Category Archives: In the Garden

Gardening after sixty

By Jackie Clay-Atkinson

Nearly all of us garden in some form or another. After all, isn’t growing our own food one of the tenets of self-reliance? Besides that, it’s fun, fulfilling, and good exercise. Biting into that first sun-ripened tomato, crisp, sweet carrot, or oh-too-juicy melon makes all that planning and work worthwhile instantly. But as we age, some of the work becomes more difficult and we need to find new ways to do the things that make that garden not only possible but more enjoyable, too.… Read the rest

Fresh figs

By Kristina Seleshanko

When we moved to our 15 acre homestead, I was thrilled to adopt a mature orchard. Most of the common fruit trees were there, including apples, plums, cherries, and pears. And then there were four fig trees. Suddenly I realized I’d never even tasted a fig … unless you count Fig Newton cookies. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about figs — and I must say I’m as delighted with those trees as I am with the other fruit trees in our orchard.… Read the rest

Why gardening is such good exercise, especially for women

By Tom Kovach

There is an old maxim about exercise: “The best exercise is the one you are willing to do.”

For us rural folk, one of the exercises we are usually willing to do is gardening, because it is part of the lifestyle of living in the country. How lucky for us, because a growing body of scientific evidence says that gardening, even when compared to such strenuous exercises as swimming and jogging, is one of the best exercises a human being can do.… Read the rest

Save seeds, save money, grow better

 

Once upon a time I bought bedding plants from the nursery to grow my first ever vegetable garden. They grew well and I had a nice harvest. I thought I’d save some money on the following year’s garden, so when those plants set seed I saved seeds to plant the following spring.

The results of my first seed saving efforts were dismal. Some of the seeds molded in their paper packets over the winter. Others failed to germinate in the next spring’s garden, and those that did were spindly and disappointing.… Read the rest

Melon pits, sheet composting, and compost tea

By David Goodman

As an utter cheapskate, I’ve spent much of my life finding ways to re-use and stretch everything I own. This definitely extends into the gardening realm.

If you’re like me, you can’t stand throwing away anything that might feed the soil. If you’ve been known to snag bags of leaves from beside the road, or take home coffee grounds from the office for your roses, keep reading, because I’ve got some ideas for you on composting almost everything without building a pile, buying a tumbler, tending worms, or measuring temperatures.… Read the rest

Cut garden costs by saving seeds

By Jackie Clay-Atkinson

One of the costliest parts of growing your own food is buying garden seeds each spring. These days, a single packet of seeds can cost $5.99 or more. And a whole lot of folks are becoming concerned (and rightly so) with the presence of GMOs in our seed.

Fortunately, saving your own seeds from the garden is very easy and will save you money, too. But a lot of people are confused about just what seeds to plant in order to save seeds at all.… Read the rest

Growing carrots and parsnips

By Jackie Clay-Atkinson

Most of us love carrots, and those of us who know how good parsnips taste love them too. But over and over, I hear people say their rows either didn’t come up or that they never got a decent crop. Carrots and parsnips have gotten a reputation as being hard to grow. Because of that reputation, a lot of folks have just stopped trying to raise them.
These folks that have given up marvel at our lush rows of carrots and parsnips, demanding to know how we even got them to come up at all.… Read the rest

Grow your own salad greens

By Sylvia Gist

I like my salads to be colorful and tasty, which means I need a variety of “greens.” I like dark and light green leaves, red leaves, and different leaf shapes and textures in my salads.

Gist_Salad_01
Red-tinged winter lettuce planted in August

To get the ones I like, I grow them myself. One of the big advantages is that most grow quite fast so I don’t have to wait months to get a crop.… Read the rest

Rhubarb: The pioneers’ pie plant

By Jackie Clay-Atkinson

 Rhubarb was first cultivated in China in pre-medieval times and eventually was traded along the famous Silk Road to Russia and most of Europe. From there, settlers brought it to the New World, tucked in among other roots and seeds destined for new homesteads. As the frontier expanded westward, pioneers dug up chunks of their plants’ roots, wrapped them in burlap sacking, and brought the plants with them. Back in those days, rhubarb was known as “pie plant.” As sparse as foods were back in the 18th and 19th centuries, rhubarb was much valued and passed from one family member to another, one friend or neighbor to the next.… Read the rest

Rhubarb: the garden’s tart treat

By Charles Sanders

Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable that is used as a fruit. It is known scientifically as Rheum rhabarbarum and is a relative to dock and buckwheat. Rhubarb is also a common, old-fashioned homestead crop. The broad-leafed plant is grown for its sour stalks and is used in making deliciously sweet and tart pies, cobblers, and sauces. An early season crop, it enjoys the cooler days of spring; once the weather starts heating up, rhubarb will bolt.… Read the rest