Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

August Scenes From The Homestead

Ahh...August. August is one of my favorite months. Everything is green, growing, blooming, ready for harvest, and/or starting to die. The kids start back to school and activities are already in full swing.

These pictures would be a day in the life and what is going on around the homestead in August.

First of all, it was the first day of school for Paige and Dane. Paige starts 9th grade and Dane starts 5th grade. Shali and Jordan also started classes at UNI the same day!


These are my bell pepper plants that starting to flower. Hopefully, I will have peppers soon. I had some planted in the garden, but something ate them. So I planted more in buckets in a sunny spot beside the house.


I also planted some herbs in buckets. From left to right is: chives, lavender, mint, and lemon balm. It appears that I need to be picking and drying them soon!


This was an experiment for me. I planted four sweet potato plants in a former feed tub. Hopefully, at the end of the season, I will be able to just dig them out of the tub for eating this winter. 


The chickens are enjoying an early evening snack of overgrown cucumbers. Holly the formerly injured dog is keeping an eye on them outside the fence. I had to lay straw down last week because the outdoor area got so muddy from the six inches of rain we got!


Inside the coop is a little messy. I will have to clean the coop soon. I adore the antique long feeder that my kids' grandfather found! The chickens are happier too!


One or two of the chickens have found a new place to lay eggs away from the nesting boxes. I need to investigate why they are doing that though.


My onions are starting to pop out of the ground. Hopefully they will get a bit bigger.


My one red tomato so far. I have a bunch of green ones though!


I found 7-8 pound bags of apples on clearance at the grocery store for 99 cents a bag. I bought both bags and made applesauce out of one of them. I will do the same with the other bag too.


Thanks for reading,
Erica

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fajita Vegetable Packets: A Great Way To Use Up The Garden Bounty!


Looking for a way to use up the summer produce from the garden? Scored a good deal on onions and peppers at the farmers market? Let me introduce you to one of my favorite ways to use onions and bell peppers!

Fajita vegetable packets! 

I love fajitas. Love isn't a strong enough word. Fajitas would be my last meal in prison. Yum!

However, I don't always dig the price of bell peppers in the winter. Talk about sticker shock! One summer I had a abundance of both bell peppers and onions and decided to make some of these up! 

I also love having ingredients ready to use in the freezer. Who wouldn't?

First, slice your bell peppers in to strips. 


I did red bells and green bells. You can use whatever colors suit you.



Put the bell peppers into quart size bags or whatever containers you have on hand.


Slice up onions and add them to the bags too. 



If you want to add other vegetables or peppers, feel free. This is what I use in my fajitas. Seal and label the bags and freeze.



This is how I use them: I cook up the meat (usually chicken), season everything if I didn't do so before, add the frozen vegetables, and let them cook. You might not have the crisp vegetables that some like in their fajitas. I am okay with that. I usually turn the heat up to medium high - high heat to cook off the liquid that comes out from freezing. This works great in my cast iron skillet!

If you really want to, you can freeze the meat with the vegetables. You can even season it all, add a tablespoon of olive oil, two tablespoons of lime juice, and freeze it altogether in a gallon size freezer bag for a complete dump and pour meal. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, June 8, 2015

The Joys and Concerns of Living in a Rural Area


This weekend is a prime example of why I usually try to make do with what I have. I did more running this weekend than I ever like to do, just to find three rolls of the kind of fencing I wanted. I was not a happy camper, but I have accepted this part of life.

Living in a rural area has its joys. I love the quiet, the openness, the lack of city regulations, the lack of noisy neighbors who can see every thing you do, and the space to do what I want to do. 

Living in a rural area also has its concerns. You have to drive to get what you need, often needing to go farther to get it, and you have to plan everything out to make sure you don't make a wasted trip. This last weekend was one of those weekends. 

Let me get started at the beginning. 

I have to get a fence put up around my garden. I have rabbits running wild on the farm, the chickens are pretty sick of being cooped up, and the dog thinks nothing of running through the garden, destroying whatever happens to be in her path. My onions are up and doing well. The tomatoes, squash, and peppers are planted and thriving well. I have broccoli and potatoes ready to be planted and seeds that want to be planted. None of those things will be surviving without protection.

