Preparing Your Homestead Garden

It’s spring here in Pennsylvania, WAIT, it’s only winter still. This past Thursday and Friday has been high of 75 degrees(but now it’s Monday and 37 degrees with snow)  and has really got my wheel spinning on what grow this summer in my family’s garden. If you are new to this blog, you know that I live in an apartment homestead where gardening or container gardening is off limits. With that being said, I am very fortunate that my parents allow me to grow produce in their garden.

I have done my research and drafted up a layout for how I want to set everything up. It is important to pre plan your garden months in advance. Why you might ask? It is always about the timing when it comes to gardening. Each and every plant have specific time frames when they grow and thrive the most. You don’t want to start a plant too early or even too late into the seasoning. Some plants you have to start from a seedling and then transplant into the ground. Other plants you can just place the seeds in the ground and not have to worry about growing seedlings. It a very rigorous and meticulous process. Individuals who say gardening is easy and doesn’t take much work. Well I beg to differ on that one. The countless hours of planning, growing, pulling weeds, processing the products, and preparing them YEAH IT’S NOT A WALK IN THE PARK! But it is completely worth it in the end when you are enjoying your delicious harvest. Now my ranting is over, lets get back to how I plan out our garden.

I base a lot of my location of specific plants on companionship. I don’t want us to plant an item next to something that will not make it thrive. Yard Surfer  has a great article and companion cart that I follow for my planting. It is also important to factor in the amount of sunlight that specific plants needs based on your gardens location to the sun. Some plants like cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi can thrive on minimal sunlight of 3 to 6 hours. However, plants such as radishes, corn, and beans prefer to have the most sunlight as possible. We are fortunate that are garden is in the middle of the yard with no worries of not enough sunlight, unless of course it is rainy and miserable outside.

Below I have a picture of my layout for the garden. Now this is just a rough draft, my dad and I tend to add more items to the garden or take things out depending on if we think we will use the product enough to plant a lot of it.

brainstorming

We like to stay around the 10 to 12 plant mark when it comes to planting. Our raised bed can hold more, but we don’t want to crowd the plants. So this year, so far, we have decided on the following 10:

  • Peppers (green, red, and hot)
  • Onions (yellow onions & green onions)
  • Cabbage (head cabbage)
  • Lettuce (leaf lettuce)
  • Spinach (leaf spinach)
  • Radishes( watermelon radish)
  • Kohlrabi
  • Cucumbers(burp less & pickling)
  • Corn (sweet corn)
  • Tomatoes (beefsteak)

In the month of April we will start our seedlings. The Farmers Almanac has a great chart on when to start your seedlings, transplanting, and harvesting depending on your location Planting Dates .

I cannot stress enough the importance of pre-planning a garden. Knowing what you need to plant and how much is so important to have a successful harvest. With that being said, it is important to know how much to grow. Melissa K Norris has a great chart for determining the amount of produce you will need How Much to Plant for a Years Worth of Food . Every family is different and it is important to only plant things you know you and your family are going to eat. If you only each squash twice a year then I wouldn’t suggest planting it because more than likely, it will go to waste. The best way for us to determine how much to grow is to see how much produce we purchased and/or grew in one year. We kept our receipts  and made note of what was eaten out of the garden make a determination for the following year.  We go by the following:

  • 1 tomato plant for each of us plus 1 = 5 plants
  • 6 pepper plants  (2 green, 2 red, 2 hot) = 6 plants
  • 6 onions per person = 24 plants
  • 3 heads of cabbage a piece =12 plants
  • 1 row of lettuce per person= 4 rows
  • 1 row of spinach per person= 4 rows
  • 1 row of radishes for all= my dad and I are the only ones that like them
  • Kohlrabi we grow one row= my dad and I are the only ones that like them
  • 1 burpless cucumber plant per person= 4 plants
  • 1 pickling cucumber plant per person= 4 plants
  • 1 row of corn per person= 4 rows

Now you may notice that this isn’t very much produce. With the amount of space we have in our apartment, we cannot preserve bulks of produce at one time. We unfortunately, have to be realistic and can’t go to over board because of limited space. Also, I don’t want to plant too many items because my parents are located about 40 minutes away from me, so I cannot be there all the time to help maintain the garden and wouldn’t expect them to do it all with their busy schedules. I look forward to the days where I can have a bounty of fresh produce right from my backyard.

Have a good day everyone!!!

-Justine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How I use my produce!

Living in an apartment homestead can be difficult. Growing a container garden is off limits where we live so unfortunately, if I didn’t get enough produce from my parents garden for the winter then we have to resort to store bought. We usually try to stock up at local farmers market before winter hits but sometimes you run out. With that being said, I have to resort to strolling down the lane of a local grocery store produce aisle. When I do have to shop for produce, I always stock up on good deals. Below is a list of all the things I do with some of the bulk produce that is on sale. These are a few recipes from some of my favorite websites!!

Blueberries

Blueberry Syrup by Will Cook For Smiles

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Blueberry Vinegar by Yankee Kitchen Ninja

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Strawberries

Homemade Strawberry Jam by The Cooking Bride

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2-Ingredient Strawberry Sorbet by Eat Healthy Eat Happy

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Peaches

Canning Peach Salsa by So Much To Make

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Peach Raspberry Fruit Leather by Oh So Delicioso

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Oranges

Candied Citrus Peels by My Recipes

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Orange Honey Butter by Know Your Produce

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Cauliflower

How to Prep and Freeze Cauliflower Rice by The Pinning Mama

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Creamy Cauliflower Sauce by Pinch of Yum

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Cabbage

Sauerkraut by Eat Drink Paleo

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Kimchi by Tasteaholics

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Tomatoes

Tomato Powder by Thethingswellmake

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Ketchup by The Little Bits Of

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