Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Homestead Chores & Weaving Waffles

Spring is officially here in central Illinois and with the warmer temps I am able to finally work outside on our new homestead.

If you look on the right hand side of the picture above you can just make out several piles of red paving bricks.  These bricks are the foundation of my raised bed herb garden I plan on installing next to my husband's wood working shop.  The side of shop gets a lot of sun every day making it a great place for herbs.

While this might not look like much yet it is the very first step in building my chicken coop.  We had to use a sod cutter to remove the grass where the coop will be built.  

With the same sod cutter we expanded what I call our little tomato garden area.  In about 5 weeks or so we will be able to plant 20 or more tomato plants in this area.

This is my large garden as you can see I have already started a few things.   The three straw covered areas are 2 rows of onions and 1 row of garlic.  I am aware you are supposed to wait until October to plant garlic, but I wanted to try planting some this spring to see what develops over the summer.  Also planted are peas, lettuce, radishes and heirloom beets.  As the weather warms more things will be planted in the garden.  

The barn swallows have already started building a mud nest in our loafing shed.  Isn't this the nicest nest? I am looking forward to seeing the babies when they hatch.

Not to be outdone by the swallows, a family of house wrens has begun a nest of their own in the overhead beams of the loafing shed.  Mother Nature is certainly busy this time of year.

Welcome to my great potato experiment.  After pricing grow bags in the seed catalogs I decided that I could try sewing my own.  Half hour of cutting and sewing and ta-da - grow bags. 

The four grey bags you see are made from landscaping fabric I had on hand from last season - each bag has about 6 inches of soil and a few wisps of straw in the bottom of them.  I placed 5 seed potatoes in each bag covered the potatoes with a bit of soil and a few more pieces of straw.  As the potatoes grow I will add soil until finally the plant reaches the top of the bag, flowers and hopefully grows potatoes for harvest in the fall.

 The three tall piles of straw are another potato experiment.  I read that it is possible to grow potatoes in a bale of straw.  Not having a whole bale of straw to use I improvised.  Using some old tomato cages we inherited when we bought the homestead.  I stuffed some straw into the cages, added 5 seed potatoes to each cage and stuffed the rest of the straw in.  The potatoes are supposed to grow just fine in the straw. Of course that remains to be seen as we wait for them grow and hopefully harvest in the fall.

On the loom I have almost finished weaving some dishcloths using a waffle weave pattern.  I used up a bunch of bobbins of leftover wefts from various cotton projects I have woven over the winter.  What a great way to use up left overs!  

Hope your spring chores are delighting you and that your gardens are starting to shape up too.
Happy Weaving!


  1. Oh my what a beautiful place. And look at all those birds making preparations for babies. I don't envy you the barn swallows though. They throw out the weakest chick usually and it makes for a messy sad time
    especially if you have a whole heap of them. Pretty work on the loom. I'm wondering if those plastic type of grain and feed bags would work for spuds. The horses Purina Strategy feed comes in one and we usually recycle it for trash and such.

  2. Theresa, the horse feed bags will be perfect for recycling into grow bags. Send me pictures when you make one! Hug the all the kids at your place for me.

  3. Hey Martha, I love seeing photos of your place. I can't get over how flat it is! We can only begin to think about planting---I have started lots of flats but nothing will go in the ground until the middle of May at the earliest. I love the barn swalows. They eat tons of bugs! And I can't wait to see your coop. Happy Springtime!

  4. Hey Jeanie, Yes it is very flat around here, I am used to it now but must admit it took me a while. I plan on planting the tender stuff sometime around Mother's day or the weekend after. So far only a few cool weather crops are in. How is the spinning come along? What have you got on your wheel? I have some alpaca on my Lendrum and it has been sitting there for most of winter - I need to get busy. Enjoy the spring weather.