Posts tagged #homesteading

Reasons You Should Start Gardening with Your Kids

As we are approaching the second year for our family garden my kids are giddy with excitement and looking forward to getting out and getting dirty! This past Easter their baskets were filled will all sorts of gardening goodies. The Easter bunny hit it spot on this year! They were filled with a watering can, mini garden gloves, seeds, and gardening tools.


last year

was such a success and the kiddies were so interested, we decided that we are going to give the girls their very own garden bed to putts around in! Gardening is such a wonderful activity and hobby for young kids to take part in and here's why...


This is a

hands on experience

for the kids to learn where our food comes from and how it's made. Most kids who don't have a clue about gardening assume our food is made at the grocery store. Learning about seeds, plant needs, and how to grow their own food will make plant biology all the more fun!

Teach them about work and Responsibility

Not only do your kids learn about the educational aspects behind gardening but they learn about the hard work it takes to produce the food and the work it takes caring for the plants.

Physical activity

Kids should be out playing anyways but fun in the sun can be constructive as well and gets them moving the muscles they're not used to while sitting in class all day.

It's fun!

Most kids enjoy gardening and getting their hands a little dirty. Why not give them a productive activity that you can join in on as well.

Boosts their self-esteem

My little one felt so proud when the tomatoes and cucumbers started to grow. It's like she accomplished something big, which she did!

Healthy for the family

Growing your own food gives you the reassurance of where it comes from and the chemicals that are used. It also gets kids excited about eating fruits and vegetables because they grew it themselves. My daughter would go out to the garden and pick the green beans and eat them raw. I was shocked!

Spending time with your kids

My favorite reason is I get to spend quality time with my kids. Those early years of wonder are perfect for gardening. It's a hobby that both mommy and my girls enjoy together.

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It's that time of year for starting your seeds!

I have been crazy busy lately, thinking about girls scouts and meeting planning, new baby planning, that I almost forgot about a very exciting time of year.  What I really mean to talk about is garden planning!!!!!!

Can you tell how much I love to garden?

Really, it gets me so energized just thinking about this season. For me gardening is like an addiction. I would spend hours a week just watching my plants and fantasizing about the overfilled bowls of juicy cucumbers, strawberries and tomatoes.

The thing about having a garden, or a garden that grows produce, is that you need to plan ahead. Sometimes months ahead. For example, hot peppers needs to be started indoors 12-10 weeks ahead of time. So while all of you are only dreaming of the warm summer months and the ground has not quite unfroze from the winter, these babies need to start taking action.

Last year was my first year and I felt pretty successful considering I was a beginner. We had tons of cucumbers, green beans, tomatoes and assorted peppers. This year I really hope to expand and try out some new vegetables as well.

What I am continuing from last year
Red and Green Bell peppers
Mini yellow bell peppers
Santa Fe peppers
Green beans
Cherry tomato

What I will attempt to introduce this year
Leafy greens
Roma tomato
Herbs of all kinds

With these new additions I've had to come up with a better plan as to how I am going to lay this all out in my back yard. While I would love to have a full blown homestead, I also don't want the entire back yard to be garden boxes. Plus, the girls really need their play house this year :).

Space-saving garden ideas...
Grow tomato plants in containers-I plan on have three large containers, really they are decorative terracotta pots, that will sit on my deck and not only grow tomatoes for the family but act as landscaping and greenery for the deck! The deck gets the most sun so this concept will be ideal for saving yard space.

Trellis cucumbers on deck or an arbor-I plan on trellising my cucumbers this year on my back fence. This will provide some additional privacy and space saving by not having to trellis them in the middle of the yard.

Border the entire yard-I plan on mixing some beautiful flowers and produce along the border of the yard about two feet off of the fencing. I will add in some edible favorites to the mix as well. This will also compliment and aid in the pollination of the plants. Remember to use organic and safe fertilizers when you are planting edibles near flowers.

What are your gardening plans for this year?

