FORAGING FOR EDIBLE WEEDS. 

I was asked recently by a follower for a basic lesson on how I forage for edible weeds. And to that I’ll say.. not very proficiently. I am no professional and I don’t do it enough to be called a ‘forager’. One day of course. But I’ve definitely foraged and eaten off the land, not nearly as much as I could however. At our previous property purslane and lambs quarter abounded and isn’t bad sautéed in butter. 

By true definition a weed is only ‘a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of vigorous growth.’ Thank you Merriam-Webster for driving home my point. 

Dandelion buds drying before infusion

So here’s just a few tips that got me started:

Do some research. Some of my favorite websites for foraging:

  • Edible Wild Food. They’re website lists tons of info on edible plants, flowers, and fungi.
  • Grow Forage Cook Ferment. This is where most my inspiration comes from whether it be foraging for eating or homemade body care products.
  • Forage and Harvest. They provide email dosages to keep you to date on info and provide all the info you need to reconnect with nature safely. 

Start in your own yard/property or near by areas first. Check out your surrounds and see what’s available. You’d be suprised what growing right under your nose. 

Check with your local Forest Service or community groups. Your local station may have printouts or advice to offer. Lots of outdoor hiking, foraging, gardening, homesteading groups have oodles of hands on experience to help you out. Im sure you can find one whether that be through Facebook or your city/county.

Picking dandelions for mama

Ask tons of questions. If you know anyone who has or does forage. Pick they’re brain! Ask they to take you out foraging sometime. 

Find out what grows in your area. Each region is unique so I’m sure what is edible and grows where I live might not be what is edible and growing where you live. Around here we have tons of:

  • Purslane
  • Lambs quarter
  • Dandelion
  • Plantain

I’m sure there are many more around but that’s what I seem to see the most of around our property. And up in the foothills this time of year there are thousands for morel mushrooms. 

Ask for a second opinion if you’re not sure. If you kinda think that might be the right and plant but you’re not sure.. don’t eat it! Get someone to confirm for you before ingesting. 

Don’t spray the edible weeds! Save your money the noxious weeds and let the edibles grow.. even if it’s in your yard 😉 Yes they may not grow exaclty where you chose, but edible weeds have a reason and purpose just as much as a lawn of grass or a garden of vegetables. 

Got any chickens or rabbits? They love to eat weeds to even if you won’t. 

There you have it! I’m sure there’s much more to be learned. And as I learn I’ll blog it all. 

On the left olive oil, on the right grapeseed; both currently infusing.

Right now I’m working on infusing olive and grape seed oils with dried dandelion buds so I can then make dandelion lotion bars. Post on that soon to come! Check out The Nerdy Farm Wife for all sorts of dandelion DIYs!

Peace and Love,

Q


What’s in My Spring Garden?

I had a few questions from friends about gardening these last month or so..

Mostly it’s: 

Where do I start?

What do I plant?

I’ve so been there. And I’m basically still a green horn at everything. There are way too many options out there. Here’s a bit from us so maybe y’all won’t have to go through the same trial and errors that we have. 

Rhubarb making a comeback..

We live in North Central Oregon (zone 6) so growing a plentiful garden can be a challenge. Since we don’t have the longest growing season, our last frost date being early to mid June, starting indoors is basically required if you want to be eating from your garden through spring and summer. Have a greenhouse? Perfect. You’re already a step ahead of me! We do have two 4’x 8′ hoop houses though, which will serve as a green house to our first transplants for our spring garden. Currently they’re housing 22 layer chicks, sorry, not sorry!

(We plan to build a greenhouse in the near future in order to grow short season cold weather varieties through the winter)

No greenhouse? Don’t fret. Seed starts do well with artificial light. Affordable growing lights can be acquired on the internet or at a local garden store. No money in the budget for garden purchases? That’s ok to. Lights are the best option to keep your seeds from becoming lanky but they’ll do fine with natural sun exposure also. Find a southern facing warm window in your house where you can set up a table for seed starting. 

Now onto the good stuff. 

