Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Home Work


We are a family of homebodies,
so the statewide order to stay home
doesn't change our routine much.
While I am still working,
Big K is home full-time for a while
and C couldn't be happier about that.

Not everyone feels the same way about being home.
Some folks feel the need to be out and about,
and this stretch of time will be a challenge.
There are so many things we can do to pass the time,
and I thought I would share some posts on the subject.
Feel free to browse through them
and click on anything that might hold your interest.

1.   Growing sprouts and microgreens-
With just a jar, a few seeds and some water,
you can start growing salad or sandwich fixins'.

 2.  Growing food in containers-
Pretty much anything counts here,
produce bins, 5-gallon buckets, coffee cans.
They can all be used to grow crops that feed your family.

3.  Making homemade bread-
With a few basic ingredients that are most likely
already in the cupboard,
a savory loaf of bread can fill the house 
with the most intoxicating aroma.

4.  Making laundry soap and foaming soap-
These two staples are so easy to put together,
using things that are probably already in your home.

 5.  Hanging laundry-
The simple pleasure of allowing the sun and the wind
to dry your clothes is like a gift from Mother Nature.


6.  Become a bird watcher-
Most folks have access to bird guides online,
so try keeping a record of all the birds that visit your area.

7.  Relish nature's bounty-
Springtime is so full of life and awakenings,
there's no end to the things that can be discovered
just by combing your own property or neighborhood.


8.  Find a new favorite family activity-
whether you like to play board games, cards
or bake together, having ample free time is such a blessing. 

Here are a few other homesteading posts
I thought you might enjoy.

Why You Should Homestead Now 
Eight Ways to Homestead-No Matter Where You Live 
Being a Homesteader

Friday, March 27, 2020

Garden Friday

Welcome to Garden Friday!
We hope you and your family are well
and making the most of this transitional time.
Being home more lends itself well to 
completing some garden tasks, taking on new projects
and spending quality time with family.

Although I had a mess of lovely pictures to share with you,
I had technical difficulties,
so these few will have to do.

A check on the blueberries and raspberries found
that there is life after winter!
It was so encouraging to find leaves on both.

We also got our asparagus plants in this week,
and I look forward to all there is to learn
 about growing this new-to-me crop.
The area that was chosen does not have ideal drainage,
but we'll see how it does this year.
I'm already planning ahead to create a designated bed
just for this perennial, in case it doesn't do well this year.

An idea is brewing in my head
to create a strawberry bed
with the new plants we got from Extension.

Lots to do!

Big K helped me on the installation of the drip system.
We're about halfway done,
and I will post more about the process at a later date.
This is my big garden project for this year.
It will make tending crops so much easier
for years to come.

Some wire screens are being constructed
to protect my seedlings from squirrels, chipmunks
and whatever other greedy lil' buggers that try to visit the beds.

So many projects, so much time!
With Big K not working outside the home,
(the part-timers were temporarily suspended),
I have an extra pair of hands to help me.
And that brain of his is a marvel!
He always comes up with great solutions
that I would never have thought of!

It takes a village, people,
but we'll get there!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Support Needed

With spring weather standing by,
it's a great time to get some garden planning done.
Some of what we grow requires staking, trellising, 
or some kind of visible support.
Vining crops such as beans, cucumbers, loofah, peas and squash
all need something to grab onto and have vertical space to sprawl.

We installed this cattle panel fencing last year
and they are one of the easiest and quickest ways
to add vertical growing space to the garden.


 At the base, we planted beans, melons
and snap peas and let them do their thing.


 This year, I have an idea to increase our growing area.
I'm planning to grow lettuce in old coffee tins
and hang them on the inside of the panels.
In this way, I use more of the space
while allowing the lettuces to be shaded by the beans
during the hottest part of the summer.
I'm hoping to figure out a way to deter the squirrels this way as well.


This old gazebo frame used to hold a canvas covering,
which didn't last long after a few strong winds.
We saved the frame, bringing it all the way from Florida,
because I just knew I could find a way to repurpose it in the garden.

Last year, the loofah grew gangbusters on it!
It was such a welcome sight when turning the corner on our street.
The structure held up to the weight of the mass of vines and fruit.
This year it will be used for the same purpose.
As the loofah are sown in pots,
this is another area where something can garner some shade underneath.

last year's garden

A simply constructed teepee sits in the pollinator bed,
awaiting the climbing of morning glory or nasturtium. 
These poles were originally used as stakes, 
so we just tied them together at the top
with leftover baling twine.
This type of teepee, perhaps made a bit bigger,
would be the perfect host to a crop of climbing beans,
cucumbers or flowering vines.

There is no end to what you can create
with things that are probably already laying about.

If you need further inspiration,
check out these innovative (and cheap) solutions:

Check out this link for more upcycled trellis ideas.

A fellow frugal gardener shows how to create a rustic twig trellis.

This obliesk seems so easy to make 
and just look at the color it adds to the garden! 

Friday, March 20, 2020

Garden Friday

This Garden Friday finds the world a different place.
With routines severely disrupted,
the one place that can lend some much needed grounding
is the garden.
It's the first day of Spring 
and that means that growing season is here!

I got my initial garden plan completed 
using the Gardener's Supply free planner.
I've been using it for a couple of years now
to plan each individual bed,
but this is the first time I was able
to print out the entire garden plot.
In the upper left corner (not marked here), I will be planting
the first asparagus I've ever grown!
The crowns were collected yesterday from Extension
and I'm hoping to get them in the ground this weekend.
I also picked up some strawberry starts and will be 
planting them in straw bales.
The bed marked #9 in the lower right corner
is a pollinator bed.

