Category Archives: Garden

Woodchucks in garden

How to get rid of woodchucks in the garden

 
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Woodchucks are very destructive to a garden and very frustrating to a gardener.  A woodchuck moved into my garden in last year and I have been trying to reclaim my garden as my own ever since.  I was starting to think that I should just abandon the garden and start over in a new location.  Finally with the help of some experienced neighbors and persistence, I have reclaimed my garden.

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Fall Garden Tips

Tips for a successful fall garden

 

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At the end of this post is an opportunity that you won’t want to miss; winning some seeds from Bakers Creek Heirloom Seeds! 

Fall is my favorite season.  It’s no longer blazing hot and the leaves turn into their magical colors.  Have you ever considered growing a fall garden?  The temperatures are more moderate, most of the problematic bugs have gone and a lot of greens thrive in the cooler temperatures.  What’s not to love about that?

Starting your cool weather crops in the summer, whether transplanting seedlings started indoors or direct sowing, can be a challenge.  Some crops need to be started when the sun is still hot.  Those tender seedlings can wither in a hurry if not cared for and protected.

The effort of protecting your seedlings is well worth it!  A lot of cool weather crops taste so much better with the cool temperatures.  Plus going out and picking your own salad in October or November never gets old.  You don’t need a greenhouse to keep your garden going well into late fall. 

Baker Creek Fall Garden seed giveaway

 

What can you do to protect your fall garden?

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Grow Sweet Potatoes

Trick to growing sweet potatoes

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Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite things to grow in the garden.  Once planted, they are low maintenance until it’s time to harvest them. Their vines and flowers are beautiful!  But there is a trick to having more than just beautiful vines and flowers. 

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Hugelkultur Garden Beds

hugel2Homestead in the Holler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

 

One of the first things that I wanted to do when we moved to our homestead was to get a garden started.  It was the beginning of August, but I had dreams of a fall garden.  After attempting to dig a few small beds, I realized just how rocky and hard the soil was!  There is a lot of clay content in our soil, and a LOT of rocks.  I went ahead and planted a few odds and ends, which did grow and we got a few things out of the garden that fall.  But I knew that we could make it much better.

 

It was time to think about raised beds.  More specifically, hugelkultur beds.

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We’re still plugging away!

 

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Busy, busy, busy!  Whew, it has been quite a summer so far.  Sorry for the lack of updates.  We have had our heads down working and writing after a long, hot day hasn’t been our priority, I’m afraid.  So, what have we been up to?  Hmm, let’s see…

  • Re-roofing: we finally decided to re-roof the very sad roof on the old farm house.  It was in really bad shape and was quite leaky.  We replaced the asphalt shingles with painted metal.  It turned out to be a fairly large job, due to the pitch (9/12) and the modifications we made.  We were aware of one rotted spot that we had to cut out, but then found another spot that really needed some help.  Turns out it was really the result of an old dormer that wasn’t really useful any more, so we removed it.  It was interesting to look at all the layers of shingles and then wood shakes under that.  I even found one wooden shake that still had the label on it.  In removing the dormer, we found a cool collection of old bottles, including one for “swamp water”.  We also found evidence, in the form of old plastic tubs placed around the attic, that the dormer had been leaking for years.  I guess that’s one way to “fix” the problem.
This shows the sorry state of the roof we started with. The dormer shown is the source of the leaks.

This shows the sorry state of the roof we started  with. The dormer shown is the source of the leaks.

This shows the house roof nearly completed. The dormer has been removed and the metal is on though not trimmed.

This shows the house roof nearly completed. The dormer has been removed and the metal is on though not trimmed.

  • Re-roofing, take 2: most of the buildings on our farm really could use some roofing work.  One building was in pretty good shape, but really needed some help for the leaky old tin, so we ripped into this next.  As the rafters were really bowed and in bad shape, we ended up replacing all the rafters with new 2×8 framing.  This really transformed the building into something useful.  We still need to re-side the building to make it really good, since it currently has many places you could throw a (bob) cat through!
This sorry building was likely a chicken house at some point in its life. It was in bad shape; the roof was terrible and walls had rotted away in places. It is amazing it was still standing

This sorry building was likely a chicken house at some point in its life. It was in bad shape; the roof was terrible and walls had rotted away in places. It is amazing it was still standing

This picture shows the new metal roof that was installed. We ended up completely rebuilding the roof with new rafters since the old ones were undersized and in bad shape.

This picture shows the new metal roof that was installed. We ended up completely rebuilding the roof with new rafters since the old ones were undersized and in bad shape.

