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  • eggplant in field

    Growing Eggplant

    “What’s in your sandwich? It looks gross.” It’s a weird moment realizing you are THAT KID at school lunch. Surrounded by bologna, pb&j, and ham and cheese, the shiny, black skin poking out of my eggplant parmesan sandwich did look a bit unusual, I guess. With my Sicilian father often puttering at the stove, eggplant had been […] More

  • Growing Gourds

    To those unfamiliar, there may not seem to be much difference between a gourd and squash. Fruit-wise, they share a lot of similar attributes — cool shapes, hard rind, seeds hidden inside, and beautiful colors. But once you try to grow one, you will quickly notice the enormously long, trailing vines, the beautiful, night-blooming flowers, […] More

  • harvesting squash

    Growing Squash

    Take a glance at anyone’s backyard garden. No matter where you go, you’ll likely find a squash plant growing. There’s something about these easy-to-grow and generous plants that demand a place in your garden bed — wherever you can manage to fit it in. So whether you grow succulent zucchinis and crookneck varieties for summer […] More

  • pepper plant

    Growing Peppers

    Peter Piper may have picked an inexplicably pickled peck of peppers (were they fermenting on the plants or something?) but in order to pick a peck, they first needed to be planted. Thankfully, the process of cultivating and harvesting peppers is a good deal simpler than the tongue-twisters they inspire! Considering that store-bought peppers of […] More

  • carton of duck eggs

    Why Duck Eggs Are The Best Thing You’ve Never Eaten (Yet!)

    Everyone always talks about the proverbial first appearance of the chicken and her egg, but where are the philosophical wonderings about duck eggs? Indeed, these wonderful waterfowl have been a part of farms and homesteads as long as chickens, but their eggs are yet to break into popular culture and everyday cuisine. Truly, this is […] More

  • water

    Getting Started With Off-Grid Water Systems For A More Self-Reliant Homestead

    In my experience, it seems that discussions about off-grid water systems only take place in niche communities of homesteaders or preppers. If you were to bring it up in “normal” workplace conversation, I guarantee you’d get at least one set of raised “what a weirdo” eyebrows. But considering just how crucial water is to life […] More

  • frosted purple kale

    8 Winter Vegetables You Should Plant In Your Garden

    August rolls around, and lots of us start looking at the garden with a sad sigh. The cucumbers are petering out. The tomatoes are still going strong, but the first frost (is it really looming already?) will wipe them (and the okra) from the plot until next year. The summer squash is gangly and tired, and […] More

  • ground cover around flagstone

    9 Ground Cover Plants to Replace Your Grass Lawn

    Lawns. They started out as a status symbol, and they’ve been holding that dubiously positive rank since they were first carved out of the fields around castles. Back then, there was at least some strategic advantage. It’s pretty hard to have your army sneak up on an enemy stronghold when it’s surrounded by acres of carefully-trimmed […] More

  • flowers

    Getting Started With Self-Sufficient Living (And Why It IS Possible)

    Self-sufficiency. What other term in the homesteading sphere carries such a weight of history, responsibility, and hope? Visions of lush, productive gardens, cozy wood stoves crackling with hand-split hardwood, provisions lining the pantry shelves, and healthy animals moving through the fields; all dance in our heads backed by the resounding questions: Is it actually possible? […] More

  • duck coop

    10 Considerations For Your Backyard Duck Coop

    When it comes to barnyard livestock, ducks are probably the easiest-going of the bunch. When there is a slight drizzle, the goats complain and run in the barn. When the north wind blows ice crystals across the fields, your chickens are floofed-up and hiding in the coop. Meanwhile, the ducks are blithely waddling across slush […] More

  • rocks piled at base of big coop

    7 Chicken Predators And How To Protect Your Flock

    When I still lived in the city, I dreamed of chickens. I browsed breed lists like a bride-to-be looks through wedding catalogs. I anticipated morning egg gathering, rooster crows, egg-laying cackles, and lots of free fertilizer! But for all my research, I had no idea what it would feel like to face what I grimly call “predator […] More

  • goat fence

    5 Goat Fencing Options And Details To Consider

    Among goat owners, there’s a well-known saying: “A fence that won’t hold water won’t hold a goat.” And though that hyperbole may seem extreme … it’s certainly proven true by the generations of goat-escapees that have tested the patience of their fence-builders. I think it’s also safe to say there is no one perfect solution for comfortably containing […] More

  • male and female muscovy duck

    Raising Muscovy Ducks And Why You Probably Want Them

    With their clawed feet, bizarre-looking caruncles, mohawk-like crest, and lack of quack, Muscovy ducks don’t quite fit the “bill” (if you pardon the pun) for what you might consider a “normal” duck. But on our homestead, these are the only ducks we want to keep because they have won our hearts with both their utility […] More

  • okra

    How To Grow, Maintain, And Harvest The Okra Plant

    Okra seems to be one of the foods synonymous with the south — alongside fried chicken, collard greens, and cast-iron cornbread. And indeed, the warm-weather crop does best in places where the temperatures are sizzling! This delicious, nutritious, and versatile vegetable need not be constrained below the Mason-Dixon Line, however. Growers all over the country […] More

  • drought tolerant landscape

    8 Beautiful, Drought-Tolerant Plants For Dry Landscapes

    You’ve heard the rain. All that free water falling from the sky, keeping the hills and valleys green. But if you live in a drought-prone area that cooling summer rain may seem more like a fever dream than reality, and all the lush, beautiful vegetation associated with rain — as far away as the clouds that […] More

