Archive for the ‘The Frugal Farmer’ Category

And the garden gets bigger…Planting Blueberries

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One good thing about starting out your homestead with a clean slate, is you get to plan where you want things.  We have been here almost a year now and its just now starting to look different with each new addition.  The one bad thing about starting a homestead out of nothing, is all the HARD WORK!  Good thing we have a few helpers :)   We have a black berry patch we put in last fall and a strawberry patch we put in last spring and we have been enjoying the “fruits” of our labour in the form of jam all summer.  We thought we needed to expand on this venture a little further with a blueberry row and grapes in our garden.  More about grapes another day.

First a little about blueberries…

Choosing Cultivars

Choose a variety recommended for your hardiness zone!!!

Site/Soil

Blueberry bushes grow best in a sunny location, but will tolerate partial shade. Blueberries like  loose, well-drained soil.They require acidic soil conditions. A pH reading of 5.0 is optimal. In heavy clay soils plant in a raised bed.

Planting

Plant 3 to 4 feet on center, with a 36 inch buffer on each side of the plant to allow for mulching. Plants should be at the same level that they were in the container.

Mulching

Mulch will significantly increase blueberry bush growth and yield. Decomposing mulch not only helps improve soil structure, but also aids in the nutrient uptake of a blueberry bushes root system. Mulching maintains uniform soil moisture, reduces soil temperature, and control weeds. Always keep mulch around 4 to 5 inches away from the plant itself at least until the plant is rooted well.

Pruning

A good-sized, healthy canopy is needed to support the growth of fruit. Pruning encourages production of large, high-quality fruit, and encourages earlier blooming. Fruit is produced on one-year-old wood. The largest berries are produced on the most vigorous wood, so a good supply of strong, one-year-old wood is desirable. When pruning shape the bush by removing dead and diseased wood. Pruning new bushes is recommended to increase ” production area” of the plants. Shape  of the top of the bush should remind umbrella.  You can do it easily pruning plants in about 2 weeks after picking last berry. Find the tallest wooden branch, measure about 8 inches of the green part of the branch and prune the whole plant flat on this level. Prune the bushes annually. You can stop pruning after You plants are over 7-8 years old, then you just prune dead or damaged branches.

Fertilization

Generally one application in the spring of an acid-producing fertilizer each year will be sufficient. Do not fertilize after the blooming period, late fertilizing will encourage late growth in the fall, which in turn can cause winter injury. Nitrogen usually gives blueberries the greatest growth response. Nitrogen fertilizer requirements increase as the bushes grow older and yields increase.

Watering/Irrigation

Water the blueberry bush frequently enough to keep the soil moist but not saturated. Blueberry bushes need at least 1 to 2 inches of water per week, do not apply water after early September unless soil is very dry. Mulching will help reduce the frequency of watering.

 

Now that you are an expert and excited about putting in you own blueberries, here’s what we did!

These supplies are needed for a 30 ft row of blueberries:

2 bags of Peat Moss

Hoe and Shovel

6 Blueberry plants

1 Bale of hay

1 25 ft. soaker hose.

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Work your ground so it is loose and free of weeds.
  2. Dig your trench 30 ft long and about 2 1/2 foot wide.
  3. Dump out and spread evenly your peat moss.
  4. Cover your peat moss with the dirt you pulled out of the trench.
  5. Evenly space your berry plants and plant them.
  6. Cover with the straw mulch.
  7. Hook up your soaker hose and turn it on!!!
  8. Next June you will be rewarded for all your hard work :)

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Homemade Disinfecting Wipes

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I ran out of my homemade cleaner the other day and found this recipe.  Since I had almost all the ingredients, I thought I would try this out.  I liked that I could use my essential oils, and that it is disinfecting!  And, Have I ever mentioned…I love the smell of essential oils!?! Added bonus: it’s inexpensive to make!!!

Supplies:

  • old baby wipes container or sealable plastic container
  • white vinegar
  • tea tree oil
  • lavender oil
  • castile soap
  • old t-shirts cut up I used 5
  • water

  Instructions:

  • Put cloth into wipes container or plastic container with lid.  Just about anything with a lid will work.

MIX:

  • 2 cups of water
  • a big squirt of castile soap (mine was castile soap and lavender oil)
  • 1/2 c. of vinegar
  • 6-8 drops tea tree oil and
  • You can also add 6-8 drops of lavender oil if you wish (my castile soap was infused with lavender so I only added 3 drops)
  • Pour liquid mixture over cloth

Voila!  When you are done wiping down counters, or toilets, or whatever, simply throw these in the wash with your clothes, and make a new batch!  I keep my wipes on the kitchen counter so they are handy to grab!

Family Garden

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Pardon me while I share pictures of seeds busting out of the ground.  We just love spring!  And the Farmers Wife just loves gardening!!!  We are so excited the last few weeks have been warm.  School is winding down and much of the days have been spent outside.  We have 8 mouths to feed now, so our garden grew considerably this year.  We have 1/4 acre patch in our backyard and aprox. and acre of sweet corn.

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I just love to see little sprouts popping out of the ground!

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Just look how strong they are!!!

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First tomato!!!!  Get the salt shaker ready!  We have 36 tomato plants, but we are planning for a lot of salsa and spaghetti sauce.  I hope we will have enough! :)

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The Littlest Gardeners.  They like to help with their machinery.

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Pretty little cucumbers…we LOVE pickles around here!

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Last but not least, STRAWBERRIES.  We need a much larger patch!  I had hopes of canning jams and jellies, but they are eaten just as soon as they turn red.  The kids have a race every day to search for ripe berries. iphone pics2 105

Junior, the guardian of the strawberries.  He insures no mice in our strawberry patch!

Until next time, HAPPY GARDENING!

 

Berry Patch

 

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I have always enjoyed canning vegetables fresh from the garden and have even dabbled with peaches one year.  Where we live now, we knew wouldn’t be permanent, so we didn’t ever plant any fruit trees or berry patches. 

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This spring we finally had our chance.  We had bought railroad ties long ago for another project, but decided that they would serve us better as edging for the raised beds of our berry planters.

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 We drug them over with the 4-wheeler, laid them out and then put landscaping plastic on the bottom to cut down on weeding.  Don then filled the boxes with dirt and we planted. 

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We planted strawberries in one and blueberries in the other.  Then we put a thick layer of cedar mulch on them.  We have plans for a blueberry, dewberry and a cranberry patch also…we just have to purchase more railroad ties!!! 

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Spring Gardening

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We had a fun week last week!  It had rained and we were too wet to work, so we took a little field trip to buy some tomato plants.  We drove up to Sikeston, Missouri and ate at Lamberts Cafe.  The kids always have a fun time there catching their rolls.  They love their vegetables and home cooking too, so they also clean their plates!  After lunch we headed a little farther north to Diebold Orchards

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This was the first time we had been and we were all mesmerized by their greenhouses and their country store.  After taking a tour around their site we picked out out tomato plants, pepper plants, and strawberry plants and headed home.

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The next day don worked the garden a few times, with help of course, and put dirt in our berry boxes.  We planted  blackberries and strawberries in our raised beds, and 33 tomato plants on plastic in our garden.  Since we are having a giant garden this year and I am pregnant, we opted to cover about half in plastic to cut down on chopping and tilling.  The boys worked really hard hauling rocks to put on the plastic.  We still have a lot to do, but Don was able to get back in the field and this always trumps projects!

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Lee was our cameraman for the day.  He really had fun posing us for pictures.  I think a camera is in his future!

 

Verse of the Day
“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” — 1 John 5:14-15 Listen to chapter Public Domain. Powered by BibleGateway.com.
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