Vacuum Sealing Mason Jars

I’ll admit, by the first few weeks of September I’m getting tired of canning. Two runs a day for 2 weeks straight, dozens of quarts, double-dozens of pints, and I’ve had enough of the preparation, the cleaning, the water, the heat. Don’t get me wrong: even at the tail end of the harvest when I’m “canned out”, there is still no greater satisfaction than cracking a canner load of beyond-organic salsa from all garden-grown produce, and knowing I’ve taken another […]

I'm Gonna Need a Bigger Crock

Last year’s attempt at lactofermented pickles was a resounding success, marred only by the whole not-making-enough problem. I ran out of pickles a few months ago, and I’ve had to make do with the soggy, vinegary, sorry excuses for pickles I can get in the store. A sad state of affairs indeed. Building on last year’s success, I went large on the pickle patch this year.

A 5-gallon Bucket of Potential

It’s the most gut-wrenching thing an aspiring orchardist has to do every spring: thin the crop. Amidst the flush of life and potential on display in the many subtle hues of green, an orchardist must bring cold-hearted callousness to bear on his or her bearing trees. Fruit abortion. Plucked in their innocence. Too young…far too young.

Turkey Hunting

Putting meat on the table the old-fashioned way is a long standing tradition of the self-reliant. Ask any new homesteader what their most-desired skills are and you’ll likely find “hunting” in the top 5, at least for those who weren’t raised in a hunting family. And so it was that I, Br0therH@rold, the APB resident Green Thumb finally got blood on my hands. After years of enduring the hysteric chittering laughter of squirrels on Mr. Paranoid’s woodlot as they flitted […]

Low-Tunnel Tomatoes

You may recall my experiments with low tunnels for squash and low tunnels for sweet potatoes. I’m always looking for opportunities to get an early start on spring, or to hang on to the last breaths of fall before winter takes hold. Low-tunnels are an easy and cost effective way to extend the growing season and this year I’ll be experimenting with low tunnel tomatoes.

Dormant Pruning Fruit Trees

When nighttime temps are still just below freezing, but daytime temps are rising into the 40s and even 50s, it’s time to get into the orchard and do dormant pruning. Personally, I prefer to dormant prune in the late fall, well after leaf-drop but before the ground is totally frozen, however sometimes life gets in the way of making that happen on time. Early spring dormant pruning is still a good option though. I like to wander down to the […]

2014 Harvest Report

We’ve had a killing frost now, and so the book closes on the 2014 growing season. Literally. I have a book. I also have a computer, and being a geek, I used the data contained in my “Book of the Farm” to take a long, hard look at how we did. Here’s my harvest report spreadsheet: * assumes conversion ratio of 5 pounds fodder to 1 dozen eggs. We put up some pretty good numbers overall, with some disappointments – […]

Fruit Forage Field Trip

Sunny, warm, in the 80s on a Sunday at the end of September – how can you not take a walk in the woods? Gear up and get in the car, kids. I’ve actually been planning this walk for a while. There’s an undeveloped state park near us, that like so many others is centered around one of the many flood-control dams built after the remnants of back-to-back hurricanes in 1955 dumped up to 24″ of rain in a couple […]

Field-Expedient Corn Sheller

I lucked out on the corn harvest this year, and got nearly three 5-gallon buckets of ears. I have no idea what the translates into as bushels, but it looked like a lot to me. The problem with a lot of corn is a lot of tedious shelling to get it off the cobs and into storage. Last year, with only a few dozen stunted ears to process, I just pried the kernels off the cobs with the side of […]