeowners to dispose of them."

Composting decomposes organic matter into a dark, crumbly material similar to humus. Finished compost provides nutrients and helps soil retain water by increasing the valuable organic matter in the lawn and garden. Compost is a valuable soil conditioner that can be used in gardens, around trees and on lawns.

Continued in... Composting Yard Waste

Home Grown
Composters
Fertilizers and Compost
Here's How To... Compost
Artwork: Composting


Friday, September 29, 2017

Rural Delivery: Privy to Privies


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

Live long enough and many of the everyday skills and experiences you take for granted become virtually obsolete, like operating a manual transmission or dialing a rotary phone.
   
Outhouses are like that. You don't see many privies any more, even on the most remote farmsteads, and few folks can claim to have sat in one.

I'm not talking about those industrial "Johnny-on-the-Jobsite" rental toilets or even the Forest Service's government-issue campground restrooms. True outhouses are homebuilt wood-plank structures with personalized features like crescent moons cut into the door or a shelf for the Sears and Roebuck catalog.

Continued at... Privy to Privies

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Farm Supply
Artwork: Billy Jacobs Morning Commute

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Rural Delivery: Yellow and Ripe with Autumn


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1996. All rights reserved.

The urgency of spring sprouting and the rush of summer growth has given way to a time of laid-back fulfillment. Eggs have hatched and fledglings are now on the wing. Seeds and fruits and nuts and pods are well on their way to completion. Summer is ripe and ready for harvest.

"Live in each season as it passes, breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each... Grow green with spring, yellow and ripe with autumn."

Such was the sage advice of Henry David Thoreau. One hundred sixty years later I find common ground in the truth he tilled. It is not just the crops in the field we gather this time of year, but those in our souls as well.

Continued at... Yellow and Ripe with Autumn

Rural Delivery
The Nature Pages
Outgoing
Artwork: Yellow Autumn Grass and Sunset

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Rural Delivery: Boundary Art


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2002. All rights reserved.

Some people make a personal statement through their clothes or in the choice of car or truck they drive; some wear a particular style of hat or cut their hair in some unique fashion.

Other folks, particularly in rural America, express themselves by decorating their mailboxes.

Travel almost any rural two-lane still frequented by farm machinery and you're likely to come across mailboxes painted with flowers and flags and animals and astrological symbols. Some mailboxes simply have the owner's name scrawled across one side, while others are ornately decorated with bright colors or sculpted in the shape of houses, barns and old railroad engines.

Continued at... Boundary Art

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Collectibles
Artwork: Tractor Mailbox

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Rural Delivery: Equinox


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

We lie on the brink of change. Great storms are brewing. This is the week of equinox, when the Earth stands up straight to the sun before it begins to tilt again, northern hemisphere tipping outward.
   
At this moment everything hangs in balance. The hours of day and night are nearly even. There's some powerful physics at play.

Equinoxes are times of special powers. Calendars are created around them; crops are planted by them.

Continued at... Equinox

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Holidays and Notable Events
Artwork: Precession of the Equinoxes

Home Grown: Preserving Flowers


Wish the beauty of summer flowers would last forever? Try extending their beauty for months indoors by preserving them when they are at their peak.

Some flowers are easy to preserve: baby's breath, celosia, yarrow, statice, globe amaranth, strawflower and artemesia.  But every flower responds differently to drying and preserving. Experiment to get the results you want with the flowers you have.

Start with the best quality blooms.  Make sure the blooms chosen for preserving are at the beginning or the peak of their bloom and have not started to age or decline.

Continued in... Preserving Flowers


Home Grown
Flowers
Plants and Seeds
Artwork: Dried Baby's Breath


Monday, September 18, 2017

Home Grown: Tips on Watering Trees in Fall


There's a lot of confusion as to when to water and when not to water trees and shrubs. Watering at the wrong time could increase winter damage and weaken your plants. So timing is a little tricky, but it's not complicated.

