Can you name the 3 most popular backyard edibles grown in the United States and Canada?

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The Short Storey

June 2013

Something fun and creative every month from your friends at Storey

Photo © John Gruen from The Vegetable Gardener’s Book of Building Projects.

bench and boots


In the Backyard

A backyard bursting with life brings us joy. It is place to grow, to gather, to play, to work, to smile, to sweat, to relax, to love, to enjoy.

A yard is defined as much by the care and effort put into it as it is by its geographical location. A backyard can provide a home for chickens and goats, a rest stop for migrating birds, a site for a bountiful food garden, a pleasure to the eye, a retreat from the busy world, or a hangout for kids.

Your backyard is anything you want it to be. Make it a place where you love to spend time!


In This Issue



Illustration © Gilbert Ford from Homegrown Honey Bees.

Beekeeping Is All the Buzz

Storey is giving away over $425 worth of beekeeping know-how and equipment to start one lucky winner on this rewarding and fascinating backyard adventure!

The benefits of keeping honey bees go far beyond producing your own delicious honey. Bee products benefit skin and overall health, and bees’ pollination activity ensures that neighborhood gardens yield more vegetables, fruits, and flowers. People all over North America are discovering the fun and satisfaction of tending to hives. With a swarm of sweet reasons to keep bees, all you need is our expert information and some basic equipment and gear to bee-come a backyard beekeeper. Enter today to win this golden pot of honey!

Free with Every Entry:

An immediate download of the ebook edition of Easy-to-Build Adirondack Furniture

The Grand Prize:

  • A Complete Bee Library (10 books): A Short History of the Honey Bee; Attracting Native Pollinators; Beekeeping; Bees, Wasps, and Ants; Build Your Own Beekeeping Equipment; Hive Management; Homegrown Honey Bees; The Honey Connoisseur; Keeping Bees in Towns and Cities; and Storey’s Guide to Keeping Honey Bees
  • Beginner Beekeeping Kit: This kit from GloryBee® Foods includes the following: First Lessons in Beekeeping book, single-story hive complete with top and bottom, frames, foundation, nails, instructions, standard hive tool, smoker, entrance reducer, plastic inside feeder, bee hat, veil, metal top, inner cover and leather gloves.

How to Enter:

  • To enter, click the Enter the Giveaway button below. You’ll be asked to submit your email address at our Fresh Picks site. We’ll sign you up to receive The Short Storey monthly newsletter, if you’re not already on our list.
  • Entries must be received by 11:59 PM, Sunday, June 30, 2013.
  • One winner will be chosen at random.
  • The winner will be contacted by email on Monday, July 1, 2013, and announced on InsideStorey, Storey’s Facebook page, and Storey’s Twitter feed.
  • The winner will have two weeks to respond and claim the prize. If the prize is not claimed by Monday, July 15, 2013, we will choose another winner at random.
  • No purchase necessary.
  • A mailing address will be required for delivery. We will not save, sell, or use this address for any other purpose.

Enter the Giveaway at Storey’s Fresh Picks →

Bee-Come A Backyard Beekeeper Sponsor

GloryBee® Foods has generously donated the beekeeping kit to the prize package. We appreciate their sponsorship and encourage you to visit their website and check out all their great beekeeping supplies.

Sneak Peek

The Fresh Honey Cookbook

84 Recipes from a Beekeeper’s Kitchen

by Laurey Masterton

fresh honey coobook 3d cover

The Fresh Honey Cookbook celebrates the luscious flavors of this special sweetener. Each chapter focuses on a month of the year and a specific type of honey (such as tupelo, orange blossom, sourwood, or sage) and offers a complete seasonal menu showcasing that varietal.

Take a look inside and see what all the buzz is about! The Fresh Honey Cookbook hits stores this September.

Laurey Masterson is a beekeeper, café owner, caterer, and chef/spokesperson for The National Honey Board. Through speaking engagements, cooking demonstrations, and classes, she enthusiastically teaches the benefits of using and eating local ingredients including honey. She grew up in Vermont and now lives in North Carolina where she runs Laurey’s Café.

Storey’s Fresh Picks

Backyard Projects

Building a beautiful backyard can be easy, fun, and inexpensive. This month’s ebook selections — at $2.99 each — will inspire you with DIY projects and instruct you step-by-step to a yard your neighbors will admire and envy!

