Growing sweet potatoes! (In clay soil!)

I have been enjoying growing sweet potatoes here in Western Maryland! They are a longer season crop and I tried something that REALLY helped them grow better! I made mounds with compost rich material and planted the sweet potato slip right in the top!

In months, the vines were spreading so quickly!

IMG_8871
Vines on the mounds
IMG_9188
Up close view of the vines! 

As the season went on, I could just scoop the mounds away to keep an eye on the size of the potatoes!

IMG_9460
An inside look at at the roots! 

Did I mention that they grow gorgeous flowers that all pollinators love!

IMG_9570
🐝❤️

Now on to how much we harvested this year! You will want to harvest them when the leaves start to yellow or before hard frosts. For me, that’s around the middle of October!

We actually were able to harvest a little over 30 pounds of sweet potatoes!

EE5522B3-28E9-4AC2-8274-9AB8D0E31FA9
All these from 1 sweet potato slip! 
F431FBD9-858E-4C50-A236-C4C12D1D1655
Before and after! 
A123635D-3A28-431E-9BE0-7E683B073C1B
Grown in a raised bed! (1 slip!) 
C200D23C-A73F-4A96-A247-D40D38CDB9B1
Grown in a pot

After digging up the sweet potatoes, you have to cure them. They need to be in a hot place for (80-90 degrees) for about 10 days!

0A674F14-1FC5-4524-AAE0-76D292B62380
I kept mine in the green house!

After those 10 days, they go into storage in a dark cool place for months.

They are really forgiving plants and with the mounds, I was able to dig them up so much easier! So, these might need to be put on your 2018 list!

Garden cleanup!

It’s not a fun thing to do, but more of a must do kind of job. Why?! Well, you don’t want to give a home to pests to help boost their population in the spring. Also, you don’t want diseased plants staying until you plant again next year! Since it didn’t rain on Sunday, this is what I did!

1D9ABC88-650E-4F00-9B06-105BD76D2875
The Before
33C2E3AE-B0DB-4D73-AC48-4B39F73CAD20
The After (still more cleanup to go!) 

The chicken coop got a nice clean out:

B7520312-76A6-4EBE-BCC5-6144AFC8F266
Never a clean job! 

I also cleaned up the fence line garden that gave us lots of produce!

IMG_8958
Before
FC250ECE-9A54-4860-B9CA-D2431D94B84C
The after 😢

We are still getting some eggs and a few mushrooms. Winecap mushrooms are so good, that I’m attempting to spread the spores into another raised bed!

A36354EB-372B-4E0F-8E5A-310D5BAA79AA
Winecaps! 

We had a lot more pumpkins dropped off today!! The uncarved ones are saved for the chickens and the carved ones are making a big compost pile! Basically we are trying to keep this long season crop from just sitting in a landfill!

4B9209A1-CD76-48F1-97E5-502AA2C4F93E
65 pumpkins so far! 

And lastly, check out my bragging:

C97409E5-5ED8-40C7-BBC9-52FCB473FA39
The cable stitch on a messy bun toboggan! 

We are going to continue to clean up all the produce gardens and try to reach 100 pumpkins!!

October goals update 2017

How in the world is October over?! I’m already thinking about what I’d like to accomplish next year and I can’t wait to receive the 2018 seed catalog from Baker’s Creek!! Without waiting, here are how the goals are going:

1. Zero waste our home! We have started eating some of the yumminess that we preserved and love the ketchup that we made! I have also started a pumpkin recycling initiative to encourage people to let us feed their pumpkins to our chickens or compost it for them!

2. Declutter 20 items per month. We have been able to get rid of a lot of stuff in the garage! We are planning on moving the exercise equipment in there to have a decent place to keep our health in check!

3. Create only 12 bags of garbage per year. Americans are super wasteful. We are going to try to only produce one 13 gallon kitchen trash bag per month. Bag number 5 left the house this month! We are doing pretty well!

12E5B651-C25A-417B-86D8-74D9B69974D0
4. Merge crafting and homestead business. This is definitely happening! We did especially well at selling blacksmithed items!


5. Create a summer kitchen. We will be turning a spot in the garage into a nice canning area. #comeonmrllewellyn!!

6. Expand the garden. We are definitely working on this! We tilled up the area for expansion next year! And we are giving a try at growing some paw paw trees next year too! (The seeds are in the fridge!)

A63FAE25-AA30-46D5-A966-7AE7A77C589E

7. Grow some different plants. Luffa gourds were so fun to grow last year, and we are growing more this year! The okra grew great this year. We harvested tons of cucamelons, popcorn, okra and luffa gourds! Now I’m working on saving seeds for next year! (And we are still getting more mushrooms!)


