The Garden Wrap-up: 10 Commandments for Novice Gardeners

Well, like all good things…the summer garden is coming to an end…at least the first round of it! The bugs have invaded!!
It has definitely been an encouraging season…I have never had so many squash, cucumbers, and beans coming out of my ears!! It’s been so wonderful to have extra to share! We even have a freezer full of squash for when I get the wintertime blues and need some summer sunshine. Ya know? I did learn a few things…let me share with you my lessons learned.

10 Commandments of Gardening with Erica (aka-The Novice)

  1. Thou shalt cage your tomatoes before they are bushes.
  2. Thou shalt secure said tomato cages in order to prevent them from blowing over in the freak summer storms.
  3. Thou shalt not plant thy zucchini plants so close together that you can’t reach the zucchini.
  4. Thou shalt not plant pokey cucumbers again. The smooth skinned ones are much nicer to your poor fingers.
  5. Thou shalt uproot and burn your diseased tomato plants very early on so as not to infect other plants.
  6. Thou shalt trellis your beans…Even if they are “bush” beans. Unless you fancy digging in bushes to discover said beans.
  7. Thou shalt also trellis your cucumbers so as to avoid the crazy vine maze they create. Unless you just really like vine mazes and watching your kids continually trip over rampant cucumber vines.
  8. Thou shalt let nature do its thing and not too concerned when your compost pile starts sprouting strange plants of unknown origin.
  9. Thou shalt adopt and accept the motto “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again…and again…and again.”
  10. Thou shalt let go of the notion of perfection. Weeds are friends right?
  11. (I know it’s more than 10…one more for good measure). Never let your garden go a day without picking produce, lest you find baseball bat sized zucchini. Tomato baseball anyone?

Who doesn’t love summer bounty? We have been totally blessed by it this year…there is so much JOY in going to your backyard to pick things for dinner. The kids especially love it. Everyday the girls would go out and pick a small cucumber from the garden and some strawberries and then go swing on their new play set. Incredible.

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We still have more coming! The winter squash is coming along nicely! Hopefully we will get some pumpkins out of that!! I had watermelons planted, but unfortunately they didn’t do too well. Boo. See # 9 above. The sweet potatoes will be harvested in the fall! I am super excited about that! I hope they do as well as they did last year since we planted 10 times more than we planted last year! That’s a lot of potatoes yo.

Ok, I’m off to roast up some coffee for Coffee With a Mission at church this week!

How to Break a Sweat: Summer Projects

Hey its me! Well, of course it is me…don’t know who else it would be. I suppose it could be my husband but he is a rare site on the blog. I told him the other day that we would probably get more readers if he posted on the blog. You know, because people like to read about manly things. Lol. Or at least some would appreciate his less than wordy and side-tracked posts like mine. You still love me though right?

Thought I’d catch you up to speed on how the Spring projects wrapped up and where we are headed for this summer! Lot’s of exciting things you certainly don’t want to miss now do you?

Looking back at my Spring projects list, I have managed to accomplish most of them. As you are aware, I did birth a child. Lol. Farm Buddy is almost 3 months old now. I got the garden in! We have been enjoying lots of stuff from it already! We upgraded the coffee roaster to be able to serve more folks some good coffee. We’re pursing the business aspect of the coffee roasting right now…more on that later. I did not manage to get my cold frames done, suppose that will be a fall project! Alex is almost done with the electricity to the garage but we are waiting for an inspection. We also ran a water line to the garden and put in fruit trees and lots of other trees! All in all, this spring was busy and successful!

So what’s the summer look like you ask? So glad you asked. Weekly mowing of our weeds, as you see, we don’t actually really have any grass. So saying that we have to mow the lawn is a bit of a fallacy. Nevertheless, that is an unending chore. So is pulling weeds from the garden.  Aside from that here’s a few things on the agenda.

  1. Put in vehicle gate to back yard (for mulch/sand/wood) deliveries. This task is complete.
  2. Build kids a playset and sandbox. This project is set to begin this weekend and finishing up the following weekend.
  3. Build the kids the “Ultimate Slip and Slide”. This project is set to be completed on July 12th. Right in time for Elyse’s birthday. Oh yah.
  4. Put gutters on the house (this might go on the fall list)
  5. Can LOTS of tomatoes (this is slight wishful thinking as I have bad luck growing tomato plants).
  6. Begin renovations to garage for coffee roasting business. This is pending a few things.

