Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Great American Farm Tour

I’ve been watching the great YouTube videos from Justin Rhodes and family.  They are traveling around the country visiting farms and gardens all over the country.  You will learn a lot and be entertained as well.  Enjoy!


Why we have a wood chip Garden

Why we have a Wood Chip Garden

I’ve been gardening for a long time. I really love working outside with the plants and getting delicious homegrown produce and herbs is a big bonus. I’ve gardened in so many different ways from raised beds to large pots when I was renting and couldn’t dig up the lawn. A few years ago I heard about this movie called Back to Eden. It’s about Paul Gautschi who’s an organic gardener from Washington State. He lives in an area that has very dry summers and came up with this great mulching system to keep the plants moist.

There have been many books about mulch and how good it is for your garden but most of the one’s I’ve seen, like Ruth Stouts books use straw for mulch. We live in Northern California where we have very dry summers so when we moved here a few years ago and I was getting ready to start a new garden from scratch, I knew I wanted to try Paul’s system.

We needed to have a number of trees cut down to make a spot for our garden as our property is heavily wooded so part of what we looked for was someone with a really big chipper. We found a great company and they chipped most of the trees that came down in the garden area. The rest we chopped into firewood. We did a layer of cardboard to cover the weeds, then a layer of cow manure, then a layer of compost then at least six inches of wood chips.

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Beneficial Garden Bugs


This week we have a guest post by Jakob Barry.   Thanks Jacob!    Mom


Garden Insects worth Keeping Around

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Cute Coop ideas

We’ve had backyard chickens for two years now. It’s been so wonderful to have pastured, organic eggs, right from our own backyard. I love my chickens and as I’d like to have more in the next few years, researching coop ideas has become a hobby for me. I was very happy to be able to review this book.

Art of the Chicken Coop by Chris Gleason has seven different coop ideas. Four of them are for flocks of six chickens or less, which is a great size for a back yard flock. We get on average five eggs per week from each of our chickens; this gives us enough for our family, as well as some to share occasionally.

If you are planning on keep more chickens, three of the coop designs are for larger coops, if you’d like to have twelve to fifteen chickens. Also included are some guidelines on how to increase the size of any coops in the book. There’s even instructions for a coop made out of salvaged materials.

This is also a great book for the beginning chicken owner, because not only are there coop designs but there are a lot of chicken keeping tips through out the book and explanations for what you need to have in your coop and why.

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Buying and Saving Seeds

I’ve been buying organic and heirloom seeds for a number of years now. I’ve also been learning to save seeds. As Monsanto continues to be allowed to patent seeds and life it makes it even more important to save seeds.

This year I had joined the Seed Savers Exchange as I read good thing about them in Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable and Miracle book.  I will not join them ever again.  I read a letter from their original founder telling about the people who took over Seed Savers and threw him out of his own non-profit. They are putting every seed in their holding into a seed bank that supplies Monsanto and Syngenta. Basically they’re giving away all the seeds that the members have contributed in good faith to the corporations who are trying to own seeds for profit.

You can read about it here:

So I wanted to share links from some places I’ve used and found that have organic and heirloom seeds.  All of these I’ve either used personally, or had recommendations from other who have used them.

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Seed Starting

I used to make a small garden when I was a child. I loved watching the little plants grow, tending them and having wonderful vegetables to eat when they were ripe – even though we shared a lot of the harvest with the local bunny population.

I started gardening again as an adult when my kids were little.  At first I’d buy a few starter plants, maybe tomatoes and cucumbers and put them in a small garden area.  The results varied but it was still a fun project for us to do together.

As the years have gone on, I’ve gotten more serious about my gardening and try to learn and grow something new each year.  My gardens have always been organic but I’ve learned more as I’ve got along about natural fertilizers, making compost and foliar feeding.  I’ve usually grown a few plants from seed; sometimes herbs or various other plants, but I decided a few years ago that I wanted to try growing everything I plant in my garden from seed. 

And you know, it’s really easy.  There’s a great company, Gardener’s Supply. They are employee owned and have a number of wonderful and very inexpensive seed starting kits.  I’ve tried a few over the years but the one I’m using this year – as I have limited space at the greenhouse window in my kitchen is this one:,37-933,default,cp.html

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Michael Pollan’s latest thoughts on the White House Kitchen Garden

Michael Pollan first called for an edible landscape at the White House way back in 1991, during the Bush I era.

    Imagine an 18-acre victory garden on the grounds of the White House, managed according to the highest organic principles. This garden, which need not contain any broccoli, would stand as a paradigm of environmental responsibility.

    The White House has enough land to become self-sufficient in food — a model of Jeffersonian independence and thrift. Alternatively, a White House garden could help supply food for Washington’s poor. Depending which party is in power, a few elephants or donkeys should be maintained for the purpose of fertilization.

    Earlier this week, he was interviewed on Fresh Air, mainly about his new piece in The New York Times Magazine, Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch: How American cooking became a spectator sport, and what we lost along the way.

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Chickens in your backyard

How do you know you’re eating safe eggs.  Raise chickens!  More and more people are starting to have their own backyard flock. I recently found out we are allowed chickens in our suburban area, so we at MomsForSafeFood are getting our chickens in a few weeks and can’t wait. 🙂

Envisioning the End of ‘Don’t Cluck, Don’t Tell’


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An Interview with Jon Wood

One thing we’ve done over years, as part of adding healthy nourishing food to our diet is to have a garden.  It’s been a wonderful thing to share with my kids and we’ve grown everything from tomatoes to pumpkins, sweet peas to cooking herbs.  There is nothing more delicious then eating a fresh picked tomato.

I’ve been a member of a wonderful Yahoo group for the past few years called Organic Homesteading and Gardening.  It was started in 2002 by Jon and now has over 7000 members.  If you are looking to learn about anything related to homesteading or gardening, one or more of the member of the group will know the answer. And Jon, who started the group has a wealth of knowledge that he always kindly shares with the group.  For me personally, I learned how to make my own pasta, brew kombucha tea and many other tips that have helped me to have a more prosperous garden and become more self-sufficient. There’s so much more I am learning everyday, thanks to Jon and OHG.

Jon kindly agreed to this interview. Thank you Jon!

When and why did you start the Organic Homesteading & Gardening Group?

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