Monday, February 25, 2008

Updates from the homestead

I've gotten a lot done around here in the past few days. Most of the spring garden is in. This weekend I planted onion sets, cabbage, and cauliflower. I tried growing onions last year from seed, but had a total crop failure. It didn't matter when I planted them -they either didn't come up or died. So this year I decided to step back and start with onion sets. If I can master them, I'll move on to seed. I would like to plant perennial onions, but can't currently afford the upfront outlay. I also planted a small, softball size variety of cabbage and some self-blanching cauliflower. These were seedlings, as I haven't ever grown them before and in the quantities I'm planting a set of seedlings was about as cheap as good quality seeds and potting soil. I planted the smallest cabbage variety I could find, because while I love cabbage, I am only one person and can only eat so much!

The rest of the garden is growing well. The lettuce, carrots, garlic, spinach, beets, collards, and turnips are growing again and wonderfully. The winter wheat is also beginning to emerge from dormancy, and some of it is nearly 6 inches high! The experimental patch I planted last fall may work out, after all. I am concerned though, because it is early for this part of the South. But with the wacky weather we've had- who knows. In another month I'll plant some more beets so that I can harvest them before the hot weather sits in. A lot of people say they don't like beets, but most of them have never had anything but store bought canned beets. If you've never had real pickled beets, you don't know what you're missing!

The future garden schedule goes like this: Around the first of April, the fruit trees will begin to bloom. Between April 15 (our frost date) and May 1 I'll set out the tomato seedlings and sweet potato sets, and plant the squash, beans, etc. The end of April through the middle of May will be strawberry season. Now, I only have the one strawberry plant, courtesy of a friend, so I'll be buying strawberries. Strawberry season is pretty much my favorite time of the year (for a lot of reasons other than strawberries).

I have been doing more around here than just playing in the garden of course. I bought a food dehydrator with a gift card to It is delightful, and I can all ready tell it is going to be a godsend this harvest season. Drying is so much easier than canning -and the food lasts just as long, and takes up less space. It's really good for herbs and soup mixes, as well as fruit. I've all ready tried out the dehydrator. I used it on some banannas I bought on sale (breaking my no bananna vow because they were cheap and I couldn't afford to sink a lot of money into an experiment) and some left over citrus fruit I was given. It has been several weeks now, and the dried fruit is still good.

The nice thing about winter is that, while things are slow around the outside, I can catch up on things inside the house. I don't just mean maintenance type things, but those too. I've had the chance to do a lot more reading the past couple of months. Novels, magazines like Countryside and National Geographic, and several books. Among them I'd recommend The Forest Gardener, Putting Food By, A People's History of the United States, and anything by BarbaraEhrenrich and Michael Pollan. I've also had time to to necessary but monontous and time-consuming tasks like scrubbing out and re-seasoning some old, nasty cast-iron cookware.

My little spread isn't much (not even a quarter-acre) and while I hope to have more land someday, right now it's home -and I'm glad to have it!

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Blogger LynnS said...

I moved out of the 'burbs more than 20 years ago, and have only looked back to compare 'then' to 'now'. The journey has been both satisfying and productive, and I am still learning things. I have always been a misfit, an eccentric, so leaving the grid, as you say, was not difficult. Trying to share my ideas and ideals to others, though, was difficult, and few really understood what my goals were. As you have already learned, it is easier to go about your own simplistic life attaining your own goals, setting an example, than trying to get others to join you. I have found it so ironic that now people are wanting out of their commercial-grid, being fearful of food supply shortages, energy, financial problems, etc. Suddenly, my lifestyle is in vogue.

The lifestyle that I have chosen is so natural to me that I have been called a 'throw back'. I was meant to life in a simplistic manner and can't imagine life any other way. I am debt-free, own my home and land out-right, and do not work -- but I am not of 'retirement' age. Could this be because I refused to plug into the insipid mindset of Americanized commercialism?

Reading your blog warms my heart -- I can identify with much that you share and you are one of the rare ones who has figured-it-all-out.

I garden, have a greenhouse, forage, can, preserve, use a dehydrator, and do as much as I can with a frugal, simplistic lifestyle. Skills that have become all but 'lost'. How sad that we, as a people, have forgotton how to live close to nature.

Stay focused on your goals. You're already where you need to be. In time you will attain more. Incidently, have you read the old book "The Have More Plan"?

2/27/2008 4:36 PM  
Blogger RAS said...

Hi Lynn! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm always glad to find someone else who thinks like I do -it gives me a sometimes much-needed reminder that no, I'm not crazy. I'll be glad when I too have gotten out of the burbs but that will take some more time.

I've heard of the "Have-More Plan" but have never read it. The library doesn't have it and I have yet to run across it in any used book store. Thanks again for stopping by!

3/04/2008 7:48 AM  

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