Second year garden

If you havent checked our first year garden post, check that out here –> First Year Garden

The second year garden was bigger ambitions than the first.   The first year we kinda learned some things we wanted to grow and we wanted more.     We had two 25ft x 50ft main gardens.  Then we also had 3-4 spots that were 5ft x 5ft we kinda threw extra things in we didn’t know where else to put.

Looks great in the pictures, right?   Very few times was it weeded that well throughout the year. We enjoy weeding the garden and it does help ,  but it is more for the “look” of it more than anything. We feel better if the garden is prettier.  Does not mean it makes the seeds grow any better.

We did start some seeds for 2018 year garden.   Even built a little hot box thing for them.  This was before the little greenhouse we just finished this year.   We started several types of tomatoes and peppers.   Also some cantaloupe, watermelon, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli.

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Tomatoes

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The tomatoes did ok ,  we ended up planting 9 that we had started but also bought 5 additional from the plant booths around here.   Ours were way smaller than the ones we bought,  but within the month they had grown past what the bought ones were doing.   Obviously the store bought ones work,  but to us it seems they are stunted at the size you buy them at and it takes a while for them to get going. We had a type of yellow plum tomato that was a free gift.  It was delicious but 2 plants produced more than all of our families could eat.   At the height of the season we were getting over a 5 gallon bucket of tomatoes a day total.  We ate our fill,  froze so many gallon bags full for winter soups,  and gave away just as many to family and friends.

Peppers

All but one of our pepper plants died.   Ended up buying several so we still had an amazing pepper crop but it was a little disappointing our plants didn’t take off.   The one that survived was a jalapeno plant that did fantastic.  The one plant produced enough jalapeno for us,  we just didn’t have any to share.  We mostly ate the peppers raw,  we did grill a few.  One thing that we liked to do is cut up some banana peppers into rings and pickle in apple cider vinegar because they are great on hotdogs.  Some of the hotter peppers we just put in a jar of vinegar to soak. This is a favorite to add into soups or beans or anything that needs a little kick. Pulled pork is very good like this.

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The rest of the seeds we started died.  All of them.   For different reasons ,  but mainly due to poor soil quality and poor area selection.    The watermelons behind the barn never developed.   The cantaloupes did ,  but half way through something ate a hole in every single one.    The broccoli and cauliflower was plated a little late probably,  but in horrible soil and even re-planted  and re-planted again after that.   Ended up with zero Cauliflower and maybe 8 very small broccoli heads.

Potatoes came up and looked fantastic ,   above ground.   Once it came time to dig them up we were getting maybe two potatoes for every three plants.   And the ones we did get were hard as rocks.  They tasted good,  just took twice as long to cook.   The purple ones were fun though.

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Planted 200 onion bulbs.  Ended up with ZERO.  We planted them behind the barn as well and think something dug them up.   200 of them .  All gone. Hope that was a good meal for something.

Beets- The year before we had planted a few beets and had lots of success,  but that was in the good soil raised beds.   In the new garden areas none of them grew.  Planted several rows of a couple different varieties but again ended up with none.

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Lettuce and Carrots all had to be replanted and were hit and miss.  We did get some but not half of what we should have.

20180704_124054Peaches and Cream and all white Nirvana

Corn did better than the year before,  but still not great.    It was delicious though and hopefully this year we can end up with three times as much.

The worst failure was spinach.  Planted so much spinach in different areas,  different times, different ways.  Zero spinach

The failures are part of the adventure and we try our best to take them with stride.  This year we have the greenhouse and are going to try to get the plants going more in there and plant actual plants instead of just seed this year for everything.  Hopefully we can improve the area of the plants while we continue to work on the entire gardens soil quality.

Amazing to think that the thing that matters most is the soil,  getting that right and everything else really takes care of itself.

The garden was not all failures  there were several successes.

Tomatoes and peppers as mentioned did great .  Cucumbers,  squash,  and zucchini did good.   Beans and peas did pretty good. Okra did great. Acorn squash did very well.  Loved the acorn squash ,  planting twice as much this year.  When fall came we did manage to get a few heads of cabbage,  and enough turnips to feed an army.  We eat the greens and then the “meat” of the turnip.

This year garden hopefully outdoes last year.  Improving on what we did well , and fixing what we did wrong.  We have already started the seeds in our greenhouse. Learning that we need more insulation in our greenhouse…..  but the seeds are growing and we are anxious to get the garden beds ready.   Will be posting more about that in upcoming blogs.

 

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!

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.