Farming,  Gardening,  Homesteading

More Changes!

You know, I try so hard to write at least once a week on here because this is a way for us to journal all that we have going on around here…or at least some of it.  Sometimes there are too many other things going on around here for me to take a break to write, which is too bad, because I’m pretty sure I miss a lot of the things that happen.  But we have kids, and I have lots of other obligations around here, and sometimes the writing has to wait.  The good news is that when I don’t write, it usually means that I’m working on something that I can write about!  So here’s what has been happening since my last post.

Last week Tuesday, my mom helped me out while I did some work digging up plants around the yard.  I didn’t get as much completed as I would have liked since it was so chilly, but at least I got something done.  Miss Lady and Peanut came outside for a bit and helped save a few of our strawberry plants from the veggie garden, and I was able to dig up some randomly placed flowers from the yard and move them to the secret garden.  I asked family if anybody wanted any perennial plants that I have “extra” of as I am digging things up, so I pulled out  a few things that my mom wanted for her yard.  It wasn’t as organized of a session of digging as I would have liked, but it was progress none the less.

My in-laws came to take the kids for the day on Thursday at my request because I needed to have them gone for my next project…digging up trees to from a relative’s yard to plant in our yard.  While the kids were away, I folded down the seats to the van and took a trip to M’s house and dug up a bunch of young black walnut trees and several hazelnut bushes.  She has multiple large black walnut trees in her yard, and a few years ago, she raked the walnuts into a pile, and the next spring, a bunch had sprouted!  I wanted trees, she wanted them gone…it all worked out 🙂  So these trees were all a few years old already, some bigger than others.

I ended up with 43 black walnut trees!  Ten were planted in the nut grove portion of the “pie” field, another 13 along part of the path that goes through the land, and I heeled in 10 more little ones into a cluster until I could decide where to plant them.  The last 10 are the largest ones, and have broken roots from my digging (despite my best efforts), and are currently still soaking in a bucket of water.  After talking with Scott about it, we’ll try planting the remaining trees around the property where they will (hopefully) not cause problems.  The trees that are in the nut grove will be used for harvesting the nuts, and the ones that we end up planting in other places will potentially be for harvesting the wood as a long-term investment…and if not for that, then simply to add more trees to our land, because we like lots of trees!

I planted 4 hazelnut bushes that day as well.  M suspects they never grew well at her place because they were planted in a fairly shady area in her yard, so I was careful to move them to a place within the nut grove where they will be able to receive plenty of light.  She also offered me some bittersweet, which I gladly took.  It’s not edible but makes a good decoration in the fall.  I planted a few, and I guess we’ll see how they do!  I’d like to be able to have some floral arrangements in the produce stand someday, and it would be a nice addition, but we’ll see.

I have been working on moving all of those randomly placed flowers into the secret garden, so far just tulips and daffodils, but as I work on the other beds, I will have more variety to add.  I filled in even more space with oregano, chives and some rosemary that I pulled out of the veggie garden.  I’m not sure if the rosemary will come back where we live (it can be perennial depending on what zone you live in, and apparently here it’s hit or miss…), but I figured it didn’t hurt to try.  I may have said this last week, but my original intent for the secret garden was to have it simply be a flower garden.  Now I am trying to find ways that I will be able to incorporate edible perennial plants.

Daffodils in bloom in The Secret Garden.  The creek has been full with all of the recent rains!  Can’t wait until it gets cleaned. 

I started to wish that we had more of the free wood chips (once I could see that I wasn’t going to have enough for all of the beds that I am working on this year), when somebody from the township pulled in with a double load of free chips!  Win for me 🙂  I found out that my first load came from the electric company, and the second load was thanks to the township.  I’m really glad that I asked both places for chips!  I let the man from the township know that we’ll gladly take any more that they have to offer.  He said that there probably won’t be any more until fall, but he’ll keep us in mind.  If you are looking for free mulching material, remember, ask your city or township, ask the recycle center, as the electric company, and ask yard-maintenance companies as well.

The kids have been desperately wanting to plant flowers and strawberries, and since I failed them miserably when it came to letting them plant their own gardens last year, I figured I should try to do something about it for them.  We’ll be giving them some space in the main garden to plant their own small gardens, but for their flowers and the strawberries, I wanted to keep those separate.  Rather than have more randomly placed plants, I found some wooden frames that were scraps from projects presumably from previous owners and I used those as planters for the kids…we filled them with some potting soil we had, some wood chips, and then they planted a few things that I had “extras” off.  Then for Easter, they each got some plant bulbs and some started plants, so they’ll have a few more things to garden with later today.