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Why You Should Prep... I Mean Homestead

Not very many people would know that I'm a "Prepper" or "survivalist". I actually refer to call it homesteading. That has a nicer ring to it. I have written in the past about homesteading but I think the previous two terms have more of a stigma attached to them that I don't necessarily like to associate myself with. Nonetheless, I do prep for survival. I'm no pro and my pantry is no where near stocked but this type of thing is always a work in progress.

The words Prepper or survivalist are often associated with "crazy" and "Domesday Preppers" or "conspiracy theories". These are not ways to describe me. Although, I've been interested in a good conspiracy theory every now and then.

There is not one reason for homesteading. Its a list of reasons and scenarios that are endless really. Here are my top 4 reasons why I prep.

1) Economic Reassurance and a Peace of Mind
In the case where either my husband or I lost our jobs, the financial situation would be extremely tight. Cut backs would need to be made. It wouldn't be the first time the economy has crashed and thousands have been unemployed so the little reassurance I have by building up to a year supply of food would at least guarantee my family would get fed.

2)Self Sufficiency
I am a proud person and I do believe that at the end of the day, you are responsible for yourself and not the government. Not having to rely on something that may take weeks or months to come through is also a reassurance. In the case of an economical collapse in this country, which I don't think should be considered as far fetched, there won't be government assistance like we expect.

It's also empowering knowing that I can take care of myself and my family!

3) Natural Disasters and War
Have you seen the news reports lately. Extreme weather is a norm and it's unpredictable. Extreme weather can also affect our power grids and in the event of a massive solar flare rocking our grid system, I would like to not rely on someone else... again. By the way, EMP attacks are not just a threat from the sun... our grid is constantly being tested by hackers daily who would just love to inject chaos to our society for the fun of it. Have you seen American Blackout?

In the event that we were pushed back to prehistoric ages, knowing how to survive off the land would be essential. Knowing how to survive off of nature period is something everyone should know. Think about how vulnerable someone is when they don't know how to grow their own food or survive in the wild.

4)It's Cost Effective
Growing my own produce from seed is a small fraction of the price of food in the market and my food is Organic. Growing extra and freezing or canning the excess is great over the winter months and helps me cut back on the grocery bill. This past summer I didn't have to buy one cucumber. One organic cucumber can get up to $3 a piece and we were picking 10 a week. The seed pack I bought was $2.50 and I still have some left over for next year. I'd rather be gardening then cutting coupons and strategically couponing. I've tried the extreme coupon thing and I hated it.

My Tomato Canning Recipe

1) First, you need to prep your tomatoes. Slightly slice an X at the bottom of each tomato, just to puncture the skin but not cut it. I boiled the tomatoes for about 60 seconds and them put them in an ice bath to cool. Then to my amazement, the skin pealed off so easy.

2) De-seed and chop your tomatoes.

3) Start preparing your hot water bath. In a large pot start boiling your water. You will need enough water to cover the tops of your jars.

4)Put your chopped tomatoes in a stock pot or sauce pan. Fill with just enough water to level off the tomatoes. Bring to boil and boil for 8 minutes.

5) While your tomatoes are boiling you can prepare your jars by boiling them in the hot water bath for 5 minutes. Do the same with the lids but don't boil until you are ready to put the lids on. The lids will need to be hot.

6) Once you are done boiling your tomatoes, pour them into the sterilized mason jars using a wide mouth funnel. I left about a quarter of an inch from each rim. Then take your hot lids and close your jars.

7) Boil your jars in a hot water bath for 45 minutes. Make sure the water covers the whole jar. Once you have boiled the jars, set them out to cool completely and then you can store.

*note: You can purchase a canning set from the store for under $10 bucks. It has the wide mouth funnel and rubber tongs. These two tools are extremely helpful and prevent burns!!

I hope this encourages you to empower yourself and become a little Prepper like myself. Just preparing a little extra food in the cabinet can make a big difference down the line because you can never really be sure of what can or can't happen.

