Showing posts with label Homestead Garden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homestead Garden. Show all posts

Seasonal Eating (Key To Cutting Ties to the Grocery Store)

Eating seasonally on the homestead for improved health and cutting ties to the grocery store! #homesteader #gardener

One of the best things about growing your own food is eating seasonally!
I have always liked to cook, like to can, love to bake, but doing it seasonally was really challenging for me at first!
We are a country of people that eat what we want when we want... no matter the season. That was me all the way!

That's a nice thing but the problem is the veggies and fruits are often tasteless and sometimes from other countries that allow way more dangerous chemicals sprayed that we do. Maybe those veggies and fruits can hit a craving but they don't do much for our health.
Which is why a lot of people want to farm, healthy and tasty foods!

So if you're thinking you want to grow your own food??
Better start thinking outside the box when it comes to cooking and start eating seasonally! It's not hard just a different way of thinking about the food you prepare!

Like everything else on the farm, it was a learning curve for us. One well worth the time and trouble!
When things don't come in a package or on demand you have to cook by the seat of your pants and use what's on hand.
The things I grow aren't always in my recipe books ( ground cherries!) 
Then there are things I get in great abundance that I must use or preserve if possible! ( mustard greens)

Learning to love tomato or green bean salads in the summer instead of lettuce salads (lettuce dies in our heat here) Substituting an in-season ingredient for an out of season ingredient in a recipe...
Some people have a problem doing this but once you get used to it I promise you will not want to eat any other way!
It's fresh, healthy... and tastes better than anything you can buy out of season or in a package!

Different Season New Cuisine!

Winter Eats

Here in zone 7 TN, we have 4 lovely seasons. I like to think each season has its own cuisine :-)
In the winter I did a recipe challenge on the 5 days of cushaw and it was fantastic! 
Winter squash is a major food for us in the winter... summer squash, except what I dehydrated or froze for baking is long gone. 
Winter cuisine is a mix of home preserved foods from summer and foods that store well. Fresh vegetables are cold hardy plants I grow in my winter gardens under low tunnels.

I get asked all the time... doesn't canning destroy the nutrition in the foods?
Well, certainly not all the nutrients are destroyed! It's not as nutritious as fresh, but my naturally grown, no preservative canned foods I say are a lot more safe than fresh out of season veggies from another country!
Preserving foods for times when not much grows is a way to survive and has been for centuries!
Having preserved homegrown food is a blessing and a treasure in the winter. I also dehydrate and freeze, although I prefer not to have too much of my vegetable and fruit supply for winter dependant on the freezer.
The four-season garden can only do so much. Preserving the bounty from your farm needs to happen unless you live somewhere with no winter.
Spring, summer and fall cuisine, except for relishes, our grain corn, and pickles, can pretty much all be fresh foods for our climate here.
Eating seasonally on the homestead for improved health and cutting ties to the grocery store! #homesteader #gardener

Spring Eats

Spring brings greens and snow peas! Breakfast for me is often a green smoothie of some kind this time of year using frozen fruits from previous harvests and whatever is ready in the garden! Spinach, kale sometimes young mustard greens do the trick.

Lunch is salads with raw snow peas and fresh lettuces! 
Dinner can be snow peas (again!) but cooked in bacon grease along with sauteed greens or maybe a quiche with lots of chopped greens and fresh herbs from the garden that are starting to pop up!
Spring is a lot of fun for seasonal eaters!
Eating seasonally on the homestead for improved health and cutting ties to the grocery store! #homesteader #gardener

Summer Eats

Right now we have a few new potatoes, beans, leeks, garlic, basil, an abundance of summer squash and cucumbers... starting to get into tomato season and okra is coming...
we have plenty of eggs, have slaughtered 10 ducks and a hog so we also have a good bit of lard and duck fat.

Average summer dinner....summer herbed sausage pattie with pepper relish (canned from last years garden).. sauteed green beans and asparagus beans with fresh garlic in lard,,,,
duck hearts and livers sauteed with leeks in lard...  roast new potatoes in duck fat,, fresh slices of yellow pear tomato.
We even serve seasonal foods to guests ..why go to the store for products not as good as what you've got...entertaining with a fresh from the garden menu is so nice! And actually pretty easy... 
.. for summer entertaining we may have green bean salad, a flatbread made from my homemade cornmeal, zucchini and duck eggs... topped with heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil,,,
grilled pork chops, a dessert made with fresh berries wildcrafted or cultivated.

