Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Morning Glory Farm: Homesteading on God's Little Acre (& a half!)

Homesteading begins in the heart. I discovered that after years of packing up every three years when the Air Force had some new job for my dear husband in a distant place. My early attempts at homesteading were little pots of flowers and herbs, maybe the occasional tomato or bush cucumber plant on the patio or porch of military base or rented housing. Those years I yearned for acres and acres of land on which to grow my own grains and vegetables. Each time we moved my longing grew deeper.

As of today, our homestead, Morning Glory Farm, is an acre and a half on the property my husband spent his teen years. But that is exactly enough for me right now. You see, I have discovered the joy of heart-steading…that is living where God has put me and making the most of what He has blessed me with.My first seed catalogue of the season arrived a week before Christmas. It was like getting an early present! I love spending the cold winter days planning my spring planting. I draw out elaborate plans on cheap graph paper and plot everything carefully.

I use raised beds, 4-foot square each. We have three established beds and I hope to add at least that many more this year. My husband is planning to move my beds to the best, sunniest spot in the yard so he can change the way we drive to his garage. I’ve already picked out several new varieties from the Jung seed catalogue to put in my herb bed. I have four little plants that seem to winter over very well in our climate, a rosemary plant, an oregano plant, and two bunches of chives. This year they will be joined by some pineapple sage (wonderful for tea, especially during sore throat season!) and some chocolate basil (just for fun).

We fight the little rabbits, voles, and squirrels for the strawberries in one raised bed. But the strawberries that we get to eat are so amazingly sweet and flavorful that I’m starting another bed using the offspring of the original plants. I need tips on using/growing my rhubarb. I have three plants at the back of my strawberry bed (with visions of strawberry-rhubarb pie dancing in my head). I can’t seem to figure out when I should cut the stalks and they seem to be favorites of tiny little insects that riddle the leaves with holes.

If I can convince my dear son to help, I will get to build my first cold frame in the next week or so. My father has been working hard to turn our carport into a wonderful and spacious master suite. Some of the construction cast-offs are the four brick columns that supported the roof before he put in the outside wall of the bedroom. They broke into nicely-sized pieces when they fell. I saw a great reuse of bricks in a book my mother brought me today and I have all the materials needed to have a bed ready to take early spinach, lettuce, and hardy herb seedlings that I will start in two weeks. Bricks have the wonderful benefit of holding even little bits of heat from the winter sun. I have a lot of old windows to choose from that will serve as the top of the cold frame.

I have to admit, I am an early-bird planter! My corn seed was in the ground three weeks early two years ago. Every time the forecast predicted frost, I had to run out and cover up all the bright green little stalk-lings. I kill seedlings every year because I just can't wait to start growing!

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