Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

snowstorm January 23 2016-BLOG

We were recipients of some of the snow that fell on the east coast over the weekend. It was 14” deep at our house. It isn’t the most snow that I remember having here, but it is the most since January 1996 when we had 20”. We still had our milk cow then and I remember shoveling a path to the barn when the snow was at 10”, knowing I would be shoveling again. The path had to be a wide one—wide enough for me to walk with two five-gallon buckets of water.

snow covered row cover--BLOG

snow covered low tunnel

This time around I have kept busy finalizing my presentation for the upcoming Virginia Biological Farming Conference, shoveling snow, and knitting a sweater. Snow like this disturbs everyone’s schedule, for sure. But, as bothersome as that is, it presents a lot of opportunities. Of course, if you have been following my blog, you would know that I look at everything as an opportunity. It is when our structures are tested and we find out how well we’ve done. If you planned your low tunnels, coldframes, and greenhouses to withstand your usual conditions, you might find them collapsed in the snow. This snow reveals if they were built beyond the usual conditions.

It is good to know. This is the sort of thing you have to plan for from the beginning. Yes, it doesn’t happen very often and may not occur again for another twenty years, but the way the weather has been in recent years, I would build with the assumption that it could happen every year. That will put you at ease whenever severe weather strikes again.

As the kids were growing up, whenever we had a big snow that shut things down my husband would take them for late night walks down the road for at least a half-mile or more. Well, the kids are grown and establishing their own snow traditions and now it is me accompanying my husband on those moonlight walks. We went out on Friday and Saturday nights under the full moon and it was wonderful. Since the power hadn’t gone out, which was surprising, noisy generators didn’t disturb the silent night.

The first night it was still snowing when we went out and there was quite a bit of wind. We were walking in the road on snow. The plows had been out, but that didn’t mean the roads were fit to drive on. The next night I could feel the difference in the surface beneath my boots. Although not much traffic had been on them, the surface had turned to ice and there were lots of drifts across the road. So much so that the drifting snow and icy road had caused a snow plow to get stuck. He was waiting for a tow when we came upon him about midnight.

path in the snow to the barn BLOG

paths to the chicken house and barn

That walk brought to mind how important it is to get out and walk the ground to really know how it is; although, I’m usually referring to walking in gardens, possibly in your bare feet, when I talk about that. Looking out my window, either from my house or a vehicle, couldn’t have told me the road conditions like walking on the ice and through the drifts.

The roads in our area are full of curves and wooded areas. Even when the roads are clear after a snow, we know to look out for the areas where there are trees on the south side. Their shade keeps ice on the road in spots long after it has melted elsewhere. We can learn about where the cooler areas due to shading are in our gardens by watching the snow melt. I wrote a blog post about that in February 2014.

I hope you have enjoyed the winter weather at your place. It reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously. Things we have planned to do get changed, and that’s okay. It is an opportunity to slow down and check on our neighbors. Sitting by the woodstove is great, also. And about that snow shoveling—welcome it as a needed winter workout and be thankful that you are healthy enough to do it.

Read Full Post »

Homeplace Earth is now offering Free Shipping!

In addition, we have some books we bought for resale that we have decided to clear off our shelves. We are offering them at a discount while the supply lasts. These discounted titles are all great books that would be beneficial to have in your homestead library. Before my own books were published we would use them to fill out our table, in addition to my DVDs, when we had a booth at events. Now, however, our outreach is mostly presentations and book signings and doesn’t include a booth. If I need a booth, I’ve got it covered with my own work.

That means deals for you, just in time for the holidays–with free shipping as a bonus! You can order my DVDs and books and the discounted books at Homeplace Earth.  The books we offer at a discount are:

      

You might consider sending this post to those who have you on their gift list.

homeplace earth

Read Full Post »

Onions at harvest.

Onions at harvest.

Onions have been on my mind lately because I have been sorting my harvest. I make sure to harvest onions when their tops begin to fall over, but while the tops are still green. Each leaf is a covering over the onion, which protects it. When the tops dry, the outer covering can be removed to reveal a clean onion. Trim the roots and that is all there is to cleaning onions.

