On September 26th, I learned that the month of September is designated National Preparedness Month. Did you know that? The month is done; but any month or day is a good time to prepare for emergencies – floods, earthquakes, blizzards, tornadoes, and nasty human behavior. As we’ve seen over the […]

Growing a Disaster Preparedness Kit

vertical gardening herbs
I miss our backyard garden – the battle with the red clay, the monster zucchinis and tomatoes, plentiful peppers, even the dispirited cantaloupe. When the yard was re-graded a few years back, the last remnants of it were wiped away. So there’s this large backyard with nothing to do. It’s […]

A Basement Garden. Chapter I – A Wishful Need

saute pan containing flowers
Spring sprang past and everything’s running to catch up. Flowers are blooming and invitations are starting to flow for garden parties, graduations, weddings, and the like. For some, flowers will be featured on the menu as well as on the decor list. In the 19th century, edible flowers were pretty […]

Edible Flowers

raised garden beds
Raised garden beds are extremely popular these days, however, some beginning gardeners ask themselves why they need raised beds at all. At first glance, they do not seem to offer much advantage over planting directly into the ground. If one conducts a quick search on the internet to try to […]

Raised Garden Beds: Pros, Cons, and Alternatives

Hugelkultur in home gardens
What is Hugelkultur? Hugelkultur is a method of raised bed gardening perfected by Austrian permaculture guru Sepp Holzer. Another Permaculture expert, Paul Wheaton, has a good summary of Holzer’s work on his website richsoil.com. You can also check out Sepp Holzer’s English website here as well as search the web for […]

Hugelkultur in Home Gardens

vertical gardening
Do you live in an urban area but still want the benefits of a rural garden? One of the biggest problems with having an urban garden is the space limitations. Many gardeners have less than an acre of land to work with, some may only have a few hundred square […]

How Does Your Garden Grow? – Vertical

Eat dandelions? Yes, and the nice thing is that 100% of the dandelion is edible! Historically, Europeans brought dandelions to America as a food crop but now it is considered to be one of the most annoying weeds plaguing the suburban lawn. Yet, a 55 gram serving of Dandelion contains […]

Eat Dandelions: 100% of the Dandelion is Edible

fresh compost
By some estimates, 30 percent of materials going into U.S. landfills could be repurposed. I’m not talking about boxes and containers but living things. Or, more accurately, once living things. Food, plants, dried leaves, inedible produce and other organic materials can make your gardening and farming efforts, well, bloom. Out […]

Compost – Organic Recycling is Gaining Ground

It’s not you. It’s your soil. The soil quality in a typical neighborhood setting is usually pretty terrible. Although most people do not realize it, poor soil is the reason why backyard vegetable gardens do not perform to our expectations. It can be frustrating when one spends so much time […]

The Secret to Fertility: How to Improve Backyard Soil

DIY dresser air fresheners
A great way to improve the freshness of a linen closet or dresser drawers is to make these little all natural air fresheners. These DIY closet and dresser air fresheners are super easy, incredibly inexpensive, and highly effective. Items needed: Small jars (re-purposed or recycled glass jars are great for this) […]

DIY Closet / Dresser Air Fresheners

dog in bathtub with DIY shampoo
In this article, we will make a really luxurious homemade dog shampoo. Using some simple ingredients, one can craft a very high quality dog shampoo that smells wonderful, cleans effectively, and moisturizes your dog to cut down on itching. You will want to use it on your own hair and […]

Homemade Dog Shampoo: Luxurious Cheap and Easy

Cacao beans and powder
On the food calendar, there are days for celebrating chocolate in various forms: dark (February 1; the whole month is devoted to chocolate and has multiple observance days), cake (January 27), candy (December 28), to name a few. This Friday, October 28, is a general yay-for-chocolate day. In recent years, […]

National Chocolate Day

backyard farm design
Backyard Farming sounds crazy at first. Urban Farming or Urban Homesteading does not sound much better. Yet, more and more people are beginning to see that there is a real benefit to growing one’s own food and making things at home. There are many reasons for this including the high […]

What is Backyard Farming

apple tree
If one is serious about producing a large quantity of truly organic produce within a small space, then fruit trees are absolutely essential. The advantages of fruit trees in your backyard farm garden far outweigh the disadvantages. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of fruit trees: Fruit […]

Fruit Trees and Backyard Farming

Butternut squash recipe: spicy and nutty
As we move into autumn, squash moves into the forefront of seasonal cooking. A variety will grow quite well in Mid-Atlantic gardens. But the next thing, after they’re grown, is what to do with them. Most recipe sites offer soup, casseroles, or ravioli but I wanted something different. So, coming […]

