Composting week and garden beginnings!

Last week was international composting week! It was fun to spread the message about the importance of composting and answering lots of messages about it!

The biggest question that I get a lot is: “can I just make a pile of my food scraps in the yard?” The quick answer is no. A compost pile needs to be almost equal amounts of greens (most things in your kitchen, even coffee grounds) to browns (sawdust, chipped leaves). Any pile that’s out of proportion will either give you a stinky mess or not break down quickly.

We received a compost drop off last week and it is quickly composting in the pile!

My mom is always sweet and saves me her compostables too! She even wraps them in newspaper to avoid plastics!

We try to recycle most of our paper, but we also use some in the compost bin. I just make sure to work in under the compost, so that paper isn’t flying all over the place on a windy day!

Another reason that I love luffas is that they go straight from being used and into the compost bin. They can be used for a long time before they need to go into the compost!

And I figured that I should show off some of the pretty things going on in the garden! The newly planted blueberry bushes are blooming! (And I think I see a few tiny berries!

The Spring raised bed has come to life and the radishes are even ready to be harvested!

The strawberries are starting to look more beautiful by the day too!

I’m going to be attempting to grow some winecap mushrooms underneath of the trellis. Hopefully I have a harvest by fall!

And lastly, I was able to score a couple fig trees for Mother’s Day! Hopefully these beauties grow and we can taste a real fig in a few years!

I can’t wait to share how our grand opening of the little free library went and how much we enjoyed having family over for the event!

🌸keep blooming!

September Goals Update 2018

Hello October! September was pretty good to us! I mean, it was my birthday this month! And I got seeds and a compost thermometer (along with other great things!) We were able to still harvest some fruits and veggies and the flowers keep blooming too! So, here’s how the goals are going:

1. Expand the garden- ✅it happened! Everything is slowing down and harvests are becoming few and far between. But, we still have some yumminess coming out of our garden!

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Garden in September 

2. Fix the camper- ✅We fixed up our camper and loved using it on a trip of a lifetime! I catch myself thinking about the fun that we had this summer often!

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3.Travel out west- ✅ We did it and enjoyed every single stop! I loved hiking the trails and still think about how we packed a lunch, went on a long hike and then ate our lunch while watching buffalo and wild horses in the distance! 🌏💚

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Natural bridge in Yellowstone 

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Buffalo in North Dakota 

4. Create a certified wildlife habitat ✅ There was grass patch in front of the garage that was begging to be returned to nature. So, we did! There is still so much blooming! And my favorite part is that I have been able to raise and release monarchs because of the milkweed planted! Plus I’m saving seeds for next year and to share!

5. Reduce garbage- Last year we made 7 bags of garbage and we want to make less than 6 bags this year. Still only 3 bags!

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Love that photo bomber! 

6. Volunteer/Donate/Do Good Every month- I didn’t do a grand gesture last month. We shared produce and started looking at sites for a community garden that I’d like to help with. We also attended the town meeting and asked about a good location.

7. Repurpose, remake, mend, repair-  This month I had the Mr. help to paint them ends of some silverware (to help them not be left at home) to put in the faculty room to deter people from using disposables. It’s working so far!

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Reuse! 

8. Paw Paw trees- Our 2 little trees are looking great! They were repotted and put outside to get used to the weather.

We went hiking and found some paw paws to try! They were good!

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Paw paw! 

9. Build a pizza oven- ❎ we are not doing this one this year. We are trying to figure out how we are going to change up the backyard next year! (We have an interesting plan for next year!)

10. Grow different produce- We have grow so many different plants! Huge gourds, different melons and glass gem corn!

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Glass gem corn on the door

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Gourds galore! 

11. Continue tracking the solar panels- September was a rainy month, but we still produced enough power to keep our bill at the $5 connection rate!

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Not bad considering it rained nearly everyday! 

12. Work on garden cart sales- We mainly sold honey in September and we are looking forward to a big craft show this month!

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Honey! 

I am pretty proud of the steps that we are making towards achieving our goals! And, I have a list of 20 different goals that are on the chopping block for 2019! Are you thinking about next year already? Anything that you think we should give a try to?

Keep blooming friends! 🌱

Wednesday walk through the garden 6/6/18

If I had one word to describe what has been going on in the garden, it would be weeding! I have been mulching to help suppress the weeds and pulling as many as I can.

Yesterday I was even able to start putting supports for the tomatoes in the garden. I hope that I don’t have to use any tomato cages. Those things are just the worst!

The zucchini are slow growing, but they don’t look terrible. I am hoping to get some of the 3 varieties that I planted this year!

The dragon tongue beans are doing great! I got them in a seed exchange on instagram, and I’m loving that they can be used as a regular green bean or as a dried bean. And, they are supposed to taste great!

