Garden & Agriculture Archive


Happy Homesteading

Monday, September 29th, 2014

It’s still September … how did you celebrate International Homesteading Education Month? Or did you?

Here at Chelsea Green, we know that back-to-the-land folks homestead all year round, come snow, sleet, rain, hail, or midterm elections. The world revolves around collecting eggs, hoeing rows, or harvesting apples. We consider ourselves chief defenders of your self-sustaining right to generate your own renewable power, compost your kitchen scraps, build a straw bale dream home, and otherwise care for the planet and your community.

Our friends over at Mother Earth News and Grit are always on the lookout for a Homesteader of the Year and often have great tips, too, for how you can make the most use of your land.

We, too, have plenty of books for all kinds of homesteaders—back-to-the-landers to those who just wish they were. From Philip Ackerman-Leist’s memoir Up Tunket Road to the more in-depth, how-to books such as the award-winning The Resilient Farm and Homestead, or the more recent Farming the Woods. 

Check out some of our best homesteading books below, and also check out our current sale on a selection of new and bestselling permaculture books—35% off now through October 13.

Happy Homesteading!

The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach

By Ben Falk

This award-winning book offers actual working results in living within complex farm-ecosystems based on research from the “great thinkers” in permaculture, and presents a viable home-scale model for an intentional food-producing ecosystem in cold climates, and beyond.

 

Up Tunket Road: The Education of a Modern Homesteader

By Philip Ackerman-Leist

The inspiring true story of a young couple who embraced the joys of simple living while also acknowledging its frustrations and complexities.

 

Farming the Woods: An Intregrated Permaculture Approach to Growing Food and Medicinals in Temperate Forests

By Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel

An essential book for farmers and gardeners who have access to established woodland, and are looking for productive ways to manage it.

 

The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times

By Carol Deppe

Filled with detailed information about growing and using five key crops: potatoes, corn, beans, squash, and eggs.

 

When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency

By Mat Stein

A comprehensive primer on sustainable living skills—food, water, shelter, energy, first-aid, and more.

 

The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year-Round Vegetable Production Using Deep-Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses

By Eliot Coleman

Grow produce of unparalleled freshness and quality in customized un- or minimally-heated greenhouses.

 

Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture

By Toby Hemenway

Learn how to apply basic permaculture principles to make your garden more diverse, more natural, more productive, and more beautiful.

 

The Small-Scale Poultry Flock: An All-Natural Approach to Raising Chickens and Other Fowl for Home and Market Growers

By Harvey Ussery

The most comprehensive and definitive guide to date on raising all-natural poultry.

 

 

Permaculture Sale: Let nature do the heavy lifting!

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Think that gardening and planting is only for the springtime? Well, autumn is the perfect time for those perennials and to begin planning a permaculture twist to next year’s garden.

The concept of permaculture is simple – pay attention to natural systems and work with them to spend less effort, improve soil health and enjoy a bountiful harvest. In short, work with nature and let her do the heavy lifting!

Chelsea Green has been the go-to publisher for key permaculture books for thirty years. To help get you started, or expand your permaculture knowledge on this simple but revolutionary system we’ve put a selection of our new and best permaculture books on sale for 35% off. But hurry it is only for a limited time.

Need a recommendation? We’re here to help. Email us at [email protected].

Happy reading from your friends at Chelsea Green Publishing.

P.S. In case you missed it earlier this year we put our pioneering permaculture authors at your disposal for a month-long Q&A session designed to help you become a better permaculturalist. Take a peek: Are Swales Right for You; Michael Judd’s Blueberry Soil Mix; and Aggressive Grass and Partial Shade.

 


Discount codes do not combine with other offers—our books already on sale for example. Free shipping for orders $100 or more is applied after the discount is applied. (U.S. Orders Only). International orders can be placed by phone (802-295-6300) or email.


