It’s been a dream of mine for awhile now to live a semi-homestead life. This year, we are finally making it happen on a small scale. See, we live in a city. It’s a small city of about 25,000 people, so it’s more like a town to me, not much bigger than the one I grew up in. We don’t own a lot of land. In fact, we live inside city limits in a small neighborhood and have just over an eighth of an acre. But I have big plans for our small piece of land. Here is what we hope to accomplish in 2020.
We have been gardening for about a decade in 5 – 5×3.5 foot raised beds. This year, in our attempt to preserve a years worth of certain foods, we are tripling our space and adding several more 4×4 square foot gardens. We started our seeds indoors, although we started them late so there are a few things we will end up harvesting later than usual such as our tomatoes.
With the abundance of plants for canning, I’m having to move our herbs out of the garden and into pots. A friend of mine had an excess of large tin cans, so those will be home to our herb garden. When we purchased herb & veggie seeds this year we were very lucky to come across a few heirlooms, so we will be saving seeds from those as well.
We never preserved any of our harvest in the past, nor did we ever plant enough to consider preserving. In fact, the only things I have canned in the past 10 years are jam, applesauce, and spaghetti sauce, and the latter two were about 10 years ago. We purchased everything we needed at the grocery store… This year, we will grow almost everything we need including some plants that are just for eating from garden to table.
- Roma Tomatoes
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Slicing Tomatoes
- Salad Cucumbers
- Pickling Cucumbers
- Green Bell Peppers
- Colored Bell Peppers
- Lima Bean
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Green Beans
- Garlic (in the fall)
- Herbs (see below)
Canning, freezing, dehydrating, & herbs
I haven’t canned much over the past 10 years. I did some jam a couple years ago, and a few weeks ago I canned some strawberry lemonade concentrate. I also froze a bunch of lemon juice as well. Our local Salvation Army gets a surplus of fruits and vegetables on occasion and when they have too much to get rid of, we end up with a lot of extra. A couple weeks ago, our neighbor brought over a plethora of lemons! Our boys made some lemonade but we still had so many and didn’t want them to go to waste when we could easily save them for future batches of lemonade. We have enough concentrate and frozen lemon juice now to last us all summer.
We also plan to spend a day on making dry mixes to alleviate the cost of buying pre-made boxed mixes from the store. Not only will that save us a lot of cash, but it will also be much healthier. We have some storage space that I plan on turning into a dry pantry and a much larger storage area for our plethora of mason jars.
Canning & Freezing:
- Spaghetti Sauce
- Diced Tomatoes
- Dill Pickles
- Bread & Butter Pickles
- Baked Beans (purchased beans)
- Applesauce (purchased fruit)
- Peaches (purchased fruit)
- Peas (frozen)
- Green Beans (frozen)
- Zucchini (frozen)
- Pickled Beets
- Potatoes? This one is questionable and dependent on whether or not we purchase a dehydrator. It would be great to fill the pantry with instant mashed potatoes.
- If I have time, I’d like to try my hand at making vegetable and chicken broth as well.
Herbs we will dry and turn into homemade spices:
- Lavendar (for soapmaking)
- Spice mixes – hamburger helper, taco seasoning, steak seasoning, etc.
- Baking mixes – pancakes, waffles, etc.
- Bread mixes – cornbread, sandwich bread, etc.
- Instant Oatmeal packs
Cooking from scratch
Well, I don’t have much patience for baking bread the old fashioned way – however I do have a bread maker that doesn’t get much use. So this year, I vow to bake more bread. It really saves a lot of $ in the long run. It also cuts down on the amount of plastic bags that get tossed. My husband and boys also really love cornbread, so I found a recipe that we all love and bought a big bag of cornmeal. I really love baking but I despise cooking, so I’m planning on making my own “hamburger helper” spice mixes.
While we transition to cooking from scratch, I have to get my recipes in order – that could take a very long time! We will start with weekend “scratch meals” and slowly add in one day a week until we are full of quality nutritious meals.
We recently purchased 6 chickens from Bomgaars, a farm and ranch store in town. We ended up with 2 Prairie Bluebells, 1 Amerucauna, 1 Rhode Island Red, 1 Sapphire Gem, and 1 Golden Laced Wyandotte. These ladies will range from 4 to 6.5 lbs and produce from 240 to 290 eggs per year. If all goes well, and they are all indeed pullets, we will end up with over 1300 eggs per year. If we don’t use them all, we will sell or trade the excess.
I’m a crafter by nature. It’s in my blood and I’m always making something whether it is woodworking, knitting, sewing… You name it. This year I have a few things I’d like to accomplish:
- Baked Potato microwave bags
- Reusable “paper towels”
- Finish my quilt
- Farmhouse table & chairs
- Farmhouse style hutch
- Soap, laundry detergent, etc.
- Small greenhouse
- Knit wool socks (because we always need more socks!)