I already have a fifty foot roll of 28" rabbit wire fence. I needed three more rolls and stakes to attach the fence to so I can surround the garden. Saturday we went to Spencer to see my grandma in the hospital (broken hip) and stopped at Menards. Normally, I love Menards. However, they did not have what I was looking for. I still bought the wooden stakes, two elderberry bushes (on the garden bucket list), a bag of composted manure (for the rhubarb), and a packet of sunflower seeds that my kids felt needed to be planted in the garden. 

Sunday morning, I went to Bomgaars in Algona. They had one roll of fence for a price I didn't remember paying for the last roll. In fact, I think I had sticker shock. I didn't buy the one roll left because I needed three rolls and didn't want to be stuck with having to find an alternative. However, I bought four more tomato plants and some flower plants for the planters in front of the house. And a packet of jelly beans because I was getting a bit stressed. I eat when I am stressed. 

I knew I needed to get this fence put up pronto. I made the executive decision to go to Fleet Farm in Mason City which I should have done in the first place or second place. I got to Fleet Farm, walked around the garden center inside the store, picked up a new trowel, and found the fencing. I was able to buy their last three rolls of exactly what I was looking for. The cost of those three would have been the same as two rolls at Bomgaars. While I was at Fleet Farm, I got wire to secure the fence, four tomato cages, eight broccoli plants, one lemon balm plant, and one mint plant. 

The three trips were all fruitful in what I purchased, but a waste of gas for at least the trip to Algona which I live closest to. I tried to make do with whatever I had, but I just did not have enough of anything on hand. I drove over an hour one direction, fifteen minutes in another direction, and fifty minutes in yet another direction.

When I got home, the rain started to fall. Doesn't that about figure?

This isn't the first time this has happened to me. The driving to get what I need, not finding it, and driving to another place. A lot of the local places are not open on Sunday which I respect. I didn't plan far enough ahead which is key for living in a rural area. 

I will get the fence up after work this week. Tonight I am spraying for mosquitoes because they are becoming quite annoying and Paige is allergic to their bites. Maybe if I have time after that, I will get the fence going. 

The joys of a homesteader!

Thanks for reading,
Erica



Monday, May 18, 2015

10 Things To Do When Rain Stops You From Homesteading Outside


In my area of Iowa, we are soaked. We get about 2-3 days of rain, 2-3 days of no rain, 2-3 days of rain, and now cooler (than I like) temps. We have rain coming again by the weekend.

My garden is tilled. Nothing is in it. I have a fence to build around the garden, but the ground is so soft that I don't think it will stay upright. We have a lot of mowing to do. I need to build a compost bin. At least most of the crops are in.

I need to get a lot done before the heat and humidity of summer comes along.

What is a homesteader to do when we can't get a lot done outside in the Spring?

1. Keep planning the garden. Refine the plans. Dream a little more. Peruse Pinterest for more ideas. Check out different varieties. Wonder if they have their gardens planted in Alaska yet.

2. Check out the chicken coop for any repairs needed. Clean it up a bit. Watch the chickens for awhile. Wonder why you find them so amusing, but decide you don't care. The chickens love the all the worms they can find in the rain.

3. Scope out the barn. Pick up and clean up a bit. Dream about building a barn or adding on to the one you have. Check out building plans.

4. Decide to tackle that one closet you have avoided for years. You are a little afraid of it, but what else do you have to do?

5. Go out to pick rhubarb. The rhubarb really likes the rain and has been growing like crazy. Good time as any to freeze, can, and preserve the rhubarb. Maybe even try a few new recipes.

6. Drag out all the chicken bones and skin, vegetable scraps, and stock pot. As good as time as any to make/can chicken stock and clean out some much needed room in the freezer.

7. Weed if it is not raining. Weeds pull really well when the ground is soft.

8. Watch videos on YouTube about homesteading. Watch the Edwardian Farm and Victorian Farm for the umpteenth time and still learn something new. Watch videos about all those lucky people who have their gardens in. Contemplate making your own videos.

9. Read books about homesteading. Add more projects for your list. Try some new things that you read about and actually have the stuff for.

10. Make a list of things to do. Add dishes and laundry to that list because they so count. So does sweeping and vacuuming. Then actually do those things. It might be the last time before Fall.

