Before You Plant Sunchokes, You Need to Read This Post

Before You plant sunchokes, you need to read this post.  What are sunchokes? What are the health benefits of sunchokes? Why you shouldn't plant sunchokes in your regular garden.

It all started innocently enough.

Somewhere I read about this native vegetable that was great for diabetics – or maybe it was that episode of Top Chef where one of the contestants made a sunchoke and spinach puree that the judges just raved about.  It could have been an article on easy care perennial vegetables.  I honestly don’t remember.  Whatever prompted me to grow sunchokes, there’s a few things I need to share with you so you don’t make the same mistakes I did. [Read more…]

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Introduction to Permaculture

Introduction to Permaculture - Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is an ethical, sustainable food system. Learn how one family is transforming their own land and helping to teach others.

I was busy in June ’14 cutting swales all over the garden. It is up to almost 2 acres of hand dug swales in under 8 months. It can be done for free and by one person!


This is a guest post by Matt Powers, author of “The Permaculture Student”.

Have you heard of Permaculture?

I hadn’t until I really began exploring organic gardening and saw a divide between those that were just changing their inputs to organic and those really gardening naturally. I was on a mission to find clean and healthy food for my wife, a 3 time cancer survivor. I was not going to be satisfied with good or better; I was going to find what was best. That’s what permaculture is for a gardener – it’s the best way to garden, but it’s also a whole lot more than gardening. In fact, gardening may end up being just a small part of it. [Read more…]

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Growing Asparagus and Rhubarb

Growing Asparagus and Rhubarb @ Common Sense Homesteading

It’s that time of year – no, not Christmas, it the time when the seed catalogs start coming in the mail! While you brainstorm next year’s plantings, consider growing asparagus and rhubarb.  Because these perennials live for years, they are worth the time investment.  They often provide the first garden harvest of the year.  You may not even need to plant asparagus, as it grows wild in some places.

If you’ve never had fresh picked asparagus  – steamed, stir fried, or even raw – you’ve missed how good asparagus can be.  I would say the flavor is kind of like snap peas, but different in a good way. Here in northwest Wisconsin it grows wild in places, along fence lines and under power lines where birds plant the seeds after they eat the fruit during the summer. The mature plants are the easiest to spot along roads and walking sunny fence lines. You can map them out and then come back in the spring. This is what last year’s mature plants look like: [Read more…]

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A Day in the Slow Life

A Day in the Slow Life @ Common Sense Homesteading

Annette at Sustainable Eats tagged me in a meme that asks participants to share “a day in the slow life”.  I have to say, from what I’ve read so far, most of the “slow life” folks have pretty busy days.

In an effort to get this posted in time for Simple Lives Thursday, I’m going to try to recollect this past Monday.  The days sometimes seem to run together.  There’s always so much I’d like to do, and then there’s what can reasonably be accomplished (at least by me, an individual who requires sleep). [Read more…]

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Asparagus and Rhubarb

cut rhubarb

In spite of our cool weather, spring-bearing perennials such as asparagus and rhubarb have been producing tasty edibles. The rhubarb patches are largely unhampered by the cold. We don’t have a patch at our current location, but the neighbors are always happy to share. Once a patch is well-established, I have yet to meet anyone who has been interested in using up their entire patch production. I enjoy the tartness combined with some sweetness, and sometimes some dairy. Mine usually goes into sauce (lovely on toast or ice cream), muffins (these freeze well and stay nice and moist) or desserts (I have a rhubarb custard recipe that everyone in the family likes).

Asparagus is also in season, but the cold has slowed it down significantly. I’m garden tending for neighbors who are traveling for a couple of weeks, and part of my job is to find the asparagus spikes (they have patches scattered around the yard) and harvest them so they don’t go to seed too early. Most sources I’ve seen suggest harvesting for around three weeks before allowing the spikes to grow out and flower to put energy into the roots for the following season. With the dry May we had, some of the first spikes harvested were a little bitter, and they were few and far between in the patch. Since the rain, growth has picked up and the flavor has sweetened back to normal.

Fresh local asparagus is an entirely different vegetable than the store bundles shipped from across the country. If you’ve never been an asparagus fan, you need to try fresh, locally grown. The taste is more like garden peas with just hint of asparagus “wildness”. Good and good for you, I hope you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy these spring treats.

Pork with Rhubarb Sauce recipe 

3 lb Pork loin center rib roast (8 ribs)
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper; coarsely ground
1/2 lb Rhubarb, fresh; chopped (2 cups)
1/4 cup Apple juice concentrate; thawed
2 Tablespoon Honey
Nutmeg, ground
2 Tablespoon Water
1 teaspoon Cornstarch

Have the butcher loosen the pork roast backbone, if possible, for easier carving. Rub the roast with salt and pepper. Place bone side down in a small, shallow roasting pan. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest portion of the roast; make sure bulb doesn’t touch bone, fat, or the pan. Roast, uncovered, at 325 F. until the thermometer reads 150 F., about 75 to 90 minutes.
For the sauce, in a medium saucepan stir together the rhubarb, apple juice concentrate, honey, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat, cover, and simmer ten minutes or until the rhubarb is very tender. Mix the water and cornstarch; stir into the rhubarb mixture. Cook and stir until the sauce is thickened and bubbly. Continue cooking for two minutes more.
When the meat thermometer registers 150 F., spoon some of the sauce over the roast. Continue roasting until the thermometer reads 170 F., about 30 to 45 minutes more. Spoon on additional sauce occasionally. Let the roast stand 15 minutes before carving. Heat any remaining sauce and pass with the roast.

Cream of Asparagus Soup recipe

1/4 cup butter
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups water
1 (10.5 ounce) can condensed chicken broth or homemade chicken broth
4 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder

1 potato, peeled and diced
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and
coarsely chopped
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1. Melt butter or margarine in a heavy cooking pot. Add onions and chopped celery; saute until tender, about 4 minutes. Stir in flour, mixing well. Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Do not burn, or let it go lumpy. Add water, chicken broth, and chicken soup base; stir until smooth. Bring to a boil. Add diced potatoes and chopped asparagus. Reduce heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
2. Puree soup in a food processor or blender in batches. Return to pot.
3. Stir in half and half cream, soy sauce, and black and white pepper. Bring soup just to boil. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve hot.

Ready In: 1 Hour
Servings: 6

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