A glimpse of the garden 10/13/17

Although we have been running ourselves ragged with craft show prepping and creating,

we have also had time to spend in the garden! I harvested my first luffa! They are a good bit behind this year, but I’ll take any free scrubbers!

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Luffa! 

A few of our chickens are molting, but we are still getting some eggs!

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Yay! Eggs! 

Last weekend I found our Crimson clover seeds that I misplaced, so I put them out in the bald spots on the 2018 garden expansion area!

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Clover seedlings!

The nasturtiums are still blooming and are beautiful!

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Nasturtiums 

Since we have had some warmer-than-normal weather, the peppers are still doing their thing!

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Jalapeño peppers 

I’m hoping for a great weekend and I really hope to make some good connections and spread the zero waste movement! Have a wonderful weekend!!

September goals update 2017

September was a month of colossal harvests, produce stands set up, still getting acquainted with my new students and working around our tiny homestead! Here are how the goals are going:

1. Zero waste our home! We have been eating a lot from the garden, which is great! Also, the ketchup that I made is amazing and we are loving not having to buy plastic bottles!

2. Declutter 20 items per month. We got rid of some motorcycle helmets that we don’t use (and made a few bucks!) We found a scrapper to take our satellite dish! Oh, and we got rid of our home phone.

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. Still on bag 5, but it’s filling up fast.

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Still on bag 5! 

4. Merge crafting and homestead business. The Mr has been Blacksmithing up a storm this month!! All credit goes to him for working so hard!!

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Dinner bells
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Flower basket hooks
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Business card holder

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! We have big plans!!

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Expanded garden and planted cover crop! 

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 so many cucumelons! The popcorn is picked and drying in the basement and we are now successful at growing our own wine cap mushrooms. And you know what… they were the best mushrooms that I have ever had!


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!!!

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Whitey the chicken who is always running around! 

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! I also started a collection area for plastics bottles and k cups at work. Oh, and my students wrote to our mayor to try to get a recycling program here!

10. Track our solar panels. This month we reached 1.39 mwh ! And our electric bill was less than $6 again! I’m interested to see how this goes with the cold months coming up!

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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!

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They are still finding flowers! 

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!

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It’s safely being stored in the garage! 

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

Expanding the garden!

We are already thinking about the 2018 gardening season and how to improve our soil, because I don’t think that our soil could ever be too healthy! There is a nice area between the garden and the sheds that I would love to turn into more garden.

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More garden! 

Here is exactly what I have in mind:

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A girl can dream, right? 

Well, the Mr decided to help me get started on this idea! He worked on tilling the area, while I picked out some rocks and planted rye and wheat cover crop seeds.

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Tilling away! 

And now we are waiting for the seeds to sprout and we will have nice green manure for the garden in the spring!

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Finished for now! (And yes that’s a chicken finding crickets!) 

And since it’s Wednesday, I decided to share a few gardening pictures too!

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Last night’s harvest! 
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Strawberry popcorn that we grew! 
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A preview of our sweet potatoes
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Beautiful sunflower! 
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My first hybrid zucchini/pumpkin
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Zucchini cake made from the franken-fruit above! 

This week is moving at a turtle’s pace and I can’t wait for it to be over. I need a nice weekend to recover from my busy week! Keep on trying to bloom where you are planted!!💚

Last honey harvest and trellises

We harvested the last bit of our honey for this year! We want to make sure that our bees have plenty of time to prep for the winter! And let me tell you that this batch of honey turned out beautiful!

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Beautiful honey! 

And now I have some wax that needs melted down and filtered!

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Unmelted beeswax

And now on to trellises! We don’t have a ton of space, so we utilize fences and make our plants grow upwards. It increases our harvests and allows plants better air flow too.

We are growing a green bean teepee. One side looks great and the other is catching up from a rabbit nibbling away.

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Greenbean teepee

I made the trellis below out of unwanted bamboo growing in a friend’s yard. On the left is green beans and on the right is birdhouse gourds.

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Bamboo trellis

And this is the fullest that the cattle panel trellis has ever been! To the left is cucumelons and to the right are birdhouse gourds and a luffa plant.

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So much blooming and growing

The view looking up in the trellis is beautiful! The gourds are happy growing down!

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Inside the trellis

We also use the chicken run area to grow on. It provides us with birdhouse gourds and also gives the chickens a much cooler space!

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I ❤️ it when the chicken run looks like this!

And the bees love all of these blooms too!

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Little native bee enjoying the gourd blooms!

And we finished off the day with a yummy dinner including homemade fried rice!

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Delicious! 

For the rest of the evening, we will be roaming the garden and enjoying the cooler evening! Keep blooming where you are planted!

Composting!

Rotting food doesn’t make too many people excited, but I never claimed to be normal! Composting is an important part of our whole journey to creating less garbage, and a major win for the garden!  People most frequently ask how we create such a small amount of trash, or how a bag of trash that is in the garbage for over a month doesn’t stink! Well, keep reading to learn how easy it is!

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4 bags of garbage so far in 2017!

So let’s get into the basics of composting! There are some rules to it because you don’t want a sloppy, stinking mess that attracts rodents! (By the way, I haven’t had that happen!) There are greens and browns, which are listed below:

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The md extension website has a ton of great reliable info!