Here’s a simple list of basic seed starting supplies:

  • Seed-starting soil mix (I reuse any soil from last years pots or planters before buying new) But I also really love those jiffy pellets! 
  • Seed starting trays- basic containers w/drainage holes and a tray (upcycle and get creative if you need to)
  • Grow lights
  • Seeds

Choosing what to put in your garden up to you. I can tell you all day long what you should be planting, but in the end it’s all about what you and your family will eat and how much time you’re willing to spend tending your plants. No sense in wasting time and money on food you’ll likely not eat, and a garden does need regular tending whether it be mulching, weeding, or checking for (squishing) bugs. 

Currently: seed starts and baby chicks.

Here’s a list of what belongs in YOUR spring garden: (what I’m planting/ already planted = *)

  • Lettuce*
  • Cabbage*
  • Radish
  • Leeks
  • Peas*
  • Spinach*
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Potatoes
  • Parsley*
  • Endive
  • Swiss chard*
  • Kale*
  • Broccoli
  • Collards*
  • Mustard greens*
  • Celery
  • Beets*
  • Rutabaga
  • Cauliflower*
  • Green Onions*

Since I’m a seed addict and have so many of these varieties already, choices were made based on what I have on hand right now. I still have to purchase things like radish and broccoli seed, we plant so much of these I never have left overs.  Our potatoes will be planted next month using the potato tower method, which I’ll definetly be making a post about as it happens. I’m also starting herbs I have now since they can easily be grown indoors full time anyway. 


Let’s talk seeds! I love seeds, all seeds, free seeds, heirloom seeds, big or small. Seeds are the stuff of life. And I’m going to give you a peek at my favorite companies. 

Mike the Gardner – Seeds of the Month club

  • 100% non-GMO
  • 8 packs your first month, 4 thereafter
  • Affordable heirloom seeds

Territorial Seed Company

  • Local- Cottage Grove, OR
  • Family owned
  • Offers only untreated seed (non-GMO)

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

  • Nearly 2,000 varieties of heirloom seeds – largest selection in U.S. 
  • Family owned
  • Supplies free heirloom seeds to poor countries.

Seed Savers Exchange 

  • USDA organic 
  • Heirloom seeds
  • Non-profit dedicated to preservation of heirloom seeds
  • Tax deductible membership


I take whatever advice I can get, and have learned much from fellow homesteaders and some really amazing books. Most of what I know I can thank these three folks and their amazing families for the trial and error they’ve let us all watch over the years. 
Shaye Elliott- The Elliott Homestead

  • Welcome to the Farm — How-to Wisdom from The Elliott Homestead

Justin Rhodes- Abundant Permaculture

  • Permaculture Chickens DVD
  • YouTube vlog

Jill Winger- The Prairie Homestead

  • Your Custom Homestead e-book

These folks are my heroes and I wouldn’t be where I am today had it not been for these amazing homesteaders who inspired me and my family to get back to basics and grow a life of wholesome plenty. 

A great morning ritual is full of coffee and a good book

Over and out.

Peace and Love,

Quincy

Homestead Plan 2017

Holy cow where did last year go?
We accomplished a lot in 2016 and failed at even more. 

The onions I planted so the horses could trample them…
We’re learning to grow and live more seasonally and to appreciate what we have while we have it. 

Like all homesteaders this is a lesson that has been tough to learn. We wanted (and did) to dive right into the deep end. Some of our endeavors were successful and others a horrible tragedy. 

My little chicken helper
But not this year. We’re on a new property with a whole new lease on our homesteading dreams. 

We have learned so much the last two years and it’s it so lucky you can take all your trials and tribulations with you, isn’t it? I don’t know what I would do without all the hands on hours I’ve had of trying to make things work. 

But that’s just it, we can’t make things work in our favor all the time. Sometimes we just need to go with that flow. 

And I gotta say that all homesteaders have one flaw, the fact that we have to learn it on our own. Am I right? A fellow steader can tell you all their stories and give warning after warning but you’ll still need to learn it for yourself.  

