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Posts Tagged ‘homesteading’

mylarIt’s getting to the time of year when gardeners and homesteaders in many parts of the country are trying to figure out what to do with their leftover seeds or seeds they’ve saved from the summer.

If properly preserved, seeds can last many years. While there are urban myths about seeds from King Tut’s tomb that have germinated, those ‘ancient grains’ stories are all unconfirmed. There is, however, a documented date palm seed discovered at Herod the Great’s palace in Masada that sprouted. This date palm is roughly 2000 years old. How cool is that?

My point is, seeds can remain viable for a very long time. Chances are, you need to keep yours for somewhat less time than Herod’s Date Palm seed and the very best way I know of, is in an ordinary freezer.

I recently ordered a package from  The Seed Guy to be used for long term emergency. The seed packets are already in a Mylar bag, so I will simply write a date on the bag and stick it in the freezer. Simple.

Similarly, as soon as I have finished planting my fall and winter garden for this year, I will go through my leftover seeds and put them into labeled envelopes. I will place the envelopes into Mylar bags like the ones in the photo accompanying this update. I will label and date the bags and into the chest freezer they will go.

If you don’t have access to a freezer or Mylar bags, I recommend wrapping your seed envelopes or packets in aluminum foil and putting them in a tote, tackle box or even shoebox to keep them from being exposed to the sun.  It’s not rocket science and doesn’t have to cost a ton of money.

Sometimes, seed companies offer end of the season sales that can save you a ton on the ever rising cost of seeds.  By storing them properly you can have a great head start on you future gardens.

Finally, in 2016, we’re going to start saving our own seeds. In the past, seeds have been cheap enough that I haven’t wanted to put in the effort. In recent years, however, some seed prices have gone through the roof.  Careful planning and storage can help stave off impulse buying in January when all the catalogs start hitting our mailboxes.

One last tip before I go; check out deals at your local feed store. They often have fantastic prices on bulk seeds. I’ve saved a packet over big box stores by purchasing certain seeds from our feed store.

What are you doing to preserve seeds for future use? I’d love to hear from you. After all, we’re in this together.

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seedsOver the weekend, I had a couple of people ask whether or not it’s too late to plant some things like squash, tomatoes and pumpkins. Someone also asked about lettuce. I was able to advise them to ‘go for it’ (although here in Georgia, I’d wait until September for the lettuce). August is a great time to plant a second harvest of many vegetables and in some more northern areas it’s time to get your fall crops in. Here in the south, we’re just getting started. August and September are both fantastic month for planting. I did some research and came up with the following list of crop ideas, depending on what part of the country you live in. The list is not exhaustive by any means, but should give you a good start. Don’t sit back and say, ‘Darn, I have to wait until next spring for my garden.” Heck no. Go get some dirt under your fingernails TODAY.

Remember, we love feedback. Please send us your comments, questions, suggestions and idea. Remember, we’re all in this together.

August Planting Ideas:

CENTRAL U.S./MIDWEST REGION
Arugula
Basil
Beans
Beets
Broccoli (Transplants)
Brussels sprouts (Transplants)
Cabbage (Transplants)
Carrots
Cauliflower (Transplants)
Cilantro
Cucumbers
Kale
Lettuce
Mustard Greens
Peas
Parsley
Radishes
Rutabaga
Spinach
Summer Squash
Swiss Chard
Turnips
Winter Squash

NEW ENGLAND + MID-ATLANTIC REGIONS
Arugula
Basil (Transplants)
Beans
Beets
Brussels sprouts (Transplants)
Cabbage (Transplants)
Calabrese Broccoli (Transplants)
Carrots
Cilantro
Collards
Cucumber
Kale
Leeks (Transplants)
Lettuce
Mustard Greens
Parsley
Radishes
Spinach
Swiss Chard
Turnips

NORTH CENTRAL U.S./ROCKY MOUNTAIN REGION
Arugula
Beets
Carrots
Cilantro
Dill
Kale
Kohlrabi
Lettuce
Parsley
Radishes
Rutabaga
Scallions (Transplant)
Spinach
Turnips

PACIFIC NORTHWEST REGION
Arugula
Beans
Beets
Broccoli (Transplants)
Brussels Sprouts (Transplants)
Cabbage (Transplants)
Carrots
Cauliflower (Transplants)
Cilantro
Collard Greens
Dill
Kale
Lettuce
Mustard Greens
Parsley
Peas
Radishes
Spinach
Swiss Chard
Turnips

SOUTHEAST/GULF COAST REGIONS
Arugula
Basil
Beans
Beets
Carrots
Cilantro
Collard greens
Cucumber
Dill
Eggplant (Transplants)
Southern Peas
Bell Peppers (Transplants)
Okra
Pumpkins
Summer Squash
Spinach
Tomato (Transplants)
Watermelon
Winter Squash

SOUTHWEST REGION
Arugula
Basil
Beans
Beets
Carrots
Cilantro
Collards
Corn
Cucumbers
Dill
Kale
Peppers (Transplants)
Summer Squash
Swiss Chard
Tomato (Transplants)
Winter Squash

 

 

 

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I’ve done some work on the East of Eden Website text this week in preparation for the switch to our new site.  After three years it was time for some renovations and that work is in progress.  As a part of our upgrade, we’re also making some changes in this blog page.

