Prepping the homestead for a road trip.

As I sit here, sipping my coffee and avoiding the inevitable and lengthy list of to-dos that must be done before Wednesday, Im wondering why we agreed to this trip in the first place. I’m leaving my garden and my animals for two whole weeks. I’ve given my self a head cold from the stress of it, a talent I’ve had since I was an adolescent going on any family vacation. Like really Q, chill out. We. Will. All. Survive. Operation ‘Plant as much as I can before Wednesday’ is behind schedule. I’m not done packing.. for five people. And I’ve lost my favorite essential oil roller..

but baby this vacation and I need each other! The chance to show my growing family the place I love so much. See the inside of my grandparents house one last time. To fish all day, swim and lay in the sun. To spend 16 days and 16 nights with Spencer, no work all play? Done and done. Buh-bye homestead I love, I’ll be back for you..

Everyone needs a vacation right? To get away from their reality and live differently for a bit?

For a homesteader, a vacation is a scary adventure with unpredictable outcomes. Will the garden die? Or get swarmed by bugs? Will my chickens get slaughtered by the resident coyotes? Or will my goose finally succeed and I come home to fresh goslings? There’s are so many unknowns.. lucky for us we have some great best friends who’ve been there and done that with us on all things homestead. Without them, this trip would not be possible. I don’t say that lightly, they are literally the only people I trust with my babies, both plant and animal. They’ll be watering my gardens with love and shepherding my feathered flock. And for that I say, thank you thank you thank you & amen!

Because everyone needs a vacation guys, even a homebody homesteader mama like me.

It’s not easy either. I feel a little crazy, dragging our little family halfway across the country. And I’m sure Spencer will be tearing me from the garden kicking and screaming come Wednesday morning. Maybe it’s not the best call to head out in the middle of June? Major planning and timely execution got us to this point. From installing drip irrigation in one garden, in ground irrigation repairs in the other, building a new chicken run & treating the flock for mites, planting hundreds of starts & thousands of seeds, and a whole lot of mulching everything in sight I think we’re going to be ok.

Maybe the shelling peas will rippen before we leave, maybe it’ll be after. And it’s ok. That’s the best benny of house-sitting for a gardener, you get to reap the harvest while they’re gone. And of what plenty there will be. I might miss out on peas, spinach, and kale. When I get back the cucumbers, watermelons, and pumpkins will be vining around, maybe the raspberries will be ready, and I’m sure we will be rolling in salad greens and radishes. And all the while we’ll be teaching our kids to swim, eating fresh caught fish, soaking up family time, and recharging our souls for this life we love.

Here I sit still sipping coffee, writing this when I really need to get back to it. But I’ll definitely finish my coffee first. Then I’ll be logging as many hours in my happy gardens as I can before departure.

Peace and Love, Q

8 Free Seed-Starters

There’s no need to go break the bank on fancy seed trays. Up-cycle any of these for a quick and easy (and free) solution. Eventually I plan on buying a couple soil blockers in order to cut down on our waste and use of plastic, but until I can invest in that tool this is what we did this year. Check it out. 

  1. Milk cartons– these were empty epsom salt cartons we just cut the top off and filled with soil. 
  2. Toilet paper rolls– we save all our rolls for crafts or firestartes, and now see starters. Works great for peas since you can fill halfway and back fill as the sprouts grown taller. 
  3. Shallow boxes– this was my mother’s experiment and it worked amazing for sunflowers, and that’s just mulch from the chicken yard. 
  4. Shipping materials– fill with soil and plant. Boom. 
  5. Juice bottles– all did was cut off the top and added two drain holes. 
  6. Egg cartons— ever tried planting tomatoes in egg shells?And here’s a couple more options that I didn’t have the chance to try, though I have seen other folks find great success with also 
  7. Milk jugs– simply cut the jug in half and discard top half, poke some drain holes in the bottom and voila! 
  8. Coffee cans– coffee cans are great since they hold warmth quite well and can be reused many times. All you you need to do is take a hammer and a nail and add a few drain holes in the bottom. For an added effect only fill halfway with soil and cover it with plastic to retain temperature, sorta like a greenhouse.
  • One a side note: instead of buying more greenhouse seed trays I also started a great deal of our garden in paper cups and solo cups that we had lying around the house, saved a lot of money doing that folks!

