Editors' Musings


About this Blog

Your Old Farmer's Almanac editors occasionally share our reflections, advice, and musings—and welcome your comments. too.

October 8, 2009

My friends received an apple cider press for a wedding present long ago. Last week, they threw an Apple Cider Press Party, and what a treat! Have you ever tasted apple cider fresh from the press (your own or a local cider mill)? WOW! The cider has a pure, refreshing flavor that's hard to beat. Frankly, I was never crazy about apple cider before. However, I humbly revise my opinion. The difference between the taste of pasteurized, filtered grocery store cider and homemade cider is... more

September 24, 2009

Welcome October! For your enjoyment, I've posted this beautiful poem by Robert Frost. In it, he urges nature to slow down—before the leaves fall and the chilly weather begins! “October” by Robert Frost (from A Boy’s Will, 1913) O hushed October morning mild, Thy leaves have ripened to the fall; Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild, Should waste them all. The crows above the forest call; Tomorrow they may form and go. O hushed October morning mild, Begin the hours of this day slow, Make the... more

June 11, 2009

In August, the blueberry bushes here in New Hampshire overflow with berries. Birds love them and so do most of us. If you don't have a bush nearby visit a local farmers' market. Blueberries are native to North America, and are one of the few truly blue foods on earth. For centuries Native Americans gathered “star berries” (the blossom end of each berry forms the shape of a perfect five-pointed star) from forests and fields and ate them fresh or dried them for later use. The dried blueberries... more

June 11, 2009

A few weeks ago, I had a surprise one morning when I opened my mailbox to put in a letter. Inside were dozens of medium-sized black ants busily tending a nursery of a hundred or so cream-colored eggs. Well, thank goodness for the Internet! I quickly scanned the Web to see if anyone else had this trouble, and sure enough, quite a few people did. They had recommended some courses of action and I tried several, just in case. Whether it was one method in particular or the combination of all that... more

June 11, 2009

The peonies in my backyard always have ants crawling on the flower buds. A popular myth that ants “tickle the buds” or “lick the sugar” to help them open is not really true. The ants are attracted to the sweet nectar exuded on the buds, but the blossoms would open regardless of the ants' presence. The ants do provide protection—they attack other bud-eating pests by stinging, biting, or spraying them with acid and tossing them off the plant. By protecting their food supply, the ants help my... more

June 11, 2009

A new baby was delivered today. She has cream-colored skin and a black head. She's only about ¼ inch long. Her name is Cynthia, and she's a painted lady butterfly larva, or caterpillar. Her scientific name is Cynthia cardui, also known as Vanessa cardui. Painted lady butterflies are found throughout much of North America. The larvae and adults like thistles, members of the aster family, and many other plants. They often are seen in meadows and other open areas. We ordered Cynthia from a place... more

June 11, 2009

As my husband and I worked in the garden this weekend, I noticed the bees visiting my azaleas (okay, not my azaleas, but the neighbor's azaleas). I take extra notice when I see bees since hearing so much about their population declining. Experts are blaming pollution, pesticides, and parasites for bees' disappearance. Jose D. Fuentes is an environmental sciences professor at the University of Virginia. He pointed out that before the year 1800, a flower's scent could travel up to 4,000 feet, but... more

June 11, 2009

Since moving to New Hampshire a few years ago, I have been amazed by so-called Yankee frugality—and money-saving acumen. The word frugal can have a negative connotation in today's world but it really means “economic in the use of resources,” according to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. It's quite common for my neighbors to sun-dry clothes, give gifts wrapped in the funnies, and wear clothes with patches. Of course, you don't need to live in my neck of the woods to live simply and... more

June 11, 2009

Have you been intrigued by the increased chatter about root cellars? They seem to be experiencing a revival. I looked back at The Old Farmer's Almanac archives and was not surprised to see some useful information. Here are the highlights of what I learned. There are several great benefits to having a root cellar. Root cellars are an incredibly energy-efficient way to store root vegetables, including beets, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and turnips. You can keep root vegetables stored all... more

June 11, 2009

I think I learned something last weekend about growing tomatoes. A woman at the high school plant sale told me that tomato roots like warmth; they shouldn't be set deep in the soil. Then she picked up a six-pack of long, leggy tomato plants. She pointed at the “bumps” at the bottom of the stem. “Those are new roots,” she said. “Instead of digging down, when you set this plant, dig horizontally. Lay the root ball and the stem in the horizontal 'hole' up to the first leaf. Pull that leaf off.... more


Free Beginners Garden Guide

Vegetable Gardening for Beginners!
Your complete guide on how to grow a vegetable garden—from scratch!


You will also be subscribed to our Almanac Companion Newsletter