Tag: Herbs

The Family Garden Journal
The Garden

Family Garden Journal Introductory Price Ends January 2017

The Family Garden JournalThe new compact edition of The Family Garden Journal, published by Homestead on the Range, is currently available for $19.99 at Amazon.  This offer will end at the beginning of the new year!

This beautiful paperback journal can help you or a loved one develop a green thumb while creating a keepsake:

  • Start by planning for success with our Step-by-Step Gardening Guide.
  • Check items off of your shopping list as you collect seeds for the growing season.
  • Mark each plant’s place on your garden map.
  • Build a customized schedule to ensure that each seed makes it into the ground at the proper time.
  • Divide the work among several family members with one handy table.
  • Build your own gardening manual with attractive reference pages and a 366-day journal—now in a handy, compact size.
  • Find out with the turn of a page which plant varieties were your favorites, which pest control methods worked best, and how much produce you harvested.

The Family Garden Journal makes a great gift, so take advantage of the introductory pricing and order a copy or two before Christmas.  Don’t forget to buy one for your own family!

Sample pages are available for preview here.

The Family Garden Journal
The Garden

New Compact Family Garden Journal Available

The Family Garden JournalThe Family Garden Journal published by Homestead on the Range is now better than ever!

We have released a new compact edition that is easier to carry, but still contains plenty of room for logging your family’s daily plans, observations, and harvests.

Develop your green thumb while creating a keepsake:

  • Start by planning for success with our Step-by-Step Gardening Guide.
  • Check items off of your shopping list as you collect seeds for the growing season.
  • Mark each plant’s space on your garden map.
  • Build a customized schedule to ensure that each seed makes it into the ground at the proper time.
  • Divide the work among several family members with one handy table.
  • Build your own gardening manual with attractive reference pages and a 366-day journal—now in a handy, compact size.
  • Find out with the turn of a page which plant varieties were your favorites, which pest control methods worked best, and how much produce you harvested.

Along the way, you will enjoy inspiring quotes, practical gardening tips, and beautiful black-and-white nature photography.  And there’s still room for your family’s sketches, photos, and pressed flowers!

By the end of the year, you will have created an invaluable reference book, tailored to your unique needs and growing conditions.  But that’s not all—your family will be able to look back on a year of shared gardening memories.  Your completed journal will become not just a book, but a cherished keepsake.

Learn more here.

Pros and Cons of Gardening in Kansas
The Garden

Pros and Cons of Gardening in Kansas

Pros and Cons of Gardening in KansasGardening in Kansas is quite a bit different than gardening in most other states—and that can be both good and bad. The Kansas climate is unique, which presents challenges and opportunities found nowhere else in America.

So what exactly is different about gardening in Kansas, and how do we adapt?



  • Long growing season. Most of Kansas has a long growing season, giving you plenty of time to enjoy your plants. The Glaciated Region enjoys the longest season (about 200 days), but all except the northwest corner of the state can take advantage of a generous gardening year. You won’t have to sit inside dreaming of growing plants for very long in the winter!
  • Fewer wet-weather problems. Wet weather and cloudy days tend to foster plant disease, as well as a few water-loving insect pests like slugs. While some years are exceptions (2015 and 2016 come to mind), most of Kansas in most years will not have to battle fungus to harvest a good vegetable crop.
  • Fertile soil (usually). A good portion of Kansas is blessed with deep, fertile soil. If you live in the spacious Glaciated Region or High Plains, you are in luck. Even in other regions there are pockets of soil just right for gardening, particularly along streams. Generally, you can find good soil across the state except in hilly terrain or in the wet, leached far southeast corner.
  • Spectacular natives. If you are a fan of landscaping with native plants, you will love the selection you get to choose from in Kansas! Our state offers us a particularly colorful variety of wildflowers and grasses, many of which attract equally beautiful butterflies.



