6 Reasons Your Tomatoes Aren’t Ripening

Tomatoes are my arch nemesis. I work hard each year to plant enough tomato plants to provide the right amount of tomatoes I need for canning. Without fail, something goes wrong. Sometimes, my tomatoes don’t turn red. One day, blight infected my tomatoes. It’s always something.

For me, I like to find the answer to my questions. Why is something happening, or not happening in this case? In the case of tomatoes not turning red, there are some definite reasons.

Why Tomatoes Turn Red

There is a whole, scientific reason why tomatoes turn red, but let’s sum it up to make it easier to understand.

Lycopene is a chemical naturally found inside of fruits and vegetables that cause them to develop their color. Lycopene isn’t just found in tomatoes; it is in watermelons, apricots and more. Almost 80% of the lycopene you need in your diet is found in tomato products.

Believe it or not, your body processes lycopene better when it is heated. Sources such as ketchup and tomato sauce are perfect for getting lycopene into your diet!

Why do you need lycopene? It is valuable in the fight against heart disease, as well as some cancers (colon, pancreas, bladder, ovaries, and breast to name a few).

6 Reasons Why Your Tomatoes Aren’t Turning Red

One: Longer Time to Maturity

On each seed packet, you will find an average time for maturity for every vegetable you plant. You might be tempted to overlook this date, but I encourage you to pay attention! Certain varieties take less time to mature.

If you have a shorter growing season, you will want to select varieties with a shorter maturity time. It is a good idea also to plug in some longer growing varieties. You can rest assured knowing the shorter varieties will at least yield some fruits for you.

Two: Temperatures aren’t Hot Enough

Tomatoes love warm temperatures, which is why you can’t plant them until well after your final frost date for the season.

Unfortunately, our weather in Ohio has been rather unpredictable, and chilly summers are becoming an issue. As I write this, it is the beginning of August and the high for the day barely touched 80 degrees. That is insane!

Sometimes, you will notice your tomatoes turning pink but never reaching the redness needed to indicate ripeness. They lack in flavor, but they will typically ripen if you leave them on your countertops.

Three: Temperatures are TOO Hot

On the flip side, your tomatoes can be too hot for your tomatoes to ripen. High temperatures happened a few years ago, leaving my harvest in ruins. Yes, they love the heat, but they don’t want to roast on the vine.

The ideal temperatures for ripening are 70 to 75 degrees F. Once the temperatures go higher than 85 to 90 degrees F, the plant is unable to produce the correct amount of lycopene to create the right pigments. The green ones on your vine will stay green for a long time.

Four: You Picked Tomatoes That Aren’t Red

If you grow heirloom plants, there are a lot of varieties that aren’t red. You can buy tomatoes that ripen to pink, yellow, white, orange, purple, and green! They make great additions to the dinner table and farmer’s market stand.

It is easy to forget what varieties you plant. You need to mark each variety, so you know what to look for in ripeness. For example, we always grow Brandywine tomatoes. Brandywine ripens to a beautiful pink, but they never turn red. If I forgot, I would let the entire harvest go to waste waiting for red tomatoes to arrive.

Five: Blossom End Rot

Do your tomatoes have black lesions on them, small or big? If so, you have blossom end rot. It is a disease caused by low calcium in your soil. It is highly suggested that you add natural sources of calcium to your soil during the growing season.

Blossom end rot also forms from uneven watering. If you have frequent downpours of rain, blossom end rot can result.

Six: Plants Don’t Receive Enough Sunlight

Another possibility is that you selected a bad location for your tomato plants. Tomatoes love heat and sunlight. The plants need at least seven hours of direct sunlight per day.

You might have picked a great location, but planted them too close together. Tomato plants need at least 18 inches to two feet apart, depending on the variety. Large plants, like the Brandywine, need two feet apart to receive adequate sunlight.

 

If all else fails, you can take some of your green tomatoes and put them in a cardboard box with a few ripened tomatoes. It should encourage the tomatoes to turn red! I know how it feels to have dozens of plants full of green tomatoes and end up with a pitiful harvest.

Step-by-Step Guide: Freeze Fresh Cabbage Heads

For a long time, I avoided growing cabbage because I felt like I couldn’t use it fast enough. We love stuffed cabbage rolls and cabbage roll soup, but we can’t eat a whole garden of cabbage in a few weeks! Sauerkraut isn’t a family favorite. Then, one day I learned that you can freeze fresh cabbage heads, and my world changed.

