Thursday, May 15, 2014

Square Foot Garden

Have you ever taken a trip and passed fields growing, cows grazing and tractors humming along and, I wish life was still like that...simpler! Where people lived off the land, felt good after a hard days work and were proud of what they produced? A hard life no doubt, but fulfilling? If not...move to another blog, you won't like this one.

I had the simpler life desire from the time my life WAS simpler. Childhood. I loved watching Little House and The Walton's, walking around my grandfather's garden and picking things and growing things myself as I got older and had my own children. Our first "crop" was radish. My three year old she's almost 19 (and studying...wait for it...horticulture!)picked them way too early and tried freezing them as a surprise for me. They were the size of a gum ball. Next year we grew other things and each year we grew something or another. I wanted a farm. As I grew older (I am 41 now...shhhh I pretend I am 40!) I knew my body would not be able to jump into farming at this age on a large scale. I am married to a wonderful man who shares this ideal of a simpler life and together we think we can manage a small Homestead. Of course being ADD I am itching to jump in feet first.We cannot do that, we are a couple years off. So....I am starting the process by educating myself and putting into practice that which I can practice from a HOA ruled subdivision with 1/4 acre (house on most of it) lot. We feel God has not only blessed us with each other and a wonderful family and life, but with a purpose. We see living simply and experiencing contentment as our goal but feel there is a bigger purpose for us...God knows what it is and maybe our Homestead will be the thing He uses to bring it to fruition?    I am excited! Here goes!

This is a square foot garden. It's a raised bed that is contained on the this case, by wood. I fill mine with 1/2 good quality compost (Black Hen or Cotton Bol) and 1/2 peat. It's expensive to start this, but I can tell you, where others grow in "soil" or "potting soil", this gives a better quality and more nutrients resulting in better plants and bigger produce. How do I know this...because this is my third year square foot gardening. disclaimer: I know I'm a newbie on the Homesteading thing...I do not think 3 years is a long time or much experience, I've just learned that this soil is great in that time :)
Our soil stinks in this subdivision. Raised beds were our choice because the HOA would let us have a couple and putting a garden in is not allowed :) 
Don't get me started...but I chose to move here!

The first year we had our bed on the side of the house (due to that being the only full sun exposure we had. Veggies mostly like full sun.) and back of the house. 5 beds total. Great crops that year! Squash, zucchini, green beans. tomatoes, peppers, cukes, variety of herbs and in the fall and spring radish, beets, chard, lettuce and broccoli. 
Next year we moved them only to the back and realized quickly they weren't growing well. Not enough full sun for long enough during the day. Plus...strike of the squash bug! He bores a hole into the stem and kills your plant :( Boo Hoo. We still produced a good amount of food though considering. Why did we move the beds...HOA

This year we have moved the heavy sun dwellers (ie tomato) to the bed closest to the side with sun, herbs and vine plants in the next bed and then flowers furthest back. Ideally you have beds in sun. Our HOA complained that our beds were too leggy the first year so the beds on the side (ideal location) were removed rather than deal with letters of disapproval! We compost all our food waste and this was our first step into self-sufficient or Homesteading practices! If you only have a patio or balcony, place a pot of cherry tomatoes or peppers. You can garden small scale. Grow some parsley on a window sill :) I highly suggest you read up on some homesteading ideas in this book:

It is packed full of ideas for small spaces and ideas on canning and other things you can do with no garden space! If you have ever desired a simpler way of life and a slower pace...this book is for you. It was one of the first of many books I bought on this subject.

 My next post involves a bored 14 year old, a mom that was also in need or a bit of time our of the house, ADD working on an impulsive person and a trip to the Farm and Tractor store where they sell baby'll want to read this one!

Until Next Time Drear Reader,

Chatty Cathy

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Homesteading...or trying to be more Self-Sufficient!

Homesteading...the Good life

Published by DK books available online or at booksellers.

Homesteading for me 2 years ago would have looked like Little House On The Prairie. (My favorite books and TV series) Large land, livestock, working the land, struggling and the love of a family to keep you going...oh and being happy no matter know Caroline!

Caroline Ingalls- Little House on The Prairie mom.

Homesteading for me a year ago...changed a bit! The Walton's :) Think small land, cute house with porch, a cow, chickens and quilting's and of course laying under a nut bearing tree with my supportive hubby! Hey we can tackle anything together!

John and Olivia Walton- The Waltons TV show

Homesteading to me now? Well, much internet research, and ever increasing library of books, my own raising of three chicks to hen stage (donated to my very happy Aunt because she actually has an area for them unlike me- more on that adventure later!), growing my own veggies and herbs, making my own compost, sewing, bread making and grinding of my own grains...well the look of Homesteading has changed! It's more like this now...

square foot garden

"Maisy" the Barred Rock hen

You see, I realized: I could wait till I had acres to work with, or I could use what I've got! Now, what "I've Got" is a 1/4 acre that slopes into the woods, a house that takes up a good portion of that, sun on only one side of the house in plain view of the HOA that doesn't like "leggy" plants or "garden areas not already established by the builder without prior permission"...they also don't allow livestock...not technically a chicken, but they don't want them either! So what's a girl to do if she really wants to learn what she can while waiting for that property? Well, follow me as I tell you what I am doing and have some laughs, because the chicken one...well there's some laughs to be had there! Many of the posts that will follow will be on things we have done so far, they will come quick in succession, but the post as I do it stuff will be more spread out, so be patient Kind Reader :)

Until Next Time...

Chatty Cathy