Category Archives: fall/winter crops

A Barrel Full Of Beans

For the very best beans, brine them overnight in cold, salted water, rinse them well, then cook them in plain water. I learned this sweet trick from master foodie Harold McGee, author of On Food And Cooking; the science and lore of the kitchen. It’s one of my favorite go-to resources when I can’t figure out why something kitchen related isn’t working the way I think it should. McGee has written extensively about all kinds of foods, including beans, and he says that many factors can cause beans to turn out tough, hard, or mushy. Continue reading

Posted in fall/winter crops, Health & Wellbeing, Nutrition, preserving food, Recipes, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living, Vegan Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Seasonal Offering

This week we added a delightful garland of leaves that Ariceli gathered when she walked her dog in the morning. She took a bright bagful home and sewed them together with a sharp needle and coarse thread (very fine twine would work too), taking one wide stitch through each leaf so they lie flat against the string. The cool, rainy weather has kept the colors vivid so far, but I’m also experimenting with an old technique I recalled from childhood. I’m pressing colorful leaves dry between newspapers, then ironing them between two sheets of waxed paper. I’m pretty sure I wrecked an iron or two with something similar involving melted crayons way back when, so this time I’m using a sheet of packing paper on top to keep from getting wax all over the bottom of the iron. Right? Continue reading

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Battling Weeds With Rodents And Beetles

Once summer harvesting ends, cool season cover crops can restore soil health in the veggie patch. Deep mulches of compost or aged manure can nourish tired beds, but cover crops can do even more. Where new beds or lawns are planned, cover crops can eliminate the need for destructive tilling, acting as living mulch to restore soil fertility and reduce winter erosion. Recent research shows that cover crops can also reduce weed seed numbers by providing cover for seed-eating beetles and rodents.

Ick? Not really; both critters consume significantly more weed seeds when cover crops provide shelter and protection from predators. Purdue researchers found that when beetles and rodents had cover crop protection, the weed seed burden was reduced by as much as 400% compared to fields without cover crops. Surprisingly, the soil cleaning effect continues even when rodents eat high numbers of the beetles. Continue reading

Posted in fall/winter crops, Garden Prep, Soil, Sustainable Gardening, Sustainable Living, Weed Control | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Saving All the Bees

Nectar is not the only attraction in a well stocked garden, so don’t get bugged by bugs. Having a haze of insects hovering over your beds will just about guarantee you a host of birds (even hummers need protein as well as sweet desserts) as well as butterflies. Housing helps too; many grasses (especially stipas) are butterfly friendly host plants, while roses offer building material to leaf cutter bees along with their pollen and nectar. That’s a large part of why I tidy now, in late winter and early spring instead of in autumn; putting off the work protect and supports native pollinators and when I finally get around to it, there’s a lot less to do, since so much as self-composted in place. Continue reading

Posted in composting, Early Crops, Easy Care Perennials, fall/winter crops, Garden Prep, Pollinators | Tagged , | Leave a comment