Raised beds which grew so much food!
This is most ardently true of us Gardner’s. Were cheap (frugal) and we’re ok with a little hard work and good ole fashion elbow grease. 
So this year there’s lots to be done. 

Here’s a little of what we have in store:

  • Build Justin Rhodes’ Chickshaw
  • Put away 60 broilers in freezer camp
  • Establish our crop garden
  • Build more garden spaces and soil– put those chooks to work!
  • Build a greenhouse
  • Can and freeze our harvest for winter (basically I want to grow enough veggies to sustain us through winter)
  • Add 30 laying hens
  • Grow 10 turkeys- also for freezer camp 
  • Build a hog pen
  • Expand meat rabbit project – build pasture pens
  • Put up 5 tons of hay for winter
  • Fence in and seed front pasture – horse grazing

It’s a lot to get done and that’s just the big things… 

    we’ve got a lot of work ahead and I can’t way for this snow to melt so we can get started!

    Peace and Love…. and seed starts!

    Q

    A homestead school experiment for Ireland

    Moving Towards Minimalism.

    This winter, minimalism has been my goal, well that and the 9 knitting projects I currently have going… ahem. Minimalism was hard (is hard) for me at times. In the beginning I read posts from wives and mothers desperately in need of something to change in their household. They were cleaning constantly, folding laundry daily, picking up the same toys over and over…


    That was, and sometime still is, me. I can so relate with the stress of nonfunctional house. At time you can feel like you have no just time for just you. 

    All of it began to change when we moved, only 14 miles, north back to our home town. We had acrued SO many things I could barely breath when debating ‘where do I even begin?’ So I grabbed a trash bag and started tossing. A trash bag turned into a trailer load turned numerous dumploads, honestly I can’t even recall how many, and I don’t think I want to. Had we really just thrown all that “stuff” away? Heck ya we did!

    And I have felt so much better since that day, yes it was hard and it still is. But when you take a good long pause to really think about an item:

    -when was the last time I used this?

    -how long has it been in disrepair?

    -do I love this thing?

    -does anyone I know need one of these?

    And you find yourself saying I don’t remember, who knows, heck no, and definitely not to these questions, you then wonder… why do I still have this?

    That was just the first step and the proceeding steps have been that much easier to take, now that I understand what we can and cannot live without. 

    Since we’ve moved life is feeling, well lighter. I’ve sorted through and thrown out so much baggage from our lives. 

    Socks with holes. Gone. Shoes that don’t fit. Peace out. Clothes the girls grew out of. Adios muchachos. Extra dishes and utensils. Get outta here!

    Books and books upon more books? Oh of course babies you guys are staying! There’s nothing like a well stocked home library if I do say so myself. I digress. 


    I even got rid of the TV from our living room, phew was I worried about that. But you know what? The kids haven’t even asked where it went. A bu-by boob tube. 

    If you knew me then you would know I can be a little bit of a clothing hoarder. But I’ve learned more about myself in and out of pregnancy that there’s one thing I’ve realized about me… I like comfort. So I’ve been weeding through clothes and it feels fantastic. Sometimes I can actually fit all my clothes in my dresser… ahem. Well it’s true, mama likes her large wardrobe. But I’m learning to live with less and that makes me feel good. And less laundry piling up means I get to wear that favorite shirt more often as it is not lost away inside laundry mountain. 

    I went one step farther and I took all the toys away. And the same reaction as the TV, no one noticed. Yes, some met the trash. Sentimental, speciality and learning toys have been stored and are accessible for use when the kids want. But always get put back up afterwards. I tell you it is a great feeling to walk across a dark living room not to kick or step on one toy. Simplicity people, is where it’s at. 

    Over the course of this massive homestead de-clutter I have learned 5 massively helpful tid-bits that make our lives easier day to day:

    1. Make beds everyday

    2. Don’t do another load of laundry until all previous loads are folded and put away. 

    3. Dinner isn’t finished until the dishes are clean. (I learned this from a post about homemaking like a Mennonite, now those women can run a household!)

