Spring is in the air! The birds are singing, and the grass is getting greener by the day. Let’s talk spring garden and take a short walk around my tiny homestead and see what’s going on during the season.
Spring garden homestead plans
Sometime in April, I start itching to get into my spring garden. I want to look out my window and see a vast assortment of vegetables growing tall and healthy. But, in central Pennsylvania, that doesn’t happen until much later. I live in the 5b zone, which means my last frost date is around May 30.
Because we have a shorter growing period, April and May are great months to start planting seeds indoors to get them ready for the season. This is the first year I have tried starting seeds, and it has been going fairly well. I usually purchase plant packs at local nurseries, but the way this economy is going, they are going to be expensive.
Hardening off the plants
Now that the weather is fairly warmer, (we may still see a burst of snow in early May) it’s time to start hardening off the plants. After the seed starts get a pretty good size, I transferred them to Styrofoam cups with a hole in the bottom for drainage.
I purchased a cold box to place the plants in on sunny or warm days to they get used to it. If you take a plant from indoors and stick it in the ground, it will get too stressed over the condition changes. You can purchase this box from Lowes and will link it here. I must say it was a real pain to put together and seems a bit flimsy, but it is a good size and doing a nice job so far. I placed it on my back porch where it will get full afternoon sun.
The spring garden beds
On my homestead, I converted my garden into a raised bed system and I am loving it already! Not only is it easier on my back, but I can also plant more vegetables than in a traditional row garden. You can check out how I made these inexpensive boxes here.
Some vegetables can be planted directly into the ground in the early Spring. Vegetables such as peas, carrots, beets, radish, spinach, and kale prefer the cooler temperatures. I made seed tapes for most of these for easier planting. You can find out how to make them here.
Some vegetables like to grow on trellises, and when I found this old crib along the road, I thought it would make beautiful trellises in my spring garden homestead. I simply staked them in the ground using 4-foot metal stakes and zip tied them together. My peas are just now peaking up from the ground.
When I first built my home and started landscaping, I planted so many useless shrubs for that “curb appeal” we want our home to have. And while I still have shrubs in front of the house, I decided to remove the shrubs from the side and plant berry bushes. I figured if I was going to trim bushes every year, I should at least get something out of it!
After removing the old shrubs and roots, I placed a good layer of topsoil and mulch. Then I purchased a raspberry, blackberry, and two blueberry bushes (you need to plant two of these and of different variety). Planting near the house will not only help deter birds and other animals from eating the berries, but the house will also provide some wind block in the winter months.
To my tiny homestead I added two different varieties of strawberry plants around the berry bushes to save on space. Last year I got a good bowl full of strawberries and about a cup of raspberries. Fingers crossed I get a lot more this year!
This year, I purchased a peach and a plum tree and planted them on the property. I will not be seeing any fruit from them this year, but spring is the best time to plant fruit trees and get them settled in.
Chickens on the homestead
Most chickens start laying an abundance of eggs during the spring. My silkies, however, have decided to take a break. They were little powerhouses this past winter and kept me well stocked with eggs. Now they are laying about 4 a week. Last summer they all went broody (I have 4 girls) so waterglassing eggs over the winter has kept me in a good supply. You can learn how to waterglass eggs here.
Square foot gardening
With the new raised beds, I have decided to try square foot gardening. My tiny homestead doesn’t have much room, and I want to make the most of it. I measured and marked one-foot sections on top of the boards surrounding the garden bed. Each 6 x 3-foot bed gives me 18 sections in which to plant something. Beyond that, I use the line in-between the sections to plant a row of something.
For instance, here I planted cabbages and brussel sprouts in each one-foot section. I also planted a seed tape of beets and radishes in-between each section. This will give me 2-3 times more planting space than in a regular row garden.
Last year I purchased this greenhouse and staked it into my old garden. In the fall, I planted spinach, carrots, kale, and radish to see how long it would last into the late fall/winter months. I harvested these vegetables well into January! This will be a great edition to spring gardening on the homestead.
When I made my raised beds, I made one slightly smaller to fit the greenhouse frame over. For spring, I’ve planted spinach, mixed lettuce, kale, swiss chard, and radish. The nice part is that when calling for a frost, I can zip it up and keep the plants nice and warm.
This will be the most used box as I will be able to plant early spring and late fall crops! You can purchase this greenhouse here.
Watering the spring garden on the homestead
I have been using rain barrels for several years now. Every spring, I clean them out and attach them to the downspouts. Gardens do not like chlorine water, especially tomatoes! Having a supply of rainwater really comes in handy during those hot dogdays of summer.
What’s going on in your spring garden? Let me know in the comments below and thank you for stopping by the homestead!