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Gardening Tips

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The Homesteader's Garden

The first thing I always recommend to people when they talk to me about a garden is to plant what will grow in your area , but more importantly , plant what you will eat , what you like to eat . Use your time and garden space wisely . Don't plant a lot of things you will never use unless you plan to sell your goods ,in which case , select things that are of a greater economic worth. Our garden is a simple one , containing simple things that we usually have good success at growing , and which are practical to be grown , maximizing production for space available . We grow potatoes , green beans , swiss chard , beets , carrots , squash , and strawberries .


80- 120 days until harvest

Potatoes are known as a perfect food , nutritionally balanced to be a stable provider of almost everything a person needs to survive . When coupled with milk , one not only has a perfect meal in potato soup , but also a survival food . You could comfortably live on potatoes and milk , and never need another thing , or so I've heard , I haven't actually tried it , so don't hold me accountable if you try it :)

Harvest is supposed to be around 4 lbs per plant give or take . New plants "clones" are easy to make by cutting up potatoes leaving 2-3 good eyes on each piece , or using whole egg sized sprouted potatoes . Leave the potato start to dry for around a day or so , then place it directly in the ground . The soil should be loose 10" down , but it should only be planted 4" deep . They can be planted in a hill , or in a trench . Plant seed potatoes 10" apart , rows should be 30" apart . Plant sprout side up.

As soon as the plant is up 9-10" above the surface , cover it with soil to 3" from the top of the plant ,pulling soil from both sides of the plant where possible , and "hilling" the plant up . This provides warmth and stability and a place for the potatoes to form off of the nodes on the potato plant stem. Every 3 weeks , add soil again , until the plant begins to flower , at this point it has formed all of the potatoes it is going to , and further hilling will be unprofitable . I usually only get one hilling out of my potatoes before they flower .

Be careful not to allow grazing animals around your crop as leaves are poisonous and animals may eat them and or dig up potatoes.

Potatoes like water , but not too much . They typically need only about an inch a week . But inconsistent watering can create hollow heart , which is a great disappointment when you cut into a giant home grown potato of 3 lbs ,and find it has hollow heart in the middle . Try to be consistent and thorough in your watering practices , and this will help . However if you see potatoes wilted ,do water them.If there is evidence of bugs eating the leaves spray soap and water mixture on them.

Healthy potatoes may produce potato fruit which looks like tiny green tomatoes, fruit is toxic, but seeds can be harvested to plant, these will not be clones of the potato mother as the seed potato is but is cross pollinated and can also be planted in spring.

First harvest can be done of little new potatoes when the plant flowers . Be careful not to disturb the plant too much , be gentle in your harvest , don't leave the roots and the little potatoes exposed . Exposed potatoes will become green when exposed to sunlight , rendering them inedible and poisonous . Cover the hole carefully after pre-digging and water the plant well to help it back on it's feet.

Final harvest takes place after the potato plant dies back . Leave the potatoes in the ground 2 more weeks to cure unless it's going to be raining too much , in which case you should dig them . When you dig your potatoes , sift through the soil in each row twice , and be sure you both dig deep enough , and far enough out to either side of the dead potato plant , so that you don't miss the potatoes . You will always miss some , and that's ok , these volunteer to come back the next year , and I find are often times more productive than the ones I've planted , we call these volunteers "The Lord's Potatoes" .

As we harvest , we have boxes we sort into , I find fruit boxes very convenient and stackable . We use one box for eating potatoes, one for eating right away potatoes (ones you've cut or gouged during harvest , which won't keep long term ) , one box for next year's seed , the size of an egg , completely unblemished , without knobs or nicks on them . The last box for tiny smaller than an egg potatoes , these are edible too of course , but don't keep as long as larger ones , if i dont eat them or can them , I boil them for our chickens or our pigs and they love them, raw potatoes however are poisonous .