  • Easy-to-Build Adirondack Furniture
  • free
  • Free in June!
  • Easy-to-Build Adirondack Furniture
  • Kick back and relax in a classic Adirondack chair that you build yourself from these detailed plans and clearly written instructions. Designs include three chair variations, a footstool, and a table for complete patio or porch décor.
  • Building Small Barns, Sheds and Shelters
  • buy
  • Monte Burch
  • Building Small Barns, Sheds & Shelters
  • Extend your working, living, and storage areas by building low-cost barns, sheds, and animal shelters using these easy-to-follow plans and construction methods.
  • You save $16!
  • HomeMade
  • buy
  • Ken Braren
  • HomeMade
  • 101 easy-to-make items for your garden, home, or farm. Save money and enjoy the satisfaction of building your own lawn furniture, sheds, cold frames, compost bins, animal shelters, and more.
  • You save $12!
  • The Vegetable Gardener’s Book of Building Projects
  • buy
  • The Editors of Storey Publishing
  • The Vegetable Gardener’s Book of Building Projects
  • These 39 simple-to-make projects — cold frames, compost bins, planters, raised beds, potting benches, gates, trellises, storage containers, outdoor furniture, and more — will increase your harvest, make your garden chores easier, and turn your garden and yard into an appealing outdoor space for relaxing and enjoying the fruits of your labors. Many of the projects are ideal for beginners, and most can be completed in just a few hours.
  • You save $14!
  • Woodworking FAQ
  • buy
  • Spike Carlsen
  • Woodworking FAQ
  • Everything you need to know, whether you're a beginner planning your first project or an experienced crafter putting in cabinets or making furniture. This book is like having a master carpenter standing at your elbow to answer questions as they arise. With its comprehensive information, friendly question-and-answer format, and convenient lay-flat binding, Woodworking FAQ will be the most important tool in your workshop.
  • You save $12!


Postcards from the Backyard

A peek at what’s happening in our authors‘ backyards.

Postcard from Nancy Ondra's Backyard

Walk Softly.

When I brought two alpacas home years ago, I expected to enjoy their company, and I looked forward to having a steady supply of manure for my flower borders and vegetable garden as well. I never expected that they’d contribute something else, too: an out-of-the-ordinary mulch for my garden paths. Along with the lovely, long “blanket” fiber that’s great for spinning into yarn, each yearly shearing yields lots of shorter, less useful pieces. I spread those lesser-quality clippings on my pathways, where they do a great job keeping weeds down—and they’re a real treat for bare feet!

— Nancy Ondra, Pennsylvania

nancy ondra

Nancy is a garden writer and editor who owned and operated a small rare-plant nursery for six years. She is the author or co-author of a dozen gardening books, including Foliage (winner of the 2008 Book Award from the American Horticultural Society), The Perennial Gardener’s Design Primer (winner of a 2006 Silver Award from the Garden Writers Association), The Perennial Care Manual, Fallscaping, and Grasses. Read Nancy’s blog.

Postcard from Matthew Wolpe’s Backyard

About once or twice a week for the last 18 months since I’ve been living in my tiny house, I’ve had curious visitors come on exploratory trips as they contemplate taking the tiny road themselves. They find me on the blogosphere, and want to come see it and ask for tips. It’s always a strange experience, for me and for them, as I invite a stranger into a room that my hands have touched every square inch of, that my brain has conceived every detail of, where every object is chosen and has significance.

— Matthew Wolpe, California

matthew wolpe

Matthew is the co-author of Reinventing the Chicken Coop and co-owner of Just Fine Design/Build, a studio that produces original handmade furniture and small structures. Matthew also is a Senior Mechanician for Furniture and Carpentry at the University of California Berkeley's College of Environmental Design and teaches woodworking at The Crucible, a non-profit arts school in Oakland, CA. Matthew built and lives in a 120-square-foot tiny house in Oakland. Read more about Matthew.

Postcard from Wendy Jehanara Tremayne's New Mexico Homestead

Much of our food and medicine comes from wildcrafting in nature. This week I caught native cota and ephedra plants and dried and tinctured enough to last us through winter. The cota plant, which grows wild here in New Mexico, is also known as Navaho tea because the natives popularized it as a drink — Mikey and I enjoy it warm or cold with maple syrup.

I tested a new use for native cota. I threw a bunch into my dying pot figuring that the dark yellow tea might hold up as a dye and it did! I got a lovely yellow from it. I imagine that if I double the volume of plant material I can get a honey mustard color.

— Wendy Jehanara Tremayne, New Mexico

Wendy Jehanara Tremayne

Wendy, author of The Good Life Lab, was a creative director in a marketing firm in New York City before moving to Truth or Consequences, NM, where she built an off-the-grid oasis in a barren RV park with her partner, Mikey Sklar. She is the founder of the textile repurposing event Swap-o-Rama-Rama, which has spread all over the world; a conceptual artist; a yogi; a gardener; and a writer. Read more about Wendy, read her blog Holy Scrap, and read an excerpt from her book.

