Casey Homecroft

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since Feb 03, 2012
Ohio, Zone 6a
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Recent posts by Casey Homecroft

I left a pile of black walnuts in my yard over the winter (didn't get around to cleaning off and curing that last batch...), and now I have little walnut seedlings popping up just about everywhere I look. Super cheap and easy way to plant trees, if you ask me. I'm thinking I might leave several piles of different nuts out this winter and let the squirrels plant 'em for me!
9 years ago
I've had really good results planting carrots and lettuce together. No rows, I basically just sprinkled all of the seeds over the bed. The lettuce germinates without any problems, and then the lettuce seedlings seem to help the carrots germinate by shading the ground a bit.
9 years ago
Scythe: Just got my first one, and I love it so far. I got it mainly to cut down thistles and other weeds that the cows don't eat that grow up under my fence lines. Works like a charm so far.

Old golf bag caddy (the kind with two wheels and a handle): I picked one up at a garage sale for $5, that had a great old red vinyl golf bag. I use it to keep all of my most-used garden tools (rakes, hoes, shovels, etc.) in it to tote around while I'm working, and then wheel it back into the garage when I'm done.

Canning Jars

Pressure Canner

Vacuum Sealer (with attachments to seal canning jar lids for dried or frozen food)

Chest Freezer

Wide-brimmed sun hat

Good muck boots

Cast iron cookware

Hammock (under shade tree)
9 years ago
My favorite garden "tool" I got at a local garage sale for $5. I call it my Garden Caddy. Wonderful because it keeps everything I use most often within easy reach and carts away to store. I heartily recommend one for fellow absent-minded gardeners!

9 years ago

Len Ovens wrote:
most bakers consider the scale the "correct way" to measure flour.

I agree with you on that one! And it actually saves time, too. I love my scale!
9 years ago
I love them!!
9 years ago
If I want some fresh bread, but don't feel like cleaning off my counter to knead it (I have a teeeeeeny kitchen, and I'm generally quite lazy) my go-to recipe is a Grant Loaf. (Named after Doris Grant who came up with it in WWII.)

If you look up the recipe, it'll usually be for 3 loaves, but here's what I do to make one at a time:

-The key is to keep everything warm while you're making it, so I'll include exactly how I do it.-

Grant Loaf

4 cups (or 1 lb) whole wheat flour (or any combination of types of flour, added meal, seeds, etc that adds up to 4 c / 1 lb)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry yeast
1 tablespoon brown sugar (or honey, maple syrup, etc. Something sweet for the yeast to chew on when it wakes up)
1 2/3 cup warm water
[optional] 1 tablespoon oil (any kind)

1) Turn on the oven to about 350.
(Note: don't preheat it, just turn it on so it starts to warm up.)

2) Measure out 2/3 c of warm water in glass measuring cup. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water, and set it aside.

3) Measure out the flour into a big heatproof bowl.
(this is where I love using a scale in the kitchen... because I hate measuring out flour the "correct" way. You know, spooning it into a measuring cup one cup at a time and leveling it off with a knife. It takes too long and always gets all over the place. Enter the scale. 4 cups of flour = 1 lb. So, just start dumping the flour straight from the bag into a bowl on top of the scale until it hits 1 1b. Also, I usually add in flax seeds, flax seed meal, oatmeal, or anything else I have around that I feel like throwing in at this point. You could also do part whole wheat, part regular flour. Just make sure it all adds up to 4 c or 1 lb)

4) Mix the salt into the flour, and put the whole bowl into the now warm-ish oven.

5) Go back to the yeast that's hanging out in the glass measuring cup, and stir in the 1 Tbl of brown sugar or other sweetener.
(If you're using the optional oil, stir it in too. Sometimes I put it in, sometimes I don't.)

6) Set the timer for 10 minutes to let the yeast rev up. Grease your loaf pan really well (or line it with parchment paper) and toss it in the oven. Now, at this point turn off the oven.

7) Go about your business for rest of the 10 minutes.

8) When the timer goes off, take everything out of the oven, and leave the door cracked open if it feels too hot in there.
(You're going to let the bread rise in there, so you don't want it so hot that it kills the yeast. Just nice and warm. Think like a yeast and if it feels like a place you'd like to hang out and multiply, then it's probably the right temperature.)

9)Pour the yeast mixture into the flour, then add another 1 cup of warm water. Mix it all up with a big spoon, and really work it together for a minute or two.
(I suppose you could also use a mixer with a dough hook attachment, but I never feel like pulling my mixer out.)

10) Dump the dough into the warmed-up loaf pan, and set it in the warm oven. Spread a wet kitchen towel in the oven on the lower rack, it will help create a moist environment so the top of the loaf doesn't dry out and impede the rising action.
(or put the towel underneath the loaf pan if you've only got one rack, or heck, just toss it in there somewhere).

11) Set the timer for 20 minutes to let the bread rise.

12) Go off and forget about it for 20 minutes, have a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, etc.

13)When the timer goes off, carefully take the loaf out of the oven and set it aside. Now, preheat the oven to 400.
(It takes mine about 10 min to get there. Meanwhile, the loaf is still rising a bit while it's waiting on the counter. You want to let the bread rise for about 30 minutes total, or until it is just a bit higher than the loaf pan)

14) When the oven is up to temp, the bread is ready to go in. You can be fancy and slash it across the top with a sharp knife just before it goes in and/or dust it with some wheat germ, oats, what-have-you, or just stick it in.
(Be careful that you don't jostle it too much or it will deflate and be sad.)

15) Bake at 400 for 40 minutes.

16) When it's done, take it out and dump it out of the pan to cool on a wire rack.

17) Try not to burn your fingers and mouth when you can't stand waiting for it to cool to eat a slice with butter and jam.
9 years ago
I need to amend my previous post (about mulching with straw) for two reasons:

1) I just finished one of Ruth Stout's gardening books, and she is now one of my new heros. What a great lady! Her system of mulching with hay worked for her really well.

2) I decided to try mulching with some hay myself. We feed big round bales to the cows, so I gathered up a bunch of the "leftovers" that had accumulated in the bottom of the big feeders. It's a mixture of some dry hay and some really wet, starting to rot hay. A bit of it toward the bottom was already starting to turn into what looked like rich, moist soil, and was full of earthworms! In other words, some really good stuff. I put this on a few of my garden beds about a week ago, and when I pulled the mulch back to plant peas this week, I was amazed at the improvement even in such a short time. There were earthworms, spiders, and threads of fungus under there, and the soil was cool and moist (even though it's been hot and dry for the past week).

I'm a convert and will be mulching with old hay from here on out.
9 years ago
I mulch with straw in my garden (because I happen to have a bunch of it), and have been pretty pleased with the results. The only thing I would caution about if mulching with hay is that, depending on the quality of the hay, there could be varying amounts of weed opportunistic plant seeds in it that could get introduced where you don't want them.
9 years ago

Clayton Taylor wrote: usually a single man or a small family can easily manage a small farm

Or, in my case, a single woman.

You can do it too, ladies!
9 years ago