Category Archives: Gardening

6 Tips for Desert Gardening – Prairie Homestead

Growing food in the high desert can be an incredible challenge, but I am living proof that you can be successful at it! If you follow a few simple methods to help combat the hot, dry, and windy conditions that are the norm in the southwest, you can be almost guaranteed a bountiful harvest.

Six Tips for Successful Desert Gardening

1. Find the Right Seeds – Seeds that have been grown in and adapted to the high desert are going to be your best bet in the garden. There are countless heirloom varieties that have been protected by the companies that make it their life’s work to preserve the history of our fruits and vegetables. Find them at your local nursery, Farmer’s Market or order them online via, Baker Creek Heirlooms or Seed Saver’s Exchange.

Source: 6 Tips for Desert Gardening

We’re still learning after all these years. It’s not easy to grow in the desert, but with a long season & a few protections against the cold nights of winter, one can harvest literally year round. The critters are the biggest problem once you’ve improved the soil.

Dig in by clicking on the link. – Ben


Plant Now for Fall Abundance

Summer is still at its peak, but the days are getting shorter and fall is on the way. Are you planning to continue your harvest into autumn this year? If so, now is the time to get planting. There are so many interesting vegetables that thrive when the weather cools!

Source: Planting Vegetables for a Fall Harvest: When, How, and Why | The Old Farmer’s Almanac

It seems counter intuitive to start seeds now, as we’re in the hottest month of the year, but by planting seedlings indoors you’ll be ready to put them out when temperatures begin to cool again.

Our garden tomatoes are pretty much hibernating during the hot part of summer, and even if they revive when cool weather comes, they still won’t be as productive as new plants.

According to the useful book Solar Gardening, here in the southern zone, extra mulching and good shading will help any outdoor plantings.

We recommend seed starting now for fall harvests of tomatoes, peppers, and even summer squash can be tasty and fresh again soon. You’ll thank me later!


Drought Proof Cooling Houses Produce in the Desert

Saltwater and dry desert climates may not seem like a good recipe for growing healthy produce, but that is exactly what a group of scientists has managed to do.

Researchers from the UK-based Seawater Greenhouse company have discovered a drought-proof way to farm fruits and vegetables simply by using solar power and saltwater for irrigation and cooling.

The company has launched plantation projects in arid regions such as Australia, Abu Dhabi, Somaliland, Oman, and Tenerife. Despite the harsh climate of these locations, the plantations are able to grow thousands of pounds of produce simply by making “cooling houses” out of thick walls of dampened cardboard.

While glass greenhouses are designed to keep gardens moist and warm, the cardboard structures use “evaporative cooling” to keep the interior of the plantation structures humid and cool.

Upon completing the company’s Somaliland project in November 2017, it now produces about 300 to 750 tonnes of tomatoes per year—and Paton says that he is excited for his company to launch even more projects in drought-prone regions around the world.

Source: Drought-Proof ‘Cooling Houses’ Use Saltwater and Cardboard to Grow Tons of Healthy Produce in the Desert

Any ideas for better gardening in the desert are always welcome. This makes a lot of sense. It’s 98 degrees outside, but 73 inside, and our evaporative  cooler is on low to save power. The humidity level is only 12%, so we can do that here.

Read and click on the video for more interesting details…Ben


More Are Gardening During the Pandemic

Those into gardening and landscaping usually are pretty much on auto-pilot when spring and summer roll in, weeding, planting, watering, etc., but this year, with the coronavirus pandemic, their hobby may have taken on an even more important role. It’s a way to relieve stress while expressing creativity.

Even with many businesses locked down for months, gardening and nursery centers have remained open and thrived to meet those needs of customers and clients.

“We’ve actually seen an increase in business,” said Nathan Boliek, sales manager at TDH Landscaping on Hess Road in Monkton.

“We’re finding that people are investing money in their properties now with the attitude that, ‘Hey, we canceled our summer vacation, we may not even travel next year.’ So, beautifying and even going so far as to build pools and things of that nature has been on the uptick.”

Source: In Baltimore County, interest in gardening keeps growing during COVID-19 crisis – Baltimore Sun

Our garden has been mixed this year. We’ve always done what I call “fortress gardening” where everything is covered and the whole space is enclosed in “chicken wire.”

Over the years, the birds & squirrels have found the holes in our defenses, so today I spent several hours tightening things up. It’s pretty frustrating to see your hard work eaten in just a short while.

We’ve been eating many yellow pear tomatoes, and had looked forward to the first of the yellow squash, but they were nibbled off today. So, it’s back to square one on a few things. I’m glad the stores are all still open… Nobody said being more self sufficient would be easy.

I recently purchased some corrugated roof panels which I’ll now put horizontally in order to bolster our perimeter even more. It may help act as a windbreak as well. It’s been quite windy lately.