8. Make a chicken viewing area. Yeah, um, I don’t think we are going to do this! I have some good ideas for 2018!!!
9.Green up my school. Schools create an absurd amount of trash! My class recycled around 150 pounds of plastic film last year. The plastic bag recycling program has started, and we have 42 pounds collected so far. I have been collected lots of k cups to recycle from work. We have also started collecting our cereal bowls for recycling and I signed us up for the Crayola marker recycling program!

Oh, and the letters to our mayor worked! We now have plastic recycling (for #1 containers) here in town!

10. Track our solar panels. This month we reached  1.18 mwh! And our electric bill was less than $6 again! I’m interested to see how this goes with the cold weather coming!

F5A846C9-3D95-4F79-891A-E08DCE896DE3

11. Continue beekeeping. We are still providing lodging for our flying insect friends! They are “busy bees!” And I am hoping for them to overwinter well!

5BFE7A12-99B0-447A-888D-6207EA397B41
Entrance reducers are on and they are prepped for the weather! 

12. Travel more with the family! We managed to visit so many places last year and only a few this year. I’m soooo looking forward to our winter project of working on our new-to-us camper! (A big 2018 goal!)

IMG_9169
How are your goals going?! Have you starting thinking about goals for next year? Keep blooming where you are planted!!💚🌱

Best Thursday!!

Today was a normal day in third grade, but here at the homestead, it was pretty terrific!

I have been trying to save as many pumpkins as I can from the landfill! It takes so much time and energy to grow a pumpkin! I put up an event for taking pumpkins on my Facebook page, and I’ve received so many! My goal was 20, and I’m already at 22! So, I guess I better make a higher goal!

I’m beyond excited to have extra treats for the chickens and extra rotting material for my compost!

D38D7DC5-CD30-4128-A726-51185D16E1C8
Chickens enjoyed this pumpkin! 

We made one of our favorite less meat dishes: vegetable stir fry:

660C32A9-991E-4370-A4CD-AE332543BC18
Our delish dinner! 

Everything was from the garden: zucchini, winecap mushrooms, eggs and onions! Only the rice and carrots were bought from the store!

I was delighted to see that after I used up all the mushrooms that more had popped up!

2EFD8439-41B5-49E7-9C5D-BCE0992C1FB3
More mushrooms! 

And winecaps get pretty big! I decided to let some grow larger to drop spores!

1E47EB0C-8AA6-4D25-BEE2-160768D1CB06
A big winecap mushrooms! 

I also found a couple of luffa gourds that I put in a different place! So, now we have been able to harvest 22!

BF0E462F-53AF-4183-A9D4-21C290771F92
Luffa gourds! 

And the one and only baby chick that was hatched out this summer gave us her first egg. It’s not really brown or white. She’s a cross bred hen, but we love her just the same!

F4EC9455-CD1E-4478-A38F-7F853AE841E6
A first egg! 

And a preview of a secret project for 2018:

3B786014-953D-4F0E-AC64-5E1DA9ED6C52
Secret project! 

The Mr is making something pretty amazing for me! (You can guess in the comments if you’d like!) It’s part of next year’s goals, so I’ll share in just a few months! Next post will be an update on our 2017 goals and accomplishments from  October.

Seed saving, tiny harvests and a new anvil

This is the time of year to be working on saving some seeds, preserving the last of the produce and starting to dream about a new garden next year!

I picked a bunch of cucamelon seeds out of a melon and then pulled the green coating off of it. They did so well this year, so I’m hoping for more next year too!

99BAAE6E-96E3-4989-846F-0D3669451F46
Cucamelon seeds

The Paw Paw tree seeds that we ordered arrived, so I made sure that they were not dried out and put them right in the fridge. They won’t be ready to plant in soil until almost March!

A63FAE25-AA30-46D5-A966-7AE7A77C589E
Paw paw seeds

I pulled the pole beans down from the top of the tee pee and saved the seeds.

41CA1D97-B9C9-497C-85A0-24583F3001B8
Pole beans for next year! 

Since we got a hard frost that killed everything, I brought in all the luffas and peeled/washed them. They are now drying in the basement!

A0F61F74-0802-4078-BF25-B05F90EA1954
My line of luffa

And a few tiny harvests! I pulled the last itty bitty zucchini and I was delighted to find some more winecap mushrooms!

1B2DCD10-0116-4C55-9C56-D1169D00F608
Tiny zucchini
5756DDED-480F-47F2-B5CD-B4E776A5F8DF
Winecap mushrooms

Since it turns out that winecap mushrooms are so delicious, we are going to try to grow them in more places next year!