The biggest change, apart from everything… is in the nature of this space.  When we began publishing Our Edible Suburb, the primary purpose was to share our adventures and misadventures as we learned to be suburban homesteaders.

Never in a million years did we imagine how popular this blog would become.  I just never dreamed there would be so many people interested in our efforts.  Thank you for being such faithful readers and for being such an amazing source of encouragement.

As we have grown, we’ve discovered that our readership falls into three primary categories:  A. People who just want to follow the fun of hearing about our lives and our farming activities; B. Visitors who find us while searching for specific information on homesteading, Aquaponics, raised bed gardening, grass fed meat, pastured poultry, etc. and C. customers and potential customers who want to know about product availability.

In order to make the archives more understandable, we’re going to make the categories more tightly organized and attempt to make our article tags more specific.  We’re also going to change the way we communicate with the readers in category C.

Since your interests are local and specific, and not very interesting at all to our readers in, say, North Dakota, we are going to create a Farm Newsletter with the working title of ‘Eden’s Table’.

If you are interested being on the Newsletter Mailing List, simply send us an email (you can use the CONTACT US form on our website. Use the word ‘subscribe’ in the body of the message and include your mailing address.  No need to send a phone number; we have no intent in calling you. You already get enough phone calls; you don’t need one from me.

We think you’re really going to enjoy our new look, but I’m not offering any spoilers at this time.  And, if you’re looking for more information on creating your own edible suburb you’re going to really love some of the upcoming content in this blog.

If you’re a regular reader, please share with us some of your favorite posts.  Were they informational? Were they amusing?  Were they controversial?  Join the conversation, we enjoy hearing from you.

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Every breed of cow has its strengths and weaknesses. Every breed has its proponents and detractors. Popularity of breeds waxes and wanes like the tides, or the phases of the moon. In my lifetime, beef breeds have come and gone like the flavors of the month at Baskin Robbins.  At one time, it was Herefords, then Charolais. For a while everyone who cared about beef wanted a mighty Simmental. These days, Angus are en vogue.

Dairy cows have pretty much gone the same route, with Milking Shorthorns, Brown Swiss and Guernseys having their day. Those who are big on butterfat, swear by Jerseys. For sheer volume, nothing beats a Holstein.

Across the country, there are dozens of other breeds who have a following; Brahman, Longhorn, Pineywoods, Murray Grey, Belted Galloway and many more have found a place in the pastures and barnyards of America.

There is one breed though, that stands head and shoulders above the crowd as the ideal family cow.  The Irish Dexter has functioned for centuries as a beef, dairy and draft animal for small farmers, crofters and homesteaders in its native Ireland. For nearly a century and a half, the Dexter has served a similar purpose here in the USA.

Saying Dexters stand head and shoulders above other cattle, is a bit of a stretch as they are the smallest Heritage breed of cattle, standing only 36 to 44 inches or so tall.  A mature female will top out at 600 – 800 lbs, while a bull might tip the scales at 1000 lbs.

Dexters are outstanding foragers and can thrive on the best or even the most marginal of pastures. They are a great choice for those who want to supply their families grass fed beef, but have only a few acres of pasture available. It is fairly easy to keep two Dexters plus their calves on a good acre of grass.

High producing Dexter dairy cows will give up to 2 gallons a day in sweet, rich milk. A 100% grass fed cow will provide ½ to 1 gallon a day; more than enough for most families to drink and to have extra for butter and cheese.  The leftover whey and buttermilk will be a fantastic supplement for chickens or a feeder pig.

A family raising two cows can plan their breeding so that one of the cows calves early in the year and one late in the year so that milk is available year round.  The calves can be raised as beeves or sold for extra cash.

Did I mention that I don’t think any breed of cattle comes close to matching the Dexter for temperament?  They are easily trained to halter and rope. They enjoy being petted and handled. Ours will follow us anywhere as long as there is a treat at the end of the journey.

We are slowly building our herd of Dexters. For a while, we’ll still be buying feeder steers from the auction, but within a couple of years, we expect all our beef and dairy to come from Dexters.  Whether you have just a couple acres and want to raise a cow, or have hundreds of acres and want to be an honest to goodness rancher, you should give Irish Dexters a serious look.

If you want to learn more, you might want to check out this website.

 

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