Category Archives: Homesteading

Space Saving Gardening Ideas


Having the ability to produce alot of food has become very important to us.  Food prices continue to rise and “healthy” eating becomes fiscally more difficult all the time.  And…there’s just nothing better than that window of a few months where you can go out and pick your own fresh greens, luscious tomatoes (better than the mealy store ones!), etc.  We love variety and I try to plant anywhere from 2-10 varieties of everything we plant just for the fun of it.

We live in town, and have limited space.  Last year we overhauled our backyard and were able to double the amount of garden area we had, which helped alot.   We other garden space outside our yard last year, and do not have it this year, so we were forced to be creative.  We came up with several ideas that I thought were worth sharing and so far they’ve been successful.

Delicata squash in a tomato cage:


Heirloom hidatsa shield beans on netting (we got it at Peaceful Valley Farm Supply):


Lots and lots of cabbages, planted closely.  I gave about a foot distance between them.  Ignore the weeds.


Melons and cucumbers growing up cattle panels.  We asked around and got most of ours for free, but you can get them at farm supply stores too. 🙂


Baby chanterais melon growing up a cattle panel:


Potted spaghetti squash with a tomato cage:


Raised beds with strawberry plants (again, ignore the weeds):


Herb pots are great – here is some spearmint:






Potato bags (I bought these from a friend at a rummage sale, but I think she got them at Gardener’s Supply originally.  You could also check eBay.):


Raised beds (we have 32 pepper plants of all varieties in 2 4×4 beds…and they are all doing great!):


Our very tiny Country Gentleman heirloom organic corn planted in some area by the alley that we tilled up late this spring.  We are hopeful. 🙂


Pie pumpkins on cattle panels out near the alley.  Planted late, but again…we’re hopeful.


This has been the most productive garden we’ve had, and I attribute alot of that to growing more things vertically than we ever have.   Be warned, it’s a process.  Every year we tweak it (keeping records is very helpful) and try to add on in some way.  I’m happy with our little plot in the alley, and even if nothing produces this year we’ll have it ready for next year.  Hope these ideas were helpful!


Spring Planting 2014


Last weekend, we got the bulk of our seeds planted.  Our daughter’s awesome preschool teachers saved milk cartons for us for a few weeks – a great big THANK YOU to them!

We used the milk cartons and the seed starting mixture from Walmart.  We fill the cartons with the seed starting dirt, make a whole and put in roughly 3 seeds.  Fill the hole loosely with dirt, water (not too much) and cover with plastic wrap.  Last year I started using big tin foil lasagna pans (also from Walmart) and they work great to keep all the plants contained and generally under our grow lights.   I am not sure how many plants we started yet, but I would estimate it is around 200.

Aerial view of some of the seeds we started:





More planting:


One week later…signs of life! 🙂


This year we ordered our seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Seed Savers Exchange.  This is in addition to seed that we saved from last year.   I am also ordering seeds from Turtle Tree Seeds, Bountiful Gardens and Horizon Herbs.  We have ordered from them in the past and have been very happy with quality.

I also thought I’d share a few of the varieties that I’m the most excited about:  Black from Tula tomato, Ivory Pear Tomato, Syrian 3 Sided Pepper, Cour di Bue cabbages and Genovese Basil.



Food Dehydrating


Before we started the GAPS Diet, we got an Excalibur dehydrator – mainly for making yogurt at that point.  Best big ticket kitchen item purchased yet, and I’d do it again except I’d get the 9 tray instead of the 5 tray.  I make jerky, yogurt, dried fruit and veggies, and I also use it to dry nuts after they have been soaked/sprouted.

The booklet that comes with it is very helpful, and when in doubt, I Google.

Anyhow, the garden has been producing well, and I like to buy bulk at the local farmer’s market too for this purpose.  (If you get to know your farmers there, they may be willing to save things for you in bulk at your request!)  I’m not doing a “how to” – you can get all that from the info book that comes with your dehydrator.  More like an “inspirational” to show the positives of this type of food preservation.

I should add that we have recently been on a pineapple and kiwi dehydrating kick (peel/slice each thinly to dry and follow manufacturer’s guide for times/temp).  My kids each picked one for the county fair/4H exhibit, and they were not only unique, they were YUMMY.

Here’s a bit of what I’ve done in the past week.  I also did a bunch of leeks (which dry beautifully), and have green bell peppers drying right now.  These are great for tossing in soups and stews throughout the winter.




I also do a “greens powder” that is great for smoothies and spaghetti sauce.  I filled my trays with kale (or dandelion greens, turnip greens, whatever you’ve got), dried it thoroughly, stripped the leaves off the tough stems and ran through my coffee grinder until it’s a fine powder.  I am not that creative on my own, but I sincerely cannot remember what blog I saw it on.  Anyhow, it’s not my own creation but I love it.  I just did this one last week.  It doesn’t make alot per batch but a little goes a long way.


As shown, I store my dried goods in mason jars.  I do put in one or two oxygen absorber packets (available on Amazon).  Because I’ve been drying a little more this summer, I have been thinking of getting some smaller Mylar bags (also available on Amazon) but have not gotten that far yet.  From what I have read, items generally keep a year.  Follow good common sense – if it looks bad or smells, throw it.  Last summer I had some onion that didn’t dry right and it was visibly not ok.  Otherwise, I tend to use these veggies, including the leeks and peppers in soups, chili, etc.   I just throw them in and they rehydrate right in the soup.  Nice to have a little summer in your food year round. 🙂

This post was shared at Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays;