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Sustainahillbilly:

n., Any hill dweller who knows that the best path to the future is through the arts of the past mixed with the smallest possible dose of newfangled ingenuity.

“How To” Archives

How to Grow and Use Papalo (w/Recipes & Sources)

Once I got frustrated with cilantro’s reluctance to grow at the same time that I have piles of fresh tomatoes to turn into salsa, I started researching heat-loving substitutes for it. Papalo is a frequent recommendation and it certainly survives our hot summers.

Papalo (Porophyllum ruderale) is also called papaloquelite, poreleaf, mampuito, summer cilantro, and [...]

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How to Choose Disease Resistant Rose Varieties to Grow Organically (With Sources List)

I’m an organic gardener and I grow a lot of roses — about 50 varieties of them.

They don’t look like sticks with a bow on top and I don’t treat them any better than my other garden perennials. I plant mine in the same amended soil I use for the rest of my plants, [...]

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How to Grow Peas as Quick Harvest Greens (and Use Up Old Seed Packets)

I am a seed hoarder. I still have packets from 2000 in my seed box because they might germinate whenever I get around to planting them. I don’t like to take risks with my vegetables though, so I make sure to have a fresh seed supply.

Peas are not great seeds to save, the older [...]

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How to Use Fennel (or Dill) to Keep Caterpillars Off Your Vegetable Plants

I don’t do a lot of companion planting. I’m not saying it doesn’t work (and I’d love to hear your success stories) but other than being impressed by mycorrhizal fungi, I haven’t felt the need to find my plants a buddy.

Oh! EXCEPT for growing fennel next to plants plagued by caterpillars. Flowering fennel [...]

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How to (Easily) Grow Celery at Home (w/Recipes)

It’s not just tasty and easy — it’s pretty!

For those of you who like to dress up your flower beds with some well-placed ornamental edibles (or who want show-stopping potagers) this is an oft-overlooked plant you can’t be without.

For those of you who like to eat — it’s celery! Of course you should [...]

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How to Select and Use Basil Varieties (w/Stuffed Artichoke Recipe)

Nothing goes better with fresh garden tomatoes than fresh garden basil. It’s likely these two plants are responsible for the majority of intrepid forays into vegetable gardening.

Cooks and gardeners quickly find there is more to basil than the overpriced “sweet” grocery store blister packs or the spice aisle’s jars full of lifeless confetti. Basil [...]

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How to Get Peppers off to a Good Start (w/More Fruit that Ripens Faster)

Peppers can be very easy to grow but many gardeners struggle with productivity, sun scald, or getting those darned red ones to ripen. A few simple tricks can make a big difference in getting a successful harvest.

Photo Caption: Sometimes it is hard to wait until peppers are fully ripe… those first ones tease [...]

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How to Grow and Use Tea Hibiscus/Florida Cranberry

I get excited about foods I’ve never grown before and for a few years now I’ve tried my hand at growing Hibiscus sabdariffa, which you may be familiar with as the “zinger” in Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger tea.

Photo Caption: These are the calyces I harvested my first year growing H. sabdariffa. Tea hibiscus [...]

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How to Grow Citrus in Pots

Appalachian residents don’t usually think of citrus as a local food but if you have a sunny window or greenhouse to overwinter your plants, you can grow citrus indoors.

Photo Caption: Beautiful and functional, this great-tasting lemon has a pink interior when sliced.

Citrus require a moderate amount of maintenance to thrive but they [...]

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How to Find and Enjoy Black Walnuts

You may have noticed a tree in your neighborhood that rains dull green baseballs each fall.

In most locations these heavy fruits are ignored by residents, unless a group of children utilizes them in a mock battle – or better yet – discovers the joys of walnut-stained body parts and clothing. Often my mother threw [...]

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How to Grow Passionfruit in the Backyard

If you’ve enjoyed passionfruit in exotic juice mixes or as a novel fruit from the produce section, you may be surprised at how easy it is to grow at home.

Photo Caption: Our native passionfruit is ripe when it turns yellow and slightly wrinkled, unlike the grocery store varieties that are ripe when purple [...]

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How to Grow Eggplants Faster than the Flea Beetles Can Kill Them

A common problem for southern eggplant-lovers are flea beetles.

Though they resemble their namesake in appearance and behavior, flea beetles would rather turn our eggplant foliage into Swiss cheese than drink blood. Some of us would prefer the bloodletting since a large infestation of beetles can kill a crop before it even sets flowers!

Fortunately [...]

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How to Grow Mini-Melons On a Trellis

If you don’t have room for sprawling melon plants to ramble across all the pathways in your garden, give trellising a try.

Photo Caption: A cluster of mini melons forming on the trellis. They won't exceed 2lbs when ripe.

Lightweight melons are perfect for trellising because they do not strain the stems of the [...]

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How to Grow Globe Artichokes in the Southeast

Photo Caption: This young artichoke was planted in the spring in my new garden.

This is a vegetable I am still experimenting with to get a formula that really works, but I thought I’d share my observations so far.

Out of growing them collectively (but not consecutively) for about 5 years, I’ve harvested artichokes [...]

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How to Choose and Grow Fig Varieties for the Southeast

One of my backyard fig trees

If you live in USDA zone 5 or warmer, you can grow figs.

If you are in a colder area, the trick is to put your fig in a microclimate (next to the sunny wall of a building, beside a sheltered, blacktop driveway, etc.). You can also try [...]

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How to Grow Yardlong Beans

Photo Caption: Yardlong beans should be harvested when they are around the same thickness as a pencil.

Who needs fertilizer? Heat and humidity seem to be the recipe for lush, productive yard long bean vines. They’re tasty, too — this is one oddball veggie you won’t just try once for novelty’s sake. The elongated [...]

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How to Grow ‘Zephyr’ Summer Squash

Though I usually prefer heirlooms over hybrids, this is one of the few I make an exception for. I adore the tender, flavorful, and visually stunning summer squash I pick from my prolific ‘Zephyr’ plants.

Photo Caption: Not just pretty, 'Zephyr' squash has an outstanding flavor and texture.

The care and growth habit is [...]

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How to Grow Slow-Bolting Cilantro ‘Delfino’ in the Hot and Cold Months

Though it is the same species as regular cilantro, the variety ‘Delfino’ looks like a different plant.

Looking more like a fennel than a cilantro, the ferny foliage of this 2006 All American Selections winner also has the same strong, sweet flavor as its large leafed counterpart. It makes a wonderful garnish, but it certainly [...]

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How to Grow More than “Green” Beans (Other Colors of Snap Beans)

These differently colored snap beans can all be eaten in the same green bean recipes.

If ordinary snap beans are getting boring, it’s time to try purple or yellow ones! Many people are hesitant to try unusual vegetables but let me offer reassurance that they’re just as easy and tasty as the green versions. [...]

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