Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Have a GREAT Turkey Day!

In getting ready to go to a friend's house for Thanksgiving Dinner, I thought I would pass this tip on to those who are also cooking something for the meal.

When making acorn squash, the most common way to make it is to cut it in half, drop in some butter and/or brown sugar then shove it in the over until tender. Then diners are served 1/2 a squash. Mmmm....Mmmmm Good! However, sometimes you need to stretch your food or maybe you don't have the space to cook 1/2 a squash per person. What to do?

I have found that slicing the squash up and laying it out on a pan or cookie sheet, then covering with butter and brown sugar and bake as usual, does the trick. It tastes just as good, if not better as the flavors can penetrate more, and you can serve a number of people with just a couple of squash. And you don't end up wasting good food because someone can't eat an entire 1/2.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chard Still Coming

Wow! Just looked in the garden, and some of my chard is popping up again. Slow growing because it is cold, but it is looking nice.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pod Casts

Pod Casts will be temporarially discontinued untill a new host can be found. Hopefully it will not take long.

Potting Bench

Potting tables are usually tall enough to stand at. But what if you can't stand or can't stand for long? I have found that an old picnic table works quite well in this case. Of course, you can always just use a stool with a regular potting bench, but if you're in a wheelchair, that is probably not a viable alternative for 2 reasons, the first being that moving from the chair to the higher stool is not plausable, and second, the bench is probably going to be too high to sit in front of and use comfortably. 

An old picnic table allows a chair to pull up in front of it and a pretty comfortable height to pot from. It isn't a perfect solution, but I have found that it works for me on days I can't stand long.

And why do I say an old picnic table? Basically because it will get dirty, maybe a bit muddy, and covered with pots, trays, etc. It will be much easier to have a dedicated table for potting use, then to have to scrub the picnic table that you use for eating each time.  Yes, you could cover the table with a plastic cloth, but then when a freshly potted plant needs to be watered, anything water that leaks from the bottom of the pot will travel, creating more of a mess.

Accessible Homestead

Today, The Accessible Homestead has been added to The New Century Homesteader blog. This addition will be aimed to those who are facing old or new limitations or physical disabilities due to a handicap or age. Hints, tips, lessons and more will be included which will make gardening and/or homesteading life easier and maybe a bit simpler for those with limitations to continue on with their work or even start anew. And the rest of our audience may find this information useful as well. I have been working on developing this topic for a while, after my own accident made me have to look differently at how I approached some things in the garden and on the grounds.

I hope that this new addition to The New Century Homesteader will be enjoyed and useful. Questions and suggestions are welcome.

Into the Freezer

This weekend, the last of the garden went into the freezer. Cabbage, tomatillos, tomatoes (until I get a chance to make/can sauce) and chard, although there is still some more chard coming up out there. I have a few of the plum tomatoes at the windowsill, as they were still totally green. Maybe next year I'll put in a few tomato plants where I'll harvest the fruits before ripening, strictly for green tomato pickles.

I have 2 eggplant to do something with yet. So, as they don't keep and I can't freeze whole, I've decided I'll slice, dip and fry up, then freeze, so when time allows I can make eggplant parmesan.

Now, it is just getting all ready for clean out and winter. (Ugh!....)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Last of the Harvest

Been pulling in the last of the garden. I still have a number of green tomatoes, but picking them anyway and letting them ripen indoors. I tried tomatillos this year. Not a bad amount for one plant and I still have more to pick within the next few days. Some squash are coming in, but I'm not sure they'll get big enough to pick before a major frost. 2 eggplants were ready too, as is the chard.

As I don't have time to do all I want right now, most will be frozen (eggplant will be battered and fried first) until I have the time to make my sauce, eggplant parm and salsa.

Ok.....enough of fall. Bring back summer!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Back Again!

After a summer hiatus (sorry, but work was overwhelming) the blog is back and running. The garden had problems this year with the weather that we had. Lots of work and little to show, unfortunately. I still have tomatoes, tomatillos and squash on the vines. None are ready yet, but I'll have to pick them anyway I guess.

My parents, on the other hand, who are much further away from the lake (Ontario) than I am, had great success.

I'll be doing some seed saving now, for next year. Which I hope will be better!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cottage Garden

With all the rain we've had, I haven't had a chance to clean out the garden. So, right now I'm turning the garden around the house into a cottage garden, mixing herbs, flowers and veggies. I hope I'll still be able to get the big garden done, but if not, at least I'll have vegetables in.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Busy Few Days

Looks as though a few seedlings have come in a bit weak. They are some that I started on my counter, but I guess even though I was playing with the natural light situation, I didn't get it right. So, unfortunately I'll probably have to put more of those seeds directly in the ground, and hope they pop in time.

Found a good sized green frog by the walk way this morning. Something was wrong with him, but I couldn't figure out what, only that it seemed like his back end wasn't working. So, I put him in a little aquarium I had with some soil/grass and water to see what, if anything, could be done.

Well, within about a half hour, he was perking right up, and within the hour, his back legs were once again working. Seems as though he was a bit dehydrated, and just giving him that little bit of water was all he needed. I am keeping him for the night to make sure he is plenty hydrated, then I'll let him go in the garden tomorrow.