  • Gardening: Janelle has been very busy trying to keep up with a large garden this summer, between taking care of kids.  We are still learning plenty about the new climate, but overall the garden has been a great success.  We’re told it has been a weird year with far above average rain, so I guess we still need to experience a “normal” summer.
  • Broiler Chickens: We butchered broiler chickens the end of August. It is always pleasant to be past that chore and have the freezer stocked for the winter.  The broilers were a success this year, but next year should be better now that we have some infrastructure in place.  We used Salatin-style pens again and that was good, but I believe next year we will go back to a day-range model as it seemed that the birds really needed more space.
  • Grazing: Grazing is keeping us quite busy, given the number of animal species to move.  We are now grazing beef cattle, meat goats, meat sheep, dairy goats, and pigs.  It seems there is always some animal that needs to be moved.  As we move toward winter, the goal is to consolidate as much as possible to cut down on daily labor.
  • Planning house: We have decided to start building our house this fall.  After much thought, we finally decided to go with strawbale construction, using post and beam framing and straw as insulation (infill, not load bearing).  We are planning large overhangs and porches to prevent water issues.  Additionally, the outside will be finished in lime, which will help to keep the walls dry since lime finishes tend to draw moisture out.  The inside walls will be finished with a combination of natural plaster and drywall on some interior (non-straw) walls.
  • Guest Cabin: The house planning eventually turned into guest cabin as well.  This gives us a good opportunity to get some experience building with straw on a small scale rather than starting with a large project first.  This will be a two room tiny structure with just a bed and a bathroom, similar to a hotel room.

 

This picture shows the thickened-edge slab foundation for the guest cabin. The "toe-ups" are partially installed. These 4x4's will be used to hold the straw bales up out of the danger of water damage from a pipe leak or similar.

This picture shows the thickened-edge slab foundation for the guest cabin. The “toe-ups” are partially installed. These 4×4’s will be used to hold the straw bales up out of the danger of water damage from a pipe leak or similar.

  • Water: One big challenge on this farm is having water available in all pastures.  We are blessed with numerous existing ponds and running water in some areas, but we prefer to keep the animals out of the streams and ponds and pipe it to them instead.  This is an ongoing project that is going to take several years to complete, but we have started running some pipe.  At some point, we will rent an excavator and start getting at least some of it in the ground.  Wherever possible, we will make use of solar to pump out of ponds and gravity to deliver the water.
  • Shop Building: Since moving here, we have constantly missed the outbuildings we had at our last house.  Working on vehicles and other equipment on gravel or in the grass is really not very pleasant.  We will be building a simple pole barn structure to remedy this problem.  However, it has proven more difficult than expected to actually get someone to sign up for the work.  Any changes beyond the bone stock models they typically build seemed to cause great consternation.  At this point, we finally have a builder (a neighbor, yippee!) and are eager to get started, especially so we have a place to stack straw bales while building our house!  The next challenge here will be leveling a building site to get started with.  The best site we found is going to need about 4′ of cut and fill, so some more tractor time is in our future!

 

Fall Garden

With a late snow this spring in Colorado (on Mother’s Day) and then packing and moving for the majority of the summer, our garden just didn’t happen this year.  It’s a strange feeling to be a gardener with no garden.  Thankfully the last frost date in Missouri is around October 15, so I decided to try a fall garden.

squash

baby acorn squash

Our neighbors had some extra squash plants that they didn’t need, so they kindly gave us some (thanks Josh and Amber!).   We didn’t have the garden ready, so Travis decided to plant the squash in some old hay bales that we found in one of the barns.  The chickens found a few plants, but those that survived are doing well.  Hay bale gardening anyone?

chop

chop, chop, chop

There is a large garden plot right behind the farm house.  Unfortunately, the garden was full of weeds, so mowing and chopping down giant ragweed were in order.  I didn’t know ragweed could grow to be so tall, I felt like I was cutting down small trees!

I dug up a small garden, I didn’t go too crazy this time around, and discovered just how rocky this rocky soil is.  The rocks helped me with my decision to keep the garden small.  ha!  I added some compost to the soil and planted.  My little plants are doing well!  The kids have been checking the garden frequently to see what they can find to snitch.  I plan to  cover the garden beds with row cover to extend the season a bit longer.

peasEven though the garden is doing well, we plan to do things differently in the spring.  Over the winter, we plan to build hugelkultur beds, which are basically raised beds with a twist. We had success with hugelkultur beds in Colorado, even with the harsh gardening environment.  I can’t wait to see how they work here!  We will share zucchini.