Breakfast .... never has it been the most important meal of the day for me... until I farmed!

Average summer breakfast.... duck eggs, summer squash rolled in cornmeal and fried in lard, slices of fresh tomato .. maybe an herbed sausage pattie. In the winter we still get eggs but the veggies would change from squash to fresh greens, sauerkraut and maybe a piece of bacon.
I believe in veggies for breakfast... and every meal really!!!!

Fall Eats

We tend to have a long fall here. Peppers are still plentiful but grain corn and winter squash are coming in! 
Homemade pumpkin spice everything! Pumpkin breakfast smoothies! 
Fresh ground cornbread and country ham for lunch! Maybe winter squash and bean tacos for dinner! Topped with fresh sauteed peppers of course!

We did not eat anything like this before we grew our own food but now we wouldn't want it any other way!

Grow Variety for Food Security

We were having a hot June and going into July it's wet... rabbits have had a field day with some of the things in my garden which make me rely on the things that they didn't want to eat! This is all an adjustment when you're growing your own food..... I was counting on provider beans... the rabbits ate them all,, thankfully my dragon tongue beans did well in a more protected area so they have been my go-to bean for eating and canning this summer.

I do get discouraged by the failures, like this season...the rabbits eating all my provider beans... the excess rain washing away my mulch making way for weeds! Things like my peppers are not doing as well this year as last..... cracked tomatoes from to much rain....artichokes looking like they are not going to work out again! I could go on.....

 I have to adjust the menus and focus on the fact that even though all is not perfect in the garden or barnyard... I still gathered a whole bushel of vegetables today!

Eating seasonally on the homestead for improved health and cutting ties to the grocery store! #homesteader #gardener

Roll with the Punches!

Being flexible in what you 'think' breakfast, lunch or dinner should be is a must here...
Some things I used to love just can't be grown in TN... so I have had to learn to love the things that can be grown here even more... and I do!
 Different ways of preparing and substituting what's available have been a key in our success in cutting our ties with the grocery store.

Sorta like learning to love the livestock that's productive here... not hold onto the livestock that couldn't cut it in this climate or can't be grown organically here! 

I canned 6 pints and 4 half pints of wild blackberries and have a dehydrator full of tomatoes and ground cherries...
I ate breakfast, lunch, and snacks today, ALL things grown on my farm... and my husband and I will sit down to a dinner all grown right here.... in-season vegetables and recently slaughtered meats from livestock we grew..maybe from an animal I had never planned to grow in the first place.... but if it's what works....

Accept it, learn to cook it and love it..... keys to homestead success
and abundant blessings... never forget to Praise the Lord for the things that work out!

3 EASY Unusual Fruits to Grow!

3 EASY Unusual fruits your can grow on your homestead quickly! #gardener #homesteadgarden #homesteader

My garden has certainly has had its fair share of uncommon vegetable experiments over the last 9 years.
I have my staple crops down and the varieties we like that get planted every year. Tried and true performers of green beans, sweet potatoes, okra, winter squash, cucumbers, corn, southern peas... finally just this year I've narrowed down the best varieties of tomatoes for our zone/climate. I do like taking a little space to devote to a new vegetable or fruit every year. You can check out my experimental Snow Pea Variety Trials here Growing Snow Peas!
When you plant from seed a whole big world gets opened up to you and all these varieties call to you! 
Figuring out the best fruits and vegetables for homestead is as hard as figuring out which livestock works best! But once you have it figured out it's so incredibly nice!

Fast Fruits!

These 3 fruits are super easy to grow and give you fruit soon! I know when we first moved here I wanted my own fruits ASAP! Most fruits take so long to establish though. These fruits helped curb my usual impatience!

Matt's Wild Cherry Tomato

I know many people call a tomato a vegetable but technically it is a fruit so I've added it here. This particular variety is sweet!!!!! They are delicious to eat alone, on salads and make an absolutely amazing sweet tomato jam that's perfect for sweet potato fries or any fries! Really nice sweet/savory combo.
They also dehydrate quickly!