The bee balm, french tarragon and lily I was given yesterday by someone who was splitting plants, seems to be doing well. I did put them in the garden when I got home. As they had been without water and laying on the ground for about 2 or 3 hrs before I was able to get them home and plant, I wasn't sure how quickly they would pop back.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Can I Really Grow It?

This is a question that many new gardeners might ask themselves. The answer is…..YES! YOU CAN!

Now to be fair, it may not be quite that simple. Not all plants will grow in all places, outdoors at least. And if all that you have is an outdoor garden, then depending on where you might be located, in reality there could be limitations. However, if you’re willing to bring plants indoors for the winter, then you’re back to being able to grow a large variety once again.

Although there is a much larger selection of plants available if starting from seed, some new gardeners may not be comfortable starting seed, while other gardeners - new or experienced - may just not have the time or patience to start with seed. Also, those who want to try fruit trees will probably prefer to start with a small tree. In either case, there are many nurseries where specialty (and not so specialty) plants may be purchased by mail, online or locally. You may not find quite as large a selection with plants as you would find with seeds, but with a little searching and building a little network with other gardeners, it is surprising what can actually be found.

Once you have your seeds and/or plants, then it basically comes down to following planting directions and proper care and feeding of the garden. (If you’re not sure how good your soil is, there are test kits available to find out if there is indeed any problem and how to remedy it.) What happens from there depends on the plant and Mother Nature. If it is a vegetable, fruiting can be expected within the season. If it is a fruit, some, such as strawberries, may be expected within the season (depending on when planted) while trees may take a year or more (depending on age of the tree planted) for the first fruiting. And while we’re discussing fruiting trees (and bushes), some are self- pollinating while others will need another one of their kind planted nearby in for pollination. Tags or descriptions should state this, however if not, it is best to inquire. A tree needing cross-pollination that is all alone in a yard will be a waste of time, space and money.

Part of the fun of gardening and growing your own food is trying your hand at new and/or unusual plants. Whether from seed or by started plants (a.k.a seedlings), half of the fun is the challenge of the new and unusual, while the other half is literally the fruits….and vegetables… of your labor. So the next time you see something unusual, try it! It could end up being the best thing you ever grew.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Seeds and LOTS of Rain Don't Mix

As have many of you, we here in Western NY/Finger Lakes area have had our share of rain and then some, although no where near the flooding. A few weeks ago I took a chance and planted some chard and parsley, hoping that the seeds wouldn't get water logged, as I planted in a "non mud hole" area.

However, it looks like the seeds may have rotted out in the ground anyway. As both are cool weather plants, something should have been up by now. I though something had started, but they have seemed to disappear. So, I guess we'll be trying again.

We've been having a drying out period around here, so hopefully some more things can get in for the gardeners and farmers. I know some of the fields around here have miniature ponds in them right now.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hybrid vs Heirloom

There tends to be a controversy about what is the better vegetable to plant in the garden, hybrids (not GMOs, just plain old hybrids) or heirlooms. In most circumstances, the choice will depend on what the grower wants or needs to grow, market, taste they are looking for and speed they need in growth. There can be other situations that a grower would want to look at, but these would normally be the basics.

If you, as a grower, want to save seeds from what you produce, then in most cases, you’ll want heirlooms. While theoretically seeds can be saved from any plant, hybrids tend to not always reproduce true to the parent or reproduce at all. A quick experiment I did a few years ago with 5 hybrid cauliflower seeds that I saved from the previous year yielded two plants that produced a vegetable, 2 that remained plants only, and one seed that never produced at all. I plan on doing some further work to see how far I would have to go to get seeds that produce true at all times, but for the initial run, had I been relying on those seeds for the year’s cauliflower, I would have been sadly disappointed. On the other hand, saving the seeds from an heirloom will produce plants and fruit true to the parent.

The reason for this is that heirloom plants (and therefore seeds) have been developed through open (natural) pollination, keeping the seeds of the best of that year for the following year. And by continuing to follow suit, developing hearty varieties that grow true. Hybrids, on the other hand, have been artificially pollinated working to obtain in one plant, the best characteristics of 2 different parent plants. Therefore, when trying to save seeds from hybrids, you may get the exact vegetable you had last year, a throwback or even nothing at all.

The next thing that a grower will look at, is the market. Today, many consumers are shopping and buying locally, direct from farms and farmer’s markets. Although most really do not look at whether or not they are buying hybrids or heirlooms, the heirloom market is expanding as more consumers, including restaurants, are looking specifically for these products. Although the heirloom market will probably never close down the hybrid market by any means, as the mass market still wants the hybrids, it does pay to look at what the consumer wants, especially if you are a grower who sells the majority (or all) of what you produce, locally.

Taste is another thing the growers may consider when choosing between hybrids and heirlooms. Although this aspect will be consideration more for the personal garden, those who sell will also pay attention to taste as far as consumer preference. (More so for the local sellers than the mass marketers.) My family tends to find the heirlooms tastier than many of the hybrids. However I had put in some hybrid cherry tomatoes last year that were sweet as sugar with heavy production and surprisingly, very hearty.

Selection by taste will be a trial and error type of situation. Unless you’ve had the fruit or vegetable before, be it heirloom or hybrid, the taste will be unknown until it is grown and tasted, whether growing for home or market.

