A Root Cellar Is More Than Just Vegetable Storage

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Most people don’t use root cellars anymore.  Even in my area where people live a simpler life and grow large gardens full of food, root cellars aren’t as utilized as one might think.

On a national scale, however, root cellars are coming back en vogue.

With the growing popularity of modern homesteading, people desire more and more to grow their own food.  Unfortunately, many are unable to grow year-round, and must find a way to preserve their homegrown goodness if they want to enjoy it during colder months.

People often begin by freezing more of their own foods.  When freezer space becomes an issue, they start dehydrating produce.

Getting more serious, they learn to water bath fruits and tomatoes, and then move on to pressure canning.

There is, however, a much quicker and easier way to preserve many foods.

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Fall In Grace

 

“Welcome to Idaho.  Here, our seasons are summer, almost winter, winter, and still winter.”

 

Fall has long-been my favorite season.

I believe it started in childhood as fall almost completely meant to me that it was time to go back to school.  I loved everything about school.  I loved to learn, I loved my mentors, I loved seeing and meeting new friends, I loved new books, and all the before- and after-school activities offered.

The coming of fall meant I would be seeing, hearing, and talking about new things on a nearly daily basis.

While I loved the long summers that my family spent traveling, I also dearly loved to be home.  Fall always meant it was time to be home.

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When You Find A Rich Source Of Soil You Didn’t Know Existed

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Those of you with farms and homesteads know about “those places.”  Those places where all the extra wood gets tossed.  Or metal.  Or fencing.  Or spare tractor parts.  Or… Yeah, you know those places.

One of those places has always been along the north side of our well house.  Over the years it has gathered metal poles and wood.  Once in a while when we make a dump run, we’ll grab what we can, but it’s always had something there.

Every year when the snow melts I vow to get it cleaned out, but homestead life just moves so fast that I can never get it all.

Until this year.

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Planting Tomato Starts Into The Ground

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Nothing goes into the ground until June 1 around here.  This year, we had a freeze on June 10, so I didn’t transplant my tomato starts out until after that.

Obviously, with a 70 day growing season, we can’t start tomatoes by seed in the soil here.  Instead, I start my plants early and grow them inside until they can be moved to the greenhouse, and eventually out into the ground.

This year, for my outside tomatoes, I started Golden Nugget, Yellow Pear, and Amish Paste by seed inside.  Because of our lack of light here in the north, I can only start my own tomatoes with the assistance of grow lights if I want to eventually grow them out in the soil and have them be productive.  My plant room has north and west facing windows.  It’s not ideal, but with the grow lights, it works out.

Once there is enough daylight and the greenhouse is warm enough to encourage adequate growth, my tomato starts make their way out there.  This year I was fortunate enough to move all my tomato starts out during a set of overcast days.

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How To Make Sure You Actually Eat What You Grow This Year

If you have not started seeds for your garden yet this year, you are thinking about it.  The thrill starts when you open that seed catalog and start dreaming.

Then they come in the mail and you stare at your calendar until the day you can start putting them in the soil and giving them water.  You spend your hours trying not to check on them as often as possible until they finally germinate.

The day eventually comes when you can take them outside—and finally—plant them into the ground.  These are your babies.  Pride swells as you watch them grow.  Then one day, they are ready.

If you are like 99% of the vegetable growing population, you have planted too much of something at least once in your journey.  Maybe you even plant too much of one thing (or several) on a yearly basis.  (You would not be alone my Friend.)

We may grow different fruits and vegetables in our gardens, but the one thing we have in common is that we all have to figure out how best to utilize our loot or else watch it rot.  Here are some tips to make sure you are making the most of your haul this year.

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Serviceberry Syrup: AKA Saskatoon Berry Syrup

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We spend exactly one full day in July making a foraging trip in hopes of bringing home at least 5 gallons of serviceberries every year.  We’ll eat as many fresh that week as we can.  They don’t stay good long, so we have to preserve them as quickly as possible.

We do this by making serviceberry raisins, serviceberry fruit leathers, and freezing them.  If time permits, we make serviceberry juice and can it up as well.

Sometime during the winter, when I’m trying to empty my freezer, I’ll pull them out and get to canning other things like pie filling, jams, and today, serviceberry syrup.

This gives me more freezer space, and fills those pantry shelves that have been emptying out over our cold winter.

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How To Love A Farmer

One might think that you love a farmer the same way you would love another man.  That person is…wrong…

When I say love a farmer, I mean to love a farmer who is your other half—the man that completes you—the man that you would only be half a person without.

These men are special.

These men go without so others may have.

They love with a love so big that’s it often unseen.

These men are part of the hardworking providers that take care of many more than just their own families.  They feed my family, and they feed yours.  In their busy lives, they need a special kind of wife that knows just how to love them.

 

I don’t pretend to be perfect in the love I give to my Farmer.  I am flawed.  I make hideous, embarrassing, huge mistakes.  Yet my Farmer loves me anyway—unconditionally.  In our years, I have tried to pay very close attention to the main Farmer in my life, as well as the many others around me.

They are indeed, a very special breed.  They should come with special care instructions.  But, alas, they do not.  So I offer only what I believe to be the basic needs of any modern farmer.

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Canning Homemade Cranberry Sauce By Water Bath

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I love cranberry sauce.  I love being able to make homemade cranberry sauce even more.  Canning my own cranberry sauce?  Heaven.

I’m not worried about all the extra ingredients, or if I’ll be able to find it at the stores on one of my two shopping trips to town each year.  I don’t have to worry about finding just the right brand, or going to another store if I can’t find what I want.

If I want it spiced?  Then I can make it just exactly how I like it.  I’m hoping to share with you how super easy and quick it is to make up the day you want it for dinner, but for today I’m sharing how I just canned up the last of this year’s loot.  I like to make 4 pints a year.  This recipe will make just that (plus a little bowl for consuming right away).

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Make Your Own No Sew Blanket

Fast, easy no sew blanket you can do in an hour. #NoSew Grace Garden And Homestead

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In our home, we make presents for each other, in lieu of worrying about what to buy for everyone—which often leads to gifts that just fill a box instead of leaving a lasting impression on a loved one’s heart.

A popular one this year was the no sew fleece blankets.  Kids as young as 7 in our home were making these.  It’s the perfect gift for those little hands as well as bigger ones that don’t sew.

And who wouldn’t want a soft, fuzzy blanket to cuddle up to?

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11 Things To Do With A Bumper Crop Of Onions

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Growing onions from bulbs is easy for a novice (or expert) gardener to do.  I regularly plant upwards of 600 a year myself.  Rarely, if ever, does a bulb decide not to grow into a large, juicy onion.

So what’s a gardener to do when an excited day in the spring garden leads to a bumper crop of onions in the fall?  I’ve got a few ideas for you…

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