Just some ideas in case you are going stir crazy (like me!). Rain is great, but also frustrating for those who have things to do and want to feel the warmth of the sun.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

2015 Garden Plans and Goals: Becoming More Self-Sufficient Every Year!


Photo by my daughter, Jordan 

The garden is tilled! Now time to start planting and planning some more. I love gardening and all the it entails. I am working on making the homestead into a food producing machine. A lot easier said than done, but every year I make progress.

What am I going to do this year?

1. Plant asparagus and hope it comes back next year. These are second year plants as opposed to the first year plants from last year. I have hope they will. I added a lot of rotted chicken manure and bedding to the area they will be planted.

2. Put a fence around the garden. I love my chickens, but I will love them a lot less if they eat everything I plant. So a 3-4 foot fence will be going around the garden. At the end of the season, I will let them back in the garden to fertilize, eat leftover produce (if any!), and scratch around a bit.

3. Adding two more blueberry bushes. All four of my blueberries planted last year came back. I will add more soil acidifier to keep them happy and mulch heavily again. That worked really well last year too.

4. Adding more raspberry canes. I want to thicken up the area they are in and get more production out  of them in the years to come.

5. Added peat moss to the garden. This is already done, but was on my list for this year. The soil needed some added boost from last year.

6. Planting everything much closer together. For what I read and studied, plants do much better this way. Planting closer together keeps weeds choked out a bit more and I can plant more in the garden.

7. Planting peas and cucumbers by the fence going around the garden. I want the peas and cucumbers to grow up the fence and save room in the garden for other things.

8. Adding mulch to the garden. I want to use tacky straw mulch this year since I have read really good things about it. I have a lot of wind because I live in a really flat place so I need mulch that stay. The tacky straw mulch is suppose to do that. Fingers crossed!

9. Moving the five-gallon buckets and other planters out of the garden. I have done most of this, but I have a few left. I am moving all of them up to the house. I will be planting some flowers, some greens, and some herbs in them. I think they will do better being protected by the house with some shade during the day. We shall see. I need to add more soil to the first.

What I planting this year in the actual garden?

Tomatoes
Bell Peppers
Poblano Peppers (if I can find plants)
Potatoes
Red Onions
Yellow Onions
Green Beans
Peas
Cucumbers
Pumpkins
Yellow Squash
Zucchini
Beets
Carrots
Radishes
Spinach
Cabbage (Red and Green if I can find plants)

I do have some pipe dreams for my garden and gardening in general. If I get them done, great! If not, there is always next year.

1. Put in two 4' x 4' or 6' x 6' raised beds closer to the house. I always wanted a "kitchen garden" where I would plant lettuce, greens, peas, radishes, and herbs. I want to trellis the peas in the middle and work my way to the outside with other plants.

2. Plant elderberry bushes, currants, honeyberries, and a couple more apple trees.

3. Find a new home or place in the yard for the day lilies. I love them, but they do not need to be in the garden. Plus I want to keep what flowers I have so the bees have more places to collect pollen.

That is it! The 2015 Garden Plans! Every year, we work on being more self-sufficient and raising our own food. This year will be the best yet!

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Thursday, April 30, 2015

18 Ways To Save (And Make!) Money Homesteading


Homesteading is not cheap. It can be done frugally, but at some point you have to open up your wallet. You need equipment, feed, fencing, coops, hutches, and so on. However, you can minimize your costs or prevent future costs by being proactive. You can also make a little money homesteading if you wish.

I want to help you save money and maybe make money homesteading. My goal in life is to save money and help others do the same. We can always try to save money!

Below is eighteen suggestions that can help you to save and possibly make money homesteading!

1. Shop around. Your local feed store may be great for convenience, but sometimes you can find feed and supplies cheaper at the coop or another store. For five miles, feed and supplies might be cheaper in the next town. Shop around and save some pennies.

2. Scout out the junk piles at family and friends' homes. They might have some things to get rid of that will suit you perfectly. That is how I ended up with materials for my chicken coop and outdoor area.

3. Ask for materials. Craigslist and Facebook garage sale sites are great places to look for materials and equipment. If you are looking for something and can't find it, just post that you are in search of (ISO) of something. More than likely, someone has that item and can part with it.

4. Attend farm sales and auctions. I love auctions! I have walked away with a great many things that were pennies on the dollar cost-wise. Look over everything carefully when you get there, set a dollar amount in your mind for what you want, and bid wisely. Many times I have gone to auctions where family and friends feel bad for the family having the farm auction and bid things up with no interest in buying them just to make the family more money. Watch that you don't get caught up in a bidding war.

