January Homestead Update and Planning

All kinds of fun abound here at the Walbacz homestead!

I started this post last week, couch-ridden with the worst stomach bug I’ve had since I was a kid (thanks, having my own kid!). We’ve all since mostly recovered, but I was taking it easy in all respects, including updates here.

Secondly, snowwwww! We were making sure we had all we needed to hole up before the big winter storm hit us over the weekend.

Thankfully, we are well-stocked with dry goods, and for the past two years at least, we’ve been using January as a month to cook with only what we’ve got in storage.

Seeing as we have pounds of rice, beans, and flour, as well as plenty of flavorful things and canned goods (thanks, pantry prep!), I felt (and still feel) pretty good about being here for a bit. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if you have the space, and you have the resources, get your stocked pantry in order so you’re not scrambling for supplies last-minute.

But I’m not here to discuss that sort of prepping, because I’ve already done that in another post (yes, have it again). I’m here to talk about what we’ve got in store for our homestead for the glorious year of 2022!

Plant Beds

We’re finally doing something I’ve wanted to do since the beginning with our back vegetable garden: transitioning from rows to wider, fatter plots. This will, hopefully, accomplish many things, including:

  • allow us to plant in more fertile soil, since we’ll be using previously “unused” space between rows in combination with our cover-cropped areas
  • allow for better companion planting, which is difficult to do in narrow rows
  • make for a successful (fingers crossed!) Three Sisters bed

When we’ve done companion planting in our rows, we’ve had fewer pests and less need for the only pesticide we use (pyrethrin), since the herbs and veggies we plant together naturally keep particular bugs away. I’m hoping that having the plots will make this setup even more successful, pest-wise. I’m also hoping that, with being able to take Baby Homesteader outside, we’ll be able to weed more consistently.

We’ll also (finally!) be moving our strawberries from the front, crabgrass-infested plot to the side bed from last year. I want to taste a strawberry from our own garden, dangit.

I’m excited and very thankful for Past Me’s initiative in getting the cold-weather plant bed sheet mulched in the front yard this summer. What does this mean? During the cooler months, we can finally have our radishes, root crops, and greens started and going without having to wait for warm-weather plants to be cleared (e.g., copious squash vines), and can cover crop this bed during warmer months to keep it fallow.

Lastly, we’re creating a front pollinator bed in earnest, unlike my half-assed “cover-the-ground-with-tarp-and-see-what-happens” attempt last year. It was worth trying to see if laziness would win out, but I got literally one sunflower out of 75 seeds in that bed, so I’ll be working a bit harder to make this plot more, er, flowery.

Trees

Before any frosts hit (like, literally right before), we got a pecan tree and a pomegranate tree in the ground. Yes, you read that right – pomegranates in Zone 7! Apparently, this is a Russian variety that does well in our climate, so here’s hoping for some tasty fruits. We’re hoping to get a few more trees up front this spring, both for fruit and nuts, and for shade.

Chickens

Cold chickens being cold inside.

We’re hoping to add two or more new hens to the flock this year, so stay tuned for more quality chicken content. And more importantly, more eggs for us, our friendly neighborhood carpenter friend, and business.

What’s Planned for Planting

Mmm’kay, the exciting part, at least for me.

Future plant beds.

We’ll be adding a new row for our blackberries, in hopes of doubling our crop this year. Woohoo! More jam, scones, and blackberry tastiness for all, and enough for some friends and family to come pick, too.

The cold bed has the following planned:

  • parsnips
  • radishes (Easter egg variety, Sparkler, and black)
  • collards
  • mustard
  • kale
  • carrots
  • beets
  • spinach and various leafy greens

New back bed #1:

  • tomatoes (Cherokee Purple and Mr. Bill’s Big)
  • basil
  • parsley
  • marigolds

New back bed #2:

  • cucumbers (Marketmore 76)
  • borage
  • dill
  • marigolds

New back bed #3:

  • zucchini (Black Beauty)
  • pattypan squash
  • sunflowers (Teddy Bear, awww)

New back bed #4:

  • okra (Clemson Spineless and Mr. Bill’s Big)
  • daikon/radishes
  • basil
  • possibly cantaloupes
  • marigolds

New back bed #5:

  • bell peppers
  • hot peppers (poblano, habanero, jalapeno, banana)
  • cilantro
  • basil
  • borage

Three Sisters Plot (because it’s going to work this year):

  • corn (Golden Bantam)
  • candy roaster squash
  • butternut squash
  • peas
  • possibly cantaloupes (I haven’t decided where they’re going yet)

Side bed #1:

  • asparagussssssss, asparagussssss

Side bed #2:

  • strawberries
  • possibly borage. I think I need a post about borage now.

For various pollinator beds and plantings throughout the garden, we have some nice flowers planned, including our usual moonflowers, as well as sunflowers, Scarlet Sage salvia, strawflower, and a local wildflower mix.

The porch garden will have our usual suspects, mostly kitchen herbs: basil, Thai basil, parsley, dill, oregano, mint, sage, and thyme. We’ll also probably get a cherry tomato, as well as lettuces, pac choi, arugula, and perhaps a surprise. Oh, and we hope to get some fruit on our container blueberry plant. I’ve been bringing the darned thing in just about every night since it flowered early in our stupid warm December, so here’s hoping that work pays off.

Other Additions and Things

What doesn’t fit in any of the above headings? These planned tasks!

  • Installing our bat box. We have it. We just haven’t put it up because, y’know, life with baby. And life in general. But it’s going up, dangit.
  • Mushroom logs! We’ve been growing mushrooms indoors using coffee grounds, but we’ve been wanting to try again with outdoor logs.
  • Hoop house. It’s been on the list for two years, and might be my birthday or Christmas present this year.
  • Make more mead. In the words of the venerable John Seymour, we’ll make sure we have plenty of homebrew.

Happy homesteading, y’all!

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