Integrated Forest Gardening
Retail: $45.00
Sale: $29.95
Farming the Woods
Retail: $39.95
Sale: $25.97
Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation
Retail: $39.95
Sale: $25.97
Resilient Farm and Homestead
Retail: $40.00
Sale: $26.00
Edible Forest Gardens Set
Retail: $150.00
Sale: $97.50
Grass, Soil, Hope
Retail: $19.95
Sale: $12.97
Edible Perennial Gardening
Retail: $22.95
Sale: $14.92
Gaia's Garden
Retail: $29.95
Sale: $19.47
Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist
Retail: $24.95
Sale: $16.22
Permaculture Sale: 35% Off
An Unlikely Vineyard
The Wild Wisdom of Weeds
Around the World in 80 Plants
Paradise Lot
Permaculture Kitchen
Perennial Vegetables
Getting Started in Permaculture
Growing Food in a Hotter, Drier Land
Food Not Lawns
The Holistic Orchard
Desert or Paradise
Permaculture in Pots
The Small-Scale Poultry Flock
Top-Bar Beekeeping
Natural Beekeeping
Sowing Seeds in the Desert
Rainwater Harvesting Vol. 1
Sepp Holzer's Permaculture
How to Make a Forest Garden
Permaculture
Letting in the Wild Edges
Holistic Orcharding with Michael Phillips DVD
Perennial Vegetable Gardening with Eric Toensmeier DVD
Natural Beekeeping with Ross Conrad DVD
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The Endless Arugula Bed

The Endless Arugula Bed

Want to save time and money while enjoying your greens as soon as possible in the spring? Consider extending your growing season by overwintering your crops – it’s both frugal and forward thinking. 

Read MORE…

DIY Dilly Beans: Voted “Best Snack Ever”

DIY Dilly Beans

There’s nothing like a dilly bean. A jar full of ‘em in the fridge, next to a plate of cheese and crackers, on a sandwich, or straight from the jar.

You can do it too, even if you have to buy beans at the farmer’s market or wherever you shop.

READ MORE…

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Farm the Woods: Grow Food and Medicinals in Forests

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

In the eyes of many people, the practices of forestry and farming are mutually exclusive, because in the modern world, agriculture involves open fields, straight rows, and machinery to grow crops, while forests are reserved primarily for timber and firewood harvesting. In fact, history indicates that much of humanity lived and sustained itself from so-called “forest farming,” and only recently has the forest been traded for the field.

In Farming the Woods, authors Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel demonstrate that it doesn’t have to be an either-or scenario, but a complementary one; forest farms can be most productive in places where the plow is not: on steep slopes and in shallow soils. Forest farming is an invaluable practice to integrate into any farm or homestead, especially as the need for unique value-added products and supplemental income becomes increasingly important for farmers.

“That Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel believe people should be empowered in pursuits of integrated, multifunctional forest management is clear. As a result, the book is better positioned to positively impact forest owners, farmers, policy makers, and general readers alike,” writes John Munsell in the book’s foreword.

At your fingertips is a useful and inspirational forest farming guide,” Munsell adds.

Farming the Woods: An Integrated Permaculture Approach to Growing Food and Medicinals in Temperate Forests invites readers to view agriculture with a remarkably new perspective: that a healthy forest can be maintained while growing a wide range of food, medicinal, and other nontimber products. To get a sense of what useful information and resources the book offers, read a sample chapter — Food from the Forest: Fruits, Nuts, and More — below.

It’s common knowledge that many of the daily indulgences we take for granted, such as coffee, chocolate, and a variety of tropical fruits, all originate in forest ecosystems. But few know that such abundance is also available in the cool temperate forests of North America. Farming the Woods covers in detail how to cultivate, harvest, and market high-value forest crops such as American ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, ramps (wild leeks), maple syrup, fruit and nut trees, ornamentals, and more. Readers are also provided comprehensive information on:

• historical perspectives of forest farming;

• mimicking the forest in a changing climate;

• cultivation of medicinal crops;

• cultivation of food crops;

• creating a forest nursery;

• harvesting and utilizing wood products;

• the role of animals in the forest farm; and,

• how to design and manage your forest farm once it’s established.

In addition, Farming the Woods includes profiles of forest farmers from around the country who are practicing many of the techniques detailed in the book.

“Forest farmers profiled in this book offer a vision for how more people can live—with and in the forest rather than outside it, as a foreigner who only visits from time to time. Human civilization is at a time when the decisions we need to make are unlike those any generation has had to make before,” write Mudge and Gabriel in the introduction. “With increasing inequality, the collapse of ecosystems around the world, and the uncertain effects of climate change, there is not a better time to consider farming the woods.”

Farming the Woods is now on sale for 35% off until September 24.

Farming the Woods – Sample from Chapter 4: Food from the Forest by Chelsea Green Publishing

The Morel of the Story? Think Like a Mushroom

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Calling all you fungi (and fun gals), it’s time to celebrate National Mushroom Month.

Our mycological-minded authors know more than a thing or two about the fascinating world of mushrooms—whether its foraging, cultivating, or concocting tasty recipes, we here at Chelsea Green have the books that are sure to answer your mushroom musings.

NEW Mushroom Books in 2014

Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation - In this comprehensive mushroom guide, mycologist Tradd Cotter shares innovative new methods for urban and off-grid growing, making mushroom-infused beers, morel cultivation, and more. Hear from the author himself and get a taste of his infectious enthusiasm for fungi as he urges people to “think like a mushroom” during his interview on Radio Vermont’s Mark Johnson Show. And, check out Cotter’s wild and cultivated mushrooms in the slideshow of images at the end of this post.

Farming the Woods - This book by Ken Mudge and Steve Gabriel looks at agriculture from a completely new perspective—one that relies on forests for growing a wide range of food and medicinals, rather than open fields with straight rows of crops. Chapter 5 is all about mushrooms including stats on US production, cultivation tips, consumer demand, and species profiles. Here’s a preview of the foreword and introduction for Farming the Woods.

Chelsea Green Classics Featuring Mushroom Content

The Resilient Farm and Homestead - Ben Falk, award-winning author and expert permaculturalist, has written a manual for developing durable, beautiful, and highly functional human habitat systems fit to handle an age of rapid transition. Read what he has to say about the power of fungi and how, in addition to providing food and medicine, their existence makes ecosystems more resilient.

Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist – Think mushrooms and cocktails don’t mix? Think again. Michael Judd shares this recipe for a Maple Mushroom Martini featuring mushroom infused vodka.

Chanterelle Dreams, Amanita Nightmares - This fascinating and fresh look at mushrooms—their natural history, their uses and abuses, their pleasures and dangers—is a splendid introduction to both fungi themselves and to our human fascination with them. Author Greg Marley sat down with us back in 2010 to talk about mushroom culture around the world and of course, his favorite edible mushroom.

And now, a slideshow of ‘shrooms…

The Endless Arugula Bed

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Want to save time and money while enjoying your greens as soon as possible in the spring? Consider extending your growing season by overwintering your crops—it’s both frugal and forward thinking.

Ben Falk, author of The Resilient Farm and Homestead, experimented with a bed of arugula by planting it in late September. Using a simple structure of quick hoops and greenhouse film to overwinter the crop, he was able to harvest the sweetest, most flavorful arugula he has ever tasted as early as mid-March!

Try producing your own endless bed of arugula, or experiment with another crop of your choosing, using these instructions from Falk’s book. If you do, you’re sure to have an ample supply of pesto in your future from your excess harvest.

The Resilient Farm and Homestead

Make Your Own Fruit Wine

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Have an excess harvest of a favorite fruit that you don’t know what to do with? Look no further—making your own fruit wine is easy, safe, and it’s as delicious as homemade pie or jam without the expiration date!

All you need is an abundance of the fruit of your choosing, orange juice, wine yeast, sugar, and patience. When it comes to flavors, the sky’s the limit.

Below is a recipe for blackberry wine from Michael Judd’s Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist.

Judd’s book is chock-full of advice on everything homegrown and homemade including growing your own fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, herb spirals, raised-bed gardens, recipes, and more.

