A Season of Giving

Give the gift of a garden this holiday season!

Take the work out of setting up a raised bed garden by ordering the entire setup to be installed at your home next spring.  We provide everything, and set it up, to get your garden growing!

Raised beds are a great way to get started gardening.  They are also great for children to easily reach and help in the garden, raised gardens are also great for individuals with accessibility issues.

What’s included?

*  4’x8’x22” cedar raised garden bed

*  Premium top soil, compost, and micro and macro nutrients

*  Vegetable plants and seeds of the clients choosing

*  Setup and installation of raised bed, soil, plants, and seeds

*  Watering, harvesting, and plant care plan for customer

Follow up site visit to make sure everything is growing well.  Unlimited follow up e-mail support, access to our members only resources, and trouble shooting to make sure your plants are growing great.

Timeline and Next Steps

Order your garden gift for the holiday season, we will provide you a lovely gift certificate and information pamphlet to present to your loved one.

In January we will set up a consultation phone call, to facilitate the selection of their favorite vegetables and garden plants to be planted in their new raised bed garden. At this time we will also schedule a date for spring installation.

This gift keeps on giving year after year!

Garden Helpers

Love having healthy homegrown produce to eat all summer long, but need help with the upkeep that a garden requires?

A garden maintenance subscription might just be what you need.  Let us take the work and stress out of having a garden.  Our garden helpers are trained to know exactly what your garden needs and when it needs it in order to get a bountiful harvest.

What’s included?

Our garden helpers show up once a week to do general maintenance on your garden.

*  Harvest produce (if client desires)

*  Weeding, its what we love to do!

*  Removal of dead leaves, remove spent plants, and general tidying of garden

*  Apply organic fertilizer as needed

*  Pinch, trellis, stake and prune plants as needed

*  Utilize Integrated Pest Management to prevent and control pests

*  Replant as discussed with client, such as lettuce, and radishes

*  Plant a cover crop at the end of the season to help naturally add nitrogen to the soil

*  Leave the client notes about garden, and follow up e-mail on garden status

Timeline and Next Steps

The garden service runs from mid April to mid September or whenever the first killing frost happens.  The $99 a month subscription covers edible gardens up to 250 sq. ft.  If your garden is over 250 sq. ft. contact us for pricing.

Let us help you grow healthy fruits and vegetables for your family!

Dreaming of Having a Garden?

Dream no more!  Want fresh healthy produce to your family but don’t have the time, or know where to start?  Let us help your family get started on the road to healthy living.  Large or small we are here to help you with your garden needs.

What do we provide?

Complete garden installation: Soil site prep, soil amendments as needed, mulch, vegetable starts and seed installation, row markers, and garden support.

Garden Plant and Seed Installation: Already have a garden space, or beds?  No time to pickup plants or seeds, let alone put them in the ground?  Let us take the stress away and get that garden growing.  This option works well for busy families, especially when coupled with our garden maintenance package.

Garden Maintenance: For those busy individuals who want healthy produce but don’t have the time for the weekly maintenance needed to keep plants healthy and producing.

Raised Garden Beds: For families lacking space, don’t like the looks of a traditional garden, or those who have mobility issues raised garden beds are

Backyard Animals

This year Scott wanted to expand our chicken operation. Unfortunately, we are only allowed by code to have four adult female fowl in our city. His solution is we have become chicken concierges! {No, we don’t really call ourselves that}

There are people in our neighborhood who are interested in raising chickens but cautious about going it alone. For homeowners we set up the coop, provide the chickens, and even make daily visits to feed and water the chickens. Neighbors love getting farm fresh eggs that were harvested from their own backyard!

Why do we do it?

The more homes in our neighborhood that have gardens, orchards, chickens, bunnies, and beehives the more resilient our entire neighborhood becomes.  It also normalizes homesteading activities for not only the house we have the chickens at, but for all their neighbors too.  As we are out and about taking care of these chickens we have the opportunity to chat with neighbors and share our passion.  Next steps, we are developing a program to offer garden rabbits for our neighbors too.

Soil Solutions: Building New Soil

Baseline Soil Condition:  End of summer last year, we had a rocky patch of land that nothing seemed to grow on.

before and After meme 1

Instead of continuing to dig down, we decided to build the condition of the soil on top in hopes to restore a healthy soil web…

* We laid down bulbs (right on top of the rocky soil)
* Heavily mulched with straw
* Covered with over 180 lbs. of free coffee grounds from a neighborhood coffee shop
* Scattered our ‘go to’ nitrogen fixing cover crop (Austrian Winter Pea & Red Clover)

Today we have a beautiful, soil building, garden for our bees and humans alike to enjoy! 🌼🍃🌷🍃🌸

How to Start a Suburban Food Forest

In the last 3 years, my husband and I have planted 30 fruit bearing trees and experimenting with permaculture trios.