Speed of growth may be important as well. If you, as a grower, insist in starting seeds directly in the ground, then you will need to look at growth time. Heirlooms can tend to be slow growers, but then again, so can many hybrids. If you are in a short growing season and do not want to start seeds indoors, then the limitations are being dictated from this point and seeds will need to be chosen that fit the time available for growth. If seeds are started indoors and ahead of time, however, unless the garden is in an area with a very short growing season, limitations in selection will be few.

Finally, what does the grower need? If you are growing for yourself, you’ll choose what you want, what you like, what tastes good to you and your family and what will work in your garden. If you are growing for market, then you’ll be selecting more for what the market is dictating, although there is nothing wrong with trying to introduce your consumers to something new. And if you do so, have a few tasting samples available, and if it is a really new and different fruit or vegetable, have ideas on how to use it.

In going back to what is better…hybrids or heirlooms….it all depends. Each has its’ place. While purists or those focusing on seed saving might decide on straight heirlooms, market gardeners and mass marketers may focus more on the faster growing and many times larger hybrids. Some may grow both types. But in the end, the decision will be what will work best for the situation at hand.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Raw Milk Rally May 16, Washington, DC

Raw Milk Rally in DC May 16 re: Dan Allgyer Raw Milk Rally in DC May 16 re: Dan Allgyer

National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association

5 May, 2011

Link to Article


Raw Milk Rally May 16, Washington, DC

Raw Milk Will Be Available -- Cow Expected Also!

WHEN: Monday, May 16 · 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.


WHERE: Upper Senate Park. Between Constitution Ave NE, Delware Ave NE, ad C St NE. Next to the Russell Senate Office Building.


UPDATES: Stay tuned to the Grassfed on the Hill website for updates!

For the past year and half, the FDA has conducted an undercover sting operation on Pennsylvania Amish dairy farmer Dan Allgyer and his loyal private buying club customers. Last week, the FDA served Dan notice that it is seeking a permanent injunction against him for introducing raw milk into interstate commerce. In response to this affront of our freedoms, Grassfed on the Hill, the DC area buying club he provides for, is organizing the rally to support Dan and other farmers targeted by the FDA, and stand up for all our rights. Please join them and lend your voice. Stings on Amish farms and armed raids against our country's farmers are NOT an appropriate use of our tax dollars!

Speakers include:

Jonathan Emord, Attorney

Sally Fallon, President, Weston A. Price Foundation

David Gumpert, Author and Real Food Blogger

Mark McAfee, Founder and Owner, Organic Pastures Dairy

Baylen Linnekin, Executive Director, Keep Food Legal


Please pray for Dan and his family.

Media inquiries:

Liz Reitzig


Yours for real food freedom,

Deborah Stockton, Executive Director

National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (NICFA)

Our purpose is to promote and preserve unregulated direct farmer-to-consumer trade

that fosters availability of locally grown or home-produced food products.

NICFA opposes any government funded or managed National Animal Identification System

Monday, May 2, 2011

Oh Beans.....!

Today the Dragon Tongue Beans went in around the teepees. Now hopefully they won't rot in the ground. I also took a chance and put a tomato plant in...early for around here. But I am starting a number of tomato seeds and I am hoping this will end up being an early crop while waiting for those started from seed.

Spirit Seed and Garden Project

I have just gotten the blog up and running for SS&G. You can visit at:

I don't have all the links in the margins yet, but as it is part of this blog, the two will share some of the programs such as You Tube, Facebook, etc.

Just a note that I am looking for small advertisers and major sponsors (limited number). The major sponsorships will get the programs going in ernest.

If interested in selling sponsorships and advertising, please contact me, as this time of year especially....I can use the help! Excellent commission.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Of Teepees, Beans and Herbs...

I've had it with the northern climate this year, so I've been diving in and starting on the garden. I hope that it doesn't come back to bite me later, as we can still get frosts through May, so I'm having to really pay attention to weather.

I'm only doing cooler weather things right now. Some chard, lettuce and parsley have already gone in, and lettuce has started coming up. Looks like parsley as well. I have started building teepees for peas and beans,although I think I may let the Scarlett Runners go right up one of the bushes on the side of the herb garden as they get so tall. I also put some new herbs in to expand the herb garden. I've added marjoram and chamomile. I also had to tie up a sage plant. It was getting a bit heavy and falling over a bit.

I've also been trying to figure out where other things will be going in the various gardens around the house, barn and even garage. And I started some more seeds indoors today as well as purchasing 2 tomato plants to get an early crop while waiting for the ones I'm starting from seed.

Hoping for a great garden this year!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

As of Today.....

When I checked one of my "garden experiments" this morning, I found one of the lettuce seedlings went MFB (missing from bag). Three seedlings instead of 4. Hmmm.......pondering...... Bunny? Mouse? I doubt a deer. Maybe one of the barn cats nibbling on greenery. I hope this isn't a sign of things to come.

The parsley may be coming up already. Only 3 days? Seems awfully, awfully fast, but there are little sprouts right where I put the seeds in. The herbs are coming back. The thyme seems a little worse for wear, but hopefully will bounce back. Looks like only one lavender survived, and just barely. Then I accidentally pulled it with a handful of weeds......twice! I hope it will retake again.

