Tiny House Homesteading

have the courage to dream

Category: Garden

Sunflowers and Mice

Last year I tried a few different things to get my sunflowers up and growing without the mice eating them every time they came out of the ground. You can read about some of my attempts here.

This year I planted sunflowers again, and I knew that I needed to try something new. I knew that I was planting my sunflowers in an area where there are mice. However I wanted to plant them in this particular space because it was partially blocked from the harsh winds we get here. In actuality it is common to get winds that are 20-40mph quite often.

I have lots of sunflower seeds and lots of determination, so I decided to go ahead and plant the seeds in the area that I knew had problems with mice. I also want to add that I have been told that if I can get the plants big enough then the mice won’t bother them anymore. So my solution only needed to protect the plants temporarily.

I used cans to temporarily protect the sunflower plants while they were little.

When I first planted the sunflowers I planted 25 seeds and I had 3 metal cans that I put around some of the seeds. I cut the top and bottom off the cans and stuck them about 1/2 inch into the dirt to provide a barrier between the mice and the sunflowers. Those cans protected the seeds as they grew. However I still had quite a few seeds that I had planted that weren’t protected by the cans. As I saw more of the plants break through the soil, I added cans around those plants to protect them.

 

Unfortunately the mice did discover where I was planting the sunflowers, and we found evidence of seeds they dug up and ate. The good news is that they didn’t touch the plants that were in the cans. I did want more sunflowers though, so I decided to plant seeds one more time. This time I again put the cans where the seeds were instead of waiting for them to grow to the surface to add cans. I am happy to report that the cans seem to be protecting these sunflowers from the mice until they can get big enough for the mice to ignore them.

I got this idea when some friends of mine told me they they knew a lady who used this method to protect her plants from the strong wind we get while the plants were still young and through spring which is an especially windy season for us. So although I used this method to protect from mice, it has also been used to protect young plants temporarily from strong winds.

 

My Green Thumb

Many years ago I planted my first garden. It was a complete failure.  Then I planted my second garden. FAIL! A few years past and I tried again, fail. I can’t grow anything I resigned.  I have a black thumb not a green thumb I would declare, and I wasn’t alone. I ran into a lot of people who had resigned themselves to the title of “having a black thumb.”

Ironically, when we moved to the desert where the ground was clay and only the toughest plants survive I finally found my green thumb.

What I discovered, however, was that I had failed before because I was treating my plants like objects and not like the living organisms that they are. If I took care of my children, the way I did my plants in the beginning, they would have died too. I had the attitude that if I put plants in the ground and watered them then that was enough. I think I was just a little lazy.  Every time I hear people talk about someone who has a green thumb they talk about how much they love to spend time in the yard or the garden, and that is actually the secret.

 

Plants are living. They aren’t objects.  They need a good home, food, and water. Plus they need to be checked on often to make sure they are okay. You have to keep them safe from danger. They are subject to predators,  freezing,  baking, and wind. If they get sick or diseases you need to nourish them back to good health. Plants need us to check on them daily to see how they are doing and to take care of them.

I found my green thumb when I learned that green thumbs aren’t accidental,  they are earned. Plants aren’t objects, they are living and need to be taken care of. Neglect is the biggest enemy. I still have a lot to learn, and I still lose plants. However now I spend more time with them, and I have a better success rate. How did I get my green thumb? I feel in love with my garden.

Summer Garden Challenge 2017

DAY 1

Today we planted 9 zucchini seeds, 7 raspberry plants , and 1 oregano plant.

Oregano

Raspberry

DAY 2

Today I planted 15 green beans around the base of my plum tree since green beans are nitrogen fixing plants.

DAY 3

Today I planted some green onion roots. In the spring and summer when we buy green onions from the store we leave the root and replant it to regrow it for future meals.

Green Onion Roots Planted Today and Last Week

Green Onions Roots After A Couple Weeks Growth. These Were Planted 3 Weeks Ago.

‍DAY 4

I planted 3 more green beans a space next to the other green beans. I am not sure why there isn’t any there yet but hopefully there will be some growing there soon.

I also planted cilantro in a new location.  We planted them twice before in a location where they didn’t grow. I still had some seeds so I tried a third time in a new location and this time I hope they grow. We love cilantro!