As you can see, there’s no need to spend countless dollars year after year on expensive to buy cheaply made plastic seed trays. This is more sustainable and much more financially forgiving. Not to mention you will be cutting down on your household waste and reusing those paper/plastic/metal products. Most of the paper based ones can also be planted directly into the ground. Give it a try, what can you lose? And just keep planting seeds y’all!

Okra in the sunset.

Peace and Love

Q

    SEED STARTING INDOORS

    Around my corner of the world starting seeds indoors is a must. Unless you have a green house, in which case, you’re off to a great start. 

    But if you don’t have a green house, like me for example… creativity or capital, is a must!

    Since I refuse to spend crazy amounts of cash on trays and those little starter pellets (that totally used to be me guys…) I decided to try creativity this season.  

    In this case creativity comes in the form of solo cups and some other random dollar store plastic cups. I had some laying around and picked up a few more packs for cheap. 

    I normally hate anything plastic but I can recycle these and until I can buy this soil block press, here is how I’m getting creative. 

    (I even tried this Pinterest hack in which you use toilet paper rolls as seed blocks, two words… Epic Failure… You can see below how most of them just plain feel apart.. If you want to give this a shot then I suggest buying tp that’s got a reinforced cardboard rolls.)

      

    But I’m doing good with the cups and I’m ok with that. 

         
    Luckily the homestead husband has an awesome set up of some light hoods perfect for starting seeds. Not that I have always done it like this. Don’t get me wrong starting seeds without lights can and does work great, for most seeds. 

    However, for those finicky starts that tend to be on the picky pampered side (tomatoes, peppers, corn, etc), a little light and added warmth makes all the difference. 

    For example. Last season I started corn under the lights and it was the first year I’ve ever planted corn, had it grow knee high by 4th of July (to ensure harvest), and proceed to grow 8′ tall! I was astounded when I had tons of silk and cobs, but so to was my horse… Alas she ate them all… I’m sure her belly was full and warm that night. This year she will have no such luck!

    My point being that I believe the lights were the key to my success last year. When those corn starts went outside they were stout and hardened off. Ready to for planting. Corn starts in my previous years were lanky and washed out, ending up broken from wind or lack of strength. 

      
    (Above: assorted bean starts)

    Now that I thoroughly bored you with my corn story… Want to see what else we have started so far?

    For convenience I have labeled, in parenthesis, which seed companies I purchased the seeds from. 

    SSE= Seed Savers Exchange

     MTG= Mike the Gardener

    TSC= Territorial Seed Company

    • Tomatoes: Amish Paste(SSE), German Pink(SSE), Homestead(MTG), Large Cherry(MTG)
    • Cucumber: White Wonder(MTG), A&C Pickling(SSE)
    • Beans: Cherokee Wax(Ferry Morse), Dragons Tongue(SSE), Calypso(SSE), Black Turtle(Ferry Morse)
    • Sunflowers: Lemon Queen(SSE), Velvet Queen(SSE), Taiyo(SSE) 
    • Peas: Amish Snap(SSE)
    • Pumpkin: Small Sugar(TSC)
    • Radish: Cherry Belle(TSC)–direct sow (4/15)
    • Turnip: Shogoin (MTG)–direct sow (4/15)
    • Cabbage: Savoy(MTG)
    • Kale: Dwarf Green Curled(TSC)
    • Corn: Smoke Signals(SSE), Golden Bantam Improved(SSE)
    • Lettuce: Red Iceberg(TSC) 
    • Peppers: Early JalapeƱo(TSC), Purple Beauty(MTG) 
    • Squash: Black Beauty Zucchini(SSE) 

    It may seem like quite a lot but this is only the beginning. I am going all in this year and I’m extremely motivated to provide as much food for my family as possible. I’m dreaming of shelves full of canned goods and cold storage packed with roots vegetables. 

      

     (Above: assorted sunflower starts… Because their are my favorite… And they do fantastic in my living room window, so I never have to miss out on their beauty!)

    Who knows, if I’m satisfied with my gardens production this summer I may put a chicken garden into the works. Wouldn’t it be stellar to have a garden space specially for spoiling our flock of little dinos?

    Yes, I totally said stellar. 

    Getting to getting outside. Get to work!

    Quincy