Yes, it is possible! Learning how to freeze fresh cabbage heads is easy. It takes a few hours, so I suggest doing it on a day you aren’t super busy. However, most of the time is when the cabbage has to drain or soak.

Here are the steps! You aren’t going to believe how easy it is.

How to Freeze Fresh Cabbage Heads

First, you have to harvest the heads. That is very easy, taking 30 seconds per head at most! Then, I bring them inside. After they’re inside, I take off the four to five leaves. Then, they need to soak in water, typically for at least two to three hours.

Even if you think your cabbage was pest free, there is a good chance a few slugs or cabbage loppers found their way into your cabbage heads. I move the heads around in the water. Soaking kills the slugs inside of the heads. See this little buddy who thought catching a ride was a fun idea? He was wrong!

After the heads soak, take them out and let them drain for a bit. Next, you need to cut them into quarters. It is important that you keep the core inside of the cabbage. Without the core, your leaves are going to fall off in the water. You don’t want that to happen; trust me.

While you are cutting up the heads of fresh cabbage, you need to get a large pot of water boiling on your stove. Also, full up a side of your sink with ice cold water. You are going to blanch the heads by moving them from the boiling water right into ice water, which abruptly stops the cooking process.

Once the water is at a rolling boil, put the cabbage heads in. My pot fits three to four at a time. Let each head come to a boil for 3 minutes then move them directly to the ice bath. Continue this process until all of the heads are blanched.

After blanching, make sure all of the cabbage heads are cool to the touch. I drain out all of the water and let them sit in the sink or a colander for a few minutes. It helps drain out all of that excess water! I give each of the cabbage heads a bit of a squeeze to help get out the water.

Now it is time to get them into their freezer bags. If you have a food saver, this task is perfect for it. We don’t, so I stick three in each bag. Make sure to squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible. Then, add a label with the date you froze them!

 

Freezing fresh cabbage heads is easy! If you want to have fresh cabbage later in the year, this is the perfect way to preserve it. We use the heads throughout the winter for hearty dinner meals and soups.

How do you preserve fresh cabbage?

How to Harvest a Cabbage Head in 30 Seconds

Cabbage isn’t a vegetable I always loved. When my parents made cabbage rolls, I gagged, internally and externally. Throughout most of my childhood, I turned my nose up to every cabbage dish that graced our kitchen table. As I grew older, cabbage didn’t seem so bad as it was when I was younger. Now, I love stuffed cabbage rolls or corned beef and cabbage.

                Our cabbage always reaches the scale of gigantic. Sometimes, the heads are larger than my kids’ heads. It is comical to watch them carry the heads into the house after harvesting.

                Most cabbage plants take 80 to 180 days to mature. If you planted them in March, you could expect to harvest between June and August, depending on the variety you selected. One year, I planted Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage, which was ready around 65 days after planting!

How to Harvest a Cabbage Head

1.       Watch the tightness of the cabbage. When you are out in your garden, gently squeeze the heads. You’ll notice that they will gradually get firmer. A tight cabbage head is a sign that it is ready for harvest. It is important that you check your cabbage head frequently for readiness. Excessive rain or overwatering could cause mature heads to split; then you lost a harvest.

2.       Look at the size of the cabbage head. It is harder to use the size as an indicator of readiness. Some varieties are naturally smaller than others. It should be at least the size of a softball before you consider harvesting. The base should be at least four to ten inches wide.

·         Elongated Chinese, or Napa, cabbage should be harvest when the head is nine to 12 inches tall.

·         Leafy cabbage is better to harvest leaf-by-leaf because they will not form a tight head.

·         Leave two to four of the wrapper leaves around the head to prevent the cabbage head from drying out.

 

3.       Time to harvest. Once you think the cabbage head is ready, bring your knife out to the garden. Find the base of the cabbage head. Using your knife, cut through the stem. You should leave the stem and leaves underneath the head in place because there is a chance a second head will grow! However, if you planted cabbage in the fall, you’ll only get one head. Cabbage planted for a spring or summer harvest can grow two, three or even four heads!