DAY 5

We had fried rice for dinner again tonight! That means that I was able to plant some more green onions.

DAY 6

Today was a very windy day. However we finally got our strawberry plants in the mail, so when the wind died down just before sunset we planted 80 strawberry plants.  The soil was already prepped, so it was fairly easy to plant them even though it was quickly getting dark.  I ordered these bare root through the mail so I am really hoping that they do well.

DAY 7

Today landed on our Sabbath so we took a rest from our labors.

DAY 8

Today was a super windy day. We had sustained winds around 30 mph for most of the day, so instead of digging in the dirt we built a planter.

Day 9
Summer Garden Challenge
We planted 14 comfrey root cuttings today!
They come about and inch long and should come up in 5 to 6 weeks.
110 more plants/seeds to go.

Day 10
Summer garden challenge
300 plants or seeds in 30 days.
My sister sent me some sunflower seeds, so today I planted 25 sunflower seeds. I will probably plant more later because the mice LOVE baby sunflower plants.
85 more to go.

Days 11 through 15

311 seeds/plants in 15 days.
I had to take a couple days off my challenge to get some other projects finished, however I was able to meet my 300 plant challenge today.
8 cantaloupe
18 cucumbers
4 pumpkin
8 squash
14 watermelon
9 corn
30 beets
I really hope these seeds grow. They are all non-GMO and open pollinated.
This is not the end of our planting season, just the end of this challenge. I also had a very special helper today who loves to plant seeds.

Summer Garden Challenge

‎Hi everyone! This is our summer garden challenge. I wanted to encourage everyone to plant something this season. Some of you have already been planting and others haven’t started yet because you have been waiting for Memorial Day to come (and possibly go). Well even though it isn’t here yet, I have been planting what I could and I am ready to start my summer garden challenge for this year.

Okay here it is: My challenge to myself is to plant 300 plants or seeds in 30 days. My challenge will officially start May 8 and end ‎June 6. As always I would be super exciting to have all of my readers get outside and plant something and then tell me about it. What did you plant? Was it something you have planted before? Is it something new? Is it an annual or a perennial? I am super excited to hear from everyone!

House Poor

I have always heard the term house poor in reference to buying or renting a house that was too expensive.  Today I realize that you can live in a tiny house and be house poor,  at least that is how we are.

Let me explain!  Going back to the basics is expensive.  If you want to live off the land and the land isn’t ready for you,  then you have to get it ready.  For us that meant not only building our tiny house with additions for our growing family,  but adding nutrients to the soil for our garden, planting any and all trees that we want (our 36 acres had virtually no trees), and adding lots and lots of fencing to accommodate our animals that we are raising.

Our tiny house Homestead is one project followed by another and another.  At any given time we usually have at least two different projects going and our projects eat up our time and our money.  Oh the plan is to become self-reliant and debt free,  but the journey to self-reliance and debt freedom is years long and full of projects that take all our money and our time.

One example is our livestock.  To being with we love our goats and our chickens and hope to add one to three cows next year.  Our farm animals contribute to our family food,  but we have to feed and house them.

When we decided to raise goats we knew that the continual cost of feeding our goats was a cost that we wanted to eliminate as soon as we could.  To this end we have worked this year building two different paddocks for our goats which are full of tasty weeds for them to eat. By the end of the year we hope to have an addition 3 paddocks fenced in for them to graze on with one to two more to be built next year.    On our 36 areas we  have lot of weeds for them to eat, but very little of it is fenced in,  and a lot of it is over grazed by the cattle that roam free range on our land and the neighboring land.  I’m not mad at the cows, but for us to reclaim our land for the use of our own animals we have to fence it in.  So slowly we have been working on fencing in paddocks for our goats to graze in.

The Homestead is full of projects like that which eat up all our finances every month.  Another example is our perennial garden.  We decided years ago to plant a perennial garden that would grow year after year and produce food for our family.  This year we fenced in an area and started planting perennial plants.  Not only do we have to amend the soil but we also had to purchase all of our plants.  Many of our plants didn’t make it through the first summer.  We bought several plants through the mail which arrived dormant and none of those survived.  We then added plants from the nursery and some trees that we purchased from a local farmers market.  Next year we will add more plants,  but it will be years before we see fruit and berries from our plants.  Our annual garden does produce yummy vegetables that we eat every year,  but we have dogs,  rabbits,  and mice (in addition to insects)  that are a continual problem there.

As we live here on our Homestead our list of projects that we have finished grows,  but our list of projects that we need to do also grows, and thus we always seem to find ourselves house (and homestead)  poor.

Our journey to being debt free and self-reliant was never going to be a short one.  We always new that the journey would take years,  but we keep our long term goals in mind as we make short term sacrifices to get there.

 

 

Perennial Plants

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Bare root plants

I have decided that I am not in love with the idea and practicality of dormant plants. Okay they are less expensive, but especially in a short growing season like I have, I just don’t like the ideas of wasting a lot of that season trying to bring plants out of dormancy (is that a word). What I had shipped to me were nothing more than twigs. I recognize that if could take years to have my bushes up to the strength that I would like to see in my perennial garden, and I just don’t want to wait an entire season to find out if the twings that I got are going to survive. On top of that there are at least have a dozen things that I could be doing wrong on my end since I got them, any of which could end with my plants failing to live or thrive. My current solution is to go to my plan B. Plan B is to purchase my plants from the local nursery. One of the reasons that I didn’t start with plan Bis that I wanted to at least try the mail option. The second reason is that my local nursery is about an hour away from my home and since buying them at the nursery is more expensive that would me dividing up the purchases between multiple paychecks and making multiple visits. However it looks like I may be doing just that anyways. Today I am going to visit the nursery and see what options they have there and make a plan for future purchases of plants that will go into my garden.

The last problem that I have is that the nursery itself isn’t guaranteed to have what I want when I am actually ready to purchase it, but I am going to go look today and find out what they do have and what options I might have if things are ideal.

So my plans are as follows:

Step 1 Enclose garden with fencing that will keep out the animals.

Step 2 Plant the dormant plants that purchased online.

Step 3 Water and watch the plants.

Step 4 Purchase plants from the nursery and replace the plants I ordered online.

Note: If we see growth from the online dormant plants we won’t replace them, but space inside the fenced in garden is limited and valuable. If we purchase plants from the nursery to replace the dormant twigs we are attempting to grow inside the garden we will probably move the twigs to a new location and keep watering them, however once removed from the fenced in garden their chance of survival will decrease.

I am hoping that I can afford to buy 2-3 plants a paycheck, but since we also have other goals we are working on this might be difficult.

 

Perennial garden

Today we added 7 twigs to our perennial garden . We are really hoping that these twigs take root in the soil and grow into productive perennial bushes full of berries in the next few years. As I plant these dormant twigs that are supposed to become berry bushes someday my mind is full of everything that we ar up against. To begin with we have almost pure clay soil, so we are adding sand and goat manure to the soil to break it up and enrich it. Second, I don’t really know what Iam doing, so I hope that as I plant them I am doing the right things. Third we hope first that the dogs don’t dig them up, second that the goats don’t get to them when we aren’t looking, third that the rabbits don’t eat them and fourth that the rats don’t eat them. I know thats asking a lot; especially since we don’t have a fence up around our perennial garden. I am also hoping that we get the fence up soon to help keep some of the animals out of the garden.  However like everything we do out here we have to have courage to move forward and to try. We want a homestead that has plants and trees everywhere, but with clay soil and rabbits and rats everywhere its definitely and challenge and a lot of work. The reality is that if we wanted property with fertile soile, we couldn’t afford it. What we could afford was this piece of desert. So we are buying this piece of desert and doing all we can to tun it into our little oasis. I think all of us have things in our lives that require a lot of hard work to become fruitful, but if we are willing to work hard we can one day see the fuit of our labors. We do have to realize that not all projects will produce fruit. In fact lots stay barren and aren’t poductive, but we choose to dream and to keep trying. I just don’t want to give up at this point. Even though we are three years into this, we really have just started, and have a lot more to do before we can truely know what kind of a homestead we can have with some dedication and hard work.

Please share what dreams  you are working on.  Continue reading