What can I eat from my garden today? What’s coming soon?

My garden started last Fall. I have some plants that still are doing well, in spite of the two freezes they went through. Now that it is Spring, I am replanting. There are many more plants in the ground now (or seeds at least). They won’t be up for a little while longer. Eventually, I hope to have a much larger selection always available to my kitchen, either in my garden ready to be picked or preserved from earlier harvests. However, here is what I have in my personal ‘produce store’ today. Everything but one or two items in all of the below three lists are organic, mostly heirloom too.

Red Russian Kale, Lacinto Kale, Even’ Star Champion Collards, Cardinale Lettuce, Deer Tongue Lettuce, Forellenschluss Lettuce, Red Velvet Lettuce, Grandpa Admire’s Butterhead Lettuce, Reine de Glaces Lettuce, Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage, Red Giant Mustard, & Moss Curled Parsley. (and five different green bean varieties in bags in the freezer, from last Fall’s harvest)

Planted but not ready to harvest yet, I have…Pac Choi, Carnival Blend Carrots, Danvers Carrots, Purple Pod Pole Beans, Hidatsa Shield Figure Beans, Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans, Provider Beans, Good Mother Stallard Beans, Arugula, Cherry Belle Radishes, Mizuna Mustard, Valencia Tomatoes, Brandywine Tomatoes, Ailsa Craig Onions, Bloomsdale Spinach, Detroit Dark Red Beets, Greek Yevani Basil, Granma Einck’s Dill, Common English Thyme, Cinnamon Basil, Common Oregano, Marjoram, Jolly Jester Marigolds (not to eat), English Lavender, Bouquet Dill, Common Chives, Sweet Marjoram, Garden Broadleaf Sage, Prairie Coneflower Echinacea, & Elves Blend Sunflowers.

Still to be planted…Rhubarb Swiss Chard, Five Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard, Red Burgandy Okra, Purple Top White Globe Turnip, Black Beauty Zucchini Summer Squash, Marketmore Cucumber, California Wonder Sweet Pepper, Sugar Snap Peas, Ace Bush Tomato, Calypso Beans, Listada de Gandia Eggplant, British Wonder Pea, Anna Swartz Hubbard Squash, Napolean Sweet Pepper, Sunberries, Sultan’s Green Crescent Bean, Galeux d’Eysines Squash, Ireland Creek Annie Beans, Bushy Cucumber, Aurora Pepper, Golden Midget Watermelon, Snow Fancy Pickling Cucumber, Black Mountain Watermelon, Ashworth Yellow Sweet Corn, Eden’s Gem Melons, Petit Gris Melons, Double Yield Cucumber.

I am behind on my planting, as usual. However, here in my part of Texas, we have very long growing seasons. So, as long as I protect my crops from the Summer heat down the road. I should be fine; though I may be a little sore before it’s all done.

Growing Playlists of Videos On Our YouTube Channel

I’ve been gathering onto our YouTube channel a great selection of homestead-related videos from across the YouTube world. I realize one can search directly on YouTube for these. However, I find it easier to have many of them on one site…thus our YouTube channel. Eventually, I will be uploading some homemade videos too.

So far, I have selected over 120 videos. Here are the playlists on the channel so far.

  • Canning
Learn how to can food, so you have real healthy food in your pantry to last you all year.
  • Construction Methods
If you are inclined to make a go at building your own home, here are some different methods to consider.
  • Contraptions & Art
I have a fondness for finely crafted unique wooden creations. Here are some great ones, along with other fascinating pieces.
  • The Good Life
It’s a must visit for anyone interested in British sitcom. On his 40th birthday to be precise, Tom Good decides that he’s had enough of the rat race and that he and wife Barbara will become self-sufficient.
  • Homemade Toys
A topic dear to my heart and my children’s hands. Here are some wonderful examples of homemade toys. Also of note here, are discussions of important legislation and the efforts of the Handmade Toy Alliance.
  • Homestead Inspirations
Seeing others’ homesteading efforts is inspirational and informative.
  • More Homestead DIY Skills, Tools, & Tech
There are so many skills to learn and enjoy. We are capable of doing so much for ourselves. Often it is more fulfilling than paying someone else to do it.
  • Real Food versus GMO
If we don’t take back control of our food supply we and future generations will suffer the loss of food diversity, our health, and personal independence. Find out what really is going on behind the scenes in our food supply.