4.       Store the cabbage. You can use it immediately; cabbage rolls anyone? You could make sauerkraut, freeze the cabbage head or store them in the refrigerator. Make sure the heads stay in a cool, moist location for longevity. If you do so, cabbage stores for three to four months.

Harvesting cabbage is extremely easy. All you need is 30 seconds, and you’re done! If you plant cabbage for the fall, there is plenty of ways to store it long term. Who doesn’t want fresh cabbage for the New Years? Tomorrow, we will talk about how to freeze fresh cabbage. It is one of the ways I preserve it for the long term!

What is your favorite way to eat cabbage? Let me know in the comments!

Hand Pollinating Male and Female Zucchini Flowers

As your zucchini plant grows, you’ll notice lovely orange and yellow flowers. These flowers are essential to produce the fruits you desire. For years, I had NO idea that each flower has a specific gender! Zucchini flowers are either male or female.

Hand pollating male and female zucchini plants

You might think this information is useless, but you’d be wrong. Pollination is ESSENTIAL for the formation of zucchini fruits. This story is the tame version of the birds and the bees.

Bees and other insects take the pollen from the male stamen and move it to the female stigma, pollinating the plant. Pollen sticks to the bees legs and, as he lands on the female flower, the pollen arrives. After pollination, the fruit starts to grow.

Aside from pollination purposes, the male serves little purpose. You can flour them up and deep fry for a delicious snack!

Distinguishing Male and Female Zucchini Flowers

The male flower has a single, long stamen in the middle of their blossom. It is covered with pollen. If you sneak up, you might find bees there. I found a bunch this morning on my zucchini plant!

The female flower is a bit different. Inside, she has multiple stigmas. The base of the blossom is wide, called the ovary. This area produces the zucchini after pollination.

The base of the male flower blossom is a long, slender stem. The long stem allows them to stand out on the plant more, attracting the bees faster.

Female zucchini flowers tend to stay closer to the base of the stem. Remember, they are going to produce the fruits soon. If they were high up in the area, the weight of the zucchini would cause the stem to break.

How to Hand Pollinate Zucchini Plants

Why does all of this information matter? It matters because you may notice that there is no fruit on your plant. If that happens, you may have a pollination issue. With the right information, you can hand pollinate zucchini flowers. Here are the simple steps.

1.       Identify the male flower. You need first to find a wide open male flower. I always check in the early or mid-morning.

2.      Identify the female flowers. Female flowers open for one day, so it is important for you to check daily! Once you find an open female flower, the fun needs to begin.

3.      Use a Q-Tip. Your first choice is to take a q-tip or cotton swab and rub it along the stamen. Doing so will collect the pollen. Then, go over to the female blossom and gently rub the swab inside of the stigmas at the inside base of the flower.

4.      Remove the Male Flower. Another choice is to cut one of the male flowers from your plant. Then, rub the male flower stamen inside of the female flower.  You can see an easy video here.

Now you successfully hand pollinated a zucchini flower. For years, I had no idea that there was a gender of flowers! It wasn’t until I watched an episode of Alaska: The Last Frontier did I realize that there was something I missed. Eve, one of the main people on the show, had to hand pollinate her zucchini plants. Now, I know what to do if my plants aren’t producing the fruit needed!

Have you ever hand pollinated a zucchini plant?

 

Step-by-Step Guide: Freezing Fresh Green Beans

It’s July, and my green beans plants are exploding. We left for three days to spend time at a cabin near our favorite lake. In that short period, my plants blossomed. I came home to an entire harvest ready for picking. I love this time of year!

How to freeze green beans

Green beans are one of our favorite vegetables. We prepare them in a variety of ways, but my favorite is how my husband makes them. He simply cooks them with fingerling potatoes, butter, and pieces of bacon. It is divine, so flavorful. Green beans soak up all of the delicious flavors of the bacon. If you’ve yet to try it, you must!

While I do can some of my green beans, I prefer to freeze them. Frozen beans seem to do better for our frequent method of cooking. Let’s take a look at how to freeze fresh green beans, with plenty of pictures!

Steps to Freeze Fresh Green Beans

1.       Pick them off of the vine. This step is pretty self-explanatory! You need them off of the bush or vines before you can freeze them.

