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Showing posts from July, 2014

Shallots

Shallots, which are botanically named Allium ascalonicum after Ascalon (or Ashkelon) a town in South Palestine, were believed to have been brought to the U.S. by De Soto during his Louisiana explorations.

Personally speaking shallots are my favorite allium though in truth I like them all. They are much more mild than the typical onion or garlic and add an amazing sweet onion flavor to almost any dish.

Shallots are cool season perennials that grow well in our northern clay soil. If you plant an individual clove in early spring by the middle of summer you will have a nice robust cluster of five or more bulbs. Similar to onions you can tell that they are ready for harvest when their green stem falls over and begins to die. Just like your onion patch you want to make sure they have an opportunity to dry before storage. If stored properly, which for our family is simply putting them in a hanging wire basket in the kitchen, they will last well into the winter months. Believe me when I say …

Spanish Onion

The onion has a long and somewhat interesting history. According to the National Onion Association, yes there is such a thing, it is difficult to tell the exact origins of this allium because their tissue leaves little trace. But with that said it is believed that they were a part of human diet well before farming and that our prehistoric ancestors were enjoying wild varieties.

There is some conjecture that they were cultivated in Iran or West Pakistan and there is evidence of onions being grown in Chinese gardens well over 5,000 years ago.

Onions played a roll in ancient Egyptian burials with remains being found in King Ramses IV tomb. In the sixth century B.C. onions were celebrated in the medical treatise Charaka Sanhita.

But that is not all. The Greek physician Dioscorides believed in onions medical properties. The Romans carried onions all the way to Germany and England during their campaigns. During the middle ages the three staples of the European diet were cabbage , beans and…

Book Review (The Contrary Farmer by Gene Logsdon)

I live in rural New York State. Just down the road in the small town of Bainbridge is a farmers market called Frog Pond Farms. I remember when Frog Pond was simply a few tables full of summer squash and other seasonal items located in the owners driveway. Over the years with hard work and great service it has grown into a local attraction not only for those of us who live in the area but also those who travel in from out of state. It has live farm animals, livestock for sale, starter plants, seeds, produce, honey and farm fresh eggs just to name a few of the items.

It also has a giant corn "sandbox" that my children love to play in when time allows. Recently I took a rare trip that only involved my four year old daughter. After checking out the rabbits and buying some fruit she asked to play in the corn. As she settled in to play I took a glance at the bulletin board located not far away. A book by Gene Logsdon called The Contrary Farmer (Chelsea Green Publishing Company P.…

Sunday Afternoon in the Garden

I have just finished foraging in the local landfill. I was able to find a healthy vintage hollyhock. It's roots eager and sprawling. Yellow flowers crowning the four foot plant. It sat forgotten with deep roots among the collected yard waste. I can't but help wonder who it used to belong to? I would like to think it would make them smile knowing it has found a new home among our hosta and zinnia. A showcase center piece positioned along the new stone walkway my wife put down by hand this spring. Bees already sipping nectar from its bonnet flowers.

I was also able to harvest four poppy plants as well. I have to admit that I am not 100% sure as to their variety. I believe they may be Icelandic Poppy at my wife's suggestion but I am willing to admit I may be wrong in such an early verdict. The plants caught my eye while I was walking my dogs one afternoon. Their brilliant pink blooms among a sea of green and yellow. There they were waiting from a garden long forgotten.

There…

Utilizing Natural Feed Options for Meat Rabbits

Our desire to invest in meat rabbits was a decision that was driven by a number of larger issues. To begin with it was a financial decision. We are a one income homeschooling family and every time I find myself in the grocery store I leave more determined to provide as much food as I possibly can through my own hard work. The price of food products are not in relation to the majority of families wages these days and that is putting it mildly. I also felt a spiritual/ethical need to take responsibility for the meat that goes on my families table. It is rather easy to buy meat wrapped tidy in plastic and Styrofoam at the supermarket but to raise an animal and eventually take its life is a much more intense experience. I feel that on some level I owe it to the animal I am consuming to take part in its life and death rather than just swiping my debit card. It was also a decision based on health. Take but a moment and do some research not only on the conditions of the animals you eat and …

Book Review (Backyard Homesteading: A Back-To-Basics Guide to Self-Sufficiency by David Toht)

Backyard Homesteading: A Back-To-Basics Guide to Self-Sufficiency by David Toht is an excellent starting point for those interested in urban homesteading. Mr. Toth covers a number of worthwhile subjects such as raising vegetables and herbs, owning chickens and beekeeping. It also touches on brewing beer, canning foods and growing fruit, berries and nuts. The catch with the book is that it is definitely for the novice homesteader. Though it touches on a number of issues it does not necessarily do so in an in depth manner. With that said it does point you in the right direction for further research and that in and of itself is valuable.

I am the sort that even if I cannot successfully or maybe even legally take part in a particular branch of homesteading, such as raising goats, I still enjoy reading about it. Personally I found the section on beekeeping extremely interesting. I was not familiar with the holistic approach of beekeeping using the top-bar hive until I read this book. If y…