Wow, I can't believe it's June already! The garden has been planted (and replanted). The chickens are happily free ranging and getting bigger everyday. The trees in the back are shooting up like weeds, despite a few being munched by deer. The workshop is 98% done with just some upper cupboards waiting to be built. We are BUSY with a capital B!
Pictured you can see one of my cheater tomato plants. I planted seeds indoors in April only to have them all fizzle out. They were hardened off and everything, but no dice. These cheaters I got at Menards, 6 for 6$. They were very happy and green, unlike the ones I tried to transplant.
Consumer report: I am not a fan of Burpee's Organic Seed Starting Mix. The stuff turned to cement after a week of watering. I also had trouble with the seed starting pods, which are supposed to disintegrate once planted, but of course they didn't. All my pumpkins, squash, and zucchini became root bound and died. So replanting it was! Now they are coming up just fine, albeit three weeks later than anticipated.
Right now the potatoes, gooseberry bush, herbs, arugula, and lettuce are robust and lively. Of course my cheater peppers are being finicky, but fingers crossed I'm watering and feeding right. Only time will tell...
The last two weeks have been full of sore muscles and helping hands. It has been a marathon getting our vegetable garden finished up as well as planting our food forest in the back of the property. We couldn't have done it without frequent visits from both our parents, family rocks guys!
Paul's parents helped us finish up the electric in the workshop - now we have light! Within two weeks they installed two new workshop fans, built a big shelf for all Paul's motorcycle stuff, fenced in my garden, and built me my three garden gate doors. Work gets done so much faster when you have help!
Thanks to the amazing resources of the UW Exstension Office I was able to plant 40 baby trees for $80. We've got crab apple, sugar maple, swamp oak, and black cherry all growing nicely in the back 3 acres of our property. It took me one full day to dig and plant. Clay and I are best friends now guys! Not.
We also got our 128 native species (see the picture!) from the Mothers Day Plant Sale at the Wehr Nature Center in Franklin. I cannot stress enough how fabulous of an event this is. All of the native plants were categorized by their growing preferences and each were individually labeled with growing instructions and care. Paul and I made a day of it and planted everything in one big swoop. We decided to backfill with peat moss and composted manure to help these plants along and to make the soil more workable as we planted. Since it was Mothers Day we named all 64 strawberry plants Michelle, after my mom.
This last week my dad came out a third time to help me out. We ran into some serious issues digging holes with the hand auger thanks to all that Wisconsin clay. Sunbelt Rentals to the rescue! We rented their 9" earth auger and attached it to the bobcat to get 4' down. The day was definitely not without its set backs, but we got all 33 holes dug, all 33 fence posts in, and all the joists attached. I don't think I've ever worked as hard physically for two weeks straight on something as this garden. My father and I collectively shoveled five tons of mulch, three tons of top soil, two tons of manure, and three tons of stone (seriously, not kidding, I did the math). Thanks to this 58'x48' garden and chicken coop I am truly ready for bikini season.
Can you believe this gorgeous weather we are getting in April? Wisconsin is smiling ear to ear over these 70 degree days. My father came back into town to help me put the garden together. After much deliberation on how to deal with the massive amounts of sand we have exactly in the spot that gets the most light, raised beds became the answer. If I wanted to try my hand at some serious gardening this year, I had to fork out a little cash to get the supplies. To learn more about how we did it and how much it cost, click here.
Next on our to-do list was getting the fence posts in that surround the garden. My dad had his 3 foot auger handy, but it was no match for the the fist-sized rocks we encountered 10" down. The other issue we faced was the clay was so thick it would just stick to the blades of the auger. After four hours we had sunk only three fences posts. Defeated, we returned to working on the raised beds.
Enter the neighbor's S-150 bobcat! I've got my name on an auger attachment for this next week, so hopefully with my dad behind the bobcat the process will go smoothly.
This last weekend my parents came into town and thank GOD! We got so much done. My dad works as the Trail Boss for the Burnett County Snowmobile Club, making him the most efficient guy I know when it comes to taking down trees.
There were about six nasty old half dead trees that lined the garage, all blocking much needed sunlight into the only south facing window we have on the house. My dad and I had them out, stumps and all, in one day. The yard looks so much more open now, plus we have plenty of logs now to build hugelkulturs in the back of the property. I also plan on using the thickest stumps as the sides of my raised garden beds.
To see all our pictures and learn more about the process, click here.
They're here, they're here! Pooping, peeping, eating, drinking machines! I picked up the seven little peepers early in the morning. The day before I got their brooder box ready with paper towels, a heat lamps, a feeder, and a waterer. This whole set-up cost me $60, chicks included. To read more on our chick adventures click here.
This last weekend Paul and I finished up insulating the chicken coop, grading the garden, and the moving the coop into place. We were able to save ourselves a huge chunk of change by borrowing a bobcat from a very gracious neighbor. Without that bobcat nothing would have gotten done!
I also checked out a handful of permaculture books from the library and am totally hooked. Lots of growing plans for the back part of the property now...
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. Sustainable World
2. The Chicken Chick
3. Mother Earth News
4. Liz Wolfe
5. Sustainable Dish
6. Zero Waste Home
7. Joe Salatin