2.      Snap off the ends. If you have little kids at home, now is the time to get them involved. I gather my little kids and have them help snap all of the beans. While you are snapping the ends, check for any imperfections or parts that may need to be removed. You want only the good ones ending up in your freezer!

3.      Wash the beans. Put them under water and move the water around to remove the dirt. I also sometimes spray them inside of a colander to allow the water to drain away. At the same time, I get a pot of water boil in preparation.

4.      Soon, your pot of water will come to a rolling boil. Before you put your green beans in the pot, prepare a pot of cold water with ice. You want the water to be as cold as possible. You are going to blanch the beans. Blanching is the process of abruptly stopping the cooking process by submerging the vegetables in an ice bath.

5.      Put your green beans into the boiling water. As soon as you do, the boiling will stop. In about three minutes, the boiling will start again. Once it starts, take the beans out of the water and immediately plunge them into ice water.

6.      After the beans are cool, I lay them out on a towel and pat them dry. You could opt for two choices here. You can pat them dry, put them directly into the storage bags and then into the freezer. Done. Or, you can lay them on a baking sheet and flash freeze them before you put them into a storage bag. The reason you might want that step is because it makes it easier to store in larger bags and just scoop out what you want to use that night.

7.      I opted, this time, to just put them right into bags because I was short on time. Make sure you label the date so you can eat them in order of harvest.

 

Freezing fresh green beans is so easy! With a summer and fall planting, I will have plenty of harvests ahead of me. While I could can all of them, freezing is another variation of preservation I like to use throughout our small homestead.

How do you store your fresh green beans? Let me know in the comments!

 

Brussel Sprouts Growing Guide

My husband and I are huge fans of brussel sprouts. We frequently make them as a side dish for dinners throughout the week. While our kids may not love brussel sprouts as much as we do, they are an essential part of our garden.

The first year that I grew brussel sprouts, I was confused. It doesn’t look or grow like any other plant. Brussel sprout plants are unique. As you watch the sprouts grow up the stem, it is an amazing plant. The stem becomes shockingly thick, and it rarely needs staking. That is shocking, considering our plants reach three to four feet tall!

Years later, I learned how to grow brussel sprouts. They aren’t as hard as I once thought. Here is what you need to know!

Growing Brussel Sprouts from Seeds

One of the disadvantages of brussel sprouts is they are a slow-maturing plant. It can take 120+ days for a plant to mature. Consequently, gardeners typically are not advised to sow seeds directly into the garden. You will want to start seeds indoors.

To grow brussel sprouts from seeds, you first have to determine your USDA Hardiness Zone and find your final frost date for the year. In Zone 5B, my last frost date is typically around May 10-15. Brussel sprouts can go outside two weeks before the final frost date. You want to plant your seedlings four to six weeks before the date you want to put them outside. So, six to eight weeks before your last frost, start your seeds!

Tips for Planting Brussel Sprouts Outside

Before long, the time to transplant your seedlings outside will arrive. By now, your seedlings should be four to six weeks old, and you spent a week hardening the plants off. Hardening is the process of slowly introducing your plants to the weather outside. I start by placing my plants outside for two to four hours in the shade or a cloudy day. The next day, I leave them outside for another hour long, more in the sun. Over the next days, I allow the plants to stay outside for a long time and in more direct sunlight.

Once you finish hardening your seedlings, here are some tips for a smooth sailing transplant for your brussel sprouts.

  • I add fertilizer to the soil before planting them outside. Compost is ideal because it gives a nutrient boost to the soil, which increases the plants’ growth. Brussel sprouts love nitrogen, so ensure you pick a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. You can also add natural fertilizers like manure or grass clippings with additional nitrogen.
  • Scope out your planned location before planting. How much sun does the area receive each day? Brussel sprouts require at least six hours of sunlight each day. At the same time, the plants will appreciate some shade, especially during hot weather.
  • You will need to plant each brussel sprouts 12 to 24 inches apart. By the end of the season, you will be surprised at the size of your plants. They easily reach two to three feet!
  • Add mulch around the base of your plants. Organic mulch is an ideal choice because it helps to retain moisture, control soil temperature and add nutrients back into the soil as it decomposes.
  • The soil should have a pH level between 6.0 and 6.8, which is more acidic than average.

