During the winter, I like to look back at the past year and note the changes and improvements I’ve made on my homestead. Then I make a list of what I would like to do during the upcoming year. Today, I’d like to share that process with you.
2014 HOMESTEAD IMPROVEMENTS
I’m not a full-time homesteader. I do have a full-time job (and now a home business), and I work on this blog. However, I am pleased with the new additions to my homestead in the past year, even if they’re small.
- New grow lights system: Last year, I changed to a one-piece, 8-light system for my germination station. What a difference it made in my seedlings. They were less leggy and more robust. And it was easier to adjust the height above the seedling trays.
- Teepee Trellises: I showed my Garden Wilson a picture of a teepee trellis in a book and asked if he could make me a couple of them. He designed them himself and they now sit in my front yard – currently with Dwarf Gray Peas growing in the pots under them. I love them!
- Elderberries: I planted two elderberry trees in my front yard “orchard.” They’re growing near the teepee trellises.
- Corralling my raspberries & asparagus: I was tired of my raspberry canes and my asparagus fern falling all over the place. It made it difficult to harvest the raspberries, and I couldn’t enjoy the asparagus fern as much. So, my Garden Wilson designed and built a “fence” around those two beds. It was the perfect solution.
- New raspberry canes: My Heritage raspberries caught a disease in 2013, so I had to rip them out. Last year, I planted Caroline everbearing raspberries in their place, and I got a pretty good harvest from them in the fall.
- New raised bed: I surely kept my Garden Wilson busy last year. I had him build me another raised bed (my 21st), which filled in an odd opening in my layout and added additional growing space.
- Edible landscaping: I dipped my toe into the waters of edible landscaping by creating a planting bed on either side of my front walkway. (The link shows the day it was finished.) Today, I have a few perennial herbs still growing (oregano and sage), along with scarlet kale and reine des glaces lettuce. It looks beautiful!
- Refractometer: I obtained a new garden tool to help me measure the nutrition in my produce (measured in brix), and thus be able to determine how healthy my soil is. My only problem is that most of my produce isn’t juicy enough to get pure liquid from by hand-squeezing. I need to get a special vice to squeeze the produce and the plant leaves. (See plans below.)
- Hoop tunnels: In the fall, we built hoop tunnels over four of my raised beds. They’ve been a wonderful addition to my garden because I can continue growing semi-hardy plants through the winter. (I’ll keep you posted on how those plants survived the days of below-freezing weather we’re having now.)
- New pantry: Yet another task for my Garden Wilson. (My beau is VERY talented!) He turned my coat closet into a second pantry so I could have more room to store all my dry goods and home-canned goodies.
2015 HOMESTEAD PLANS
Of course, I realize I may not accomplish all these goals. Time, money, or other priorities often change the best-laid plans. However, these are the things I really want to accomplish on my homestead in 2015:
- Acquire a vice: I need a special vice to squeeze liquid from my vegetables and plant leaves in order to use my refractometer. That’s on my garden supply list in preparation for spring planting. I want to be able use my refractometer with my spring crops.
- Detailed soil test: I want to get a full, detailed soil test that measures most of the minerals in my soil. Then I want to have the soil test professionally analyzed so I can add the proper nutrients/minerals in the correct balance. Then, I will have healthy soil that will produce healthy plants which are disease and pest resistant. Fruit from such plants will be high in mineral content (read: healthy for me), and I will be able to track it with my refractometer.
- Almond tree: Two years ago, I planted an all-in-one almond tree that I received bare-root from a nursery out of state. It didn’t make it. I received another one as part of their one-year guarantee. That one didn’t make it either. Neither tree even grew leaves. I think they both died enroute. This year, I want to purchase an all-in-one almond tree (it needs no second tree for pollination) from a local nursery – if I can find a nursery that has one. Maybe a potted tree will survive.
- Shade garden: On the side of my house is a beautiful fuschia crepe myrtle tree. It’s the only thing growing on the shady side of my house. I want to create a small shade garden there with astilbe (against the house), hostas, coral bells, Japanese fern, and ajuga (as ground cover). I’d like to add a water fountain in the shade garden, too – even if I add it next year.
- Flower garden: I want to plant hibiscus and/or rose of sharon in my front yard, though I haven’t mapped out a plan for positioning yet. I also want to plant more flowers in the front yard and in pots in my back yard. This part is still a work in progress, but I’m pretty set on the hibiscus, I think.
- Mason bee houses: I want to put up a few mason bee houses on my property, in various places. Anything to keep the bees coming!
- Bird bath: I need some water for the birds. I have a bird feeder, but no water. I can place a “jiggler” in it to keep the water moving and even add some rocks or marbles so butterflies and bees can use it, too.
- Fix & paint the shed: This has been on my list for two years, but we just haven’t found the time. We are determined to make the time to fix up the shed and paint it – not only to make it look nice, but so I can finally do the next step.
- Water-catching system: Two years ago, I bought eight 55-gallon plastic pickle drums to use as a rain catching system. I need to fix and paint the shed before I can put up a gutter system to catch the rain and funnel it into the barrels. I will use this water to supply my garden between rain storms.
- Paint the house: Hey, I can’t have my shed looking nicer than my house, can I? Thankfully, I have a brick home. But the trim, shutters, and doors need a good painting. I already have the new door handles, so I’m good to go on replacing those once the doors are painted. Oh, but then I’ll have to replace the light fixtures, too. And then replace the cement walkway with pavers. And I do need to replace the windows…
I’d better stop…I’m already getting into 2016 and beyond!
What are your homestead plans for 2015?