Orange yolks from backyard chickens
Backyard Chickens, Nutrition

How to Get Those Delightful Dark Orange Yolks From Your Backyard Chickens

If you asked most people what color egg yolks are, they would likely answer yellow. Yolks have always been associated with the color yellow, which is unfortunate because backyard chicken keepers know better. Backyard chicken keepers know that yolks can and should be a bright, bold orange, and those bright, bold orange yolks are a sign of happy, healthy hens.

In an unscientific home experiment, I compared my pasture-foraging, insect-pecking, soil-scratching, whole grain-feeding chickens’ yolks to the yolks of both their “free-ranging” and factory-farmed counterparts.

The results were clearly visible: Yolks from my homegrown eggs were not only darker, but also fuller and thicker. Even the eggshells were denser and harder to crack.

But what’s the big deal about orange yolks?

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A new sprout
Garden of Eatin', Seeds & Seedlings

From Seed to Seedling: An Anatomy Lesson

No matter how many times I’ve seen it, the magic of germination still awes me as if it was the first time. I still don’t understand how bushels of juicy tomatoes will come from a single seed smaller than the diameter of a pencil eraser, or how specks of basil seeds will turn into a forest of woody, fragrant herbs that grow over 3 feet tall.

From seed to sprout to seedling

It’s amazing what happens inside a seed before and after it sprouts, and being witness to such a process — something you can only experience by growing from seed — is truly one of the wonders of life. The anatomy of a seed and seedling is something every gardener should know, and learning the science behind it will help you become a better gardener!

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Starting seeds in eggshells
Garden of Eatin', How-To, Seeds & Seedlings

Starting Seeds in Eggshells… Cute and Yes, Even Practical

You can start seeds in almost anything these days… peat pots, seed trays, toilet paper rolls, newspaper rolls, paper towels, or even that good old-fashioned thing called the ground.

But have you tried starting seeds in eggshells? It almost seems like an urban myth, with rumors that it’s possible, but little proof of people who have actually done it successfully.

Well, I can say with absolute certainty that it works, it’s ridiculously easy, and yes, it’s even practical.

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Fresh homemade pasta (using what you already have in the kitchen)
Everyday Eats & Sweets, Recipes

Fresh Homemade Pasta (Using What You Already Have in the Kitchen)

Until I started making my own pasta, I always thought homemade pasta required a special pasta maker, a lot of space to hang up curtains of noodles, and a lot of time to devote in the kitchen. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Homemade pasta can be had with the most basic of kitchen implements: a smooth surface, a rolling pin, a sharp knife, and a half-hour of hands-on time. Small appliances can shave off a few minutes if you have a mixer to knead the dough or a machine to roll it out, but once you get the hang of homemade pasta, your hands can be just as quick.

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Seedlings started indoors in newspaper pots
Garden of Eatin', How-To, Seeds & Seedlings

The No-Brainer Guide to Starting Seeds Indoors

Exactly as the title says — this is an easy and foolproof guide to starting seeds indoors.

Whether you have a dedicated vegetable bed in your backyard, or a cluster of containers on your patio, it all starts out the same way. Growing seedlings indoors is ideal if you want to get a head start on the season, or if the weather is still too hot or too cold to put anything in the ground.

This simple step-by-step will take you from seed to seedling with a minimum of fuss. Just the stuff you need to know, and none that you don’t. (But if you’re the really-need-to-know type, I’ve added footnotes at the end to explain why you’re doing what you’re doing.)

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Spring cleaning tip: don't forget to shower your houseplants
Garden of Eatin', House & Home

Spring Cleaning Tip: Don’t Forget to Shower Your Houseplants

Spring has sprung, although it doesn’t really feel like it here when the forecast is calling for more snow this week. But there’s something about the official start of spring that makes me want to throw open the doors and windows and freshen up the whole house.

Part of my spring cleaning ritual (that I actually do once every few months, but especially at the end of a long, dry winter) is to give all my houseplants a cool, cleansing shower. I put several plants — even my banana tree — under the shower for a few minutes, rinsing the tops and undersides of the leaves and drenching the soil until water flows freely out the bottom of the pots.

This thorough washing not only nourishes and hydrates your plants more than their usual drink, but has other benefits too.

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Drip irrigation: assembling and installing your system
Garden of Eatin', How-To

Drip Irrigation: Assembling and Installing Your System

This post is in partnership with DripWorks. All thoughts and words are my own.

In my last post, I went over why you should install a drip system, what a drip system even was, and what makes it a more versatile system than soaker hoses.

Now you’ll learn how to install drip irrigation and if you’re still not convinced by the end of this post to switch from your current setup, maybe a special promo code for my preferred vendor, DripWorks, will sway your mind!

For most people who have never installed a drip system, choosing an all-inclusive garden bed irrigation kit is an ideal way to go. All you need are a few raised beds and a faucet nearby, and you’ll have everything you need to equip your garden before spring arrives.

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Drip irrigation: watering your garden while saving your resources
Garden of Eatin'

Drip Irrigation: Watering Your Garden While Saving Your Resources

This post is in partnership with DripWorks. All thoughts and words are my own.

In summer, keeping a vegetable garden well watered means keeping an open tap like you haven’t seen since your last kegger in college. But in the western United States, the little rainfall we’ve seen this winter can make it seem like summer year-round. And that makes our finite resource ever more precious in spite of the few rainstorms that did pass through in recent weeks.

Despite record-breaking precipitation last year from Alaska down to California, 38.4 percent of the US is once again facing drought, the highest percentage since the 40 percent recorded in May 2014. Over 44 percent of California is currently considered to be in moderate drought, reservoirs in the Colorado River Basin are at alarmingly low levels, and bone-dry farmland across the country has resulted in poor pasture and crop conditions. According to the Climate Prediction Center, it’s looking like another dry year ahead.

For those of us in urban areas, it’s sometimes hard to wrap our heads around the fact that our water supply is dwindling. After all, we simply turn on the tap and water magically falls, as much as we’d like. But I think a lot of gardeners (especially edible gardeners) feel the struggle, financially and emotionally, every time a new seed is sowed or another bounty is brought in.

In a conservation-conscious area, this could mean a bit of creative planning, cutting back on raised beds or finding ways to reuse gray water. But irrigate your garden right, and your crops can continue to drink up without exceeding your city’s water restrictions. In fact, you’ll be able to tend your vegetable garden while saving water at the same time.

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