Weekend walk through the garden! 7/21

Hello all!! Gardening has been on the back burner because I have spent 30 hours at the fairgrounds volunteering towards my Master Gardener hours! I’m pretty much finished with my hours for this year!

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I’ve talked so much about plants, bees and composting this week! 

Lucky for me, the plants have been enjoying the hot weather and rain today! Here are a few of the great things growing in the big garden:

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One of the cantaloupe 
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There are so many dancing gourds
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A pie pumpkin!
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The tomato jungle, corn and luffa on the fence 
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A scarlet runner bean 
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My first ground cherry! And it was delicious! 
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Pole beans poling! 
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Spaghetti squash 
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Volunteer pumpkin plant 
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Apple melon! 

And the haul from the garden today! I even found a few blackberries growing by the sheds!

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Nice haul today! 

What is growing well in your garden? My zucchini plants are starting to fizzle out a bit and I’m going to start my seeds for the fall garden this week! Keep blooming! 🌱❤️

 

Wednesday walk through the garden 7/11/18

I know, I know, it’s Thursday! But, all of the pictures were taken yesterday as I walked through the big garden searching for the fruits of my labor! Things are slowly growing, and I’m hopeful that I’m going to have some pretty great harvests in the future!

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Homestead tomatoes
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Tiny Tennessee dancing gourd
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Purple pole beans
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Glass gem corn
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Pie pumpkin
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Tiny cantaloupe 
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Purple bell peppers
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Oxheart tomatoes ❤️
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Roma tomatoes
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My first cucumber! 
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Genovese tomatoes
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Scarlet runner beans

And then there is my nice little harvest from earlier in the week:

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Zucchini for every meal!😆

Everything is still pretty healthy in the garden! I’ve been fighting off Japanese beetles, a few squash bugs and Mexican bean beetles. That’s the tough part with organic gardening… finding ways to get rid of the pests that are going after your crops. At least the chickens are enjoying all of the beetles that I’m pulling off of the plants!

So, anyone harvesting yummy things this week?! Keep blooming friends! 🌱💚

No Spend Year June Update!

I’ll start off with how we were able to go on such a nice trip this summer, while saving money.

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1. We haven’t been on a big vacation in 3 years. Only little weekend trips. (But still very fun!)

2. We camped all along the way in the camper that we could double our money on, if we sold it today. (Because we upgraded it so much!)

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3. We saved up all year to make sure that we wouldn’t have to dip into our savings for our trip! (By choosing to not eat out, buy things that we don’t need and limiting our spending for the holidays!)

4. We rarely ate out. Because we were camping, we made a majority of our meals in the camper. It was so nice having that stove and our fridge!

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Burgers for dinner! 

And remember the adorable toaster oven/griddle/coffee maker combo for the camper?

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This beauty?!

It was amazing! We were able to have morning coffee from our campsite and… the thing holds a freezer pizza perfectly!

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15 minutes in the toaster over for perfection! 

It was so nice to be able to have some of my boy’s favorite food available for him without ordering out! We ❤️❤️❤️ That toaster over! (We got it on amazon FYI!)

5. We were not big souvenir buyers. The boy and I got a shirt and we took lots of photos that I will be turning into a scrapbook at some point.

Now on to the rest of the month! We have been working really hard at paying down the house! And we are down below the next $10k! We enjoy seeing that number fall!

We also have been eating more from the garden and saving up on our grocery bills. Since I love gardening, it’s a win-win!

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We had fried zucchini and zucchini cake! 

We have also sold a bit of our produce and will use that money to buy plants and garden supplies next year!

June was really a blur, due to school finishing and our trip all at one time! The summer is a time for us to focus on saving (since I don’t get paid again until September!) I’m looking into more ways to save, and would love hearing any suggestions! Thanks for reading along and keep blooming! 🌱💚

We are back!!! And the garden is thriving!

For the past week and a half we were traveling all over this country taking in the sites! It was beautiful and we made so many memories. Here’s a few preview pictures: (but I’ll be doing a whole post on it later this month!)

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geothermal activity at Yellowstone!

The first thing that I worked on was weeding the garden! It was so weedy! Thank goodness so many people give me their grass clippings!

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Grass mulched walkway! 

And the rest of the garden before and after:

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Before
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After! 

And so much grew while we were away!

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Tiny peppers 
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Baby cucumber 
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Adorable genovese tomato
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Cucuamelons
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Nasturtium Bush! 
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Even a sunflower bloomed! 

We all had a great trip and I’m beyond thankful for all of the people that stepped in and helped out with the garden, pets and chickens/ducks! Do you all have go to people when you go out of town?

Spinning honey and melting beeswax

Last weekend we spent a lot of time harvesting the honey from the hives that didn’t make it through the winter. It’s sad, but needed done.

It’s still so amazing how perfect those frames of honey are!

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Full deep frame of honey

We then use a knife to uncap all of the honey and put the frames in the spinner. We spin the fronts of the frames until cleaned out and then the backs. We have the boy spin the frames because that kid has way too much energy!

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Spinning away! 

Then, we pour the honey from the spinner into the double screened filter. This honey was super thick, so it took a long time to filter! The light spring honey flies through the filters!