So yah. Totally do-able. So you want to know more about this coffee roasting business thing? Well the short of it is, we are trying to figure out if it is a possibility for us to start a “real” business out of the home. We have to meet certain requirements and are in the process of talking with inspectors. Its going to be a grueling processes, but we are excited for the possibility. And if not now, maybe in the future. But no worries, we can still hook friends and family up with some delish coffee. No worries on that 🙂

So you wanna check out what’s been goin on in the garden eh?

Baby Red Potatoes
Heirloom Beets!
Harvested Wheat (Awaiting threshing!)
Harvested Wheat (Awaiting threshing!)
Can you guess which of my plants bolted and made these pretty flowers?

Sadly, I have had two of my squash plants die. They just up and died. No explanation. Well, I am sure there is an explanation but I haven’t been able to discover it yet. I have quite a few more going strong and I planted some new ones just in case, ya know, in case we run out of squash. I have already frozen some!

That’s about it, I reckon. Anything you want to hear about?

Hope you have some awesome summer plans! Break a sweat.

Summer Garden 2014 Part 1

Ohhh this is such an exciting time of year. Zucchini, basil, and tomatoes galore! One can never have enough basil, mozzarella and tomato salad. Can I get an amen?!

I am happy (more like thrilled) to announce that my garden is doing WELL this year! I am so excited. I don’t go comparing my garden with others, so it might not be as fantastic as it could be but I’m satisfied nonetheless.

Shall we have a tour of sorts?

For starters, I thought that I would update that indeed, I CAN grow radishes. Just takes a few tries. In case you missed my radish growing saga, you can check that out here. Much better the second time around.

Radish

 

Next up we have some lovely yellow squash coming along nicely. In fact in probably a day or two I will be overrun with squash as there is a good 10-12 squash all growing the same size at the moment. I am not complaining 🙂 Funny thing about this squash is that I planted zucchini seeds and they are coming up as yellow squash. Someone must have packed those wrong! Lol. Oh well. I do have a couple of zuc plants as well.

squash

Next we have mega lettuce. Aka Christmas tree lettuce. AKA needs to be eaten soon lettuce. This is technically a spring crop, hence why it is bolting and the size of a small Christmas tree. Nevertheless, this lovely red lettuce tastes good with my new radishes in a salad! (Lea is there for size comparison by the way).

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Next we have my first real “crop” as I actually planted more than 5 of it. Most of the other plants in the garden I have only planted a few plants, even though in reality I could plant a whole field of lettuce if I really wanted to. You’re welcome to come down and do so yourself if you are so inclined. Lol. So…this crop here is sweet potatoes. 100 lovely plants. Last year we planted 20 plants, so we have majorly upped that! Sweet potatoes grew so well in the woodchips last year and they lasted forever (ya, until like yesterday when I finally ate the last one…) So, we’re hoping to get a good store of these for this winter and maybe even try canning some? Anyone know of ways to preserve sweet potatoes?

sweets

Those are the mains of the garden right now, although I do have some tomatoes, cukes, strawberries, kale, and beans planted as well. As soon as my spring crops clear out (still eatin the spinach and kale!) I’ll put in some more summer time goodness. Oh! I almost forgot we also planted a bunch of watermelons, honeydew and cantaloupes as well! It would be so sweet if we actually got any of those to eat!

Oh and I almost forgot! We harvested the wheat! If you missed my wheat growing story, check out the planting here , it’s growing herewaiting

WHEAT

I can say we have made some progress since last year as far as garden knowledge goes, however I still have a long way to go. Ever so slowly we keep going…I am truly thankful for anything that comes out of my backyard. It always tastes better when you know you have planted a seed, watered, and watched it grow (unless you are talking about mustard greens in which case…well…those are probably better left un-grown, lol.)

So to sum up, here are a few things I have learned about gardening this past year. (Yes I realize they are very rudimentary knowledge…).