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My first garden update

Summer is already half way gone. I knew having my a veggie garden was work. I knew there would be things I would learn along the way and this would be a process for the next several years. We are almost half way through the growing season here in zone 5 and I can already think of a couple things I've learned so far.

1. Space

I didn't anticipate how much space each plant would need and take up, therefore there are some plants that are drowning underneath others... my carrots for one. Allow for enough space for the plants to mature so it doesn't look like a jungle and you allow room for other ones to grow.

2. Trellis

Cucumbers need a trellis or something to grow up otherwise it will attach itself to anything else including the plants next to it, the ground, or the side of the garden.

3. Cucumbers come from their flowers. I must have spent a week staring at this plant and wondering, while I watched the rest of my plants spring fruit and veggies, where the heck are the cucumbers. Only did I realize, after looking online, they were coming from their flowers.

4. You don't need 5 of everything.

I started out planting entire rows of different varieties of peppers realizing I don't need 6 cayenne pepper bushes. Next year we will be cutting back on some and adding on others.

 Green Beans

Cherry Tomatoes

So that's what I got for ya so far, folks! I will be posting more pictures shortly as it looks like we are to have some pickable veggies soon! How is your garden coming along?

New house and First Time Gardener

One of the most exciting things since we bought our home last November was to start planning our home garden! This will be my first year starting a garden and I may have taken on more than I could handle. We spent a good amount of money already on

heirloom seeds

, which I have no idea about the plants we ordered. I am a newcomer to this so bare with me. I am a master at research and finding the information I need, so I hope to share with you along the way to my first real garden.

Since I live in a

Zone 5

region, the last day for frost is the end of May. There are different types of seeds that you need to plant indoors ahead of time, this is why it's important to start your planning well in advance!

When my seeds first arrived I couldn't wait to sort them all. I sorted them into 4 groups based upon the time I would start planting. The packaging on the the seeds is a great source of information. Read them very carefully.

These are the groups I divided them into:

12-10 weeks before the last frost threat (indoors)

8-10 weeks before the last frost threat (indoors)

4-6 weeks before the last frost threat (indoors)

sow right into the outdoor garden

This weekend I planted the 12-10 weeks group.


White onion

Red onion

I used three pots for the artichokes, 6 pots for the white onion and 6 for the red onion. I still have to come up with some crafty labels, but for now I took a picture for reminder.

I used organic choice potting mix by Miracle-Gro. I wasn't sure of this mix but it stated the it works for vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs. It's suppose to feed up to 2 months. I hope I made the right choice. For any experienced gardeners out there, what would you recommend?

Bella always wants to help in everything I do, so of course she had to do this too. I used this as an opportunity to discuss the seasons and plants. These are some of the unit study topics we will be covering this spring. Hands on learning opportunities are always great for the little ones!

I planted two to 3 seeds to a pot. This may require some thinning out later to allow the roots flourish.


The onion seeds required only a top sow or lightly covered with soil. It's important to make sure you pay close attention to all the directions on the packet, including the depth to which you will plant the seeds.

Once we were all finished digging in the dirt, we lightly watered the pots with a spray bottle and covered with plastic wrap. The plastic wrap helps keep the moisture in and creates a green house. You want to make sure your seeds and soil don't dry out at any time!

There ya go! This is the start to what I pray will be a wonderful season in the garden! I plan on planting the second group in about two weeks, which includes an exciting assortment of peppers! If you have any suggestions for a first timer, please feel free to leave them in the comment section. I can use all the help and advice I can get!

Helpful Resources

These are two books that I have been referencing through out this adventure! They are both great options for a beginner like me!

865339: 52 How-tos Every New Gardener Needs to Know Beginner
024171: The New American Homestead: Sustainable, Self-Sufficient Living for the 21st Century

The New American Homestead: Sustainable, Self-Sufficient Living for the 21st Century

By John H. Tullock / Howell Book House

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