    4. Keep the dining room table clear, even if you have to do it a dozen times a day. (Since our table doubles as a home school craft area this is especially necessary)

    5. Keep all the shoes in ONE area/place/room etc. trust me… assign the shoes a zone, teach your kids and husband, stop tripping on said shoes in the middle of the night.

    In the end it’s all about making life more livable. Is my house clean at all times? Definitely not, but I can breath a little easier with less and the house takes a fraction of the time to clean as it used to. 

    I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t want to be wasting my husbands only two days off every week cleaning and folding laundry. There has got to be more to life than that. And there is! It’s outside your house. And it’s waiting for us all. 


    Get outside and enjoy this world!

    Peace & Love,

    Q

    A Blizzard and The Homestead.

    Maybe this is just a test. Mother Nature, saying hey, it’s January y’all homesteaders better get your head in the game. I adore how nature never lets us feel completely in control, she is not predictable, we must ebb and flow with her rhythm whilst trying to find ours in the midst of all this beauty. 


    Well folks the new year has been quite the challenge so far. Our power went out at 630 this morning. We spent the proceeding 2.5 hours running around figuring all the needed to be figured for this day ahead, and this was just the beginning.

    As we gathered supplies and tools I visualized to Ireland how the oil lamps we were using are similar to that of the ones Laura Ingalls and her family used. We’re about half way through Little House on the Prairie but I still don’t think it’s sunk in with Ireland that Laura Ingalls lived in a much different time than us. So today was an awesome time to have a small inpromptu homeschool lesson on living without electriciy. Her chin dropped when I stated that Laura and her sister Mary likely never got to watch Frozen. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud.


    Winter isn’t such a big deal here, usually… having lived here my whole life I know what to expect. But the last few years Central Oregon has seen below average snow fall and we all got a little used to the weekend snow storms that melt away in 72 hours. Well, we prayed for snow and boy have we received. There are no days off in homesteading and that’s especially true for my love. His single income is all that supports us so days off are few and far between, even when he’s home, he’s working.


    So you see I can’t help but be a tiny bit giddy he’s here with the girls and I today. Yes, our truck is so frozen it wouldn’t start… my hubs is pretty amazing at making sh** work, excuse the language but it’s true. If it’s broken he will fix it, if he can’t figure it out give him some space and he will by golly! But every once in a while things don’t go your way and you just need to sit back and enjoy the ride. He was able to save the day in other ways though, thawing the frost-free (again) and hauling countless buckets of water to my mare and our flock. What I guy I married! 


    We are all safe inside, now thawing ourselves! 

    Thankful the power is back, the truck is plugged in, water heaters are warming, and we shall endure! 

    Peace and Love,

    Q

    What To Do When Your Dogs Get Skunked! 

    Might I take this chance to introduce you to a few of my fur babies…?

    This is Dixie Mae, culprit of the stink numbero uno. 

    She was skunked about a month, being her (our) first time we had no idea what that burning hair/plastic smell was. No joking, Spencer and I searched for the ‘electrical fire’ source for about two hours before deeming ourselves insane. 


    By routine the next morning Spencer gave Dixie her goodbye kisses before leaving for work, only to find out his face and beard would then be smelling of skunk for the days entirety… and then some.. 

    So yes, she stank up the house for a good 8 hours before we noticed… ufda. 

    Next on the rap sheet Mr. Kato… he was the antagonist of the satire which was the other night… he was so close to the skunk that half his face was yellow…. sigh. Save to say the swear words were a flyin’ around the middle of that night. 

    His side kick? That ever dependable and trouble-making sister Brodee Sue.


    So what do you do in these most stinky of circumstances?

    Take a deep breath (since you’ll not want to for three months) and try to laugh about it. Dogs will be dogs and skunks will happen from time to time. Like Forrest Gump said, “sh*t happens… sometimes…”

    In the one month since we moved all (three) of our dogs have been sprayed by a skunk. So you could say I’ve had some time to experiment with how to keep the smell at bay. 

    To keep things easiest I won’t talk about what didn’t work… (tomato juice/sauce bath) ahem….

    But what has WORKED for us:

    – Bath your dog (and yourself) in Dawn dish soap… since you’ll likely end up in the shower and wet anyway. Trust me the smell passes from family member to family with haste. 

