Starting our small greenhouse

Having years one and two gardens past us , we started to dream bigger. We wanted a place to start seeds earlier and a little bit more substantial than our hot box we used our second year.

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Small but effective.

We also wanted a potting shed, and a place to start some young trees, and nut bushes that could use a safe environment for the first couple years. With all of these things in mind, we decided to build a small greenhouse. There is a future plan on building a larger greenhouse/sunroom on the future house. We needed something a bit sooner though.

We spent some time figuring out where would get good light but not block anything in the future. It made good sense to put the greenhouse by the gardens, too. With our site in mind, we got going!.

First thing we did was set the posts. It is not the first thing we should have done. The ground seemed level to the eye. However we quickly realized it was no where close. It took some time and lots of shovel work to get it level for the walls and floor. It would have been much easier without the posts already in the way.

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Chief inspector Bandit the dog was there every step of the way making sure everything passed inspection. We will be posting more about this awesome pup in a future post.

Once the posts and brick were laid, the frame went up pretty quick.

 

The only thing on this part we should have done differently was to slope the roof more. It drops six inches but would have been better to do it ten or twelve. We have not had any issues yet, and we don’t usually have any snow accumulation here so will have to wait and see. We have had one of the rainiest starts of the year on record, and it has not leaked a drop yet. Fingers crossed, it continues to hold.

For the lower section we used metal just like we did on the barn.  The reasons being it helps prevent rot from rain splash back, also it matches the barn kinda.

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Below you can see between each rafter we have venting. So 4 holes on each side to help the green house cool down when needed.   On a sunny day even if its only in the 60s  the greenhouse can hit 120 pretty quickly.

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Vents out from the top.  Vents laying on the ground.

After the outside was up, all the rain that came showed us we needed to work on the drainage around our little building.

We dug a simple ditch around the side that was causing the issue. From a previous post we mentioned there was a little decorative pond on the place when we bought it. Around that were loads of pea gravel and large rocks for a wall. We filled the ditch with buckets of the gravel, then laid the stone on top. Fixed the issue so far, and looks great to us!

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Inspector Bandit on the job.
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Front
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Left side

We are so happy with our first little greenhouse. It is already being put to good use. So many seeds started and even ten small trees. The pictures below do not even show all of them.

 

In a future post we will go through what we did on the inside and show you guys what it looks like . Got any questions? We would love to hear from you all in the comments!

What’s in a name?

We want to start by saying thank you to everyone who has read anything on our blog so far! Blogging is a new world for us and it is so rewarding and exciting to get the views/ comments/ likes from everyone. We’re enjoying sharing what we have learned so far and hope that we can inspire or motivate someone to do something too.  Plant just one thing – you don’t have to wait until you have acres or until you can retire.  Plant one tomato or one sunflower; it doesn’t matter.  Just do something! It will be so rewarding.

A few years back life did a big reset. After the dust settled on that it was clear a plan had to be made. The idea and the want of homesteading and a more simple life style was in the background but it started coming forward. This idea is expounded on in our first blog post if you want to check that out.

Having always kept various journals and date books it seemed only natural to do the same with the homesteading idea. A green journal that had been a gift was picked to be the one to start the daydreaming.

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Pages and pages of drawings and writings . Things from TV Shows, original ideas , hopes and dreams were all written down in the simple green journal. Bank accounts, types of loans, dates with a realtor and appointment times. Anything that had to do with finding a place and what to do with that place was written down in the journal. It became a treasure in itself and a constant companion.

There was a 6 month period of doing nothing but working towards a goal. No weekends off, no vacation, no thought other than getting a place started. Pennies pinched, clutter sold off , constantly thinking of how to get closer to the goal. One singular obsession and the journal becoming a manifestation of that obsession.

After buying the property it just felt like it needed a name. There were not even any other names considered really. It was obviously Green Journal Homestead.

It is a fun memory , a fitting name, and a reminder that anything is possible even when it seems like it is not.

That first Green Journal was filled up a few years ago but recently another journal gift had been given to celebrate the start of this blog.

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The journal might be new but it is like finding an old friend. The pages are already filling up just like the last one. Ideas flowing on paper just like before. We are very excited for the new adventures to come. We hope that all of you come along with us!

Reclaiming a barn part two

From the first post about the barn you can see that it was a job in itself just clearing around the barn to even begin to work on it.

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Once we got it cleared where we could get into it, the first thing we did was get out all the old tires. There were over 250 used car tires in the barn. We don’t know why, we don’t know where they came from, but they were our problem now. The second project was to get the tin off the sides. Half of it went to the scrap yard and the other half has gone to different projects. The frame of the barn was actually pretty good. Just an old pole barn that has probably been there forever. You can tell the cedar logs were cut by hand, probably from the land itself or somewhere close by. There was an addition put on at some point that is probably only 10 years old or so.

Old barn as a whole
The barn of many colors

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With the tin off the sides we started on the roof. There were no leaks in the old tin roof, and the structure was sound, so we just put a new roof on top of the old. Green, of course.

