What’s Growing on the Homestead Today?

The photos here were taken May 8th (other than the 2-day old quail photo).  Overnight … rain, then snow (again).  But I’m enjoying the thoughts of new life and new growth, both vegetative and avian.  (And, personal…)  Trees are thinking about budding out – and I know where I am, they’re a bit slower than where you likely are (and this is just Northern Hemisphere here…)

Temps here on May 8th were high 40s to low 50s F (around 10 C, plus or minus), and by evening were dropping.  In fact, May 9th as I edit this post – blustery snow (although amounts will likely be just an inch or so).  It was 28 F / -2 C when I awoke.  We’ll get a spring that sticks someday!

Actual native deciduous trees out there are just beginning to bud.  From a distance, you can’t really tell that they’re doing much, either.

Just to let readers know: I live in the Hilltowns of western Massachusetts.  Zone 5b.

Apples:

homesteading, apple, budding, spring

YES… this is spring! The surviving apple sapling that was planted two years ago is showing its vibrancy. It will gain young fellows out there within the week!

One existing apple sapling, and some (roots) that arrived about ten days ago that need to go in the ground, but I’m waiting for temps to be 35 F / 1.7 C or more.  The existing one bore fruit last year, apparently fertilized by the ancient apple trees that came with this lot of land.  (Its own cohort had died.)  I still need to get in touch with the fellow at the U Mass extension for preserving at least a few of the archaic apple trees on my property.  Note: In most cases you need more than ONE variety for apples to set.  And they do need to flower at the same time, so they can cross-fertilize.

Asparagus: 

I’m waiting, asper-grass…  You showed up LAST year, still too young to eat… I have at least one local friend who already has harvested some of her own!  (Okay, I am definitely living at a higher elevation than she!)

Cauliflower:

Just bought a 6-pack of seedlings.  Never tried cauliflower before! But it is a brassica, like kale, which works well here.

Cats:

ragdoll, cat

Serenity, my mellow ragdoll cat. The longest lasting feline I’ve ever lived with.  She goes online with the screen name, “Miw” where she’s fascinated by all things early Egyptian.  ANY culture that would worship a cat god (Bast) is cool with her.

Serenity, a ragdoll, aged 18 and a half.  Obi-wan, aged 13 and a half.  Obi is a good mouser as he proved himself last week, despite being mostly blind.  They are both indoors (as per agreement with the folks I got each from).  Neither would make good barn cats anyway, although Obi would have been game to try back when he had better eyesight.

Chickens:

homesteading, chickens

Three buff Orpington hens, one Rhode Island Red hen, and the mean Speckled Sussex rooster who is on the docket to go. Not seen in this vignette – the Rhode Island White rooster whom Tractor Supply sold to me as a female baby chick last fall. He’s a great bird.

Lentil is the second chicken in two years to have succumbed to predation.  He disappeared a few days ago – I suspect a hawk.  Currently I have three roosters (one needs to GO as he is aggressive) and 11 hens, in two different housing units.  I am getting a new coop next week or so, and also there will be a batch of straight run baby chicks arriving June 22nd.  My plan is to incubate some eggs for hatching at about the same time.  I suspect most of the straight run will be males, as there’s a high demand for pullets (females) now, from people desperate to start up homesteading in the face of a certain virus.  Most of the males will be slated for freezer camp although I hope to select a couple good breeding roosters.

Dandelions: 

homesteading, dandelion

There seems to be a bit of variety in leaf shape. I think the more-filled-out leaves are better, at least in salads.

They just come with the territory.  All parts are edible, but they can be bitter.  Very young leaves make a great salad ingredient.  Add slightly older ones to stir fries.  The roots can be cooked.  Flowers can be made into dandelion wine, dandelion tea, dandelion jelly.  The flowers are just beginning to appear here, and so next week I’ll start collecting some.  Oh, please note – do NOT consume dandelions (or other harvested vegetative matter) by roadsides, or that have had pesticides/herbicides applied near or on them.  I’m also ignoring those that are near the chicken coop.  Y’know… raw chicken poop?

Elderberry:

homesteading, elderberry, bud. leafing

The elderberry sapling – with the beginnings of spring leafing and  budding.

I bought two last year, only one survived.  I see life on its branches for this year… I really need to put up fencing around it, both to keep deer away, and to keep mowing activities away.  This Can Be Done.

Garlic Mustard: 

homesteading, garlic mustard, invasives

Garlic mustard in situ. Best means of eradication of small amounts – salads! I pulled most of it and made a dandelion and mustard green salad!

This is an invasive plant that didn’t exist up on my new homestead lot until seeds evidentially rode up with me from things I really did mean to transplant.  However, it is very edible and it has a spicy taste – so I plan to eat all of it before it starts trying to take over up here like it had done even before I bought the old Connecticut home.  You do HAVE to harvest before flowers appear – those flowers just love bursting out into seed immediately.  Fortunately, not many seeds came up with me!  (AND, I am catching the green parts in time.)  The plant will grow a lot taller than shown here – it just won’t get that chance!

homesteading, foraging, garlic mustard

Please harvest prior to flowering. This is truly invasive. At least mint only does the invasive bit by roots.  Salads are good with this, but a light stir frying wouldn’t be amiss, either.

Lady’s Mantle: 

homesteading, lady's mantle

A lovely ground cover, shade-tolerant.

I have to check to see if there’s any herbaceous / medical use for this, but meanwhile I’ve been growing Lady’s mantle for years back in CT, and what I have now are transplants from there.  Very pretty, and it is neat how rainwater beads up on them!