August was the time to slack off watering your trees and shrubs. Excess water at that time of year can keep the plants lush.  Plants that are fat and happy in August are too soft for winter.

But when the leaves have fallen, the tops of the plants are dormant. This is the time to water your woody plants deeply to help them survive the winter.

Continued in... Tips on Watering Trees in Fall

Home Grown
Trees
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Boy Watering Tree


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Home Grown: Don’t Dress Tree Wounds


Many gardeners have experienced that awful moment when the lawn mower or weed whacker accidentally comes in contact with the bark of a valued tree in the landscape and a wound is created.

No matter how careful you are, accidents happen, and then you’re left wondering what you can do to help the tree repair this wound. In most cases, the answer is to let the tree repair the wound on its own.

Upon being wounded, trees begin a natural process of callusing over the wounded area with new bark and wood. In the spring, when trees are growing vigorously, this process will naturally occur quickly. During other times of the year when growth is not as vigorous, try to keep wounded trees growing as vigorously as possible by fertilizing and watering.

Continued in... Don’t Dress Tree Wounds

Home Grown
Trees
Home and Garden Center
Artwork: Tree wounds and diseases


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Home Grown: Taking Care of Raspberry Plants in Fall


Taking good care of raspberries in the fall is important for future productivity of the patch, according to University of Illinois Extension local foods/small farms educator Maurice Ogutu.

"Avoid overfertilizing and supplemental watering of summer-bearing red and black raspberries in the fall so that the canes can start hardening off. Fall-bearing raspberries can benefit from supplemental water in dry weather in order to maintain quality and size of the fruit.

"Do not prune any raspberry cane at this time unless it is seriously damaged or diseased."

You should only apply fertilizer and lime based on a soil test and plant tissue analysis. Some sulfur- and magnesium-containing fertilizers such as Sul-Po-Mag or Epsom salts can be applied at this time so they can be leached to the root zones of the plants.

Continued in... Taking Care of Raspberry Plants in Fall

Home Grown
Berry Plants
Plants and Seeds
Artwork: Raspberry Plant Seeds

Monday, September 11, 2017

Home Grown: Adding Color to Autumn Landscapes


As the summer wanes, so do most of the plants in the garden. Whether you're looking at a foot-wide container or 100 square feet of landscape bed, your thoughts turn to the yellows, oranges and reds of a typical autumn garden.

Mums are plentiful at the garden center at this time, and they're terrific old standbys. They've certainly brightened many a fall garden.

But mums aren't the only word in fall gardens and landscapes. There are some other wonderful plants that can add splashes of color to your fall...

Continued in... Adding Color to Autumn Landscapes

Home Grown
Plants and Seeds
Flowers
Artwork: Asters


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Recipe Archive: Tater Pigs


from
The County Fair Cookbook
by Lyn Stallworth and Rod Kennedy
Hyperion Books, 1996

The Twin Falls County Fair began as a harvest festival in 1916 and has evolved into a six-day event with three days of rodeo. Tater Pigs were introduced in 1975 by the Twin Falls Magichords, a barbershop quartet singing group. The recipe goes as follows:

4 Idaho russet potatoes, 1/2 lb. each
4 frozen pork link sausages

full recipe at The County Fair Cookbook

Recipe Archive
Farm Kitchen

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Home Grown: Planting Fall Flowers


Chrysanthemums, pansies and ornamental kale can add color to a drab fall garden.

Chrysanthemums have been cultivated for more than 1,500 years and come in a wide variety of colors and types. They flower in many variations of yellow, gold, pink, white, red, bronze and purple. The flowers can be smaller than one-inch buttons or two-inch pompoms, but can grow as large as six-inch decoratives. These flowers also come in many shapes, from daisies to round, many-petaled balls.

These plants can grow as compact 10-inch mounds to plants that are several feet tall with stems suitable for cutting and placing in a vase.

Continued in... Planting Fall Flowers

Home Grown
Plants and Seeds
Flowers
Artwork: Chrysanthemum

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Home Grown: Fall Lawn Care


Early September is the time to take care of your lawn before the winter.

