Category Archives: IN THE GARDEN

Homestead Happenings for the Week of August 7, 2016

Welcome to our new feature on the StoneHouse Homestead blog.  We will be posting a  weekly update of the “goings on” here and plans for the coming week.  Hopefully this will give you a better idea of what our daily life is like on our little homestead in suburbia.

The first part of the week started with digging the potatoes.  In previous years I had always purchased seed potatoes from the local Southern States Co-op.  Everything I had read about planting potatoes said to always use certified disease free seed potatoes.  The articles warned about the horrors of using potatoes left over from the previous year.  Those potatoes could harbor disease that had the potential of devastating the potato crop.  All the hard work of planting and caring for them would be for naught.  Well, I worked up the courage this year to try using left over from last year and you know what?  We had the best crop ever!  Both Red Pontiac and Kennebec varieties did beautifully with no signs of disease or insect damage!  So we got free potatoes this year!  Now, I can’t say that we will always have that kind of success, or never have issues with disease or insect damage, but I’m willing to take the chance and try it again next year.


Some other things we accomplished:

  • Pulled up the first planting of green beans and hung them to dry for seeds
    bean bushes drying on the garden fence
    bean bushes drying on the garden fence

    dry bean pods ready for seed harvest. These will be planted next year.
    dry bean pods ready for seed harvest. These will be planted next year.
  • John prepared 4 beds and I planted a second crop of broccoli (the spring crop didn’t do so well) in one bed and black beans in the other 3 beds

    One of the beds of black beans starting to sprout!
    One of the beds of black beans starting to sprout!
  • I harvested some corn for dinner-it was delicious!  It’s a white variety called Cloud Nine.  I got the seed from Gurney’s
  • started some cucumbers in a brine for dill pickles.  These are different from the fermented cucumbers that I made (YouTube video coming soon!).  I thought they were great but John thought those still tasted too much like cucumbers and he is not a fan.  So I used the Ball Blue Book recipe for Brined Dills.  I have the 3 gallon crock full at the moment.  They should be ready to can in 2-3 weeks.

    Cucumbers with garlic and pickling spices in the crock weighted down by a plate to keep them under the brine.

The second part of our week was consumed with Dutch’s surgery.  If you follow us on Facebook then you know he had surgery for a torn ligament on Wednesday.  It’s pretty complicated surgery with strict precautions for several weeks after so we were making some changes to get the house ready for him.  An area rug on our hard wood floors to make it easier for him to get up and down, more baby gates to keep him confined in a small space and re-arranging furniture to make for easier movement when he is allowed up just to name a few.   He came home on Thursday and for the next 2 weeks he is only allowed out for 5 minute bathroom breaks but no other activity.  It’s been a challenge keeping our 135lb, high energy boy quiet but thanks to the meds it’s not been too bad.

First day home from the hospital.
First day home from the hospital.

Here’s what we hope to accomplish this next week:

  • ferment the beets we grew this year
  • make laundry soap powder
  • harvest the last of the cucumbers and pull up the plants
  • harvest green beans
  • continue planting fall garden veggies-kale, spinach, lettuce and kidney beans
  • harvest the rest of the corn and pull up the plants
  • John is looking forward to trying out his new propane weed torch to take care of some of the more stubborn weeds he deals with this time of year
  • take Dutch to have his stitches out.  He also has a physical therapy consult as well

So there you have it.  What we’ve done and what we hope to do in the coming week.  What have you accomplished in the past week or hope to accomplish in the coming week?  Let us know!

The Garden Can Be A Dangerous Place!

`This week I discovered what a dangerous place the garden can be! I’ve had my fair share of minor injuries and accidents while gardening but what happened this past week was a first.

As is usual for me, I was taking a walk in the garden after work to wind down and refocus after a long day. I decided that I would pull out the spent corn stalks so the I could get the bed fertilized and prepared for the Fall. It is important to note that I never wear garden gloves. I used to tell myself that it is because I like to feel the dirt on my hands and there is some truth to that. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty. But the real reason is that I have never been able to find gloves that fit right and are heavy enough to give me any significant protection. So I just don’t wear them.

I started pulling the stalks. I was on the third or fourth stalk when I felt a sharp sting in my hand. The sting was in the fleshy part of my palm between my thumb and wrist. I thought it must have been a spider but could not find any sign of what it actually was that bit me. I wasn’t too mad as spiders are very welcome in the garden. But I didn’t see a web and could and saw what it was that bit me. All I know is that within a few seconds I was feeling intense pain in my hand which was radiating up my wrist and arm as well as swelling in my hand.  By this time I was also able to identify several small puncture like wounds on my palm.  Fearing that things might get worse I had John take me to the emergency walk in clinic.  The PA there gave me a prescription for some prednisone and instructions to take Benedryl which did the trick.

A few days later I was back in the garden when I came upon these little creatures


This, my friends is the caterpillar of the IO moth and they STING!  It was camouflaged so well that I never saw it!  The moths that they morph into are quite beautiful but they can wreak havoc on a garden, so if they show up again next year they will have to go!

So, I’ve decided it’s time for some gloves.  I’m going to try these

My husband has the men’s version, which I tried, and found them to be really close to what I am looking for in a glove.  So I’ve ordered the women’s gloves and will report back how they work out for me.  I don’t ever want to get stung by one of those beasts again!

Be careful out there!


Adventures in Gardening 2015

I can’t believe it’s the middle of August already! Seems like it was just weeks ago that we were starting the Spring garden. And now the Summer garden in winding down for the season. Both gardens provided us with good harvests as well as some surprises.

Good surprises:

1. We had 12 volunteer tomato plants come up in various raised beds. Funny thing is that they came up in beds in which I’ve never planted tomatoes!

2. I decided to try some cauliflower this year. I purchased 9 plants from the local Southern States for $3.50. They did beautifully and we harvested 8 heads! At $3.99 a head at the grocery store around these parts I’d say my $3.50 investment for 9 plants paid off!

3. The cucumbers would not stop! I usually have to battle the squash vine borers that love cucumbers as well, but not this year. I was whining to John “please make it stop” every time I’d go out to harvest. We ended up with plenty for fresh eating in salads, 14 pints of dill pickles, 7 pints of cucumber relish and enough left for more fresh eating and giving away to friends and neighbors.

4. I’ve never had much success growing cilantro. It’s not my favorite herb but I use it in our canned salsa as well as fresh.  This year I, literally, just tossed some seeds in one of the herb beds and forgot about it.  I ended up with a beautiful cilantro harvest

5.  We had the BEST sweet corn harvest ever!  Corn is another crop that has never done well for me.  This year I planted a small stand in one of the 4×6 raised beds.  This happens to be the same bed that we had the chicken run over last Summer.  Looks like all that fertilizer gave the corn just want it needed because it was fantastic!  It’s called Cloud Nine from Gurney’s.  It’s a white variety and is delish!!

Not so good surprises:

1.  The broccoli didn’t do well.  I started the plants inside as I always do, but they just didn’t look as healthy as they have in the past.  I’m not sure what went wrong but they did not produce much at all.

2.  The tomatoes have taken forever to turn red this year.  I’m usually canning tomato products by now but this year I’ll still waiting for enough of them to ripen. So, with more good than bad surprises, I guess it has been a good garden season so far.

With  the Summer harvest coming to a close  I guess  it’s time to get to work on the Fall garden.  More about that later!  I’d like to hear about your garden surprises so far this season!