Caring for Brussel Sprout Plants

As I mentioned before, brussel sprout plants are slow-growing, slow-to-mature plant. It can be frustrating. You might think you did something wrong. Why is nothing growing? I know I felt that way a few times, but just have patience with your plant!

  • Fertilize your plant twice a season – once when the plant is close to a foot high and before harvesting. The second application may not be necessary! Slow-release fertilizers are a popular choice among gardeners, lasting an entire season.
  • If your plant becomes top-heavy, add stakes for additional support or mound dirt around the stem. If a brussel sprout plant falls over, it will break.
  • Your plant will slowly form sprouts, starting from the bottom and working upwards. As the sprouts form, break off the lower branches. This practice allows the plant to focus its energy on growing taller and forming the sprouts. Don’t toss out these stalks! They are edible and can be cooked down like any green.
  • Always remove any yellowing leaves that appear on your plant. The yellowing typically appears at the bottom of the plant as the sprouts mature.
  • If you need to extend the season due to unexpected colder temperatures, mulch around the base to protect the plant from the frost. Brussel sprouts are frost hardy, but you don’t want to leave them in temperatures too low, below 28 degrees F, for an extended time.

When and How to Harvest  

       

You’ll know that it is time to harvest your sprouts when they are two inches in diameter. Some people prefer to harvest them when they are one inch in diameter. The sprouts feel tender and are bright green. Most sprouts are ready 120 to 180 days after planting. That requires a lot of patience on your end!

Harvesting sprouts are easy! You can twist or cut them off. You need to remove the outer leaves and then store the sprouts. They do great when stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Don’t wash the sprouts after you harvest them. The best time to wash them is right before you eat, cook or freeze them!

Brussel sprouts are a fantastic fall crop. You will want to harvest them after a light frost. The sprouts have an amazing flavor after a frost! You might notice a second crop developing at the base of the stem. That is normal, and those sprouts are edible!

 

Brussel sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables to grow. I love the look of the plant as it grows, with dozens of sprouts dotting the stems. Brussel sprouts are a unique plant, making them an awesome addition to your vegetable garden. Just remember they are slow growing, but also heavy producing! Each plant produces, on average, a quart of sprouts. You will have plenty for the months to come!

Do you grow brussel sprouts? If so, leave some advice for other gardeners!

6 Medicinal Herbs to Grow in Your Backyard

Our family relies on medicinal herbs to heal a variety of ailments and illnesses. I believe that modern medicine has its place in this world; it has done some miraculous things! I also believe that we can heal many things without turning to modern medicine.

If I feel a cold coming on, I prefer not to turn to over-the-counter medicine. Instead, I pick out one of my several dried herbs I keep in our home. Along with dried herbs, we keep infused oils, herbal teas and herbal bath satchels prepared and ready to go.

You could dedicate a huge space in your garden to medicinal herbs. We grow around ten, but some double as medicinal and herbal, such as basil. I can use rosemary for medicinal and culinary purposes.

I want to pick six of my favorite medicinal herbs and tell you how we use them! You might decide you want to give a few of these a try.

6 Medicinal Herbs for Your Backyard Garden

  1. Chamomile
    Everyone has heard of chamomile. It is a famed herb, known for helping adults and children get a peaceful night’s sleep. The reputation is true; chamomile is perfect as a sleep aid. There are other medicinal purposes such as:
  • Fever reducer
  • Treating colds
  • Stomach illnesses and morning sickness
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Antibacterial and antifungal
  • Relieve teething problems
  • Reduce colic
  • Stress reliever

There are several ways to use chamomile! Most of all, I use chamomile as an herbal tea, but you can create salves, vapors and as a wash or compress. You could also add dried chamomile to your bath water. That is an easy way to use the benefits for children.

  1. Calendula

Calendula produces a beautiful orange flower that will brighten up your flower garden. I grow calendula right amongst my flowers; it blends in perfectly. The petals are edible; toss some in your salads!

 

For centuries, people used calendula for a variety of purposes. You can use it to treat:

  • minor wounds
  • cuts and scrapes
  • bruises
  • heal burn
  • bee stings,
  • Soothe rashes or skin irritation

If you want to have a medicinal herb around to use for your kids, calendula is perfect. Trust me; you will find ways to use it! Calendula is versatile, and you can use it in several methods.