In bed number four,
our Yukon Gold potatoes were planted.
These had been saved from last year's harvest,
and I was happy to see the growth when I took them out of their storage box.
For the last two years, I've grown these in chicken wire towers,
but this year I thought I'd try a raised bed.
One of the 3X8 beds sown with winter cover crops was chosen.

spuds ready for planting

The cover crops were whacked down with a string trimmer,
and the potatoes were planted about every 8 inches underneath the soil.
The shoots are telling me that they were ready!

Unfortunately, someone else was equally excited about this planting,
because every last one had been dug up.
That'll teach me to plant without covering the bed
with chicken wire.
Dang it!

The good news is that I had purchased a few Yukon Gold potatoes
recently at the hardware store, just in case I needed a few more.
They are drying out and I hope to get them planted in the next few days.

More good news!
The blueberries are coming back!
It's so thrilling to see them wake up from their long, winter slumber.
We have three varieties that we planted last year,
although there wasn't much fruit to be had.
Hopefully, this year will be a bit more successful.

Along with my sunflower sprouts growing in the kitchen,
I'm happy to be sowing again.
With plans to install our drip irrigation system this weekend,
it'll be a busy time.
What a time saver it will be to have the crops 
automatically watered.
All I'll need to do is keep sowing and watch them grow!

The next few months may be challenging for many,
and I am so grateful for the healthy distraction of growing food.
Now more than ever,
there is no end to the potential of a seed.

"Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution.
If you don't have any problems, you don't get any seeds."
~Norman Vincent Peale

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Quick Greens for Hard Times

Sprouts are one of the easiest and quickest food sources
that can be grown in your very own kitchen.
These sunflower seeds were ordered from one of my favorite companies,
Sow True Seed, in nearby Asheville.
They are most often the source for my gardening seeds,
and I trust their selection of heirloom and open-pollinated seeds.
Here's a great way to keep your family in greens in case you can't get to the store.

In a shallow tray (this one had held portobello mushrooms),
add seed starting mix and moisten well.
Add a dense layer of sunflower seeds right on top. 
Cover with a light layer of soil mix and press down
to give the seeds direct contact with the soil.

 Water lightly, just to moisten the soil
and place a lid on top of your container.
(This flat lid was the top of a purchased lettuce mix.)
A lipped container was placed underneath,
just to ensure no mess on the counter
and to make it easier to move around.
The whole thing sat next to our kitchen sink,
where we could watch the magic unfold!

About twice a day, it got misted with water, using an old spray bottle.
This soil mixture tends to dry out quickly, and it's important to 
keep the seeds moist, but not sopping wet.
Within 3 days, the sprouts started popping out!
The flat lid was switched out for a taller one,
(again a lettuce container),
to accommodate the growing stalks.

 By day six, the top was getting lifted off of the container!
The greenhouse-like conditions helped them retain the moisture better,
but it was still misted at least daily until harvest.

 By day ten, they were ready for harvest.

 The stems were snipped near the top of the soil
and the sprouts were rinsed in cool water in a strainer
and left to air dry for a few minutes.
They were placed in the refrigerator in an old strawberry container,
so that they could remain as crisp and vibrant as possible.
What was left in the growing container was composted.

Adding these sprouts to salads, sandwiches, even egg dishes,
is a sure-fire way to add fiber, vitamins and some novelty to your diet.
Wouldn't kids love to see this miraculous evolution?
A new batch could be started every few days
so that there is an ample supply.
I find most sprouts delicious,
but sunflower sprouts are without a doubt my favorite.
I'm thinking I need to save some of our seeds from this summer's garden,
so that we have sunflower sprouts all winter long.
Here's to growin' your own!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

We're All in This Together

 There's been a sharp turn of events over the last week or so.
An eerie sense of unpredictability looms over us,
and many are living with day-to-day anxiety over the uncertainty.
While the most natural response might be
to pull the covers up over you and hibernate in front of a warm fire,
there is another way to reframe this unexpected circumstance.
Embrace it.

homemade ACV

 It may sound crazy,
but it is possible to find a silver lining in all the madness.
While I understand that everyone's world has pretty much
been turned upside-down,
good things can come from this situation.
For one thing,
I'm hoping that more folks will realize that
we are in this together.
Therefore, we need to help each other in any way we can.
That may mean meeting your neighbors for the first time,
bartering for food staples or services,
or something as simple as enjoying more family time.
With most of the country hunkering down,
we can all do something to make things better.
Healthy interdependence makes us stronger.

our humble homestead
No need to leave the house to improve your lot.
Learn a new skill like crocheting, seed starting or food prep.
Even better, teach these skills to others, especially kids.
What a valuable lesson these times are
for the younger generation to learn that although times can be tough,
we are tougher.

Getting back to basics is one of the simplest ways
to deal with any type of adversity.
No matter the struggle,
taking things a step at a time,
one day at a time,
is always a smart move.
Ensuring that your family has healthy food to eat,
clean water to drink, and a feeling of belonging,
can aid in getting through the worst of times.
It may seem too simplistic,
but that's only because we have complicated things.

Is there anything quite as beautiful as a sunrise,
knowing that you've been granted an extra day
to do what you like,
surrounded by those you love?
Leaning into mindfulness can become
one of the healthiest habits for each of us.
Focusing on the moments of joy
when reading a great novel, being swept up in music,
or engaging with others can bring a sense
of peace and purpose.

We are so blessed to be on this homesteading journey.
Although we are not as far along as some,
we are able to do quite well in times of trouble.
It is never too late to begin.
The lessons we've learned through the years
have allowed us to truly believe
that we will get through this, together.
Here's hoping that you and yours
are feeling the comfort of knowing that 
God bless us, everyone.