Because of our extended growing season here, I’m going to replant a few things that have been decimated. In a short while, we’ll also start some indoor planting for the fall season.

Vegetables that You Can Regrow in Just Water

These days, it seems like everyone is jumping into the victory garden trend, enjoying the benefits of a soothing activity in the fresh air while reaping fresh and tasty produce to eat. But even those who don’t have a yard, or just don’t want to get dirt under their nails, can still enjoy the miracle of growing something that’s destined for the dinner table—without even ordering vegetable seeds.

That’s because you can start an indoor garden from your kitchen leftovers. No soil required!

Green onions

“Green onions are probably the best all-around pick as they give you what you want, as in the tops of the onions,” says Espiritu. To grow green onions from scraps, make sure you have the root end with a half-inch of the bulb intact. Then, place it in a glass with enough water to cover it.

Source: The Easiest Gardening Trick: Vegetables You Can Regrow in Water |®

More useful ideas in the article…

The Sun has been Ominously Quiet

At a time when the world is already being hit with major crisis after major crisis, our sun is behaving in ways that we have never seen before.

For as long as records have been kept, the sun has never been quieter than it has been in 2019 and 2020, and as you will see below we are being warned that we have now entered “a very deep solar minimum”.

Unfortunately, other very deep solar minimums throughout history have corresponded with brutally cold temperatures and horrific global famines, and of course this new solar minimum comes at a time when the United Nations is already warning that we are on the verge of “biblical” famines around the world.  So we better hope that the sun wakes up soon, because the alternative is almost too horrifying to talk about.

Without the sun, life on Earth could not exist, and so the fact that it is behaving so weirdly right now should be big news.

Source: The Sun “Has Gone Into Lockdown”, And This Strange Behavior Could Make Global Food Shortages Much Worse

Now, more than ever it seems like a good time to store a little more, and above all try to “stay away from crowds” as Uncle Remus says.

The pandemic this year has shown just how vulnerable our “just in time” delivery systems are. With literally tons of food being thrown away because of logistical issues, and the potential shortage of meat due to the concentration among just a few large factory farms, relying on supplies being available in tighter times such as these is just foolish.

FEMA says everyone should have three days of food & water, but as we’re only nine meals away from anarchy, one surely ought to try and have a little more.

Where to start? There are many good articles about preparing on a budget. Whether it’s a pandemic, a solar minimum, or even just an old fashioned hurricane, better to have more and not need it, than to want in an emergency. Start today – Ben

Complete Guide to Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Tomatillos

Bright red juicy tomatoes get all the attention. Even people who wouldn’t call themselves gardeners have grown them. I’d go so far as to say that the tomato is the most popular garden vegetable. But for some reason, we don’t seem to give as much love to the tomatillo.

I’ll confess, I prefer this tangy paper-wrapped fruit because I think it makes the best salsa. As a lover of Mexican cuisine, the tomatillo is a must-have in my garden. I think you should be growing tomatillos in yours as well, whether you love salsa or not. Sometimes called husk tomatoes, these fruits are more resistant to disease and have a dense interior with a bright, vegetal flavor. You can use them in tons of recipes, and they can even go in some dishes that tomatoes couldn’t handle.

Source: Growing Tomatillos: The Complete Guide to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Tomatillos

This is our first year with tomatillos in the garden. They seem pretty happy so far, and we look forward to this new item. We purchased the purple tomatillo from our good friends at Baker Creek Heirloom seeds. Click on the link for very detailed and helpful post.

How to Plant Okra


If you are planting okra transplants, be sure to space them 1 to 2 feet apart to give them ample room to grow. Plant okra seeds about ½ to 1 inch deep and 12 to 18 inches apart in a row. You can soak the seeds overnight in tepid water to help speed up germination. Okra plants are tall, so space out the rows 3 to 4 feet apart.

Source: Okra: Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Okra Plants | The Old Farmer’s Almanac

We’ve soaked some seeds, and it’s off to the garden for their planting. We love gumbo, have never used it for anything else. It’s our first time with okra. More to follow…

Gardening Popular During Pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic shook the country this spring, grocery stores quickly sold out of essentials and produce departments were emptied. Fearing food shortages, and afraid to expose themselves to other shoppers in the store, many following orders to stay at home came up with the same idea: pandemic gardens.

It happened to be spring planting season as shelter-in-place orders came down in the U.S. Even people unfamiliar with gardening began placing orders for seeds and those selling them saw exponential spikes in business.

“Not in any recorded history have there been sales at these levels, certainly in the last 20 years,” Dave Thompson, director of sales and operations at organic seed company Seeds of Change in Rancho Dominguez, California, tells PEOPLE. “This is so unprecedented. We’re doing the best we can. You can’t capture all of this business.”

Source: Pandemic Gardens Are Trending: Fears Over Food Shortages Lead First Timers to Get Growing |