Before you put me on a pedestal and drop your jaw in awe over my gardening ability, you need to know that I am not a farmer or a professional gardener. All kidding aside, I am a newbie at this – like you, probably. Although I’ve grown things “back home,” I have been gardening in the south for only one year. What I know I’ve learned from hands-on experience, as well as Google searches and YouTube videos. So, don’t be intimidated or think you can’t do it. You can! I don’t have acres and acres of farmland, but a homestead garden you can duplicate based on the size of your yard.
In my front yard, I currently have four fruit and nut trees: two Grenada pomegranates, one Celeste fig, and one All-in-One almond. The fruit trees were planted in the spring and spent the season putting down roots and growing branches. They were fruiting size when I purchased them, so I should have fruit this year. The almond tree was just planted last month; it’s also fruiting size, so I’m hoping to get some almonds in the fall. (In the picture, the almond tree is in the front, then the fig, then the pomegranates.) I purchased the trees at www.willisorchards.com – a great nursery!
I also have a one-year-old Key Lime tree in a pot that I take in whenever the evening temperatures fall below freezing. The tree was a gift from my beau, who got it in the Florida Keys. It’ll be a couple of years before I get fruit on this tree, but it’ll be worth the wait!
In my back yard, I have 14 raised beds, most of which are empty at the moment. Each bed is numbered for ease of planning my planting. I have twelve single beds on the side of my house and two double-tiered beds along my back fence. Currently, only four beds have something growing in it.
Bed 7 has red onions growing. I planted them from seed in October, and they’re doing well. I had planted Texas Granex onions (like Vidalia) as well, but they didn’t grow. I replanted the seed, and they still didn’t grow. I think I got a package of bad seed. It happens sometimes. So, I will plant white onion sets (baby onion plants) in the spring in that space. I hope to harvest all the onions in the late spring.
Bed 12 has Italian soft-neck garlic growing, also planted in October. It’s my first time growing garlic. I’m not sure when it will be ready for harvest, but I believe it will be ready in early summer. Also, in the bed is some Swiss chard, which I planted last spring. After cutting them back in August, as required, one of them has grown back and looks very healthy. I will be planting some more chard (from seed) with my winter planting this weekend.
Bed 13 is a two-tiered bed. It has been designated as my berry bed with ten Heritage Everbearing raspberry canes (on the top tier) and one Sequoia strawberry (on the bottom tier), all planted last spring. Although I didn’t get any strawberries this past year, the one plant that survived (out of 20!) has spread to three-quarters of its allotted space. I plan to purchase a few more strawberry plants this spring to fill in the rest of the bed. Unlike my strawberries, my raspberries were prolific. I got a small spring harvest – enough for a handful of ruby-red yummyness every couple of days – and a huge fall harvest, which supported my fresh raspberry addiction and allowed me to freeze enough to make 24 pints of raspberry preserves last month (my first attempt at making preserves).
Bed 14 is also a two-tiered bed. On the top tier, I planted Mary Washington asparagus roots last spring. They grew beautifully! I couldn’t harvest any asparagus spears because the plant needs at least a year to put its energy into expanding its roots. I cut back the fern after the first frost and layered cow manure compost on the top; in February, I should have spears large enough to harvest! The lower tier of this bed is currently empty.
I also have four rosemary bushes, planted along my fence, that are doing well. Other herbs will be planted in pots this spring.
I turned over my empty beds and added cow manure compost a couple of weeks ago, so they should be ready for my winter planting next weekend. Stay tuned for the beginning of the Charleston growing season in my Sanctuary Garden!