  1. Water direct planted seeds daily. Last year this was such a chore since we didn’t have a water line to the garden and walking 200 ft with watering cans is impractical and hard! Thankfully, Alex was able to get me a water line much closer to the garden and so now we can water much more easily with a sprinkler.
  2. Fertilize! We are using fish emulsion. Seems to be working really well, especially to get plants going.
  3. Plant what grows and skip things that have trouble. I replanted cukes this year even though last year they were devastated by the cucumber beetle. That’s pretty much the only pest I had, except the tomato hornworm. The beetles were impossible to get rid of organically and there were a million of them. So, if my cukes get wiped out again this year I will probably just skip planting them. I would rather buy them from someone without those pests and grows without pesticides than resort to using chemicals. If anyone else has ideas on how to get rid of them let me know! The hornworms are easy enough to pick and smoosh and they never made enough damage. Lea and I had fun last year scouting them out. They are pretty creepy looking though!
  4. Plant companion plants. I have tried to do this a bit this year, although I still have a ways to go…not sure i see the “benefits” yet…but maybe its the lack of problems that is the real answer! I have nasturtiums growing all over the garden, I am looking forward to seeing some of those edible flowers soon!

That’s it for now! Check back soon for Part 2 (Probably the mid-season harvest pics!)

Erica

 

Time Again to Wait

I have so many exciting things to share with you, I could barely decide what I should start with! Maybe I’ll just give you the full-fanny here and wear your poor eyes out reading. Nah, it’s not that bad! It mostly all has to do with our Spring projects which are coming along quite nicely.

Firstly, I’ve GOT to tell you about the wheat! Oh, I am so uber (or is it oober?) excited about this! I don’t really even know how to describe my feelings entirely. Yes, I have feelings in respect to my wheat. I know, I am crazy. Mostly it is excitement. But there is another layer…a deeper layer. Excitement only scratches the surface. There is this awe that abounds in my heart when I see something that I planted from a tiny seed turn into something so beautiful. While it might be a bit of a far stretch, its kind of like watching a child grow. We oohh and ahh over their firsts. First crawl, first step, first smile. You get me, right? Well for me, watching a plant grow is like that. From the first sprout, to the first flower, to the first fruits. It is incredible. It is also as equally disappointed when it doesn’t work out. When you plant a seed and it doesn’t grow. Think about that. Deep man, deep. However, it appears so far that my wheat is doing ok. Seems to be growing happily, unbothered. The commercial fields around us also have wheat growing and while its definitely cool to watch, it’s nothing like watching your own. Well just the other day we were driving down our road and I commented to Alex that I wish my wheat was growing the little wheat heads like the wheat around us. He replied that MINE WAS! I hadn’t been out to look at it in a few days. Of course as soon as we got home, I rushed out to see it. Sure enough. Man, my heart was so full of joy. My little patch of wheat babies. I’ve also got some sort of pea plant growing in the wheat as well…not sure how it got there but its pretty! Now to wait…until the middle of Summer when harvest time will be here.

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We also got a small spring garden in. Unfortunately, either the weather has been bad or my soil is bojangled because stuff hasn’t exactly grown excepttoo much. Not much has actually died, its just not growing. Except the radishes. Apparently I can grow radishes. Not that they are entirely my favorite food…there is a lovely sweetness to a freshly picked radish. Not like the store-bought. I’ll continue to wait for the fruits of my labors. Here’s a lovely squash plant starting!

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In addition to the garden, Alex was able to run a PVC water line closer to the garden. Having a garden over 200ft away from the nearest hose spigot was proving to be a problem. So he dug a trench and ran a PVC line from the well pump out to the middle of the yard and put a hose connection on it. So now we can run another hose from the middle of the yard, and much closer to the garden. Oh, what a blessing this is! The trench for this was an extension of the trench he dug to get electricity to his garage. This was a huge undertaking, but we are nearly done with that project as well! The girls thoroughly enjoyed the small river we had in the backyard for a few days as the rain filled up the 20in deep trench! It will be so great to have electricity in the garage for a number of reasons! I’m excited for the wood working projects that will come out of the garage, esp in the winter months when homestead work is slower! We can finally have a space heater so we can work out there!

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On a final homestead related note…we finally were able to order some trees. We got crepe myrtles, Japanese cherries, red maples, pecan, walnut and a couple of forsythia bushes. We actually just finished planting all of those last night! Phew. 20 trees total! I really did help, I promise…I didn’t just take all the pictures. We also ordered some fruit trees! We got three apple trees and three blueberry bushes. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of those yet still. I am so thrilled that we are making some progress on our homestead dreams! Nevertheless, trees take a while to grow! The waiting game for apples, blueberries or nuts will be a long one! We will be sure to keep you updated on how those lovely little trees are coming along!

