Category Archives: Gardening

Garden Update – June 2017

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In addition to our What are We Growing? page, I thought I would post a more detailed listing of what exactly is in my vegetable beds this year.

For those of you who are up to date, I cut back on my desire to experiment and grow “it all”, and focused on really pumping up the quantity of the varieties we love to eat, both fresh and preserved.

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Garden Planning Tips

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I absolutely love garden planning, to the point that I tend to start thinking about next year before I’ve even put this year’s garden to bed. I even find myself slightly disappointed in the lack of “work” there is to do in planning these days – I’ve honed in on those tried-and-true varieties, and really gotten the layout of my vegetable bed down to a science. Really, it plans itself nowadays! Continue reading

Homestead Update: A Greenhouse

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One project that has been underway since March on our property is the building of our very own greenhouse – shed. This combination building was really an exciting project for me, as I have dreamed of having a greenhouse for years. With our growing homestead, we needed a space to organize the gardening tools, yard implements, our chicken bedding, feed and tools, as well as our new assortment of beekeeping equipment.  Continue reading

How to Keep A Garden Journal

I’ve been keeping a garden journal for several years now. Some years were more detailed than others, or I kept more frequent notes, and other years I only jotted down my varietals and a few early weather notes. Since moving to our current property, I’ve “upgraded” my note taking to include all homesteading things: wildlife sightings, chicken and bee keeping notes, gardening, weather, seed starting, and even our canning totals!

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Keeping a log or journal can seem like a daunting task at first – how do you get started? What do you need? I’ve found that over the years my needs have changed, and being open to adapting and changing your format is key to a successful journal.  Continue reading

8 Tips for a Successful Garden

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If you have ever kept a garden, even a small one, you are aware of how much time and labor goes in. Unless you are going for the jungle-look, there are weeds to pull, plants to trim, stake and cover, never mind the time spent actually harvesting and preparing the produce for canning, dehydrating or freezing.image

I have been gardening for several years now, and each year I learn something new. I’ve had neat little gardens, and been the guilty keeper of a messy jungle garden. I’ve had multiple sized gardens, enjoying wide spread rows as well as the square-foot method. With all these experiences, I thought I would share some of my best gardening tips.

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  1. Start weeding before you put in your plants. Most people think of weeding as something that needs to be done at the same time as planting, or just once those vegetables are in the ground. However, it’s never too early to pull weeds, and the sooner you start, the better. Weeding eliminates competition for your vegetables, by ensuring there is plenty of space for roots systems to develop, as well as stopping undesired plants from depleting the soil’s nutrients.
  2. Weed in the mornings. My morning routine always includes a trip to pull weeds in my vegetable and herb garden beds. Getting outside early means pulling weeds before the heat of the day, making the chore more enjoyable. It also reduces your sun exposure, making for healthier weeding, too. If you can’t make the mornings work, there is nothing less enjoyable about an early evening weed-pulling session. The important part is to weed daily. Pinch out those pesky plants before they get way ahead of you, and start wreaking havoc in your garden.image
  3. Thin seedlings in the morning or evening, only. Avoid thinning or moving seedlings when the sun is high and the day is hot. You are more likely to have success if you move them in the cool morning or evening, and give them a little drink of water right after.
  4. Thin seedlings after rain fall. Thinning right after a good rain has always proved to be the most successful for me as well – the ground is wet and soil soft, so less roots get damaged. If you’re in a dry spell, but those seedlings can’t wait, thin them after a good, hearty watering, in the early morning or late afternoon, when it is not in direct sun.
  5. Stake early. Even if your plants don’t need stakes or trellises yet, get these in place ASAP. This way you disturb the growing plant as little as possible, and the support is ready when needed.image
  6. It’s all about the roots! You can weed and weed until the sun goes down, but if you are leaving the roots behind, you’re wasting your time. Sure, I wear work gloves when dealing with thorny plants, or those with toxins like poison ivy, but when it comes to your every day weeds, bare-handed is the way to go. No gadget or glove will ever compare to the knowing, pincer-grasp of your fingers as they wiggle into the ground, following the weed down and pulling the whole plant out. Removing the roots (or at the very least, as much of them as possible), will prevent that plant from regrowing and making you feel crazy when the same weed keeps returning from the dead.image
  7. Enjoy it. There is no sense in doing something you don’t love, if you can avoid it. Gardening shouldn’t be a chore, where you “have” to go do this, or else. Gardening is a wonderful chance to be out doors, soaking in the sun, breathing in the fresh air. Admire the fall of sunlight on the various leaves and fruits, the songs of birds and gentle buzzing of your gardening-coworkers, those lovely little local bees.
  8. Share the love. Invite your children and loved ones into the garden with you. I love watching the delight on my daughter’s face as I hand her a freshly picked green bean or radish to eat. She wrinkles her nose and smiles so wide as she reaches out that tiny hand to grab a fresh, garden treat. She has even learned to spot and harvest our snap peas all on her own – standing on tip toe at the garden fence and reaching over to pull another into her mouth. I love knowing she will grow up in my gardens, pulling weeds and eating produce straight from the dirt and plant. I love the excitement I see even on my husband’s face when we see fresh berries developing, or stumble across a giant squash we never even saw as a bud. Sharing the knowledge and love of gardening with your family is one of the best gifts you can give, and watching them enjoy it too is one of the best you can receive.

