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!

Walk through the garden 7/14/17

We have been harvesting a fair amount of produce from the garden! It’s starting to look like a jungle in there!

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So many tomatoes! 

We are growing a couple different varieties of peppers this year, but only the green peppers are growing so far!

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Green pepper!

Last year the cucumber plants were killed off almost right away. I was super bummed about that! This year, they seem to be doing much better! Pickle making will be happening soon!

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Cucumbers!

A nice close up of the tomato jungle! In my defense most of these came up on their own and I just couldn’t kill them!

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Welcome to the (tomato) jungle! 

My efforts to combat squash bugs is working so far! That means picking off any squash bug eggs every few days, but it’s worth it!

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Beautiful zucchini

I was also able to clean out the compost tumbler! I put a majority of the compost down where the beets are going to be put in the garden!

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Future beet area! 

The popcorn seems to be growing nicely! I’m hoping to harvest some of this for the winter!

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Popcorn! 

Now a totally different story is the green beans! Something, I think the groundhog, kept breaking into the garden and eating the plants! Hoping to get them growing now that I have located the break in area!

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Sad green beans! 

We also still have loads of blossoming plants, including the beautiful black eyed Susans!

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Black eyed Susans

The chicken coop was cleaned out well by yours truly, and the birdhouse gourds are finally trellising up!

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Our coop! 

And last, but not least, is that we finally got some shirts with our logo!

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Our new shirts!!! 

We are having a honey and egg sale here at the homestead tomorrow! I’ll be posting how that went after the weekend!

June Goals Update 2017

It’s really summer! We are starting to get some food from the garden including garlic and potatoes. I’m looking forward to gathering lots more this month!

1. Zero waste our home! We already do a good bit to avoid creating trash, but there is always room for improvement! The summer challenge is going well! We (all 3 of us combined) only sent about 10 ounces of garbage to the landfill this whole month!


2. Declutter 20 items per month. Last year I decluttered 2016 items from this house. We got rid of a big gaming table and a few other not played with things!

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! Yep, still on the same bag of garbage, #4! We might just make it through the summer!

4. Merge crafting and homestead business. This has been going pretty well! I had a craft set up at a local friend’s store and a few online sales. I’m sewing some round earbud holders now to see how they sell and the mister has been blacksmithing hooks for keys and hanging heavy things!

5. Create a summer kitchen. We will be turning a spot in the garage into a nice canning area. Thank goodness that I don’t need this yet because it’s not been accomplished yet! But I did just buy some peaches at the farmer’s market that I might need to can! Come on Mr. Llewellyn!

6. Expand the garden. I widened the area along the fence and planted plants all throughout my yard (grow food not yards, right?) And, it’s looking better!

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Green bean teepee is starting to fill! 

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!

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Adorable 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!

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But we are growing birdhouse gourds around it again! 

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 1.9 MWh! And our electric bill was less than $6! 💚

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11. Continue beekeeping. The bees have been doing well! I pulled off some honey to spin from our largest hive. I’m hoping to add more boxes soon!

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Bees love the echinacea!

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 were able to take the boy to an awesome indoor water park in Ohio on Lake Erie. It was a great time and we were able to go to a military vehicle show close by. (Of course the guys enjoyed that!)
If you set goals, how are yours going?

Walk through the garden 6/16/17

It has been quite a hot spell this week with temperatures almost in the 90’s everyday. Therefore, I have not bothered the bees because they are already hot and I’m not one to anger already angry insects that sting.

I’ll start off with our tiny harvests! I picked a ton mulberries off the neighbor’s bush to make a pie! (Unfortunately, it turns out that I am not a huge mulberry fan! But, it wasn’t absolutely terrible!)

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Garlic straight from the garden
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Our first onion and some other yummies

The garden has seemed to enjoy this warm up! The tomatoes are full of blooms, as well as other plants!

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Tomato blooms! 
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Cucumber blooms
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Zucchini plant
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Green beans (plus lots of weeds!) 
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Pumpkin blooms 
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Tiny cucumelons 

While I was in the garden, I found a chicken behind me checking out everything!

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Rogue chicken

And the solar panels have been making tons of energy with these sunny days! Already over a megawatt by the middle of the month!

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Solar + longer days = loads of energy

We are hoping to be harvesting some more from our tiny homestead this month! Are you harvesting anything from your garden??