I have many new goals I want to achieve this year in the garden, around the homestead and as a blogger which I thought I would share with you so you know what is likely to be coming up this year on the blog and to inspire you to set some homesteading goals.
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I’m not going to say these are resolutions mostly, because I never seem to stick with those, especially ones like I will lose 50 lbs this year…last year…Oh shi…
It’s been a rough week at work; I think the shortest day I worked was 10 hours then my commute home for over an hour. I’ve been sick to the point I nearly passed out at work and my husband’s dog Bubba is having more bad days than good and a very tough decision needs to be made.
Amongst all of the crazy, it has been good to start more seeds, collect the eggs and see the dogs frolic in the snow. During these periods my mind wandered to the homesteading goals of this year.
I have many goals in the garden, around the homestead and as a blogger, take a look and find out more.
Have you noticed how people just don’t really talk anymore? It’s all done via email or text. As a blogger in the downtime from my 7:30-maybe-8-to-whenever-I-eventually-leave-the-office work, I try to connect with others in a similar field.
My first blogging goal of 2017 is to comment more on other blogs I love to read. Commenting in this niche doesn’t seem to happen much, even the big Homesteading Blogs don’t seem to have many comments on them and I want to support the homesteading blogging community where I can.
My second and last blogging goal is to get to grips with design aspects of blogging, maybe learn a bit more about coding!
The garden, Spring 2016.
This year’s biggest gardening goal is to be able to sustain my family and some friends in veggies. I always try to grow something new. This year’s new plants will be melons, shiso and orach. I’m also growing many new varieties of favorites to experiment with.
I got some seeds delivered this week which totally made my day from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. This is the first time I’ve tried them but I’ve heard lots of good things so fingers crossed! When looking at seeds to try I usually end up with hundreds in the cart until I get my family around the computer and ask “Which looks like the one you want to try?” I thought I would share some of the reasoning behind why I bought the varieties I did too:
- Spinach Galilee – a heat tolerant spinach which I chose to resist bolting in the hot Utah summers.
- Pea Lincoln – I wanted a high yielding pea to get growing early in the season and before the hard frosts. I love split pea soup and the husband had the idea of preserving the peas for storage and future delicious soups and stews.
- Kale Red Russian – mostly growing this for the Cluckers this year but I do enjoy kale in soup or as a side. One of my friends promises to show me how to make kale chips in the dehydrator this year too!
- Melon Tigger – I’ve never grown melon before and I’m excited to try this yellow-orange tiger stripe variety with small 1 lb fruits expected. I plan on growing this one up a trellis or archway that my husband doesn’t know he’s going to be building until he sees me with the nail gun and mis-cut wood….unless he’s reading this, in which case…..hey ManBear please can you help me build an arch?
- Squash Table Queen -a deliciously versatile acorn squash which is amazing roasted with garlic, rosemary, olive oil and red pepper flakes…mmmmm
- Cucumber Monika – some friends of ours made the most amazing dill pickles I have EVER had. The whole family were fighting for them, including the dogs. The husband promised we would grow pickling cukes and so we shall; in fact we’ll be growing 3 different varieties!
- Snow Pea Carouby De Maussane – a beautiful flowered variety which comes from the south of France. I hope that the showy flowers will attract the local bees and keep the neighbors happy!
- Scorzonera Duplex Russian Giant – I have wanted to try this root vegetable for a long time. It is a popular old fashioned vegetable in Europe with a delicate flavor.
- Melon Bidwell Casaba – this may be a bad move on my part since reading the seed packet indicates that the melons can get up to 16 lbs! We’ll see how it turns out later this year!
- Corn Painted Mountain – high altitude crop is ideal for where I live. The beautiful colors of this corn make it great for autumn decorations but it is also good for eating fresh, roasted or ground.
- Brussels Sprouts Red Robin – I detest sprouts, they are my least favorite vegetable on the planet but are beloved by my beloved so I’ll be sowing 3 varieties of Brussels Sprouts in late summer for winter harvests. This is a rather lovely red variety to try and I remain optimistic that these don’t taste like sulfurous hell fire in a bad cabbage.
- Broccoli Romanesco Italia – I have always wanted to grow a fancy broccoli or calabrese and this year I shall!
- Squash Ute Indian – a native squash to the Southwestern US and is a green-grey turban type of squash that I’m excited to grow in Utah.
- Cucumber Boston Pickling – another destined to become dill pickles!
- Kale Blue Curled Scotch – when harvested and blanched this is a wonderful sweet kale. Sparky likes to eat this kale too!
- Brussels Sprouts Long Island Improved – urgh, more sprouts
- Salsify Mammoth Sandwich Island – a very old European vegetable which is reputed to have an oyster-like taste.
