Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Welcome to the New American Homestead Blog!

Welcome to the blog! The title of my next book will be The New American Homestead: Sustainable living for the 21st Century. It will be released in about a year by Howell House, an imprint of Wiley Publishing. One of the reasons we are lauching this blog now is to obtain your input as to what we should include in the new book. It will cover food gardening, food crafts such as beer brewing and cheese making, home crafts such as soap making and other topics related to self-sufficient, sustainable living in urban and suburban settings. Please use comments to share your thoughts about what a compendium such as The New American Homestead should include, what we can leave out, or anything else you'd like to comment on.

My previous book, Pay Dirt: How to make $10,000 from your backyard garden, sold over 10,000 copies in its first six month. Thank you, dear readers, for this support. Please tell your friends about the book, and share your ideas, questions and success stories with us via this blog! Your homestead can supply you with income as well as food.

We hope this (almost) daily look at how things are going on a suburban homestead in the heart of middle America will serve as a source of inspiration and ideas for folks who are trying to accomplish the same thing, wherever you might reside.

What's Growing Now?

Our food garden sits right smack on the border between USDA Hardiness Zones 7 and 6. So far, we've had a cold, wet, early winter. Lows dipped into the lower teens just last week.  But the tiny coldframe we  built last fall continues to supply us with lovely greens: spinach, 'Red Romaine' and 'Buttercrunch' lettuce, and 'Even Star Winter' arugula. Next year, we will remember to include carrots, cilantro, and perhaps potatoes in our coldframe garden. And we are definitely building additional coldframe growing space. We have already proved to ourselves that we can extend the season by at least a month on each end. Gardening friends report winter long harvests of several cool season crops, and we have no doubt that we can duplicate their successes. Above is a photo of the coldframe, which was built for under $20, not counting the raised bed itself, which we've used for years. In it you can see the greens we were growing in October, including 'Black Seeded Simpson' a splendid heirloom that has been a favorite in this region for decades. We now have a third planting of lettuces and arugula coming along.

Ginger is growing in a pot indoors. We planted the rhizome about a month ago, and the shoots are already four inches tall. After spending the summer outdoors, the ginger plant should yield about a pound of roots when we harvest next fall.

After the holidays, it will be time to reset the beds holding our main cash crop, hardy Chinese ground orchids, Bletilla striata.

With the arrival of the winter solstice, we wish you a happy and prosperous New Year, and the very best for the holiday season.

No comments: