Thursday, January 31, 2013

Planning a Children's Garden


This month I've shared several articles here and elsewhere about planning your upcoming year's garden.  To wrap up the month, I have one last planning article to share.  If you missed some of the other articles, check them out.  January may be all about planning, but in February it's time to start doing.

Planning a Bee Garden
Winter Planning for Spring (and summer) Vegetable Gardens
Ordering Seeds

* * *

If children are part of your backyard farm, (even if they're just visitors) creating a children's garden can welcome them and encourage them to explore their own small corner of earth.  Helping children take part in the work of producing their own food benefits everyone.  Gardening not only teaches children about the process of growing things, but also teaches compassion, hard work, and ignites the  curiosity.  Working alongside children in the garden makes the experience even more powerful and is an can be an integral part of backyard farming.

When you begin to design a children's garden, remember that this space can be simply a traditional garden space where a child is the gardener, or an entire area dedicated to structures and children's related play and gardening.  Based on your space, your time, the age of your child, and you children's interest, you can design the garden space specifically to meet your needs.


A few Things to Remember
  • Before you get started, remember this is a children's garden.  Make sure they are involved in the entire process (including the planning).  While it's tempting to do much of the work yourself, make sure there is an area that is truly 100% there own.  While watching a child transplant the same plant everyday may be painful for you to watch, it is part of their process and learning, and will truly give them ownership over the space.
  • Resist the temptation to hide the garden in the back or in a shady space where plants won't grow.  A child will place a greater importance on a garden if you show it is important
  • Encourage children to grow food.  They will often learn to love the food they grow even if they don't like the store bought version. There is nothing as tasty are food right from the garden
  • Work in the garden (or a nearby garden) with your child - it truly is one of the best things you can do

What to include in the Garden Design


A children's garden doesn't have to be just a plot of earth, and it can grow as the children grow.  Here are some ideas of what you can include in a children's garden:

  •  A stick teepee for growing beans or vines
  • A balance beam
  • Strawberry plants
  • Bulbs and seeds
  • Favorite Vegetables
  • A tunnel or fort
  • A texture garden
  • An aromatherapy garden with herbs
  • Sunflowers - a sunflower house
  • A sandbox
  • A quiet reflective spot
  • A bridge
  • A fairy Garden
  • A music wall
  • A Game
  • Natural Wood block
  • Table and chairs


For more ideas, check out this Pinterest board

Create a fairy garden



Add a music wall

Encourage children to dig and plant things they choose


With a little time and planning you can create a magical, place for children to dream, explore and grow.  

Have you created a children's garden as part of your backyard farm?


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Homestead Highlight: Snooks

My greatest inspiration in my own backyard farming adventure has been to hear the experiences of others. I invite you to read along here as Homesteaders share their adventures and experiences from their own farms, backyards, and homes.
 
Want to be featured as a Homestead Highlight? I would love to hear about your experience. For more information follow the link to the information page and share your own homestead here at the Backyard Farming Connection! 
 
With the start of the New Year, I am looking for a few new homesteads for the coming week, so please let me know if you are interested in sharing your story here! 
 ***
Today I welcome Snooks to this space
Hi there! I am Snooks, wife to a really good guy who spoils me often and Mom to an awesome boy who effectively stole my heart the day he was born. I love living life in the country and all of the experiences that come with it. We are excited about taking steps to make our run-of-the-mill back yard into our back yard farm. Something that we have been working towards for a few years. Stop by and visit us at 3 Breeze Homestead or our Facebook page.

How long have we been back yard farming?

My husband and I are no strangers to this idea of back yard farming. Having both grown up in families where canning, gardening and chickens were a part of life. So the know how has always been there. It was being able to put ourselves in a place where we could take action. We started this adventure about 8 years ago. Happy to be able to put our know how to good use. The process hasn't gone as fast as we would like it to. But as they say "all good things take time."
What got us started?
The pursuit of going back to living the country life and resurrecting old family traditions. The need for a more simple and stress free lifestyle. Realizing the importance of teaching and sharing this lifestyle with our son.

Where is our little place and what does it look like?

Our little homestead is located in the wheat fields and wine country of Southeastern Washington. We sit on almost a half acre corner lot at the edge of Small Town USA. We have a good size garden plot that likes to grow tomatoes, pumpkins, strawberries, raspberries, string beans and zucchini. We have grown lots of other plants as well but these seem to do the best. Our bumper crop is weeds, every year in both our vegetable garden and the flower gardens. We have Poplar trees lining the farm fence at one end of the yard, a few Oak trees and some Mountain Ash trees scattered in the yard and one ancient pine tree that stands tall and proud at the corner of our lot. We have a nice little coop with a fenced run that our 8 sweet hens roost in, 2 adventure ready dogs and 4 kitties for pest control. 



Biggest success and mistake?

Our biggest mistake is not doing this sooner.
Our biggest success is the building of our chicken coop and addition of the hens and farm fresh eggs!



Plans for the future?

Absolutely!! We have many plans. Will we get to them all? Probably not. But that is the fun part. Allowing our ideas to grow and change so that we can continue on this adventure of moving towards a more sustainable, simple and stress free lifestyle here in the country.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Backyard Farming Connection #17

As we get ready to turn over the calendar into February, it's finally warming up a little here, and spring is that much closer.  Take a few minutes to link up and read some of the wonderful posts shared here each week. 

Here are a few favorites...

From Rural Living Today, here are 20 tips for Getting Ahead When You're Waiting



And from Everything Home with Carol, I love the idea of making Meals in a Jar!  Perfect for those busy days around here.


I want to know what's happening, in your garden, on your homestead, in the barnyard, and in the kitchen.  Whatever is in your backyard farm and home, I would love to hear about it.

Each week I will share some of my favorite posts in the newly formed Backyard Farming Connection Facebook page.  And in case you haven't seen, I have a new 'featured button' so if you've been featured in the past, grab a button.




Monday, January 28, 2013

Vertical Vegetable Gardening: A Review



With the cold weather outside I've spent lots of time dreaming of my summer garden and scanning through my bookshelf for a little inspiration.  The most recent addition to my bookshelf is Chris McLaughlin's new book: Vertical Vegetable Gardening, and it is just chalk full of inspiration.  In this book, Chris shares her gardening knowledge and expertise specifically related to growing plants up instead of out. 

The book gives basic and detailed advice on gardening. including information on soil and specific plants that grow vertically.  Chris starts by making a strong case for why gardeners should consider employing vertical gardening techniques, including saving space in small gardens, less weeding, and increased produce.  If you haven't already started to grow things vertically, it's time to start.

My favorite part of the book is the section that gives ideas and materials on how to successfully grow vertically.  Not only does Chris describe and illustrate raised beds, tomato cages, and other common vertical growing techniques, but she also includes unique and ingenious ways to reuse materials to grow vertically.

In section three, Chris shares strategies for caring for your vertical gardens with suggestions for watering, mulching, fertilizing, and pruning.  She shares extra tips and advice throughout the her book in an easy laid back manner that makes the book easy to read and personal.  If you are looking to expand your growing knowledge, this wonderful book will ignite your creativity, and give you the tools to get started.


I did receive a review copy of this book.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Amazing Garden Dibbles

Are you looking for a new tool to add to your garden workbench this year?

These garden dibbles from RJT Designs are not only useful, but add a sense of beauty and tradition to your gardening.   These dibbles are used to plant seeds or bulbs, and transplant seedlings, and are designed to fit comfortably in your hand while holding up to working in the garden.  These beautiful dibbles are made from reclaimed solid mahogany. Can you tell that I love them!


 To see more about garden dibbles, visit RJT Designs or follow his blog at Bepas Garden.

I was given a dibble to review, but truly love the product and have made my own purchase to give as gifts!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Raising Other Backyard Birds: Quail, Guinea Hens and Peafowl

If you want to share your own posts here, visit the Forever Link-up information page, for specific information and remember you may link up to 10 posts per person.  So post now and come back and post more later.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Planning a Bee Garden


Whether you keep your own bee hives or count on wild bees to pollinate your homestead plants,  most people have a certain respect for the job of a bee.  As gardeners, we rely on bees to pollinate our crops and often benefit from the surplus of their honey production.  More than 100 food crops rely on bees to pollinate their flowers, and the recent decline in honeybee populations means less of those crops are getting pollinated.  While honeybees are incredibly important, they aren't the only ones out there helping to pollinate, around the world there are about 20,000 species of bees, many operating in colonies and still others operating individually.

You can help encourage bee populations by becoming a beekeeper, buying local honey, reducing pesticide use, or simply creating a habitat that encourages and strengthens bee populations.  A well planned bee garden can include edibles and can also become an attractive part of your yard.  If you are concerned about getting stung by bees, remember that bees sting as a defensive measure, and keep in mind the statement 'live and let live.'



Last year we started to build a bee garden around our hive, as a way to encourage pollination, create a barrier around the hive, and also add some color to that side of the yard.  Our bee garden also attracts butterflies and other beneficial insects to our yard.  Here are a few thoughts to consider in planning your bee garden.

Select a Site

The ideal location for a bee garden is somewhere that provides some shelter and protection from the elements.  If you can help it, don't place your garden in the middle of a windy field.  Make sure that the plants or other elements in the garden provide wind barriers.  This also means that you don't need to change everything since bees love small spots to hide like logs and under rocks. If you use a lot of mulch, consider keeping some areas mulch-free to encourage ground dwelling bees.




Choose Plants

Evidence shows that not only are bees attracted to certain types of flowers, but they are attracted to a garden that has a variety of flowers.  Select a number of different types of flowers with a variety of colors, shapes, size, and blooming time, and you are guaranteed to attract bees to your garden. You can check local resources for plants that grow in your area, or try looking at this list for some ideas of plants to select.

Don't forget to include edible plants in your garden so you can get some of the benefit from increased pollination.  Herbs are especially good choices when looking for plants that are likely to attract bees.

