simple life, Uncategorized

Growing a Garden: From One Novice to Another

Sometimes you just can’t sleep, no matter how much you’d like to.

So today I think I’ll sit here, make myself an espresso and enjoy our silent house this afternoon as my baby, puppy, and husband all nap away.

 

This is our first planting season living in a house of our own with land of our own to till and to sow. We had simple plans for our first year. It was so so so tempting to jump right in and convert half of our backyard into a garden, but the husband (who tends to think more practically than I do) convinced me to settle on a 2’ by 10’ plot for our first year. The first day we dug our hands into the soil to plant our vegetable garden we thought we had an acre of land. Those seeds were so tiny compared to the vast (major exaggeration) amount of land before us.

The plan was simple – plant vegetables that we know we’d definitely eat: cucumbers, green beans, bell peppers, carrots, turnips, zucchini, tomatoes, and potatoes. We also planted basil, mint, dill, and cilantro in pots along the porch. Not bad for the first time around, right?

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Our turnips, carrots, and zucchini are growing great! Most of our turnips are nearing two inches in diameter, carrot greens are growing tall and the zucchini plants have begun to flower.

We’ve planted our potatoes in a box so they grow vertically. The vines are tall and we’ve planted nine seed potatoes, making us hopeful for a large crop.

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The cucumbers… well, they sprouted and, actually, that’s about all they did.

Of our green beans, six of the ten plants have grown and begun to weave around our rope trellis.

The bell peppers mimicked the cucumbers.

And now, finally, on our fourth attempt from seed, we have a tomato plant! It’s growing stronger each day and hopefully going to flower in the next couple weeks, yielding a late crop.

 

Now that we’re halfway through summer, Phill and I have been reflecting on our garden and it’s growth, or lack thereof in some plants’ cases (here’s looking at you, cucumber).

  1. Next summer we need to start our non-root vegetables indoors and much, much earlier than we did this year. Thankfully, both of our parents are growing peppers and cucumbers, so we have two additional sources for these vegetables this summer.
  2. We can use our “dead space” where there aren’t cucumbers or peppers and plant a late batch of basil (in one plot) and lettuce (in the other). Lettuce tends to grow better in cooler temperatures but hopefully, if we plant it in the back of our garden where it’s mostly shaded it will grow – even in the heat of summer. And more basil, because pesto. Do I really need to say more?
  3. We need to do more prep work with the soil next year. Our green beans are growing, but some of them are yellowing – a sign of nitrogen deficiency in the soil. We’ve been packing used coffee grounds around the roots weekly to try and compensate for the soil we’re using. Once we harvest this year’s crop, the plan is to add a thick layer of compost to our garden and mulch it heavily over winter. IMG_0506
  4. Speaking of winter, Phill and I are hoping to add in a fall crop of broccoli, garlic, and spinach. All of those are delicious and grow best in cool temps. Broccoli takes 60-80 days to mature, so if we plant our broccoli the in early August, it should be ready for us at the end of October, right around the time of our first frost. Spinach, which takes 35-45 days to mature, we can also plant in early August and get two full crops out before Jack Frost visits. Lastly, the garlic we can plant whenever; it will grow all winter long and be ready to harvest in July of next summer.

 

Ahh, next summer – I’m already dreaming of a garden three times the size of this year, full of our current crops plus sweet potatoes, butternut squash, asparagus, snap peas, cantaloupe, rhubarb, and pie pumpkins… and let’s be real, probably some more  – after all, I do have a few months to keep adding to my list.

 

This is the life, y’all.

The life the gives purpose to the summer heat and teaches you to lovingly embrace a good rainfall. The life that will encourage my children to eat fresh foods, get their hands dirty, and explore the outdoors. The life that inspires us to dream big, baby!

And in the midst of those dreams there is lettuce and basil to plant, sweet potato puree to clean off my baby’s face, and dinner to thaw.

 

Until next time, may your home and heart be full.

 

 

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simple life, Uncategorized

For Love of Cloth

Our son was born seven months ago and he is the happiest baby on the block – well, the only baby on the block, but still. Just look at this adorableness!

 
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 We have been joyfully diapering this little monkey with cloth diapers for the last seven months, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way!

To live in the homesteading mindset means to live modestly and to also be stewards of our planet. When you find a way to frugally be stewards of the earth, it’s a double victory! Cue cloth diapers.

The initial reason my husband and I fell in love with the idea of cloth diapers was their cost – or rather, lack of cost. Cloth diapers are a one time purchase, unlike disposables that we would have had to buy over and over again. Research says the average cost of (disposable) diapering a child through potty training is around $2,000! That’s a crazy amount of money to throw away, literally.

We were blessed to be given two sets of cloth diapers as baby shower gifts, and we have spent an additional $55 out of pocket for diapers and cloth wipes. That’s right. Only fifty-five dollars! We purchased additional inserts for one of the diaper sets we were given and bought an additional diaper set at a used cloth diaper sale, where we got seven diapers with inserts for $10. Score!