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In the meantime of all of this, we are happily enjoying our newest addition. In fact, even just last night when we were planting the trees I had the baby strapped to my front in a carrier and we were digging holes together. He is really a great baby and we are so blessed by that! The girls have finally adjusted (I think) and are very smitten by him.

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That’s it for now! If I could ever miraculously figure out how to get more than 5 minutes on the computer at any given time I would update more often. Alas, I suppose its the stage of life we are in eh? I am forced to choose between and shower or posting this update. At least I showered last night…

Warm Weather Wishes and Worm Update

Sooo ready for Spring!! Are you??

We had a bit of a warm streak last week and everything perked up. But, now were back into the 20’s again. I’m excited about what this Spring is going to bring, but I am a tad bit nervous as this is the part of the year where “the petal hits the metal” again. Mowing acres of grass weeds, building projects, gardening, composting, NEW BABY! Haha…Yeah we have a lot on our plates this year! But I am still trying to remind myself that we are still LEARNING. Even though I desperately wish I could just instantly have all the knowledge I need to be able to do these things, I shall, like everyone else, continue to learn as I go.

I have however gotten started on one of my projects! Vermicomposting! It was on my goals for this year. For those who are not sure what this vermicomposting thing is…here’s the lowdown. I am basically creating an indoor composting system (you can do it outdoors, but its more challenging to get started). Instead of using time as my composting method, I am using worms! Alright, I know I just lost some of you…skip past the creepy crawlies if you must. For the rest of you…You basically make a little habitat for the woms to live in and you feed them your kitchen scraps. In return for your delicious leftovers, the worms will leave you with rich, nutrient dense worm poop compost for you to use as your heart desires in your gardens, flower beds, etc. It’s really probably the simplest thing to set up and doesn’t take a ton of time for a good amount of worms to create this compost. In addition, because the environment that these worms thrive in is moist, there will be a good bit of liquid that accumulates over time and this my friends, is known as (at least it is to me), the Holy Grail of plant feed- “Compost Tea.” Aka worm pee. Well, I am not really sure if worms pee, but theoretically, if dirt is worm poop, then the liquid is pee. See how sound my philosophy is??

There are lots more highly educated people who can probably explain this all better to you. I just thought I would give you the “Erica-fied” version of my understanding. Because that’s more fun to read. Ya know?

So, you might be wondering why I have any desire to have a colony of worms living in Rubbermaid containers in my laundry room, eh? Well. I had terrible luck this year with a traditional outdoor composting system. It was basically a pile of yard clippings, left over hay, and kitchen scraps. However, lots of nasty little creatures also enjoyed my pile. I had two major problems with my system. One, it took a long time for anything to break down and turn into soil before something came and “took over”. Herein lies my second problem, I had lots of…let’s just called them bugs so you don’t loose your lunch…take over. They made lots of babies in the soil that have been hibernating over the winter. So, if I were to use this soil in my garden, I would most likely be putting these BAD bug babies right into places where I am going to plant. We’re talking like tomato hornworm babies, cabbage lopers, cucumber beetles, etc. I ain’t like those in my garden. Now, to solve this problem, I COULD use my dreamy ducks or chickens to come nibble through the soil to eat all of these bug babies. That would be very handy. But alas, ducks are yet to get here. Boy they would have a feast though. Seriously, I’ve never seen so many creepies before. Ick!

Moving on…

So this concept of worm composting is attractive because it’s a little less prone to unwanted critters. Sure there are some other things that can get in there, but for the most part it’s a controlled environment. So, I am going to give it a whirl. Not to mention Lea is already smitten with the worms. She loves worms. Country kid.

So, here’s a couple of my worm set up pics. This is a highly unsophisticated system that cost me about $15 (including worms) total. There’s many other ways to do it…I just had these Rubbermaid’s already and used some shredded paper and Voila!

Photo Feb 27, 11 04 30 AM

Photo Feb 27, 11 04 44 AM

Photo Feb 26, 9 14 39 PM

If you want the details on how I constructed my bin, these are the instructions I used…

http://www.vermicompost.net/rubbermaid-worm-bin-plans/

I am also proud to say that I did it all myself. Not that I don’t love my husband helping, but there’s something that makes you feel powerful when you bust out a drill and chop saw. Ok…I’m alone again.

On a final note, I found my worms at a local bait shop. They are a tad different than I expected but after some research, I did reassure myself that they are the correct ones that I needed. So, I am happy about that! And I am sure I looked like a crazy person with my two kids, 9 month pregnant self, asking to buy a bunch of packages of red worms. Oh well.