A nice follower of my Facebook page gave me 7 bales of very weathered straw that she used as wind breaks in her yard. They definitely will help out with the weeds. And, they will turn into more soil food.

I planted the rest of the onion sets that I had leftover from the raised bed. Surprisingly, even though I though they weren’t good anymore, they all came up!

Strawberries, that planted themselves, gave us a handful of strawberries!

The green bean teepee is finally growing!

One of the raised beds has lots of onions and garlic happily growing!

The cucumelons are starting to trellis nicely up the cattle Panel trellis!

Everything is slowly growing, except for the apple melons in the big garden. I believe that there are flea beetles that are loving their leaves. So, I’ll just be happy with what is growing well, and try to save the plants that still have a chance. Keep blooming! 🌱💚

Summer preview weekend!

Last weekend was absolutely beautiful! It was in the 80’s and with temperatures like that, I was able to get a lot accomplished!

We purchased 3 trees from our local soil conservation fundraiser. Thankfully the trees had not broken dormancy yet, so we got them planted as soon as we could! And, of course, we had to put deer netting around them to protect them! We have a major deer overpopulation issue, so it has to be done!

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Yellow delicious and honey crisp 

I’m also doing everything that I can to clean up our hillside  it was so full of weeds and was covered in poison ivy too! I decided to plant wildflowers to the farthest end where black eyed susans and coneflowers come up already. And the rest of the hill is planted with strawberries! I’m not sure how that will work out, but they will give off pretty blooms, possibly some fruit and will spread out! (Hopefully!)

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Right around 100 strawberry plants! 

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No weeds and now wildflower seeds!

I also started removing all of the cover crop that I planted in the raised bed. I separated out the Egyptian walking onions. I am hoping to try them this year!

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Egyptian walking onions

I got the carrots and lettuce planted and hopefully they will pop up when the weather warms up!

By the way, the one beehive that survived the winter is doing great! I love seeing them come and go!

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Honeybees! 

I love being able to share what we are accomplishing around here! We are far from perfect, and I don’t want to ever seem like we are braggers. I am just proud of finding what makes us happy and how we are slowly transitioning to a more self sufficient life! Keep blooming!

Harvests and feeling like Fall

This week brought on the start of the school year, which is year 13 for my teaching career. Every year feels like I’m starting a new job. I’m hoping this year goes well!

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Third grade, again! 

And on to gardening! The strawberry bed had gotten so unruly and to be honest, I don’t get a large amount of strawberries. So, I decided to clear out the bed and I’m going to plant a cover crop and hopefully make the soil even better.

The cattle panel trellis that goes from one raised bed to the other is looking great! There are always lots of big yellow luffa blooms on it and the luffas and birdhouse gourds are growing fast!

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Sweet potatoes to the right and lots on he trellis! 

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Huge luffa! (And a birdhouse gourd!) 

The trellises in the yard are looking great!

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Growing food, not lawns! 

And I love growing sunflowers! This year our tallest is around 10 feet tall! The pollinators are enjoying the blooms and the chickens will enjoy the seeds this winter!

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Sunflowers!

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Pretty monarch! 

This weekend is going to consist of lots of canning  because we have a ton of tomatoes that need to be preserved! The end of the month update will be coming soon!

It feels like summer!

This week has really heated up! We have been able to go swimming and be outside all of the time. The plants are really taking their first growth spurt and I am up to 2 okra plants! All the birds are very happy too!

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Quail eggs

We have also been able to harvest a few things:

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My first garlic this year 

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Strawberries and eggs 

And as for the first week of our zero waste summer challenge, altogether we only made a little over 3 ounces of trash between the 3 of us! The chocolate chips have been put into cookies enjoyed by all of us. (That’s why it’s circled!)

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Week 1 of zero waste challenge 

I have also spotted a few beautiful flowers blooming away in the garden and the bees and butterflies seem to like them!

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Beautiful echinacea 

I will get a picture of all the yummy things growing in the garden this week!

Garden happenings, beekeeping and lots of work

I’m elated to say that this week is my last week of school and from here on out I will be busy taking on all this homesteading!

I’ll start with my beekeeping fun. All the hives seem to be doing well and are laying lots of eggs. The newest swarm that I got has been really busy laying eggs! Great job on picking that queen!

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You can see the brood! 

When we pulled the hive out of the tree being cut down, we put some frames of their brood in there to help get them started and attached them to the frame with rubber bands. Well, they showed me how much they liked those bands!

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They don’t like the rubber bands

The mister has a friend that has a ton of bamboo growing in their yard. That stuff is so invasive and grows too fast! But, they let us cut some for free to turn into tomato stakes and a green bean teepee!

