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    The Microhomestead Report {Feb. 2009}

    February 19, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    There has been much laboring here on the microhomestead since we moved in at the end of July. We finished unpacking, had a miracle baby, and then Si moved on to clearing the back-forty {40-100ths…I said this is a microhomestead, after all}. When we bought this place, we could envision its potential. It didn’t take long for us to draw up a plan, a map of what our “final” product would look like after five to ten years of hard labor.

    However, comma.

    We also knew that the soil was in bad shape. Buyer beware: it is a bad sign if a vacant piece of dirt has been sitting untended for months and months and hasn’t hardly grown weeds. Weeds are unpleasant, it is true. However, they are a sign of life. It was the lack of life that concerned me most.

    But, few as there were, there were weeds. Tumbleweeds, most of them. So Si cleared them by hand. He has driven all but one monster to the dump. He and some friends trenched the soil for irrigation lines. He installed a drip system {which is still giving us problems} in the area we designated “fruit orchard” before ever owning a tree. He dug deep holes.

    I did a bit of clapping and general cheering, fed the baby around the clock, and so on for a while. Then I hoed some weeds and mowed the lawn Si planted from seed {it is more like “pasture” since it’ll provide food for our ducks we have yet to buy} and generally put in a whole lot less effort than Si.

    Si has now planted six trees in the orchard:


    Some we purchased locally, some we had delivered the first week of February. There is lemon, orange, peach, and three types of apple {Anna, Granny Smith, and Fuji…which will give us a long harvest season since each type ripens in a different month}.

    And suddenly this weekend we were ready.


    See where he weeded?

    Si and I spent some time on Saturday making starter pots with a wonderful tool which Kimbrah first introduced me to, The Pot Maker. On Sunday afternoon, we had a fun family time together, planting our first seeds for our new garden. Si and E. went outside and mixed up the soil while the girls and I made markers and decided which seeds to plant.

    Some of our indoor starts

    Then we headed outside and planted seeds for Shasta daisies, zinnias, and marigolds {a natural insect repellent, by the way}. On Monday we started more seeds inside, and also planted sixteen carrots in a square-foot plot that Si had specially prepared for the purpose. Our soil is very heavy and clayey, meaning that carrots will be tricky, but we are hoping his extra work will pay off.

    Half of our carrots will be purple.

    The reason for this post, however, is that this morning, a miracle happened. Miracles happen a lot if you garden. Our very first sprouts sent forth their tender shoots in our starter pots. See?

    Lentil sprout

    A couple types of lettuce, a couple green French lentils, all were there to greet us after breakfast this morning.

    A garden is a wonderful place to enhance reading comprehension, though I should never think it the purpose of gardening. Teaching children the names of the flowers will help them understand children’s poetry. This year, I hope to plant a special garden in honor of E.’s favorite poem by A.A. Milne. In it, we will plant geraniums red and delphiniums blue.

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  • Reply Kimbrah February 21, 2009 at 1:29 am


    I have Genovese Basil, cilantro, Zaatar Oregano, rosemary, lemon grass, lemon balm. hyssop, meadowsweet, marshmallow, and nasturtiums. Let me know if you would like any of those.

  • Reply Brandy February 20, 2009 at 6:09 am


    Mmmm…basil sounds nice. When I did my seed order, I completely forgot herbs and spices! I’m going to have to remedy that.

    Sprouts really are miraculous. I spent some time studying them today. It is amazing how fast they grow!


    FIVE WEEKS? Wow. I forgot that I am spoiled by an almost-year-round growing season. Winter pretty much ends the first week of February around here, though it hung on until today, longer than usual. I went ahead and started the seeds because I’ll be able to transplant them in a few weeks. Right now it’s still pretty cool overnight. But I think all chances of frost are over for this season.

    On the other hand, my kids would think it was great to live somewhere where winter was a little more dramatic. 🙂

  • Reply Kansas Mom February 20, 2009 at 3:39 am

    We’re seeing a few green sprouts outside here, but haven’t started our seeds yet. It’s still five weeks or so to last frost, but we have the seeds. Kansas Dad just needs to find some time.

  • Reply Mystie February 20, 2009 at 1:49 am

    That is exciting! My basil seeds sprouted a couple days ago. It is always incredible to see!

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