That means we’ve spent three percent of the average cost compared to disposables.

Okay to be fair, let’s add in the cost of the two sets of diapers we were given – an additional $60 and $100. Our new total is $215. Compared to $2,000. And we can continue to use these diapers as our family continues to grow.

Three cheers for sustainable living!

Another reason to love cloth diapers is that they contain everything. Even now that my baby is starting to eat solid foods and his poo is quite explosive, his cloth diapers always catch it all without leaking onto his clothing. I’ve had a few major blowouts and all of them have been in disposable diapers. My worst experience with leaking diapers was when our little guy was just over a month old. It was my first time taking him out in the world by myself, so I packed him in a disposable diaper thinking that would be easiest to handle. Oh Lord, was I wrong. The speaker had just begun and baby man was laying across my lap when all of a sudden – blow out. The worst part? My little guy was wearing separate shirt and pants, not a onesie. That means his poop-splosion landed all over me. I then had to walk from the front of the hall, mid-speech, covered in newborn poo. Talk about a mess!

Given all the messiness of childrearing, cloth diapers are (surprisingly) easy to maintain and care for. Sure, you can just throw away disposable diapers, but then they sit and rot and stink for years and year and years. Talk about an expensive way to litter our planet! To care for the cloth diapers I rinse, wash, and hang ‘em up. Just like all my other laundry. And if you’ve ever been around a teething baby (much like my little man), you know they soak through three outfits a day (at least) with drool. And really, what’s an extra load of laundry?

All else aside, the main reason I love cloth diapers is that they are made of, well, cloth. I know exactly what my diapers are made of and I can rest easy knowing there aren’t any plastics or chemicals surrounding my sweet baby’s bottom. Why expose my baby to harsh chemicals if I don’t need to? Cloth is healthier for the little guy, and more comfortable.

Have you ever thrown your towel in the dryer before taking a shower? I love that feeling of wrapping thick, warm, fresh-scented cotton around me after freshening up. It’s glorious! The same thing goes for my little baby man when I change is diaper and wrap him up in some freshly laundered love.

Hmmm, warm thoughts.

 

For our family, cloth diapering was a no-brainer. It’s the all-natural way to care for my little one and it keeps me focused on living a simple life. And there’s something about seeing cloth diapers drying on a clothesline that makes you forget about the surrounding hustle and bustle.

 

For the love of cloth, may your hearts – and not your diapers – be full.  

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Our Time

Doesn’t a fresh snow just warm your heart? There’s nothing I love more than waking up to see a fresh inch or two of snow blanketing the world around us. There’s something magical about the snow – something that brings me back to a sense of childlike wonder and awe.

This morning, I woke to find a fresh inch covering the outside world.

I stood, wrapped in a blanket, sipping fresh coffee in the kitchen while watching our dog playfully romp around the yard. The aroma of newly baked bread filled my soul and the sounds of my son cooing at his crib mobile filled my heart. Moments like this are just want I need – a reminder to stop being busy and breathe deeply in the world around me.

We had anticipated planting the beginnings of our garden this weekend, but the snow has forced us to postpone.  I should note, it’s the middle of March – and two days ago we were sporting shorts and 70 degree weather. Oh, Missouri.

It’s important to remember that everything has it’s time – just as the snow reminded me this morning. This is going to be our first planting season owning our own property. We’ve been dreaming and anticipating the first time we could dig out a small patch to be our garden in our yard. We’ve mapped out what plants to grow, when we need to start the seeds, when to transplant, and when to harvest. We’re a bit eager, to say the least.

A few months after we were married, we came across a beautiful house on a little over seven acres. The house had a huge kitchen and a wood burning stove in the basement. The land was mostly flat and cleared. It was ready for us. There was room for a potager garden and rows of fruit trees. A place to build a chicken coop and to plant a rose garden. We could have moved right in and begun the homesteading life we’ve been talking about.

But it wasn’t our time.  We’d been married only a few months and were mid-lease on an apartment. Our daily work commute and our bank account weren’t ready for us to start a farm.

I like to sit and wonder – how would our lives be different if we’d bought that land right away? Would we be happy there?

And then I remember, it wasn’t our time, our place.

This white cabinet filled kitchen. This split level, three bedroom, quarter acre lot. This wintery morning. This warm cup of coffee. This is our home, our moment, our time. And we are going to live in each moment and in each memory that we make here. We are meant to be here.

And my heart is full, here in our home(stead).

simple life, Uncategorized

Be Full

Life is meant to be full.

Full of people, stories, good food, dreams, love.

We have big dreams here in our little home. We dream of filling our plates (and our bellies) with fresh picked produce from our backyard. We dream of raising our son to appreciate all the earth can give us. We dream of simple, sustainable living. We dream of walking humbly with our God. We dream of buying more land to fill with children, animals, gardens, and memories. We dream of living a full life, with a heart fully invested in all we do.

Dreams have to start somewhere, and we plan on letting our dreams run free – here in our suburban home on a quarter acre. We are homesteading with full hearts.

Will you join us?