“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…]
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…]
Most summer gardens are in full swing by early July; the plants are growing like crazy and the harvest is finally coming in. The days are wonderful….and hot. While summer vegetable crops do love heat, there is only so much they can take. Understanding how heat affects you and your crops will make gardening in the heat more productive. [Read more…]