Edible Landscaping With a Permaculture Twist

Janisse Ray to Keynote First Annual Harvest Conference

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Do you have a green thumb? Perhaps you’re more of an activist, interested in preserving the integrity of heritage produce? Or, maybe you’re just looking for some guidance and optimism in an era that seems irrevocably scarred by environmental unrest and a lack of community spirit.

Join like-minded individuals at the First Annual Harvest Conference this September 5-6 in North Carolina hosted by the Organic Growers School.

Chelsea Green’s own activist, naturalist, farmer, and award-winning author Janisse Ray (The Seed Underground) will be giving the keynote address, “A Field Guide to Hope,” on Saturday, September 6 at 8pm at AB Tech, Asheville, NC. Her presentation offers wisdom and hope in an era marked by environmental turmoil and celebrates individuals and organizations, both large and small, who are reclaiming local, diverse food and creating more sustainable communities.

Here are two other ways to connect with Janisse Ray at the conference:

Full-Day Workshop: “Speaking of Nature—Place-Based Creative Writing”
Friday, September 5, 9am-4pm
The Pavilion at Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, NC
If you are a nature writer, garden blogger, or farmer with a love of literature, join Janisse Ray and other writers at this full day writing workshop. It offers the unique chance to hone your skills through writing prompts, nature-as-muse experiences, and journaling, all guided by Ray herself.

Class: The Seed Underground
Saturday, September 6, 2pm-3:30pm
AB Tech, Main Campus, Asheville, NC
In her award-winning book, The Seed Underground, Ray shares the inspiring stories of determined gardeners (herself included) who are striving to save increasingly rare heritage seeds from the threat of monoculture. Learn about this startling loss of seed diversity in modern agriculture, and the methods employed by those farmers who are looking to preserve delectable varieties like Old Time Tennessee muskmelon and Long Country Longhorn okra for future generations.

The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food is on sale now for 50% off until September 7.

Whatever your field of interest, be sure to catch Janisse Ray at the first annual Harvest Conference this September!

An Exploration of the Magical World of Mushrooms

Monday, August 18th, 2014

What would it take to grow mushrooms in space? How can mushroom cultivation reduce our dependence on herbicides? Is it possible to use mushrooms to clean up oil spills?

For more than twenty years, mycologist Tradd Cotter has been investigating the fascinating world of mushrooms and researching the answers to questions just like these.

In his new book, Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation, Cotter offers readers an in-depth exploration of best mushroom cultivation practices with the attitude that mushrooms can be grown on just about anything, anywhere, and by anyone. He also shares his groundbreaking research on challenges such as cultivating morels, “training” mycelium to respond to specific contaminants, and using mushrooms in disaster relief situations.

Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation is divided into three parts. Parts 1 and 2 provide a basic foundation of knowledge about mushrooms as well as a series of low-tech applications for both indoor and outdoor cultivation, while Part 3 focuses on advanced and experimental techniques that require a higher skill level and more technical equipment. Finally, Part 4, “Meet the Cultivated Mushrooms,” includes informative profiles of over 30 mushroom varieties.

Cotter hopes this book sparks a passion in its readers and inspires them to contribute their own findings to the body of knowledge about mushrooms. “I hope this book serves you well in giving you the skills necessary to explore mushroom cultivation and empowering you to dream up experiments and ideas on your own, “ he says in his Introduction. “Part skill, part art, part intuition, mushroom cultivation will give you a lifelong relationship with this incredible kingdom of life.” Read the full introduction here.

We asked Cotter about his own relationship and work with mushrooms. Below are a few of his responses. To hear more from the author himself and to get a taste of his infectious enthusiasm for fungi, listen to this interview on Radio Vermont.

An Interview with Mycologist Tradd Cotter

CG: What, or who, inspired you to get started growing mushrooms, and what keeps you inspired to continue?

