Preserving Herbs for Best Flavor

Preserving HerbsWhat’s a best approach to safety culinary herbs?

It’s best to dry spices that have conspicuous flavors and tough or needle-like leaves — such as rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, lavender, packet and bay. Freeze spices with some-more pointed flavors and proposal leaves — such as parsley, cilantro and chervil. Preserving basil is a exception: It dries well, though a season is brighter if frozen.

For best flavor, collect spices only before they bloom, that is when their essential oils are during a top level. To dry, bind together tiny bunches of stems with weave or a rubber band, and afterwards hang them upside down in a warm, dry place. Tie a bundles tightly, since a stems will cringe as they dry. When a leaves turn brittle, frame them from a stems and store them in jars. Label and date a jars.

Follow these stairs to safety basil and other spices by freezing: Coarsely clout a leaves and afterwards container them loosely in ice brick trays. Add H2O and freeze. When a cubes have frozen, mislay them from a trays and store them in cosmetic freezer bags for adult to 3 months. Add a cubes to salsas or soups for summer flavor. Or, kindly purée a spices along with a tiny volume of olive oil (one-quarter crater oil to 1 crater of leaves) and afterwards solidify a pulp in a cosmetic freezer bag. Cut off a volume of pulp we need to season soups, sauces, dressings or marinades.

— Vicki Mattern, Contributing Editor 

Photo by Nate Skow 

Building Earthen Homes Using a Original DIY Material

Adobe, cob, unenlightened earth blocks and clay-straw building methods are labor-intensive though tremendously rewarding.

Building Earthen Homes

Dirt is a strange DIY material. In cultures all over a world, people have used earth to conform all from bowls to buildings. We know this since so many gritty homes are still around, including buildings hundreds and even thousands of years old. In new decades, seductiveness in earth construction has risen. What follows are some of a pros and cons of a opposite forms of gritty building, including adobe, cob, unenlightened earth blocks and clay-slip straw, and some unsentimental tips on things we might wish to try as good as those you’ll wish to avoid.


The Often Underrated Compressed Air Gun

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Build an Earthen Stove

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Make a Corn Cob Doll

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Off a Cob

Cooking and scheming corn, including recipes for Southwestern corn chowder, corn pancakes, Yucatan…

Earthen Home Basics

Some elementary facilities and practices request to many gritty building types. First, a aged adage: Give your buildings a good span of boots and a hat. That means lifting your gritty walls adult divided from H2O on a plain substructure and covering them with vast overhangs.

I’m a fan of outside rooms, so we cite vast square overhangs all around, solely for a south side of a building if we need pacifist solar feverishness benefit in a winter. To forestall H2O damage, keep gritty walls lonesome during construction. A essential proceed in soppy climates is to build a roof initial on a post-and-beam structure, and afterwards infill with bricks, cob or clay-slip straw.

Second, mud isn’t insulation. Light, feathery and indisputable assemblies forestall feverishness flow; massive, unenlightened ones do not. Some people don’t get this. we consider a difficulty arises since of a singular underline of a many common gritty building climate: prohibited and arid. In such regions, extraneous temperatures tend to vacillate above and next preferred interior temperatures (hot during a day, cold during night). Thick-mass walls can act as an effective form of energetic insulation. In all other climates, in my view, gritty materials aren’t suitable for extraneous wall systems if your idea is to build a many energy-efficient building. They instead should be used inside a insulated pouch as interior walls, floors and plasters to supplement mass, soundproofing and beauty to a building.

Third, gritty building is not easy, elementary or cheap. Dirt is heavy, and we need to pierce a lot of it around to build. That’s not easy. Anything complicated that has a intensity of descending on your conduct needs to be taken seriously. As for cheap, a vast and of gritty building is really that most of a element can mostly be found on site and is entire and inexpensive. But gritty building is labor-intensive, so what we save in materials, we might compensate behind in tough work. Of course, most of it might be worker labor (i.e., you), though to make an apples-to-apples comparison with required approaches, we have to value that time. we could make a free building out of bullion if a bullion were salvaged and a labor were unpaid.

All About Growing Cabbage

Think cabbage is boring? Think again! Try flourishing cabbage in your garden to suffer green, savoy and red cabbage year-round.