Apply broadleaf weed control during the fall while the weeds are still actively growing. Such applications will target both established weeds as well as new weeds that germinated and grew in your lawn since spring.

Since fall weather favors desirable, cool-season grasses, it is also a good time to lay down sod or re-seed. If you are re-seeding, use a blend of hybrid grasses that have disease resistance. If you use sod, it is typically already grown using these hybrid varieties.

Continued in... Fall Lawn Care

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Lawn Tools and Equipment
Artwork: Lawn Mower on Green Field


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Book Stall Review: Red 4WD Tractors


"All the colors of tractors and the people who made them have good stories, and those stories share a common thread: innovative farm boy geniuses who built solutions to a problem rooted in the growing American farm," writes Lee Klancher in his introduction to this substantial history of high-horsepower four-wheel-drive tractors manufactured by International Harvester, Steiger, J.I. Case and Case IH.

This history covers six decades from the winter of 1957 -- when Douglass and Maurice Steiger converted a Cat DW-15 scraper into a high-horsepower farm tractor in their dairy barn in order to make their Minnesota family farm more efficient -- to the present day.

by Lee Klancher
Octane Press, 2017
continued in The Book Stall
Reviews Archive
Tractor Books
Tractors and Tractor Parts
Artwork: Case IH Steiger 620 Quadtrac Tractor

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Home Grown: Pruning Lilacs


The common purple lilac is a tough, reliable shrub that may reach a height of 15 to 20 feet. Unfortunately, as lilacs mature, the shaded lower portions of the shrubs usually lose their leaves. As a result, large, overgrown specimens are often leggy and unattractive.

Old lilacs can be renewed or rejuvenated by pruning. Home gardeners can choose between two different pruning methods.

 1. Cut the entire plant back to within 6 to 8 inches of the ground in late winter (March or early April). This severe pruning will induce a large number of shoots to develop during the growing season...

Continued in... Pruning Lilacs

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Growing Guides
Artwork: Cultivate Hope by Annie Lapoint


Friday, September 1, 2017

Rural Delivery: New Neighbors


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2007. All rights reserved.

All across the country, in rural places from Maine to Mendocino, there are terrible conflicts raging between folks who have lived in these places all their lives and newcomers who want to change them to better meet their expectations.

Some novice ruralites want to look at cows grazing in a pasture without having to smell them. Others expect farms to operate without machinery and harvesting to occur on bankers' hours. And a few even want to recreate our small town business districts with boutiques and tourist attractions.

Continued at... New Neighbors

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Where Oliver Found His Place
Artwork: New Neighbors

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Rural Delivery: Some Summer Days


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1997. All rights reserved.

There are days in summer that are dry as a bone and blistering hot. There are days when the sun burns and the wind peels and lightning starts wildfires that race out of control. Summer skies can be brown with soot and thick with allergens, or they can be broiling with a violence that strips and drowns and washes away.

But there are other summer days, such as today, that open like the bloom of a colorful flower. Scented with the sweet fragrance of fresh-cut alfalfa, they arrive with a kiss of dew and the enveloping warmth of dawn.

There are summer days sweet as a crisp apple that beckon bite after bite down to a core of contentment. Their still mornings lie across the countryside like a Maxfield Parrish painting, lustrous and idyllic.

Continued at... Some Summer Days

Rural Delivery
Outgoing
The Nature Pages
Artwork: A Summer's Day by Alfred Sisley


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Here's How To... Control Yellow Jackets


Late summer is the season for yellow jacket wasps, one of  the most common stinging insects homeowners encounter. There are steps that can be taken to control them.

These social wasps build their nests underground in abandoned rodent burrows, under compost piles, in voids of wood and sometimes in trees or shrubs. The nest is constructed out of paper and holds the queen and her many workers.

Yellow jackets are an important health risk due to their aggressive nature when disturbed and the fact that individual wasps can sting multiple times.