There are 2 other things special about this variety.
  • They seem almost immune to mold and fungus diseases that bring down tomatoes in the humid southeast!!! 
  • The reseed easily every single year! 
Huge bonus from the garden that took no input from me to grow. I like that!

I got my seeds here. Matts Wild Cherry Tomato

Ground Cherries

Ground cherries(AKA Husk Cherries) have been an amazing addition to our garden!  Wow! are they good!!! At first bite, I wondered why they aren't offered commercially. They keep incredibly well and why doesn't everyone who gardens grow them!!
Midseason I can see why... they are huge sprawling plants that can be a pain to harvest!!!!! they are good and very worth the effort !!!! They are extremely productive Plus they fill a very big void for us. They take the place of raisins!
We grow muscadines, a type of grape but they can't be made into raisins. We love having a dried fruit in the winter to sprinkle on cobblers or hot cereals.
Ground cherries are actually better than raisins to us! They dry beautifully. I think I have a plan on how to plant them for an easier harvest... we'll see next year if that works!

They are delicious raw too! Great in desserts. Ground Cherry cobbler, ground cherry preserves, ground cherry ice cream. They can be used anywhere you would use any other berry.

Growing Ground cherries is basically the same as tomatoes. Here's a link for more information on growing Growing Ground Cherries

These also reseed themselves easily if you allow them too.
I've grown both these varieties. Both productive and very good. I like the Cossack maybe a little bit better.
Aunt Molly's Ground Cherries
Cossack Pineapple Ground Cherries

ground cherries
Dehydrated Ground cherries on the homestead!
If you decide to start these seeds do Check out my Free Seed Starting Workbook! No matter if you start seeds inside or out keeping records will help in your gardening success! 


Elderberries are a fruit that is also used medically. I ordered elderberries from Stark Bros and actually got a tiny harvest the first year! 
Year 2 was very nice and productive. I was able to make my own syrups, tinctures, wine, freeze and dehydrate many quart bags! I used them in muffins and pancakes too.
By year 3 there were so many Elderberries from those 4 little scrubs I think the birds even got tired of eating them!
Later I found wild elderberry scrubs on my farm so I'm overrun with them every year now. Its a good thing to be overrun with!
Can't recommend them enough for a homestead. Many uses for these awesome little berries. 

One word about elderberry scrub though... Invasive! Plant them where they can't take over other trees or plants. I dig up many little new elderberry trees every year and sell the extras. They are also easy to propagate from cuttings. 

Hope you try one or all of these Fast, Easy Unusual Fruits!

It was so nice to have these fruits on our homestead those years before the grapes and pears started producing. They filled our fruit void and helped us stay out of the grocery store! They continue to be a well-used staple on our farm now. Very little input for high output fruit! Who doesn't like that!

Here are some other Homestead Gardening posts if you are interested Four Season Gardening

Have a blessed day :-) and Happy Homesteading!
Psalm 35:1

Join the Homesteaders Journey

Garden Checklist: April AND a free homemade bug spray recipe!

Farm and Garden Checklist for April! Along with a recipe for a homestead garden pest spray you can use on seedlings too! #homesteader #gardenchecklist

I absolutely love April in the garden! Because by the end of the month most things will be planted by direct seeding and most transplants will be put in!
Confession: I dislike indoor seed starting so I'm happy that is over!
Seeds direct seeded just seem to be so much healthier. There's no hassle to harden them off! No dampening off! No Spider mites! 

But to get a jump on fresh summer veggies here in the southeast it's sometimes the best way to go.
Here's another way...
Garden Checklist April

Wall o'waters! 

These awesome mini greenhouses heat up the ground inside and then protect plants growing inside! One of my favorite ways to get a jump on cucumbers and squash without going through starting seeds inside!

For those started inside its time to start hardening off!! If spider mites have started damaging your seedlings here is a great Homemade bug spray to kill them off! Very easy to make! Mild and won't damage seedlings and it's also good for flea beetles and other garden pests! Will not hurt honey bees. Important to us because we raise keep honey bees!

Homemade Garden Pest Spray

1-quart warm water
1 tsp of mild soap (I use a tiny chunk of unscented donkey milk or goat milk soap and let it melt)
1 oz Neem Oil

Shake Vigorously!! Will be cloudy. Pour into a spray bottle. Shake before each use. Spray foliage well. 