    – After the shower wipe down your fur baby with a rag dampened with hydrogen peroxide. Let dry. 

    – Wipe down a second time with an apple cider vinegar dampened rag. Let dry.  

    – Keep diluted spray bottle (ACV + water) on hand for intermittently spritsing your dog and whatever bedding they’re using. We went so far as to spray this in the air once a day when the smell would come back up. 

    – Diffuse CPTG essential oils FOREVER — as you already should be ;)!!! Since we only have one diffuser I let my tea kettle steam with OnGuard EO on board. In the meantime I’ve had an assortment of Lemon, Lemongrass, Wild Orange, Lavendar, OnGuard, Grapefruit and Cedarwood hard at work, and boy does it take that stench away. 

    • Don’t have essential oils?? Visit my online store —-> HERE!

    – Double wash any garment/linen that has come into contact with said stinky pup. I usually use an environmentally friendly detergent but we went full out on Arm & Hammer with OxyClean. 

    Unfortunately there is no immediate quick fix to get rid of the smell completely. It’s all you can do to keep it at bay. The spray from the skunk attaches to hair follicles and gets into skin pores, worst part? It will not be totally gone for up to 3 months. So you’re in for the long haul folks. 

    Ok so not all of these are the most natural of remedies. But let’s just say being pregnant with three skunked out dogs has been no cup of tea.. But if these worked for me I’m sure they can help you to. 

    Anyone else’s dog ever been skunked? I would love to hear what y’all did to beat the stink. 

    Peace and Love,

    Q

    Don’t Throw Away That Carcass! 

    Here on the homestead one of our biggest missions is to use all we can from all we have. In the case of the thanksgiving turkey that means keeping the carcass. 

    All we do is throw the hole thing into a large stockpot, cover with water, and let it simmer on a low setting overnight. 

    In the morning simply sift through and pull out all the bones and skin you can find (this can be a rather long process sometimes), add whatever veggies and seasonings you’d like and voila! 


    I add the veggies and seasonings after the bones and skin are removed just to clarify, then I simmer for a few more hours on low heat. 

    This makes a great turkey soup base to be used immediately or frozen for future use. Another option is to strain the meat from the liquid and keep the juice as a bone stock/ broth. The meat can be used for whatever, even dog food if you have too much leftovers sitting around as it is… if your house is anything like my house you’ll have left overs for daayyyys anyway!


    This way the gift of the thanksgiving bird keeps on giving, over here at the Gardner home we’re thankful for that and birds life for the nourishment it provides our bodies. 

    Wishing you all full bellies and overflowing hearts this holiday season! 

    Peace and Love, Q

    The Moving Blues…

    I never been one to love change. Or even like it for that matter. Plain and simple. 

    As many of you know, and others who don’t, we just got done moving… the entire homestead, just 14 miles north. 

    To say that the last 3-4 months (literally how long ago we started moving..) was the most stressful and exhausting time of my life thus far would be a gross understatement. “They” say the only other anxiety and stressor that comes close to parallel with moving is grieving the loss of a loved one. Now I don’t know if that’s true but I’m definetly grieving something. 

    And it’s my sanity!

    Good thing I’m not one of those shower everyday kinda gals, because that would never happen right now… fuh-get-abou-did! 

    As if moving with two daughters (3 and 18 months), two puppies (year old litter mates) + 1 adult dog, an armful of baby bunnies and their mamas, a 30 strong homestead flock, one ornery horse, and a terrorist cat isn’t enough!

    Let’s throw pregnancy number three on top, eh?

    This is where I appologize to my dear mother, may your heart rest easy, your daughter is fine, busy but perfectly okay. 

    Yes. There may be a load of dirty dishes to wash and a gojillion loads of laundry yet to do but my focus is on settling my family into our new home, humans, pets and livestock alike. 

    This lifestyle is our why for everything we do. Every choice we make. And we’re so glad this choice to move is over. We can finally get back to what really matters. You know, like weekly bread day and butchering birds before the snow hits? 