Dependable, nutritious, and tasty tender or cooked, both immature and red cabbage are among a many prolific cool-season crops. Gardeners flourishing cabbage in cold climates can grow huge, blue-ribbon heads. Where prohibited summers order a cold seasons, fast-maturing varieties do good in open and again in fall. All forms of cabbage are during their best in late fall, after bearing to light frosts.


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Types of Cabbage

Green cabbage varieties change in their earliness and mature size. Smaller varieties can be grown during tighten spacing.

Red cabbage provides aloft levels of vitamins A and C than other forms of cabbage do, and a splendid tone is always pleasing on a plate.

Savoy cabbage produces a frail heart and crinkled, dim immature outdoor leaves.

Pointed cabbage develops conical instead of dull heads. Its honest expansion robe and parsimonious outdoor leaves strengthen forked cabbage from insects and sun.

Napa cabbage (or Chinese cabbage) matures fast and produces crisp, mild-flavored leaves. Learn some-more in Growing Asian Greens.

For some-more information about forms of cabbage and a endorsed varieties, see a Cabbage during a Glance chart. 

When to Plant Cabbage

In spring, start seeds indoors or in a cold support 8 to 10 weeks before your final open frost, and set out hardened-off seedlings when they are about 6 weeks old. Seeds origin best during 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

In summer, start seeds 12 to 14 weeks before your initial tumble frost, and transplant a seedlings to a garden when they are 4 to 6 weeks old. Plant early and late varieties to widen your collect season.

How to Plant Cabbage

Growing cabbage plants requires unchanging feeding and abounding sun. Choose a sunny, well-drained site with fruitful dirt that has a pH between 6.0 and 6.5.

Loosen a planting bed and brew in a 2-inch covering of compost along with a customary focus of a offset organic fertiliser or well-composted manure. Water a fertilized bed entirely before environment out seedlings. Allow 18 to 20 inches between plants for 4-pound varieties; incomparable varieties might need some-more room. Varieties that will furnish heads that import reduction than 2 pounds (check your seed packet) can be spaced 12 inches apart.

Harvesting and Storage

Our 2012 Homesteaders of a Year: Living a Good Life Through Modern Homesteading

These 7 families offer moving examples of complicated homesteading, including a loyalty to building separate communities in both farming and civic settings.

Dirt Road

The word “homesteading” might conjure images of families lined adult in front of a sod house, a jackass hitched to a plow operative a fields in a background. Such pioneers truly worked for their livelihood, sweating to erect homes, furnish food, transport H2O and lift animals. Modern homesteading doesn’t fit that description, though those who select it have a same can-do opinion and have found new ways of vital a good life.


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Last fall, when MOTHER EARTH NEWS called for nominations for a 2012 Homesteaders of a Year contest, we never could’ve likely a accumulation of do-it-yourselfers we’d hear about. From families on 100-plus acres in farming Canada to couples in little homes on one-third-acre plots in a bustling metropolis, all kinds of separate folks from opposite North America were nominated.

The nominees have implausible immature thumbs — flourishing vast veggie gardens and given orchards. For most, food refuge is a consistent activity — freezing, dehydrating, canning and storing food in a base cellar. Many of these complicated homesteaders addition their gardens with internal products and lift ornithology and stock for eggs, meat, dairy and manure.

A large partial of independence for many of a nominees involves appetite efficiency. Remodels and upgrades to spin an aged residence into a some-more energy-efficient home were common, as were hand-built homes powered by renewable appetite sources.

One of a many moving qualities of scarcely all a nominees is their loyalty to building some-more separate communities. Many complicated homesteaders share their passion with neighbors by training classes, volunteering, giving tours of their homes and gardens, or even usually by vital a good life their possess approach — environment an instance for neighbors, friends and family.

Choosing usually one Homesteader of a Year valid too daunting, so we chose 3 winners and 4 runners-up. Our altogether favorites are showcased here, and we can find some-more complicated homesteaders and their stories online in Star 2012 Modern Homesteaders. 