Never wash your potatoes when you dig them. Dig a row or two or three , whatever you think you can handle harvesting in a day. Leave them to dry an hour or so , try not to harvest when it will be damp or too close to sunset . Make sure they get in some good drying time , then wipe the dirt off a little , place them in your various boxes , store them in a well ventilated , cool, (though not too cool or they will take on a sweet taste ) , dry , dark place , and enjoy using them all winter long . Potatoes may sprout , if it's near planting time , the end of march for our area , then cut the eyes off as you go and save them in the fridge until planting time as extra seed. Check your potatoes frequently as you store them , as you will always lose a few , some because of gouges you missed , some for other reasons, but potatoes are like apples , one bad one will spoil the barrel , rot spreads , and nothing smells worse than rotting potatoes . And for Apple's sake ! , keep potatoes stored away from apples , as they can cause a musty taste to your apples .

Our Favorite recipes for potatoes

Canned Potatoes

Dice 1-1 1/2 " peeled or unpeeled , cover clean potatoes with boiling water , cook on high 10 min. drain to stop cooking

half an inch head room in the jar , 1 tsp salt per quart . Add boiling water . Following safe canning guidelines pressure process only , 15 lbs pressure 35min pints , 40 min. quarts

French Fries

we use home grown yukon gold potatoes , peeled , cut then sliced into fries , fried in bear fat , rendered down into lard .

bear fat does not soak into the french fries like vegetable oil does . Fry until golden brown , sprinkle with salt , enjoy the fruits of your labors

Farmer's Potato bread / multipurpose dough

This is actually an old potato dinner roll recipe , but i love it for bread loaves , even cinnamon rolls , just a great all around multipurpose dough

1 pkg active dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 cup hot mashed potatoes

1/4 cup shortening , (can use oil ,butter or lard (melted))

1/4 cup sugar (add more than that if you are making sweet rolls ,maybe more like 1/2- 3/4 cup)

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 cup scalded milk (i prefer to substitute whey from cheese making when i have it , it makes much better bread)

1 egg

4- 4 1/2 cup all purpose flour

soften yeast in warm water with some of your sugar(this helps the yeast really react well )

combine mashed potatoes , melted shortening or other oil , remaining sugar , salt , and hot milk or whey, cool to luke warm.

Add softened yeast and egg . Stir in 2 cups of flour , beat well , stir in remaining flour or enough to make a soft dough .

Knead until smooth and elastic , place in a greased or oiled bowl , turn over once to grease both sides . Cover with either a warm wet flour sack towel or some plastic wrap , let rise until doubled in size , punch down , let rise again for 10 min. , form into rolls or loaves ,let rise in a greased pan until almost doubled . bake in a 400 degree oven 10-12 min. for rolls ,or for loaves 30-40 min or until a food thermometer reads 195-200 degrees , this is my favorite bread recipe ever ,so versatile , so soft and good ! enjoy !

Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is a great standby for the home gardener . It is grown easily ,matures in 60 days , and is useable as soon as the leave are big enough to be eaten . Be careful when eating it raw however , as it contains oxalic acid , which cooks out when you cook it , but remains when you eat it raw , you can eat it raw , but limit how much you eat , in large quantities it is considered toxic , same thing with feeding to livestock , don't let livestock have unfettered access to it because larger quantities could be harmful . Swiss chard is cold hardy , oftentimes remaining through the winter ,except in the coldest of temperatures . In a hard but not a killing frost I cover the plants with a bed sheet at night to protect them , and keep them viable for longer . Swiss chard can be cut often , but as it matures , before cooking , remove the central rib of the leaves which can become tough . Make sure that you soak leaves in salty water ahead of cooking to get any insects off . Swiss chard is a little like spinach and can be cooked like spinach . I find spinach to be more bitter , and hard to grow because it bolts too early . Swiss chard can also bolt , especially if the plant feels stressed by weather , extreme heat or the feeling of fall coming on . But if you have troubled to get heirloom seeds as i have then some of the chard plants bolting can be a good thing , as leaving them to go to seed can provide you with garden seed for the next year , or if left to it's own devices will plant its own seed the next year . Swiss chard is hardy , well rooted , and sprout easily typically . Each seed is actually a seed pod , producing 1-10 plants , which must later be thinned out to 10" apart , this gives the plant room to grow . I personally save all thinned baby plants , instead of tossing them away , and plant them where there are gaps in the blocks . I stopped planting in rows and started planting in blocks I found myself happier with the results , as the plants support one another better . Though deep rooted , swiss chard will wilt easily in the hot sun . A little water can often save it in the summer heat . Swiss chard benefits from a manure tea , one week after sprouting , and every now and again thereafter , it encourages growth . Refrain from fertilizing one week before eating however . If left to its own devices after it bolts , it grows a thick tree like trunk , it can grow over head high filled with seeds before it topples . If your intention is to harvest your own seeds , be sure the chard is heirloom first . Wait for the seeds to reach full maturity , the turn brown when they are mature . Harvest the seeds by cutting the plant off at the base , or at the base of the branches , hang upside down in a dark room until the seeds are very dry , place them in a paper bag for storage , store them in a cool dry place . Plant the following spring at 1/4" depth , 10" apart after danger of frost has passed .