I was able to work another little “bed” in the yard.  There was quite an overgrown cluster of hostas running along some concrete stairs that are outside of the house, but they were so overgrown that I needed to thin them out…not to mention that grass was growing profusely within them, which just made them look…scraggly.  I dug everything out and put a simple boarder around it using bricks I found lying around.  I put in a few daffodils for early growth, and then put in a couple of hostas.  I’ll plant the rest in other places around the yard, including places in the secret garden.

This little bed doesn’t exactly look amazing in at the moment.  It’s in need of some mulch, and the grass surrounding it got covered in dirt from all of my digging.  It will look better when everything begins to fill in…and I straighten some of those bricks!

Years ago, as a wedding gift, we received a sign that reads “Welcome” and has our last name on it, but due to a lack of the proper place to hang it, I wasn’t able to display it the way I wanted to until about 2 years ago, at the old house.  It got packed up when we moved, and even though I wanted to get it up last fall, it needed a sign post, and I just never got around to it.  I found the right scrap materials laying around, and with a little help from Scott, it’s hanging up at the end of the driveway!

Our new sign post with our welcome sign.  It looks straighter than that in person.

Possibly one of the most important projects I completed was that I was able to finish ordering our seeds and plants for our gardening.  The remaining plants and seeds that I ordered are for “fun” or experimental things I wanted to do.  We ordered pineberries and some 5-in-1 fruit trees for the secret garden from one supplier, and those should arrive by the end of the month (I hope).  I received a special request from a friend for thimbleberries (it’s sort of like a wild raspberry), and I ordered those as well.  I was able to find plants for sale through a seller on Walmart, believe it or not. (They are currently out of stock.)  It seemed as though everybody else was just selling seeds, while I wanted plants.

The seeds I ordered were from Territorial Seed Company, but our first round of seeds that we ordered we purchased through Johnny’s Selected Seeds.  I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly everything arrived. I ordered special pumpkin seeds for the pumpkin patch, watermelon, cantaloupe, Pearl radishes, Red Head radishes, and acorn squash, as well as a bag of Purple Majesty potatoes.

My Territorial Seed order!  I am excited to try some different radishes and have purple potatoes this year!

And last but not least, I had to replant our starts for peppers and tomatoes, as nothing took off 🙁  This time I tried soaking our seeds first, planted several varieties of peppers, and started some celery, spinach, and lettuce.  Now we’ll just cross our fingers and hope everything grows!

I’m not the only one who was busy.  Scott has been busy as well, and in fact, I’m pretty sure he got more work done in all of that time than I did…his projects were just larger.  He ran the spring-tooth over the garden area, ripping up as much grass as possible, without plowing.  The garden is a whole post unto itself, so I won’t go into all of that right now.  I’ll try explaining our plans more in another post once we have our main preparations further underway.

After running the spring-tooth over the field, we marked out the corners of the garden, and the corners of each cell of the garden.  Then we sat down and figured out how much fencing and how many posts we would need, along with other materials.  After that, Scott ran to town and gathered the posts and fencing we would need to complete two of the garden cells.  The garden fencing will be comprised of both t-posts and wooden posts.  The wooden posts were salvaged from one of Scott’s co-workers, and we will (hopefully) be getting enough more from the same person to complete all of the wooden posts for the remainder of the garden cells.

When Scott returned home, he marked out where all of the posts would go, and then we tested out the auger we bought for the tractor last summer.  We got the auger second-hand (maybe 3rd?) from a friend for a reasonable price, and we knew it would be worth the investment since we’ll be putting up a lot of fencing this year and in the future.  The auger works, and I think we now have in a total of 3 fence posts.  Between rain and daylight, there hasn’t been time for Scott to continue.  Hopefully there’ll be more progress tomorrow.


Scott received help from two of our generous friends over the week.  One came over on Saturday and helped Scott take down half of the fencing around the chicken run (we’re making it smaller), and move the fence posts to their new positions.  He is also lending us his skid-steer to move the wood chips for the garden, which will hopefully be completed by this weekend.  The other friend was over the other day, and he helped Scott put in more fence posts in the chicken run, and helped clean up some of the felled tree and the brush that has been sitting in there since last spring.  We’re dividing the chicken run into two sections, and then the chicken coop is going to be divided into different sections, and we can keep separate flocks of birds, and let both roosters be able to have room to roam around outdoors.

