I’ve been gardening since I was about seven years old and that was a while ago. It’s getting more important in my mind as climate change and worldwide economic uncertainties loom. If you can garden, you are more versatile.
Not to mention the delicious taste of fresh fruits and vegetables!
In 2015, my husband Kelly and I moved from a short growing season in a cold part of Colorado to a town in New Mexico with a much longer growing season, partly because it’s lower in elevation. We bought a house with a yard that is a quarter of an acre of not-quite-level land. The soil needs a lot of work, and we started some worm bins for our compost. Kelly dug swales across the back yard to keep at least some of the rainwater in the yard. The swales also help when we use city water to irrigate the garden we’re putting in.
He also built a greenhouse where I am doing a lot of container gardening.
Chickens and llamas are the two kinds of livestock that my husband Kelly and I have raised. I’ve written some about beekeeping on this site, as I got curious about it, but we never did keep bees. Other homesteading animals that people raise may turn up in this section as well.
I blog about all this and more. Take a look around!
Thanks to Ali Taylor for this article. I don’t usually use guest posts but this is such an important subject that I accepted her offer. At least 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of all plants require cross-pollination to spread and thrive, making bees a crucial component of crafting a flourishing garden in a way that doesn’t harm the environment. Whether you want to incorporate more beautiful flowers into your garden or love being able to have a positive impact on the environment, beekeeping is becoming more and more popular as a sustainable hobby. And, the great news is that it’s …Continue reading →
There are so many ways to make money from gardening projects. With the increased interest in gardening and eating fresh produce, opportunities range: growing plants, selling products, helping others with their gardens, blogging, and more. Here I list 36 ideas. Some require strength, some require tools,but many don’t. No matter your abilities and living situation, there are likely ways that you could come up with some gardening income. I’m not writing about gardening jobs here, though they do exist too. Some of these ideas are gardening-related rather than specifically requiring you to get out into the garden. I’ve added links to …Continue reading →
We have hundreds of snails in our backyard, all over our large vegetable garden. No, I didn’t count them, but when you can see a dozen on one bush bean plant, just do the math. I think they are kind of cute (never thought that about slugs!) and I wish we could co-exist. But they are voracious, especially in these numbers. Most of them are tiny, but quite a few seem to be fully grown and probably producing the babies that are everywhere. We do have a few slugs, not nearly so many. Luckily, all those snails are only creating a problem for …Continue reading →
So many things are edible in our summer garden now, in the third week of August. We live at 6,000 feet in southern New Mexico, and we are reveling in the much longer growing season compared to previous years at 8,000 feet in Colorado. Most plants in the greenhouse here are past their prime, and I need to pull some things out and start some new things for the fall season. The garden is a jungle in places, all the more so as we are letting lettuce and some other things go to seed. Speaking of seeds, we get ours in a variety of …Continue reading →
It matters how your water your garden. The plants’ lives and productivity depend on it. So what are the best hoses, sprinklers, or methods? Combining my own gardening experience with some internet research, I remain a big fan of soaker hoses. (Watering cans provide an additional way of watering and are the standard way to water indoor plants… I’ll do another post about them sometime.) Considerations for Organic Gardening What are the hoses made of? You don’t want chemicals leaching into your plants and into you. Here’s a 2016 garden hose report where the organization did very thorough tests. You …Continue reading →
I have been gardening in Smart Pots for over 3 months, and here is my review of the pros and cons of using them for container gardening in greenhouses and outside. You may have heard of Smart Pots as a form of slow cooker, but here I’m talking about something different, a sturdy fabric bag used in the garden. This kind of Smart Pot is widely available, inexpensive, and good for gardening. I’ve been very happy with the ones I’ve used, and I think they make gardening easier and more versatile. In a rush? Would you rather browse Amazon.com for them than read …Continue reading →
Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square-Inch Gardener’s Guide to Year-Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting by R.J. Ruppenthal, is an extremely useful and clearly written how-to guide to urban gardening. Its subtitle gives you the idea of what it covers. It isn’t strong on illustrations, so this is one for readers. Wow, he’s been prolific since it came out. Here are some of his books and booklets at Amazon and my review continues below these images… I would guess that the booklets may draw on the material in the book. Some of these are just in Kindle, but others are also …Continue reading →