One of our favorite ways to cook swiss chard is boiling or steaming with salt and desired spices , and seasoning with a good spoon of bacon grease , you will need to make sure you cover while cooking and turn the greens over during cooking to make sure the top leaves get cooked too


Another favorite way to cook swiss chard , is using it in place of Spanakopita , many people do this differently than we do , but ours is more of a country style Spanakopita , we use a pie crust recipe , cut the dough in two , roll one piece of it out with a rolling pin , i roll it directly on a large pizza pan well floured , then roll it up and put the first piece aside , this will be your top , roll out the second piece of dough directly on a large pizza pan . Wash swiss chard , de stem , cut it up with a knife or scissors in little strips , place in a large bowl so you'll have plenty of room to mix it around. You may make as little or as big of a pie as you like so cut enough chard accordingly , after you have the desired amount of chard , i cut up maybe about 8-10 loose cups . Now for the cream factor , we make our own goat's milk heavy cream yogurt , but you can use any plain yogurt , the richer the better , add enough yogurt just to make a nice thick mixture with our chard so it sticks together . add salt , and spices to your own taste (we use salt, pepper , seasoning salt , garlic powder .) You can add in other things if desired , grilled onions , chopped fried bacon , pre sauteed mushrooms , be aware that if you add anything with high moisture content , it is very likely to leak out and make a mess of your oven . Dump the mixture onto your bottom crust on your pizza pan , unroll your top over top of it , it may be mounded in the middle , but that's ok , its going to shrink as it cooks . Pull the edges of the bottom over the top and crimp down good , pat down the middle a bit . Bake in a 400 degree oven until the pie is golden brown , and a fork poked in finds your chard tender . takes around 30 min. or so . This is a great family favorite at our house !


Select Carrots of your favorite variety , any homegrown variety will be better than store bought for flavor . I've tried several and have settled on Bericulum 2 , but it can however be a hard variety to find . This is a type of carrot that does not get woody later in the season as some varieties do . I've found it's size and taste to be preferable and it works well for me for both fresh use and canning needs . Before planting carrots , be sure the soil is well saturated .I prepare the soil for days before i plant carrots . Carrot seeds are very tiny , some will recommend surface sowing , I have never had any luck with that . I cover them very lightly with soil and find that they sprout better . I plant one carrot seed every 2-3 inches (we plant block style 30" accross with bunches of tiny short rows spaced about 4" apart ) , because that's about the width of a carrot at maturity . If more seeds spill , as is likely to happen for their size , and too many are sown together , once they are sprouted , wait until they have second leaves (they are too tender at only first leaves) I thin them and plant the excess in bald spots in the block . Be sure to water them well after disturbing the soil, as baby carrots are very shallow rooted , and transplants don't always make it. After first planting carrot seeds , water the block well, but don't let the water hit the ground too hard or it will displace your carrot seeds , so water well but gently. Until carrots are up , water twice daily making sure the ground stays moist . After carrots are up , water and weed frequently , as carrots are small and easily become dry and choked out by weeds . Wait to weed until you can definitively tell the difference between carrots and bits of grass coming coming up. Once you find a few carrots , it will help you predict where the next little row is in the block , because you've planted each row a predictable distance from the last row , that way you won't be pulling up carrots by accident during indiscriminate weeding. A weed as I have found , will come out of the ground with great difficulty , put a plant you have planted will come out of the ground with great ease . With every handful of prolific weeds , check to see if you have any good vegetables you have accidentally pulled out . I use all weeds i have pulled to place between the planting blocks , roots upward . I try to weed when the next day will be dry and warm in order to insure that pulled weeds will die . Placing them between the blocks to wilt and die allows them to go back into the garden and feed the soil , and saves the soil that was pulled up with them . Note , don't do this with weeds that have gone to seed as you would then be helping them plant themselves for next year . Carrots are a 60 day to maturity crop , though they sometimes seem to take longer . They will keep in the ground until it begins to freeze hard , but I have often found in doing this , that it invites little wormy pests that eat them underground. I find placing wood ash in the soil preparatory to planting can be helpful as well as to observe proper crop rotation. I try not to plant root crops in the same place in back to back years . Slugs also feast on the sides of carrots where they are exposed at the soil's surface , or where a carrot has been pulled out beside another one .When harvesting carrots along for fresh use , be sure to cover the holes the harvested carrots have left behind in the soil , as slugs love to use it as a nice shady retreat from the summer sun and to feast on the next carrot over whenever possible from their snug little bed . Rodents can also invade to do the same . So leaving carrots very long in the ground after they reach maturity can be unproductive. Many people recommend sowing carrots every 3 weeks , I find after the first and second sowing that carrots fail to mature properly as fall hastens on , and will be stunted if further plantings are attempted . Carrots expected to go to seed to produce for the next year , can be held over or disturbed and replaced in the soil in order to properly seed out the next year. Seeds are ready to harvest when the flower crown has turned brown with the seeds on it. Cut it , bring it in and hang it upside down to dry .

