Category Archives: Homesteading

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!


 

Tomato Tidbits: Saving Seed

Tomato seed saving!

Tomato seed saving!

Tomatoes have always been my favorite plant to grow! We grew them when I was a child and I have been growing them on my own for twenty years now! To say I'm obsessed with tomatoes is an understatement! The last five years Ryan and I have been actively saving the seed of our heirloom open pollinated tomatoes we grow. We grow more and more varieties and colors every year! I love saving seed because it saves me money on seed orders and I can trade with other seed savers and get even more variety! This year we grew over 40 varieties of heirlooms, next year will be even more! So to start, be sure the plant that you are saving from is an heirloom so the seed will be true to parent plant. Hybrid plant seeds can have all different results from their lineage. If you don't know you can just research the name of your tomato plant and find out easily. Next, choose your healthiest plant with the best fruit. Read more »

IPM: Integrated Pest Management

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Attract beneficial insects with flowers!

Integrated Pest Management or IPM is ...

an ecological approach to pest management that combines understanding the causes of pest outbreaks, manipulating the crop ecosystem for pest control, and monitoring pest populations and their life cycles to determine if and when the use of pesticides is indicated.

---dictionary.com

The basic idea is that if you really pay close attention to your garden you can prevent pest populations from getting out of control and if and when they do you can use the least toxic control methods first. The goal here is to impact our natural environment as little as possible and still feed our families. There will always be some pest in your garden and that is okay! They are the menu items to entice beneficial insects to come by for a snack! There is a certain balance in the pest community, that once achieved, is very effective! Mother nature balances things out if we allow her to. Not every leaf or fruit has to be unblemished to have a successful harvest! Monitoring: It's as simple as strolling through your garden on a daily basis! I do this in the morning with my coffee and find it to be my favorite activity of the day! Just walk through looking at your plants and notice any changes in them. Are they beginning to wilt? Turning brown or yellow? Are there holes or spots on leaves? If you catch the problem early you can take the steps necessary to ensure a healthy garden! Read more »

Asparagus and Strawberry: Perennial Match Made in Heaven

So we decided to start some perennial food beds at our new homestead as we plan to be here for quite some time! Two spring foods that our family loves but are hard to find local organic and when we do they are super expensive is Asparagus and Strawberries! We love them! So I was pretty confident it would be a worthwhile investment!
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Asparagus roots.

When we did our big orchard order we got some bare-root dormant plants of both. We got 10 'Mary Washington', 10 'Jersey Giant', and 20 'UC 157' asparagus. We didn't know which variety we would like best or what would grow easily for us. This mix will help us decide which ones to buy next time we expand our asparagus beds! Read more »

Starting Our Backyard Orchard or Fruit Guild

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Backyard Orchard in bloom!

So we finally did it! We took the plunge we have been dreaming of for years! I have been wanting to plant a fruit orchard for years and years but also trying to find a house to buy so we always put it off... Well we moved in October to a great property that is still a rental, but we will live there for a long time and we know the family who owns it so even if we have to move out we know we could always come visit and pick fruit! So I insisted our tax returns would be spent on a long-term grocery investment! buyingorchard.jpg We picked up our orchard from a local nursery that happens to be one of the best fruit tree suppliers in the country! Ison's has so much to choose from! They were very helpful and patient with our large list. We got some combination fruit trees: (multiple varieties grafted to one tree, 5 on each), Apple, Pear, Asian Pear, Cherry, and Fruit Cocktail (peach, plum, apricot, and nectarine). Three different varieties each of Figs, Blueberries, Blackberries, and Raspberries. A pair of Elderberries, a Pomegranate, and a Goji berry. Two each of the top three muscadine varieties. Three Paw Paw. 100 strawberry in three varieties, half June bearing and half Ever bearing. 40 asparagus in three varieties. 3 rhubarb, and 3 horseradish... I think we are good to go for now! Read more »

Milk Kefir… Easy to Make and Easy to Turn into Cheese!

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Mmm... Milk Kefir!

How did I not know how easy and awesome Milk Kefir was!? I have been fermenting lots of different things in the last few years and just never made it to Milk Kefir (MK). My sister sent me some starter culture in December and I am amazed at how fast and easy it is! And so yummy and good for me! Read more »

Seeds…So many Choices! How to Choose the Right Seed For Your Garden?

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Seeds, and more seeds, oh my!

  Of course seed catalogs are arriving in people's mailboxes left and right this time of year! It's time to snuggle up by the fire and dream of what you will grow this summer in your garden. Flipping through the pages of glossy pictures with new varieties can be a little overwhelming at times. What do all of these terms mean? How do I know what to choose? I hope I can help you understand this all a little better after you read my post! Knowing who you are ordering from and the quality of your seeds and service can make it a little easier... Read more »

You Should Really Get to Know Our Family

IMG_20150103_223157018_HDR I thought that being a new blogger I should do a better job of introducing all of us. We all play a part in making this home a Homestead. You can read about me anytime in my bio but you should really know the people who make me whole! Read more »

Our Homestead Then and Now

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The sun setting over our pond... breathless every time!

  Where we were. We spent the last 6 years in a run down rental home trying to find our dream home. It had 6 acres most of it woods that we were able to hike in and enjoyed that. In the small area that was open around the house we had a large organic garden and a small flock of chickens. Of course we canned, cooked from scratch, and made our own natural hygiene and cleaning products etc. But we longed for more... Read more »
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