Gardening books are a great resource. I want mine to be paperback, so I can read them over lunch, take them someplace, lend them to friends, look at them while sitting on the sofa with my husband, and refer to them in all situations. Here are 10 of the best vegetable gardening books I know, not in any particular order. I chose these books based on three main factors: Whether the authors seem to have spent as much time gardening as they did writing. My knowledge as a librarian of how to ferret out what the most popular garden books are. Which books I refer to …Continue reading →
Now that our tomatoes, melons, snow peas, and cucumbers are blossoming in our greenhouse, I have a burning question: How to pollinate plants in a greenhouse? Tomatoes need pollination, I know, but what other plants do? And in the absence of bees or insects which often do the job, how is it going to happen? We do have some wind, both from the fan we run when the greenhouse gets hot and from wind outside blowing through our window screens. But is it enough? Videos Show You How to Pollinate The two very short videos on hand pollinating tomato plants show …Continue reading →
Jerusalem artichokes are easy to grow in your garden and they are delicious both raw and cooked. There are two big problems with them, though: When you are growing them, they try to take over the universe. They are famous for the flatulence they can produce. I spell out solutions for you. Native to eastern North America, Jerusalem artichokes have been eaten for centuries. Native Americans grew and traded them before the Europeans arrived. They later became popular in Europe and other parts of the world. Three Videos on Jerusalem Artichokes I watched several Jerusalem artichoke YouTube videos before selecting these three. While …Continue reading →
I love the look of tiered strawberry planters, specially when the berries are getting ripe and are draped this way and that because of their long stems. They aren’t just for strawberries, either: garden herbs grow well too. These planters work because strawberry roots are small and shallow, and so are the roots of most herbs, so they do have enough room. It’s a great way to grow in a vertical space. Selecting a Tiered Strawberry Planter They come in plastic mainly. If you want a terra cotta clay one, I suggest you try to get it locally as low-fired terra cotta …Continue reading →
I planted everything in our greenhouse four to six weeks ago and already there is a lot to see. (This is the second in a series on container gardens… the first one is here.) We are eating arugula and bok choy with small bits of cilantro, basil, and parsley. Here are some pictures of the container gardening. First, the larger leaves are bok choy, which we have been eating in salads for a couple of weeks now. Behind it is cilantro, which looks a bit scraggly because yesterday I thinned it quite a lot when I was collecting greens for our usual lunch, …Continue reading →
If you love to garden as I do, the question of “Does Gardening Relieve Stress?” is answered by a resounding yes. But I can sympathize with people who aren’t sure if they want to take up gardening. Any new hobby or activity has a learning curve, after all, and I still remember the stress when a quirky hailstorm landed hard in our late-summer vegetable garden when we lived in Colorado. Ultimately the damage wasn’t total. Gardening Provides Several Kinds of Pleasure Gardening reduces stress partly because it provides so much pleasure. There’s the pleasure of being in nature, usually outside …Continue reading →
I’ve recently been going wild planting veggies in containers in our greenhouse, and here I’ll be sharing with you six container gardening ideas for vegetables. Container gardening can be done anywhere… on porches and patios, on windowsills, and around the yard. Indoors, outdoors, and in greenhouses. Advantages over larger gardens? Less work, easier to handle! Fewer if any weeds, and way less water, which is something ever more important in the desert climate I live in. In any climate, really. So here are six ideas: ~1~ Read This Book on Container Gardening The book that got me started is . It had so many great …Continue reading →
Do you like to garden and grow your own food? The Home Grown Food Summit might be just the thing for you, specially since it offers a variety of video presentations–over 30 of them–that you can watch free during the week of March 7 to March 13. I’ll be watching a good bit of it for sure! This time of year, gardening begins to dominate my mind. We’re eating lettuce and kale from our greenhouse, but it’s time to get started on spring plantings! The Free Presentations at the Home Grown Food Summit Here’s a link to the day-by-day schedule of …Continue reading →
Have you ever done greenhouse gardening, or wanted to? Small greenhouses are inexpensive and provide you with a fair amount of space. I was looking at greenhouses on Amazon, and the first thing I noticed was that the best-selling ones are really mini-greenhouses, easy to use on a patio, deck or balcony. They would be useful in a small yard too. You could move to another home and these could be taken with you just fine. They are great for starting seeds, for growing seedlings to a larger size before putting them in the ground, and for growing plants. Simple as they are, they can extend …Continue reading →