Spiced Nutty Butternut Squash Recipe

DIY Moisturizer
Skin so dry that it looks like a dried riverbed at high noon? Welcome to winter. Although these cold temperatures bring relief from many allergies, risk of heat stroke and clammy skin, they also reduce the amount of moisture in the air. For many, this causes a season of misery […]

Winter Skin Care

Forage for wild blackberries
One of the best fruits to forage for during the late summer and early fall in zones 5-10 are wild blackberries. In this article we will discuss how to forage not only for the blackberries themselves but for the plant too, so that you can grow these delicious, nutritious superfoods […]

Forage for Wild Blackberries and Blackberry Plants

Burdock Arctium
Weeds. The word seems synonymous with things abandoned, lonely, unkempt, not to mention unwanted and unloved. But for Those Who Know, many plants laboring under that unhappy name are associated with words like tasty, nutritious, and just plain yummy. They come in a virtually unending supply, growing where they please […]

BE the Weed Eater

double dig
Permaculture people like to practice a “no till / no dig” policy in their gardening. Most folks in Permaculture agree that one should never till your soil for a number of good reasons. There are fascinating Youtube videos and articles out there on the topic of soil science and why […]

The Double Dig: A Good Start to Backyard Farming

Forage for ramps
In Northern Ohio and many other places, April and early May is the time to go out into the woods and forage for Ramps, also known as wild leeks. Walk 10 feet into any deciduous forest during this time and you are very likely to see these easily identifiable garlicky […]

Forage for Ramps, Wild Leeks, and Chives

diy rain barrel
One thing that can be easily incorporated into the urban homestead and which is very useful to the backyard farmer is the rain barrel. Rain barrels can be purchased in a lot of places these days but they are quite easy to make as well. We’ll discuss how to do […]

Build these DIY Rain Barrels for Gardening

mint smoothie in a glass
Smoothies are all about health, nutrition, and feeling good. For many, it’s a no-brainer to incorporate herbs into their smoothie for flavor and functionality. While in past centuries herbs were a common feature of medical texts, such has not been the case here in the US since the 19th century. So […]

Mint Smoothies

backyard farm design
In this article, we’ll cover the basics of getting a backyard farm up and running. By backyard farm we mean anything from a small garden plot to a larger, more systematic approach. It all depends what you want to accomplish. We use the term backyard farming simply because it implies […]

Backyard Farm Design: Converting Lawn to Garden

Make your own compost
Compost affectionately referred to as “black gold” by gardeners is another word for a material called Humus. (not Hummus—but you can make that too once you get your soil right…) Basically it is a dark brown spongy material that can be produced through the act of mixing together different organic […]

What is Compost and How to Set up an Easy ...

Azaleas as natural fences
Fences that mark off property can also add to the environment and beauty of a home; especially if they’re alive. The use of hedges – shrubs or trees – in place of wood or stone constructs adds to the beauty of a yard while serving as wind breaks, sound barriers, […]

Top 5 Natural Fences: Grow Your Own Fence

permaculture zones
Permaculture Zones are Absolutely Essential in Backyard Farming Design Permaculture Zones are a very interesting concept and cornerstone of Permaculture Design.  Basically you put things that you have to tend to more, closer to your house, like a vegetable garden; and you put larger things that don’t require much attention like […]

Permaculture Zones and Backyard Farming

snow cave diy
In the winter in North Central Ohio, we get a lot of snow.  One really awesome thing to do is to build a Quinzhee or Quinzee snow structure. The quinzhee is surprisingly big on the inside (you will be shocked).  The walls of a quinzhee are thick and strong, and in […]

How to build a Quinzhee Snow Structure

make dandelion coffee
Part of our Backyard Farming / Urban Homesteading operation consists of growing dandelions and harvesting them to make roasted dandelion coffee. The roasted roots can be ground after roasting and put into jars or tea bags and sold online or at Farmers Markets. It doesn’t taste like coffee, but it […]

How to Brew Dandelion Coffee

rain garden
It’s raining. Again. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac and AccuWeather, the theme of Summer 2016 is above normal rainfall and heat. The rain will enable crops and gardens to flourish but it will also bring flooding and provide opportunities for many batches of mosquitoes. Putting this free resource to […]

Harvesting the Rain

vertical gardening wall
Backyard art. Smoothie garden. Privacy screen. The ultimate in wall art, indoor or out. Vertical gardening continues to offer opportunities that challenge the imagination and skill of backyard gardeners, especially those living with space-challenged yards. An interior or exterior wall, a fence, a free standing multi-tier planter or trellis, or […]