    Now, that’s not to say this move went smoothly by any means… it was anything but…that’s the part I’ll never forget, I swear I could have spent more time planning and things still wouldn’t have worked out.

    Like my horse just jumping right in the trailer.. instead of the near 5 hours it took to get her moved. Or maybe had we spent more time organizing the moving of the birds we may not have lost 6 so far to predators. Or the fact that since I don’t have a proper hanging hutch for the rabbits yet, 6! That’s 6 babies have squeezed through the crate bars and disappeared never to be seen again.


    O! And don’t forget, Q, your barncat is now terrorizing the neighbors cat… how the flip to train your gangster cat to stay home…? 

    With all the screw ups you want to know one thing I did right?

    I anticipated at least some failure from this move. I mean come on, life is crazy, and how am I so arrogant to think I have it all under control. I surrendered to the fact that maybe nothing will go the way I want it to. I knew that something had to go wrong, like everyone has told me ‘that’s just part of moving.’ And that’s ok.. I’m literally too blessed to be stressed and that’s a wonderful thing.  


    No, I didn’t get my hops dug up in time, all the pretty soil I built was left behind and of course we had to say goodby to some things that just couldn’t possibly come with us. But that change is good. And this was the season for it. 

    Yes this move pushed us near to insanity. The control freak in me has never been more on edge. But at the end of everyday we took a deep breathe of gratitude and started all over again the next morning.  

    There was definitely a love/hate relationship between us and the Tumalo place. And if you know me you’ll know I hated that house. I’ll always be grateful for the shelter and meeting place it provided for our family and so many loved ones, but I never quite felt like home, there was always an expiration date. From the beginning though, we moved there for the soil and the space. The property which tested us continually and usually won. We loved everything about the natural part of that amazing little spread. Soil so rich with life, always giving such amazing fruit and flower. And a view so enduringly beautiful. 

    There were so many great, amazing, horrible, hilarious, unexpected and even predictable memories tohappen there in the near theeenyears we lived there so here’s just a few. 

     

    Tumalo, oh Tumalo, how we loved living inside your little community of unincorporated-ness. We built so many friendships while living in our polished turd (as she was respectfully named) of a double-wide. We learned so much during this few years, lessons about ourselves and about life. Most of all we learned how to fail and keep going. And what a fantastic feeling it is to have this (part of the) learning phase behind us. 

    De-stressing and getting back to the basics of our life is now the biggest priority, nothing helps like a little mantra, say..

    Breathe and carry on….

    Or maybe

    Let go…

    And 

    Sorry, blog, for neglecting you so. Mama’s home. 

    So I’m breathing in all the change and craziness and breathing out with peace and harmony. 

    Q

     

    Summer Snipets. And What I Learned About Me. 

    We’ve been a little blog MIA lately enjoying all the sunshine! Here’s a little photo story of what’s been going on here on and off the Gardner Homestead. 

    Our hen Margox hatched our first ever batch of   homegrown chicks. All 7 chicks are growing up fast. 

    First time seeing those tiny feet!

    Spencer and I lucked out on some KID-FREE time and went to see Smash Mouth. Save to say I was wayyy more excited than my hubs. 

    Our little Murphy girl is a walking, running, babbling adorable toddler now. How did it happen so fast?!?

    Oh Ireland, my Ireland. Please stop growing up so darn fast! Love, Mom

    If we harvest nothing else, there’s always onions.

    Thank you to whichever previous tenant planted the beauties. This our third summer here, is the first year they’ve had a full bloom. 

    See that cute spud? Yeah he and his siblings froze to death in Mid-June. They’ve finally bounced back…

    Happy 4th of July from these Gardner girls. 

    What’s a homestead without a messy backyard full of chickens?

    This baby is chore partner, she’s always by my side (or on my back!)

    Kato’s first time packing. Deaf dogs need jobs to right?

    Getting lost in my hop jungle, our third season with these Willamette Hops is sure to be a big producer.  Can you say home brewed IPA? 

    Exploring the Metolius River trails with my tribe of toddlers and dogs. 