Living a Good Life With a Hand-Built Home

Our initial family hails from Meco, N.Y., and was nominated by Dan Gibson, arch coordinator of Our Energy Independence Community, an online heart for information on shortening appetite use. Throughout several years roving a Northeast in this position, Gibson has visited many off-grid homes. Of a winning family, Gibson wrote, “I know of usually one family that has been vital off a grid for some-more than a decade and built their home from timbers harvested, milled and assimilated on their skill (by themselves).” Jim Strickland, a carpenter, and Laurie Freeman, a biology clergyman during Fulton-Montgomery Community College, initial met in 1982. Laurie recalls that in their initial conversation, a dual discussed choice building — we could contend it was a “foundation” of their relationship. Even before Jim and Laurie changed into their stream off-grid home, they lived in a hand-built stable that was also unfriendly to a grid. In Apr 2000, a integrate paid their final application bill.

It’s Time to Ban Dangerous Neonicotinoid Pesticides

Research shows that manly neonicotinoid pesticides, used on many crops in a United States, poise critical threats to bees and potentially to humans.


Germany, France and Italy have criminialized a category of manly pesticides called “neonicotinoids.” This category of pesticides includes imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam. Evidence joining these neonicotinoid pesticides to a honeybee decrease famous as cluster fall commotion has been mounting. Now, new investigate suggests residues could be damaging to humans, nonetheless these poisons are still in widespread use opposite a United States.


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Named for their chemical structure, that is identical to that of nicotine, neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides, definition they’re in each partial of a plant. Generally, seeds are coated in a insecticide before they’re planted, and, as a plant develops, a chemicals pierce into a leaves, roots, pollen, nectar, and even a food products eventually done from a crop. If insects feed on any partial of a plant — even H2O droplets expelled by plant leaves — a pesticide, a neurotoxin, kills them. In a box of honeybees, if a volume of insecticide ingested isn’t clever adequate to kill them, it can still means marred communication, disorientation, decreased life span, suppressed shield and intrusion of fruit cycles.

Not usually are neonicotinoid pesticides systemic, they’re also unusually persistent. Research shows these pesticides can insist in a dirt for more than a decade! Neonicotinoids are widely used on corn, soy, canola, sugarine beets, wheat, ornamentals and more. Some sources note that it’s formidable for farmers to find corn seed that hasn’t been treated with one of these insecticides. As industrial farmers use these manly pesticides year after year on a same land, it’s formulating an ever some-more poisonous environment.

Neonicotinoid pesticides, constructed by chemical hulk Bayer, should have never been authorized by a Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One of a many ordinarily used neonicotinoids, clothianidin, went on a marketplace in 2003 after being postulated a “conditional registration” from a EPA. This is formula for observant a EPA will concede a pesticide’s use even yet there’s not adequate justification to uncover that it passes reserve standards — a use that, shockingly, occurs for about 70 percent of a active mixture in pesticides that go by a examination process. Leaked memos created by EPA scientists settled that what studies Bayer did contention were feeble run, and a scientists plainly certified that neonicotinoids poise mistreat to honeybees.

Food Storage: 20 Crops That Keep and How to Store Them

Garden author Barbara Pleasant provides minute instructions for food storage, including restorative and storing onions, potatoes, leeks, cabbage, apples, squish and other furnish that will final all winter.

Here in southwest Virginia, my partner and we take honour in flourishing and storing many of a fruits and vegetables. Knowing where a food comes from gives us certainty in a goodness, and we save about $5,000 a year by a gardening and food storage efforts. There is another benefit, that is a complete preference of carrying a self-provisioned home. In early winter when a stores are full, we feel like I’m vital in a well-stocked organic grocery store.


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We move many years of knowledge to this quest, and we’re still learning. Measured by weight, stored garden crops make adult some-more than half of a altogether harvest, with any onion and potato only about as uninformed as it was a day it came from a garden. Our brew of storage vegetables and fruits varies from year to year and we’ve schooled that putting by storage crops is something anyone can do — even if your furnish comes from a farmers market. By creation use of cold storage spots in your groundwork or garage, and maybe adding a anniversary second refrigerator, we can use a charts to easily store 20 storage crops for winter eating regulating simple, verified methods.

Sleeping Quarters for Storage Crops

Success with storage crops hinges on anticipating methods that remonstrate a crops that they are enjoying a healthy duration of dormancy in scarcely gentle conditions. This typically involves negligence physiology by determining respiration (usually by obscure temperature) and/or providing dampness so frail base vegetables clarity they are still in a ground. Some tack storage crops, such as garlic, onions and shallots, need dry conditions to support enlarged dormancy.

