Welcome to Mama Homesteader!

Follow my family in year 3 of our homesteading journey. Along the way we try to answer the question ," What can one small family do to change their lives on little more than 1/10th of an acre?" Let's Find Out!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Quick Spring Update

  Just a quick spring update! Mother nature certainly has us on our toes the last few days, with snow predicted over the last two nights and tonight. Thankfully I've been able to do a quick and dirty frost cover for Kiddo's Strawberry bed using old sheets and bags of sand. Plenty of old totes have made short work of covering the Elderberry, Honeyberry, Currant, and Gooseberry bushes.And For the most part I've left our fall planted Black Raspberry bushes to their own devices. Since they are a wild variety, they are well suited to the environment. Last fall, I planted a dozen canes across the back fence, and this spring all twelve have started growing.

Gooseberry start when it was first planted
Newly planted strawberry beds behind DH and Kiddo!

Indoor seedlings are doing well. Lately when temperatures have been above 59 degrees F- I've set out Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Collard, Lettuce, and Mustard seedlings. Doing so gets them more light and strengthens them, which is important because they will be the first  seedlings planted out. The Tomato and Pepper seedlings will have a few weeks to wait, it's still far to cold for them yet.

Broccoli Seedlings
Tomato seedlings

     These seedlings are larger now and about half have since been transplanted to larger pots. (In the near future I want to cover my current seed starting practices and how I want to overhaul them for  next year.)
    That is a quick update on what's going on! When I have the time I'll post about all  the changes being made to the garden!

                                                       ~ Cheers! Mama Homestader

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Root Cellaring without a Root Cellar

     Last October/November I posted about my experiment of root cellaring without a formal root cellar. My home will be a century home in six years. It was build in 1918 as part of a WWI era planned community on the outskirts of town. The community itself was never finished according to the original plan, mostly due to poor building conditions just south east of my street. All the houses in this small area are variations on two different layouts, neither layout incorporating a root cellar.... Which surprised me. Considering the date in which the home was built, I would have thought it was something that would have been incorporated. But maybe its just the cut off time at which a root cellar was considered a necessity. Many of the older homes I've lived in have had a space that could have been easily converted to such a cause, while homes built after the 1920's seem to have none.
    But I digress. My home has no root cellar, and that lead me to experiment on finding ways to root cellar without one. At first I thought about the basement, but it draws damp and the cleanliness factor is less than ideal. Even if I built an enclosed room and tried to maintain a clean, temp controlled atmosphere I'd be lucky if it would work. The shed was even less of an option, it wasn't  exactly critter proof and any sand left in bags tended to freeze solid. In the end, I chose the downstairs coat closet. In the end it was clean, critter free, and cold but not freezing. The closet itself has two outside walls and two indoor walls. It was the perfect balance between the temperatures.
   And you know what? IT WORKED! I've been pleasantly surprised by the outcome of my experiment. So much so, that next year, I'll be doing it again. This year I stored carrots, winter squash, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, and some onions.. The carrots, parsnips, and turnips- I stored in damp sand. The rest I stored in a wicker basket.
    Here's what I did: I bought twelve bunches of carrots at the local farmers market.  I brought them home, did NOT wash them, and cut off the tops (Even that little nubbin that sticks up after you tear the tops off. Make a nice clean slice, don't leave anything or else your carrots will sprout!). Then I took a large Rubbermaid tote, laid down a layer of  slightly damp play sand, and added a layer of prepped carrots. It's important that your carrots don't touch, so that you can avoid potential contamination from spoilage! Then covered them with a layer of sand. Repeated the process.. When all the carrots were snuggled in, I put the lid on. Stuck it in the closet. Checked ever once in awhile for bad carrots and discarded  them to avoid the whole tote going bad.
   I didn't put a lid on the parsnips and turnips and seemingly they only lasted up until January, but my carrots lasted up until Easter! WOW nearly 7 months! I had very little spoilage, and that was only within the last week.( I'm certain that if the weather had not gotten unseasonably warm for a spell, then my carrots would have stayed snuggled in just fine for awhile longer.) My squashes and such lasted until January, and since I'm the only one who eats winter squash, I won't be cellaring as many next fall!
   Sarah enjoyed the experiment immensely. She thought it was cool that when she wanted a carrot, Mommy and her would dig in the sand to find one and wash it up. She loves carrots, and I'm just glad to have been able to save her favorite ones- which are way better than store bought.
             The big points to remember when root cellaring without a root cellar:
                   1) Choose a  location that remains cold, but not freezing.
                   2) Choose a location free of critters
                   3) Research the conditions needed, experiment accordingly
                   4) Make sure its easily accessible!
                   5) Have FUN!

                                               Cheers!~ Mama Homesteader


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Weekend Homesteader Book

One of my favorite Homesteading bloggers, Anna Hess at waldeneffect.org, is publishing a paperback compilation of her Weekend Homesteader Series. She is asking her readers to spread the word about her book, with each way of spreading the word earning that reader a chance at a consultation with her and her husband Mark. 
Take a look at her book on Amazon  and see if it's something you might be interested in! Help me spread the word, cause I would love to be able to tap into their years of experience for my own homestead!

                                                      Cheers! ~ Mama Homesteader