Looks as if the horseradish is coming up. This year I have to harvest some, as it has now been almost 2 years since I planted it, but wanted to give it time to spread a bit. I'm going to start the ghost chili seeds this weekend along with some beans and peas. In fact, I may put the beans and peas directly in the ground on Saturday. If we do get frost yet, which we can, I can just cover any seedlings that might sprout.

Looking at the aftermath of the tornadoes. Makes me work harder at trying to get Spirit Seed going now.
We pretty much lucked out here. We did get a good thunderstorm last night, but not what was expected during the night. Our tornado watch came and went.......5hrs long. Sun is shining today, but the winds have been at it all day. Other areas to our west and south, however, didn't fare as well. Nothing like in the south, but still some very, very bad winds with outages, a few had some roof problems, trees......still,this area was lucky 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


We had a good storm earlier this evening, and still on tornado watch as I write. Although we are still under a watch, I think that we're OK, as the dog has finally settled down and zonked out. Up until about a 1/2hr ago, she was a nervous wreck, long after the storm had passed. It did get a little funky looking in the sky with the weird bright yellowish light, but the peepers were yelling and I could hear crickets as well, so I figured we were fine there as well. But I kept checking, as if they abruptly stopped their "singing", that could signal a problem.

As it was a beautiful, warm day today (hit 80), I put a few plants out, but brought them back in due to the storms tonight. I'm hoping the cool weather seeds that I planted don't get so wet that they rot in the ground, but I guess we'll see.

I've been following the weather channel, not only for updates for this area, but seeing what is happening down south. Just awful. It is for situations like these that I hope Spirit Seed and Garden will be able to assist in the near future.

Wind is kicking up, and as the laptop is plugged in as I type (battery is low...figures), I'm signing off and unplugging in case of thunder popping up again. Although our sever storm warning was canceled an hour ago, we're still not out of the woods for bad storms later tonight. It will be a loooong night with Chance if it does storm. She'll be pacing, panting and keeping me up. Even radios on loud don't seem to help her.

Everyone in storm areas.......stay safe!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Looks Like It's Working

The experiment that I have been trying with growing lettuce in the soil bag seems to be working. There are little sprouts appearing. However, I think I will need to make the holes in the bag a bit bigger, as it looks like there really won;t be space for the plant to start filling out. Once the seedlings get bigger.

One thing I did find, is that when moving the bag, caution is necessary so that the seedling doesn't get lost in the bag. So it is necessary to keep the bag as level as possible when moving. At least until the seedlings get bigger. (Right now they're no bigger than a pencil tip.)

More news as they grow.....I hope!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Garden Gifts

When doing your Mother's Day shopping, how about considering gifts for the garden this year. You can make up great gift baskets of pots, seeds, seedlings, and have lots of fun putting it together. As this is exactly what I did this year, I can honestly say, it was the most fun I have had in putting a Mother's Day gift together.

I bought a decorative pot to use as the "basket" and have been purchasing unusual vegetable and herb seeds as I find them, as well as some little peat discs, a small garden decoration and a few other little things that I know Mom (and Dad too) will enjoy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lettuce Under Water.....

The lettuce seeds I planted in an old bucket have started to sprout. Little, but they're coming, even with this overly cold weather.

However, we had one big storm about 2AM and when I took the dog out this morning, found the poor little sprouts about an inch under water. I poured the water out, then covered to protect from the rain we're supposed to have today yet. Hopefully, the bucket isn't so soaked that it will rot the sprouts out. We'll see.

Well, our second, though unexpected experiement. A good one though.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


If you've noticed, I've changed the look of the blog...just a bit. I hope that you all find it brighter and a bit easier to read through, both in the articled themselves and sidebars.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Where is Spring???????

The calendar says it is spring, but the weather doesn't. Snowflakes today....and COLD! I have all these seeds here staring me in the face, with more on the way, and it is just too cold to even put some of the cold tolerant seeds in yet. (I have some beans and peas just waiting.......) I will start some seeds in the kitchen and hope one of the cats don't dump the seedlings over like last year. But I have to make do for now.

A friend and I went to a honey bee program at a nearby nursery Saturday. The basics only, but enough info to get started, where to get further info and what all we need to start. I'm hoping that either this year or next I can have the bees that are in the wall of the house removed and hived. (I want to keep them...just not in the house.) So I'm taking this time to learn what I can and save for the equipment.

As New Century Homesteader and Spirit Seed and Garden Program will both be consisting of experimental and trial gardens (as well as some small stock like chickens, goats and maybe a few bees), I'm plowing through books and papers to decide how and where I'll start this year with the gardens.

Now, the weather needs to cooperate.........

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Experiment for Spirit Seed and Garden

Trying some planting in a bag. Instead if taking the soil out of the bag, just made some holes and planted, then put bag outside. It is still cold out, but I want to see if the seeds will even grow in the bag and if the bag will act anything like a greenhouse, keeping the soil warm.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spirit Seed and Garden Program

The Spirit Seed and Garden Program is an experimental program I have started to work on ways bring emergency gardens to those in disaster areas, areas where the soil might not be suitable (or so it seems) for growing or space is an issue.