Weekly Homesteading Update

Still searching for a format and style for this site, I am starting a new series of posts beginning with this one, reviewing the week and the latest in our going homestead effort.

We just enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. We gathered with my parents, my aunt, cousins, my brother, their dogs, their cats, and an insane amount of good food. I lost count of the number of dishes. We certainly had all of the traditional ones covered – turkey (three of them), the best stuffing ever (my mom’s), corn, green beans, and so on. It was nice to have a large family gathering. We don’t do that often enough. Hopefully this next year we’ll have more such gatherings.

So, where is the ‘going homestead’ update in that? Well, it is a small start, but it’s a start nonetheless. We had a wonderful mix of different green beans in that meal. All of the beans came from my garden. They were rich with flavors that canned and store-bought beans can’t even pretend to possess. The mix included: Blue Lake Pole Beans, Contender Bush Beans, Purple Pod Pole Beans, Good Mother Stallard Beans, Calypso Beans, and Cherokee Trail Beans. The latter bean was especially poignant, as it was the variety of bean carried by the Cherokee on their forced marched Westward so long ago. This is bitter sweet, considering we were celebrating Thanksgiving, a holiday largely associated with the story of how the early pilgrims and a native American people (albeit not the Cherokee) forged a friendship by sharing food, company, and a spirit of thankfulness for this life.

In addition to the beans, we had a nice salad. About an hour before our meal, I went out to the garden for the lettuce. I walked down the row and selected clippings from each of six different lettuces for the salad. All of the lettuce is doing quite well, in spite of the freeze we had last week. Two of the varieties I chose specifically for their cold weather hardiness. There were deep greens, light greens, and royal to burgandy purples. I took maybe one tenth of what was there, leaving enough on each plant to keep them healthy. They’ll replace what I clipped.

For a separate bowl, I clipped two different varieties of Swiss chard. If I was the only person eating the salad, I would have thrown them in with the lettuces. However, my wife discovered a few weeks back that she is not as fond of Swiss chard. It has a stronger flavor, almost spicy in the case of the Five Color Silverbeet Swiss Chard; the spice is probably because I let it grow so large before clipping (much the same as beets). The rest of the meal was home cooked, but with store bought ingredients. Still, it all was very tasty and satisfying.

In spite of our collective best efforts, we could not eat all of the food prepared for that meal. This, however, is a blessing. After taking a day off from food (we were very full), we drove back over to my parents and collected enough leftovers to last us a week at home. I think turkey and stuffing might be better the second time around. That’s one less trip to the grocery store, which, in light of the massive crowds of Christmas shoppers, is truly a blessing.

As to Christmas, Leah and I have begun our preparations. We bought each of our kids a nice gift online, having found the items in the mailed version of the Back to Basics catalogue. We now are working diligently (she more than I, so far) to craft some wonderful heirloom quality gifts for our kids, as well as for our extended family. We decided to make more gifts this year to save money, but also because we enjoy making them. Certainly a good deal of thought goes into a gift when it is handmade by the giver; isn’t it the thought that counts? For my boys, I am making toy robots of wood and spare metal parts. The contrast of wood and brass color is striking. I am going for a look of whimsy. I’ll post pictures once they are complete. I have some other creations planned for the kids too. I made a deal with my wife. We agreed to buy one main gift for each child, then to make some. If for some reason, our efforts to make gifts fail, we will buy a couple other items. So, Christmas is perhaps materially smaller, but emotionally larger this year. This is a welcome change, and one, I think, much more in line with the occasion.

As another baby step down the path of homesteading this last week, the owner of the local Dunn Bros. coffee store and I have made an arrangement whereby I provided them with a lidded bucket in which they will deposit their daily used coffee grounds. I am to come by regularly (which I already do) to retrieve the grounds, so that I can add them to my compost for my gardens. This certainly ups the volume to my compost, a change that will be much needed come Spring planting.

I’ve a long way to go before I have my little house on the prairie. I am researching more, learning, planning. I received the annual seed catalogue from Seed Savers Exchange. So, I can begin selecting next year’s crops.  Much to do, but none of seems like work when it is so enjoyable.