Here’s What We’re Up To On The Homestead…
HUSKY TOOL CHEST
We’ve been stuck in a vortex of interior painting and fixing maintenance issues. Our laundry room is more like a project room (tool room, pantry, second kitchen, washroom, etc.), so this 56″ Husky tool chest (smaller version here) was a great upgrade to replace an old cabinet. Not only does it hold a lot, there is almost no wasted space unlike with traditional cabinets. The non-skid drawer mats also keep everything organized and in place. The white color and butcher block countertop gave it less of a “garage feel” for the Mrs. and I had no installation to do. Yes, DIYing is great, but sometimes you have to buy ready-made to save your time (and sanity).
We haven’t done much fall gardening in the past but we’re trying to think more about how to extend the growing season. We got a late start on this lettuce but we’ll have enough to add to our tacos for a few weeks. We’ve seen indoor systems like these grow light shelves but they can be expensive. Do you have fall crops or do you grow things indoors?
WALNUT SNOWBALL COOKIES
It seem like fall is here already and around here that means a lot of soups, stews, and baking. Ok – maybe a little too much baking but at least it’s homemade, right? You can get this cookie recipe here.
We neglected our carrots this year but we still had a harvest. This made us re-evaluate what we grow. As we expand our gardens, we realize that some crops are too labor intensive for us at this time, and others we just plain don’t love to eat (why were we growing zucchini?). Thinking about this now while it’s fresh in our minds helps us plan better for next year. We also like flipping through some of our homestead books (also this one) for new garden ideas. There is always more to learn, right?
Digging up the last of our potatoes means things are winding down in the gardens. We’ll cure these for two weeks then store them in Burlap lined crates layered with shredded paper. By this time of year, we are really looking forward to fall; how about you?
How do you know when sweet corn is ready to harvest? We have no idea! We usually do our research when homesteading but sometimes we just wing it and with our first corn harvest, we did the latter. What we learned is that the ears of corn that had dry, brown silks on the outside tip contained more golden yellow kernels inside. The ears with very blond silks outside had more pale, almost white, kernels inside. We also learned that using steel u-posts and cordage for a makeshift fence did a pretty good job of keeping the deer out, at least for us. What new crops are you learning about in your garden?
BELL PEPPERS RIPENING
It takes forever for bell peppers to turn red in our growing zone but it’s rewarding when it finally happens. We’ll harvest these all at once and then wash, dice, and store them in freezer bags for cooking during the year. Pretty nice to toss garden peppers into your favorite fajita skillet. What’s ready to harvest on your homestead?
YUKON GOLD POTATOES
Potatoes are a lot of fun to harvest – you never know how many will be under each plant. These Yukon Golds are supposedly a “mid-season” crop but we just watch the plants for a cue on when to harvest. Once the potato plants die back (turn brown and fall over), we try to harvest within about two weeks. Once cured, we will store them in Burlap lined crates and layer them with shredded paper or peat moss. So thankful for a good harvest!
CUTTING DOWN BRUSH
Sometimes you can’t beat the convenience of renting a tool to get a job done. While I’d like to own everything I need, that’s just not possible. Rather than manually cut down brush with a chainsaw, I opted to free up my afternoon by renting this Billy Goat brush cutter and the time saved was well worth the rental fee. Sometimes you gotta go for convenience and give yourself a homestead break.
FIRST RIPE TOMATOES
In our growing zone, it’s always encouraging to see tomatoes ripening before August. Due to taller plants this year as well as windy storms, we’ve had to add extra cages to reinforce our tomato plants. This has the Misses thinking about trying some square cages next year instead of the traditional round ones. Perhaps the lack of tapered bottoms would offer more sturdy support.
The Japanese beetles are here and they like our potato plants, peppers, and fruit trees. These pests chew a lot of holes in leaves and will kill plants if not stopped. Some say to drop them in a bucket of soapy water to drown them but we prefer a different method. Wearing gloves, we hand pick them off, squish them, and toss on the ground. We don’t bother disposing of them elsewhere because we read that the scent of dead beetles repels more live ones. For this reason, if you are using traps like these, you need to empty the bags regularly or you may have problems luring more. We may try using these traps in the future but for now, we’ve noticed a reduction in beetles since we switched from the soapy water method. How do you deal with garden pests?
JUICING GARDEN PRODUCE
Right now, our lettuce is overgrown and our beets need thinning, so we’re putting a lot of excess produce in our centrifugal juicer. We can’t currently recommend the model we have because although it is very fast, the strainer basket seems to be clogging. We’re not sure if we would go with a masticating juicer like the Champion or the Omega in the future. Any suggestions?
Summer storms did a number on our crops (like potatoes, peppers, & corn) but by manually propping them back up, and in some cases, using garden stakes, we managed to salvage everything. Since our herb bed is getting out of control, we fired up the Excalibur and started dehydrating herbs for storage. How are your gardens going?
EINKORN SOURDOUGH BAGELS
REUSABLE FREEZER BAGS
We’ve been using these reusable freezer bags for a couple of months now and can say we’re pretty satisfied with them. When we want to thaw meals fast, we don’t like the idea of submerging regular plastic food bags in hot water, as chemicals could leach into the food. According to the manufacturer, these food grade silicone bags can withstand temps of 480 degrees (F) and are free of BPA, BPS, BPF, PVC, phthalates, coatings & fillers. Plus, the bags in this four-pack can really fit a lot. If you’re in the market for an alternative to disposable bags, these are a great option.