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Filtering out the honey

After we allow it to settle in the bucket for a bit, we pour all of the honey into clean and sterilized jars.

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A nice honey harvest! 

And now for the beeswax cappings that we cut off of the frames. There’s still honey on them, so I clean them out really well by putting them in a thin muslin and run water through it until it runs dead. I leave them on the towel and let them dry out.

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The dry beeswax cappings

Then, I make a double boiler with water in the pot underneath and the cappings in the top pot. It takes a little while for it all to melt and it doesn’t exactly look like beeswax,

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Before melting (I think it looks like burger!) 
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During melting

This batch was pretty messy, but it doesn’t matter too much. I filter it through a nylon filter and pour it into a mold. (I just used an old creamer container!)

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We harvested about 8.5 ounces

If you need it filtered again, have at it! But, the Mr. is probably going to use this batch for Blacksmithing!

We definitely were weekend homesteading today! Keep blooming away friends!

Growing Popcorn

Last summer one new thing that we tried our green thumb on was popcorn. We grew 2 varieties: strawberry popcorn, on the right and a mixed color variety on the left.

We noticed right away the height difference between the 2 varieties! The strawberry popcorn was much shorter than the colored variety. It also seemed like the ears of corn developed faster on the strawberry variety.

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Popcorn stalks

I left the corn on the plant to dry as long as they could and when the cold weather started setting in, we pulled the cobs off and brought them in to dry out the rest of the way.

Just now, in January, we decided to shell the corn. At first, we tried to just use our fingers, and that was painful. And then we read where if you rub 2 cobs together, they will come off easier. That worked better with less cut up fingers!

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Our popcorn!

We decided to save some of both seeds.

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Some of the seeds for next year

We used a funnel to pour all of the popcorn into a mason jar to keep everything sealed up!

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Yep, that’s homework still on the table!

And here was how much we got for a very small patch!

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Our whole harvest! 

And for the leftover cobs and husks, the chickens enjoyed looking for any kernels that we missed and kicked everything around!

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A nice winter treat! 

Now on the the important part, did it pop?! It sure did! They might not be as large as the store bought, but the taste is much better!

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Popcorn! 

Next year I’m going to focus on the strawberry variety because they seemed to pop much better, and took up less room.

So, I consider this new crop to us a success! Does popcorn make your list for the 2018 garden? I’m going to stay under these covers and dream of the beautiful weather that will eventually come! 🌱💚

2017 Goals Update!

Last year was my first year setting and blogging about my goals. It was amazing to run into people and they would ask me questions about how I was doing with them! They went pretty well and here were the results: https://littlellewellynhomestead.com/2016/12/31/2016-goal-recap/

This year we are pretty proud of what we accomplished! Here’s our year in review:

✔️1. Zero waste our home! We are still working on creating less trash! We took inaround 130 pumpkins to compost or feed to the chickens! My hubby also made an awesome lockbox for our produce stand using old license plates! And, of course, we grew a lot of food and preserved it! Yard to table!

✔️2. Declutter 20 items per month. It might not have been exactly 20 per month, but we continued finding homes for things that we no longer needed!

✔️3. Create only 12 bags of garbage per year. We crushed this goal! I’m going to go ahead and say that it’s 7 bags for the year, because the one in the garbage can is pretty much full.

✔️4. Merge crafting and homestead business. Yep, we did it!!  I’m so proud of my hubby for really doing great with his Blacksmithing! We got so many compliments on his metal creations! I’m still sewing and crocheting away, which is my love!

5. Create a summer kitchen. Ugh! This just didn’t happen. I’m ok with that!

✔️6. Expand the garden. The fence line garden provided us with a lot more produce! Plus, we cleared out a lot more space for the 2018 garden!

✔️7. Grow some different plants. The okra grew great this year. We harvested tons of cucamelons, popcorn, okra and luffa gourds!
 Plus the mushrooms were delish and it turns out that I don’t like beets

8. Make a chicken viewing area. Yeah, um, we decided against this! We have some other ideas for 2018!

✔️9.Green up my school. Schools create an absurd amount of trash! The plastic bag recycling program has started, and we have recycled almost 200 pounds so far! I also convinced my principal to buy a zero waste glue stick recycling box and we are also recycling our cereal bowls and markers! My coworkers are now recycling their plastic in the lounge and I have been recycling their k cups. Oh, and my students (from last year)  also planted a beautiful pollinator garden!

✔️10. Track our solar panels. We are loving the panels! This month’s bill was still only $5 and some odd change. This year we created a total of 14.26 mwh!

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✔️11. Continue beekeeping. We are still loving our bees! We caught swarms, spun honey, sold honey and even made a nice watering hole for our bees! We are still going to enjoy our winged friends next year!

✔️12. Travel more with the family! This year we took a quick trip to an indoor water park with the boy and also visited Williamsburg. Next year we are planning on taking a nice trip out west and renovating this beast:

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Camper for next year! 

Accomplishing 10/12 goals is pretty great to us! We have some great ideas for next year too! How did your goals go? Did you check off something from your list? Just keep blooming friends! 🌱💚