  • Variable climate. One never knows just what to expect from Kansas weather. A late frost can come when least expected, a hailstorm can damage ripening fruit, or a sudden deluge can break a drought and turn a garden into a bog. Forecasters usually struggle to provide accurate information on upcoming conditions, so it’s best to keep an eye on the sky and learn how to read the clouds ourselves to minimize plant stress caused by dramatic changes in weather.
  • Dry summers. Most of Kansas does not receive enough precipitation during the growing season to keep garden plants healthy (exceptions include the Glaciated Region and the Ozark Plateau). Your fruits and vegetables will depend on you to water them throughout the summer, increasing your gardening workload. As long as you have time and live over an abundant aquifer, this should not be too much of a problem. However, you will have to match the size of your garden to your time resources, and you will have to make sure that you have the water supply to accommodate the needs of your plants.
  • Wind. Yes, it’s pretty windy in Kansas. Give tall garden plants like tomatoes and peppers a little help with a support cage to keep them from getting whipped around and blown over. Also, use plenty of mulch to keep that hot summer breeze from stealing the moisture out of the ground.
  • Marketing woes. A good portion of Kansas has a small population base, which does not make market gardening easy. There is a reason that most of the state’s farmers’ markets and market gardeners are concentrated around Wichita, Lawrence, Topeka, and Kansas City.



Obviously, we are dealing with sweeping generalizations here, and Kansas is not a state that is easily generalized. Still, there are certain challenges that most Kansas gardeners will be faced with. There are also opportunities that they can take advantage of.

These are probably the most important steps we can take to ensure the success of our gardens in Kansas:

  • Prepare the soil. Choose a prime location for your garden. Almost every property offers more than one potential garden site, so choose the best—one that drains well and receives plenty of sunshine. Then take measures to make it even better. Add plenty of organic matter and natural fertilizer to enhance soil fertility, texture, and drainage.
  • Assume the weather will be dry. While gardeners in the far southeast corner of Kansas probably won’t have to worry about a lack of rain, the rest of us should be ready to water our plants all summer long. Practice water-conserving measures in the garden, such as using thick mulch and growing drought-hardy plants. Also develop an alternative source of water. If your groundwater supply is inadequate, find ways to store rainwater. When it rains in Kansas, it frequently pours—make the most of it!
  • Do your homework. Do not jump into a market gardening enterprise without a plan. Make sure your business will have a solid customer base to rely on.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of learning how to garden in Kansas is gaining experience. Find good resources to guide you, but be prepared to learn as you go. Be observant of changing conditions, keep a garden journal, and be prepared to adapt. Good luck!


Helpful Resources

The Garden
Find tips and resources for successful gardening, handpicked just for the Sunflower State!

K-State Horticulture Newsletter
Timely advice for every Kansas gardener. And it’s free!

Prairie Star Flowers
This K-State site showcases ornamental plants that have proven their ability to thrive on whatever the Kansas climate sends their way.

Garden & Orchard Books
See the latest additions to our Homestead Bookshelf.

Starting a Garden or Orchard
Important factors to consider before diving in.

The Family Garden JournalThe Family Garden Journal
Here’s an easy way to learn from experience! Collect your own observations on gardening in Kansas.  Learn more.

Kansas Regions
Take a look at the challenges and opportunities unique to your part of the state.

Kansas State University Weather Data Library
Learn more about the Kansas climate and current conditions. See our review for helpful links.

Find out how to read the sky and adapt to changing conditions across the state.

Learn more about water-conserving tricks and techniques.

The Business
Need a little help on the marketing end of things? Browse our posts and recommended resources.

5 Homemade Gifts from the Farm
The Skills

5 Homemade Gifts From the Farm

5 Homemade Gifts from the FarmThere’s nothing like a homemade gift to warm someone’s heart at Christmas.  The time and love put into a handcrafted present make it special.