Postcard from Amanda Thomsen

I'm currently planning a new garden and... it's a big one. A big garden, a big step, a giant commitment! How can I be sure I'm making it the right size? I've drawn it out, flagged it and daydreamed about it but I still couldn't be sure. So we scalped the lawn with the mower in the area in question, and now I can totally get the feel of how it's going to work. And yeah, I've flip flopped a few times, but I think I like it. Now on to the next back-breaking step....

— Amanda Thomsen, Illinois

amanda thomsen

Amanda is a landscape designer, a garden blogger, a Master Gardener, author of Kiss My Aster, and co-author of Grocery Gardening. She has been gardening professionally for over 10 years.

Follow Amanda on her blogs Kiss My Aster, Fine Gardening, and Proven Winners; on her Kiss My Aster Facebook page; on Twitter; and on Pinterest.

Quick Tips

Looking for a Family Project? Build a Backyard Clubhouse!

Lee Mothes offers tips for helping your kids build a place of their very own.

The Weird Stuff Clubhouse

The Weird Stuff Clubhouse. Illustration © Peter Oumanski from Keep Out!

Perhaps your offspring have asked you to build a clubhouse for them or you are thinking of building one for them. Ideally, your kids will want to build all or most of it themselves, but they may still need help finding the right tools and getting the lumber.

Will it be worth it? You bet!

Working on a big project with your kids (or letting them build it themselves) is a powerful trust-and-confidence experience. You’ll show your kids that you care about them and you trust them not to do stupid things with sharp tools. They will learn hands-on skills and gain confidence in their own ability to create something substantial.

To jump-start the planning process and generate enthusiasm, try asking these “what if” questions:

  • If you had a clubhouse, what would it look like?
  • What would it look like inside?
  • What would it have outside?
  • What would you do in your clubhouse?
  • What would you need to do these things?
  • And the ultimate: What kind of clubhouse would you create if you could have anything you wanted?

Let the kids “improve” their clubhouse as much as they want to. Give them room to experiment with wild paint-color combinations, odd-shaped additions, even gardens. It may look like an eyesore at times, but if you limit the rules to tidying the yard and putting away the tools when they are finished, they will probably stay engaged with their clubhouse for years . . . and you will know where they are!

Excerpted and adapted from Keep Out! © Lee Mothes.

Keep Out!

Keep Out! features step-by-step illustrated instructions that make building accessible and easy, no matter what your building experience.

Lee Mothes is an artist and high school art teacher who has fond memories of his own childhood clubhouse. He studied architectural design, worked as a full-time carpenter, taught various hands-on carpentry courses and built many small structures over the years. He lives in Kaukauna, Wisconsin.

Ask an Author

Outdoor Wood Furniture

Spike Carlsen provides insight and tips for building and preserving outdoor furniture.

Q: I’m building a picnic table and have run into several types of exterior screws. Will one perform better than the others?

A: There are lots of choices, but you can lump them into three categories, each with their own pros and cons:

  • Galvanized screws are coated with zinc, which protects the screw from moisture and the tannic acids or preservatives found in many exterior woods. Hot-dipped screws (those with a rough texture) will hold up better than those that have been electroplated. Galvanized screws are the least expensive of the three options.
  • Stainless steel screws are an alloy of steel, nickel, and chromium and are the most corrosion-resistant (and expensive) of the outdoor screws. They’re also the softest and most likely to snap or have the heads strip out during installation. Always predrill holes, especially in harder woods such as teak.
  • Coated screws — available in gray, tan, and other earth tones — are protected by a ceramic or plastic coating. Price wise, they fall between galvanized and stainless. Some screw manufacturers provide a special bit intended to prevent damage to the coating during installation.

Q: I’d like a clear finish on the cedar patio table I just built. Can I use regular varnish?

A: No, you should use a product formulated for outdoor use. Marine and spar varnishes and exterior urethanes remain flexible when dry, have UV blockers and, while expensive, are your best choice for outdoor furniture and projects. For best protection, apply the recommended number of coats.

Longer-Lasting Outdoor Furniture

When the end grain of a chair or table leg sits on a damp patio, deck, or lawn, the rot process accelerates dramatically. Keep moisture at bay and make your unfinished furniture last longer by mixing up a solution of half exterior glue and half water, and brushing it on the end grain of the legs or feet. Epoxy glue also works.