At any rate , carrots make a great homesteading supplement , either fresh or for the canning shelf , carrots are a great carbohydrate and starch . They are easily kept fresh for later use by placing them whole and unpeeled with the green foliage removed laying down horizontally in a shallow bin filled with moist sand and stored in a cool dry place , but moistening often , they keep longer this way than in the refrigerator .

Canned carrots are pretty easily achieved , wash all fresh carrots thoroughly , peel them and cut them in 1/2" chunks or slices , save the peels and tops for bunnies goats or pigs . Peeled and cut up carrots may be kept in the refrigerator in water , (water should be over the top of the carrots) if canning is desired the next day after peeling and cutting , but don't put them in there cut up and without water because the carrot will dehydrate and won't rehydrate properly even after canning . To can , Boil a pot of water , do not use hard water as it can make vegetables bitter . Place carrots in the boiling water and return to a boil . Drain or dip the carrots out , saving the liquid for canning liquid . Place in hot jars and cover with hot water , leaving 1" head space . Add 1 tsp canning salt per quart. Remove air bubbles with a butter knife . Wipe the rim , add your heated pressure processing approved lid with ring , tighten . Pressure can only ! this is a low acid food , not safe unless pressure canned. Can at 10 lb pressure (I can at 15lbto insure proper poundage was never lost ) For 25 min for pints , 30 min for quarts.

Favorite dishes for carrots

Candied Carrots

I use canned carrots for this recipe , as they are already nice and soft and able to accept the sugary glaze , as it is essential that it soaks in . Drain canned carrots thoroughly , empty into a hot frying pan with a couple pats of butter , let this simmer until any remaining liquid is cooked off , this also causes an added richness as the butter cooks into the carrots , now add a goodly amount of brown sugar to the pan , i use quite a bit to be honest , i like lots of sugar . , reduce the heat now to about medium low and let it cook down and reduce , making a caramel laden sticky looking pan of carrots that are so good that you'll think its a dessert rather than a side dish.

Carrot sticks with home made ranch dip

wash , peel and cut carrots into sticks ,


1/4 cup mayonaise

2/3 cup home made heirloom yogurt or other plain yogurt

season to taste with salt , seasoning salt , garlic powder , onion powder , and dried parsley flakes


Germinates in 10 days , Detroit Dark Reds are 60 days til harvest for the beet itself