5. Graciously accept donations from family and friends. I have my own junk pile due to generous offerings from family and friends. I took a dog kennel when I had no idea what to do with it. It became the outdoor area for the chickens when they couldn't be out in the yard.

6. Be creative in using materials. Not everything needs to be exactly like the plan. The internet is full of ideas on re-purposing materials and making your own things. I have also found many books at the thrift shop that has helped me save money and re-purpose materials.

7. Sell the items you don't need anymore. I have bought a few things that I thought would be great for my homestead. It turns out I was wrong or the items weren't a good fit. You can sell those things and use that money for your next homesteading purchase.

8. Do the work yourself. This should go without saying, but a lot of people hire out a lot of work that can be done by them. I am not perfect in this area either as I have the garden tilled by someone else every year. However, I (or the kids) mow the lawn ourselves. We do most of our own repairs. We haul most of our own materials unless the materials are just too big for the vehicle.

9. Don't be afraid to accept help or advice when it is given freely. Most offers of help and advice are given generously and can often be repaid in kind whether it be homemade jams/jellies or a home-cooked dinner.

10. Use what you produce. Plan meals around all those eggs. Eat from the garden when the garden is producing. Preserve the bounty. You get it - stop going to the grocery store and eat what you have.

11. Animal manure is a commodity - sell it or barter with it. People want it so use that to your advantage. I often have a lot more than I need of the animal by-product. Other people who have gardens or cannot raise animals will often take this off your hands.

12. Sell the extra eggs and produce. By no means am I saying to take food away from your family, but if you have way more eggs and produce than your family will ever eat, sell the extras. A little income here and there will help pay for other homesteading projects! If you want to take this a step further, expand the garden and sell at the local farmers' market.

13. Ask to glean. If you know your tomatoes are not producing and a friends' tomatoes are going to waste, ask if you can have them. Picking produce after the owner has picked his is called gleaning. Offer to pay or trade, but most of the time you will get them for free. This has worked for me for years!

14. Use your free labor. If you have kids or grandkids, you have free labor. Have them help you outside with your projects. Turn it into a teaching moment, teach them what you are doing, and why you are doing it. If kids understand the why, they will be more excited to help with the what. Also, you can always tell them it is a character building exercise - especially if they are "helping" you clean out the chicken coop.

15. Don't ignore the obvious. Look at everything growing on your homestead. Everything should have a purpose. If you don't know the purpose, look it up. Can it be used as food, a remedy, a cure, or whatnot? Find out and figure how you can use it.

16. Knowledge is power. Always be learning. Learning and knowledge is free. With the vast amount of information that is free, you should always be learning.

17. Take care of your things. Keep the tools free of rust, maintain equipment, change oil, make repairs quickly, and you will save money by not having costly repairs and having to buy new things to replace uncared-for things.

18. Wear gloves. Trust me on this. You will save your hands from blisters, broken nails, infected cuts, splinters, and other things that could cost you some inconvenience or a trip to the doctor if bad enough. Gloves are just prevention and finding a good fitting pair can take work. However, gloves are worth it and necessary.

Do you have any more ideas or tips to save money homesteading? I would love to hear them!

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday Savings on the Homestead: Sharpen Your Garden Tools!

Every Tuesday I will be posting a Tuesday Savings on the Homestead. This posts will concentrate on one money saving thing you and I can do to save money for the week. Some will be easy, some will be be a bit difficult, and all will concentrate on one way to save money for the week. Please join me in trying to live a frugal life in 2015!



One of the best things you can do for yourself and your garden is to sharpen your tools that you use in the garden. Planting becomes easier with a sharp trowel. Weeding becomes easier with a sharp hoe. Harvesting becomes easier with a sharp knife.

Life is easier with sharp tools. And I may not just mean garden tools on that one. 

However, today we are talking about garden tools.

You can sharpen your tools in many ways. I have an electric knife sharpener set I was given as a gift that has been a life saver. You can use a file to sharpen your tools. You can use or borrow a bench grinder to sharpen your tools like I did for a number of years. I just brought my tools to work and sharpened them after work. 