The Mister was busy picking up his new baby:

93DB6E89-6730-4A21-A45B-C4FD19DA39D2
80 pound Vulcan! 

It’s a nice smaller anvil that he will definitely put to use!

I also got to work over the weekend making some hooded towels. I’m hoping to get more orders for the holidays!

FC64587D-7BAE-4447-A521-460B6484EB84
Hooded towels

And I’ll leave my boy’s Halloween costume photo here!

9E55434B-D6B6-49C3-8E84-F45F100A9BCB
Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy! 

Enjoy the last day of the month and I’ll be posting our end of the month updates!

 

Grow your own garlic!

If you want to grow some garlic, this is the time of year to do it! Garlic started in the fall helps the bulbs grow to larger sizes. I just put mine in the ground this weekend and I’m sure they will sprout up a bit before winter fully arrives, but that’s ok! So, if you want to grow some garlic, here you go!

Step 1: get your bulbs from a reputable company. I save mine every year, so I already know that the variety that I grow does well here! (You could always buy some from your own farmer’s market!)

7A196550-3001-4667-B30E-E178FB2DE5DC
I got about 30 of the better sized cloves from these 3! 

Step 2: separate out the individual cloves for planting. Leave the paper coating on them! I don’t plant the smaller sliver pieces, I save those to cook with!

C6EA02E1-0BF2-46D6-997D-D9F9A8BF848F
Ready for planting! 

Step 3: make sure the soil has plenty of compost mixed in, and dig a nice little trench. The garlic gets planted about 2 inches deep.

C51456AC-E402-42FB-B50A-A4B934CD7A28
Ready to put garlic cloves in! 

Step 4: place the garlic cloves 2 inches down with the flat end down and pointed end up!

C3E26F70-5151-45C3-98C9-16C8872104E2
It goes in the ground this way! 

Step 5: place the cloves 4 inches apart and the rows (I only did one row) should be about 12” apart.

DED970C8-7B15-4394-9AE6-FAE94D04F7BC
A beautiful row of garlic! 

Step 6: cover over all the cloves and make sure you leave a marker or something to remember where you planted it in the spring!

012511FF-B5FE-4B55-8A24-7155A3A88881
That stick is my marker! 

Step 7: cover the row with something! You could use straw, wood chips, or you could use leaves like I did. (They were right beside the raised bed and free!)

184A5511-5E72-4B7D-9685-0073B27572B3
Leaves to insulate those cloves! 

Come spring time, you will see little sprouts poking up through the soil and by around June, you will be harvesting some garlic!

60DA6F11-1863-4164-BF1D-6A93411C441A
Garlic from last spring! 

You will know that it is ready to be harvested when about half of the leaves are dying back and turning yellowish-brown.

Then, you will need to dry it out. This year I learned to braid it and hung it in my basement to dry out!

6AE44953-8300-46EB-9075-5BB0A19C2E23
Braided and ready to dry out! 

So, get out there and plant that garlic! It really is that easy! If you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer!

Decorating without buying and garden happenings!

Last year at a craft show the sweet girl next to us sold these beautiful things made out of corn stalks and leaves. I loved them because they were pretty and because you can just compost them after using. So, I took some corn stalk tassels, a few weeds with pretty tops and a few ears of popcorn and created this:

74CBB28E-764C-425A-9778-4649B2ED7FFB
Just used what we already had! 
46F3E58D-F7A3-423F-B4FB-924593927A5A
Corn stalks were from popcorn this year! 

I also still have some yummy things coming out of the garden! The tomatoes and pepper plants are still going strong!

9E99C0DA-0493-484C-BC4D-715F807B29D8
Nice little harvest today! 

Plus there were a whole basket of overly ripe tomatoes for the chickens!

The weather is supposed to be cooling off soon, so we are putting some of the luffas into the greenhouse to dry out the rest of the way!

03E25E81-85FA-48C7-8B98-83ED5B99764C
Another soon-to-be scrubber

The bees are enjoying this beautiful day and some are still bringing in pollen!

5BFE7A12-99B0-447A-888D-6207EA397B41
Honeybees! 

And my big lump of a dog likes to sunbathe!

F607F1DC-B5DB-4A14-9BBE-E6E7E529759A
Ol’ Sherman! 

I also put my garlic in the ground today (next post will be all about that!) and continued to pull up weeds and dead plants!Cleaning up the garden in the fall is so important! It doesn’t leave a home for all those unwanted pests that may have invaded your garden this summer! Enjoy your remaining hours this weekend and keep blooming where your planted! 🌱💚