My favorite way is to make homemade diaper rash creams, but you can use calendula in your bath water, as a cream or salve, compresses or washes, ointments, massage oils, teas, tinctures and more! Best of all, calendula is so gentle, perfect for children.

  1. Echinacea

If there is one herb you want to have in your garden for flu, it has to be Echinacea. Native Americans first discovered the medicinal benefits of Echinacea. It is a coneflower that is native to many areas in the continental United States. There are several ailments that Echinacea will treat, such as:

  • Heals wounds
  • Kills off infections
  • Treatment for the flu
  • Reduces upper respiratory infections
  • Kills the common cold

Echinacea is a powerful, immune-boosting herb that you need to grow. Don’t be afraid of its strength; Echinacea is truly easy to grow. The plant grows to 36 inches tall and is often an ornamental flower in gardens, attracting bees and butterflies. Try planting Echinacea near other plants that require pollination.

You can use Echinacea in several ways. Infusions, decoctions, herbal teas and capsules are a few of the common ways. If you go into the herbal supplement section in any supermarket, you will find Echinacea pills. Why buy it if you can grow in yourself?

  1. Feverfew

If you are lucky, Feverfew might grow wild near to your home. Originally from the Balkan Peninsula, Feverfew now grows wild and in flower gardens around the world. The plant produces dozens of small, daisy-like flowers with white petals and yellow centers. You might confuse it with chamomile.

 

Historically, Feverfew treats several ailments. While the most obvious might be reducing fevers (due to the name), you can use Feverfew to treat:

  • Most noteworthy – treat headaches
  • Relieve toothaches
  • Helps with menstruation and labor during childbirth
  • Treats digestive problems
  • Heals insect bites
  • Treats arthritis pain

You can use Feverfew in a variety of ways. Our favorite method is to make an herbal bath. We fill a satchel with dried flowers and leaves. Then, I place it directly into their bath water. It is a fantastic way to help reduce a child’s fever (when necessary; fevers aren’t always evil).

  1. Lemon Balm

A member of the mint family, lemon balm is a famed essential oil and medicinal herb. While it is not native to North America, you can find lemon balm in most nurseries and backyard gardens. Herbalists rely on lemon balm to treat a variety of illnesses and ailments, such as:

  • Reduce fevers
  • Treat colds
  • Reduce stomach aches
  • Cure headaches
  • Calm anxiety

Growing lemon balm is easy! You can start the plants with seeds indoors, or you can sow seeds late in the fall for a spring sprouting. The plant can spread out, reaching almost two feet tall. However, it doesn’t prefer full sun so keep it in an area that reduces shade, especially during the summer.

How can you use lemon balm? There are so many ways! One of my favorite ways is to make an herbal tea by pouring boiling water on top of fresh leaves. You can use dried lemon balm, but it does lose its scent faster. Just like other herbs, you can make herbal baths, tinctures and more!

  1. Rosemary

Finally, my last favorite medicinal herb is rosemary, a sweet-scented shrub with pretty, pale blue flowers. The leaves look like little pine needles. Rosemary is a culinary and medicinal herb. We love to cook lemon and rosemary chicken or rosemary garlic bread! Delicious!

 

There are plenty of medicinal properties to rosemary as well. Here are the most noted.

  • Aids indigestion
  • Helps digest starchy food
  • Relieves mental fatigue and forgetfulness
  • Cures colds and chills
  • Relieves flatulence
  • Heart stimulant
  • Reduces dandruff
  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties

I typically drink rosemary tea if I notice I have indigestion. Most of all, rosemary shampoo is wonderful for your scalp health! If you feel as if you are in a daze and need more clarity, rosemary is for you

These are just six of my favorite medicinal herbs. There are so much more that you can grow and dozens of ways to use them. I would love to know what is your favorite medicinal herb to grow in your backyard. Let me know in the comments!

 

 

7 Veggies You Must Grow in Your Fall Garden

Even though it just turned summer (officially), it is time to think about a fall garden! To have a great fall garden, you have to start planning right now. The first step is to think about vegetables for a fall garden. There are quite a few that grow well.

Before you make your selection, you have to think about what veggies your family eats the most. Another consideration is what veggies may have not done so well in your spring and summer garden. Many of those can grow again in the fall, giving you an extra chance to harvest more produce.

