I am not an off the grid homesteader by any stretch, but in the 16 years in the house, 6 apple trees, 2 Asian Pear trees, 3 peach trees (though only 1 survived), a plum, 8 blueberry bushes, thornless raspberries and thornless blackberries have been added. With this is the vegetable garden, growing potatoes, sweet potatoes, sugar snap peas, shelling peas, bush green beans, Pinto beans, cucumbers, 4 types of hot peppers, 4 types of tomatoes, Seminole pumpkins, and hopefully some corn. There is a grape vine, but for the second year in a row, something has gotten all of the grapes before they ripened for harvest. Last year I blamed the deer, but netted it this year and have found the chickens under the net, so I think they may be the culprits. The fields are surrounded with wineberries and wild blackberries. There is a coop with 13 mature hens. Though the berries don’t produce a lot, there are some to freeze for yogurt smoothies and enough wild berries to make a few jars of jam. The peach tree is full of ripening fruit, the apples and Asian pears also, though the deer keep them pruned fairly high.
Yesterday, the spring planted potatoes were dug and even after several meals worth having been dug around the edges, there were 46+ pounds of Kennebeck and Russet potatoes in varying size from slightly smaller than a golf ball to decent sized ones. The ones that are very small and the ones that were close enough to the surface to be greened with Solanine, will be replanted toward the end of the month for fall potatoes. The rest will be cured then packed in wood chips for storage. Most of the peas are already harvested and some frozen, but yesterday the harvest also provided more than 4 pounds of green beans to be processed into dilly beans or blanched and frozen for winter use. The second planting that was put in late last week are emerging, and there are still many beans developing on the first planting.
The chickens that went through two heat domes and three broodies, are back to providing a decent amount of eggs. Last night there were 11 from the 13 hens, so they will stay and produce until next year’s batch are raised and laying next spring. The molt in the late fall will halt production while they grow new feathers, and by then it will be cold enough that few eggs will be laid.
A fall seed order is being planned and ordered. With the little greenhouse purchased in early spring and the 12 foot fiberglass hoops that are currently holding up net over the blueberries, there will be two areas of protection for fall veggies to supplement the hydroponics that provide winter lettuce. Hopefully, the garden will continue to give until a hard freeze takes it out.
Now with the bees, in a year, we will have all the sweetener that will be needed for us. We don’t hunt, don’t care for wild game, don’t raise cattle, pigs, or meat chickens, so we will never be totally self sufficient, but the fruits, vegetables, eggs, and honey cut the grocery bill, especially with prices rising. With the Farmer’s Market, I can get whatever meat is needed as well as cornmeal, oatmeal, and whole wheat flour, cheese, and any breads I don’t want to bake. This keeps most of our groceries local, keeping me busy, and helping support the local farms. In the fall, when the You Pick blueberry farm near us opens, more berries will be added to the freezer for muffins and smoothies. Even the milk for the yogurt comes from a local dairy, packed in returnable glass bottles.
Today, the potatoes will be spread to cure, the beans processed for later use, and clean up of the dusty footprints from someone with very high arches that chose to dig in sandals last night.