Monday, May 7, 2012

HtH: House to Homestead

I'm starting a new segment in my blog called "House to Homestead".  In it I'll be featuring the little things... weekend projects, big projects... that we're going to be doing around the new house once we close and take possession of our new house this month.

It's a 2,000 square foot house situated on a third of an acre.  We are very close to a river that runs out to the gulf of Mexico.  The lawn itself has been mono-cropped to death... the soil is dead and mineral-like.  There's an ugly chain-link fence around the perimeter of the back yard, while the front yard remains open.  There are a few trees on the lot, but they are non-edible trees, and are thickly choked with Spanish moss.

Right now, while waiting for the paperwork and inspections to get done, I am trying to get my gardening plan worked out so that I can hit the ground running when we take possession.  I've already started seedlings in coir pots on the balcony, but I really wasn't prepared for how quickly they'd take off.

This is one week's growth.  What you're looking at is six cucumber plants, and two pea plants, started originally in my aerogarden seed-starting tray, but when I realized how large they were getting so quickly, I carefully separated the roots from the growing sponges and replanted in the coir pellet pots after three days.  If we don't close before June first, I think I might have an overgrowth problem, lol.

This is six bean plants and two more peas.  Bugs might have gotten to these, but since their brothers and sisters are growing like gangbusters, I might wait until we're in the house before I plant replacements.  It will stagger the harvest that way too.  And since our growing season is so VERY long, I'm not worried about freezing in the fall.

This is a tomato plant from LAST year.  It survived the winter on my balcony with absolutely no extra attention from me, and it is already growing one fruit.  That's probably all it will grow, but since the plant was so winter-hardy, I will try to save the seeds from this little gem and use them in next-year's garden.  I figure I'll be starting seeds indoors in January.

This is a square-foot planter from Simple Earth that I planted... hmmm.  I want to say I planted it in March.  It is supposed to be a single tomato plant surrounded by basil, but the day after I planted it and placed it on the balcony, it rained a LOT... and unfortunately my building maintenance crew has not cleaned the gutters since we've lived here, so a sheet of water poured directly into the planter before I noticed and went out to move it.  After the seeds came up and the true leaves began to show (so I could tell what was what) I redistributed the sprouts in the container, but I had to be really careful not to destroy the tiny roots.  Two tomatoes came up.  I should probably snip down the smaller one, to let the larger take over, but I haven't had the heart to do so yet.  They seem to be growing really slowly, and I'm not sure if that's a fault with the coir soil medium that came with the planter, or the fact that the seeds got sloshed and buried the day after they were planted.

The Christmas rosemary tree did not survive being indoors with us.  At one point, my daughter and I both noticed it was dry and both watered it on the same day. I think that and lack of light might have been what killed it, so we set up a watering plan and are keeping this new one outdoors.

I did not take a picture of my Bay laurel plant, but the original plant sent up a new shoot at the edge of the pot.  I waited until there was significant leaf growth and snipped the top of the shoot off to promote bushy growth.  I'll plant them close to the kitchen (shading my new workshop, perhaps?) when we get to the house.

As far as the vegetable garden, I am going to be following a plan from Starter Vegetable Gardens: 24 No-Fail Plans for Small Organic Gardens which I hope will contribute to my success.  You start small, and over the course of three years, increase the size of the garden.  I debated long and hard whether to go with the Easy Bag Garden, where you plant right into bags of organic soil instead of the intensive digging needed for regular yard dirt (especially with the dead stuff under our lawn at the moment) or go with a raised-bed system and try the Family Food Factory garden, which should supply a family of four with enough to eat for the year, with a continuous year-round growing cycle.

On the one hand, I am tired of eating genetically modified, crappy food from industrialized farming, and I want to feed my family as much organic produce as possible.  On the other hand, I know that I can be essentially lazy and/or hard on myself... I don't like doing things and failing at them.  Doing too much all at once seems like a recipe for failure, to me.  We have a good, locally grown produce farm that sells to the public, but they are really expensive, and last-year's drought  was very hard on their crops, and I noticed chinese garlic, california avocados, and other non-local produce for sale in their bins.  I just can't be assured that what they will offer will be the good stuff.

I think what I'll end up doing is going with the easy bag garden plan, try it for the three years, and then if I feel I can tackle the food factory, year-round growing plan, I'll try it then.  Now I just have to convince hubby to buy me a gazillion fruit trees, and I'll be set.  :D


  1. I'm super excited about your move and excited for this segment. Give me something to look forward to next year when I move myself.

    1. You can imagine we're pretty excited too! I can't wait to share the pictures of the new place with you, and the next two weeks are going to be torture before we close on this thing. :D

    2. PM me as many details as you feel up to. If I'm excited for you I know you're over the moon!