Would you like to be able to take a measurement of the quality of the produce that you buy in the store or grow in your garden? My husband Kelly came home recently from a meeting about permaculture-type gardening with a couple of new words we didn’t know: brix and refractometer. Brix is a measure of the amount of dissolved solids in a drop or two of juice that you extract–typically with a garlic press–from some produce. A refractometer is a device that will give you the brix reading. Here’s a picture from Flickr of a woman using one. This was from …Continue reading →
Recently we had our first broody hen. As you can see in the picture, she is flattened down in one of our nesting boxes. She refused to move, and complained when we went near her, though she did get out of the box once or twice a day to eat, drink, and poop. Her hormones had kicked in and she was seriously ready to hatch out some baby chicks. If we had let her, that would have taken three weeks, but with eight hens and a rooster, all not quite a year old, we have all the chickens and all …Continue reading →
We’ve recently been having a few five-egg days. That’s from eight hens who were baby chicks back in June. They, and their rooster, are doing amazingly well in the bitterly cold weather we’ve been having lately… it was down to 16 below 0 this morning! We’ve been keeping a heat lamp over their water dish in their well-insulated coop, and that really helps. But back to their eggs. In October, we got two brown eggs the day before we left on a month-long road trip. The friends who lived in our house while we were away reported that they got …Continue reading →
Our solitary baby chick did just fine in the days after we got her. She’s a golden colored Buff Orpington and we’ve named her Sunshine. I wrote about her beginnings with us already. Here you can see her favorite position, between the mirror and the stuffed animal. That red jar lid had pieces of tomato in it. She had a great time pecking at them. Once I saw her shake one like a puppy would a toy. The stick you see gave her something to climb around on. We had ordered eight more baby chicks the day we got her. …Continue reading →
We are living with one baby chicken. We didn’t plan it that way but the other chicks traveling with her did not survive. I had ordered nine, and she was the only survivor of what our shipper told me was a very rare occurrence. So we ordered eight more chicks, and they should be here in about five days. In the meantime, this little four-day-old Buff Orpington chick does seem to be doing fine. But to start at the beginning… Yesterday morning around eight we got a phone call from our local post office that we had a package. “Our …Continue reading →
I keep an eye on what is going on at MakeItandMendIt.com, and today I picked up some gardening tips to share with you. (If you haven’t seen this useful site, you might want to read my review of MakeItandMendIt.) Anyway, with gardening season underway, I noticed a variety of useful articles. Here are links to four of them. This is a British site, so when they speak of the garden sometimes they mean the same thing we Americans mean but at other times they mean the yard. You’ll notice a few other unique terms too. Their article, with video, on …Continue reading →
Our two philodendrons add a lot of character to our small house. We grow them up high, out of the way of pets and people — partly because they take don’t take up any of our space that way but also because they are poisonous house plants. The one in the top picture here has been trained along some twine running the full length of our living room. It’s been growing for about a year and a half. Once, in a house we lived in for four years, we had a philodendron plant that circled our living room twice. (Admittedly …Continue reading →
When I was in the feed store the other, there was a copy of Chick Days on their checkout counter. “That’s a fun book,” I said to the clerk and she smiled and agreed. I didn’t buy it, as I had already bought two copies. I read the first one and then some dear friends with preschoolers came over for dinner. I looked at the book with the kids, and they loved it, so when I learned that they are getting chickens, I gave them that copy. is a very attractive book, as you can see from the cover. The …Continue reading →
A few weeks ago, we ordered nine baby chicks to arrive the first week in June, via the mail. While their long journey can be a bit stressful for the babies, evidently it is less than you might think as they are shipped right after they hatch and there is a period of two or three days when they need no food or water, still having what they need from being in the egg. The website we ordered from, mypetchicken.com, is very informative. We chose to order from them rather than to buy our chicks at a feed store in …Continue reading →