There is lots of experimentation going on for alternative ways to garden for large production, but nothing that, for the most part, the average person can use. And while there have been ways, which I have seen myself, that could eventually be utilized in a realistic situation, the work is not being carried out in that direction, instead being done in highly controlled circumstances the likes of which is not possible for most people to replicate.

I will be working to find the right plants that could grow quickly in emergency circumstances, working as much as I can with heirlooms. I will also start working with selected hybrids in an effort to breed back to true breeds that might still hold some of the favourable characteristics the parent hybrid may have, (like fast growing, disease resistance) while bringing them back to a true plant where the seed can be saved to reproduce.

Within a few years (or less) I hope to be having workshops, publications, etc. with results that will be able to be put into real use.

At this point I am working to obtain major corporate sponsorships to begin full time operations and (hopefully) relocate the program to be year round, instead of seasonal. If your company is interested, please feel free to contact me.

As Spirit Seed and Garden is tied to NCH, and those who follow this blog will most likely find the experiments of use, SSG will be part of  and found on the NCH blog.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Weather Starting to Improve..?

It is finally warming up some, but still uncomfortably cold and damp in the AM. This is has gotten a bit old. The nice spring temps can come at any time now, but I won't place any bets on when. Seems like upstate/western New York has 3 seasons...winter, fall and winter. None of which are enjoyable when you're a summer person!

I have to admit, however, this has been a pretty good time to cut out all the non producing and/or unwanted berry canes. I haven't actually trimmed the good ones yet as it is still a bit early for that, but that IS one job completed.

Started doing a little weeding out of the flower and herb gardens, but not much done there yet. The barn cats have discovered the catnip coming up and have already been enjoying.

I now need to look at all my seeds and decide what I'm planting and where. I have a slew of seeds coming in the mail as well, including ghost chilies, said to be the hottest peppers on the planet. Who knows exactly what I will do with them once they grow (I like spicy but not suicidal spicy), but I've been wanting to grow them for a long time, and this year is it.

I wanted to start my garden experimentations this year, but the weather may not cooperate. Can't wait to actually be able to get out of NY for warmer weather and better/longer growing seasons.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Could It Be..?

Could spring really be on its' way? Maybe, but it is still cold. But I was out cleaning out the flower and herb garden a bit. The ground is still frozen, so I couldn't pull much. I have noticed spring flowers starting to pop up. Still low, but they are on their way. When it warms up a bit more, I'll uncover the vegetable garden. I throw old tarps over it. Helps keep the weeds down and the ground clear over the winter.

I will need to be cutting back the raspberries soon, and pull the straw out from around the strawberries. I'm also going to have to harvest horseradish this year too.

I pulled down some old bees nests and hammered in some nails that started working their way out of the siding of the house. (Slab wood siding. Love the look, but nails sure do like to pop.)

Walked back to the pond yesterday. That is still ice covered as well. Also have lots of fallen wood to pull out of the woods somewhere along the way. I need to turn the compost again too.

Ordered more seeds, including Ghost Chilies. With their heat indext, I'm not really sure what I'll do with them, but I'll think of something. Probably dry some and make some sauce to use sparingly.

One of the "best" jobs (not) to do when the snow melts is picking up doggy landmines. Did part today and will finish tomorrow, when the rest thaws. Best job of the spring.........right.........

Thursday, March 24, 2011

More Seeds & Spring Stuff

I recently saw a picture of Watermelon Radishes in a magazine. I thought they looked quite interesting. Well, when I wasn't even looking for them, I found a packet of Watermelon Radish seeds today. I'm looking forward to trying them and see what they are like. They're quite nice looking when cut open, actually looking like tiny seedless watermelons.

We had almost 6" of snow yesterday. Just awful! I need solid proof that spring is here, and I'm not getting it. I'm quite afraid that real spring temps will be late this year, making it a mad rush to put the gardens in which, I have to admit takes alot of the enjoyment out of the work. I'm going to start some seeds indoors, but my kitten "Jack" has grown up quite a bit, and I have a sneaking suspicion he will eat seedlings. He's a cutie but a holy terror too.

Now, I have to decide what I will start indoors and what I will (hopefully) be able to start directly in the garden. I don't have a lot of room to have many seedlings indoors, so I hope I'm wrong about the very late spring.

I missed tapping my maples this year, as I was away during that time. Looking at the raspberries, they will need a good trimming soon and I'm going to have to, this season, start harvesting horseradish. Hopefully the strawberries will come in heavier, as this is the second year for the plants here since transplanting. What I got last year was very good.

This year will also be the first for the blueberries. I bought one bush last fall. I don't know if it will produce this year yet, however. It is a self polinating, so there is only one plant. I'd actually like to plant a variety of fruit trees in the side lawn, as I really don't use it.

So, I guess it is back to work for now. At least the sun is shining.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Back Again

Gee....guess I was gone for a while. I had to take a trip down to Florida, and ended up having to extend my stay due to getting hit hard with some allergies. I don't know what it was, as I'm not allergic to any pollens or dust or anything like that, so it remains a mystery.

While I was away, I went to the International Flower and Garden Show at Disney EPCOT. Topiaries were great and it was so nice to see plants and colour. In SW Florida, I did some weeding in my parent's vegetable garden. Their flowers were so colourful too. Key West was a blast, as always, and I would look around thinking to myself that a container garden could work great here and here and here........

