Category Archives: Organic Gardening and Farming

Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy: 5. Growing Success: Planning

mulch Planning: Now the fun part, Planning! If you read my previous Soil post to get here or the other three before it, congratulations! We are almost there! You will have the garden of your dreams in no time, I promise! But first you must have a plan! Read more »

Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy: 4. Getting Started: Soil Building

So you read my last post about Bed Preparation and you are ready to get started! So now comes the most important part! Soil! IMG_20150317_143907_419 Soil Building Turning your soil into some of the best growing medium takes some effort usually. Very few areas have perfect soil for growing in. Regional differences can change your soil dramatically. Don't worry, you don't have to do it all in the first year. Improvements can be made every year, all year-long. There is no wrong time to fix your soil. Read more »

Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy: 3. Getting Started: Bed Preparation

So once you have read the first posts in this series, about Site Selection, and asked yourself the questions and evaluated your yard, you are ready to start building your garden! If space is limited you can use pots for container gardening! Read more »

Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy: 2. Getting Started: Site Selection

garden

Afternoon shadows will help on hot summer days!

  So my last Blog post,  Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy: 1. Why start a vegetable garden?, may have led you here. Or you just got lucky and found this on your own! Either way we are glad you have joined us. So you are ready to start a vegetable garden. I am going to walk you through step by step and make it real easy! Feel free to ask any questions along the way. Read more »

Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy: 1. Why start a vegetable garden?

10406359_10201967407572940_1866439833946748287_nWhy? You may be asking yourself, "Why would I start a vegetable garden?" With all the grocery stores available to you these days, what is the point of growing your own food? Is it worth the effort of getting dirty and sweaty? You may be asking yourself, will I even succeed at growing anything? Some of my reasons are below. Yes, it is worth it and yes you will succeed, with me helping you along the way! Read more »

Selecting Vegetable Garden Seed: Narrowing Down the List

seeds

Some of our seeds...

"Now that you have all the specifics of where and how to choose seed comes the fun part! What does your family love to eat? What do you buy from the farmers market and grocery store the most? What do you use daily, weekly? What do you have the room for? What is too hard to grow in your region? Do you have the ability to start seed properly? Is it better to purchase certain plants as starts instead? These are the questions you need to ask yourself and narrow down your list of what you will grow this year. Really these questions could be a whole other blog post… Remember there is always next year to try something else!" See more at: http://wholesomeroots.org/seeds-so-many-choices-how-to-choose-the-right-seed-for-your-garden/#sthash.lpYViPNS.dpuf Time for that other blog post! So spring is right around the corner and everyone is reading, dreaming and talking about seed choices! What vegetables are you growing this year!? Choosing what your family loves to eat is your first step. Interview your family members, from parents to toddlers. Getting everyone on board with choices gives you better chance of them helping you with the weeding, watering, and harvesting. It will also help you realize what you need more or less of. My family eats more tomato and okra so I need those on my list but they don't really eat much arugula so it might not make my list. Make sure you save this list to review next year and see how desires change. So with this list in hand you can now narrow down based on other factors. Space: Do you have room for everything or for things that take up a lot of space? Some plants produce low yields or sprawl all over, like squash. If your space is limited it would make more sense to grow other things and buy these items from local farmers. You can grow a lot of greens in a very small space but tomatoes require some room. Research your plant choices and see how much room they require, how big they get, and row spacing. If you have room for them move on to next step. Remember local farmers and farmers markets need your support so buy from them before heading to grocery store for things you don't have room for. Ability: Some seeds can be direct sown into the garden like peas and lettuce but other vegetables should be planted as plant starts, like tomatoes and peppers. Research which vegetables on your list are recommended to be direct-sown or from starts and see how many need to be started from seed before planting. Seeds easily sown in ground are usually fast growers like leafy greens and root crops like carrots and radish. If something on your list is better off planted as a seedling then you need to decide if you can practically start the seed yourself? Do you have the space, heat source, light source, and time to care for seedlings for 6-8 weeks? Sometimes it is easier to buy the plants depending on your circumstances. Regional Preference: Look around locally and find out what varieties and cultivars seem to do well in your area. Check with local extension office, farm stores, and garden centers. Ask your neighbors and friends that garden for variety recommendations of what you have chosen to grow. Don't be afraid to try something others say they can't grow but know what reasons before you try a new adventure. I had people tell me they couldn't grow many things at the garden I used to manage, I tried anyway and succeeded! Local knowledge is usually your best bet still! Especially if you find seed that someone locally grew and saved! So get that list going! Narrow your choices and begin shopping! Picking out varieties of each choice is the fun and easy part so enjoy looking through catalogs and online, don't forget to check your local feed and seed store! Tune in for our next post to help you along! Subscribe for email updates so you don't miss anything!

A Year in Review: Our Journey Continues!

