Homesteading, Modern Day Homestead, Modern Day Homesteading

To Grow is a Wonderful Thing

I’ve mentioned in a previous post about not knowing much about growing things. It’s a skillset we are trying to conquer (with many fails). Only in the last 6 years, or so, have I even tried to be adventurous enough to keep anything more than a jade plant alive (I killed it). Or rosemary (I’ve killed that, too). Or basil (you see where this is going).

I’d like to think that my zest for many things mirrors how I plant. I am gung-ho about it at first. I give too much love and attention and I end up overwatering or giving it too much sun. And then it dies from too much “love.” My husband does the opposite. It takes him a lot longer to get things going, but when he does, it’s lovely and flourishes. (Maybe that’s why we make a great team. We keep each other in check.) Over the years, I have learned to be a bit more patient and pace myself. I have also learned that where you plant has a deciding factor at your yielded efforts. What kind of pot (size, material, drainage ability), soil (clay, rocky, sandy, etc.), and where (direct sun in a window is hotter than direct sun outside) can determine the life of the things you are trying to… well… keep alive.

I can also be pretty lazy with my weeding efforts… okay, VERY lazy. But I love the satisfaction that comes with producing a final, edible product.

Here’s a noncomprehensive list of what we are growing this year:

  • Lavender – not sure the variety… (Did you know there are sooo many types?) We cut it down and use it in home made soap. They make very fragrant sachets, too. And I once made an aromatherapy neck wrap with rice and dried lavender as a Christmas present. It turned out well. I may make smaller ones in the future as hand warmers, etc.
  • Peaches – they are growing larger ever day. As this is my first ever harvest, I’ll let you know how they turn out! I am excited to use them in pies, jam, lemonade, and just to eat! I may even dry out some of the leaves and dehydrate some fruit pieces for tea! Oh do I loooove a cup of tea!
  • Buttercrunch lettuce – this is also a first for me. I think it will be fantastic (in theory) to go pick fresh lettuce for a sandwich or a salad. (I know, I’m a freak.)
  • Spinach – I grew this a few years ago. I usually pick it as it grows. It freezes ok. I like to use it when cooked in one of my favorite meals – ground beef, sweet potatoes, onions, spinach, cumin, salt, pepper, and garlic.
  • Kale – I want to dehydrate some of these and make some chips. Maybe self-sufficiency will also make me skinny? Haha. Not a chance! I will consume every piece of food grown with every fiber of my being!
  • Tomatoes – we have a mystery variety from our compost and a few organic seeds (Sioux) I found in the garage (I honestly didn’t think they’d grow as I have no idea how old they are). I love tomatoes any way! Caprese salad? Yes, please! Salsa??? If you think salsa is a snack, we are definitely best friends!
  • Peppers – not quite sure on the variety. But they will most definitely be consumed! Great with hummus. Great on salads. Great on tacos! Mmm… tacos! Great cut in half, baked with an egg, topped with cheese for a deliciously easy breakfast! A pepper is a staple in this house.
  • Mint – the easiest thing in the world to grow. And a tad invasive. It comes back every year. And it loves me. And I love it. Mint has so many uses beside a Julep and a Mojito! I put it in my lemonade for a refreshing zing. It pairs well with lamb. You can make tea out it! Chew on it for some fresh breath! I love it in ice cream. A cute garnish if we are getting fancy with our meals (we don’t). Use it to ward off pests. One day I will try my hand at making mint extract.
  • Blackberries – these were growing wild in our “pool” area. We have yet to eat one as the birds get to them first, but now that the area is cleaned out, maybe we will be better plant parents. Jam and syrup, I’m coming for you!
  • Grapes – can you say Concord? I went bike riding in Erie wine country a few Octobers ago and trespassed (alcohol makes me dumb and adventurous). On a whim, I wanted to know what a real Concord grape tasted like. Off the vine. I WAS HOOKED! Why don’t they sell these at the stores as a normal staple? Wine and jelly can’t have all the fun! My daughter is going to love these when she is older. We have a few years before they will produce fruit.
  • Spaghetti Squash – the best non-noodle, noodle!!! Great with pesto!
  • Strawberries – two words; strawberry soup. It’s deeeelicous! And a great treat, especially in the summer. I will post a recipe for these. Currently, our strawberry bushes are slooooow growing. I think they are too bunched and don’t have enough sprawling room. The soil may be too packed for them, too. We have a few different varieties to produce all summer. They are there. On the vine. Just little and not turning red like all my friend’s berries… I have a hunch that I am feeding an adorable chipmunk family. UPDATE: I am.
  • Yaupon – we have a schillings holly or a dwarf yaupon bush. I will do an entire post on this very soon. Yaupon is the only known native caffeinated plant in North America. How cool is that?!?!? I want to try my hand at some tea… with caffeine! I’ll be buzzing all over! Speaking of buzzing, hopefully next year, we’ll do some beekeeping! I kid you not!
  • Blueberries – my newest addition, I am the proud owner of two blueberry shrubs thanks to my darling husband! They have a few berries on them. It will take them years to yield copious amounts of fruit… if the birds don’t get to them first. We need to plant these in acidic soil soon. They were on sale- meaning they’ve been crammed in a pot too long.
  • Mystery vines – we have four mystery plants in our compost. We know they are vines. I could easily Google it, but I want to be surprised. I think they are pumpkins… pies anyone? Mmmmmm!

This does not include our house plants, succulents, bushes, flowers and trees; or the land across the ravine that, I am told, has a few apple trees. This also doesn’t include any plants I acquire between now and summer. I have not stopped at the local fruit market, yet to see what I can’t live without… like these bee friendly, wild daisies! One of my favorite flowers! 😉

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