By sharpening your garden tools, you save yourself time and energy. Planting, weeding, and harvesting becomes so much easier for you and your body. Imagine yourself just slicing right into the dirt instead of hacking at it repeatedly. By saving yourself time and energy, you can devote yourself to other jobs or just relax!

Get this done this week! You will be much happier with sharper tools! 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Linked to The Tuesday Garden Party! 
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This post contains affiliate links to products I love or will use. I don't expect you to purchase anything, however, I will get a small commission if you do. This commission helps keep this blog going and helps my family in small ways. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why You Should Grow And Preserve Rhubarb!


Rhubarb is an excellent addition to any garden! Being that rhubarb is a perennial, you can get a crop every year and fill your refrigerator/freezer with its deliciousness.

I was blessed to grow up with a mother that loved rhubarb and canned it into jams. I was doubly blessed to move on to a farm that has it growing abundantly.

Why Should You Grow Rhubarb?

1. Rhubarb is very easy to grow. Get some plants from a garden center or find a neighbor/friend willing to thin out their patch. Plant your rhubarb in a sunny location and fertilize with some well-rotted manure. Do not pick the first year, only pick the thick stalks the second year, and pick all you want the third year!

2. Rhubarb is easy to maintain. Rhubarb just needs a sunny location and adequate moisture. You do not have to dig it up in the fall because it likes to have its roots frozen in the winter. Give the rhubarb some well-rotted manure in the spring or fall to help fertilize it, but this is not necessary every year.

3. Rhubarb gives hope that Spring and Summer are here to stay. Rhubarb is one of the first vegetables ready to eat in the Spring in Iowa. I love having fresh vegetables coming from my garden early and often.

You should not eat rhubarb leaves, The leaves contain a poison that will make you very sick. I have been hearing of varities that have edible leaves, but most common rhubarb plant leaves are not edible. Just eat the stalks!

Rhubarb used to be planted in every yard. You can find it in abandoned properties as well as your neighbor's yard. Most people who grow it have more than they need and are very willing to share it. If you are not able to grow it, just ask around!

Rhubarb is very easy to harvest! You can either cut the stalks close to the ground or just twist the stalk and pull (preferred method). Cut the leaves off and add to your compost pile. Rinse the rhubarb off to get any dirt and grass clippings off.

How Do You Eat And Preserve Rhubarb?

1. Some people like it raw, like my son. Too much raw rhubarb can result in upset stomachs though. I remember as a kid that we would pick it and dip the end in sugar, take a bite, and repeat. Again, too much is not a good thing.

2. Rhubarb can and should be made into pies, crisps, cobblers, cakes, fritters, tarts, and whatever dessert/breakfast goodie you can think of. Rhubarb is versitile like that. I have also had it made into compotes, sauces, and chutneys. Again, deliciousness!

3. Rhubarb can and should be canned in the form of jams, jellies, chutneys, and sauces. Rhubarb is very simple to can and is very forgiving. Rhubarb is a great item for a first time canner to try! Rhubarb Jam is the first jam I learned how to make!

4. Rhubarb can be frozen. Pick your rhubarb, rinse it off, and chop into 1/2-1 inch pieces. I use my Food Saver, load the bags with 2-3 cups of rhubarb, and vacuum/seal. You can also flash freeze by laying the rhubarb in a single layer on cookie sheets, freeze, and then put into bags and store in the freezer. Either way works. I just don't recommend putting them in bags and freezing. I usually end up with freezer burnt rhubarb.

Rhubarb is so easy as you can see! Rhubarb makes a great addition to your garden in ease of growing and producing food for yourself and your family. I hope you add this great vegetable to your homestead today!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

This article is part of the:


30 Ways of Homesteading


The Prepared Bloggers Network is at it again! We're glad you've found us, because the month of April is all about homesteading.

Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by growing your own food, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may even involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale. Most importantly homesteading is not defined by where someone lives, such as the city or the country, but by the lifestyle choices they make.

The Prepared Bloggers are passionate about what they do and they each have their own way of achieving self-sufficiency. Grab your favorite drink and enjoy reading about the 30 Ways of Homesteading!