7 Veggie Plants to Grow in Your Fall Garden

Most of these plants do very well, even if you experience a light frost. If you need to take extra precautions against frosting, I noted that for you.

  1. Broccoli: While broccoli might need some precautions against frost, it is one of the top choices for a fall garden. It is important that you start broccoli seeds in the end of June, in preparation for a July/August planting.
  2. Carrots: I might be biased, but I feel as if you can never have enough carrots. They freeze so well. We dice and flash freeze our carrots for easy soup making. Most carrot varieties need 10 to 12 weeks to grow. Count back from your first frost date to discover when you need to sow the seeds for a fall harvest.
  3. Brussel Sprouts: Many people think brussel sprouts are gross, but they couldn’t be further from wrong. When grown and cooked correctly, brussel sprouts are tender and delicious. It is one of our favorite veggies. Like broccoli, you must start your brussel sprout seeds inside if you intend to have a fall harvest. You should count back 12 to 14 weeks from your first frost date to discover when to start the seeds.
  4. Radishes: If you are a lover of radishes, you can grow them right into the fall. Depending on the variety you select, you may be able to grow them directly through the entire growing season. I sow a new planting of radishes each month because the variety I use matures in 18 to 20 days.
  5. Lettuce: In the right conditions, you may be able to have a year-round supply of fresh lettuce. Lettuce is an ideal choice for a fall garden. You should directly sow the lettuce 10 to 12 weeks before your first frost. You can also plan to sow lettuce 8 to 10 weeks and 6 to 8 weeks prior to the frost, ensuring you have a great supply leading up to cold weather.
  6. Spinach: One of the best fall crops is spinach. All you need to do is directly sow it in the ground 8 to 10 weeks before your first frost. You could also start spinach inside a few weeks earlier. I tend to have better luck with spinach when I start it inside.
  7. Peas: Typically, peas are planted two weeks prior to the last frost, during the spring. Peas also make a fantastic choice for a fall vegetable. You will want to make sure it is an earlier variety. I pick an heirloom pea variety that produces within 60 days. Plant peas 10 to 12 weeks before the first hard frost.

Fall gardening is a great way to extend your harvest, along with succession planting. While there are plenty of other choices for veggie crops, these seven are my absolute favorite. If this is your first time having a fall garden, you can guarantee success with these seven crops.

Do you have a favorite fall veggie for your garden? Let me know in the comments.

 

20 Ways to Make Money on a Homestead

Are you looking for ways to make money on a homestead with small acreage? You might think that, since you only have a few acres of land, there is no way to make a profit. You are wrong! There are so many ways to make money on a homestead, no matter the size!

Those of us with only a few acres of land typically can’t have too much livestock, but that doesn’t mean we are incapable of making money while homesteading. There are so many fantastic ways! Homesteading CAN be a money maker.

This list is FAR from exhaustive. These are just a few ways I know you can make money on a homestead. Many of them I have tried myself successfully!