Our favorite variety of beets is Detroit Dark Reds , we try to purchase heirloom where we can , though I dont think I've had beets bolt except perhaps twice , if they do , and you wish to save the seed , and it is heirloom , they should be handled as swiss chard in seed harvest . Each beet seed is not a single seed , but a seed pod containing up to ten seeds . Plant after last frost , at a depth of up to 1/2 " . Plant every few inches , or the width of the beets you wish to harvest . We like to plant our beets in a block , but don't plant too close , over crowding can cause beets to be inhibited in growth . We plant a block 30" wide . Once the beets are becoming established I thin to about 4" apart . I replant the beets I have thinned in the gaps where beets did not come up well . These replanted beets don't thrive as well , but are still of a benefit , and certainly more than tossing them away . As soon as beets have second leaves I fertilize with manure tea , I fertilize every 3 weeks until they are well established . Stop fertilizing for a week before first beet green harvest . You may begin cutting beet green as soon as they are big enough to bother cutting , about 8" tall . Continue to harvest beet greens as you would swiss chard throughout the season . Be sure to harvest the mature leaves as well as the younger ones to keep the whole plant fresh and new . Unlike swiss chard , which contains oxalic acid and must be eaten in moderation when raw , beet greens can be eaten in unlimited quantities raw or cooked , they can be fed to rabbits , goats , and sheep raw as well without fear of them getting too much oxalic acid .. The secondary beet we grow is Mammoth Red Mangel , which is 100 days to harvest for the beet itself , and again 10 days til germination . We grow Mammoth Red Mangels specifically for the beet greens as they are the best we have ever tasted . The beet root we have learned to use exclusively for the animals as the taste and texture when mature is not to e compared with the Detroit Dark Reds . Mammoth Red Mangel beets were grown in times past specifically for feeding livestock as the beet can grow to 20 lbs . Beets are a good secondary resource for feeding to animals , historically in a pinch they have been used as a substitute for hay . Beet pulp pellets are now gaining in popularity for livestock , but they are low in protein , though no lower than most other grains nowadays , since corn used to be a whopping 16% protein and now is reduced to 7-8% . Beets are easy and cheap to grow on the whole , though supermarket prices do not reflect that . Beets are a good choice for homesteaders making a great food source for yourself as well as a backup resource for your stock in autumn when times may be a little lean . Many is the day the beet crop got us out of a pinch by adding a little something extra when resources ran low for the pigs and goats , cleaning out the garden patch of beets made all the difference for them . Beets do harden off quite effectively as days grow colder , so you don't want to wait too long to harvest what you will be using for yourself and your family . They intermittently like to push themselves out of the ground as they grow , they can become wilted or sun scorched if they aren't reburied . Also keeping the weeds thinned out from around them will prevent slugs from taking refuge in the moist beet patch , as well as eliminating places for rodents which love to nibble on beets at the end of the season as well .


Beet greens can be prepared the same as swiss chard might be , we boil ours with a little salt and bacon grease or fresh goat butter , it has a fine sweet taste , and I far prefer it to swiss chard or spinach . You can also cook the fresh beets in with the greens for a sweeter treat .

Pickled Beets

Be sure not to cut beet tops off during processing or they will bleed out all of the color ,they can be trimmed back to a couple inches , but leave the stems on . Beets must be blanched / cooked until the skins slip , then put them in a bath of cold water to stop the cooking process , slip the peels and stems off , slice or dice the beets into a large bowl.