Before you can get to the cleaning part, you need to have a good way to dry the onions with their tops intact. If you do that, you can braid them. When you leave the onions in the garden for too long, the tops die and disappear. Not only do you not have the tops for braiding, but you may not even be able to find where the onions are.

A shady place is good to dry onions, and if you don’t have too many you could spread them out on your porch to dry. When I was growing a lot of onions to sell I would spread them out on the floor of our barn loft. In June and July it was available space, but in August I would be getting in hay for the cow that we had at the time, so I needed to sort and braid the onions in a timely manner.

Onions hung to dry after harvest.

Onions hung to dry after harvest.

Eventually I needed to come up with a better way. I decided to use some old welded wire fencing with 2”x 4” spaces. I made the fence into a circle and put it on two cement blocks for better air circulation. The onions are loaded onto the fencing with the bulbs in the middle of the circle and the tops on the outside. If the onions are too big to be put through the spaces from the outside, you need to reach the onion down to the inside and pull the top through to the outside. Keep that in mind if you are making such a circle. A good size is about 3’ high and 2’ wide.

Onions dried on this circle of fencing.

Onions dried on this circle of fencing.

Having this rest on the cement blocks works for good air circulation, but I’ve also hung it up by tying baling twine to two sides with loops to hang from nails in the rafters. This frees up floor space in addition to contributing to better air circulation. Once the tops are dry (it will take a few weeks) you can begin to sort. There is no hurry and you could leave them there for quite some time, but it is best to go through them to determine the ones that will keep the longest and the onions that need to be used soon.

I grow storage varieties because I want them to last as long as possible. Some of the sweeter varieties are not for storage and you will need to eat them or dry them soon. Even with the storage varieties, there are always some that need to be used before too long. I determine that by pressing with my thumb where the dry top comes out of the onion bulb. If there is no give, it is a keeper. If there is just a little give, those are the next best keepers. If I detect a softness there, I put those aside to use first.

I would use the onions that I knew were not long term keepers in cooking throughout the summer and in the spaghetti sauce I used to can. Now that I make spaghetti sauce from my solar dried tomatoes, I dry those “use first” onions in my solar food dryers for use later in the sauce. Preparation for that is easy—cut them up and put them on the trays. My solar dehydrators are outside, of course. If you are drying onions in an electric dryer be prepared for the aroma of onions. You might want to set the dehydrator out on your porch when you are doing onions.

red onion on string

String for braiding is attached.

I love braiding the onions that I will be keeping the longest. They will hang in the rafters of my garden shed until fall. Then I will hang the braids from the floor joists in the crawl space of our house, bringing one braid at a time to the kitchen. I usually put about 3 pounds of onions in each braid, although the string of red onions in the photo below only weights 1.25 pounds. To make a braid, I cut a string about 3’ in length, fold it in half to make a loop, and wrap it around one onion top near the bulb. Drawing the two ends of the string through the loop holds the string tight to the onion. The string is braided along with the onion top it is attached to. You need three onions to start the braid. To braid, keep putting one onion top to the middle working from one side, then the next. Add a new onion each time a dried top goes into the middle. The top for that onion will now be braided with the onion top it was paired with in the middle.

onion braid

Onion braid.

It is time to tie things off before you run out of string. There should be two string ends mixed in with your onion tops. I wrap them around the dried tops a couple times, knotting them in the front and the back. Tie the ends together, leaving a loop for hanging. Trim the tops to an attractive length. For a great looking onion braid, pull off the dry outer covering and trim the roots on the onions before braiding. Braids are great. Not only do they look good, but you can see all the onions at once, making it easy to choose what size you want. If one is not looking so good, you will know right away and can use that one before the others. If you are selling onions at a farmers market, the braids hanging from your canopy will attract attention and you can get a premium for them. You can even mix varieties, and if you look closely at the photo of the braid, you will notice a yellow onion in with the red.

