Modern Homesteading

Did the frost hit your summer flowers?
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Tender annuals such as zinnias, marigold, cosmos, bachelor buttons and many more just cannot stand up to our cold Michigan winters. So now is the time to prepare for next year! You can save seed from your heirloom annuals to start new flowers next spring. Start by gathering dried flower heads then pull out the petals. At the base of each petal is a seed. Collect these, allow them to thoroughly dry on a plate, screen or paper towel. Once they are dried, store them in envelopes, paper bags or in a glass container in a cool dry place.
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To learn more about the fun of saving seeds:

 Apple Season

apples in a basket
Fall is such a wonderful time of year in Michigan! Immerse yourself in the smells and tastes of Autumn by making applesauce. Making applesauce is fun and simple enough to do as a family activity. Start in the afternoon and you’ll have warm applesauce ready for your dinner. A large batch can be canned or frozen to enjoy all year. If your homestead lacks an apple tree no worries. Michigan ranks third in the nation for apple production. Apples are available in stores, at farm markets, and u-pick orchards.
Where to find apples:
Applesauce recipe:
How to freeze apples:

ummdrying herbs

It’s a great time to dry herbs! 
Head out early in the day to harvest the herbs. It is best to harvest before they blossom. Unless you are needing to harvest blossoms such as the chamomile above! Discard imperfect or very dirty leaves. Rinse the herbs under cool running water. Pat excess water with a  paper towel. Tie them into small bundles and hang to dry. Or place them on a screen to dry. I have even used paper plates. Allow 7 - 10 days to dry in a dry, darkened room. Once dry and crispy place the whole leaves into clean, dry containers. Store in a dark cupboard away from heat. Herbs can also be dried in a slow oven, microwave, or food dehydrator. For detailed instructions on all methods of drying herbs, the National Center for Home Food Preservation provides this nice instruction page:

its basil time
It’s Basil Time! 
Now’s the time to harvest basil before it blossoms. Eat it fresh in a Caprese salad, sauteed with zucchini and onions and garlic, or make pesto. You could also freeze or dry basil to be able to savor this wonderful taste of summer all year! (Caprese salad recipe) recipe) (drying herb instructions) (drying and freezing instructions) (sauteed zucchini with garlic and basil) pesto)

succession planting

Modern Homesteading: Succession Planting, It's Not Too Late!!
We're fortunate to have a fairly long growing period here in southeastern Michigan.  This allows for a late-season or fall planting.  Two growing cycles of cool weather plants can be squeezed into our Michigan planting season.  Some hardier varieties could support up to three separate crops or growing cycles.
Right now, the window for the second planting is rapidly closing (depending on our first frost). Hurry to plant those beans, zucchini, kale, carrots, any lettuce varieties, broccoli, bok choi, and the list goes on.  
Be sure to consider the plant's "days till maturity" before you sow to be sure your's will have the time to yield a crop.
Happy Homesteading!

These days most of my time is spent in the garden, planting, watering, pruning, eradicating pests and of course weeding.  I do love weeding by hand; there's something so satisfying about being down in the dirt to pull those pesky weeds out, roots & all.  However, it takes a lot of time & effort.  Lately, I've turned to my favorite garden tool for help, although I'm not entirely sure it was a tool intended for gardening.  My son calls it the "wicked tool".  
It's a long-handled, double-sided hoe looking something or other.  On one side is a two-pronged fork while the opposite is a flat sharp blade, similar to a hoe.  I have no idea how I came to own it and I feel like it may be intended for another use, but I just love it for getting those deep-rooted weeds like dandelions and thistles or the little weedlings sprouting between those closely planted crops.
staff with gardening tools          garden tools

Modern Homesteading: Kitchen Scraps update!  
The potatoes are thriving.  The russet potatoes were planted about 3 weeks ago and have really taken off in this humidity.  
The sweet potatoes that were sitting in water for about 6-8 weeks each grew a single slip (a new plant with its own leaves & roots).  Sadly, one of them did not survive the move to the garden, but after a slow start the 2nd slip is taking off.
Both varieties pictured here are planted in a mound comprised of layered straw & compost.  Then the mound is covered in grass clippings to hold in moister & keep weeds down.

Happy planting!
plants          plants and grass