Crops on the Homestead

Straw Bale Gardening from PreparednessMama
Benefits of Growing Fruit from SchneiderPeeps
Crops to Grow for Food Storage from Grow A Good Life
Winter Gardening Series from Our Stoney Acres
How To Build a Raised Garden Bed For Under $12 from Frugal Mama and The Sprout
How to Save Carrot Seeds from Food Storage and Survival

Animals on the Homestead

Getting Your Bees Started from Game and Garden
Homesteading How-To: Bees from Tennessee Homestead
How to Get Ready for Chicks from The Homesteading Hippy
Selecting a Goat Breed for Your Homestead from Chickens Are a Gateway Animal
Adding New Poultry and Livestock from Timber Creek Farm
How to Prepare for Baby Goats from Homestead Lady
Tips to Raising Livestock from Melissa K. Norris

Making the Homestead Work for You - Infrastructure

DIY Rainwater Catchment System from Survival Prepper Joe
Finding Our Homestead Land from Simply Living Simply
I Wish I Was A Real Homesteader by Little Blog on the Homestead
Endless Fencing Projects from Pasture Deficit Disorder
Homesteading Legal Issues from The 7 P's Blog

Preserving and Using the Bounty from the Homestead

How to Make Soap from Blue Yonder Urban Farms
How to Render Pig Fat from Mama Kautz
How to Make Your Own Stew Starter from Homestead Dreamer
Why You Should Grow and Preserve Rhubarb! from Living Life in Rural Iowa

30 Ways of Homesteading

Check out all these great articles with great tips for your homestead, large and small!

Also linked to: Homemade Mondays!


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday Savings on the Homestead Week 11: Starting Seeds

Every Sunday I will be posting a Sunday Savings on the Homestead. This posts will concentrate on one money saving thing you and I can do to save money for the week. Some will be easy, some will be be a bit difficult, and all will concentrate on one way to save money for the week. Please join me in trying to live a frugal life in 2015!

Got your gardens planned

You do?

Awesome!



Now is time to start some seeds! I haven't always been too successful at it in the past, but I learn every year. And I have a co-worker who is really good at starting seeds. I want to do my own tomatoes and peppers this year to save me money in May. With graduation coming, I don't have a lot of money to play with that month. I will also start my own cabbages. I only do 4-6 cabbage plants, but I love roasted cabbage and it stores well.

Literally, starting seeds is a pretty frugal activity. I bought a pack of 50 seed starter pots for $3 at Dollar General. I got a bag of seed starting and herb planting soil for $5.00. I bought seeds last year and have enough for this year. Otherwise, check out Seeds for Generations' seeds (look right for a link!) for some great choices!

1. Fill your pods with seed starting soil.

2. Plant your seeds. I usually use 2-3 seeds per pod for better germination. Sometimes, one or more of the seeds will not germinate.

3. Mist the tops with water. I usually add water to the bottom of the tubs holding seeds to help draw moisture up instead of watering down. 

4. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or some type of plastic. This year, I am using plastic leftover from covering windows. The plastic helps create a moist, warm environment that the plants want to grow in. 

5. Make the sure the plants stay moist, but aren't soaked. As the plants come up, you may have to elevate your plastic using skewers or toothpicks. After my plants are up 1-2 inches, I remove the plastic. However, when to remove it is your choice. Sometimes my house is a little chilly and I will keep the plastic on longer. 

6. Keep the growing! If you do have two plants come up in one pod, remove one of the plants. Some people choose to replant the thinned plants, but that is your choice. I have not had good luck with that!

7. After the plants are up 4-5 inches, you may take them outside to harden them a bit. My co-worker also believes in using a small fan on low and letting that blow on them to harden them also. Just choose warm days and not days that will ruin all your hard work!

8. In 6-8 weeks, you can plant them outside. Make sure all risk of frost has passed. In northern Iowa, I wait until after May 15th. Some gardeners do sooner and some wait for longer. If you do sooner, just be prepared to cover them at night somehow. 

That is it! Not too difficult, but this activity does require your time and attention for awhile. The savings will be well worth it to not have to buy plants at $2-4 a piece at the local gardening center!

Thanks for reading!
Erica


Homestead Blog Hop | Simplelifemom

Monday, March 9, 2015

Sunday Savings on the Homestead Week 10: Plan Your Garden!

Every Sunday I will be posting a Sunday Savings on the Homestead. This posts will concentrate on one money saving thing you and I can do to save money for the week. Some will be easy, some will be be a bit difficult, and all will concentrate on one way to save money for the week. Please join me in trying to live a frugal life in 2015!