If you enjoy country living, you have an excellent opportunity to make and grow gifts that will touch others.  Need some inspiration?  Consider these ideas:

  1. Heirloom seeds.  If you raise and save seeds from heirloom plants, why not share that favorite variety with a gardening relative?
  2. Live plants.  Some of your family members might enjoy a sample of a perennial plant to grow.  Perhaps you can share a productive and hardy variety of berry, or maybe an herb in a pot.
  3. Herbal concoctions.  Many people have an interest in herbs, even if they don’t necessarily grow them.  Delight someone this Christmas with dried herbs for cooking or making tea.
  4. Kitchen treats.  Are you good at baking homemade bread?  Is your jelly a favorite?  Share some of that down-home goodness with friends and family this year.
  5. Country crafts.  Put your skills to work creating something for that special someone.  Build a birdhouse; knit a scarf; paint a rural scene.  The sky is the limit!


Helpful Resources

Stocking Up
Consider some of these ways to share your produce this Christmas.  Read our full review.

Kids Knitting
Children will enjoy making these projects as much as friends and family will enjoy receiving them!  Read our full review.

Looking for something useful to build?  This book might provide some inspiration.  Read our full review.

Homemade Cards
Don’t buy a card this Christmas—make one!  Read our full review.

Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
The Garden

Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening

Rodale's Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic GardeningThis old classic just keeps on going! Fruits, vegetables, herbs, ornamental plants—it’s all here, along with a diverse array of natural gardening tips and techniques.

The current edition of Rodale’s well-known work is Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, and it still contains a wealth of knowledge.

Handy growing advice for a wide range of plants is included. Equally helpful is the A-to-Z discussion of key natural gardening topics:

  • Butterfly gardening.
  • Companion planting.
  • Crop rotation.
  • Greenhouse gardening.
  • Kitchen gardens.
  • Landscaping.
  • Seed saving.
  • Weather lore.

While the some of the old content has been pared back to make room for new information, gardeners will still find this edition to be a handy addition to the bookshelf. It can serve either as a go-to reference for beginning gardeners or a problem-solving help for somewhat more experienced green thumbs.

Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening places concise answers to your gardening questions right at your fingertips. It is a book you are sure to refer to over and over again. A must-have for every organic gardener!

10 Resources for Beginning Gardeners...and a Bonus!
The Garden

10 Resources for Beginning Gardeners…and a Bonus!

10 Resources for Beginning Gardeners...and a Bonus!Spring is in the air at last! Are you ready to start gardening?

If you have never planted a garden before, you may still be doing your research, hunting for resources that will get you off to a good start. We’ve pulled together a short list of posts, links, and books to help you out from start to finish:

  1. Starting a Garden or Orchard
    Our own series on how to start your very first garden. Covers water, workload, location, logistics, and plant selection.
  2. All New Square Foot Gardening
    Gardening in a small space? Just looking for a simple alternative to the traditional row garden? Give this unique method a try. Read our full review.
  3. How to Plan a Garden
    Step by step suggestions for getting the growing season off to a good start.
  4. Zone and Frost Maps
    Information that every gardener needs to know.
  5. Vegetable Garden Planting Guide
    Planting basics from K-State. Available as a free PDF download.
  6. Home Vegetable Gardening
    A public domain work rich in gardening wisdom. Contains advice on every step of the gardening journey. Read our full review.
  7. Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening
    This classic covers relevant gardening topics from A to Z. Here is the current edition. Read our full review.
  8. Vegetables
    Our own guide to growing vegetables from planting to storage. Also includes kitchen tips and instructions for saving seeds.
  9. 5 Tips for Deterring Garden Bugs
    Bugs are inevitable in gardening, but they don’t have to confiscate the harvest. Here are our suggestions for keeping insects at bay—naturally!
  10. All New Square Foot Gardening Cookbook
    Once you start bringing in the harvest, you may be interested in looking for new ways to cook it. This cookbook is organized by vegetable for easy reference. Read our full review.
  11. Bonus: The Family Garden Journal
    Want to keep a record of those gardening memories and learning experiences? Try out our own 366-day journal, complete with additional planning and reference pages. Learn more.
All New Square Foot Gardening Cookbook
The Lifestyle

All New Square Foot Gardening Cookbook

All New Square Foot Gardening CookbookThose of you who loved Mel Bartholomew’s unique gardening methods and his great book All New Square Foot Gardening are going to love his cookbook.