Then it was back to the gloom and colourless landscape of New York in the winter. Now it is snowing. My guess it will be a late spring which doesn't make me happy one bit. Time to move, I think.

I had babysitters for my lemon tree and rosemary topiary, and they are both doing great. I may start some seeds in a few weeks and hope that I'm wrong about a late spring.  I saw some really nice container vegetable gardens at EPCOT. Some combinations that I would not have thought of, like a small banana tree with spinach and a few other veggies planted around it in a container, but it worked well. Looked nice too. I got a number of ideas. I was hoping that someone would be selling some seeds, but unless I missed something, no luck.

Well, I'll be back on regular once again. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Food Security

On another site, we were discussing food security. One of the reasons I have created TNCH is food security. Everyone talks about how we have to "feed the world" but no one discusses food security for their own country, whatever country they're in. It is my opinion that you can't have food security as long as one country has to depend on another to feed them. Food security comes when a country can feed itself. Food security for individuals comes when they too, have the ability to feed themselves, which doesn't mean necessarially growing all your own foods, but maybe just a few things. And if a neighbor grows something and another grows something else, all of a sudden you find you can really take care of yourselves during an emergency!

And this goes past growing food. When the power went out one year during an ice storm, I cooked for both myself and neighbor. We had 3 hot meals every day for 5 days (when the power came back) thanks to my fireplace. I even surprized the guys with the power company when they came around to do some work, and I offered them a hot meal of sausages, fried potatoes and vegetable with their choice of hot coffee, tea or cocoa. One said I must have a gas stove, but when I said no, it was all coooked in the fireplace, they said that they didn't even think anyone knew how to do that any more.

The biggest thing for food security is, can you cope if there is an interruption?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Compost Check

Well, with the thaw we've had for a few days, I was able to get to the woods and check my compost pile. I have it right at the edge of my woods, out of the way of the yard. The snow pack had melted enough so I could see the pile and it looks pretty good. Then I started a new one.

But, the wind is picking up again and it is supposed to snow.....again. On a good note, the last of the ice is off the roof as of today.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I picked up some seed packets today. Let's see....Chicory (Italian Dandelion), Cress, Cubanelle Pepper (supposed to be good for frying...I love to stuff peppers with cheese, dip in batter and fry...we'll see how these work), Baby Boo Mini White Pumpkins, Jack Be Little Mini Orange Pumpkins, Giant Bottle Gourd, Mesclun and Lemon Cucumber (for something different).

We're having a bit of a thaw...but still lots of white stuff on the ground!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

As Pooh Says...."Back Sun"

Be back blogging on topic in a day or two. Window is boarded up securely to last until spring, insurance taken care of, satellite guy coming tomorrow to get the dish squared around, and I'm slowly getting the rest of the mess cleaned up and get an estimate on the window replacement. Oh if only "little paws" could help...I'd have lots of it!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day...

Yep! I got mine from Mother Nature early this morning when ice came off my roof and through my kitchen window. Just what I didn't need. So, I didn't get much other work done today.

I did post a few podcasts yesterday for anyone new to gardening.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New To Gardening?

2 short podcasts just published for "newbies" to gardening. It isn't too early to start think....even if you have snow on the ground!

Podcasts link is in the left column.

Mini Course for Newbies

If you're thinking about raising some of your own foods for the very first time, but are overwhelmed by all the information available, check out our FREE mini course "General Considerations". It will help to sort out the options available so you can go ahead and do more in depth research a bit easier.

Very basic.....for beginners.

The course is online and FREE, but we have a limited number of spaces per month. Email to get on the list.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Join us on LinkedIn

Along with Twitter and Facebook, you can now join the conversation on LinkedIn!

Find us under The New Century Homesteader

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hints for Keeping Rosemary Indoors

I have had problems keeping rosemay alive in the house during the winter for years. However, after some trial and many, many errors, I think I may have finally found a way to keep it going.

I bought a rosemary tree back in December. Instead of putting it in a southern exposure window, I put it in an eastern one that, while it gets plenty of sun, doesn't get the heat. I then spritz the greenery every other day and don't water until the soil starts to dry. I also remove the plant from the window at night. Seems to be working as I've always had a problem with the plant itself just drying out, no matter what I've tried. Now, I'm on my second "trimming" to help keep the topiary in shape.

If you're having similar problems, you mght want to give this a try.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


I didn't get the podcasts in today. A bit of a problem with software that should be fixed tonight or tomorrow.


Another "Weather Warning"

Just heard about yet another weather warning starting at 1pm this afternoon until 4am tomorrow. Hey....Phil didn't see his shadow, so our early spring can come at any time now.......

I'll be posting a couple podcasts today for those who haven't put in a garden before, but are doing so this year.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Missed Us.....

Well, not quite. But we didn't get the large amount of snow during the night that was predicted. Problem is, it is heavy and wet so even 3 or 4 inches can be a pain to shovel. Especially with a screwed up leg! But 'm getting it done a little at a time.

Glad to hear that Phil didn't see his shadow. I'm thinking he's sick and tired of all of this crappy weather as well.

Going to be working on a course today. So hopefully I can get the first one up in a few weeks...or less.

So, it's back to work I guess. If you're stuck in the storm or the end results, be careful and don't go out on the roads if you don't need to. Of course if you have critters, we all know they still need to be done no matter what the weather.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Courses and Classes and Workshops...Oh My!