So, basically you collect these things instead of throwing them away. I keep mine in this ceramic crock that I empty out every few days. (If you empty it regularly, you don’t get fruit flies!)

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Ceramic crock for scraps! 

You should try to keep your pile about 3 parts brown to 1 part green for optimal decomposition. I don’t focus on it being a perfect ratio. If it seems really wet, I add more brown (like leaves or shredded newspapers). If it seems dry, I add water and try to put in more greens. It is microorganisms at work, but perfection isn’t necessary! The biggest thing is to keep it moist and turn it about weekly.

Now, I’m not afraid to admit that I willingly take compost donations! Even my mom saves things for me! She knows my decomposition hierarchy:

1. Any edibles that are still good, go to the chickens. (If no people want it!)

2. Any moldy, slimy or just peelings go into the compost pile! 

Examples below:

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Headed to the compost! 

Below is a picture of my first, and still slightly used compost pile. Your pile should be around 3 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft.

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My grassy compost bin

As you can tell by the picture, this wasn’t working amazing. So, when we found a second hand composting tumbler for sale, we jumped at getting it.

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Composting tumbler

Since it’s close to the house, it’s easy to use. I never smell it and it has 2 sides, which means one side is composting, while I’m adding scraps to the other side.

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Almost ready! 

This compost is put right around my plants and it provides an enormous amount of nutrients for them. Healthy plants can fight off pests and disease better and grow better produce!

I have done my best at providing the basics to composting! If you have any questions, please ask!

 

 

July Goals Update 2017

Oh July, why did you have to fly by? We are now quickly approaching the beginning of a new school year. But with that being said, the garden is being really productive!

1. Zero waste our home! We already do a good bit to avoid creating trash, but there is always room for improvement! We have been continuing to not eat out, and we even made the Mr a cookie cake for his birthday! I’m also pretty thrilled that our thieves cleaner is in an upcycled vinegar bottle now!

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2. Declutter 20 items per month
. Last year I decluttered 2016 items from this house. I got rid of some of the boy’s clothes and a few odds and ends around here.

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 year. We just had to throw out bag 4 for the year.

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 4. Merge crafting and homestead business. It’s going pretty well! We made a few bucks on our honey and egg sale! Plus, we have made our 40th sale on our Etsy store!

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Honey/egg/craft sale

5. Create a summer kitchen. We will be turning a spot in the garage into a nice canning area. #comeonmrllewellyn!! But, we did put a nice little pond in to give the bees a watering hole!

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6. Expand the garden. I widened the area along the fence and planted plants all throughout my yard. The fence garden is doing great!

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Grow, growing, grown! 


7. Grow some different plants.
Luffa gourds were so fun to grow last year, and we are growing more this year! We are also growing popcorn, okra and my favorite: cucumelons


8. Make a chicken viewing area. Yeah, um, I don’t think we are going to do this now! I love watching the chickens, but life has kept us busy!
9. Green up my school. Schools create an absurd amount of trash! My class recycled around 150 pounds of plastic film this year, recycled their plastic cereal bowls and even planted a pollinator garden! Watch out 2017-2018 school year!!

10. Track our solar panels. This month we reached 1.78 Mwh.  And our electric bill was less than $6 again!

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They are paying for themselves! 

11. Continue beekeeping. We are still providing lodging for flying insect friends! Plus, a friend gave me a barrel of honeybees that were trying to make a home on her porch!

12. Travel more with the family! We managed to visit so many places last year and have some major traveling ideas for this year! We didn’t do much of anything this month, and it was pretty great!
If you set goals, how are yours going?

We got some new additions to the homestead!

This weekend we were able to get a lot accomplished! (Which is why I had to post before my end of month update!)

I’ll start off with some gardening excitement! The fence line garden is really starting to fill up!

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Even one sunflower bloomed! 

I have been picking lots of produce and was excited to finally get a green pepper! I’m not a very good pepper grower!

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Green pepper! 

And we had a ton of cucumbers this year so far! Last year I couldn’t get any to grow! Funny how that works out sometimes! Anyway, we turned them into delicious bread and butter pickles! We pickled some cucumelons too!

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They taste just like Granny’s did. ❤️

And the chickens loved the leftovers!

And now for the most beautiful bloom that has ever been in my garden:

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An okra bloom!!

Gorgeous, right?! First year grower here, so this made my day! And we are still dreaming of some fried okra! My husband loves fried okra!

Weare proud to announce some new friends that came to live here with us this weekend:

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A barrel of honey bees! 

Yep, a barrel of bees! They were not being enjoyed living on a friend’s back porch. So, she got ahold of me and I gladly took them off her hands! They were already doing orientation flights and flying off to look for pollen and nectar this morning!

And on to another perk of being an in-town homestead, is free food! Our neighbor loves gardening and he often has some leftovers! Here’s a whole bucket of pieces for the chickens:

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Our hens eat like queens! 

And last, but not least is we scored a used chipper off of the yardsale site! We have been wanting one to use to add chipped material to our compost. It’s not new, but I know it was well taken care of!

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Our new to us chipper! 

So after all that work this weekend, I’ll leave off with this picture:

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Sherman in a hammock! 

Obviously, the weekend was rough on him too! I hope that you had quite the productive weekend too!