Crunch Time at the Homestead

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Things around our homestead are kicking into high gear as we get ready for another growing season.The garden looks pretty bare now but won’t for long.

Our seedlings have graduated from the grow lights to spending a few hours every day outside soaking up the sun and experiencing the wind. Seedlings are tender and have to “harden off” before we can stick them out in the garden. In a week or so they’ll be ready to face the outside world for good.

We have our cold-loving crops pretty much all planted: a few kinds of lettuce, Swiss chard, broccoli, kale, spinach, peas, and several herbs. The garden is slowly filling up. Jim’s tilled in the winter rye cover crop twice in the hopes that it won’t come back again.

We planted onion sets at the community plot last week. We haven’t tried growing onions in the past, but onions are about the only vegetable we buy instead of grow, so we thought we’d better give them a try this year.

My “Sweet Meat” and “Neck” pumpkins finally sprouted. The seed packages say 10 to 14 days, and they took nearly that whole time. I started them in pots on warming mats, but they sit on our front porch, which has been quite chilly this spring due to the unusually cool weather. We had a warm spell last week and on day 12 all but one had popped out of the dirt! It was so exciting to see those tender shoots finally coming up. I grew Neck pumpkins last year with great success, but the Sweet Meats are freebie seeds I got from the community garden supply. These types of pumpkins take 110 to 120 days, a real stretch in our area. We hope to get them in the ground in the next week or 10 days.

I bought some marigolds and alyssum at a local church flower sale to use as companion plants in the garden. They help repel the bad insects and attract the good ones so we do try to squeeze them in. Grandpa always put marigolds in his garden, and my mom has always had them in hers. This is our first year trying alyssum, I read in a magazine that it’s good to have in the garden so we’ll give it a try.

With so much still to put in the ground, we have a whole lot of work ahead. It’s a busy time at our homestead. But it’s also the most hopeful time of the year as we see the potential of a great growing season. I hope your garden is starting up well this year, too!