TC: It’s hard not to be inspired by the mushrooms I grew myself. It just never gets old. After 22 years I can still honestly say I wake up anxious and excited to peek into the growing room or wander down the trail to see if anything is fruiting. From the moment I cultured my first mushroom after many failures, and not giving up, these mushrooms have taught me how to keep challenging myself to make these dreams come true.  Mushrooms are constantly surprising me and revealing their gifts, and I am lucky to have stuck with this so long to access their hidden talents and share them with the world.

My personal support comes from my wife Olga, who also runs the business and shares this life devoted to fungi, along with friends, family, professors, and most importantly our customers and attendees to workshops and lectures, where I look out and see a room full of amazed faces, smiling and grinning, having a good time.  I love to entertain and help people understand complex concepts through basic analogies and a little off-the-hip humor. The mushrooms themselves are very inspiring, too. I love a challenge, and many of them have never been cultivated before, so these mushrooms in particular are life-long dreams to be able to set goals high and keep making an effort to succeed. Fail forward as they say.

CG: One of the most interesting aspects of your book, and which sort of goes against conventional wisdom, is that you don’t need to invest in a huge amount of expensive equipment and infrastructure in order to get good yields. Can you give some examples of the “low-tech” and “no-tech” methods you describe?

TC: I began my journey cultivating mushrooms at a high-tech facility, then worked my way backwards to see how far I could go using very little—next to nothing in fact—to cultivate mushrooms just about anywhere on anything.  Since resources and equipment is a limiting factor for starting a mushroom farm for most folks, I wanted to show the world how easy it is to get started and build on a gradual degree of difficulty rather than trying to invest a lot of time and money into a project that may prove overwhelming. The entire concept of cultivation is scalable, so my best suggestion to growers is to start small, learn the easiest mushrooms to grow, then build on your success and expand your growing to a level you are comfortable with, whether it’s just a few logs at home or a large scale commercial operation. Training yourself to become a great, intuitive grower is better than fancy equipment and high-tech conditions if you don’t understand the fine-tuned details of every species, and failing at that level can be disastrous financially. Only a small percentage of the population will make the leap to the high-tech tier of cultivation, and so that is why this book fills the void for the rest of us! These small scale home and farm systems and experiments are all anyone may need to grow enough mushrooms for themselves or their family, it’s about finding a system that meets your comfort level, and there are many options in this book for everyone. From cultivating mushrooms on spent coffee grounds and paper waste at your home, office, or school to cloning mushroom with cardboard and expanding them like a bread culture into thousands more, this book is designed to teach you that there are no limits to your imagination.

CG:What’s the most exciting project you’re working on right now at Mushroom Mountain?

TC: I am working on several parallel projects, such as the fire-ant cordyceps, which is an amazing find that we are working with that could help millions of people and livestock, which is a fungus I discovered in South Carolina that is target specific to a small clade of ants that include Fire Ants instead of killing all of the insects and organisms in the area with broad spectrum, chemical based insecticides. The fungus mummifies the ants and sprouts small antlers from their brains!

But my favorite has to be the medical screening of fungi using a patented process we developed. I describe it in the book in a way that anyone can use the method for basic research, but it has really blown up into an amazing mistake. Sometimes we are so set in our way of doing things that making a error can make you notice another way that was always there, just hidden from view. Fungi are factories, and many mushrooms are tooled to create amazing combinations of antibiotics and enzymes, or medicinal and industrial products, much like an assembly line.  All I am doing in our lab is giving the mushrooms a challenge and direct them to produce a product that I am looking for. Imagine walking into a hospital with strep throat, where they take a throat culture, and one day later you have a personalized cocktail of natural antibiotics the fungus created just for you! I just don’t see any limits to this natural technology and see it as a game changing process that could lead to many discoveries and rattle the pharmaceutical industry.

I love these serendipitous moments of accidental discovery, and the realization that this will never get old to me. Every time we make a discovery of this magnitude it can lead to many more, and that is why I share my ideas like these in the book—so others can build on them and have fun exploring for themselves using my experience as a bridge to a new way of thinking.

