It’s again the time for our homesteads “Fall Rush.”
It’s not very exciting to report that we spent the entire weekend working on the garden clean-up project but this is our life.
When the garden is the heart of the homestead like it is for us here at The Small House Homestead, the garden shut-down an important part of our autumn maintenance. So for anyone reading this blog who is contemplating a homestead you should be aware upfront that homesteading means constant and hard physical labor and a lots of it.
The turn around garden is put to bed for the 2014 gardening season.
Now, I’ve worked hard all of my life, in the home and out of it. My grandparents owned a farm, I owned a 75-year-old home that I remodeled and yet in hindsight I realize now that I was not fully aware of the daily amount of work this homestead would require. This is not a warning but just a “be-aware” of what you are getting into if homesteading is the lifestyle choice for you.
Our “can’t live without it,” Carts Vermont garden cart in front of our large compost pile.
While we have many different facets of getting ready for winter, one big part is our garden shut down process. While some folks opt to wait until spring to cut down their ornamental grasses, Gene and I cut ours down in the late fall now. We’ve done it both ways, fall and spring, and for us fall just works best.
The back of our pallet built compost bin. This is located behind the blacksmith forge against our wooded property line.
A number of our fancy grass clumps are situated near our driveway turn around and along our curving sidewalk to the bird feeding bed and cutting them down now means we can use the snow blower on the sidewalk this winter without having to dodge the grasses. Once the heavy wet snow falls these grasses are smashed down anyway and the beauty is gone. We have plenty of seed heads for the birds as well as multiple bird feeders for our wintering songbirds so they have plenty to eat all winter long in spite of the tall grasses being gone.
Our system is as follows; Gene uses the electric hedge trimmer to cut the grasses down and I haul them out to the big compost bins behind the pole barn. Then using the sucker/blower Gene sucks up the remaining leaves out of the flower beds that are filled with perennial and bark chips, while I rake around the beds picking up stray leaves. We do this bed by bed until they are complete.
We removed the front boards from the bins and used the flea market pitchfork to stir the compost.
This weekend I also put down some grass seed in bare spots on the lawn. I’ve done that chore both fall and spring and fall seeding here just works best for us. Gene also removed the boards on the front of our compost bins and I also stirred up the compost soil in anticipation of top-dressing my perennials soon. I snatched up some of the great red worms from the compost bin and toss them in for the chickens who were free ranging in the vegetable garden today. They gobbled them up right quick!
The vegetable garden where the chickens free ranged today.
I moved the large black plastic mulch piece from one side of the vegetable garden to the other side. The goal of this process is to smother the grass and weeds and to make room for the multiple bags of oak leaf mulch that will arrive soon from my sons home to ours. In the spring this spot that will be filled with leaves now will be home to a hoop house!! That’s our 2016 summer project.
The plastic mulch is now moved to the last weedy portion of the vegetable garden. By spring the weeds will be smothered and the soil ready for me to build raised beds on it.
Most people rest on the weekend in anticipation of the work week ahead. On the homestead, most weeks, we work seven days a week. Homesteading is not for the faint of heart. Just wanted you to know.
Small House Homesteader, Donna