I will soon be posting classes, workshops and courses form The New Century Homesteader. Most will be available to take at anytime, so they will be flexible to the trainee's schedule.

I will be posting classes on the blog, Facebook, Twitter and the newsletter (which you can sign up for, free, at the left). Some will be free, while some will have a minimal fee. They will all be informative and fun.

Handy Dandy Hint #1

I had some fresh chicken breasts that I was deboning today, as well as removing the "tenders" for quick lunches. As I wanted to fry one up, and wanted the thickness of the breast uniform, I decided to take some of my "snow aggressions" out and pound it.

As my tenderizing mallet is an old wooden one from my grandmother's kitchen, I don't like to use it directly on meats, usually opting to cover the meat with plastic wrap which in turn, ends up getting punched full of holes, defeating the purpose of not wanting the mallet directly on the meat. However....I think we now have that problem solved!

Instead of a piece of plastic wrap that has been doubled over, I decided to try a sandwich bag. I made sure the bag wasn't zipped closed so I wasn't contending with air in the bag, laid the bag over the top of  the chicken (I did not put the chicken in the bag) and started pounding away. It worked great and there wasn't one hole or tear in the bag by the time I was done (and it had stood up to a good pounding too) !

Monday, January 31, 2011

It's the "S" word......

OK, enough is enough. We're now waiting for yet MORE snow. 15-22". Yes, it is January up by Lake Ontario, and yes, when I was a kid I remember snowbanks up to the power lines and Dad having to shovel a tunnel out the front door so the dog could get out, but I'm in no hurry to relive that part of my childhood. In fact I wasn't that crazy about the snow and cold then. Well, I guess my hopes for an early spring are shot. We sure got an early enough winter though. I think an early spring is a fair trade-off.

The storm is only supposed to be one day, and the ice is not supposed to be anywhere near us, but I ran out today, while the sun was shining (it was so cold though, the sun wasn't even warm), and got some extra bags of animal food...just in case. My own shelves are pretty well stocked.

I do hope this winter has not been too hard for my berries, horseradish and asparagus. And I just put in a new blueberry bush in last fall.....

As the snow is supposed to start tomorrow (lake effect) then the storm on Tuesday night into Wednesday, I should be climbing the wall by Wednesday morning. So I'll be taking that day and doing some cooking, I think. See what I can come up with. Better than looking at all that white crap coming down.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Let's Make Croutons!

Don't throw away the bread that is going stale. Use it for bread crumbs or CROUTONS! Great for salads, and much better than the ones that come in a box, homemade croutons are great in salads, as snacks, in soups...where ever a good crouton is warranted. They're simple to make, and you can make them to taste.

Here is a picture log of the last batch I made, just a few days ago.

 Start with simple ingredients. Cubed bread...slightly stale, olive oil, unsalted butter and a mix of herbs and seasonings of your choice. I used oregano, basil, salt and thyme.

I first melted the butter in the olive oil. How much you will use of each will depend on how much bread you have. I had about 1/2 of a small loaf of bread cubed and I ended up using about 1T+ olive oil and 3 pats of butter. When melted, add all seasonings and give a quick stir. I used anywhere from a 1/2t to 1T of seasonings. Again you will adjust amounts and seasonings used to taste. Then stir in the bread cubes and continue to stir until coated. Continue to stir so that bread browns, but does not burn. At this point, it is not too late to add additional seasoning, so it is important to taste your work!

 When croutons are seasoned and browned to acceptability, remove from pan on to a surface where they can cool  and dry a bit further. Blot any extra oil. When cool and further dried, store in zip bag or other container. As these croutons will not be dried out like commercial types are, these should be stored in a cool place, or even refrigerated. You may also spread out on a cookie sheet and put in low oven to remove further moisture.


Sunday, January 23, 2011


Among the new links to the left, you'll see a podcast and a newsletter link. Both are free and you can subscribe to the newsletter from the link.

Please remember that I do not share email addresses with anyone, so go ahead and sign up. It's free!

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's Catalog Time!!!!

If you're lucky enough to live in a decent climate where it is always or almost always growing season, it probably isn't that big of an issue. However, if you live in a "not so decent" climate, you're lucky if your growing season is 6 months, and you're going stir crazy with all the seemingly endless snow, then seed catalog time is exciting.

Ok, so why is it so great when the mailbox starts overflowing with the things? In the midst of a long, cold winter, seed catalogs are the first glimmer of spring. True, it might be a spring that is still 4 months away or more, but it is a sign that that winter WILL come to an end. Maybe not fast enough for most of us, but and end, none the less.

Catalog time is a time to cozy up at night, with a favourite hot beverage and decide what this year's garden will be producing for the family this year. It's a time to decide what new vegetable or fruit will be tried this year, as well as discovering the new seeds that the companies are offering this season.

Catalog time is also a time to see what "new toys" are being offered to the gardener, as well as books, publications ans periodicals that we just might need on our shelves.

Unfortunately, our wish lists are usually bigger than our garden space or our budget. At times maybe both. But I's catalog time...nothing but happy dances!