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Bamboo! 

Around the homestead we have been gathering lots of eggs and some delicious strawberries!

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Homegrown food! 

The mycelium from the winecap mushrooms are really enjoying this wet weather!

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Fabulous fungi!

I was also given a fixer upper kind of project by a friend! Her camera strap was looking sad and needed recovered! So, 30 minutes later, I had removed the old fabric and made it pretty again!

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Pretty again camera strap! 

The solar panels did great last month!! Our bill was for only $8.16 and we even got a credit back for over $80 from previous months!

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Solar is kicking butt!! 

So that’s a quick update here on our tiny plot of land in the middle of a small town!

Keeping Busy Beekeeping

It is super swarm season in my area right now and we have been tagged on Facebook and contacted for so many swarms. We decided to split our overwintered hive when we found a queen cell, which brought us up to 2 hives.

Then, we picked a swarm up right in our own neighborhood. So, that brought up the count to 3 hives. And then another in the next town over!

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Our 2 swarms

We were lucky enough to have some old nuc boxes that we could put them into with frames already made. And of course I need to show off the perfect handle that my blacksmith made for the top of the box!

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Our bee catching box! 

For the past 2 days, we have been working with a tree cutting service friend to get a hive out of a tree that he was cutting down. I’d love to show you pictures from me being in the lift, but I was kind of too terrified to take a picture!

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My mister doing all the work! 

I was stuck at school until 4 and then ran up to help him finish up the job. There was comb in there at least 3 feet long! It was a hot and sticky job with loads of angry bees!

As for the rest of the homestead, we are finally harvesting some delicious strawberries!

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Strawberries! 

I also took time to hill all of my potatoes and I’ve been hardening off plants and will be putting them in the garden very soon!

Now my question for you is what is the world is the volunteer plant below?

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pumpkin plant……. maybe? 

I’m hoping to get loads more things planted around here this weekend! Anyone else already have their garden planted?

Greenfest, gardening, mushrooms and swarms

Happy Mother’s Day weekend and I must say that this weekend was so busy! But, it was a great kind of busy. On Friday I spent the evening prepping everything for  Saturday’s Greenfest in Boonsboro, Md while the mister took the boy to go see Guardians of the Galaxy. (By the way, they said it was great!)

It was a really cold craft show, but we sold a good bit of our crafted items!

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Our craft show items!

I sold several gardening aprons, and got lots of compliments on them as well! And I still have 2 in the print below and will be adding them to the Etsy store!

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Love this gardening apron! 

And the mister got a lot of compliments on the railroad spike bottle openers as well as the bolt bottle openers! And I love the garden spades!

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Garden spades and bolt bottle opener

The mister was also able to get the itty bitty greenhouse all set up! Since I managed to accidentally bake my original seedlings, round 2 seedlings are in the greenhouse!

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Greenhouse! 

And we got our first strawberry tonight! I bet you can guess who wanted it! But the boy actually got it and said it was delicious!

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Fruit and veggie thief!

I don’t want to jinx myself, but the mushroom spawn seems to be spreading out well and looks very healthy!

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Mushroom spawn!

Then, just tonight, I had 2 calls for bee swarms! The first one seemed to be some bees that are taking up residence in a house. I’m not sure if I can get them to move out of there! But the second call was a beautiful swarm!

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Honeybee swarm!

I was able to get pretty much every bee! And I’m hoping they learn to love it here!

I was able to get a few minutes of relaxation on the new hammock with my lazy pup!

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Hammocking! 

It was a great weekend and it might take until Wednesday for me to get caught up around the house! I really do love all this fun homesteading life of ours!

Friday Funday (well, my version of fun!)

Don’t expect to read about something crazy amazing, like winning the lottery or taking a once in a lifetime trip. Nope, just what’s going on now that the weather is beautiful!

The bees have been buzzing around doing bee things! And I officially have tiny green strawberries and loads of blooms!

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Strawberry blooms

And although I don’t like creepy staged pictures where it looks like life is just perfect, I had eggs in my hands and these flowers were growing in my garden… so, I used the opportunity for a cute “L” photo!

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L for Llewellyn! 

And the arugula, leaf lettuce and spinach in the old wagon are growing!

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Salad wagon

I spent the evening hilling potatoes, checking on seedlings and finally moving the quail into their outdoor home!

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Quail dust bathing! 

And just when you think the day can’t get much better, I got to meet up with an old friend and barter some sweet potato slips and luffa plants for some onions and pepper plants!

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Best gift ever! 

And I didn’t even mention that our solar panels are loving these long, sunny days!

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75 KWh!

Today was a great day and tomorrow I will be at a local arts walk selling (hopefully) some of my craftiness! Have a great weekend!