Easy, effective and not harmful to our honey bees! I get my neem oil from Amazon

Garden Checklist April

Keep in mind this checklist is for Zone 7. If you are in a different zone you'll need to adjust according to your zone. So now onto the...

Garden Checklist for April

  1. Start Echinacea in a greenhouse or indoors. Can be seeded directly at the end of the month
  2. Garlic best started in the fall but you can get a small crop in the summer from spring started
  3. Set out onions
  4. New Asparagus beds
  5. Direct seed more cool weather crops if needed, such as lettuce and greens
  6. Sow mullein
  7. If you have elderberry trees. Dig up any new elderberry tree starts from the runners (there are usually a lot!)
  8. Set Sweet potatoes in flats for making slips
  9. You start melons indoors (or in wall o'waters)
  10. Start more tomatoes if needed
  11. Direct sow carrots, parsnips, radishes, beets
  12. Transplant any cool weather crops into the garden
  13. On good Friday I plant Beans.. always!
  14. Get trellises ready if you plant climbing veggies
I also like to make sure I have plenty of my Gardener's scrub made up! Free Recipe here DIY Gardener's Scrub
Garden Checklist April

 Our Farm Checklist for April

Honey Bees: April is typically when our honey bees want to swarm! So we try to prepare by setting up an extra hive to have ready. Get the bee suits out! Unfamiliar with swarms? Check out this article How to catch a swarm
Farm and Garden checklist April

Pasture improvement: This mouth the pastures should start really greening up! All our seed improvements should start coming in. So I have to watch that the horses and donkeys stay off the new grasses until the are established. Since I have easy keepers I have to start taking digital pulse and managing how much time they are allowed to eat the fresh spring grasses. Don't want anyone to founder or develop laminitis! If you are unfamiliar with managing easy keepers here is a good article Prevent Laminitis

Training my homestead horses: Training is in full swing. I've got plans laid out and hopefully enough dry days to get everyone's time in! Here are some FREE horse training journal pages and a post on making a training plan and goals Training Horses with Goals and a Plan

horse training journal

Enjoy April!

It is often easy to get caught up in how busy spring is on a farm that you forget to enjoy it. Training horses helps me enjoy the spring more than I did without them! Just yet another reason to have miniature working farm horses! If you need more reasons just out this post Reasons to have a Miniature Horse on your Homestead I don't look at training as work though. In the past when the farm was more high input livestock such as dairy ruminants and poultry it was all a blur of work than summer hit! Spring can be so short in the southeast! Don't let it pass you by without being thankful and making some sort of recreation time!

reasons to have miniature horses
My Miniature mare Dreamy helping by packing 10 pounds of fertilizer for the fruit trees on the other side of our property. Was a big help that day and my miniature horses love to have a job.

FREE! The Starting Seeds Workbook with bonus pages! FREE!

Free Starting seeds workbook!! Makes it easy to track seeds so you can have a successful garden! Bonus seed starting and homemade fertilizers included!! #startingseeds #mastergardener #homesteader

I know starting seeds for the garden can be overwhelming! Despite gardening for many years now and doing it for all four seasons, the spring plantings can still put me in overwhelm mode sometimes!
What's even more confusing is not keeping up with what I've started! When I have good notes on starting my seeds and how they did it has made spring a much less dramatic time on our homestead! It also makes my gardening success more and the failures less!

So this year because 2019 is my 'organize everything' year! I decided to make a simple starting seeds workbook addition to my usual garden journal. Since starting seeds is so critical to how I like to garden it made sense. Making it more workbook style instead of journal style gives it a bit more organization.

Something that lets me just concentrate on what I need to get the year started and keeping up with those seeds I started. No matter if started indoors or outdoors! Keeping track of what, when and then following up with how it did makes all the difference in my future gardening successes. When you depend on the garden to keep you out of the grocery store like we do its important to take the extra time to write it all down!

How to start seeds

For those of you who are beginner homesteaders/gardeners, this workbook won't tell you how to start seeds. It just helps you keep track of what you need and what you started and when. Plus some bonuses!!