Microgreens:

I’m ready to grow!  This is indoors.  Will post details on a future date.

Quail: 

homesteading, quail

Two 2-day old quail.

Yes, I am now doing quail.  Once I think I actually KNOW something to share, there will be a quail-rearing blog post here.  I went from a dozen to seven little bits of avian popcorn.   They’re still in my basement, because 1) I am not finished building them their housing and 2) it is still too cold out there for young quail such as these to thrive yet.   The quail are initially for breeding but I really want eggs and meat.

homesteading, quail

A quail today. They are Coturnix quail, and these pretty much have different feathering patterns.

Plums:

My plum root-trees arrived about ten days ago (with the apple root trees).  As soon as it seems appropriate weather-wise, they’ll be planted, too.

Perennial Pretties: 

grape hyacinths

Two grape hyacinths, with one small white variety plant. Unlike regular hyacinths, these are very tiny.

Things I’ve planted here for color, currently spring color.  Grape hyacinths were transplanted from Connecticut last year, but not many of them “took”.  However, they should make more of themselves in the coming years.  These daffodils I planted a couple years ago – those that I put in last fall are just a few green stalks and I don’t have much hope for that batch.

daffodils

Daffodils in a circle around a decorative rock. Yes, I need to get out there and weed away the stalks in front – that’s on schedule here.

Potatoes:

Not growing here yet, but I have a bucket of Yukon Gold seed potatoes which will go in later this week, and a few random potato things I’ll be planting as well – they started sprouting from their eyes before I ate them.  Yes, I will be prepared to hill them.

Red Cabbage:

homesteading, vegetables, cauliflower, red cabbage, brassica

Happened to be down at the local Tractor-Supply-like Mom & Pop store for other reasons, and saw these sitting out in the open air. Had to purchase. Cauliflower seedlings to the left, red cabbage to the right!

Just bought a 6-pack.  Never tried cabbage before! But it is a brassica, like kale, which works well here.  

Spinach:

homesteading, seedlings, spinach

Spinach seedlings.

Seeds were planted a month ago.  They’re up, but small, micro-green sized.  I will be planting additional rows so these can be harvested consecutively.

Strawberries:

homesteading, strawberries

Not all the strawberry plants appear up, yet. But at the lower right you can see a newly-emergent.

A perennial just beginning to appear.  I put in additional plants each year (although I haven’t found any this year to add, mainly because I’m not travelling to populated regions of Massachusetts at this point).  Not sure any are available anyway.

Thai/Kefir Lime:

homesteading, citrus, Thai lime, kefir lime

Hunkering down indoors for the winter. By the end of the month this lime will likely be on the back deck, for full south exposure..

Apparently the only citrus tree that seems to thrive here over winter.  It even bears fruit – which is more bitter in the citrus side of things, but even the fruit is useful (though leaves are most desired in Thai cooking).

Various Seeds: 

Sown this past week are arugula, cilantro, Swiss chard, .  I planted beet seeds a month ago but that failed.  I’m planting a bunch more this weekend (when it warms up.)

Woodruff: 

homesteading, woodruff

Woodruff appearing.

I transplanted some from my old Connecticut home.  It’s a shade-loving herb, which if and when it takes off, produces pretty white flowers that can be used in May wine – so called because that’s when it typically flowers.  If it flowers here in my more northerly zone, it will probably do so late May.  It is a perennial, and spread very well back at my old shady home.  Without turning invasive.

Wormwood: 

homesteading, wormwood

The wormwood prior to its annual haircut.  That concrete pad in the background is for the eventual generator.

Yes, this is the plant that can be harvested to make absinthe.  I use it to make external-only salves or poultices for bruises.  It seems to cut down on the inflammation, pain, and the actual bruising if applied immediately after you bang your flesh up against the hard spot of a rock, an inadvertent fist, or whatever.  It is a perennial, and you can cut the plant back after frost, or you can be lazy as I was and cut it back now in spring when the new young growth from below starts appearing.

homesteading, wormwood

Close-up of wormwood post hair cut.

Yarrow:

homesteading, herbs, yarrow

Cannot recall what type.

Yes it is coming back!  Yay.  It is also a perennial.


I think there will be more perennial herbs returning this spring – they’re not all quite ready to show their faces, yet.  My hopes are up for the oregano, and that asparagus, for instance.


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About goatsandgreens

The foodie me: Low/no gluten, low sugars, lots of ethnic variety of foods. Seafood, offal, veggies. Farmers' markets. Cooking from scratch, and largely local. The "future" me: I've now moved to my new home in rural western Massachusetts. I am raising chickens (for meat and for eggs) and planning for guinea fowl, Shetland sheep, and probably goats and/or alpaca. Possibly feeder pigs. Raising veggies and going solar.
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5 Responses to What’s Growing on the Homestead Today?

  1. I really enjoyed this look around your garden and property. It looks like spring is finally underway. Yarrow in my garden is invasive and I am sorry I every planted it. And I agree, water droplets on Ladies Mantle are magical. Stay well.

  2. Dee | Grammy's Grid says:

    Looks like you’ve got lots to keep you busy on your homestead! Thanks so much for linking up with me at #AThemedLinkup 16 for Gardening, open April 30 to May 10. All entries shared if social media buttons are installed.

    • It’s been at Twitter, and I have to see if I remembered to put this on Pinterest. Yes, I don’t do ALL the social media out there. At any rate, thanks for providing this link-up.

  3. I have the Yukon Golds as well! Have you dug yours up yet?

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