If you have harvested onions this year and wondered just how to handle them, I hope this post has given you some good ideas. You might want to make some notes for next year’s harvest. In a previous post about onions I wrote of the health benefits of onions and gave some planting tips. They should be part of everyone’s diet and garden. If you did not grow any onions this year, buy them from local growers now and plan to make onions a part of your 2016 garden plan.Homeplace Earth

Read Full Post »

???????????????????????????????I’m going to be out and about traveling to some special events in the coming months. First up is a visit to the Washington County Seed Savers Library in Abingdon, VA, then on to the Mother Earth News Fair in Asheville, NC. In early May I’ll be in Tucson, AZ for the First International Seed Libraries Forum. Find me in Vermont the first week of June at the Slow Living Summit. Here is a list of all the events on my schedule so far through June. The complete list for the year, which I’ll be updating as necessary, is at Homeplace Earth.  Come see me!

April 9, 2015  Washington County Library, Abingdon, VA. Cindy will give a presentation at 7pm, followed by a book signing.

April 11-12, 2015  Mother Earth News Fair, Asheville, NC. Look for Cindy on the speaker schedule. motherearthnewsfair.com.

April 25, 2015  Spring Garden Fest, Reynolds Community College, Goochland, VA. Cindy will be in the college library signing books from noon to 1:15 pm. 

May 2, 2015  Ashland Farmers Market, Ashland, VA. Cindy will be there signing books from 9-noon.

May 3-6, 2015  International Seed Libraries Forum, Tucson, AZ Look for Cindy on the speaker schedule.

May 16, 2015  Spring Conference-Master Gardener Association of Central Rappahannock Area.  Cindy will be speaking on Grow a Sustainable Diet. University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, VA.

June 3-5, 2015  Slow Living Summit, Brattleboro, VT. Look for Cindy on the schedule speaking about seed libraries. slowlivingsummit.org

Homeplace Earth

 

 

Read Full Post »

Cindy Conner - blogCome and see me at the Ashland branch of the Pamunkey Regional Library in Ashland, Virginia on Wednesday, March 18 from 7-8:30 pm! The library will be giving away new seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and I will be giving the presentation Growing to Seed to Share. My talk will include organic gardening and seed saving tips, as well as well as inform you of the seed library movement taking place around the country. Afterward, I’ll be signing my books–Seed Libraries and Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People and Grow a Sustainable Diet: Planning and Growing to Feed Ourselves and the Earth.Homeplace Earth My DVDs will also be for sale.

See you there!

Read Full Post »

March 16, 2014  Lynchburg College, Lynchburg VA. Feeding Ourselves Sustainably Year Round. Cindy will be joining Ira Wallace, author of Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast, and Pam Dawling, author of Sustainable Market Farming, for a program from 10am-3pm in Hopwood Auditorium. Free admission. Seating is limited. Email yos@lynchburg.edu to reserve your seat. Books and DVDs available for sale.

April 9, 2014 Summers County Public Library, Hinton, WV. Cindy will be giving the presentation Grow a Sustainable Diet and signing her new book. 3pm. www.summers.lib.wv.us.

April 10, 2014  Washington County Public Library, Abingdon, VA. Cindy will be giving the presentation Grow a Sustainable Diet and signing her new book. 6pm. www.wcpl.net.

April
 12-13, 2014  Mother Earth News Fair, Asheville, NC. Look for Cindy on the speaker schedule. www.motherearthnewsfair.com.

May 31-June 1, 2014  Mother Earth News Fair, Puyallup, WA. Look for Cindy on the speaker schedule. www.motherearthnewsfair.com

 

Read Full Post »

Rethink Everything1Rethink Everything! is the title of the last chapter in my upcoming book Grow a Sustainable Diet: Planning and Growing to Feed Ourselves and the Earth. The official release date is March 1, 2014, but I should have copies for some events I’ll be at in February. You can check my website for those dates and locations. When we are growing up, we are pretty much brainwashed by our parents to live according to their beliefs and habits. That’s just how it is. Then we do the same with our children. But, now that you are grown, you are free to decide for yourself. If you are still blaming your parents for how they raised you– shame on you. It’s your life; get on with it. I want to encourage you to rethink everything you do and look at things with a holistic approach. Don’t be afraid to decide that some of the activities you have been active in are not so important in your life anymore. We should clean out our social/activity life regularly, just as we should clean out our closets on a regular basis.