We first heard about permaculture trios by following biologist and educator Stefan Sobkowiak on YouTube.  According to Sobkowiak, the best way to start a food forest is to establish 2 trios and propagate your mature trio over time to establish new trios on your property.  He makes this recommendation because the initial investment is reasonable for average households.  Also, in establishing your first 2 trios you will learn everything you need to know about your skill set, what grows well in your region, and your land without risking loss of time and investment.

What is a Trio?

Each trio is made up of:

*  2 fruit or nut bearing trees

*  1 nitrogen fixing tree (a tree capable of sequestering nitrogen from the air into the soil)

*  9 fruit bearing shrubs (3 per tree)

*  30 perennial plants (10 per tree)

In a trio the trees will be planted per the nursery’s recommended spacing.  In between the trees, the shrubs and perennials are companion planted around the tree’s base.  This creates a biodiverse ‘forest’ that is capable of retaining water due to the living mulch of the perennial plant layer.  The nitrogen fixing tree ensures natural fertilization of the the soil, without the use of chemicals or soil amendments.

The result is a self-promoting living system that produces food year-after-year, with minimal inputs.  And as the trios matures you can propagate the trees and plants to establish more trios for your property!

Fruits and nut trees that I recommend for my region (Millwood- zone 6a)

*  Hazelnuts (filberts)

*  Pecans

*  Walnuts

*  Apples

*  Apricots

*  Cherries

* Nectarines

*  Peaches

*  Pears

*  Plums

Nitrogen fixer trees that I recommend for my region (Millwood- zone 6a)

*  Bladder Senna

*  Silk tree mimosa

Fruit bearing shrubs that I recommend for my region (Millwood- zone 6a)

*  Blackberry

*  Blueberry

*  Boysenberry

*  Currants

*  Elderberry

*  Goji Berry

*  Gooseberry

*  Gumi Berry

*  Mulberry

*  Raspberry

Edible/Medicinal perennial plants that I recommend for my region (Millwood- zone 6a)

*  Basil

*  Chives

*  Claytonia (Miners Lettuce)

*  Egyptian walking onions

*  Garlic Chive

*  Ginger

*  Good King Henry

*  Lavender

*  Lemon Balm

*  Mint

*  Oregano

*  Parsley

*  Ramps (Wild Leeks)

*  Rosemary

*  Rhubarb

*  Sylvetta Arugula

*  Sage

*  Shallots

*  Sorrel

* Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)

* Sweet Potato

* Tree Collards

* Thyme

*  Yams

Rosehips and Honey

These past 2 weeks, in addition to food preserves, I have been preparing ingredients to be added to my homegrown healing library.  One of the exciting additions this fall is a healthy bowl full of rosehips that a dear friend gifted me.

To prepare my rosehips, I first rinsed them and then removed all the leaves and stems.  At the tip of the rosehips there are a patches of ‘hairs’.  Some methods of drying will recommend that after the rosehips are dried and chopped, you can rid your stock of the ‘hairs’ by using a sifter.  I want to store whole rosehips in my healing library so I chose to just cut the tips off before the drying process.

img_6269.jpg

After the rosehips were prepared, I oven-dried them until the skins had a reddish brown leathery quality.  Drying rosehips is just intended to remove extra moisture to increase the shelf stability.  The rosehips should not fundamentally change into a new product, like plums drying into prunes.

I stocked away a quart mason jar full of dried rosehips for future recipes.  This left a little over a cup of rosehips to infuse into Rosehip Honey.

There are 2 basic methods to infuse honey.  I have used both and select based on the material to be infused, and the time horizon I have to complete the project.  For dried fruit infused honey, I prefer to simmer the honey with fruit directly added to the honey.  I do this by placing the cooking pan with honey and fruit in a hot water bath so that the heat is evenly distributed and the honey is not scorched.

For more complex recipes, such as my turmeric savory honey, I allow time to infuse the material into the honey passively for 6-8 weeks.  After the dwell time is complete all I do is strain the extra material out of the honey and store infused honey in a mason jar.

Infused Honey

(Passively Infusing Turmeric Savory Honey)

Autumn Abundance

Everything seems to slow down this time of year.  The darkness outside beckons me inside to nest and prepare for a winter’s rest.

Yet there is still so much to do!

This is the time of year all the efforts of spring and summer come to bear and abundance abounds.

IMG_6174

This year we have been oven-drying tomatoes in mass to use for recipes for the next two years to come.  Next year we plan on canning tomato sauces and pastes for the next two years after that.

