“The Resilient Gardener – Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times” by Carol Deppe came onto my radar while reading Harvey Ussery's book, “The Small-Scale Poultry Flock“. Harvey mentioned Carol's approach to feeding her ducks using garden crops to dramatically reduce purchased feed consumption, and I wanted to know more. Coupled with the duck information was an array of topics unlike any other gardening book I've ever read. [Read more…]
A root cellar is a great option to include in your food storage plan, since they require no energy to use and require very little maintenance. It’s great if you can build in a root cellar when your home is under construction, but it’s also possible to add a root cellar to your basement, or build one outside your home. Root cellars are a great low-cost, no-energy way to store food and extend the shelf life of fresh produce. [Read more…]
The spirit of Vincent Van Gogh visited my squash patch! Lest you think I have been sniffing the catnip, look at this squash! When we found this, we gazed at it in wonder. The intricate pattern is definitely not random. Did my artistic son sneak into the garden and prank me with this complex artwork? The vibrantly colored red Kuri squash looks as if someone took a teeny tiny woodburning tool and painstakingly etched a wonderful pattern just into the outer skin of the fruit, leaving the inner layer of the hull intact. When we found a second one, we knew this was not a prank. We posted a photo and a wise Common Sense Home reader told us that this was caused by a disease, the papaya ringspot virus, also known as papaya mosaic virus.
Say WHAT?! What is that and what is it doing in my Northeast Wisconsin garden? (We certainly don't have papayas nearby.) I had to do some research, which I'll share here with you. [Read more…]
Vermiculture composting (vermicomposting, worm composting) is the act of creating rich, organic humus for your garden or lawn by allowing earthworms to help in the decomposition process. Earthworms eat food scraps and poop fertilizer (worm castings). The resulting castings enrich soil by improving texture, increasing nitrogen, trace minerals, and natural growth hormones from the worms themselves.
In this article I will discuss how to get the most out of small scale, indoor vermicomposting without expensive or complicated equipment. You probably already have most of the tools you'll need to get started. [Read more…]
This week were were hit by a hail storm while my son and I were running errands. As we were pulling away from our home, I looked over at the garden and noticed how big and healthy the squash patch was looking, and how glad I was that we were expecting much needed rain. While we were driving around, the rain started pouring in buckets, but I wasn't concerned. Then the hail started, but it was spotty, so I still wasn't concerned. It was only when I turned onto the last stretch of road to our home that my heart dropped.
The road was filled with fallen leaves. As I pulled up to our home, I saw the squash patch – leveled to the ground with hail damage. The rest of the garden had plenty of weather damage, too – damaged fruit, damaged flowers, shredded and stripped leaves – it was pretty awful. Damaged crops are a given. How bad it will be remains to be seen. I can't unmake the storm, but I can share our strategies for dealing with the weather damage in the garden, and options to help prevent hail damage. [Read more…]