Seriously however, when the catalogs do come, it is time to start buckling down and making real decisions for the garden. What do you need or want? What worked well last season and what didn't? And if this is your first garden, you;re probably just concerned about what you want to grow, let alone all the other points to ponder.

But for now, take time to enjoy the paper gifts coming in the mail. Read, wish, plan, then....order!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


At some point, there will be cooking workshops online as well as recipes available. I like to create my own concoctions or improve upon existing ones.

This is a roasted chicken that I did the other day, using a rub that I created. The only thing I would have done different, probably, would be to tie the legs, but it really wasn't necessary. It just would have looked better in the picture.

This roasted chicken was turned into a recipe I created called Twice Roasted Chicken, which can then be used in salads, sandwiches, snacking.....whatever. And yes, it is actually roasted twice by the time it is done.

Basically, after the whole bird is done, I let it cool, take all the meat off and in the same pan, re season and roast again until brown. And the meat is still moist. (Just right for me as I don't like juicy chicken.)

I'll be writing up the recipe and will link to it.

For now, here is a picture of the whole bird.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Time to Check the Seeds

Next week, I guess it will be time to get my older seeds out and see what is still viable. That way, I'll know what I don't have to get this year, anyway. It is snowing yet again, so maybe this will be a nice diversion.

I plan to post a how to on You Tube when I do this little project, plus a photo log on the blog.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

On Barn Cats

The Barn Cat. The little creatures that everyone thinks about when they do think about the barns on the farm. Most farms do have them. The pictures above are of 2 of mine...Splash and Tansy. They have no interest in coming in the house and seem quite content outdoors. They don't bother the birds much at all, but mice, moles, shrews and such are a different story.

Unfortunately, many barn cats come to us, and friends of mine with barns, by way of being dropped off. It seems that when you have a barn or out buildings, you become the target for every idiot that decides to throw a cat out the door of their car. But, they do pay their way.

There are many myths about barn cats, but there is one that I want to address, and that is on feeding your barn cats. Many feel that, if they feed their barn cats, they won't be good mousers. This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, stop feeding your barn cats, and you will end up with no barn cats. If no one fed you, after awhile you'd simply leave. And many do. 

My cats are fed twice a day, morning and late afternoon. This doesn't stop them for doing their job at all. Late spring, summer and fall especially, they are still doing their job, with full bellies. And I have noticed the difference since they've been here. Fewer mouse problems in the winter, when they are most likely to go into buildings or make a home someplace in our classic summer car when it is put away for the winter. No, you don't need to starve your barn cats for them to do what's expected.

Feed them and they'll do a better job....and stay. And if you're afraid that they'll get birds that come to your feeder, then instead of putting the feeder on a tree branch, use a tall shepherds' hook. They can't climb it. Don't leave anything by it that will allow them to climb high enough to reach the feeder. Don't put near picnic tables, chairs or anything that your barn cat can climb on to get to the feeder.

And when at all possible, spay/neuter your barn cats. When you need to replace them, many places now have cats that they are specifically looking for barn homes for. They may be feral or just not people friendly. But you really don't need to "breed your own".

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Forum is Up Too!

The NCH forum is up too. There are many topics to participate in, so please feel free to sign up and jump in. Link to the left!

We're On Facebook

I just published the Facebook page for NCH. A bit sparse, I grant you, but it is finally up. Link is to the left for easy access!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Forum

There will be a new forum for NCH available in a few days. Please feel free to join in and exchange information, ask questions, and converse. Please note that while I want everyone to enjoy the forum and utilize it extensively, spamming, scamming, heated arguments, extreme language, intentional misinformation and the like will not be tolerated and could cause expulsion from the forum......permanently!

Watch the blog for posting of the link. It should be up in a few days, as I stated. Then, join in and have fun!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Keep Watching.....

The New Century Homesteader will be offering online workshops and programs for international audience in the near future, as well as podcasts and You Tube clips. Dates will be listed both on the website (in development), this blog and on Twitter (@nchomesteader).

Also, podcasts and clips will be accessible on the blog.

So, keep watching and I'll start getting things up, probably in February. Until then, there will be weekly updates.

Getting a Jump on Spring

I couldn't resist, and stopped in an area greenhouse that is open year 'round here. Tough to find around here. Some plants were on sale...actually quite a few were, and there sitting amongst the sale items was one rosemary tree that was left over from Christmas. It was a beautiful plant and the price was excellent, but I have always had problems keeping rosemary of any form in the house. After talking with a couple of the employees (and finding out even the "pros" have problems keeping it in their house) I decided to take it home.

So, now I have a rosemary tree sitting in my window. After having no luck in keeping smaller rosemary plants in a southern window in a cool room, or a southern window in a warm room, I decided to put it in an east window in a moderate room. Not heavy sun (when we have it), but lots of light. I can only hope I can keep it going. I've tried everything else in the past. If this doesn't work, then I'm out of ideas. But I'm optimistic! It needed some trimming, so I already used some of the fresh trimmings in my turkey soup. And bringing it home, the truck smelled wonderful! A friend had gone out with me and commented on how good it smelled every time we got back in. It does look like the dirt in the pot will need some loosening, as it is getting really packed down. (I had to do the same with my meyer lemon tree and ornamental pepper plants as well.)

Everyone cross their fingers for this little rosemary tree (and me). I really want to be able to set it outside in the spring.