Alternating focuses every other year allows for better planning of which varieties of tomatoes to grow in a given year, in addition to not burdening the food preserver with too many items to prepare every year.

The amount of effort to save 2 years worth (as opposed to 1 year worth) of an item is negligible, the amount of effort to save 1 years worth of 2 items every year is significant.

IMG_6177

The first fall frosts tell us it is time to harvest the remainder of winter squashes and pumpkins.  Cutting pumpkins and squash from the vine with 2 inch stems left on their heads will allow us to store these fall treats easily for up to 4 months.

My family also deep mulches (with straw) cold hardy greens to extend the season as long as possible.  The straw beds also add carbon to the garden to be broken down over the winter into the soil for the next growing season.

IMG_6176

Last, we are up against time to winterize the five hives of our apiary and harvest the honey before it is too cold.

We triple strain our honey by gravity, so the honey harvest can take a couple of weeks to complete.  It can take months to complete making all the products we make with the leftover honeycomb and beeswax.

IMG_6183

Harvest Season

Between our garden, the farmer’s market, and Green Bluff- our local farming community, we are swimming in produce abundance!

For modern day homesteaders across the country, August is harvest season. This last weekend we put:  9lbs. of blueberries; 6lbs. of Bing cherries; 3 bunches of radishes; 9lbs. of carrots; and countless cucumbers up on our larder shelves.  Additionally, we dried bunches of tomatoes for future pasta dishes and dinner entrees.

The following are two very easy food preservation techniques that should be in every homesteader’s toolbox.

Pickled Vegetables

We use brine and lacto-fermatation to pickle our vegetables…

*  1 Quart jar

*  2 Tbsp. of salt (we use Himalayan pink salt)

*  3 Cloves of garlic

*  Pearl onion

*  Additional fresh herbs (dill for cucumbers)

*  Fresh filtered water

In the bottom of a dry jar, add 3 cloves of garlic, pearl onion, chosen herbs, and salt.

IMG_5846

Next pack the vegetables in as tightly as possible, top off with fresh water, and close the jar.

Pressure might build up in the jar as a byproduct of the lacto-fermentation process. After a week on the shelf, simply loosing the ring on the jar to ‘burp’ it and then tighten the ring back on. Burping the jar will no longer be necessary after 2-3 weeks and the pickles will be shelf stable. The pickles must refrigerated after opening.

How long these pickles can be stored is a debated issue. Your taste buds are a reliable guide in lacto-fermentation. This is the same process that is used for dishes like Kimchi and Sauerkraut.

Oven Dried Fruit

*  Parchment paper

Take parchment paper and line metal pans.  In a single layer, lay out your fresh washed fruit to be dried.  Place in oven set at 170-210 degrees. Convection mode is best.  If you have to use bake mode, set at 170 degrees and put fruit on top shelf.  We used 210 on convection mode.

IMG_5843

Dry your fruit for 3 to 8 hours depending on type of fruit. Check your fruit every 2 hours to determine how much longer to keep it in. We used the same process for the cherries, but due to sugar content after they had been oven-dried we had to air dry on parchment for a few days before transferring to a mason jar for storage.  The blueberries were able to be stored after a short cooling period of an hour.

August is the time to preserve harvests! In the coming weeks we will be steam juicing plums and grapes, as well as our annual honey harvest.

Our Grocery Garden

When we are sharing our enthusiasm about growing our own food with others, we often hear responses like:

“I have never had a garden before”

“I don’t have a green thumb”

“Our yard isn’t big enough to grow food”  

My family is passionate about growing our own food. We have been suburban farming for 3 years and this year we plan to have a full 4300 sq. ft. (1/10th of an acre) of our yard devoted to growing food for our table. I am the first to admit though, parts of our property definitely yield more return for the invested energy and money spent.

The most productive part of our property is the 250 sq. ft. we call the grocery garden. Most of what is planted in this 250 sq. ft. space is either a perennial that only needs to be planted once and grows for a lifetime; or can be easily purchased as a ‘start’ (mature plant ready to be planted) for less than $3 each.

A garden like our Grocery Garden is extremely feasible in a yard of any size, and can be nurtured by a gardener with any level of experience.

What’s in our Grocery Garden?

*  Kitchen herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary, basil, and oregano)

*  9 Tomato plants

*  Cut & come again salad greens (kale and lettuce mix)

*  A 120 sq. ft. strawberry patch

*  4 Pepper plants

*  8 Cucumber plants

*  2 Blueberry bushes

*  Multiple blackberry bushes

*  Multiple raspberry bushes

*  Chives

*  Parsley

With a reasonable investment and very little effort to maintain, we encourage everyone to start reaping the monumental benefits of a Grocery Garden of their own.

grocery farm4