Follow the link to... Control Yellow Jackets.

Here's How To...
How To Do It
Artwork: Yellow Jacket Eating a Bee


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Home Grown: Stopping Squash Bugs


Squash bugs (Anasa tristis) feast on squash, melons, and pumpkins. Adults and the younger nymphs suck the sap from the plants and feed on the fruits, causing moderate to severe plant damage. The feeding damage causes spots, yellowing, and browning of leaves and fruits. The pest can destroy the plant’s runners or side shoots.

Adult squash bugs are similar to stink bugs, but emit an odor only when crushed. Plant debris and leaf litter left in the yard provides shelter for overwintering squash bug adults.

Starting in the spring months, they begin to lay orange-colored eggs on the undersides of squash leaves and stems in a very precise pattern. Nymphs, which resemble spiders, will begin to hatch in 1 to 2 weeks. When first hatched, they stay clumped together.

Continued in... Stopping Squash Bugs

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Pest Control
Artwork: Squash Bugs

Monday, July 31, 2017

Growth Spurts: Grain Bin Maintenance


Before grain harvests begin, it is critically important to check the condition of harvest equipment and bins before bringing in the crop.

Your grain crop is a major investment that needs to be protected. Grain quality does not improve in storage. At best, the initial quality can only be maintained. If you take the extra time to make sure conditions are good for storing grain, then you are protecting that investment.
   
Proper storage begins with the condition of the harvested grain, including moisture level and how it leaves the combine and then is transported and handled.

continued in Grain Bin Maintenance

Growth Spurts
Farm Supply
Farm Magazines
Artwork: Grain Bin model 1/64 scale

Rural Delivery: The Dog Days of Summer


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1997. All rights reserved.

These are the dog days of summer, a time of year when creeks run dry, the air stands still and the sun beats down relentlessly, day after day, or so it seems.

These are the days when we rediscover shade, pools, and the contents of our freezers. Cooling off becomes an obsession.

Over-heated hounds do lounge beneath porches and trees on hot afternoons, but it is not for them that "dog days" were named. Instead, this parching period pertains to Sirius, the "Dog Star," which rises and sets with the sun from mid-July until September. Sirius is also called "The Scorching One." Its lurid presence on the horizon evokes desperate memories of withered crops, raging wildfires and infernal droughts.

Continued at... The Dog Days of Summer

Rural Delivery
Out There
Nature Pages
Artwork: Dog Days of Summer Garden Flag

Farm Direct: Raising Meat Goats


Increased market opportunities have led many folks to consider raising meat goats, but many are unfamiliar with modern production techniques. And because the interest in meat goat production is new, there are few experienced goat producers in most areas to help newcomers in their desire to learn as much as possible.

In addition, importation of new breeds has stimulated a breeding industry which needs herds to produce purebred breeding stock as well as animals for exhibition.

The commercial goat meat industry is almost entirely ethnic, (Muslim, Hispanic). It is affected by the dates of various religious holidays shown below plus others. The dates for most holidays change from year to year. Islamic holidays change by 11 days each year.

Continued on the Tip Sheet: Raising Meat Goats

Farm Direct
Husbandry
Chevon
Artwork: Boer Goat

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Husbandry: Controlling Varroa Mites in Bee Colonies


Varroa mites are a voracious threat to honey bees in some areas. If left untreated, they can build population levels that will destroy a populous colony.

"There is no chemical or management procedure that will completely eradicate this pest, so individual treatment regimes must be developed," writes James E. Tew in The Beekeeper’s Problem Solver. "One method is drone brood trapping. Drones require approximately 23 days to mature, while workers require just shy of 21 days. Apparently due to the longer development time, Varroa mites preferentially seek out developing drones. You can therefore use drone combs to attract mites away from other areas of the brood nest."

Once the comb is filled and the drone brood is mostly capped, it should be removed and placed in a freezer. Both drones and mites will be killed, and the comb can be reused.

