"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sweet & Spicy


Our second crop of strawberries is coming on, not too many yet but they are of nice size and flavor. The ones above ended up in a smoothie...it was good.


I have been busy making our version of kimchi, the latest batch consisted of cucumbers, green beans, carrots, various cabbage, Tuscan kale, kohlrabi, Italian chicory, red amaranth leaves, onions, garlic, chives, green onions, green & black peppers (would have liked to have had some red peppers for color), and was flavored with spicy red pepper powder, paprika powder, plus a few tablespoons of grated ginger.

For every five pounds of processed veggies I added a very light 3 tablespoons of sea salt. The cabbage is mixed with the salt and pounded to release juices. I then included the rest of the veggies and spices, mixed well and packed into a crock, keeping the ingredients weighted down for approximately a week. One cup of water was also used in order to have enough brine to cover everything. Seven days later I transferred the fermented deliciousness into glass jars...15 lbs of veggies made 1 gallon plus a quart.

This can either be kept in a cool root cellar or one's refrigerator. Since I had to make it early this year in order to incorporate fresh green beans and cucumbers into the mix it is being stored in the refrigerator as the root cellar is not quite cold enough yet...last year our kimchi and sauerkraut stored well in the root cellar from October through May at which time I put the remaining jars in our refrigerator. It will easily keep over a year this way, we are still working to finish off last year's kimchi and it tastes just fine.

In looking at these jars I am reminded that a piece of wax paper should be added in order to keep the lids from corroding or rusting...oops.:) Also, after the first week or so in storage we always have to add a little more brine to keep everything covered.

Does anyone else enjoy the bold flavors of kimchi?

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Agro Rebel

"Nature's book always contains the truth; we must only learn to read it." - Sepp Holzer

I have been following the farming methods of Sepp Holzer for quite a few years now but only recently finished reading his most interesting book titled Sepp Holzer's Permaculture - A practical Guide to Small Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening. The book is a fascinating account of how Austrian farmer Sepp Holzer has, over the past 40 years, transformed his over 100 acres of steep mountain sides into a virtual paradise filled with fruit trees, vegetables, and free ranging animals like the wooly Mangalitza, endangered Turopolje, and other pigs he uses to help clear and till the land.

Diversity instead of monoculture and working with nature rather than against it has allowed him to build a farm that thrives at altitudes ranging upwards of 5,000 ft above sea level with an average (mean) temperature of 39.5°...similar to the average in Duluth MN but with slightly warmer winters.

It's really quite amazing what he has accomplished in this boreal climate. Over 30,000 fruit trees, including citrus, apricot, peach, eucalyptus, fig, and kiwi fruit varieties, dot the landscape. His cherry harvest extends from June all the way into October because the trees are grown at varying altitudes. The Holzer family also enjoys working with unusual crops like primeval grains, mushrooms, and even raise fish in some 70 plus ponds that Sepp has created over the years...the epitome of permaculture. Take a look at the video below and you will see what I am talking about.

(Ohiofarmgirl - pig tilling can be seen at 40:45 minutes)

The movie can be viewed in a larger format at the below link↓...warning, if your computer is as pitifully slow as mine it might be hard to load.

More information can be found at -




And his previous book - The Rebel Farmer

Saturday, August 13, 2011


It's been a busy summer, the food gardens are coming along nicely but I am struggling to find time for this blog...you know, a day late and a dollar short type of thing when it comes to keeping it updated.:) I kind of feel like Old Dan Tucker -

"Get out the way for old Dan Tucker
He's too late to git his supper
Supper's over and dishes washed
Nothing left but a piece of squash"

Right...um...anyway, speaking of squash we are now officially overflowing in the summer variety, gold and green zucchini plus lots of little papaya pear squash.

Picked a couple gallons of Saskatoons and have been eating lots of thimbleberries while out on our morning runs.

The fruits on grandson's Sweetheart cherry tree are ripening and were ready just in time for his return from California.

Frogs too! But as we are not into the practice of eating frog legs we made the boy let this little fellow go.:)

I hacked another a 1600 sq. ft area of garden space out of the bush this spring and everything planted there seems to be thriving. Looking out into the forest I can see many more options for expansion...I'm already working on the next 2,000 square foot section.

Our White Stallions are once again leading the cucumber race, they always do...pickling some today and had a few fresh ones sliced over our salad last night...oh yeah - crisp and delicious.

Carrots are starting to form, much later than last season but I'm not complaining.

Onions are doing well too, slowly forming bulbs. We have two 50 foot rows planted this year and are down to our last basket in the root cellar from the previous season, this is the longest we have been able to store onions...most of the ones left are Jaune Paille Des Vertus, an old European variety that holds up remarkably well in storage.

- and introduced to me from a post on another blog (?) is this wonderful little Silvery Fir Tree tomato, I think we have three of them growing in this year's gardens and all are filling out nicely. I have a couple other standouts in the tomato department but for the most part it does not appear to be a good year for these enchanting fruits. Luckily, last year we canned like Old Dan Tucker with a red hot coal in his shoe and have more than enough sauce for this winter regardless of how the plants produce.

Peas were harvested a couple weeks ago and just yesterday we started pulling the fava beans. All the favas will be used as dry beans...they make the best refries and soup beans I have ever had.

That's me↓ pulling fava beans. After harvesting the plants are tilled right back into the soil, enriching it with nitrogen.

So much to say so little time, that's all for now but I'll be back soon enough with my thoughts on a most wonderful book and video revolving around permaculture I have recently been enjoying.
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