To start seeds Johnny's has this very detailed article to help you Starting Seeds
Here is another great guide from Bakers Creek Planting Guide
Grow a good life also has a good guide on the Easy Vegetables to sow outside

Starting Seeds Workbook!

What's in the Starting Seeds Workbook?

I designed this to be simple, but pretty! You'll get a very pretty cover page, a supplies checklist, a what you planted and when page, a notes page and a follow up what did well page (so you know what to plant again!) 
Then! You'll also get my favorite seeds starting recipe helpers for my favorite seed starting mix and 2 homemade fertilizers! Saves me so much money when I make these myself! And they work just as good or better than anything I've ever bought.

You can print what you want and as many as you need!

Also, check out my free Gardeners Hand Scrub recipe for those days you forget your gardening gloves!
DIY Hand Scrub

Why Start your own seeds in the Homestead Garden?

The homestead garden is the ultimate key to saving money on your homestead and eating healthy. Doesn't get any healthier than fresh veggies or veggies you preserved yourself. You don't have to be a master gardener to get a great garden. Starting seeds will save you so much money as opposed to buying plants. Buying open-pollinated seeds and then learning to save those seeds is really saving big! Seeds seem to get more expensive every year and fewer seeds in the package too! Starting and saving seeds is getting closer to being more self-reliant and closing the loop to need an outside source for your food! Its a really good feeling! 

You also never know when a seed company may stop carrying a variety you love! This has happened to me! I could still kick myself for not saving seeds to that most wonderful perfect Okra I had ever grown! I assumed the seed company would always have it. They didn't 😒

So if anyone out there knows where I can get some Milsap White okra seeds PLEASE let me know!!! MY Email!

Keeping records and Finding the Best Varieties 

Snow Peas are one of my favorite veggies to glow. I experimented for a couple of years with several varieties. Thanks to my notes on when, where and follow-ups I know exactly which snow pea works best for my garden and needs! You can read about that here Snow Pea Trials

Finding the best varieties for your particular climate, soil, and needs is also key to more self-reliance!

For help on what to plant month by month in zone 7, you can check out these posts.. new one every month! Garden Checklist

Get gardening success with this free starting seeds workbook!!! #mastergardener

The FREE Starting Seeds Workbook 

I hope this Seed starting workbook helps you on your journey to a great garden this year and every year!
By signing up to receive my seed starting workbook you will be added to my Homesteaders Journey Mailing list. I'm not an affiliate blogger so I will never fill your inbox with ads and spammy sales! You'll hear from me once or twice a month. The kind of things you'll hear about on my list? Updates on our farm projects, tips to help you build your dream homestead just like we have, free herbal recipes for you and your livestock, ebook and other workbook notifications too! Of course, you can unsubscribe at any time.
But, If you do not want to bother signing up for our email list at all I understand so I've made this awesome little Starting Seeds workbook available to purchase for the ultra-inexpensive price of $1.20 on Etsy. You can purchade here Starting Seeds Workbook on Etsy

Either way, I want this workbook to help give you more insight into your garden needs just like it has me!

DIY Hand Scrub for Gardeners!

Make this DIY Hand Scrub especially for Gardeners who may forget to wear gloves :-) Its easy to make! Gets hands SO clean and leaves them super soft. #homesteader #DIYhandscrub #DIYscrub

This DIY Hand Scrub is formulated especially for gardeners! I know I can't be the only one who forgets their gardening gloves! Sometimes on purpose, once the soil warms up because I just really like the feel of warm soil in my hands.

But that makes my fingers look awful and sometimes does cause surface scratches on my skin that needs to be cared for so nothing gets infected!

What makes this DIY Hand Scrub special!

When I was in Esthetics school my favorite chapters in our textbooks were about ingredients and their effects on the skin. Natural plants and herbs have so many benefits, not just for our insides but for our largest organ, the skin. The skin has optimal abilities for absorbing what it comes in contact with. So being chemical free is important as well as needing products that really work!

I came up with this easy DIY Hand scrub with gardeners in mind several years ago. I actually sold it for a few years in my online shop! It did really well. 

Since I no longer sell scrubs I decided it was time to share it with my fellow gardeners and previous customers so they can make their own. 

The Ingredients and why they are important

The key ingredients are infused comfrey oil, tea tree, and lavender essential oils. 