Provide Water

Keeping a small, shallow water source in your garden is an added bonus for attracting bees.  This can be as simple as a birds bath or as elaborate as a small pond.  If you are adding water with bees in mind, keep it shallow or add pebbles to keep the bees from drowning.



Keep it Natural 

Using pesticides on a garden intended to attract bees is simply contradictory.  Don't lure bees to your garden simply to poison them!  Even small doses of pesticides can harm a bee and travel back to the hive to harm the whole colony.  Instead of using pesticides in your bee garden, try coping with pests as needed using less poison and better gardening.



Don't overlook the Weeds

 When you're planning a garden, it's easy to overlook the benefit of weeds.  Native weeds are often a favorite for native bees, so don't overlook this valuable resource growing right in your yard.  Even if you don't want to leave weeds in your garden, consider letting them grow along the edge of the woods or in other areas around your yard.  Those dandelions growing in your yard are one of the bees favorite plants.  In our not so tidy yard, we usually let the dandelions bloom a few days before we mow them down.


A garden is a thriving ecosystem, and bees play a crucial role.  Consider creating a space to attract bees in your own backyard, and you will shortly see the benefits of increased pollination.  

Have you created a bee garden?  What plants do you use to attract bees to your garden?


I shared at Wildcrafting Wednesday

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Homestead Highlight: Sheryl

My greatest inspiration in my own backyard farming adventure has been to hear the experiences of others. I invite you to read along here as Homesteaders share their adventures and experiences from their own farms, backyards, and homes.
 
Want to be featured as a Homestead Highlight? I would love to hear about your experience. For more information follow the link to the information page and share your own homestead here at the Backyard Farming Connection! 

 
With the start of the New Year, I am looking for a few new homesteads for the coming week, so please let me know if you are interested in sharing your story here! 

 ***

Today I welcome Sheryl to this space


We are Sheryl & Denny Sicard, along with our daughter, we live in south Louisiana on a 10 acre piece of land we call Cypress Hill Farm. We are going into our third year of homesteading. You can read more about them at their blog: Cypress Hill Farm.




Seven years ago after going through a divorce and Nursing School, I met my husband and we were married. We shared the same dreams of someday living on a farm. We decided to fill this 10 acres with animals and a garden that can contribute to our food supply. My husband has always wanted to raise cattle, so our first purchase was a few heifers, then came a few chickens. I got into researching Heritage breeds after purchasing a Belted Galloway heifer. We then located some St. Croix hair sheep, which is a heritage breed, and ventured into those. 



My greatest "Love" on the farm is my garden, I love watching things grow and the reward of bringing it to the table for the family's enjoyment. I also love canning our surplus of vegtables. Here in south Louisiana we are lucky we have an extended growing season, i pretty much can grow year round. My goal is to always have something growing in the garden. I'm now no longer employed as a staff nurse, my days are filled with the homestead chores and I could not be any happier. 



My goal is to help educate people on the importance of healthy wholesome foods to improve their health. As a staff nurse it was heartbreaking to watch someone's health go downhill because they would refuse to make changes in their lifestyle. I truly believe that what we put in our bodies is a reflection of what we are and how we feel.  




Our biggest success was watching our first calf being born on our farm, and watching it grow to have her own calf. It was hard at first to not get too attached to these animals, I was wanting to name everything on this farm.  We are now raising the cows for commercial sales and knowing that, makes it easier to not get attached.  We had the opportunity to have one of our own brought to the butcher this past fall.  It has provided this family with the best tasting meat, which makes us proud.  Knowing we are eating something that has no antibiotics are growth hormones, and that was totally grass-fed is rewarding.  


We did have a few setbacks over the course, like all farms do.  In the beginning i lost chickens to our own dog, which was so hard for us. This year we lost a calf during birth, which was hard to accept.  We have learned a lot along the way and we still have so much more to learn.  I would not trade my lifestyle for any other way.  Our goal is to one day sell this property and relocate to a larger piece of land with a smaller home.  It's our dream to run a larger herd of cows and be somewhere further north. Living a self-sufficient lifestyle by growing and raising most of our own food has been assuring to us, knowing the state of our economy. 

I hope you stop by our blog to read about happenings on the farm. http://www.cypresshillfarm.blogspot.com/       
   Live simple..................Sheryl

I shared this at Wildcrafting Wednesday,  Small Footprint Fridays

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Backyard Farming Connection Hop #16

It's cold here in Upstate NY - really cold...

And it's getting colder.

We're bundled up in here, and have done our best to keep the animals bundled up outside.

Here are a few great posts to get you cooking and crafting this week:

From Let This Mind Be in You, Get your craft on with these 'go-to' patterns.


From Several Garden's Farm read all about Buttermilk this week and check out some yummy recipes.



I want to know what's happening, in your garden, on your homestead, in the barnyard, and in the kitchen.  Whatever is in your backyard farm and home, I would love to hear about it.

Each week I will share some of my favorite posts in the newly formed Backyard Farming Connection Facebook page.  And in case you haven't seen, I have a new 'featured button' so if you've been featured in the past, grab a button.