Green Beans

Germinates in 7-10 days , 60 days to harvest

Green Beans are a great old standby , you will have to decide for yourself between bush or climbing variety . I prefer bush beans , and my selection is Blue Lake Bush Beans ,heirloom variety . Though we have planted purple podded pole beans with some success , and found them to be quite tasty , but they lose their vibrant color when you can or cook them , and therefore some of their appeal . If you're going to plant different varieties however , plant them far enough apart , around 60 feet , so they won't intermix if you plan on harvesting your own seed. We plant Blue Lake Bush beans in early summer , June or July , as they don'r grow well in cool weather . Plant cosmos or marigolds alongside for insect control . For faster germination when planting , soak the bean seeds for an hour before planting in preprepared wet ground . I wet the bean block for several days in advance in order to give the beans a good chance . I plant them in a 30" wide block x desired length , ours is 30 feet long , but most people won't want that many . Plant them at a depth of 1" about 2-3" apart . I don't thin them out later , as I find it is a good support for one another . Being planted in a block also lends them better support . I plant the blocks at a width so I can reach at least halfway across it for picking or weeding . Choose as neighbors for your beans something that is fairly low profile and upright because beans tend to lay down and spread out . If their neighbor is a potato plant for instance , which also does the same thing , then the two of them together will try to cover your isle , and you need a proper space to weed in . We try to keep a 2-3 foot isle between blocks . Keep planted bean seeds well watered until they are up , watch for them to pop up out of the ground after rain or watering and poke them back into the ground carefully . Dont break out the sprout if they have started to sprout or the bean seed will die . We overplant on beans because the old addage is , and seemingly is correct , one for the mouse , one for the crow , one to rot and one to grow . Watch for crows watching you while planting , particularly on bean and pea seeds , they will go after you and pull them out of the ground , try to scare them away before planting . Once beans sprout out of the ground , watch for slugs and bugs , and even our dogs also enjoy an ocasional bean sprout . We have learned to keep them out of the garden at this time until the plant has second or third leaves . If they get chewed or snapped off prior to this , the plant does not regrow . Fertilize with manure tea to encourage rapid growth after first leaves , especially if you observe yellowing leaves . Watch for bugs chewing holes in the bean leaves ,and use a soapy water spray to repel , it will have to be reapplied after you water and after it rains , we just use a little dawn or ivory dish soap in water in a spray bottle . Beans might be enjoyed raw as soon as tiny beans become visible . I find in the high harvest , beans need to be picked every 2-3 days to avoid over maturing beans . Our first picking is generally about 1 gallon , and after that , on a good year , we harvest a 5 gallon bucket of them every couple days . If you are purposed to harvest your own heirloom seed , you may want to mark off a section you aren't going to pick at all . Beans are ready for seed harvest when the pods turn yellowy , and are supple / pliant to the touch , as the flesh inside gives way to the growing seed , and the outside grows leathery . Remove green bean seeds from the pods to air dry , toss out any that are immature , split or damaged . When dry , store in a paper bag . At the end of the harvest , the plants , now empty of all fruit can be left to decompose in the soil naturally , this fixes nitrogen to the soil . Or the plants can be pulled out and used for fodder for the animals .


Canned Green Beans

Canned Green beans are a great use of your harvest . I pick them the day before I mean to can them at the most . You want your beans to be fresh and unwilted . Do not use over mature beans as they will be stringy . Only when you are going to can them immediately , remove both ends , if you snap them off the day before they will grow brown on the ends . Snap the bean to a length of 2"and place in a water bucket to soak off any excess dirt after having rinsed them . Note , beans soaked overnight in water become water logged . And beans kept out of the water after snapping develop brown ends and go limp pretty quickly . Snapping beans can be a great time to socialize as you and your family or friends snap beans together , bean snapping is a great tradition at our house . Pack snapped raw green beans tightly in hot regular mouth canning jars . I find large mouth jars don't hold as much and you'll end up with more wasted space when they settle after being canned . A regular mouth jar crammed with beans up to the neck allows the shoulders of the jar to ensure a nice full jar when it comes out of the canner . Place 1 tsp. canning salt per jar , add boiling water , do not use hard water to avoid bitterness to the beans . Leave 1/2" head space . Place a knife in to eliminate air bubbles . Put on a hot canning lid and ring . Pressure process only . I process at 15 lbs rather than the 10 lbs most recommend so that it gives me time if it drops pressure for any reason to correct the problem , otherwise you have to begin the time over again if it drops below 10 lbs . Process 20 min. for pints 25 min . for quarts . Never water bath green beans as they are a well known carrier of botulism , as are beets and mushrooms . If they are canned correctly , they are safe to be used , though the fear of home canned green beans continues in many , there should be no trouble with it as long as you have followed the instructions closely . 

