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Back to Basics Homestead

It's been almost a year, but we finally settled into our new homestead in the country.  After mauling over lots of names, we decided we'd call our new place Back to Basics Homestead.  We thought the name fit as our goal is to live simple, learn old school crafts, be as self sufficient as possible and teach our your son and daughter these same great life lessons.

Please check out our new site BacktoBasicsHomestead.ca and join us on our journey to get back to basics!

Since our last post we were super busy:

  • We moved to our new place in the country, a 5 year old 2 bedroom home with an inlaw suite.  You can read more in our About Us page.
  • We 100% renovated the in-law suite where my parents now call home.
  • We finished the basement on our side to build a Family/Kids room and my home office.
  • Put in new floors on the main floor.
  • Paint the kitchen and living room

Yup it was a busy past 10 months, but it's been worth it.  We have big plans for our new place and the space we have, frustrating there aren't enough hours in the day to do them all.. or all the money in the world as well ;o)

I hope you check out our new site and help us along as well...


Wasp Smackdown 2010 – I WIN!

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OK not that dramatic, but having to go back and face the buggers that stung me was tough..lol  This time though I was prepared.  I had on a big hoodie sweater, my full welding gear and a mosquito mask.  Wasn't getting stung this time... mind you my neighbours were out to watch the fun.  I think I even smelled popcorn for the show.  My son even put on an over sized mosquito jacket to watch.

Not only did I not kill the yellow jacket wasp nest in the potting shed last time, it actually grew!  I had to tear down the underside of the overhang to get in and tear it out.  Sprayed it down first and pulled it down with a garden hoe. 

It also looks like my last attempt worked somewhat as they built a new nest in my tool shed off of a hockey stick.  I finally got rid of both nests and sprayed around the location they built.  So far so good and hope this is the last of them.  I will be building a few wasp traps though... more on that later ;o)

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On the side of our house, between the house and the driveway, we have a small strip that was once a flower bed.  It's about 20 feet by 3 feet roughly.  Last year we ripped out the flowers, yes they're pretty but not edible, and planted 4 raspberry bushes and 3 blackberry bushes.  Before you yell as us for pulling out nice flowers, they were transplanted out back about the garden to attract bee's, hopefully ;o)

We already have a great 3 year old black lab who is trained not to dig and listens well.  We got a second pup black lab... well I don't need to go into the gory details, but only 1 blackberry bush survived.  After morning the loss and trying to figure out what to do with that space, I thought of planting some tomatoes we started from seed.  These are doing great, but do require more watering then out in the garden.

This space is south facing, which got me thinking of putting up some cold frames and try for winter greens after the tomatoes are done.  I salvaged some old sliding window panes and have some access to free left over lumber, so just have to come up with a game plan to build them.  Let's see how the tomatoes do first though.

The raspberry bushes have more then doubled since last years planting and look very healthy.  They seem to love it there and hope to get a good pick this summer.  The one blackberry bush that survived is thriving... so we'll see how this tenacious one does this summer.  It's sitting between the tomato plants, which I'm not sure is a good or bad thing, but so far so good.

Urban Homestead Summer Garden Update 2010

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It's been a while since I've been able to post due to intense work schedule. Been keeping busy around the house and garden though. It's been a trying spring and beginning of summer with workload, preparing for a new baby, studying and gardening... obviously a few of the more ambitious plans had to go ;o)

Due to time and money, the squre foot garden conversion had to be pushed off till next year. That's OK though as we expanded the garden yet again to add a 20 x 5 plot for corn and potatoes. We also planted an herb garden on the deck boxes and testing planting tomatoes on the side of the house where the cold frames will go this fall. Here are a few pictures to start, get caught up and document the start of the garden. Plan is to take pictures on Friday to document and visually follow the progress of the garden as well as note what worked and what didn't... on to the pictures.

My son give the thumbs up after his first shot at starter seeds back in April.  He started and cared for tomato and cabbage.  The cabbage didn't make the first round, I think due to over watering?, but the tomatoes came out good and are planted on the side of our house in the test bed, next to the raspberries... yumm!

The deck herb garden is a new addition this year.  We used to have flowers in there but decided this year to grow some herbs: basil, cilantro, parsley, mint and a couple others as well as jalopenos and peppers.  The boxes are about 8" deep and were filled with black earth and compost.  Next year the plan is to rebuild these as self watering containers using old storage bins, hidden inside the wood frames.  It will look just as it does now, but will be much less maintenance to keep watered.  We need to water these boxes at least once a day or twice if it's an extremely hot day.  We'll test a few different methods but one setup I like so far is: Building a self watering container.

The new bed we put together this year for corn and potatoes.  Should have taken the picture after weeding yikes!!  Potatoes on the left and corn on the right.  Half the corn was started indoors and the rest seeded direct.  This bed used to be a long flower and shrub bed along my neighbours fence line.  We moved the cedar shrubs at the top of the pics to create a natural barrier for our dogs and transplanted the flowers around the house.

We planted bush beans, pole beans and giant oregon snow peas where we had potatoes last year.  Here they're just babies.  My son and I had fun running out to get alders for the frame that will support the netting for them to climb up on.  Hope it works out.

Last picture for this post is an overview shot of the backyard garden just prior to planting.  I'll get some updated shots in the next few posts.  This picture looks like we live in the country...lol.  It's hard to believe we are about 5min walk to 3 grocery stores, 3 big box stores and basically a shopping mecca.  We are lucky as our property is pie shaped backing onto a green-space.  Just below our backyard is a drop of about 8 to 10ft and a small brook.  What the nice trees in this picture hide is the huge heavy equipment rental shop just across that little brook and a car dealership.  Which reminds me... I need to go complain about how loud their damn outside paging system is!

Enough for now... now that work and personal schedule is getting under control I hope to bring this blog back to it's normal posting frequency.  Cheers and happy gardening!!

Transitioning From Winter To Spring

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On the calendar spring is only a few days away, but in my neck of the woods we'll still have snow till mid to end of April.  Mother Nature always has that last good-by winter storm in April!  Still, just the thought of Spring coming makes me smile and warms me up.  Local stores have their patio furniture, camping gear and Spring/Summer clothes out.  Local nurseries started putting out the seed displays and Spring displays... I love this time of year.

The nice days are starting to outnumber the cold dreary ones now.  Here are a few pictures from last week during March break where my son got a nice white blanket of fresh snow to go sliding ;o)

It was pretty nasty but now the snow is melting and Spring is in the air (hopefully).  In the picture of the back yard the garden is buried under the snow between the patio and my son's play cabin.  It was bare just a few days ago.. ah well ;o)

Over the weekend Seb (my son) and I started a few seeds.  We started a few tomato, cabbage and asparagus peas.  It's still a bit early but I had the itch and hope I can keep them to transplant to a cold frame to get an early start.  We'll start staggering seedlings in the next few weeks.  I can't wait to be able to invest in a good greenhouse!  But the new baby on the way will take care of that money.. haha.  It will be a busy busy summer with a new black lab puppy, Sookie,  as an addition to our 3yr old black lab Maddy and then the new baby (to be named) due Aug. 27th.

Whoa just starting to sink in with all the fun work ahead... good start to 2010!!  Ok back to reading planning the garden... ;o)