March 26, 2016

Vegetable Gardening Plan

I'm expanding the vegetable garden for the second year in a row.  Last year I had enough vegetables that I didn't need to buy any from the supermarket during the summer, but I had hardly any to save over winter.  This year I'm planning to plant enough vegetables so that the homestead provides for most of the winter too.  I'll be using no-till and sheet mulching to make the new garden areas as I did last year (described in this POST ).

My septic bed fills most of the non-treed area of my backyard, so I'm expanding into the side yard.  This side of the house gets sunshine for most of the day and is sheltered between mine and the neighbours houses.
Vegetable Garden Plan

My organic gardening plan this year uses extensive inter-planting.  This works well to deter the insects and protects plants from animals.  Critters can't simply move along a row of the same vegetable type in one evening if there's plants mixed in between that the critters don't like.

March 20, 2016

How to Build a Very Strong Wood Rack

Build Four Cord Fire Wood Rack
Four Cord Woodrack

How to Build a Four Cord Fire Wood Rack

We added a woodstove to the homestead last year.  We installed the woodstove in the basement, added the chimney and had it inspected.  By the time that was done we were out of time and money to build a woodrack.  So we stacked the firewood on the paved driveway the first year.  We used a kids wagon to bring the firewood to the porch, through the front entrance and down the stairs to the farthest corner of the basement.  That was a huge pain.  That was a lot of work.  So last fall we invested in a woodrack.

We located the woodrack close to a downstairs window and hooked up a large diameter sono tube to the unfinished ceiling which leads to a large tote bin.  We open up the window and throw the wood down the sono tube chute where it lands right beside the woodstove.  Then we stack a couple days worth in a small rack beside the stove.

The rack is built very strong, sturdy.  It is supported with 8 pylex anchors.  It holds a lot of weight, about 4 full cords, and has not shifted.  The anchors were difficult to screw into the ground.  Very difficult to get them vertical and levelled with each other.  But in the end, we still think it was the best way to go.

March 13, 2016

Chickens Taking A Sand Bath Video

The spring thaw has arrived on the homestead.  The hens are really enjoying the spring thaw.  Our sunroom overhangs from the house and there's a nice 2 foot high space where the ground is all sand.  This gives them a nice space to run around in winter.  Occasionally we taken them out and put them under there to get some exercise.  They won't go out over the snow on their own.

Here's an excellent video of the hens taking a sandbath.  You can hear the happy sounds they make, sounds like purring.

I've already seen a few little bugs flying around outside, maybe the girls will find a tasty treat.

March 12, 2016

2016 Seed Sowing Gardening Calendar

I'm located in Eastern Ontario, Canada.  I will start the seeds that need sowing 6-8 weeks before the last frost on, April 1st-4th.  Last year I had success with planting the seeds directly in potting soil, in recycled containers.  I kept them in my dining room and then I would move them into the sunroom during the day if the temperature was going to be warm.  Then when the temperature stops dropping below freezing I keep the seedlings in the sunroom all the time.  This keeps them from getting too tall and spindly.

Seeds I will be sowing indoors on April 1st-4th (6-8 weeks before last frost) and transplanted outdoors on June 4th:

  1. Tomato - Gray' Sweet Cherry
  2. Tomato - Gold Medal 
  3. Herb -  Lovage
  4. Flower - African Marigold
Seeds I will be sowing indoors on May 1st (3-4 weeks before last frost) and planted outdoors on June 4th:
  1. Muskmelon - Tip Top
  2. Cucumber - Tante Alice
  3. Cucumber - Lyaluk
  4. Broccoli
Seeds I will sow indoors on May 21st (2 weeks before planting outdoors) and planted outdoors on June 4th:
  1. Corn - Orchard Baby
Seeds that will be sown directly outdoors in the garden May 28 (after last frost)
  1. Spinach - Strawberry Spinach (outdoor early spring)
  2. Spinach - Monstreux de Viroflay
  3. Beet- Early Blood Turnip outdoor
  4. Carrot - Scarlet Nantes (outdoor)
Seeds that will be sown outdoors in garden June 4 (after last frost): 
  1. Sunflower 'Russian Mammoth (outdoors)
  2. Pea-Amish Snap(outdoor)
  3. Pea  champion of England Woodbridge Strain (outdoor)
  4. Bean - Provider
  5. Bean - Kentucky Wonder Bush

March 5, 2016

Spring 2016 Gardening Calendar for the Homestead

We've just returned from a horse-drawn sleigh ride.  It started out at -10C today but next week we're expecting above 0C weather and I'm thinking about gardening again.  Happy times are ahead on the homestead.  I have a few plans to improve on last years efforts and some of these require planning.  But planning is fun when it comes to gardening!  I thought I'd share my gardening planning calendar with you.  But first here's a picture of little red flowers growing in the moss of a boardwalk at a local park.  I took this photo at the end of January.  It's amazing that the plant life continues in the below freezing temperatures.

March 2016
Week 1
Received organic heirloom seeds through the mail from Heritage Harvest Seed in Manitoba.  Set-up maple syrup spout and bucket.  Start sweet potato slips.
Week 2
Move current hens to outdoor coop.
Week 3
Start gathering lasagna garden materials (hay, cardboard, wood chips).
Week 4
Order day-old chicks from TSC in Smiths Falls, Ontario.