20 Ways to Make Money on a Homestead

  1. Sell Your Eggs: Chances are you will have extra eggs if you have chickens. Remember to always feed your family first. People love to purchase farm eggs. You can easily sell them for $2.50 to $4.50 per dozen, depending on what they eat and your location.
  2. Sell Your Surplus Fruits and Veggies: More than likely, you produce some or all of your fruits and veggies your family needs. Once you have secured all of your food for your family, you can sell your surplus at a farmer’s market or a CSA. People love to purchase veggies from a fresh source!
  3. Offer Seasonal Activities: People love seasonal activities. If you have the space, plant a u-pick strawberry or raspberry patch. You can plant a small apple tree grove. In the fall, offer a pumpkin patch. The kids can come, pick pumpkins and paint them. Parents and kids love these types of activities.
  4. Sell Compost: Compost is expensive in the stores, priced between $6 to $10 per bag. If you create too much compost for your garden, try bagging and selling the compost. Make sure you do it correctly. No one wants to end up with tons of weeds because you created the compost wrong!
  5. Cut Flowers: Believe it or not, cut flowers sell just as well at farmer’s markets as veggies and fruit. People love beautiful bouquets of flowers. If your passion is flowers, don’t fret. You can easily sell create a flower garden instead. There is a fantastic book about this, called The Flower Farmer. You’ll find great information there.
  6. Sell Fresh and Dried Herbs: If you are at the market selling vegetables, try selling bundles of fresh herbs. Basil, parsley, oregano, sage and more do wonderful at farmer’s markets. You could also try drying and selling your dried herbs. Medicinal herbs sell great as well, so don’t forget the lavender and chamomile!
  7. Teach a Class: Learning new skills can be hard if you don’t have a mentor. Once you feel confident with your skills, offer classes. People will pay to learn with a hands-on instructor to properly can their foods or how to start seedlings at home. Make sure they have something to take home with them as well!
  8. Sell Started Seedlings: The average gardener goes to a store like Lowe’s or a local nursery to purchase their started seedlings. Instead, try selling your seedlings. I don’t know about you, but I always tend to start more than I need. Take advantage of this. If your plants are organic and heirloom, you can price each seedling between $2 and $4, a great price if you are selling over a 100 seedlings each year!
  9. Chicks or Fertilized Eggs: If you have a flock of chicken, you can sell your own day-old chicks. If you have the space, you could also wait a few weeks and sell them for more money. Chicks sell for between $2 and $4, depending on breed. You could sell a started pullet for $7 to $10. If you have the market for it, some farmers prefer to purchase fertilized eggs. You would sell them for the same price you sell your eggs, unless they are special breed chickens.
  10. Herbal Teas: For those of us who use herbal remedies, try sell your own homemade herbal teas! There are a few steps involved, such as growing the herbs and drying them. However, people love herbal teas and you might be surprised how much you truly sell, especially at farmer’s markets!
  11. Homemade Soap: You don’t need a goat to make soap, even though goat’s milk soap sells wonderfully. Using melted soy, you can make your own soap. Best of all, you can find ways to use items from your homestead in the soaps, such as herbs (lavender) or cucumber.
  12. Growing and Selling Mushrooms: If you are looking for crops that sell for higher prices, mushrooms will be on the list. Most farmer’s don’t grow their own mushrooms. Because you can grow specialty varieties, you can make a large profit on mushrooms. Not too many people think of growing mushrooms when thinking about how to make money on a homestead.
  13. Jellies and Jams: Customers LOVE homemade jellies and jams. I sell a huge range of variety, from simple recipes like strawberry jam to more creative kinds like dandelion jelly. Remember to check your state’s cottage laws before selling jellies and jams.
  14. Crochet or Knit: In all that spare time you have, try selling crochet or knitted items. I crochet, and I find that many people love handmade items, especially close to Christmas. While I do sell some throughout the year, I try to make sure I have a large stock available to sell to customers around Christmas.
  15. Save and Sell Seeds: Once you have the whole gardening thing down, it is time to start saving those seeds. You will want to make sure you use heirloom seeds for this. Not only does saving seeds help save you money while gardening, it also can earn you a profit. Each seed package sells between $2-$3.
  16. Maple Syrup: Not everyone can sell maple syrup; you clearly need maple trees on your property. With only one acre of land, we typically produce just enough maple syrup to last our family a year. However, if you have a bigger piece of property, you can easily have surplus. Maple syrup is pricey and eats up some of your time, but you will make a profit! A gallon sells for $40 to $50, but it also takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup!
  17. Woodwork: If you love to create things with wood, woodworking is for you. People LOVE handmade items like tables and benches. Those take time. For quicker items, try making shelves and signs.
  18. Bake Bread and Rolls: Another item you can sell at a farmer’s market is bread or rolls. You can also make fruit bread, like banana bread, or cookies. Customers will buy homemade bread. You can price between $2 to $4 per loaf, depending on your location and ingredients used.
  19. Specialty Hot Peppers: While this does go under number one, there is a special market for hot peppers. Peppers such as Ghost Peppers, Thai Hot Peppers and Carolina Reapers are famous for their high heat level. You can price these peppers higher than you would other varieties.
  20. Honey and Honey Products: You may or may not have bees. If you do, you have the option to sell the honey and any products from the bees, such as beeswax. If bees intimidate you, remember it is legal in most cities. Bees are natural and important for our food cycle!

Making the jump to homesteading can feel scary. It takes money to start, so you want to make sure you have money coming in as well. No matter the size, there are ways to make money on a homestead quickly!

Do you have different ways you make money on your small homestead? I would love to hear them! Share in the comments.