Walk through the garden 8/15

It has been raining every other day here, so it’s hard to get into the garden to gather our harvest. So, when I went outside I was pretty surprised to see a watermelon that might actually have time to be harvested before the weather changes!

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Our tiny watermelon! 

I have been picking what feels like millions of cherry tomatoes every time I go in the garden! I’m thinking about just freezing some for later use.

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Cherry tomatoes 🍅 

I know that I posted a picture of an okra bloom earlier in the month, but it’s hard not to share them. They are such a beautiful bloom!

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Another okra bloom

The later planting of the popcorn is growing tall! I’m hoping that we will get to harvest this too before the weather change!

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Popcorn growing 

After forever, I’m finally seeing some pumpkins growing! They had male blossoms since early summer and just started getting female blossoms.

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Tiny pumpkin growing! 

Another late Fall harvesting plant, sweet potatoes, are growing well! The vines are growing everywhere!

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Sweet potato vines

I have never seen the birdhouse gourds grow this large before! My neighbor said that we will have eagles trying to live in these sized gourds!

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Birdhouse gourd (on the chicken run)

And here is our big ol’ harvest today!

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So much deliciousness! 

And after getting all of the veggies picked and grass cut and raked (it was sooo tall!), I was able to sit and relax with the Sherman dog!

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Life is obviously hard! 

At some point tomorrow we really need to can some peaches anc work on processing the tomatoes!

Keep blooming where you’re planted! 🌱💚

Garden pictures and canning

The garden is really producing lots of fruits and veggies lately! I’m still loving the gardening apron that I made a couple years ago because I can pick a ton more veggies without moving a basket with me!

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Yesterday’s harvest 
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Top view of my gardening apron 

Remember how that groundhog ate every bite of my beets in the spring? Well here are the ones I planted for a fall harvest.

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Beets! 

And lots of other crops are growing by the day!

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Tiny pumpkin
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My first ever jalapeños 
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We seriously picked over 60 cucumelons yesterday! 
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Trails of sweet potatoes!
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My super late to the game luffa! 

Since we put up bread and butter pickles, we went ahead and make some dill ones too!

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Dill pickles

The sunflowers are starting to bloom now too!

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My favorite flower! 

Enjoy the rest of the weekend and keep blooming 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!

Pond success, harvesting and a question

Remember how we scored a nice pond liner from a yard sale site for only $10?!

IMG_8773Well, the main reason we bought it was to provide a reliable watering hole for the bees. So, we bought a few water hyancith and some water lettuce and hoped the bees would use it. The great news:

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The bees love it! And it flowered! 

I laughed and told my husband at this point about 10% of our ideas work!

On to the garden! There is a beautiful orange/yellow sunflower that’s trying to bloom!

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So close! 🌻

And it is nice to see a beneficial insect in the garden for once, instead of the millions of squash bugs and cucumber beetles that I have been squishing!

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Little ladybug in the corn 

And our harvests are getting pretty regular now! We are still getting a few onions (purple, white and yellow) along with lots of cucumbers, zucchini, our first tomatoes and tiny cucumelons!

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Harvesting! 

I asked this question on my Facebook llewellyn homestead page, but I’ll ask it here too. Here are a few things we do to live frugally and with a lower carbon footprint:

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Some of my friends suggesting things that I forgot like composting, fixing things instead of trashing them and hunting. Can you suggest anything else? If so, please do! I’m going to try to post an idea per day next month, so I’ll need 31!

And now I leave you with this sad baby!

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Sherman in his glory

I keep telling him that school will be back in soon and he won’t be able to follow me all day and sit on my lap! 🙁

 

Keep blooming where you are planted! 🌱💚