The Yardstead - Farm Your Yard!

This time of year I always get so excited here at the Yardstead!  It is almost spring planting time.  Although we plant a garden through all four seasons, there is nothing like the excitement of Spring for us!  We had 14 consecutive days of freezing weather in January.  That is not normal in our area of the southeast.  We have lost some of our citrus and many plants such as our bamboo were burnt back to the ground.  We really hope these plants will begin growing again when the weather warms up. 

Amazingly enough, turnips, onions and garlic came through the winter garden for us just fine.  It is normal for us to plant potatoes in February around the 14th.  So next weekend we will be putting potatoes in the ground along with some cabbage and broccoli.  I plan to wait at least an additional two weeks to plant snow peas.  Also, the potatoes we want to try in 5 gallon buckets this year will be planted in a couple more weeks.  In early March all of the seeds for vegetable transplants into the garden in early April will be planted.

Our native pinneapple guava had no problem with the freezing this year.  We plan to plant some native paw paws this year.  We hope more natives mean less loss in any future freezing winters.

I hope everyone is thinking of their spring gardens.  Just going through the seed catalogs gives us spring fever.  Please check out Baker Creek heirloom seeds!  They have some amazing variety and if you want, you can collect your own seed in the following seasons.

Happy Gardening!

It has been an odd winter here at the yardstead.  We had 14 consecutive nights of freezing weather.  This is really unheard of in our area.  We will not be completely sure how much we lost until spring.  Our turnips, garlic, and onions did survive in the garden.  We were very happy to see that.  Currently we have four chickens in the coop.  I'm really trying to decide if we should get more or stay with 4 this year.  Four hens will produce enough eggs for our family through the spring and summer.  We are so use to having more and having enough eggs to share with our neighbors.  Raising chicks in the spare room is not something I am looking forward to this spring.  Although I've been thinking that I should visit Lowe's and try to get a washer/dryer or refrigerator box.  Then I could raise 4 or 5 chicks without much worry of them getting big enough to fly before the weather turns warm.  We will just have to wait until March to decide!  McMurray Hatchery is now allowing customers to order less than 12 ducks per order.  There is an extra fee but we are happy to pay it in order to get the number of ducks we want.  I have really missed having ducks since ours died unexpectedly this fall. 

As spring approaches, I am trying to curb my spring/garden fever.  Each year I always get too excited and start too early plants from seed.  This year we will put potatoes in buckets at the end of February and I will wait till the first of March to start any seedlings.  We plan to grow most of our potatoes in buckets this year.  We will put about 5 inches of dirt in the bottom of a bucket and lay a potato eye on top.  We will cover it slightly and as the potato plant grows, we will add more and more dirt till the plant rises above the top of the bucket.  We hope to have an easier time harvesting potatos (dumping out buckets) than when they must be dug.  I will post pictures of this new project and update our bucket gardening article as the plants grow.  Wish us luck and happy gardening to you this Spring!

   Portland Community Garden  Portland Oregon has one of the premier Community Garden programs in the country.  They offer garden plots to residents for a small fee, and donate fresh garden produce to local agencies to feed the hungry.  They encourage good healty gardening practices such as organic gardening, healthy soil building practices, composting, cover cropping, and sustainability.  The program also encourages positive social practices such as community involvement and intergenerational cooperation.  Portland currently has 32 community gardens throughout the city with more coming in the future.
     The Portland Community Gardens program has provided gardening opportunities for the physical and social benefit of the people and neighborhoods since 1975.  The 32 locations are scattered among many Portland neighborhoods.  Volunteer garden managers........

"Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things." ~Elise Boulding

This week at the yardstead we have been discussing simplicity and frugality.  We moved into our yardstead 8 years ago.  I'm sure we are not alone but over these past years we seem to have filled up our house and our lives with so much stuff.  I'm willing to bet that 50% of it, if not more, is really unneccesary stuff.  Over the next few months we plan to donate, reduce, recycle and re`use until we have less clutter.  My goal is to then, NOT to fill the yardstead back up with more stuff.

If you have not seen The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard.  Here is the link.  I highly recommend it.

EarthwormVermicomposting is composting using worms.  There are a variety of species of worms.  The most common used earthworm are Red Wigglers or Night Crawlers (think fish bait).  These can easily be looked up online for more information as well as to purchase online.

We have become interested in raising worms after watching a video produced by Olomana gardens in Haiwaii.  In this video worms were raised very easily in a stacked composting bin.  These bins can also be found online and seem relatively inexpensive.  At Olomana gardens the worms were being raised under permaculture principles.  Garden and food waste are fed to the worms. The worms produce castings (vermicompost) or are fed to chickens. Then the compost or chicken poo is used to fertilize the gardens.  So a cycle is created that is relatively self-sustaining.  Each system depends on the other to produce well.

Of course, I went immediately to the internet and to youtube to find information on raising worms.  There are a variety of ways to do this.  Stack bins seem to be.......

Page 3 of 11