With my order the kind folks at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds sent 3 free seed packets of cilantro (coriander to us Brits), Tomato Black Vernissage and Carrot Cosmic Purple.
I also have a huge order of stuff from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply too:
- Rosemary – great for bees and pairs well with all the squash I’m growing, did you also know you can make beer with it?
- Celeriac Prinz – I have tried repeatedly to grow celeriac or celery root but have not had much success, hopefully this year I will nail it!
- Carrot Kuroda – the family like “normal carrots” read just plain ol’ orange ones and these looked to be a good all-round carrot for cooking and fresh.
- Leek American Flag – I love leeks. Leeks are one of those quintessential winter veggies in England and I have fond memories of digging leeks out the allotment on Christmas day for dinner. Not sure how they will manage in Utah, right now I have nearly 3 feet of snow on the garden!
- Corn Glass Gem – the moment I laid eyes on this beautiful pastel stained glass corn I wanted to grow it! It is like looking in the glass counters at Tiffany’s just in vegetable form.
- Braising Greens blend – I’m hoping this is a great way to get more greens into the family and looking for a bunch of recipes I can try I also wanted fodder for the Cluckers.
- Garden mix lettuce blend – because only one type of lettuce in a salad sucks.
- Summer bibb lettuce blend – ManBear loves bibb lettuce so this will be a nice surprise.
- Tricolored Romaine mix lettuce – this one just looked cool and the inevitable summer diet plan will be salad day in and day out so it’s worth having lots of different lettuces and salad leaves to pretend that there’s a variety to the salad based meals.
- Gourmet mix lettuce – how much lettuce do we need?!
- Bell Pepper Rainbow Bell – ManBear said he wanted lots of peppers so I obliged with a kaleidoscope of colors.
- Summer Squash Golden Scallopini – a yellow patty pan type of squash that is unbelievably delicious in linguini pasta dishes or in baked pasta dishes.
- Basil – grown as a companion on the 24 tomato plants we already have growing (yup, 24 plants already!) plus I love pesto and would love to can my own this year.
- Holy Basil – I just wanted this for my herb garden!
- Comfrey – the organic gardener’s friend! Add to the compost heap as an activator, make a liquid fertilizer with it, do as the permaculture gardeners and chop it and use it as a mulch. The bloody neighborhood moggies used my herb garden as a public bathroom last year ruining my little comfrey plants which has just started to get the hang of this whole growing malarky.
- Parsley Moss Curled – this is parsley to me; the stuff you put in white sauce with fish or eat if you have a tummy upset.
- Sage – ummm sage and onion stuffing?
- Marjoram- I use this herb quite a lot in cooking like in Lancashire Hotpot or English stews. If it flowers it brings in the bees and hoverflies.
- Spinach Verdil – I think spinach is probably the most versatile leafy green veg. We eat a lot of it so this year, I get to grow it!
- Orach Red – my new veg for 2017! I know nothing about this other than you can eat it so this could be a steep learning curve.
- Spinach Bloomsdale – if I said I was trialling a few to find the best one to grow here would you believe that? Rather than I didn’t realize we already have 2 varieties already?
- Jerusalem Artichoke – also known as sunchoke or fartychoke, seriously these badboys are amazing roasted but oh man avoid open flames and sources of ignition! I love these but they can be invasive so in a pot they go!
- Blueberry Chandler, Emerald, Misty, Reka 3.5″ – ManBear is on this whole polyphenol kick which apparently means he’s eating a ton of berries. I got a few varieties to give berries throughout the season.
- Loganberry – I’ve never had these before and this was voted in by the family to try.
- Winter Squash Blue Hubbard – your cupboard will never be bare with these squashes! I plan on roasting these and making soup.
- Lemon Balm – wonderfully calming, the scent of lemon balm is needed very liberally in my car and office. I did find a recipe using it in ice cream which I quite fancy trying. Lemon balm is a member of the mint family and it can take over. Hopefully the chickens can eat this one too!
- Celery Tall Utah – fingers crossed, if the celeriac fails then I’ll have some celery! I used to eat celery fresh but now I only eat it in stews, soups or add it to a stock. I did branch out and add it to spaghetti bolognese, it was good!
- Black Currant Consort – I bought currants last year, I adore the tart burst of flavor and these make great popsicles (lollipops), sorbet, ice cream, smoothies……
- Globe Artichoke Imperial Star – the artichoke is a structural beauty in the garden and could be combined with flowers to create edible landscaping without it being too noticeable, maybe. A glorious perennial in the garden this will return year after year.
- Strawberry Seascape – these sounded delicious and my strawberries last year were not successful, partly because Bubba kept pulling up the plants and eating them.
Ahh puppy dog, you had a good run of it…
- Raspberry Willamette, Fall Gold – the fresh burst of a juicy raspberry is tough to beat in summer and I’m rather fond of raspberry jam in a Victoria Sponge Cake (with a pot of good tea of course!). Raspberries don’t travel well and are very expensive at the grocery store. Raspberries are easy to grow and propagate and make a great liquor when steeped in vodka!
- Blackberry Navajo, Triple Crown (thornless) – I love blackberries so much! I wanted to remember my childhood by picking giant juicy blackberries in late summer.
- Boysenberry – a hybrid or cross between a raspberry and blackberry which I have not tried before so this is an experiment!
- Garlic California Late White, Elephant – I bought some AMAZING garlic from the farmer’s market a couple of years ago and was taken aback by the variety and the taste. Whilst garlic is best planted in fall, I’m going to store some of these to try and grow in fall and plant some in spring too.
- Lavender – beloved by butterflies and bees and great to add in soaps, tea, and sachets to keep moths away from my huge fabric stash.
- Shallots French Red – these go great in a pot roast, chutney or caramelized with some goat cheese. I’ve not grown shallots in a long time and I’m hopeful they will do well in my sandy soil.
- Onion Yellow Rock – yellow onions are super versatile in the kitchen and my sandy soil means they grow well.
- Beetroot Five Color Rainbow – beets are soooo good for you, especially if you live at higher altitudes. I love beets, the family, not so much. I roast them, add them in pasta sauce, pickle them and more. Plus the Cluckers like them.
- Winter Squash Kabocha Kurin – a long keeper squash with a nutty flavor. They’re meant to be pretty good for you with lots of nutrients and vitamins.
The vegetable garden itself is due for an overhaul. I have spent a lot of time designing and redesigning the garden space for ease of mowing around, harvesting and planting. ManBear wants it to be raised beds which I’m totally fine with but this will be a job for fall. There will be plenty of building materials needed for the project and lots of perennial plants to move too…like trees, again.
Last year, we had to move the apple tree because it was on the gas-line. It was not an easy job!
The parking strip/hell strip/was-once-a-grass-verge-now-spawns-evil-goatheads-which-hurt-my-furry-babies is getting a butterfly and bee friendly makeover this year with some Utah native plants and pretty grasses. It needs to be zero maintenance because once the vinyl fence goes up, I will forget about it! I also wanted to make some super cute bug hotels to put up in there too but then questioned if they would get destroyed.
The Cluckers are not overly happy in the run. We’ve been having pecking and bullying issues probably due to being cooped up. I give the girls plenty of treats like swinging brassicas and scratch but I think the issue is space. A chicken forage garden around the coop is another project I would like to complete this year and I have plenty of ideas from rock-edged raised beds and brick paved pathways to a tall grassy meadow. Do you readers have any advice on chicken forage gardens? If you do please drop me a line or comment!
I need to fix my wormery and expand to a new one to be able to effectively compost all of the doggy dumplings left in the garden. I haven’t really been taking good care of my worm composter last year so this year, I want to get it right and have a thriving wormery.
Get more use out of my cold frame! I have neglected my cold frame (kind of like my wormery) but this year, I will turn it around to have early veggies!
Preserve more. With all of the herbs, veggies and fruit I plan on growing I need to preserve more to make it last throughout the year. I want to be able to save the very best, harvest at the peak of flavor and freshness and savor it in the long winter months ahead. Last year we put up a few cans of chutney and preserves, this year I want to can, dehydrate and even freeze dry to really get the most out of everything I have grown!
I’m not sure if I mentioned the lengths I need to go to for bees to meet the city ordinance but I need a body of water on the property of a 6 foot diameter, full 6 foot fencing and hive placement restrictions to be met before the city will issue me a license then I can get started with backyard bees on my homestead.
The homesteading goal for 2017 is to get those things in place so that 2018 will be the year of the bees…. I’m determined to pass the city inspection to get the city license for bees!
The new fence will also allow for the Cluckers to come out of the run and into a better run/pen in the garden. Chickens are a great resource and I want to use them as a chicken tractor around the yard and on the vegetable garden especially. Utah seems to have quite a few crickety grasshoppery locust thingummybobwotsits which the chickens love to squabble over in the run when I manage to catch them in plant pots. Letting them go through the garden at the end of the season would be better for them and great pest control in the garden.
The Cluckers will still need to be in a run to keep them safe from the Monochrome Menaces however.
I’m really really really hankering to plant up the backyard with a permaculture inspired design and grade the lot to make better use of water (and channel it away from the house) and reduce the lawn but that might be a bit of a longer goal!
Do you have similar goals? Do you have a winner of a chicken paddock or forage garden? If you do, I want to hear from you! Drop me a line in the comments or at the Misfit Gardening Community Forum, we would love to hear your ideas and tips.