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!
As the season went on, I could just scoop the mounds away to keep an eye on the size of the potatoes!
Did I mention that they grow gorgeous flowers that all pollinators love!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!)
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!
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!
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!)
How are your goals going?! Have you starting thinking about goals for next year? Keep blooming where you are planted!!💚🌱
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!
We made one of our favorite less meat dishes: vegetable stir fry:
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!
And winecaps get pretty big! I decided to let some grow larger to drop spores!
I also found a couple of luffa gourds that I put in a different place! So, now we have been able to harvest 22!
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!
And a preview of a secret project for 2018:
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.
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!)
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!
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.
Step 4: place the garlic cloves 2 inches down with the flat end down and pointed end up!
Step 5: place the cloves 4 inches apart and the rows (I only did one row) should be about 12” apart.
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!
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!)
Come spring time, you will see little sprouts poking up through the soil and by around June, you will be harvesting some garlic!
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!
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!
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:
I also still have some yummy things coming out of the garden! The tomatoes and pepper plants are still going strong!
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!
The bees are enjoying this beautiful day and some are still bringing in pollen!
And my big lump of a dog likes to sunbathe!
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! 🌱💚