  • deers in the garden

    Deer-Resistant Plants

    Deer are graceful, nearly ethereal creatures. Their silent forest ways and magnificent appearance may inspire paintings and poetry, novels and songs. But for the hard-working gardener, they may more likely inspire enraged streams of cursing, because deer are also opportunistic jerks who readily translate the hard work invested in a garden into a free, all-night […] More

  • daisies in mortar

    How to Make a Bruise Poultice

    On the homestead, getting dinged-up by daily activities is just a part of life. You’d be hard-pressed to ever find me without some sort of cut or bruise somewhere! Sometimes, those minor wounds can be surprisingly incapacitating. Just ask someone with a paper cut or hangnail that’s in the exact wrong spot! And even though […] More

  • nigerian dwarf goat

    Raising Nigerian Dwarf Goats

    Before I really knew the term “homesteading,” and before I knew that I’d be working on 12 beautiful acres in the Ozarks, I knew one thing: I wanted goats. And when I finally did move to those Ozark hills, it wasn’t long before two beautiful little Nigerian Dwarf goats were housed in our barn. Deciding […] More

  • chestnut tree farm

    Planting, Growing, and Maintaining Chestnut Trees

    “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire …” is a phrase most Americans can sing along to without even thinking, but there is so much more to these amazing trees than Christmas lyrics. Much more than a seasonal treat, the chestnut tree has a fascinating history, a tragic past, and a deserving place on the homestead. […] More

  • cayuga ducks

    Raising Cayuga Ducks

    Though it was hardly a masculine name, I couldn’t help but refer to our male Cayuga as “Lisa Frank Duck.” He may have looked like a simple black duck in the shadows, but as soon as he waddled into a shaft of sunlight, a dazzling array of rainbow hues burst across his glossy feathers. And […] More

  • garden

    The Scoop on Organic Fertilizer: Is It Right for Your Garden?

    Nothing could be simpler, or more complex, than organic fertilizer. Garden stores make it seem like it’s something that you buy in bags. Big Agriculture makes it seem like it’s something that’s less efficient than chemical fertilizers, and therefore useless unless you have a special interest for using it. Online, the options for organic fertilizer […] More

  • pekin ducks in water

    Raising Pekin Ducks

    When you think “duck” what image do you see? I bet for a majority of people, the endearingly chubby, orange-billed and white-feathered barnyard duck leaps (or rather waddles) into your mind’s eye. That duck is the Pekin. This duck breed is by far the most popular of the domesticated duck breeds, and its popularity has […] More

  • wren pumping water with manual hand pump

    Hand Water Pumps: A Guide

    “So let me get this straight. You want me to pull the electric pump out so you can put in a manual pump?” My husband and I nodded at the man who had come to remove our broken electric pump. He scratched the back of his head, a funny sort of half-smile creasing his cheeks. “You know, […] More

  • michelle's homestead

    Moving from City to Country: The Long-Term Transition

    When we moved from a city of 200,000 to a homestead in a hilly, Ozark town of 2,000 residents, my husband and I fully anticipated there would be an adjustment period. As I wrote in my first article for Insteading, there are many moments of “culture shock” that could affect this urban-fled, aspiring country bumpkin. […] More

  • compost bin and sign

    How To Make Compost Tea

    Compost tea is enjoying a huge surge of popularity in the gardening world. Sometimes called the “liquid gold” of gardening, this nutrient-rich, microbe-rich liquid is hailed as a disease preventative for your garden and a super-boost of nutrition for your soil. But what is this “tea” in the first place, and why is it such […] More

  • foraged coffee

    Caffeine-Free Coffee Substitutes That You Can Forage In The Backyard

    Coffee is something I really used to enjoy. In my memories, that roasted, dark liquid is synonymous with warm cafes, good conversation, and air perfumed with delicious aromas. But now that I’m more than a decade past college, I’m finding that my appreciation for the flavor of this ubiquitous American beverage is quickly being eclipsed […] More

  • dried herbs

    5 Perennial Herbs For Fresh Garden Flavor All Year Long

    Those of us with green thumbs may feel a bit of the winter blues once the first hard frost hits. Though the tender sprigs of our favorite basil and dill may look beautiful as the dawn strikes their fatally crystallized leaves, we know that soon those formerly verdant garden beds will be shriveled into a […] More

  • indoor tree

    7 Indoor Trees To Add Some Greenery To Your Home

    When one thinks of trees, visions of vast swaths of forested mountains, steamy jungles, or frosty taigas may come to mind. But not every tree needs a scenic backdrop to flourish—some can be content to live in your home with you. And you have to admit, few things can enliven a bitty apartment or a […] More

  • kale on plaid napkin

    Growing Kale

    Kale has become somewhat synonymous with the modern health movement, but this nutrient-packed green has been a bastion of good eating for centuries. In fact, there’s an old Scottish story that tells of a young doctor, traveling in search of a town to start his practice. He was advised, “If you see kale growing in […] More

  • yellow jackets

    How To Get Rid Of Yellow Jackets

    My young son was playing with some rocks and sticks nearby while I was pulling weeds from our perennial herb garden. I kept his small frame in the corner of my eye while I worked, smiling to myself as I saw him lean close to the ground in curiosity. He was apparently studying something fascinating. […] More

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