I’m working on a new book. This one is about seed libraries. If any of you are involved in a seed library, I’d love to hear about it. While researching that topic, I came across the website for the Center for the New American Dream where I found a webinar about starting a seed library.  The new American dream that this website is referring to is about more of what matters, not more stuff. It is about developing a plentitude economy; one which has reduced work time, allowing more time for do-it-yourself projects at home and more commitment to community. I have a feeling you are already participating in this type of an economy that will contribute to a better society. Having a garden, preserving your own food, supporting a farmers market, and developing your homestead, whether it is in an apartment or in the wide open spaces, are all part of the New American Dream. Decide what your dream is while you are rethinking everything.

Christmas gift bagsChristmas is a great time to rethink everything. A holistic approach would bring your holiday actions more in sync with the other ecological things you do all year. One thing, if you haven’t already done it yet, is to get rid of Christmas wrapping paper. It is easy to pull out the Sunday funnies to wrap an occasional birthday present, but when faced with wrapping more presents at one time, it took us a little longer to ditch the Christmas wrap. When we did that a number of years ago, it made an enjoyable difference. That first year I had found some Christmas fabric on sale at a deep discount and bought a few pieces to make gift bags. Not all the bags have to be Christmas fabric. Some are solids or prints that could also suit for birthdays. Sometimes I’ve wrapped large packages in an old flannel sheet, usually a red or green one. You might keep that in mind when picking out new sheets. Pillow cases work really well for gift bags, also. The year we were replacing the roof on the barn, we made tool boxes for each of our children from the old boards we took off the roof. Pillow cases were the perfect wrap. I even save the strings we use to close the bags from year to year.

earthingbookcoverdropshadleft21Life can be pretty stressful. So, as people go into the New Year they often begin thinking of how to live a more relaxed life. I have been reading an interesting book that can help with that. Earthing, by Clinton Ober, Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, and Martin Zucker explains how grounding ourselves fills our bodies with the unlimited supply of electrons from the earth that will connect with the free radicals floating around doing damage in our bodies. Those free radicals are why you always hear of needing to consume antioxidants. Although you can buy special earthing products to use, the authors make it clear that you can ground yourself just by walking barefoot on the ground outside. I have long known that being in my garden has a calming influence on me and communing with nature is widely known to be good for you. In the summer I don’t wear shoes if I don’t have to. I’ve found that by going barefoot I don’t track as much dirt in the house, but I didn’t realize just how good for me going barefoot was. I have to say, I haven’t been strolling barefoot in the garden since the weather turned colder. Walking barefoot on the beach or swimming in the ocean are also grounding activities.

Apparently you could get the same grounding effect by having your feet on an uninsulated, unpainted concrete floor. If you have a basement with a concrete floor, you could ground yourself there in the winter. The grounding mats that are available for sale allow people to be grounded while they sleep, are at their desk, or just watching TV. People who have used them say they sleep better and pain is diminished or gone, doing away with inflammation that is the cause of so many diseases, including heart disease. Grounding thins the blood and sets your body up to heal itself. One thing I thought was particularly interesting was that you can avoid the stress of jet lag if, when you get to your destination, you take off your shoes and socks and spend ten minutes with your bare feet in the grass.

All this is fascinating. Combine grounding with meditation and just think how healthy we can be! Meditation involves work on our part to discipline ourselves to it, but it is free and you can do it anywhere. Can you imagine doctors writing prescriptions for their patients to go sit in the grass and clear the chatter in their heads? I hope you have a wonderful holiday and terrific New Year. I’m taking a short break. My next blog post will be January 14. Until then—rethink everything!Homeplace Earth

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 495 other followers

%d bloggers like this: