Sunday, December 15, 2013

Getting Real with Homestead Gardening

     The very first thing we got up and running on our homestead was a garden. Early on, it was a challenge to reclaim the garden plot as weeds and bugs had taken over the fertile soils. We tilled and pulled, weeded and burned row upon row trying for success; it was a task! Before the soil is turned, there has to be a plan. Let's look at a few tried and true always on the list garden crops.

   If nothing else, grow greens. Rich in nutrients, antioxidants and minerals this crop is essential to good health and nutrition. I plot plenty of space and plant in succession to keep them going. Knowing my area's climate, our green varieties vary in season to beat the heat. Leaf and head lettuce, chard, kale, cabbages and collards are on the list for every garden planted.

   Easily grown, beans are a productive crop even when only a few plants are sown. We have tested both bush and vining varieties with success with both. I will say, the only beans we didn't have much luck with was wax beans; they just don't do well in my area. Green, rattlesnake, scarlette and turtle beans are regular guests in our homestead garden.

   While I find tomatoes a challenge, their versatility and vigor are a complement to so many dishes. My family isn't partial to the yellow varieties, but give them a beefsteak or cherry tomato and they are good to go. Even when we only had a little space, tomatoes had a spot.

   Fragrant, medicinal and full of nutrients- herbs are an area I constantly strive to learn more about. Early on we stuck to the basics, basil, rosemary, parsley, sage and thyme, but these days we grow every herb we can get our hands on! Once they reach a hearty size, we start harvesting and drying them in preparation for the intense summers that often destroy the tender plants.

   This list is quite simple and rather small it seems, but our early gardens were just that- simple and small. Little successes urged us on to bigger beds and expanded rows. We started small, but didn't stay that way long! Tomorrow, we take a look at the challenge of planning the garden to feed a family.

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