Excerpted from Woodworking FAQ © Spike Carlsen. All rights reserved.

Woodworking FAQ

Spike Carlsen, author of Woodworking FAQ, has been immersed in the world of woodworking for over 30 years. He ran his own construction and remodeling company, was executive editor at Family Handyman, and has written hundreds of articles for numerous publications. He currently writes “The Great American Woodworker” for American Woodworker. His book, A Splintered History of Wood, won several awards and was selected by NPR as one of their “Best Books for Holiday Giving.”


Large Outdoor Plant Dehydrator

We grow food in our backyards, why not preserve it there too?

large outdoor plant dehydrator

Photo © Holy Scrap from The Good Life Lab

How to Build It

How quickly your plants dry — a day? a week? — will depend on your climate. Our dehydrator is placed in the shade.


  • 4 yards of screen
  • baling wire
  • a few plastic bread trays


  1. Cut screen to make a box a few inches larger than your bread trays. Leave one side of the box open. The open side is for slipping the screen cover over the stack of bread trays. It will keep out critters.
  2. Sew screen with baling wire.
  3. Cut a piece of screen the size of the bottom of each tray and place on each tray to prevent drying plants from slipping through the tray’s spacious pattern.

Excerpted from The Good Life Lab © Wendy Jehanara Tremayne

Sneak Peek

The Good Life Lab

Radical Experiments in Hands-On Living

by Wendy Jehanara Tremayne

good life lab 3d cover

The Good Life Lab is hitting bookstores this month and has already received fantastic reviews. Take a look inside the book and see for yourself!

This is the inspirational story of how one couple ditched their high-pressure careers and New York City life to move to rural New Mexico where they made, built, invented, grew, and foraged all they needed to live self-sufficiently. Along the way, they discovered a new sense of value and abundance. Tremayne wholeheartedly believes that everyone has the skill, imagination, and creativity of make the same journey. She shares the joys and satisfactions of creating useful items from waste materials, building a home, nurturing a garden, and reconnecting with nature. Practical, contemplative, and geared toward dreamers and doers, The Good Life Lab is the manual for living off the grid in a post-consumer age.

Backyards on Our Blog

Lee Mothes builds his first clubhouse.

Matthew Wolpe gives a tour of his tiny house.

Ellen Zachos whips up soup from some backyard weeds.

Wendy Jahanara Tremayne homesteads away from home.

Spike Carlsen cooks a 5-lb brisket in a flowerpot smoker.

Ilona Sherrat harvests 30 years of asparagus.

Kristy Rustay starts afresh with a new backyard garden.

Deb Burns gardens with native plants.


11th International Herb Symposium

June 28–30 Wheaton College, Norton, MA

Inspiring, educational, and entertaining, The International Herb Symposium is for all people who love plants. Celebrate the healing power of plants with some of the greatest herbalists in the world, including Rosemary Gladstar, author of Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide.

Whether you are a novice or advanced in your herbal interests, the Symposium offers classes, workshops, panel discussions and learning experiences to touch every level of your being.

Register for The International Herb Symposium online.


Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival 2013

Music & Art June 21–23 MASS MoCA

Solid Sound 2013

Wilco’s Solid Sound festival is literally right around the corner, taking place this month at MASS MoCA in Storey’s hometown of North Adams, Massachusetts! This year, we'll be sharing locally produced honey, beer, cheese, pickles, wood-fired pizza, and preserves in our Storey tent. Come by and get a taste of something wonderful, meet our featured authors, or spend time between the shows crafting with your kids. You can also sign the kids up for a Make Your Own Music workshop. Or try your hand at quilting in our special Storey Sewing Circle set up in the MASS MoCA space! Sew a square to become part of a quilt that we'll give to Wilco after the festival. It's sure to be a jam-packed weekend with fantastic music and so much more!

For more information about Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival 2013 visit: or

Coming Up in July

Outdoor Fun


We’re All Over Online

Scrolling Bonus!

Q: Can you name the 3 most popular backyard edibles grown in the United States and Canada?

A: Tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.

Other favorite backyard plants include:

  • Shrubs — holly, lilac, forsythia, boxwood, and rosemary
  • Perennials — day lilies, daisies, black-eyed Susan's, purple cone-flowers, and chrysanthemums
  • Bulbs — daffodils, irises, and hyacinthes
  • Annuals — petunias, alyssum, marigolds, cosmos, zinnias, pansies, impatiens, and sunflowers

Sources:, The Gardener’s Rake, Clean Air Gardening Blog,, and the National Gardening Survey.

Copyright © 2013 Storey Publishing, All rights reserved.