Well, that’s that for now. I haven’t fed the little buddies yet, as I just got them nestled into their new home last night. Apparently I am supposed to wait a few days so they get themselves all nice and cozy before feeding them. I’ll let you know how it goes. 😉

In other news…

Here’s the latest look at my wheat growing! It made it through the winter and being covered in a foot of snow! I definitely need to try to plant “rows” next time instead of just scattering it, but it’s looking the same as the commercial wheat growing across the field. So, at least I am not totally off base! Here’s hoping it keeps going!

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Photo Feb 27, 10 53 22 AM

Alright, I’ll keep ya posted. Next time maybe our little farm boy will have arrived! Counting down the days now!!

Frost Kills

Welp. It happened. Our first frost. Never really did understand the implications of that. I mean I have watched some movies where farmers all start freaking out when it comes to early frosts…but now, I get to experience it. Wow, crazy! It really does make a big difference.

I got the “Frost Warning” on my phone weather app last week (I don’t remember the day).  Knowing that it can be a big deal I started thinking about what I needed to do. My only thought was to bring in my Meyer Lemon tree…and boy am I happy I did that. I also thought about my wheat and prayed that it had had enough time to grow roots that could sustain a frost. Wheat is a winter crop, but I had read it needs at least 2-3 weeks before a frost to set firm. I thought I was totally covered being that the normal first frost date for our area is like the second week of November. Bah, guess you can’t trust the old almanac after all. Not much I could do though as I had nothing to cover my wheat with. I just prayed.

Well, early next morning I scurried out to check on my wheat and it was totally fine. Praise ya Lord! Then I turned and looked at my garden and remembered my basil plant. Oh sadness. And my peppers…oh sadness. They aren’t kidding are they? Frost Kills. You know that lovely big bowl of basil I picked the other day? Well, I am so glad I did that because I lost it all! I could have cut more of it off, but again I thought I had a little more time! Oh well, I did get that last big bowl of it. It so sad to see something so beautiful one day and literally overnight die. Wow, I had no idea. My peppers were doing AWESOME and I was getting great yields from them. But alas, they did not survive. I was able to pick off the peppers that we on the plant and some of the larger ones are ok, most of the small ones shrived up and turned brown and squishy. Frost Kills.

Dead Basil
Hard to Tell…but a shrived up cherry tomato plant.

So, there is my saga. My lesson learned. Had I been more prepared, I may have been able to cover these crops with some insulating material to protect them for  few more weeks. But I didn’t think about it nor did I have anything I could use. Plastic wrap?? Nevertheless, I am more than thankful for the bounty of basil this season, the peppers, the few tomatoes, and all the other things that were a learning experience.

Green Pepper Harvest

And…my lettuce is doing fine as it likes the chilly. Weird how some plants love it, others just keel over and die. Why is that?

I am thankful for harvest time and all that it brings. Here’s a couple of my favorite.

Pumpkin Picking!
Hay Rides with Stud Man.

So. Moral of my story is: Don’t joke the frosts. They are serious killers. (I am sure they killed some bad bugs too…so look on the bright side right?). Till next year my sweet basil. Good bye.

Fall Garden and Spring Planning

Alex and I have done some back-breaking, brow-sweating work these past couple of weekends trying to get the spring garden bed in place. We choose to create a new garden bed in a place more conveniently located behind the house. We got two loads of beautiful, black, compost which we laid on top of newspaper. We then covered the compost with our lovely woodchips, about 6 inches deep. We plan to get some manure and sprinkle that on top and let the bed rest until spring. Many have questioned our “No-Till” gardening method, and while I am very new to it all, I genuinely feel like this is how we are going to heal this land. There are some great articles online that talk about this no-till philosophy and permaculture.  Anyways, not to bore you. Someday, when I am more skilled I will post a more informative post on that!

In the meantime, we built an 18 x 30 ft garden bed, which ends up about 540 square feet. This is more than double what we did this year! So, I am excited about that. Obviously, in comparison to the land, this is still a very small bed but it took over 10 hours of work just to get that. Any bigger and we’re going to need some serious equipment. Not to mention all this while pregnant! I am pretty sure this baby is coming out with a pitchfork in hand! Lol!

photo 3 (22)Here’s the progress..as you can see the difference between compost and woodchips.

photo 5 (5)Elyse is checking out the new garden! Kids love this!

photo 2 (30)Good rich earth. Man, I love the smell of it! So excited for next spring!