by Harvey Ussery, is the most comprehensive book I’ve ever read on chickens. You might guess that from the title! I’ve had chickens twice and we are planning to get them again next year, so I’ve been reading up on chickens. This book, by long-time flockster (that’s a word he invented) and homesteader Ussery, is full of all kinds of ideas and information for other flocksters and wannabes. You could read it and know plenty to get started with chickens or to take your chicken raising to new levels. At over 400 pages, with countless color illustrations, the book is …Continue reading →
We finally had our first real frost. At 8,000 feet here in Colorado, our average date of the first frost is about 12 days ago. Every extra day has been precious, but this morning the outdoor thermometer said 28 and the leaves of many plants were drooping. I had done a good bit of harvesting this week and I did more today. But where to put it all? Our winter squashes went on the bookcase in the hall, on a high shelf just out of reach of the dogs. It isn’t as cool as I’d like there, but we’ll just …Continue reading →
I recently read a fascinating account of the growth of the seed savers movement in the United States. Diane Ott Whealy, who wrote , is one of the founders of the Seed Savers Exchange, which you can go to at seedsavers.org. In one of the most beautifully created books I’ve seen short of expensive art books, she writes about how she and her family became the core of what became the SSE. Her passion for saving valuable old heirloom seeds and keeping them from dying out runs through just about every page of the book. I was moved and inspired. …Continue reading →
Last night I sorted through my packets of seeds, most of them heirlooms from Baker Creek Seeds, and pulled out a few to plant this afternoon. Here in Colorado at 8,000 feet it will be a while till we plant outside, but our small greenhouse has space for some lettuce, bok choy, radishes, and a few other things. Think I will plant a few tomatoes to transplant outside later, and some sweet peppers. Gardening is becoming more important to us, and we are not alone. More and more people are taking up gardening, or resuming it. Some reasons: Updated: Friday, …Continue reading →
The growing season is brief where we live, at 8,000 feet in Colorado. That’s one reason we were so pleased that the house we bought here came with an attached south-facing greenhouse. We were busy getting settled in during the fall, and didn’t get around to planting the greenhouse till mid November. Out of doors, it has gotten as cold as 29 degrees below at night here. At first we were using a small heater in the greenhouse, but it does have insulating shades we put in at night AND a small hot tub which radiates some warmth. So we …Continue reading →
The Real Dirt on Farmer John is an award-winning program about an Illinois farmer whose family has been farming on his land since the 1800s. Farmer John is a larger-than-life character, and both my husband and I were fascinated, enchanted, saddened, and delighted as his real life story unfolded. Watch the trailer for the film and you will know why: One of many amazing things about this program is that it was filmed over 25 years of friendship between John Peterson, the farmer, and Taggert Siegel and Terri Lang, the filmmakers. John Peterson grew up on the family farm, taking …Continue reading →
There’s a how-to DVD out from from the Back Yard Hive folks. It’s about an hour and a half, but they have kept the price to a low $19.95 to reach as many people as possible. I heard a couple of these people speak in my town a while back and I am impressed with their devotion to bees! Here’s the blog post I wrote back then. And here are the contents of the new DVD: Updated: Thursday, May 4, 2017
, by Eliot Coleman, is encouraging to every gardener and would-be gardener living in a cold climate. He’s got a newer book out on the same topic, , so I wasn’t sure about adding this one to my blog, but evidently both are well-regarded at Amazon and this is the one I’ve read. Year-round gardening is an increasingly important topic, as we move toward greater self-reliance and local food. If you love the joys of eating home-garden vegetables but always thought those joys had to stop at the end of summer, this book is for you. Eliot Coleman introduces the surprising …Continue reading →
Many years ago, my mother had a garden in Southampton, NY, near the ocean on Long Island. She collected seaweed on the beach and used it for mulch. What I remember most was the abundance of tomatoes that she grew, along with beans, lettuce, cucumbers, squash, and numerous other things. This afternoon, I came across her garden notebook for 1978 and read through it. Here are some of the excerpts regarding tomatoes. She was diligent about logging how many she picked, but she must have been less diligent about logging how many she froze or gave away, as you can …Continue reading →
is a classic — and it’s one I got not long after it came out. We were llama ranching in the mountains near Ashland, Oregon, in those days, and living in two old 8×40 trailers we had parked in a V, creating a large enclosed south-facing living room between them. I set up my worm bins in the unused and minimally heated second kitchen. My teenager thought it was gross, and my husband was dubious, but it did work! I’ve lived in a lot of different places since then and hadn’t used my old copy of the book until lately, but …Continue reading →