Garden Peas

Germination time 7-10 days , 60 days to harvest Plant 1" deep

Our pea of choice is heirloom seeds , Little Marvel bush peas . These also come in a pole pea variety , but even if you grow the bush variety they will need support . We have tried other varieties but we have found these to be the sweetest and our favorite . Sow in spring before last frost . Plant 1" deep , and we space ours 2-3 " apart . We don't thin them . They can be soaked previous to planting for about an hour to increase germination , and decrease germination time . Check often to see that they haven't popped out of the ground during germination and gently push them back in if they have . They need a good fence to climb on that the wind won't knock down . They need a little help after sprouting to find the fence if the fence is off the ground a little . Place their curly little arms around the fence and keep checking they haven't fallen down until they have a good hold . For harvest , check for a nice full pod , squeeze gently together to check the pea size . Sometimes you can hold the pod up to the sun to see the peas in the pod . This isn't an edible pod variety . but if picked very young , before the peas develop , the pod is edible . They yield pretty well overall , and they need to be picked every couple days so they don't become over mature and starchy . To harvest seeds , leave the peas to develop on the vine . The pod will become very fat and hard , sometimes turning a light yellow and the outside will become bumpy when they are mature . Take seeds out of the pod and air dry , discard any pea seeds that are under mature , split , or sprouting which can happen if its been a wet year . Check for dryness carefully before storing and discard any that mold .


Canned Peas

Peas for canning shouldn't be over mature . I have canned them both hot and cold and found so little difference , that I will put a recipe for cold canning as it's always easier and quality doesn't suffer for it . Pour uncooked shelled peas into hot pint jars , Pressure process only . I process at 15 lbs rather than the 10 lbs most recommend so that it gives me time if it drops pressure for any reason to correct the problem , otherwise you have to begin the time over again if it drops below 10 lbs . Leave 1" headspace , 1/2 tsp salt per pint , add boiling water , (do not use hard water to avoid bitterness ) fill hot water to within 1 1/2" of the top of the jar . Water will come well below the top of the peas . Pressure process 40 min for pints or quarts . 

Summer Squash and Pumpkins


Germination 10 days , Harvest time 60-80 days

Squash hills can be made up of manure mixed with soil and hilled up about 10" tall . Plant seeds about 5 plants per hill

1" depth , making a depression at the top of the hill so the water will linger instead of pouring away . Fertilize often , and protect from slugs and insects . Soapy water sprayed on the leaves will help with garden pests . Slugs require a little more elbow grease . After blossoms come on , blossom end rot can be a worry . Take the blossoms off after they have become less attached to the plant , as the blossoms will fill with water and it seems to rot the fruit . Some say this is caused by low calcium . Water evenly , use low nitrogen fertilizer , add lyme or gypsum , use a calcium rich spray , if your soil ph is too low then add lyme . Summer squash can be very productive for the homesteader . Famously zucchini can be quite prolific , causing the homesteader to despair of life as they are drowning in it . We have placed zucchini in the mail box to gift the mail man with God's bounty . We've also placed a free veggies sign out by the road . Squash is always fun to give away to the public at large . But sharing aside , there are lots of uses for squash on your dinnerplate , and for the pigs .

We try to get heirloom squash seeds , but even non heirloom seeds will often yield savable seeds . To save seeds , I often will mark large over mature squash with a piece of colored tape to remind myself not to harvest it . I let the squash grow very large , and let it harden off , cut the squash open , some of the seeds will be cut in half when you do this , don't save any broken or immature seeds , save only nice large fat seeds , clean them off as well as you can and air dry them on a paper towel , being sure to turn them to keep them from sticking to the towel . Be sure they are nice and dry before storing them .


germination 10 days , harvest time 80-110 days

I always make my pumpkin hills a little more generous than I do squash hills because the pumpkins being larger need more support , and the larger hill provides more heat . Plant about 5 seeds per hill , sometimes I plant more so that I can account for seeds that don't sprout . Protect young sprouts as much as you can from slugs and bugs . Pumpkins require frequent fertilizing , they grow so fast and so big that it is a strain on the plant if it doesn't have support . Like summer quash , blossom end rot is a problem , see above for solution . As pumpkins begin to grow larger , when they get about twice the size of my fist , i place small blocks of wood under each of the immature pumpkins because later when they grow bigger , their own weight will press them into the ground , making a bleached spot on the bottom , as well as possibly trying to rot out . the block of wood provides the solid support the pumpkin needs . I grow two kinds of pumpkins , New England Sugar Pie , which is a smaller , sweeter pie pumpkin , it takes less days to grow , and I also grow Big Max pumpkins which are large with a longer growing time , and I use them exclusively for the animals .