In my current garden, I harvested all of the sweet potatoes last week. I am not sure exactly how many I got, but my guess is around 30-40 pounds. Not entirely sure. I’d say it was worth the 6 dollars I spent on the plant slips!

My tomato plants are still producing, but most of the tomatoes are only turning slightly orangish- not getting to red. If I put them on the counter they turn redder over the week. So, overall guess the tomatoes weren’t a total flop. I’ve got some lettuce planted and it is growing very nicely. I also have some collards, but they don’t seem to be taking off as much. Hmm. They’re not dead yet though! Let’s see what else. Oh! I have a couple of snap pea plants that are doing well. I am sad that I literally only have like 4 plants of those growing, but oh well. This weather has been very confusing for plants lately.

photo 4 (9)So overall, with this last years garden, I am not thrilled with the results but I am not entirely disappointed. I got some great harvests of some things, like my sweet potatoes and squash. The pest issue was pretty significant and I need to come up with some better ways to help with that. I plan to be much more intentional with companion planting and using herbs and flowers in the garden next year. Hopefully, that will help some.

So what’s next for the MonroePost homestead? I am not sure exactly what’s in the lineup next but here’s a few projects we’re eyeing and trying to budget for!

  • Power to Alex’s garage
  • Finish garage organization
  • Build chicken/duck coop
  • Build a more sophisticated compost pile
  • Start a vermicompost system
  • Prepare old garden bed area to become the small orchard in the spring

We will keep you posted!

Failing

Why is it that failure hurts so bad? Disappointment cuts deep into the heart’s flesh.

I’m feeling some loss this week. Feeling some frustration and disappointment.

Why does everything have to be so hard? Every.thing. Or so it feels like.

I fathom a guess I feel it so deeply because I pour so much of myself into everything I do. I garden, I cook, I create, I mother with such a deep passion that when things go wrong I feel such loss.

The bugs have discovered my garden this week. As if it wasn’t having enough problems as it was. First, the attack of the cucumber beetles wiped out my two cucumber plants and then moved to everything else. Then I discovered hornworms on my tomato plants. Then the squash beetles are devastating my squash and zucchini plants. I almost cry as I type this because I realize I have so much to learn to try to figure out how to deal with these issues. It’s frustrating and heartbreaking. I wish it were just easy. Just simple. I am out there twice a day squishing bugs and crying out for insight on how to deal with this. I am believing for a revelation. If only the corn was tasty to the bugs…

My new sourdough starter molded. /cry/

I yelled at my kids.

I miserably failed dinner tonight. I cried. A lot. Thankfully, hubby picked up some fried chicken on the way home.

There is just something about failing…makes me angry. But it also makes me determined. I don’t give up easily. “A Thousand Times I’ve Failed, but Your Mercy Remains…”

It doesn’t come easy…gardens, dinners, child rearing. It’s all hard and I fail. If I didn’t fail, then success wouldn’t ever taste so sweet. The few zucchini that I have gotten and the two or three mottled cucumbers have been savored with such love. I love things. But with love comes loss. It’s worth it. Everytime.

But it still hurts to fail.

Thank you God, whose beauty never fails…whose Mercy never fails…whose Love never fails…

Promises.

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Erica

 

Garage Finished! Garden Growing!

I am happy to announce that the workshop/garage is finished! We are still awaiting on the final inspection, so there may be a few little tweaks here and there. Alex still needs to build all of his tool benches, cabinets, etc but the rest is done!! It feels like forever ago that we started this project and it sure has been a long, hard project. It turned out fantastic though and is going to be a great space for Alex to build me all my requested tables, chairs, cabinets, etc!

Garage is Built!

The garden is finally growing too! It was slow to take off, but I think it is finally getting somewhere! I have my very first zucchini growing! I am so happy and elated that everything didn’t die! I find that it is such a joy to watch something I grow from a small seed mature into an edible, nourishing food! I can honestly savor those first bites of vegetables out of the garden with such great appreciation. I went ahead and bought a few more tomato plants the other day because I just felt like 3 tomato plants wasn’t enough. I wasn’t able to successfully grow my tomatos from seed, but I think that was because I didn’t start the seedlings early enough in the season and I think they went through transplant shock when I planted them. I am learning now! Everything else growing was from seed, with the exception of my sweet potato slips. I also replanted some carrot seeds to see if those will take since I didn’t have luck earlier in the season with those. We will see!!