To make it easy to find ways to use your homegrown produce, Bartholomew has organized the All New Square Foot Gardening Cookbook by vegetable. Recipes range from simple to somewhat involved, and include everything from pastas to sandwiches to breads to dips. How about some of these:

  • Asparagus frittata.
  • Stir-fried beef and green beans.
  • Blue cheese slaw.
  • Berry crunch coffeecake.
  • Chopped tomato and cucumber salad.
  • And so many more!

All New Square Foot Gardening CookbookOther handy information is included, such as planting schedules, harvesting and storage tips, and companion planting suggestions. Simple activities for children round out the book.

So the next time you find yourself wondering what to do with all of those beans, peppers, or cucumbers, try something new. Reach for the All New Square Foot Gardening Cookbook.

The Christian Kids' Gardening Guide
The Garden

The Christian Kids’ Gardening Guide

The Christian Kids' Gardening GuideLooking for a gift idea for a young gardener? Here’s a book that may spark an interest.

Practical but inviting, The Christian Kids’ Gardening Guide by Rebecca Park Totilo makes the gardening process fun and simple. Besides discussing the basics of planning, planting, and caring for plants, this book offers projects galore:

  • Make seed tape.
  • Plant trees.
  • Create compost.
  • Mix up bug repellant.
  • Bake carrot cake.
  • Turn pumpkins into decorative pots.
  • Press flowers.
  • Mix up herbal soap.
  • And more!

Four interesting garden designs are provided:

  • The Salad Bowl Garden.
  • The Moon Garden.
  • The Butterfly’s Buffet.
  • The Healing Cross Garden.

Super-small-scale ideas are provided for apartment dwellers, as well.

And while children are learning about plants and how to raise them, they will learn about the plants of the Bible with verses and simple devotions.

A book with substance, but plenty of fun, as well. Great choice for that fledgling gardener in your family!

All New Square Foot Gardening
The Garden

All New Square Foot Gardening

All New Square Foot GardeningSo you crave the taste of fresh, homegrown vegetables, but the idea of a huge row garden seems a little daunting, and canning just isn’t your thing, either. How do you enjoy gardening on a small, easy-to-manage scale?

All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew may have the solutions you’ve been looking for.

Specifically designed for small-scale gardeners, Bartholomew’s method involves building a square box just the right size to reach into, filling it with the perfect soil mix (Mel’s Mix), marking off the planting area into square feet with a grid, and planting only what you really want to grow. The result?  Gardening made fun and easy!

Step-by-step instructions and photographs show you how to make everything you will need, and Bartholomew walks you through the whole gardening process in a friendly, upbeat manner.

Do you struggle with:

  • Figuring out how much produce you should plant?
  • Scheduling enough plantings for a continuous harvest?
  • Making the most of every inch of garden space?

You will find plenty of help in All New Square Foot Gardening.

Another attractive feature of Bartholomew’s method is its adaptability to the needs of any gardener. You can build smaller boxes for children to tend, or even put the box on a sort of stand for seniors who have a hard time bending over. You can grow vegetables, flowers, herbs, and even some small fruits using this method.

If you can find a copy, you might also be interested in reading Bartholomew’s first book, Square Foot Gardening. The main difference between the two books is that the original method relied on improving the soil you already have, while the new method uses boxes filled with Mel’s Mix to instantly achieve the ideal soil texture and fertility. Compare the two and see which method fits your gardening needs.

Although those of you who garden on a large scale will still probably find rows easier to work with, beginners and small-scale gardeners are bound to enjoy All New Square Foot Gardening, an innovative solution to some of the difficulties of conventional gardening. Plus, the new Square Foot Gardens look extremely attractive and can be kept right in the backyard!


All New Square Foot Gardening CookbookHelpful Resource

All New Square Foot Gardening Cookbook
Like the gardening method? You’ll love the recipes! Read our full review.