Attn. prep notes :

home Canning is not recommended on squash and pumpkin ,if you want to preserve them , you will need to freeze rather than can. Squash I normally only freeze shredded and ready to use for recipes , pumpkin i bake ut in half , laid upside down in shallow water , scraped out and put it through a sieve then freeze for pies etc . After pumpkin is baked and put through a sieve,i most usually put it in a bowl , and make a big dip in the middle , chill overnight , the next day , the excess liquid will have gathered in the dip and you can dip or pour it off .

Zucchini Bread oven 350 degrees F , bake 1 hour , makes 2 loaves

3 cups flour

3 eggs

1 cup oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 cups sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups grated zucchini (with peel still on )

3/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Instructions : beat eggs until light and foamy , add oil , sugar , zucchini and vanilla , mix well , add all other ingredients , pour into 2 greased loaf pans , bake 1 hour at 350


when we were kids , we would not eat it if it was called squash , it just sounded gross , so Mom invented a funny name , Quasimodos to get us to eat it , feel free to add your own funny name when you make it , see if they don't taste even better !

Instructions :

peel and slice desired amount of zucchini into 1/4" slices , dip in beaten raw eggs with a little milk , dip in flour with desired seasonings , then fry in a pan with oil and butter or margarine , salt to taste , cook until golden brown and tender when you poke it with a fork , these are so good even kids will be begging for more (as long as you don't call it squash haha )

Squash Fritters

you can use any kind of squash with this recipe , I have even done it with pumpkin , it is good with any kind of summer or winter squash .

3 cups peeled shredded squash

1/4 cup shredded onion

2 eggs

1 3/4 - 2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 cup milk

other spices of your choice

Instructions :

this is a gloopy sort of mixture , but don't let that bother you , dip it by large tablespoons into a frying pan with hot oil then flatten them out a bit , cook until nice and brown on both sides , make sure the center is done before serving

Pumpkin Pie 425 oven for 15 min then 350 for 45 min.

please note you need to be prepared that pie from home grown pumpkin is nothing like the pie we are all used to , it is much grainier , not smooth and more closely resembles sweet potato pie than commercial pumpkin pie

approximately 1 lb baked sieved pumpkin

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/4 tsp ground cloves

2 eggs

12 oz milk

1 unbaked pie crust (1 cup shortening or butter or lard , 2 1/4 cups flour , 1 tsp salt , enough cold water to hold it together makes 2 pie crusts , I use a pastry blender to cut in the shortening or butter / lard , don't over work your dough , only do what you have to to combine it , no more , otherwise your crust will be tough instead of flaky )

Instructions :

mix all ingredients together very well , pour into an unbaked pie crust , Pie 425 oven for 15 min then 350 for 45 min.

when a knife comes out clean the pie is done , the top often cracks , that's normal .

Pumpkin Loaves 325 oven for 1 hour makes 2 loaves

2 cups sugar

1 cup oil

3 eggs

2 cups baked sieved pumpkin

3 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg

1 cup raisins (optional)

Instructions :

mix all ingredients together , pour into 2 greased loaf pans , bake 325 oven for 1 hour or until a knife or toothpick comes out clean .

Pumpkin Cookies with spiced icing 375 degree oven


1 cup sugar

1 cup baked sieved pumpkin

1/2 cup shortening or lard or butter

2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

pumpkin spice icing :

1 lb powdered confectioners sugar

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup shortening (OR 2/3 cup butter if you don't have shortening )

1 tsp vanilla

1/8 tsp. salt (do not leave this out it really adds to the icing flavor)

2 tsp . pumpkin pie spice (or other spices to taste )

5 tablespoons milk

Instructions :

mix all cookie ingredients together , these are drop cookies , so spoon onto your greased cookie sheet , bake in a 375 degree oven until the bottoms of the cookies are brown , the batter is light colored , so don't wait for the top to be brown or your cookies will probably be burned on the bottom . cool the cookies thoroughly before frosting them .

This frosting recipe makes a very generous amount of frosting , so you can either freeze part of it , make a half recipe , or just make a truckload of cookies to go with it . This is probably my all time favorite home made frosting recipe , but the secret is , use real butter , never margarine , and beat it nice and fluffy , if you don't do that it is a very heavy frosting

frost your cooled cookies generously , these are so good and a wonderful recipe for the holidays too !

Dogs Digging up Mammoth Mangel Beets ^^^

Dogs Digging up Carrots.^^^

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