Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

Fall Gardening

Autumn is here and our garden is still producing for us.  In the past, we either didn't get the fall crops started at the right time or we didn't have the ambition and energy to tackle a fall garden.  This year however, the stars must have aligned because fall gardening is in full force!  

Using row covers is definitely the way to go with pest control and keeping jack frost from nipping the plants.  The pea pods in the back of the picture are exposed to the elements because they don't have pest problems and can tolerate the frosts. 

The Oregon Sugar Pods were planted the second week of August and have produced several bowls of delicious pods for three weeks. 

Arugula is thriving but the lettuce has been slow. 

The beets were planted at the same time as the pea pods and the kale were transplanted the first week of September.
The brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, and brussel sprouts) were transplanted the second week of August.

The celery was planted in the spring and limped along all summer with frequent watering.  Now that fall has arrived, the plants are thriving with crisp stalks that are excellent in soups!

Paul spotted a large preying mantis on top of the row cover a few weeks ago.

A giant hornworm was found on a ground cherry plant last week.  These suckers are huge and stripped the plant of all its leaves!

Uses For Sorghum

This is our second year growing sorghum just for the fun of it.  We planted about two dozen seeds because their corn-like stalks grow about ten feet tall producing beautiful, burgundy seed heads.  We don't have enough stalks to make the sweet sorghum syrup but the flower heads themselves have many uses.  They are great for decoration, popped for eating, ground into flour for baking, a substitute for cooking, and sprouted for salads.  In an effort to educate and inspire others, I sold some at The Wild Ramp where I volunteer. 


The seeds easily come off the stalk.  To separate the chaff from the seed, rub the seed on a screen and then blow lightly over the seed.  

Popped sorghum is very small compared to popped corn.

We made flour with some of the sorghum using the grain mill.  

To filter out the chaff we used a sifter for a cleaner product.

From the two pictures above you can see the difference in Bob's Red Mill Sorghum and ours.  Our variety was Red's Red Sorghum. 

Force-Fruiting Mushroom Logs

The nights are getting cooler here in West Virginia.  To get one last flush of mushrooms before it gets too cold, we are force-fruiting the mushroom logs.  This is a process where the logs get fully saturated with water so the mushroom spores fruit.

We have tried soaking down the logs using our well water and a garden hose, but the logs just barely fruit.  The best solution is to toss them in the creek and let them sit for 24 hours before returning them to the log pile.

The log with all the shitake mushrooms was the only log submerged in the creek at the time this picture was taken.  It takes about three days after soaking until the little mushroom caps emerge.

The mushrooms we don't consume right away are dehydrated.  It takes about 8 hours in an electric dehydrator.  One log fills a quart jar.

Growing Asparagus Beans

Every summer we grow something new in the garden.  This year we planted Red-Seeded Asparagus Beans purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  These tasty beans grow really long and are delicious stir-fried.  At one point we couldn't keep up with the supply so we froze them for winter eating.  I blanched them for 1 minute in boiling water followed by a ice bath for 1 minute.

Using a cattle panel for the trellis worked really well and we all enjoyed walking under the jungle of hanging beans.  The beans also made great "dreads" for the garlic pirate!

The pods can grow to 24 inches if you don't pick them fast enough.  They are best eaten when 12-14 inches long.  Picture taken 7-12-2015.

This picture was taken October 3rd and we are still receiving beans!  The beans that are brown and shriveled up will be saved for seed to be used next summer.

About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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