Homesteading for the Average Jane

An average mom, trying her hand at suburban homesteading!


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Indoor Seed Starting!

Well I finally got around to sowing my indoor seeds! It has been a crazy few weeks and transplanting into the garden is just around the corner so I had to get my seeds going.

My first step was to soak my seeds. By doing this, the husks of the seeds are softened making for easier germination. I used several small bowls that I had around the house and to keep them organized I just used a dry erase marker to label each bowl.

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I then prepared my seed trays. I used an organic seed starting medium. It has no soil so it won’t contaminate my seedlings. I did add a small amount of water to moisten up the seed starter. And then added it to my trays.

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You will notice that I left one spot open. This is so I can use this opening to water my seedlings later. This hole will allow me to put water into the tray, watering the seedlings from below.

I made small holes with the end of a paint brush and planted each seed to it’s required depth.  Since my garden isn’t huge I have started multiple types of veggies in each tray. I labeled each tray and put them in a sunny window. Of course this pic was taken at dusk, so not much sun shine going on.

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I started these on April 3rd and today, April 7th this is what I saw!

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I have seedlings! So far I have cucumbers, crockneck squash, and zucchini sprouting! I am so excited! I have decided to put a heating pad under my peppers because they need to be close to 80 degrees to germinate. Once my seedlings get started I will be moving them outside during the day and bringing them back in at night until I am sure we are past the threat of frost!

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No fools, this April First! Winter sowing transplants!

Well it is April 1st and is a beautiful day here in Tennessee. My winter sown seeds are doing great and are getting really crowded in the jugs so I decided to transplant them into pots. Some will stay in pots but many will be transplanted into straw bales by the end of the month.

 

I decided to start with my bibb lettuce which is growing at an amazing rate! My lettuce will stay in containers throughout the Summer so that I can move them to cooler spots when the sun is at it’s hottest.

I started with some long window box planters and added some large pine nuggets in the bottom, this really helps with drainage because the soil doesn’t get packed down in the holes.

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Next, I fill them nearly to the top with soil. I use a planting soil that is organic and consists of horse manure, mushroom compost, leaves, and soil. It is mixed locally so I trust it and I am helping a local business with my purchase.

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Next I dumped the jug, you can see how well the roots are established! I separated them carefully and planted them in clumps, with any luck they will spread out and fill the pots, providing us with lots of nice salads throughout the summer.

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Next, I worked on my head lettuce, It should be ready to transplant later as it gets bigger.

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I finished up with my cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts which will all be transplanted into the straw bales.

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Last but not least, Lbug gave them a good drink of water with my make shift watering can. It is just a milk jug with some holes punched in the top. It makes giving a good slow drink to the plants a breeze without having so much flow that the soil is washed from the roots, plus it is free!

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I still have crookneck squash, zucchini, and spaghetti squash are just starting to sprout, hopefully they will be ready to transplant in a few more weeks.

I hope you have enjoyed my posts on winter planting. I have certainly enjoyed using this easy method and I will definitely expand on this technique next Winter.


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Mid-March winter sowing!

Well my plants are really taking off. I have had to cover my ‘mini-greenhouses” on and off for the last month but I wanted to show you what my winter sown seeds are doing now.

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As you can see, I have lots of beautiful and healthy starts. What you see in these pictures are bibb lettuce, head lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. For now I am uncovering them and during the day and then closing the lids at night. So far I have not had to water these jugs one time! I can’t wait to get these transplanted.

Oh, and I had a little taste of the bibb lettuce…it was delicious.


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Snow on my suburban homestead!

Well yesterday we got our first snow of 2014. Last year we got none and to be honest it isn’t something that happens very often here since we live on the boarder of TN and GA, and in a valley. When we do get snow it is a disaster! We don’t have lots of salt trucks or snow plows so our hilly roads and neighborhoods become impassable very quickly. So today I am home with the kids.  The view this morning was beautiful!

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Our little yard had about 2 inches of snow. The view down the street was a pretty one and my husbands little car is covered! He has already taken out our 4-wheel drive suv to go to our local fire hall where he volunteers and is a medical first responder. So I ventured out early this morning to get some pictures, do a few chores, and enjoy the snow before the kids got up.  The first thing I did was check on my winter-sown seeds….they are looking good, getting their first freeze and watering when the snow thaws.

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Then it was time to take care of some local wildlife! I put out some dry cat food for the local strays since I am trying to build some trust to capture them and have them fixed in our local feral cat program.  Then I noticed that both my bird feeders were empty. So I filled them up.

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Just now I saw a beautiful cardinal at my front feeder but I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo! I really feel like keeping wild birds fed and happy is important because they help with pest control, provide hours of entertainment for my cats, and are beautiful of course!

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My straw bales are also doing well! As you can see, they are just hanging out…slowly decomposing! Very soon I will be getting my stakes set and my trellis ran over each roll but right now with temps in the single digits I think it can wait a little longer!  Later today I am going to makes some chicken soup and get my indoor seeds started! So expect another post soon!

 


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Winter sowing…seeds get first snow!

So it is January 28th, 2014 and we were hit with a little snow storm! It was fast and furious! And I know many of you would scoff at 2 inches of snow but for lower, middle Tennessee it is a big deal. Anyway, after days of freezing temps we finally got some snow and my winter sown seeds are the benefactors.

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As you can see there is some snow inside the jugs and around the tops, as the temperature increases over the next few days (it is supposed to be in the 50’s by Saturday) the process of freezing and thawing will continue!

 


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Seeds for Winter-Sowing Going out TODAY!

So I showed everyone to how I made my containers for winter-sowing. With the help of my daughter, LBug, I got all my hardy seeds sown. Since it is 14 degrees outside we decided to work at the kitchen table.  HINT: I keep a crib sheet that I use to cover my table for messy projects like painting and potting, then I can just toss it in the wash!

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We put about 3 to 4 inches of organic potting soil in each bucket, the soil was already pre-moistened, but not too wet, since it set out in the rain! Make sure that the soil is loose and not packed down so that the roots can form. With this process it is not necessary to nick or soak seeds. The freezing and thawing they will go through over the next few months soften the seeds and prepare them for germination.

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We did space seeds that need spacing and others we spread across the top and covered with about a 1/4 inch of soil. This go we are starting the following seeds:

  1. Broccoli
  2. Cauliflower
  3. Brussels Sprouts
  4. Cabbage
  5. Spaghetti Squash
  6. Bibb Lettuce
  7. Head lettuce
  8. Crookneck Squash
  9. Zucchini
  10. Parsley

I plan to start some tender plants in March and April the same way but it is just too cold right now. I am also starting some of these plants indoors. Since I am new to starting plants from seeds I want to have several options! When the seeds are sown all you need to do now is put on a piece of duct tape to keep the tops closed and remove all the lids.

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Next find a good spot in your yard. I chose my patio because it gets good afternoon sun and some shade and is protected from the wind. I put them all up on a table so that they are protected from neighborhood dogs and such. Make sure they are accessible to the rain and snow!

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* It was not snowing the day I put them out! This is a few days later…

As you can see I placed them in the back yard on my patio table. I can keep and eye on them out the kitchen window and they get the sun and weather exposure they need.