Most storage crops need to be marinated to raise their storage potential. During a restorative process, potatoes and honeyed potatoes reanimate over tiny wounds to a skin, garlic and onions form a dry sign over a openings during their necks, and dry beans and pellet corn let go of additional dampness that could differently means them to rot. Harvesting, restorative and storage mandate change with any stand — see a charts in How to Harvest, Cure and Store 20 Storage Crops for full details. In my experience, harvesting and restorative vegetables scrupulously leads to most some-more coherence when it comes to long-term storage conditions.

Storing Potatoes

Seeking out good food storage spots in your home or on your skill can lead to engaging discoveries. Take storing potatoes, for example. When we asked a MOTHER EARTH NEWS Facebook community to share favorite ways for storing potatoes in winter, we perceived dozens of good ideas, including these:

Interactive Map Follows Timeline of U.S. Drought Conditions

Dead WheatHas your hometown or birthplace been feeling unbearably prohibited and dry for a past few months? If so, you’re not alone — according to National Public Radio (NPR), about 55 percent of a United States is experiencing a worst drought conditions seen given 1956, and 1,297 counties have been announced healthy disaster areas. These kinds of dry conditions can means crops and economies to suffer, and lead a lot of eyes to demeanour skyward and energetically watch for any pointer of rain.

To serve execute a turn of drought the United States is experiencing, NPR posted an interactive map that allows viewers to follow a drought’s desiccated trail opposite a country, on a timeline that goes behind to Jan 2011. The map shows drought categories trimming from “abnormally dry” to “exceptional drought.” You can concede a map to play out for we or select a sold date’s drought conditions to investigate — and, when you’re done, cranky your fingers for a red areas to recede.

Ready for a sleet dance, anyone?

Photo by Fotolia/Andrey Milkin 

This Land Is Your Land: Why National Parks Matter

Our inhabitant parks are open treasures that yield some-more than a window to a past or a means to safety a healthy annuity within them. They’re some of a many pleasing places on Earth, where we can rekindle your clarity of astonishment and adventure.

Yellowstone National Park

Last week, we had to step off a track we was on to let a rope of bighorn sheep rams go by. It was a pleasing route. No matter that approach it turned, it led by wildflowers that all yet buried a mountainsides in avalanches of color. Golden eagles sailed among a summits. Patches of object spotlighted waterfalls on a cliffs below. The star seemed in packet condition. we breathed it in deeply and felt recharged. Topped off with hope. Unbounded. And all I’d finished was go for a travel in a park.


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Much of a pleasure of being there lay in meaningful that all within perspective belonged to me — since this was Glacier National Park, a U.S. inhabitant park. We a people radically possess 58 inhabitant parks. Gifts from prior generations, these special pot of open land ring scarcely 52 million acres of a country’s many fantastic healthy settings and total wildlife communities. They will be one of a many profitable legacies we bequest in spin to those who follow in an increasingly swarming world.

More Than Money Can Buy

People contend that if something sounds too good to be true, it substantially is. National parks are an exception. If we were a richest, many absolute chairman on Earth, zero we could ever possess would dwarf this book of henceforth stable canyons, rivers, prairies, beaches, ancient forests and ice-sculpted summits that a many typical U.S. citizen inherits. There might be a some-more ideal countenance of democracy. Offhand, we can’t consider of what it would be.

When we stayed on Isle au Haut, partial of Maine’s Acadia National Park, we favourite to slip along a seashore in a rowboat with usually my thoughts and wordless tendrils of haze for company. My favorite thing to do, though, was wind a shores with my wife, display a tot daughter a star of creatures in a waves pool or eider ducks and gray seals out among a waves.

In Arches National Park nearby Moab, Utah, we explored orange sandstone plateau eroded into a obstruction of fins. Our daughter was heading a approach now, with a younger hermit in tow, scouting for crevices far-reaching adequate for us adults to fist through. At a caller center, we found out that a membrane atop a dried building wasn’t shaped by minerals but, instead, by a webwork of fungi, algae, germ and other microbes. What looked like dim polish on sun-struck rocks incited out to be a product of bacterial colonies that combine manganese. The lesson? Even a barest-looking belligerent can be plentiful with wildlife — it only happens to be mostly too tiny to see.