For the sides and inside walls, we went through several layout ideas as well as several options on what materials to actually use. We didn’t like the look of tin even though it would be the longest lasting. We also never liked the look of the sheets of siding that look like boards, even though that would have probably been the cheaper option. We also weren’t sure how long that would last, since it was the lower cost option. We decided to go with a board and batten style with 6 inch boards for the 1st layer. Putting the boards on this year and after they have some time to season the plan is to go back and put the batten on later. Probably doing 4 inch or so boards for that.

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Front
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Left side. This whole wall had to be rebuilt
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Back

We are leaving the addition part without walls, Just a half wall in the back. It will be used as a place to park equipment or anything we need to work on with a roof over us. If our needs change we can always close it in at a later date.

The metal wrapping around the bottom is for rain splash back. It helps the wood walls to not stay soaked from the ground and rain and hopefully last much longer. We also like the way it looks. The outside is fully done and the inside walls are done. Had to move a few poles on the inside to put exactly where we wanted them. Mainly where we needed the doors to go. The only things left are to build the five doors, and then the trim work around all the corners and edges.

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Inside . One full walled stall . One half wall stall

Other projects such as the green house needed finished so it has been a little while since we have worked on the barn. Hopefully we can get back at it this fall.

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We still have some cleaning up to do on this side……

Eventually on this side of the barn closest to the road we want to build a chicken/ rabbit run. A protected place to grow our meat chickens and rabbits.

Behind the barn will be the barn lots with pigs helping clear the brambles and helping fill the freezer after.

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View of the barn from the front porch.

It is very rewarding to see the barn every morning on our way out. So happy with how it turned out!

Even though the barn is not completely done, we already have inhabitants.

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The first non pet animals on the homestead -rabbits! We will be talking more about them in future posts.

First year garden

It was August when the property was bought,  followed by a large drought in the area all the way till the next year.  No garden that first half year so the following spring we were super excited to get it going.

For the first year we started several seeds to hopefully make it into small plants to hopefully plant in the garden.   We started several types of tomatoes, peppers, and some cantaloupes.  Out of those only the Cantaloupes produced anything for us (and boy did they).

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We ended up having to buy  tomato plants and pepper plants, but there were several for sale around here.  Since we bought ours kinda “late”  we actually got a great deal on them as most plant places were getting ready to change into firework places  as is their usual rotation every year.

The garden itself was designed to be part raised bed part hugelkultur bed.  Knowing the ground was clay dirt it just seemed easier to build something to hold “good” dirt. If you have read the other posts on the site  you know that in our section of woods there was an impressive pile of trash.   Part of that mountain of garbage was fencing that had been pushed down with a bulldozer.  It was a painstaking and slow process but we were able to get enough old cedar fence posts to build the bed.

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(sneak peek of the barn in the background with the walls off and new roof)

The layout went ok,  just carrying up fence posts,  stacking them with wood stakes cut from the woods and driven into the ground.  Cutting a few to fit when need be.  Then the middles filled with sticks/brush/rotten wood gathered from fence rows and previous cleanings of the property .

As for the dirt, my mother and step-father have a spring feed creek that runs down the edge of their property.  This mini creek was great but would flood their yard every year during rainy months.  While it was dry he would dig it out deeper to prevent the flooding, which meant he had dirt.   It was great soil with silt-like qualities from the wet weather creek bed.  Several truckloads of that and we had our garden filled.

The first year garden had several successes and several failures also .

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Failures include– All the seedlings we started died ,  aside from cantaloupes.  The cantaloupes took off –  we probably had about 50 or more.  The problem is they all were ripe at the same time.  We ate as many as we could,  gave away just as many.  Even with all the giving away after a 2 day rain storm the remaining cantaloupe just rotted on the vine.    We grew enough okra for a small army, and much of it went to waste.  That area in our raised bed could have been better used growing something else.  Lettuce was planted late and didn’t grow.  Corn was planted a little late,  and not deep enough or in a good location.  Storms knocked it down so many times we lost count and it stopped trying to stand back up.   Planted the fall garden way too early the first time (on what ended up being the hottest day of the entire year) and wasted several packets of seeds.  We had enough to replant some when it was the right time and did manage a few turnips,  beets,  lettuce and carrots.

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Cucumbers came in numbers we were unprepared for and seemed rushed to make them into pickles.  We probably made 60 jars in one day which seemed like lot for first time trying pickling and canning, too.

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We tried to grow potatoes in tires (remember, we have 250 of the things).   Red potatoes didn’t produce,  but sweet potatoes did alright .

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All in all, the garden produced more than we could have asked for.  The tomatoes were delicious and made amazing sandwiches that summer and delicious soups that winter.  The pickles were so much work that one day,  but delicious all year long. Thinking about the fried squash makes my mouth water even now.  Going to cans and freezer for veggies instead of grocery store shelves every time felt like a win.