I started this blog a year ago today... I wasn't sure where it would lead or how I would use it I just knew I wanted to share our journey with others. I have this deep need to teach others what it takes to start a homestead and live a cleaner more sustainable life. The number of post's I've made are much less than I thought I would have but my life has been very full! poults and chicks The spring brought a litter of kittens, a brood of chicks, a dozen ducklings, and two turkey tgvng2015016.jpgpoults! Then on April 14, the day before my birthday, our precious Liam finally arrived a week and a day late! My fourth child arrived fast and furious, 29 minutes after I entered the hospital! He has been a perfect happy baby and all of us have adjusted well over the last eight months!   family We planted an orchard and a perennial food plot at the beginning of the year and after Liam was born we planted our vegetable garden after adding a truckload of compost to the new ground. We had 325 tomato plants with over 40 heirloom varieties as our main crop! And then summer arrived in Georgia! Oh what a summer it was! It was so hot all summer that nothing could grow... We got enough tomatoes to eat fresh (our family can consume 6-12 fresh tomatoes a day in summer months), cook with (tomato pie is amazing!), share with close friends and freeze some for later canning in cooler weather! Not enough to sell though as we had hoped...IMG_20150809_191734_773 This winter I have traded seed with many heirloom experts and have over 100 heirloom varieties to try in the spring! Tomatoes are my obsession! Peppers waited till fall and then went nuts! We bartered and sold them well! Cucumbers, beans, okra and eggplant were good but need to plant more for next year! dsc_0149.jpg Ryan, my better half, made a big career change in June! He left the organic garden we had cared for for four years and took a job at a sustainable pastured sheep dairy! They have the best sheep milk cheese in the country! He milks, does farm chores, and cares for the sheep, pigs, and chickens. He's learned so much about rotational grazing and even got to spend a day in the cheese house making cheese! His new job is really a perfect fit for him! We are excited to apply the new skills to our own goat milk herd we plan to have in the near future! At the end of the year a friend reached out to us in need! She had a registered Hereford hog that was in desperate need of a new home! She and her kids had grown too attached to her to slaughter so she will be a breeding sow. They came over and fenced the old riding arena and got it ready for Petunia. She will be bred and have piglets in the spring! We won't get attached to piglets, I promise! They will be sold or raised for meat. But Petunia is going to continue to be one spoiled girl, belly rubs and all! petunia Wont you continue on with us? Follow us as our journey continues! Subscribe for email updates now! I can't wait to share all we hope for in the new year! We have so much more to teach you about gardening, raising animals and kids, and eating healthy food!

Happy New Year!

Cultivating Mushrooms at Home…Yes, it is possible!

Oyster mushrooms

Oyster mushroom slices ready to saute for dinner!

So yeah, we love mushrooms in this house! Almost as much as we love tomatoes! It only makes sense we start growing our own! I have done it in the past on a small level but now I want enough to share, barter, and sell to the chefs! My dad has a friend who propagates mushrooms in a lab and I have received the mushroom blocks like you get in kits from him. I grew them on my counter and they worked well but lets face it, I need more counter space for all my other projects! Growing the blocks is easy and fun but on a large-scale, I just don't have the room. I got to plug a log and bring it home at a class years ago and it was fun. I put it in a shady spot and watered it well... at first... Then I got busy and didn't water it all winter... In spring when we were cleaning up the yard I considered it a loss and just tossed it back by the compost pile and forgot about it. A year later there were mushrooms all over it! So I figure it has got to be easy if neglect created that many! So this time I'm going to really give it my all! A friend of ours placed a bulk order for mushroom plugs and we bartered some tomato plants for 100 Blue Oyster and 100 Shiitake plugs. We got too busy with the garden this spring to start our logs and summer is too hot so we finally got around to it in the fall. The plugs waited patiently in the fridge. So we got our logs cut and set up a work station on our front porch and made a fun evening of it. Pandora radio set to Blue Oyster Cult and a cold drink in hand we started out...here is how we did it... Ready to plug logs! Logs We researched up and down what would be the best wood to use and got a good list together. Soft wood and conifers are not recommended for mushrooms. Certain species of mushrooms do best with certain tree species so do your research for what you are growing. We planned on getting some of the highest recommended wood possible. But then the universe stepped in and steered our decision... A huge pecan limb fell in a storm and was the perfect age to cut when we were feeling motivated to do this project so pecan is what we went with, good or bad... One thing we try to do is, use what we have on hand and not waste resources. So the most sustainable option for us at this time is to use the pecan. We cut the huge limb into 3 to 4 foot sections and used the ones that were 3 to 6 inch diameter. At this point it was a couple of weeks old which is a good aging period for the wood. You don't want to use it too fresh or too old. A couple of weeks to a couple of months max. It has to still be holding some moisture inside so if it has been really dry you want it aged less. drill holes Drilling We charged the battery to our 18V drill and put our spare battery on to charge as well. A 5/16 drill bit is the right size for plugs to fit into. We used a Sharpie marker and drew a line on the bit at the one inch mark so we would go the right depth every time! Starting 2 inches from the end of the log I began drilling holes. I alternated about 6 inches apart in rows approximately 2 1/2 inches apart. Enough space for mushroom clusters to grow big and strong. Ryan took over the drilling because pecan was harder than I expected, lol! We got 20-30 plugs per log. It is recommended to cover each plug with a thin layer of wax. Waiting We put them in a shady location in reach of the hose and watered them in well. We just stacked them up checker style and if it hasn't rained we give them a good hose down! It's important to keep hydrated! Our friend just contacted us about another bulk order and we will be doing more varieties in spring!!! Can't wait for all the yummy mushrooms! Let us know if you are interested in ordering them in the future!

