Thursday, January 12, 2012

So You Want to Homestead? (Part 2)

Good Morning!  Today is showing all of the signs of being a rather difficult day.  We had over an inch and a half of rain yesterday and everything is a muddy mess.  We had planned on having a group of boys over to help us dig out our goat pen in preparation of bringing in new sand, but.........I don't see how we could get wheelbarrows in and out of the pasture to haul it.  I think that we will have to put that on hold.  I hope that it dries up quickly as we had planned another work day on Saturday to spread last year's compost pile out on the field a neighboring farmer is letting us use this year.  The field has seen several years of abuse through the use of chemicals and planting of GMO seed, so we are trying to get some natural nutrients back into the ground before planting season.  I have a lot of preparation work planned for the month of January and I am hoping the weather will cooperate.

Weather is a big factor in homesteading.  No matter where you live, this is one thing that will dictate almost all of your decisions, especially in gardening.  I am blessed to live (right now) in a part of the country where we typically have a somewhat long and varied growing season.  Actually, we have two planting seasons.  Our spring season is from January 11-May 3, while the fall season runs from July 19-September 3.  Your climate will dictate what you can/cannot grow and what varieties do well.  Your local Cooperative Extension Agency is the best place for this information.  It also may or may not have a Master Gardeners Program.  If it does, these would be the best people to get advice from, although anyone who has been gardening long in your area is a valuable source of information.  Most gardeners are more than happy to share their knowledge with others.

A helpful hint from me:  Start small.  If you have never gardened before, do not overwhelm yourself with too much.  When we first started my father-in-law lived with us.  He had grown up in the 1930's -'40's on his parent's truck farm.  "Truck farming" was the term used for raising produce on a large scale.  He remembers picking cucumbers, lettuce, etc. and packing it into boxes for shipment up north.  There was absolutely nothing that man couldn't raise.  And whatever he raised.........he raised a lot of.  He thought in terms of multiple hundred-foot rows.  That's a LOT of produce.  Even though I canned and froze as much as possible, he still ended up giving away so much that people would see him coming and cross to the other side of the street.  Start small.   Once you learn about the process of gardening, then you will be better able to determine exactly how much your family will need in a year.  Some gardening books that I have used are


Which leads to another helpful hint:  keep a garden journal.  Write down everything:  when you planted, how you planted, weather conditions, rainfall amounts/dates, when you noticed germination, when you harvested, how much you harvested, etc.  You can either come up with your own or choose one of many available on the internet.  Here are some I found:


This will help you make decisions next year by letting you know what worked, what didn't, how much to plant, etc.

Next week we'll talk about what to do if you don't have much room for gardening.  Until then, order those gardening catalogs and start reading.

May Yahweh bless you in this new day!


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