Most importantly, we were reminded how wonderful it is to have a garden. The amazing feeling of waking up,  walking outside and picking some spinach , onion, peppers to go with breakfast.   Getting home from work and for dinner having whatever was perfectly ripe that day.  The smell of the freshly turned dirt,  the pride and excitement when sprouts started poking up.  The satisfaction of looking at freshly weeded rows.

If there is only one thing that anyone ever takes away from this blog I hope it is to plant something.  There is a peacefulness and joy we have felt ourselves and have seen in others that came from gardening; we’d have to suggest it.  It really is something special.

 

It was a great first year and we will always love our little raised beds.  That being said it turned out to not be enough space for our ambitious goals .  In an upcoming post we will discuss the 2nd year garden which was two areas each 25ft by 50ft.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reclaiming a Barn

The barn has been a long process. The first year was basically clearing around it to even be able to start working on it. The area around the barn and down in the woods was piled with trash. We will share a few photos further in this post but even they can’t show the amount of trash there was. We think there were 20 truckloads of basic house trash that just had to be burnt, 4 truckloads of stuff that had to end up at the dump, and 3 truckloads of random metal items that were able to cashed in at the scrap yard. We plan on going over the woods themselves in detail in a future post.

The right side of the barn was piled with different kinds of trash plus briars. One example was a 55 gallon plastic drum which contained seashells, 10 lbs of various nails, 2 car batteries, scraps of hose pipe, and torn tarps. This drum had no lid and had been outside for who knows how long so it was also full of water. Making a sort of trash bouillabaisse.

Right side barn brush

The left side of the barn had a few things like the right side, but the bigger issue was the down tree on the phone lines. Several attempts were made to get the phone company to come out, but eventually we had to take care of it ourselves. With that gone, we could get the left side cleaned out.

Phone tree

The back side of the barn was more like the right, lots of trash and even more briars and small trees. Moving further away from the barn it became less and less trash but thicker and thicker in underbrush. This was all cleaned out and burned as well which left a nice square. The start of our barn lot!

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Since we do not have livestock yet the past 2 years we have planted behind the barn with limited success. As in, 4 total pumpkins in 2 years.

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Happy Little Pumpkin

The ground seems good,   but due to the woods and the property line of trees, it gets little sun.   This will be good shade in the summer for the animals though so not cutting anything down.

 

The barn after it was cleaned up around it turned out to be very sturdy still. And colorful…

Old barn as a whole

The plan is to have 3 lots behind the barn. Setting them up with fencing (undecided on exactly what style yet) with the 3 lots be able to rotate some small livestock through those. The lots not being used at the time we can sow with fodder for when they come back to that specific lot.

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The red squares in the photo above are the future barn lots mentioned.

Now that we could actually walk around the barn it was time to get to work on it! That was a slower process and is actually still going on.   We will share more of that later.

More more tires

The first problem was removing the 250 used car tires that were being stored in the barn…….

 

 

Planning a Future Homestead.

Just a short post with a photo of the property.  First photo is untouched to give an idea of what it looks like.    Second photo shows some things we are planning to set up,  and a few things we’ve already got done.

From the photo  the Orchard , Greenhouse,  Garden plots ,  and Grape trellises are already set up.   The House, Herb beds, Future garden spot and rotational barn lots are under future projects.  

    Let us know what you think, in the comments.  Is there anything you’d like to know more about? Thank you for stopping by!

Where we are so far.

We are two and a half years into our little adventure. We do plan on going into each project in more detail but here is a general overview of what we have accomplished so far.

The 4 acres had been for sale for over one year when we bought it. Not sure how long since it had been lived on before that. Nature was taking it back, as you would expect.

Looking at the place from the road, the right side of the property was some overgrown fence rows that we cleaned back. There were also a few fallen trees to get rid of.

Before – Overgrown fence row with some random junk
After- Cleaned up to the property line.

On the back left side from the road was just overgrown , could probably have been cut for hay. You can’t really tell but in the after photo there are young fruit trees planted on a portion of it. The start of our orchard!

Before – Not exactly a field of dreams.

Cleaning back towards that building little by little.

At the back middle of the property there was a hidden decorative pond. We’ve used parts of it, like some of the rock wall and the pea gravel for a “French drain around the green house. Not exactly sure what we will do with the rest of it but for now it is part of the dog pen.

Before- Very attractive snake habitat


After- The rock wall and gravel have come in handy for different projects

In the middle of the property there was a row of Forsythia bushes. From the porch they blocked the view down to the barn so we removed them. It turned out to be one of the hardest jobs we have done yet.

Before- There were five of these behemoths
In Progress- That truck load was only 2 out of the 5. Those things were massive.
After- Opened up the view. Gave room for a garlic bed and future herb garden.

The front middle of the property was overgrown pretty bad as well. Clearing this off gave us room for vegetable gardens and clear view of the barn.

Before – Overgrown field in front of barn.
After- The barn is just out of the picture to the right but you can see our little greenhouse!

That is just a quick overview of the property. In upcoming blogs we will go into more detail on things like the barn, orchard, gardens, and greenhouse, as well as future projects and improvements we have planned.