Gardening

Be-bop-a-re-bop Rhubarb Jam!

t’s that time of year again --- the mornings are golden, the nights still chilly, the blue jays are calling in the trees out back and the rhubarb has broken through the earth like it has for ten thousand years. Actually, I wonder how old some of these rhubarb plants are. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were the same ones transplanted from the Garden of Eden.

On Saturday a friend gave me a huge bundle of rhubarb, on Sunday I cooked it up into the jam that my mother made every year and every morning since I have been eating it on toast with my coffee for breakfast.

Click through for recipes and ideas from Kathleen Valentine

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Composting and Critters


To discourage animals from raiding the backyard compost, OrganicGardening.com recommends mixing kitchen garbage with soil or wood ashes before burying it in the hot center of your compost pile. Photo: LexnGer, courtesy Flickr.

Dear EarthTalk: My husband and I want to start a garden this year. I really want to make compost from leftover food scraps and yard materials. He says it will attract unwanted animals, and refuses to agree to it. Is he right? If so, how do we deal with that issue in a green-friendly, non-lethal way?
--Carmen Veurink, Grand Rapids, MI

It's true that outdoor compost piles and bins can be a draw for wildlife—be it bears, rats, raccoons, skunks, opossums or some other creatures of the night—but there are ways to minimize the attraction. For one, make sure everyone in your household knows to keep meat, bones, fish, fat and dairy out of the compost. Not only will these items "overheat" the compost pile, they'll also stink it up and attract animals.

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Garbage Disposals and the Environment

Dear EarthTalk: I was surprised to learn recently that some cities, including New York, have outlawed kitchen-sink garbage disposals, at least in homes. I would have thought these machines were Earth-friendly. What's the deal?
--Maggie Mangan, St. Louis, MO

Kitchen sink garbage disposals are not necessarily Earth-friendly in and of themselves, but they do play a valuable role in grinding up food scraps into small enough bits for local sewer or on-site septic systems to handle. In the U.S. overall, about half of all homes have a garbage disposal in the kitchen. New York did outlaw the devices for many years, thinking a ban would alleviate the strain on the city's aging sewer system. But a study later conducted in the mid-1990s found benefits to lifting the ban, including a likely reduction in rat and cockroach problems and a reduced flow of solid waste to landfills already bursting at the seams. So in 1997 the Big Apple began allowing the devices again.

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Herb Gardening for Beginners

Just outside my back door is a patch filled with happy buzzing bees. When I need a little rosemary for my chicken, or thyme for my fish, or lavender for a bouquet, I just pop out the door and cut a handful. You're thinking, wow, I'd like to do that too, but I don't know anything about growing herbs.

Good news! You don't need to! Herb gardening is about the simplest form of gardening there is.

An herb garden can be planted just about anywhere that you have space--a strip of dirt beside the front walk would even work. And if you have no outdoor space, herbs can be grown in large containers on a sunny porch or balcony.

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From House to Home for the Second Week of May


  • Host a Memorial Day party complete with flags, red, white, and blue paperware. Invite families for a multi-generational gathering.
  • With wasps out and building nests, double check your screens for holes. Hire a pest inspector to remove any new nests as well.
  • Weathervanes are chic once again. Now homeowners may choose from a menagerie of roosters, cows, pigs, quails, horses in classic, antique reproduction and modern designs. Even solid copper weathervanes are relatively affordable.

Click through for more tips!

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Fine Gardening

Taunton magazines are uniformly gorgeous. Fine Gardening is plant porn, pure and simple. But just like Playboy, you can read it for the articles too! :)

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Are you putting in a garden this year?

Yes
85% (11 votes)
No
15% (2 votes)
Don't know/not sure/no ground!
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 13
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Preserving Food Without Freezing or Canning

This amazing book from the Centre Terre Vivante in France outlines the many, many ways folks put food by before the advent of canning 200 years ago, and freezing less than a hundred years ago. Why use these methods?

[W]e believe that the traditional methods proposed herein are superior in every way: They preserve more flavor and nutritional content, are less costly, and use less energy.

All pluses in my book.

Make Your Own Herbal Tinctures

Many people are making their own tinctures from dried and fresh herbs in an attempt to be more involved in their health. Tinctures of fresh herbs have proven to be more vitalizing and longer lasting than dried herbs. Dried herbs tend to get moldy or be eaten by insects; tinctures will not. Tinctures will keep for as long as two years and sustain their potency if stored properly. Creating your own tinctures will save you quite a bit of money.

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Kid's Pumpkin Projects

DD got this from her great-aunt last year. It's for kids from 4 to 8 years old. It's got pumpkin lore, how to grow a weird shaped pumpkin, and other fun stuff. It's a great book for kids who get into planting seeds and watching them grow. It goes through the whole lifecycle of the plant and fruit. Cool stuff in there, like, did you know you can make soap from pumpkin seeds?

Fall Planting

I know what you're thinking – "I planted everything back in the spring and I'm done until next year." That's what most people do, but an avid gardener like you should realize all of the benefits of planting in the fall.

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Are You Planting a Garden This Spring?

Yes, mostly vegetables
28% (11 votes)
Yes, mostly flowers
15% (6 votes)
Yes, both vegetables and flowers
38% (15 votes)
No
13% (5 votes)
Don't know
5% (2 votes)
Total votes: 39
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Frugal Gardening Tips

Q:I want to be able to landscape my yard, but flowers and shrubs are so expensive. I've tried to plant some perenials so they'll contunue to bloom every year, but our yard still needs lots of work. Any suggestions on finding inexpensive plants, shrubs, and or trees? I'm tempted to go to the woods and look for things to steal every spring! And we all know that's not right. Please help if you can.
--Catherine

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Xeriscaping

Xeriscaping

Pronounce it 'saving water in the garden'
by Amy Rawson

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Turn Your Garbage into Gold

Composting is #2 on my list of the top five life changing things I have done after becoming a full-time homemaker. I started composting mainly because we were throwing away more trash than the garbage collectors would pick up and the situation got pretty gross last summer. Thankfully, we now have a great community recycling program which takes care of about a trash can worth of recycled waste every week. We also have "green" recycling but after watching a Home and Garden Television (HGTV) program on composting I decided to see if I could make a home composting effort worthwhile. What I found was amazing. My children (6 and 7) love being involved, I love the results, and I feel so superior now that I can make "dirt"!

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