There was a cedar tree in the secret garden that snapped during one of the cold spells this winter, and fell into the garden.  Scott cut the tree into firewood-sized pieces, cleared up the branches (those still need to be dealt with), and pulled out a few other broken or damaged things that were in that area…exciting and helpful to me!

He is also working on a grafting/root-stock project.  Scott has been doing a lot of research on grafting fruit trees and propagating root-stock, something he’s taken a big interest in.  We ordered the root-stock a few weeks back, and he was able to get some scion cuttings for grafting from somebody in Green Bay.  He was able to graft 1 tree so far and plant 3 of the root-stock for propagation, but needed extra materials and time to complete the project.  The hope there is that we are able to grow our own root-stock and we can grow a real orchard and experiment with different apple varieties.  Again, this is a post unto itself.

Lastly, on Wednesday night, Scott worked until dark moving the wood chips into the veggie garden.  It took a couple of hours, but went significantly faster than it would have had we been doing it by hand instead of with the skid-steer.   There are still more chips to be moved, but it rained Wednesday night and misted out on Thursday…the rest will have to wait another day.

There is still so much I would love to see completed yet this year, and I am trying not to put pressure on myself to get it all done within my timeline.  One of the next things I want to get completed for myself is to build at least one raised bed for the berry patch so that I can get the strawberries transplanted ASAP.  I also need a spot for the new thimbleberries, so I may need to build 2 beds to start.  And we really need to get work done on the chicken coop inside…I never quite know where to begin!  I’m fairly certain that there will be weekly updates on our progress, and hopefully I can find time here and there to write in more detail about some of the projects (like grafting and the garden).

I know I mentioned last time that we are going to be getting bees.  Well, it’s not that far away!  We ordered Scott’s suit and gloves last week, and the first week in May, the bees should be in.  There will probably be some preparations made for their arrival throughout the next week, and I am working on an interview with my sister-in-law about starting with bees.  I’ll be posting all of that after they come in and are situated 🙂

I’ve got a couple of questions for you all today!  1) What should we name our “pie” field?  (It is a field being divided into “pie” slices that will alternate between perennial fields and annual crops).  2) What plants are you experimenting with in your gardens this year???  Don’t forget to leave your comments!




  • The Big Garden and Croft

    D > Wow! That’s more than a week’s worth of this and that! That deserves a week’s worth of comments … no, okay just one or two, or three (1) J and I have succumbed to an attack of tree envy. Not just any old trees, eh. Walnuts! (2) It’s so good to share plants and trees around, isn’t it. Good as in pleasant, good as in advantageous, good as in economical! (3) Where everything else seems to lean, why make your post feel odd-man-out? ;~) (4) Pie Field (5) Cardoon (we use it in casseroles and such like – as you might with celery) (6) J swears by (well, he believes in the great utility of!) a thing called a post-rammer (like a tin can with handles that goes upside down over the post – so heavy I can barely lift it) for where tractor is either inaccessible or inconvenient to get prepped up for the odd post or two) (7) Forget about straightening those bricks – you’ve too many more important things to do. Anyway, the bush or whatever it is will grab all the attention, and if folk notice the bricks they’ll think – Ah, don’t they look quaint! Oops, looks like I had a week’s worth after all. ;~)

    • Spring Lake Homestead

      Well, to be fair, I did have a lot of questions didn’t I? Yes, sharing plants is a great thing to do. I want to encourage people to do more of it, especially since it can be so expensive to buy plants. So many people say “I don’t know what do do with all of my…” and throw them out 🙁 We do have a post rammer, but it is for the metal posts, not the wooden ones. I think we are going to need about 50+ wooden posts for the garden, so the auger is a blessing! I was amazed at how much was completed as well, and I was sick for two days and didn’t do anything!

  • A Small Country Living

    J > I see D has used up our fair share of comments, so I shall just say I’m so glad I dropped in to say hi, and it was lovely going round the homestead, you showing me what you’ve been doing and are getting excited about. Well, I’d better get going myself, morning duties to get done. Tioraidh an drasd’!

  • atasmaniankitchen

    Well done to you! Looks busy/tiring/amazing and I can relate. I have recently dug up self-sown oaks, birch, horse chestnut and other trees to replant and give away, I might start selling once they are established in a pot. Good luck!

    • Spring Lake Homestead

      Oh wow! I’ve contemplated potentially selling plants one day since we have so many perennials and we’ll have more and more trees, but I’m not sure if I want to take the time or if I’d rather just give them away. Have fun with it!

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