Growing Vertical

smoothie garden
In a previous post, I wrote about vertical gardening, an artful option for growing smoothies. That got me thinking of how to capture the garden’s abundance for the dark months ahead. Freezing is an ideal way to do that. The Old Farmer’s Almanac says that produce kept at 0°F (-18°C––) or […]

Harvesting and Preserving Your Smoothie Garden

raising convict cichlids
Convict Cichlids named for their black and white stripes, are a very popular fish for home aquariums. People like them because they are one of the easiest fish to take care of and do not get as large as other cichlids. They are fascinating to watch and will come out for […]

Raising Convict Cichlids

National Farm to School Month
In 2010, the U.S. Congress designated National Farm to School Month to recognize the impact of such programs in improving child nutrition, supporting local economies and educating children on where food really comes from. One Small Step is the theme of this year’s campaign, to show how easy it can be […]

Celebrate National Farm to School Month

stop raking leaves
Raking Leaves is bad. Never rake your leaves again. Today while driving on a short errand, I saw a gentleman with a leaf vacuum attached to a riding lawn mower in a small front yard sucking up his leaves to deposit into the street. Next I saw an old woman raking […]

Stop Raking Leaves Forever!

Basket of locally grown produce
In a recent National Restaurant Association survey, 44 percent of chefs surveyed identified local sourcing as the trend that has grown the most over the last decade. The drive for grow local/eat local is here to stay; restaurants and stores are growing their own or buying from very-near-by urban farms […]

Get Your Produce Featured in Local Businesses

micro aquaponics system
What is Aquaponics Aquaponics is the combination of 2 things: Aqua Culture: The practice of Raising Fish Hydroponics: The practice of Growing Plants using water, chemicals and a non soil medium like gravel Aqua Culture is pretty self explanatory. But let’s talk more about Hydroponics. What is Hydroponics Hydroponics is a system […]

What is Aquaponics and How to Build a Micro Aquaponics ...

cooked zucchini blossoms
Monday, August 8 is National Zucchini Day. Yes, there is an entire calendar out there of months and days celebrating food. (August is National Peach Month.) Actually I think there is more than one. Not that it actually matters, to me, these food ‘holidays’ are just a fun way to […]

Celebrate National Zucchini Day

Aedes aegypti mosquito
According to the Farmer’s Almanac (and AccuWeather), summer will be a rainy one. This could be good for gardens and other outdoor projects requiring water. The impact of Metro DC water utility company WSSC’s July 1 rate increase could be lessened by making use of all the free falling water. […]

Summer Harvests – Rainfall and Mosquitoes

DIY Seed Starting Mix
One trip to the big box store to buy seed starting soil and you will immediately notice two things.  First, store bought seed starting mixes are extremely expensive, relatively speaking, and second, they contain a lot of chemicals and mystery ingredients. The chemical component alone is enough to compel us […]

DIY Seed Starting Mix: Organic and Dirt cheap

Pour-over coffee being made with simple tools
As mentioned in my previous rant on Instant Coffee, I wanted to put together an article about how to easily brew bistro quality coffee anywhere using very basic equipment. We’ll cover the best methods for brewing a gourmet cup of coffee on the fly and also discuss how to grind the […]

Brew Gourmet Coffee Anywhere Using Basic Tools

herb smoothies in glasses
There are endless combinations of produce, grains, and nuts for creating smoothies for taste and for more purposeful uses; commonly touted smoothies are designed to detox, build the immune system, shed weight, clear skin and so forth. If you’ve ever wondered whether rosemary, basil and other common garden herbs can […]

Enhancing Smoothies with Garden Herbs

Winter composting
Composting is not only a great way to improve the quality of one’s backyard soil, but is also a terrific method of reusing kitchen scraps and other household waste. This indoor waste recycling can dramatically cut down on the amount of trash that one generates per week. We went from 4-5 […]

Winter Composting: Jumpstart Your Spring Garden

cat playing with cat grass
Our first freeze warning has come and gone. It’s the time of the year when many start making room indoors for outdoor plants or start shopping for indoor plants to offset winter’s monochromatic view. Pets will be spending more time indoors too. This can lead to bad outcomes if pet […]

Plants and Pets – Wintering Together

Backyard Farming Jack-o-lantern
The large jack-o-lantern pumpkins we carve in the fall do not make great pies. For that you need to Harvest them when they are small. But there are wonderful additional uses for your carved pumpkin leftovers! Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe Nothing beats homemade roasted pumpkin seeds. Half of the reason […]

Pumpkin 3 Way: Uses for Your Carving Pumpkin