Wellness Tea: a Delicious Way to Boost Immunity!

Wellness Tea to Boost Immunity

Wellness Tea to Boost Immunity

So it's winter but it has been 70 degrees out... El Nino, Climate Change, Global Warming, Indian Summer, whatever you want to call it, it confuses our bodies! So now we are left with a stuffy nose and occasional cough. Not too bad but enough that we are taking steps now to prevent it from getting worse. We always try to use natural remedies if possible! My first sign of a sniffle and I bust out my essential oils! DoTERRA (click this link if interested in learning more or placing an order with me) is my go to brand for many reasons, but that's a whole 'nother blog for a different day! The Breathe Respiratory Blend always helps us with clear breathing and On Guard Protection Blend helps us from catching anything else! Usually I have a batch of elderberry syrup made this time of year for daily consumption but haven't made it yet as winter hasn't really arrived. So I figured tea is always good! I grabbed elderberries, mullein, and a wellness tea blend my mommy made me. It has rose hips, nettle, herbs and who knows what else she threw in there!? Go ask her at Grammy's Potager! I boiled it all together and steeped it for over ten minutes. Ran it through my cup sized strainer as I pour and add some local raw honey! It smells and tastes so good my toddler is begging for more! You can add anything you like is the beauty! We are feeling better already! I'll keep adding more water and heating up again all day till it has no strength left to it. Then the spent berries and herbs will go to the chickens and help them stay strong! What are your tricks for staying healthy this warm winter!?

CSA: What Is That?

Community Supported Agriculture or CSA...what does that even mean... CSA's were established as a way for the farmers to get payment at the beginning of season when they need it most for seed, compost, and fertilizer. You, as a community, are supporting the farmer. When you sign up for a CSA you are agreeing to accept whatever the season produces. Every year is different on a farm and it can mean one crop does better than another. Farmers typically have no control over Mother Nature so they never know if it's going to be a great tomato year or a great lettuce year or maybe even a bad year. You, as the consumer, get whatever did well that week. Every week, or bi-weekly, you pick up, or some deliver, your share of produce. Some CSA's let you decide which items are included and some choose for you but either way it is an assortment of items. A select few CSA's even include meat, dairy, and eggs like my friends Mike and Judy at Country Gardens.
CSA week 17 pick up. On the farm!! Sign-up for our fall CSA now beginning October 13th!

CSA week 17 pick up. On the farm!! Sign-up for our fall CSA now beginning October 13th! ----photo by Ashley Rodgers at Serenbe Farms

Farms offer different packages depending on growing conditions and harvests. Some are year round and others are seasonal. One of our local farms that my friend Ashley Rodgers (read about her here) manages, Serenbe Farms, is opening up their Fall CSA now. If you need to find a CSA near you Local Harvest can help find one! What are the benefits... for the Consumer...

Relationship - Knowing where your food comes from is very empowering! Meeting your farmer who grows it and developing a friendship that last a lifetime is priceless.

Fresh Food - Most CSA items are picked the morning you receive them! You will notice a difference in flavor when your food is that fresh!

Try New Things - Some items in your share are going to be new to you. You will have an opportunity to cook new recipes and discover new favorite veggies! Maybe even some turmeric or ginger from our friends Scott and Nicole at 180 Degree Farm.

for the Farmer...

Relationship - A farmer spends 90% of their time in the fields growing food and not a whole lot of socializing. The CSA pick up or delivery is a chance for them to get to know their customers and to talk to a human instead of plants.

Seed Money - Farmers make most of their money during growing and harvesting when their sales are highest. Very little is left after the slow winter months and this is when they need to make their biggest purchases. Having money at the beginning allows them to purchase the seeds they need to grow.

Time Management - Farmers work very long hours in the fields so spending time advertising or marketing is the bottom of the list. CSA allows them to focus that marketing time.

for your Community and beyond...

Economic - Keeping money local always helps your local economy. It is also a good thing to support small business and family farms, they need your money much more than Big Ag or grocery chains.

Environment - Keeping our carbon footprint as small as possible makes a difference. Eating and shopping local is reducing the amount of fuel being wasted shipping vegetables all over. Supporting local farmers is supporting the environment.

So whats stopping you! Sign up now for a local farm CSA share! Help your community, the environment, a farmer and yourself! Do you already belong to a CSA? If so, tell us what you love about it!


 

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