We female farmers are a unique bunch. From raising heritage hens on pasture to milking dairy goats for artisan cheese, there are so many awesome products that are being brought into the market thanks to all my soil sisters out there. While there may be diversity in our farming styles, products, and ideas, there is one thing we all have in common - and that is the need for self-care. For me, this time of year can feel like an all out race. Planting, mulching, composting, caring for sick hens, managing a farm stand, etc - it’s so easy to let self-care take a back seat as you race the weather to get your crops in the ground. I am writing the post today as a lighthouse in the storm of your budding growing season. Don’t forget to take care of the most important part of your farm - you.
In this next post, we are going to cover planting your organic vegetable garden and all the wonderful green thumb activities that fall under that umbrella. I’ll go over how to start seeds indoors, proper acclimation periods for your baby seedlings, and when to transplant or direct sow in your organic garden.
To jump to the beginning of my organic vegetable gardening blog series, click here.
Okay! First, let’s quick chat about where is best to purchase your seeds.
Our little farm stand is finally open for business and I could not be prouder. I’ve dreamt of creating a space for my Franklin neighbors to have access to local organic food and goods since we moved here in 2015. Franklin, WI has a population over 36,000, yet we don’t have a local farmers market to call our own. Putting together this farm stand has been my way of filling that void. Of course, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was our stand! So today I wanted to show you all the work we put into it to make it a reality. Get ready for some serious before and after shots!
A vital step in cultivating a successful organic garden is preparing. Preparing to me means figuring out where the garden will go, if the soil is in good shape for veggie growing, and what you need to build the basic structure of the garden. Preparing here we come!
Now that you are armed with all the planning knowledge to get started with organic gardening, it’s time to start plotting your garden beds. How you plot out your garden has a large effect on your overall success for the growing season. In this blog post, we are going to cover companion planting, square foot gardening, row gardening, and how to mimic nature to give your organic garden some serious edge. All you’ll need is some graph paper, a pencil, and time to dream of all the delicious things you can grow organically!
Here at Green Willow Homestead, we have 40 chicken mouths to feed (and counting!). Our chickens are definitely spoiled. We allow them access to pasture, they freely browse a MOSA certified Organic Chicken Feed, and we give them all our chicken-approved kitchen scraps. When I started to keep track of our expenses though, reality smacked me right in the face. We were spending nearly $175 a month on organic chicken feed! With 40 laying hens producing 3 dozen eggs a day, we technically can rake in $450 a month in egg sales, unfortunately, in the winter this just isn’t the case. Egg laying slows way down as we lose daylight, but the amount these cluckers eat stays the same. I had to put my thinking cap on. How can I cut my feed costs when egg laying can’t foot the bill? Enter a food waste recovery program!
To put it simply, a food waste recovery program is when you partner with a local business that produces food waste, i.e. a restaurant or food shelf, to collect what would otherwise go to a landfill and, instead, compost it or feed it livestock. This partnership can be set up however you want it to: you can volunteer for food waste, you can barter for it, or you can just take it off their hands no questions asked. There are two types of food waste in the restaurant business: pre-plate food waste, which is all the prep scraps that come before food hits the plate; and post-plate food waste, which is what the customer leaves behind instead of bringing it home as leftovers. Both of these options can be recovered in a food waste recovery program.
In this blog post, I’m going to take you through why food waste recovery is necessary, how we got started doing it at Green Willow Homestead, and what equipment you need for successful implementation.
Getting started with organic vegetable gardening can feel overwhelming, but if you are looking for an excuse to get outside and be more active, then gardening is a step in the right direction. Whether you have 1/2 an acre or upwards of 20 acres, planting a garden to provide you with healthy delicious food surprisingly only takes a bit of planning with a pencil and paper plus some (much needed) time in the sun tending to it. In this post, I’m going to show you how I got myself organized to try my hand at organic gardening. Are you ready to plan your pants off?!
In my last post, we talked about the biggest toxic offenders lurking in your kitchen cleaning supplies. In this post we are going to go over the cheap and effective toxin-free cleaners you can utilize instead. After spending years with generic cleaning brands, the switch can be a little bumpy. Due to this adjustment period, I want to take you through how what we use to clean our homes works on a technical level. Let's dive in!
I grew up with familiar names like Windex and Dawn in our cleaning supplies at home. These brands and many others are ones we’ve trusted to keep our kitchens clean and sparkling for decades. Unfortunately, the trust we have placed in these brands has been taken advantage of. Household brand names in our cleaning supplies are full of toxic chemicals and the findings only keep mounting. From heightened risk of miscarriage to developmental delays to cancer, nearly all of our common cleaning supplies are wrought with problematic ingredients that have dire consequences. I want to take you through the biggest offenders to give you a snapshot of what you are up against when you clean your home. In my next post, I’ll provide you with some easy toxin-free DIY or Conscious Consumer approved alternatives.
There is nothing more wonderful for a gardener than sharing the love of gardening with another. In this case, we are talking about sharing that love with your chickens! Not only will chickens love to be included in your garden, but they also can take some of the gardening work off your shoulders. In this post, we will go over how you can work with your chicken’s instincts to prep and clean up your garden during the growing season, fertilize your soil, and till your cover crops under when the timing is right.
Thanks for stopping by Green Willow Homestead! From chicken rearing to orchard planting, we've got our hands full and we love sharing what we've learned along the way. Follow along as we strive to live a toxin-free life and turn these five acres from just property to a fully functioning small-scale homestead.
1. Joe Salatin
2. Rachel Carson
3. Wendell Berry
4. Temple Grandin
5. Sustainable Dish
6. Zero Waste Home
7. Allan Savory
Favorite Books of 2018
2. Bringing it to the Table
3. Holistic Management
4. The Small Scale Poultry Flock
5. In The Company of Women