During warm months, Tew suggests performing this eradication procedure about every 18–20 days.

Artwork: Beehive Kit
Husbandry
Animal Husbandry and Livestock Books
The Beekeeper's Problem Solver

Friday, July 28, 2017

Home Grown: The Benefits of Earthworms


> By eating organic materials such as manure, leaves, grass and decaying wood, earthworms break them up at a much faster rate than would otherwise occur.

> Nutrient-rich worm burrows allow plant roots to develop faster, thus making stronger and healthier plants less susceptible to fungus, disease, or pests.

> 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.

Continued in... The Benefits of Earthworms

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Worms
Artwork: Earthworms


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Home Grown: Planting for Hummingbirds


There's nothing common about hummingbirds.

They are the smallest bird, coming from the smallest egg and living in the smallest nest; their colors include metallic greens, blues and reds; they have the highest metabolism of any animal, with a heartbeat of well over 600 beats per minute; and they are the only group of birds that can deliberately fly backwards.

Their diet consists of flower nectar, sap from trees, spiders and insects, usually captured in or near flowers.

Continued in... Planting for Hummingbirds

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Plants and Seeds
Artwork: Montes de Oca Hummingbird with Bromelaid


Home Grown: Time to Order Fall Bulbs


As summer begins to wane, it is time to decide which spring flowering bulbs you want to add to your landscape.

"You need to select good quality bulbs for planting, paying attention to size and firmness. Choose bulbs that are firm and free from soft or rotting spots, and signs of disease," says Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

There are three sources for bulbs: mail order catalog, local nurseries, and discount business.

Continued in... Time to Order Fall Bulbs

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Plants and Seeds
Artwork: Dutch Iris

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Home Grown: Lawn Care During Drought


Excessive heat and dry conditions can leave lawns wilted and browning. Watering improperly during drought can result in a less-than-healthy lawn.

The way you manage your lawn will influence the amount of water required to keep it healthy. Increased nitrogen fertilization and thatch build up increase the amount and frequency of irrigation needed.

During dry periods, raise the mowing height and mow with a frequency in which no more than a third of the leaf tissue is removed. Raising the mowing height will allow the grass to maintain a deeper root system, thereby helping the grass to find more water.

Continued in... Lawn Care During Drought

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Lawn Tools and Equipment
Artwork: Marilyn Monroe Using Hose to Water Lawn

Friday, July 21, 2017

Rural Delivery: The Northern Spy and Other Edible Antiques


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1997. All rights reserved.

A Rhode Island Greening is about as common in the contemporary American kitchen as a butter churn. It's as likely to be used as a woodburning cookstove or an icebox. Few of them have ever been microwaved.

The Northern Spy, once a standby at neighborhood grocers, is rarely seen in today's supermarkets. It's gone the way of the horse-drawn carriage and the stagecoach. Just try to find one.

The Greening and the Spy are both apples, two of the finest-tasting varieties ever to touch the American palate. But today they are "antiques," each more than a century old.

Continued at... The Northern Spy and Other Edible Antiques

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Apples
Artwork: Northern Spy


Thursday, July 20, 2017

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
Plants and Seeds
Artwork: Kentucky Wonder Organic Beans

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Recipe Archive: Puree of Asparagus Soup


from
The Historic Kentucky Kitchen
Traditional Recipes for Today's Cook
by Deirdre A. Scaggs and Andrew W. McGraw

According to authors of The Historic Kentucky Kitchen, this 1897 soup recipes packs a lot of flavor, considering how simple it is and how few ingredients are in the recipe. To make the soup more elegant and add texture, reserve the tips of the asparagus spears after poaching to use as a garnish.

2 ½ cups chicken stock
3 cups chopped asparagus
2 cups cream
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon pepper

full recipe at Puree of Asparagus Soup

Artwork: Asparagus Soup
Recipe Archive
Farm Kitchen
Asparagus

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Rural Delivery: Where Oliver Found His Place


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2006. All rights reserved.

