Backwoods Home Magazine

...you’ll have some idea what the always informative and entertaining Backwoods Home Magazine is like. Even though its primary emphasis is rural off-grid living, every issue has something to offer for the urban homesteader. The current January/February issue features a detailed article on how city dwellers can maximize their vegetable production in small spaces. Even the article on running a cattle ranch has the side benefit of letting us all know...

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How to Process Carob

...ations with carob as a 1970s era chocolate substitute, but the tree has a long history in the Middle East, where it’s used to make a tea, as a source of molasses, as a vegetable and as animal feed. The “locusts” that John the Baptist dined on were not insects but, instead, the pods of the carob tree. After. Photo by Bill Wheelock. In the Middle East carob has a reputation as a famine food. According to the carob article...

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A Recipe for Injera

One the many searches that leads folks to this cranky web site is the topic of the Ethiopian sponge bread known as injera. We think we know what’s going on. People go out to dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant and come home wondering how to make the bread, leading to a fruitless search of the internets for a recipe and our old post about one of the ingredients, teff flour. The recipe we used comes from the excellent book Wild Fermentation b...

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Compost Outlaws

...each week with produce scraps from a nearby restaurant and dumping them into her compost. A neighbor did not see it that way and complained about the compost, which Kolla has in two wood boxes covered with black plastic. “I didn’t put it here to offend anyone. I put it here because it’s a work area,” Kolla said one morning as she showed a visitor her half-acre urban farm, where she grows flowers as well as some other crops...

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Hugo, humanure and nettles

...es; he examined the plants, which were uprooted and already dried, and said: “They are dead. Nevertheless, it would be a good thing to know how to make use of them. When the nettle is young, the leaf makes an excellent vegetable; when it is older, it has filaments and fibres like hemp and flax. Nettle cloth is as good as linen cloth. Chopped up, nettles are good for poultry; pounded, they are good for horned cattle. The seed of the nettle,...

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Rapini is the New Broccoli

...broccoli rabe, broccoli raab, broccoletti, saag, broccoli di rape, cime di rapa, rappi, friarielli, and grelos. It’s a member of the brassica family and is closely related to the turnip. And, unlike most vegetables found in our supermarkets, it actually tastes like something, with a mustardy bitterness I really love. I planted about 18 square feet worth and Mrs. Homegrown and I have been eating it for weeks tossed in pasta, omelets and on...

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Chop and Drop: Leaving Plant Residues in the Garden

Image from California Agriculture Since 2004, University of California scientists have been studying “conservation tillage,” a suite of techniques that includes practices such as reducing tillage and leaving crop residues in the field after harvest. Leaving crop residues, in permacultural lingo, “chop and drop,” it turns out has a number of important benefits. According to a research paper in the April-June 2012...

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Notes on Mark Bittman’s “Behind the Scenes of What We Eat”

..., etc.) is much easier and is a good place to focus. Erik and I have seen that over and over again around here.  It is possible for us all to take action on the local level to support the sale and distribution of healthy food. Here’s a few of his recommendations for policy change: Transparency in labeling, in agriculture practice Regulation of damaging foods: basically make it harder to eat poorly and easier to eat well, for instance: Make...

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My Favorite Lettuce Mix

...e edible, and aggressive, fennel seedlings you can see amongst the lettuce (memo to self: cut down fennel before it goes to seed this year!). And, at the risk of repeating myself, I pretty much grow Franchi seeds exclusively. It’s a family run Italian company that dates back to 1783. This year I grew their “Misticanza All Lettuce” mesclun mix. It’s astonishingly beautiful and flavorful. Best damn salads...

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Geoff Lawton Soils Video

...ing viewing a video entitled Soils featuring permaculturalist Geoff Lawton. What I like about this video is that it’s not just about soil, but Lawton actually shows you what you can do to improve your soil. In the DVD he demonstrates how to build a compost pile (lots of carbon material), contoured vegetable beds, a compost pile heated shower and a simple vermiculture system using an old bathtub to name just a few projects. You get practical...

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