 

Join Tradd Cotter and explore the magical world of mushrooms in Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation.

 

Easy to Make Drying Trays

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Looking for a way to enjoy the edibles from your summer garden into the winter months? Expand the lifespan of your fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, and herbs at home by making your own drying trays.

Assembling your own trays and drying produce at home is easy, environmentally friendly, and inexpensive—not to mention you can reap the benefits of your summer harvest all year long!

For more preserving techniques like this one (as well as recipes), read Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canningon sale now for 50% off until September 7!

How to: Drying Methods and Materials

Photo: Leslie Seaton, Wikimedia Commons

How to Save Tomato Seeds

Friday, August 8th, 2014

As your favorite variety of home grown tomatoes start ripening on the vine this summer, be sure to save those seeds for next year’s planting.

Award winning author and activist Janisse Ray points out in her book, The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food, that, “in the last one hundred years, 94 percent of seed varieties available at the turn of the century in America and considered a part of the human commons have been lost.

In her book, Ray travels across the United States visiting people dedicated to preserving heirloom food varieties simply by growing them and diligently saving and sharing their seeds.

Like Ray, you too can be a seed-saving revolutionary. Read the excerpt below to learn how to save tomato seeds. It takes a bit of care to get the seeds out of the gelatinous tomato goo they’re suspended in, but once you’ve done it you can use those seeds to cherish and perpetuate the unique flavor of your tomatoes.

For more information on seed saving, learn how to breed your own plants from expert gardener Carol Deppe (Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties, The Resilient Gardener) and what the right questions are to ask when determining what crops will grow best on your land from author John Navazio (The Organic Seed Grower).

*****

How to Save Tomato Seeds

By Janisse Ray

Pick nice tomatoes that would be perfect for a mean kid to mash up. If they’re large, slice them in half at the equator. Hold them over a canning jar. (Try not to use plastic for anything. Plastic is bad stuff.) Milk the pulp, meaning the gelatinous matrix that suspends the seeds, like frog eggs, into the jar. If you’re working with cherry tomatoes, you’ll have to hold the whole tomato between your fingers and squeeze. The only thing left will be the skin.

Put the jar lid on, give it a shake, and label it with the name of the variety inside. If you don’t label the jar, you will forget what it contains. If you have two tomatoes you’re saving, you think you can sit Yellow Mortgage Lifter on the right and Pruden’s Purple on the left and remember what’s what, and pretty soon you’re wondering if Yellow Mortgage Lifter was on the right or the left. Just do it.

The tomato hull can still be eaten. I think sauce is a good idea at this point.

Fermenting, which is what you are doing with the goopy mess in the canning jar, is the best way to save tomato seeds because the process dissolves the gel—which contains chemicals that inhibit germination. Fermentation causes the seeds to germinate more quickly when you plant them the following spring. Fermenting also breaks down the seed coat where seed-borne diseases like bacterial canker, spot, and speck can lurk. Let the mess stand for two or three days in a warm location, longer if the temperature is below 70°F. The books say to stir daily but I don’t.

When a layer of blue-gray mold covers the surface of the tomato-seed funk, the process is complete.

Occasionally in hot weather (seven months a year here), I have had the seeds start to germinate inside the goop, which means that I’ve left them too long untended and they think they’ve actually been planted and it’s time to race off again into plant-building and fruit-making. Don’t be like me.

Look at the underside of the jar. The viable seeds will have sunk to the bottom. Pick off the scum, then fill the jar with warm water and begin to pour off the now-rotten goop, being careful not to pour out your seeds. You may have to add water or rinse seeds off the insides of the jar and pour again, slowly. Viable seeds keep sinking to the bottom. Do this until you have mostly seeds and water in the jar.

Now dump the seeds into a large metal strainer whose holes are smaller than the seeds, rinse, drain for a few minutes, then spread them on a screen or on a plate covered with newsprint or a clean rag (don’t buy paper towels). Leave the seeds until they dry.

Label—very important!—and store.

 

Photo by Jonathan Billinger, Wikimedia Commons


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