March is here! I can finally get excited about gardening! Not that the snow has gone away yet, but planning what to plant, where to plant, and how much is wonderful! 


I have already amended the soil a fair amount with old chicken manure and bedding. I might add in a bit of peat moss too because my soil is a heavy black dirt that needs some lighting up. 

What are you going to plant? Where? How much?

My garden is going to contain:
2 rows (18 plants) tomatoes - 9 paste tomato plants and 9 heirloom tomato plants
2 grape tomato plants
2/3 rows of snap peas
2 rows of green beans
1 row of yellow onions
1/2 row of red onions
1 & 1/2 rows of bell peppers
4 zucchini hills
4 summer squash hills
2 pumpkin hills
4 acorn squash hills
1 row of carrots
1/2 row of kale
1/2 row of spinach

I am still debating on planting potatoes. If I can expand the garden, I probably will plant a combination of red and white potatoes. 

Tonight (Monday), I plan on listening to Seeds for Generations' Garden Planning Webinar! Jason is very knowledgeable about gardening and will provide great information to help you plan your garden! 

What are you planning? Have you already started? 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Thursday, November 20, 2014

2014 Gardening Update - What Worked, What Didn't Work, and What Needs to Change or Be Done

A picture from last year. For some reason, I didn't take any this year!

This year's garden gave me a lot of hope that I could actually grow produce and plants could thrive! That being said, there is a lot that needs to be done to the garden and I have already started some of that.

I grew onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, green beans, beets, peas, cucumbers, acorn squash, lettuce, spinach, yellow squash, zucchini, and potatoes. I also have rhubarb, strawberries, and raspberries already established. I started blueberries this year and they survived the summer (Yeah!).

The bell peppers did not grow well due to wet and cool summer conditions. The carrots didn't do a dang thing. I had a 10-12 carrots grow, but weren't near the size they should have been. The onions actually grew which is a first for me. They were small, but totally edible. Beets and spinach did not grow at all. The tomatoes could have done better, but I was happy just to get a few. I haven't had any luck until this year having tomatoes produce so yeah for me!

Everything else did very, very well. I was very pleased. One of the methods I tried this year was companion gardening and I highly recommend it. I had a lot of success with vegetables that I never had before. I also understood why my gardens in the past have not done well.

Cutting down the tree on the edge of the garden made a huge difference. My rhubarb was suffering the most and have now bounced back beautifully. It also gave half of my garden some beneficial sunlight in an area that is somewhat limited.


I am so done with using 5 gallon buckets to help expand my garden. Done. I think the buckets get too warm. Plants will grow, but not produce or produce well. I don't know what I will use them for now. I might bring them up by the house and see if I can grow food for the chickens in cooler, shadier areas. We shall see.

This year, it was very apparent that my garden is lacking nutrients. I am already remedying this by adding the bedding and manure from the chicken coop to the garden. I will continue to do this until January/February so the manure has time to mellow. In the Spring, we will till it in.

I am still trying to come up with the best weed management system. I read that straw is great, then I read it isn't. I have used wood mulch in the past without a lot of good coming from that. My tomatoes certainly did not like wood mulch. I would like to use weed blocking fabric, but I need something to hold it down.

I will need to have a fence around the garden next year. At least a temporary fence until everything gets established and not mowed over by the chickens. I have plenty of time to research what I want for that.

I want more perennial vegetables. I am definitely looking into walking onions and groundnuts for next year. I would like to try asparagus again. The crowns rotted in the ground this year due to wet weather.

I definitely plan to plant all the same vegetables that I did last year. I might skip the lettuce, but the spinach is definitely still on the list. I would also like to plant pumpkins and possibly watermelon. I will concentrate more of storage and canning vegetables than eat right now vegetables. I would like to can more of what we produce.

I would also like to plant some fruit trees next year. We had an apple tree split in threes this fall so I want to replace that one and plant two more trees. I would also like to try two pear trees.

Winter will provide me plenty of time to read up and get some more ideas! In my stash to read is:
Abundantly Wild: Collecting and Cooking Wild Edibles in the Upper Midwest
How to Grow More Vegetables
Homegrown and Handmade 
The New Self-Sufficient Gardener

I can't wait!

Thanks for reading!
Erica

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