Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ron and Jennifer Kujawski: Improving Soil with Cover Crops

Cover crops can do wonders for next year’s garden. So how do you decide which to plant?

Oats used as cover crop grow between rows of maize. Photo © Alan Manson, via Wikimedia Commons
Planting a cover crop is a great way to improve garden soil during the times when it’s not actively involved in vegetable production; cover crops prevent soil loss from erosion, as well as returning organic matter to the soil. Cover crops are also effective during the growing season to control weeds, reduce soil compaction, and take up any excess nutrients crops don’t use. You can also plant low-growing cover crops like clover between rows of vegetables and in paths.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Dear Neighbor: An Excerpt from Microshelters

Author Derek “Deek” Diedricksen observes that when it comes to scoring the perfect materials for your next building project, your best tool might just be paper and pen.

Photo © Derek Diedricksen, excerpted from Microshelters
Since I don’t mind spreading the good word if it means keeping more things out of landfills, I will tell you that one of my best tactics for sourcing free materials, with a success rate over 50 percent, is to drop mailbox notes. No, not love letters, but rather “I love that crud of yours” letters. Seriously. If I happen to see huge fallen limbs as potential firewood, a downed line of fencing being heaped for removal, or a seemingly long-forgotten pile of metal roofing or tongue-and-groove siding, I grab a pen and pad I keep in my van and scrawl a little note that reads something like this:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Ana Maria Spagna: Against Helplessness

Learning a “slow skill” is more than just a source of pleasure. It could also be the best way to prepare for an uncertain future.

Skill #79: Shelter building. Illustration © Brian Cronin, excerpted from 100 Skills You’ll Need for the End of the World (as We Know It)
When the subject of 100 Skills You’ll Need for the End of the World (as We Know It) comes up in conversation, people tend to fall into one camp or the other. The first group are people who possess an astonishing number of the skills I included in my book. These are people like my neighbors across the river who garden and save seeds, build shelters and tap maple trees, mend clothes and handle horses, all while raising four small children and a couple of cows.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Heather Smith Thomas — Notes from Sky Range Ranch: Katy Doll, the Quirky Mare with a Big Heart

A temporary replacement horse leaves a lasting legacy.

Katy with her first foal, Rubbie
One hot day in June 1985, my daughter Andrea and I were returning from checking our cattle. It had been a long day of range riding and as we trotted home, Andrea’s mare Khamir hit a sharp rock with her left front foot and began limping. We walked the remaining distance home to give Khamir a rest.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Hannah Fries: Behind the Scenes — A Photo Shoot

Down on the ground or up on a beam, photography for a how-to book involves a steady hand and a sense of balance.

This cabin was the subject of many photographs during the shoot for a forthcoming book on timber framing.
Last year, project editor Hannah Fries spent a week at the Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts, exploring her personal interest in the art of timber framing. Now in the process of editing a book on the subject for Storey, she recently returned to the school in Washington, Massachusetts, for a photo shoot. During her stay, she documented the lengths a photographer and his subject will go to, to get the best shots.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Brooke Dojny: Sour Lemon Tart in a Graham Cracker Crust

Blueberry season inspires a summery adaptation of a simple lemon tart.

Isobel’s lemon blueberry tart. Photo courtesy of the author.
During a recent trip to my CSA here in Maine, local baker Isobel Cunningham brought the most beautiful lemon blueberry tart to the baked goods table. I had to fend people off while I took a picture of it, and when I left, the tart was half gone! Sorry to say, the place was far too busy to ask Isobel for the recipe, but I see no reason why you couldn’t make my Sour Lemon Tart in a Graham Cracker Crust (recipe below) and heavily sprinkle the top with blueberries. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Paula Marcoux: In the Kitchen of the Great House

Author and food historian Paula Marcoux shares the splendors of the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello and garden-to-fire cooking in a presidential kitchen.

Photo © Eleanor Gould. Used with permission.
For this Storey author, 2014 was a big year. In support of the release of my book, Cooking with Fire, I traveled the country meeting scores of interesting people and making cooking fires in (or in the parking lots of) some unusual places: bookstores, camping supply emporia, TV stations, breweries, a vineyard, historic sites and museums, and even on the radio! I was surprised to find how many Main Street business districts in this country will happily accommodate an author kindling a wood fire, as long as shared tasty snacks are part of the program. But all this hoopla, as fun as it was, could not have prepared me for the pinnacle of excitement: leading a workshop at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello as part of the Heritage Harvest Festival.

Andrea Chesman’s Top Ten Tips for Tomato Season

Tomatoes piling up? Author Andrea Chesman shares her favorite ways to eat ’em or save ’em.

Photo courtesy of the author
Tomatoes! Red, yellow, green! Rounded, pear-shaped, grape-sized, as big as the head of a newborn babe. Early hybrids and slow-growing heritage varieties. Sweet or acidic, juice or meaty. Of all the vegetables we grow, tomatoes are often the most abundant — and the most versatile in the kitchen, whether you enjoy them fresh, roasted, frozen, or canned.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Bloom Day — August 2015

Storey staffers and friends share scenes from August gardens.

Mountain mint with bumble bee, from editor Gwen Steege’s garden.
August feels like a peak bloom month. Dahlias, zinnias, and cosmos, coneflowers, hydrangea, and phlox: you’ll see them all here in photos from around Storey staffers’ gardens. But for me, the fun of this month’s post is the diversity of critters that share our garden spaces: Debbie Surdam captured a photo of a strange and beautiful hummingbird moth; Hannah Fries found tiny green frogs (actually, juvenile gray tree frogs) perched in her hydrangeas as if they’d grown there, Lisa Hiley’s cat patrols her garden, I stumbled across an abandoned Red-Eyed Vireo nest, and there are bees, bees, bees. What’s blooming (and living) where you are?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Andrea Chesman: Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Shrimp

Too hot to cook? No problem. Author Andrea Chesman shares a summer staple.

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Shrimp
Photo courtesy of the author
Sometimes when it’s too hot to cook, it’s too hot to eat. That’s when my brother makes an ice cream sundae and calls it dinner. He says you’ve got your dairy (protein), your eggs (protein), and nuts (protein and fiber). So why not?

There are probably fifty reasons why ice cream for dinner is not a good idea, but the most convincing reason is a chilled, herb-and-crunchy-veggie-packed Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Shrimp. You’ve got your protein, your veggies, and you don’t have to break a sweat to make it (or to work off the calories).