This is the 1960s, and a wife's place is at her husband's side, as Oliver testifies:

You are my wife!"

Lisa had forgotten about the Hungarian Parliament's "Big Dumb Law of 1924," which stated: "All Hungarian women have to do  whatever their husbands want them to do, no matter how dumb it is."

Goodbye city life.

And so the Haney Place becomes the Douglas Farm -- with all its clutter, fallow fields, and telephones mounted atop telephone poles -- for six television seasons. Oliver struggles gamely to make his farm a success while Lisa brings some graciousness and finer things of life to their rural experience. They stand side by side, in a parody of American Gothic,  and declare:

Green Acres, we are there!

Continued at... Where Oliver Found His Place

Rural Delivery
See the Movie, Read the Book
Farm Supply
Artwork: Green Acres Poster

Monday, July 10, 2017

Rural Delivery: Flown The Coop

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved.

Nowadays, I'm hard-pressed to find a chicken coop. We have no chickens. None of our neighbors keep chickens. There are chickens around and eggs for sale someplace nearby, I'm sure, but I couldn't give directions.

We've talked about raising chickens. Every spring, as the slugs rise to gnaw on the strawberries, my wife says, "We ought to have chickens." Free-ranging hens are an effective deterrent to slugs, grasshoppers and many other insect pests. They'll also keep down the weeds and add nutrients to your soil if you manage them carefully.

Every time I trim the fat off a fleshy store-bought chicken I'm preparing for the grill, I tell myself, "We ought to raise our own chickens."

Chickens convert feed to meat efficiently. Most broilers will gain a pound of weight for every two-and-a-half pounds of feed. If a bird is allowed to free-range, not only will it be less fatty, but nearly half of its feed will come from foraging grubs, weeds and worms.

Continued at... Flown The Coop

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Husbandry
Artwork: Chicken Coop at Eugene O'Neill House in Contra Costa County, California

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Rural Delivery: Folks


by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1997. All rights reserved.

Grayce grew up on horses. By the age of seven she was riding alone. At 18, she drove stage teams for her uncle up to mines in the Ochoco Mountains. She'd ride up from Prineville, stay overnight at the stage station, and return the next day. One day up, one day back, day after day. It was great work.

"My mother wanted me to be a lady. That was always a bad word with me. I just wanted to be me," Grayce explained.

For a time, she lived with her mother in Portland, working at a dimestore. But soon as she could arrange it, Grayce was back in Prineville. There were two problems with city life. First, there were no horses. ("Horses were my first love.") Second, she didn't like the people.

"I don't like people," she said. "I like folks."

"What's the difference?" I asked.

Continued at... Folks

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
The Corral
Artwork: Oregon Summer Cowgirl by Paul A. Lanquist


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Rural Delivery: Full Bloom

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1996. All rights reserved.

Have you ever wondered why the tulip drops its petals just as orchids are unfolding and while pansies and petunias go on blooming? Is it the heat of summer that makes them fade? Or some aversion to longer days?

Blame it on plant genetics. Flowers don't die off; they are deliberately strangled by the rest of the plant.

A tulip's bloom, however beautiful, serves one purpose to the plant: pollination. A lingering flower saps the energy a plant needs for bulb and seed development. Once pollinated, its beauty is a useless distraction from unpollinated flowers, and so it dies like Desdemona at the hands of Othello, its life tragically cut short.

Continued at... Full Bloom

Rural Delivery
Out There
Growth Spurts
Artwork: Tulip


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Here's How To... Cook With a Dutch Oven


When baking with a 12-inch Dutch oven, generate bottom heat by placing five or six hot charcoal briquets in a circle between its legs. To generate a higher temperature place 18-24 briquets "next to each other around the outside flange of the lid, with two or three spaced evenly around the lid handle," Welch advises.

For roasting, generate heat the same as for baking, but if the dish has cooking liquid in it increase the number of briquets beneath the oven by 50 percent.

Follow the link to... Cook With a Dutch Oven.

Here's How To...
How To Do It
Artwork: Dutch Oven



Home Grown: Sun Protection for Tomato Skins

To prevent sunscald, maintain a healthy foliage cover. Keep plants well-watered and free of pests and diseases that can reduce foliage. Don't prune your tomato plants and place them densely enough that they can benefit from mutual shade. Keeping the soil cool with plenty of water and mulch helps, too.

If you let your plants sprawl on the ground, don't turn them to expose the underside of the fruit. That's a common cause of sunscald.

Summer heat can also cause cracking in tomatoes. Radial cracks are most common, starting near the fruit stem, and developing down the sides of the fruit wall. Concentric cracks sometimes appear as circles around the stem end of the fruit.

Continued in... Sun Protection for Tomato Skins

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Plants and Seeds
Artwork: Better Boy Tomato


Friday, June 30, 2017

Home Grown: Saving on Beneficials.

When you first peruse a bug catalog or price list, you might suffer from sticker shock. One order of bugs might run anywhere from $15 to $75. And to add insult to injury, they must usually be shipped "overnight" or "next day," which can run as much as $35 to $40.
 
All that may not be so bad until you realize that it might take more than a few shipments to get a good establishment of critters in your greenhouse. If you go with only one shipment, you may find that the population of good guys goes down as their food supply (bad bugs) is depleted. When this happens, it can give the pests a chance to establish beyond the capability of your beneficial bugs to ever catch up with their numbers. By doing a few releases, you can even out these population swings and gain better control.

Continued in... Saving on Beneficials

Home Grown
Home and Garden Center
Pest Control
Artwork: Praying Mantis Egg


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Rural Delivery: Sunday Drive

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1996. All rights reserved.

Folks on a Sunday Drive count livestock, assess crop conditions and take notice of wildflowers. They pause for rainbows, old weathered barns and small animals crossing the road. And they're likely to stop at any yard sale, flea market or roadside fruit stand.

You'll know these folks by their sun-bronzed forearms resting atop drawn-down windows and their willingness to wave at passersby. Sometimes they'll be stopped side by side in the middle of the road facing opposite directions and jawing at each other across the center line.

Continued at... Sunday Drive

Rural Delivery
Outgoing
Holidays and Notable Events
Artwork: Sunday Drive


Monday, May 29, 2017

Rural Delivery: Read the News Backwards

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved.

So I've turned off the TV news, which is all about celebrities and monstrosities anyhow. (Ever notice how only celebrities are mentioned on network news when they die?)

I cast my lot with newspapers, the more local and personal the better. It's not that they don't sensationalize, because they often do -- especially on the front page. But newspapers also report on weddings and weed control and local high school sports, and the like, when no one else will bother. And the best way to read a newspaper, I have discovered, is back to front, classifieds first. This way I learn about the weekend auctions and the baseball scores and the city council's new ordinance before I get to the holdups and hijackings and beheadings.

Continued at... Read the News Backwards

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Farm Supply
Artwork: Farmer Reading Newspaper

Sunday, May 21, 2017

On the Magazine Stand: 5 Vietnamese Dishes You Must Try

If you like Pho... you should try Bun Bo Hue
Lemongrass is the dominant flavoring in this soup.

If you like Egg Rolls... you should try Goi Cuon (Spring Rolls)
Thin rice paper differentiates this roll from common fried rolls.

If you like Grilled Pork Chop and Rice... you should try Bun Thit Nuong (Grilled Pork and Rice Noodle)
Chilled noodles and hot pork add an extra kick.

If you like Combination Stir Fry Noodles... you should try Mi Xao Don Thap Cam (Combination Deep Fried Noodles)
Crispy noodle dish originated in China, adapted in Vietnam.

If you like these options, you should definitely try Nam Vang's Noodle Soup
Simple soup bowl dish common in Vietnam.

 ~ in current issue of National Geographic Traveler

Travel Magazines
Magazine Stand
Artwork: Goi Cuon Salad Roll