Home Canning: Putting Food By a Old-Fashioned Way

We looked to a readers to find out because home canning is experiencing a complicated revival. Their answer: Canning produces flavorful, high-quality food that saves money, builds independence and creates lifelong memories.

We’ve gathered all we need to start canning, including a list of endorsed how-to and recipe books, places to find your supplies, a list of a favorite canning products from Etsy, and even an app or two. Find it all in our Home Canning Guide. 


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It’s Saturday morning and you’ve usually popped out your behind door, your unclothed feet creation an sense in comfortable dirt. You breathe a informed smell of tomato leaflet as we strech for a fattest, reddest tomato on your vines. It’s so ripe, it roughly falls into your hand. This tomato was dictated for a omelet vessel that waits inside, though we have to have it here, now. You purchase it like a ball and punch into it like an apple.

You can’t buy a tomato like this in any store. With a ambience this abounding and multidimensional, it can usually be homegrown. Don’t we wish we could bottle adult that ambience and suffer it all year long? There is in fact a approach to constraint that kind of season and pride: You can, if we can.

Even if we don’t have your possess garden, you’ll suffer safer, better-tasting food if we buy in bulk from a internal writer and can it yourself. You can can roughly anything — packet jelly, potato soup, grill sauce. With a correct equipment, a sky’s a limit. Laying by some or all of a food your domicile will need over a march of 4 seasons does need foreknowledge and skill, though putting food by is also an art; a comfort that helps us feel secure.

Extending a shelf life of a dishes dates behind to early Mediterranean civilizations who dusty figs in a object and a ancient Egyptians who doused uninformed spices with olive oil. Home canning came along in France in a early 19th century, when Nicolas Appert invented a approach to safely store food by vacuum-sealing it in jars. Whether to dry, freeze, perturbation or can is a elemental food refuge question, and canning is mostly a best answer.

More and some-more people are determining to learn how to can food during home. The University of Missouri Extension, for example, has doubled a accessible food refuge classes. Fran Blank, a food refuge instructor with some-more than 40 years of experience, says she has been vacant in new years by how renouned her classes have become. Last year, Ball Canning reported a doubling in sales of a Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.

We asked a some-more than 85,000 Facebook fans what they suspicion of home canning and were impressed by a hundreds of responses. They told us they suffer a rows of colorful jars that lay on a cupboard shelves like treasures. Canning food provides a deeper resources than dollars and cents — and that’s usually one among many reasons people have taken adult a art.

Labeling Genetically Modified Foods: Our Right to Know

Labeling of genetically mutated dishes is compulsory in about 50 countries, though not a United States. It is a right to know that dishes are genetically mutated so we can make some-more sensitive decisions about what we eat.

Genetically Modified Food

Polls have consistently shown that some-more than 90 percent of respondents wish dishes that enclose genetically mutated organisms to be labeled as such. Concern about a health and environmental effects of genetic strategy continues to grow, though Monsanto and other biotech companies have blocked efforts to need dishes containing genetically mutated mixture to be labeled.


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In some-more than 40 other countries, labeling genetically mutated dishes is required. In a United States, however, a Food and Drug Administration has refused to need labeling, and has even authorised manufacturers to marketplace these dishes as “natural” notwithstanding a fact that genetic engineering — splicing genes from one mammal into another — seems flattering assumed to many of us.

Criticism of agencies charged to assure a food is protected is growing.

• In 2011, we schooled that many hamburger has been contaminated with chemically processed “pink slime,” with no denote on a tag that a beef is anything other than plain belligerent beef. (For readers who are prepared to start harsh their possess burger, we devise to tell an essay about beef grinders after this year.)

• Even when labeling is required, a supervision allows companies to trick us. Much of a beef now sole in a United States is labeled as “enhanced with broth.” “Enhanced” means producers have injected a resolution of H2O and salt (that would be a “broth”) into a meat. For each bruise we buy, we are profitable beef prices for brine — sometimes adult to 40 percent! “Enhanced for profit” is what a tag unequivocally means. Learn some-more in Shocking News About Meat.

• A new investigate found that criminialized antibiotics and arsenic-based drugs are still being fed to poultry, indicating a FDA is unwell to make the possess rules. Read some-more in CLF Researchers Find Evidence of Banned Antibiotics in Poultry Products.