Other than that we have just been busy with little projects here and there. The next big project on the horizon is the fence! We have bought all the materials for the fence and are just waiting for our farmer friend to come out and plow the land for us. Currently we are about waist high in weeds, so we really need his help to get those weeds under control so we can mow our yard with our mower. The rest he will take care of for us as we talked about in a previous post. But…we are still waiting on that, so fence can’t go up until that happens. Hopefully this week he will have time to do that!!

That’s about it for now!

Our First Month (and some) [Homestead Update]

I thought it would be appropriate to try to keep track of how things are going and how we are progressing on our homestead goals. We’ve been here a little over a month now (moved in April 20th). Feels like its been longer than that!

-Our biggest project has definitely been building the garage/workshop. We are finally wrapping it up, just a few more things to do on it. I know I am pleased with how it turned out, and I know Alex is ecstatic about finally having a place to store all of his tools. I will be so happy when they are out of my living room!! I am looking forward to him being able to build me some bookshelves or other projects for things around the house! Now we need a table saw!

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-The second biggest project has been getting the garden in. I know this is a learning year so things aren’t moving along as quickly as I had hoped, but all is not lost yet! My plants are finally growing, and I am hoping they will “take off” here shortly. We have been getting plenty of rain and my woodchips are working beautifully I hardly ever have to water. I did go an get a load of mushroom compost last week and spread a few inches on the garden, I am hoping that will help them along. So far I have 3 tomato plants, about 7 squash plants, 4 cuke plants, 11 sweet potato plants, 6 pepper plants, a couple acorn squash, watermelon, and pumpkins growing. Oh and a basil plant. I have some seedlings to plant as well that are a few more tomatoes and some more herbs. Overall, I am happy with how things are going!

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-We are mostly unpacked, all except books really and craft stuff. I need shelves badly! We are still trying to figure out what to do with our spare bedroom, which is currently where all of our storage stuff is. I think we are going to turn it into a craft/sewing room for now until we need it for more kids. LOL (no that’s NOT a hint). It would be nice to have an area where I can set up sewing projects and not have to clean it up to eat dinner on the same table! However, I need another table and some storage bins of some sort. So that’s a work in process.

-Grass (or rather weeds) are finally growing which is helping take over the MonroePost mud lake. The front yard is almost covered and the backyard is getting there. We have some low lying areas on the sides of the house which get flooded in rain, so they are pretty much mud all the time. I think we will need a few loads of dirt to truly remedy that problem. The septic area is not really growing anything, and I think that’s mainly due to the high sand content. They brought in loads of sand instead of dirt. Sooo, we might just have to keep working on that area.

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-I got my clothesline built (or rather Alex built my clothesline). So far I love it! Its so nice to save energy and have sun dried clothes! I think hanging clothes does a better job than even ironing Alex’s work shirts! So windy out here, wrinkles don’t stand a chance! Yesterday I washed and hung sheets for the first time. Quintessential country living there. Haha!

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-We have also been talking with the farmer who cares for the land around us (and who once cared for these 5 acres). We have decided to sublet the back part of our land (about 2.75 acres of it) to this farmer and allow him to care for it for a while. This was a tough decision as we really don’t like what he will be growing, but we have decided its the best plan. We have a long journey ahead of us before we can really care for 5.5 acres by ourselves without a real tractor or a cow or something. We are letting him use the back and leaving a good 300 feet from the house before he will start planting. We felt comfortable with this distance. I have voiced my concerns about the pesticides ect to the farmer and he is extremely understanding and cautious. He is very supportive of my gardening methods and will do his best to support me. He even said if they wind direction was wrong (towards my house) he will never spray. I felt better knowing that he was supportive of me and cared about the safety of my family. All that being said, we knew that moving to the country, we would be experiencing commercial farming. There is really no way around it. I am glad to at least have met the farmer (he literally came to my house!) and feel that he is supportive of my values. He even invited me to come down and visit us at his house down the road. I like that. I will forgive the fact that he is planting death seeds in my yard. For now. Someday, I really hope that we can care for all 5 acres and plant our own crops, etc. Maybe goats can help us care for the land. Who knows! So much going on! For now, this will be a convenient way for us to not get overrun with weeds and also a little bit of extra needed income.

Stay tuned for more updates!