Comfrey: The healing action of comfrey on wounds comes from a constituent contained in the leaf and root called allantoin. This compound is a cell proliferate which helps to regenerate wounded areas of the body and speed up new healthy cell growth! In most all of my skin care products over the years, I included comfrey because it works to support healing and beautifies! Allantoin is used in most skin care products but is typically lab synthesized. The real thigs works SO much better! I add a comfrey leaf infused oil and a tsp. of comfrey root powder for its help and support to heal minor skin scratches that can occur when gardening without gloves. I can not say enough about the positive effects of comfrey on the skin for these reasons and so much more. It's literally worked overnight for me in some situations! I believe in it so much I'm actually writing a whole book on it! Check this post if you do not know how to make an herbal oil infusion DIY Herbal for Horses whether you are making it for human or animal its the same thing 🐴 

Lavender Oil: Has wonderful antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that help with bug bites as well as minor wound healing support! Plus it smells amazing and helps mellow out the stronger fragrance of comfrey and tea tree oils.

Tea Tree Essential Oil: Helps with dry, itchy skin and skin irritations. It's anti-inflammatory and also helps support any minor wounds. 

The other Ingredients that make it work so well!

Those are the ingredients that help support any healing of bites or scratches from rocks out rough dirt that can occur for us that 'forget' our gloves occasionally!
But these are the ingredients that get your hands clean!! Even the tiny little crevices in the fingers!

Sugar: Just plain old cheap sugar! In fact, scrubs are the only reason I have sugar in my house at all! It is a natural, gentle abrasive that removes dead skin cells and dirt easily. It helps keep skin unclogged and clear! 

Olive Oil: Is what I use to infuse the comfrey. Its prevents signs of photo-aging and sun damage. The fatty acids absorb quickly into the skin making it a great moisturizer. 

Soap Sheds: I prefer adding soap shreds to this and really any scrub I make. Soap shreds add another level of clean! And also help reduce an oily feel that might be left behind on the skin. I highly recommend you use a natural handmade soap with extra moisturizing benefits like a goat milk soap or one of my Donkey Milk Soaps

Making a DIY Hand Scrub

Vegetable Glycerin: It's a natural humectant that locks in moisture! It's optional for this scrub but really adds to it if you have drier skin!


This recipe/formula is for 4 oz. of hand scrub. You will need a kitchen scale, a grater like you would use for cheese, small mixing bowl, spoon and a small jar with a lid to put the scrub in.

2.5 Oz. Sugar
1 Oz. of infused Comfrey olive oil
.25 oz. of soap shreds
10 drops of tea tree oil
10 drops of lavender oil

1 Tsp. Of vegetable glycerin
1 Tsp. Of comfrey root power.

Mix it all up and scoop into your jar! Easy peasy and ready to use! 

Making a DIY Hand Scrub

I hope it helps you like it's helped me!

This scrub has been so beneficial to me over the years. Keeping scratches from getting infected and keeping my hands so clean and soft you'd never know I garden without gloves, trim hooves, shovel manure, etc... It's really great for all-around farm work!

Another DIY Herbal to try is my Homemade Fly Repellent Salve
I actually developed this for my equine but it works great for people too! 

Other resources

Sourcing out good herbs and essential oils is important if you want your DIY Herbals to actually work. I highly recommend Mountain Rose Herbs
If you are a member of AHG you can get a 20% off discount as well as if you enroll in some herbal student programs. 
For essential oils, I really like Majestic Pure

More About The Comfrey Book and recipes!

Comfrey Benefits so many things! Livestock, the garden, healing support for the body and healthy skin! This ebook goes into details on how to use it, grow it and harvest it! Recipes included! #comfreybenefits #herbgarden #homesteadgarden

I mentioned above I am working on a book about Comfrey because it has been such an amazing herb for us on so many levels! The book will be about its many uses, growing, and harvesting as well as many formulas for healing support. It will also include a bonus booklet with recipes for a complete facial skin care routine!

When it's released I'll be doing a deeply discounted special on it!! So if you'd like to be notified sign up for our email list! 
We never share emails, nor do we hit people up every week with affiliate links! We are not affiliate bloggers. We are real full-time homesteaders and don't have time to full your email box. We do like sharing what we know to help others build their dream farm... just like we did!