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June & July

Hi all! Summer is blazing by here in New England. Our days have been a flurry of activity, from chores and farm work, to days on the lake and evenings around the bonfire.image

Our garden is nearing that full-swing, daily harvest mode. We enjoyed our spring radishes and even some fresh strawberries (the few the chipmunks left for us, that is!). We’ve snacked on snap peas and enjoyed salads and fresh herbs. Now it’s time for bushels of pole beans, roasted beets, blackberries, squash, peppers, and sun-kissed tomatoes. Our garden is bursting with produce, and our pumpkin hill is loaded with massive plants featuring nearly a dozen little pumpkins.
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Our day-old chicks arrived in early June, and spent about 4-5 weeks indoors. They’re out in the coop now, and I thoroughly enjoy watching their antics.

We’ve had our share of poultry problems this time around – one chick didn’t survive shipping, and a second died suddenly a few days later. Yesterday, I went out to the coop to discover that one of my designated layers, a Silver Laced Wyandotte, had squeezed out of the coop at some point. We had thought our little runt was too big to make it through, but alas, she’s gone. We hiked around in the slim chance we could recover her, but knew it was highly unlikely. At least we went heavy on our order for chicks, to help buffer us from such losses.

We received and released Leafcutter bees last week, only to have the misfortune of unexpected torrential downpours almost immediately after. A quick check of the tubes last night revealed a few bees have stuck around, I only hope the others found safe spots to wait out the storm. Leafcutter bees are astoundingly small! I don’t see them faring well in such heavy rains.

 

July 4th also brings around Garlic Harvesting Day! Based on the weather and the appearance of our garlic, we harvested  a few days early and pulled up our bulbs on 7/1. I let them dry out and then processed and hung them on the fourth. We planted 48 cloves, and ended with a harvest of 45 bulbs! Not bad, only a loss of three, and the bulbs are much bigger than last year’s harvest! Around 50-bulbs seems to be the perfect number for us, we have a few small bulbs leftover from 2014’s harvest, just in time to transition to our new stuff! I’m letting the new garlic cure while we finish out the last of 2014’s garlic.

If you’ve never grown Garlic before, you should! It’s an easy plant-it-and-forget-it type that doesn’t require a lot of room. Check out my tips on planting and harvesting and curing garlic.

Our firewood for 2017 is all split at last, and we have been working on stacking it neatly so it can season. I am excited to have it completed so we can take a measurement and figure out how many cords are there. We have so much, I don’t see us burning it all in one winter, which is wonderful as that puts us off to a good start on 2018’s wood!
Fire wood is one of those pivotal, forever-ongoing projects for homesteaders. Do you know what wood is good for burning? Check out my guide on choosing the right wood for firewood.

In splitting the logs, we came across some really beautiful oak and spalted maple, which my husband cut down into thin round and rectangular boards. We’ll sand and smooth them a little, and then I intend on wood burning some for decorative signs. I hope to have a few available in our Etsy shop soon, along with a few other handmade items from Woodford/locally sourced materials.

Another project we just wrapped up was the Cabernet Sauvignon we started in 2014. It was finally ready for bottling, and we corked the last of it this past Sunday. We ended up with a little over (4) cases of wine total. While we still hold that our 2013 was better, but this wine came out very nice and is an enjoyable vintage. We are hoping to purchase grapes again this fall, it’s such a wonderful experience, and processing the grapes is so much fun.

There is much work ahead as the summer rolls on and fall approaches, and we also are looking forward to hosting our first Woodford Harvest Festival, an event we hope to grow and repeat annually. Our goal is for the dinner to be solely comprised of home-cooked food that is made with ingredients that we, our family and friends have grown, raised or harvested ourselves. A sort of celebration of Nature and the homesteading lives we enjoy.

Its been a wondeful summer all in all. We have had great success and some troubles too, but all are great learning experiences that we will take with us into our future adventures.

Until next time, may your gardens be plentiful and your hands busy!

 

Garden Markers!

Hi all!

I don’t usually like to advertise our Etsy items through regular posts, but I am just so excited about our new garden markers that I have to share!

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