Salvaged brick flowerbed border.
This weekend being one of the most beautiful weekends this beautiful autumn has provided, my husband and I decided to knock out some outdoor projects on our little homestead. Progress has been limited by our lack of funds so far, until we sell the other house, so unfortunately we have been unable to install our geothermal system this fall as planned, and we will have to suck it up and make it through a long Ohio winter with a 30-year-old fuel oil furnace, and a propane fireplace. (We intend to replace the fireplace with a wood-burning stove, but this will be a rather involved project which will include cutting a large hole through the wall, which we would prefer not to undertake so close to winter.) So, our winter may be chilly, but we are still newly-weds, so we will cuddle up and make do! :-)
So we are learning what all new homesteaders have to learn early on: how to get creative and use existing resources to accomplish our goals while spending little money. My two outdoor projects this weekend were a perfect case-in-point. As we are hosting a Halloween party next weekend, my main goal this week is to get some things cleaned up outside. The previous owner left quite a few piles of junk in the yard, mostly covered with leaves and overgrown with weeds. Most of it is turning out to be broken furniture, wood, and tree branches, along with a few tires, wooden pallets, etc. But among the trash, a frugal mind can often find treasure, and so we did.
The beginnings of our new raspberry bed.
Home-made red raspberry jam.
Our first find was several long landscaping timbers, rather wet and weather beaten, but usable nonetheless. Out of these, I decided to make a raspberry bed - raspberries being one of my favorite fruits, and apparently quite at home in Ohio. We plan to buy several kinds of raspberry starts in the spring, but for now, I started our little raspberry patch with a number of canes which were growing in the neglected front flower bed. I have no idea what kind they are - perhaps black? - but I like all kinds! So I dug them out of the flower bed, and moved them over to the side lawn, where I plan to bed them up (lasagna gardening style
) with grass clippings, old leaves, and mulch, and hopefully they will live through the winter and take well to their new location.
In the meantime, I took advantage of the sales on this fall's bountiful raspberry crop, and purchased a whole bunch of raspberries incredibly cheaply to make a batch of old-fashioned raspberry jam, which turned out absolutely lovely, and was surprisingly easy to make! I look forward to making jam with our own berries in a year or two!
For me, the most exciting find so far among the rubble has been a large, neatly stacked pile of old red clay bricks. I used these to edge the front flower bed, after digging it up, and planting several kinds of fall bulbs. In the spring, I will also be making two round flower beds around two old tree stumps in the front yard, and will use the remainder of the bricks to edge these beds to match. Currently these beds are just big piles of grass clippings - which I have piled up to decompose over the winter. New brick border from old bricks.
I have been really enjoying the sustainability of creating our own garden out of materials we have on hand, or can make ourselves. For example, grass clippings quickly decompose into amazingly black, rich dirt. Leaves take a little longer, but the previous owner had piled last year's leaves around a tree stump, and now they are also falling apart into rich, soft soil. Since we are blessed with a huge maple tree out front, I plan to do the same with this year's leaves, for next fall's garden projects. So we have two sources of completely free (other than sweat equity) soil amendments, and all of this without any chemicals since we don't use any on our lawn - and we have 5 acres of grass to mow if we need more! :-)
All in all, for both of this weekend's projects, we purchased a few bags of mulch to make the front flower bed look pretty, and my husband got a few more landscaping timbers to round out the raspberry bed, and that's it. Everything else - including the raspberry plants - came from our own land right here. And for me, I think this is where the joy of homesteading comes from. It's not necessarily from seeing our goals realized, achieving success at our projects, or even getting out in the great wonderful outdoors and getting my hands dirty - although all of these things are great too. For me, the true satisfaction I think comes from finding a measure of self-sufficiency. Being able to provide for oneself is an increasingly rare and undervalued thing in today's world, and I think this missing element is what is inspiring the resurgence of the homesteading movement over the past few years.
So I will keep you posted on our progress, as well as this week's experiments - making hard cider, and growing ginger in a pot!
Do you have any homesteading adventures you'd like to share? Feel free to comment below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- I'd love to hear your stories!
Yours in good health & sustainable living,
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