The 5 Easiest Vegetables to Store and the Awesome Root Cellar Makeover

The 5 Easiest Vegetables to Store and the Awesome Root Cellar Makeover

Our recent blast of cold, wet weather has been replaced by wonderful warm, sunny days this week, which is a real blessing. The heat loving crops did not like the “Summer That Never Was”.  Production was down because of this, but we still had a respectable harvest overall. The boys and I have been putting in plenty of time in the garden, working on clean up, harvesting and storing the crops. We’re holding off just a little bit longer on the root veggies such as potatoes and carrots, but the garlic is cured and next year’s crop will be going in the ground soon, and over half of the onions are curing in the greenhouse.  Most of the shell beans have been brought in, and I’m gathering seed heads from an assortment of cultivated and wild plants.  In this post I’ll discuss the easiest vegetables to store and how to store them.  These crops have all moved onto my “must plant” list because they  require little or no processing and last reliably in storage for months.  I also have a quick video of our awesome new root cellar makeover.  August and the boys did a great job adding a ton of storage to the root cellar under our front porch. [Read more...]

How to Tell if a Watermelon is Ripe

How to Tell if a Watermelon is Ripe - 4 clues to look for to tell if your garden or store watermelon is red, ripe, and ready to pick.

This post is primarily for those who are wondering if their homegrown watermelon is ripe and ready to pick, but most of the same tips apply for those rooting through the produce bins at the supermarket or scouting out the farmers market.  Watermelons are a little sneakier than muskmelons, which slip right off the vine (i.e. come loose on their own) when ripe.  Uncut watermelons are also less fragrant than muskmelons, because they don’t have that open end where the vine was formerly attached.  You will never find me sniffing watermelons in the grocery store, but you may find me sniffing cantaloupes.  (I do my own stunts. ;-) )

4 Clues to Tell if Your Watermelon is Ripe

Back in my late teens and early 20’s, my jobs at the family catering business included picking out the watermelons and carving the watermelon boats for parties.  I was known as the resident watermelon expert, almost guaranteed to be able to pick out the perfect melon, if there was a perfect melon to be found. [Read more...]

Gummy Zucchini Candy Recipe – Naturally Sweetened

Naturally Sweetened Zucchini Gummy Candy Recipe - Tastes like commercial gummy treats with no artificial flavors, colors or refined sugar.

Overwhelmed by zucchini or summer squash?  Make some zucchini gummy candy!  I saw a recipe online that made them with drink mix and sugar, and coated them with more drink mix – more sugar and artificial color and flavor than I prefer.  So I decided to experiment with a simpler version using fruit juice concentrate.  It worked out great!

Naturally Sweetened Zucchini Gummy Candy Recipe

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My Worst Gardening Mistake

Parsnip Burn - my encounter with phytophotodermatitis (PPD) after a morning in the garden. Learn what it is and how to avoid it and treat it if needed.

It was a series of unfortunate events, or perhaps the perfect storm of things I just shouldn’t have done.  If I had realized what the results would be when I was doing it, it would have been simple to prevent, but the pain didn’t start until two days later.  By then, the damage was done, and the only thing I could do was treat the symptoms.  I’m sharing my story here so you don’t make the same mistake I did, and end up with parsnip burn, AKA Phytophotodermatitis (PPD). [Read more...]

Homestead Update and July Garden Tour

Homestead Update and July Garden Tour

People often ask how I get everything done.  The short answer is, I don’t.  We make to-do lists, I have a scheduling notebook, and an online calendar, but sometimes things simply don’t get done.  This is one of those weeks.  In spite of my best intentions, a few big, time sensitive projects dominated the week.  On Monday, I thought I’d quick video garden tour so you could all see what really goes on behind the scenes here at Common Sense Homesteading.  (I don’t know about you, but I always enjoy investigating other people’s gardens.)

What I thought would be quick and easy turned into a very time consuming and aggravating mess.  Between our slow internet connection, youtube editing combining sound from one video with pictures from another video,  youtube simply eating three videos (WTH???), and my utter lack of experience with video editing, it was ugly.  I started Monday, and am still reloading damaged videos on Saturday.  Oy.  I hope you still enjoy the garden tour, in spite of the wind and rather primitive video.

Big News at Common Sense Homesteading

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