New Developments on my Homestead

Recently, I have been gone a while getting things ready for spring planting. I have a few new projects and some new goals for this summer. I’d like to share what I have been up to with you and share my successes and pitfalls.

First, I cut a few big trees down to give me some more sun. Working with a small plot of land has forced me to do what I really did not want to do and cut down 2 trees that were over 30’ tall. I plan on putting some more semi-dwarf fruit trees in their place and, all the while, keep them to a manageable size by using the espalier technique.

Homestead Developments 01

I had parking out front of my house for about 12 cars (my house use to be a sandwich shop) and decided to cut it to 2 car parking and transform that driveway into a front garden. I put in 2 plum trees and one sweet cherry tree so far. It took a while because I dug the holes 4’ deep and never hit soil. It was predominantly shale and made it difficult to dig. I had to add a few wheel barrels of compost to plant the trees as well. To turn that shale into usable soil I will have to add a foot of compost and 2’ of wood chips over the shale. During the winter the moisture will break up the shale by freezing and thawing. In 2 years, I will have a foot of usable soil where that shale was.

Homestead Development 02

Along with those new developments my “Berry Island” has been upgraded. I added 6 more blueberry bushes, and in 3 years, I’ll have some berries to pick and share with the birds. What I plan to do this year is coat “Berry Island” with some more brown paper and then a few inches of sawdust from a local sawmill. This is what it looks like now. I will have another article in a few weeks to show you what it looks like with the sawdust.

Homestead Development 03

I also made a deal with my Amish neighbors so that they would raise my eggs, beef, and pork. The rabbits are also gone, so I can have more room for planting. My Amish neighbors are raising my eggs and meats organically and can do so because they own 100 acres. I will repay most of that by driving them around from time to time. I love bartering!

Now I have much more room for growing. I am focusing on planting many fruit trees, fruit bushes, and annuals. As I get older and new pains are hitting me, I am looking to the future. Since I look at planting as an investment I want the best bang for my buck.

One of the other big ideas I have is potatoes. As far as growing high energy crops, I think I need to get serious about potatoes. I used to have the Amish grow them for me, but I really want to figure out a way to go vertical. I have tried for years going vertical using ideas I have seen. I have done hay bale, sawdust, in ground, in tires, and in 4’x4’ wood boxes. I just didn’t see the turnout. This year I will use bigger vertical boxes lined with a tarp to try and keep more moisture in the box and use a sandier soil.

Well, that’s some of what I been up to recently. I will keep you all posted for later developments!

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