    My little Irish earthlings

    Symbiotic hiking partner, she’s a versatile baby. She gets a free ride, while providing never ending cuteness, drooly kisses, and keeps me in shape!

    Some of that 4th madness! Shhhh…

    I can’t survive a summer without these, my favorites!

    Exploring our natural world close at hand.

    Planting beans for nitrogen to feed the corn
    1/2 Farm girl 1/2 daddy’s little princess
    Giving some summer lovin’ to my favorites
    Ireland saw her first play, The Little Mermaid

    The peas, oh these lovely purple peas. 

    Weekly harvests are almost over.
    Ladder rack rabbit tractor? Oh, yeah!

    One thing I’ll never do again is plant the hops so close to the house. They’re a harbor for bugs and insects, some good and some bad, but all of them right at my back door 🙁


    Like I said, I knew there would be onions. So far we’ve harvested radishes, onions, lettuce, kale, zucchini, and shelling peas. 

    That’s just a little of what’s happened this summer. Trust me there’s more but I won’t bore you with it here. Head on over to IG to see our full homestead photo diary @thegardnerhome. 

    Oh yeah, and if I know anything about me it’s that I love summer, case and point for this short update. I’m spending more time with family, less time with technology, and that’s OK. Keep an eye out for some of our new projects and plans… YouTube Vlog? 

    No spoilers yet!

    What have you been up to on or off your homestead this season? 

    Peace and Love,

    Quincy

    WHY THE 3 SISTERS GARDEN? Here it is. 

    I like to think of gardening as my favorite never ending learning experience. For if I’m not learning a new task or skill, I’m learning something about myself.

    Two things I learned last year are these; Native Americans knew what they were doing in the garden and I love passed down traditional gardening methods that excel in my climate zone.

    Let me explain.

    You see, the three sisters garden is an old Native American garden technique of extreme companion planting. This method is tried and true and boy is it beautiful to watch.

    So what do we companion plant you say?

    Three of the best of course.

    Corn = supports the beans.

    Beans = add nitrogen to feed the corn.

    Squash = acts as a mulch helping to retain moisture and fight weeds.

    last years 3 sisters raised bed
    It starts out quite simple but can be arranged so differently and uniquely, for this reason I won’t go into huge detail on the design aspect as you need simply google ‘three sisters garden’ and you’ll find endless examples. This is just what I chose. After much deliberation and watching the sun rise and fall many times on different prospective locations I chose to use a circular pattern.

    The steps we took in planting are as follows:

    1. The corn is planted first. In a circle as I mentioned before. Make sure to plant after all danger of frost has past. A 5 gallon bucket works perfectly to trace the right size circle.

    2. Once the corn is 5″ tall plant your pole beans. This is important to ensure the corn is strong enough to support the beans as well as not having to fight the beans for full sun. They should be planted rather close to ensure they can climb and at a 1:1 ratio with the corn. I’d say plant about 1-2″ away from the corn sprout.

    3. One week after planting the beans go ahead and plant your squash. Plant your squash 2-3 seeds to a corner making a square around the corn/bean circle.

    2015 Golden Bantam, Scarlett Runner, Lemon Cucumber
    4. Have fun with it! You don’t have to plant the typical varieties either. I picked a few different ones so I could alternate and bring some diversity to the garden.

    For instance; one circle is filled with Golden Bantam corn, Kentucky Pole beans, and Small Sugar pumpkin, while the other is Smoke Signals popping corn, Scarlet Runner beans, Black Beauty zucchini and Summer squash. 

    I ended up planting two three sisters gardens. One in my kitchen garden while the other is out in the crop garden. Here’s their progress as of today!

    Kitchen Garden:


    Crop Garden:

    Both were knee high by the 4th of July but endured a couple cold snaps which put them through a 1-2 week lull. During that time I amended them with BioLive, bat guano, and blood meal, boy did that help a lot! 

    I love this garden style. You get a lot in a little amount of space and the symbiosis of these yummies producers is beautiful. 

    Need I say more?

    Peace and Love

    Quincy

    Have a 3 Sisters Garden? I’d love to see yours!