Sep 262013
 

As October approaches I find myself feeling sort of sad. This time of year is always a lonely time of year for me. As the days get shorter and cooler and a few of the raised beds are filled with only soil, even the gardens look lonely. In the Summer plants are alive, swaying in the breeze, shining many shades of green in the bright sun and getting darker and vibrant after a good watering, when they are gone it is as if the beds life has been drained out of them.

I am thankful for the crops that are still growing and for the Fall plantings that are enjoying the cooler weather and thriving. Below is our lettuce, spinach and carrots.

lettucespinachcarrots

 

 

 

 

 

We made some updates to our coop. With our new girls growing and being larger breeds, we needed bigger nest boxes. Here are the young ladies checking them out and getting their first urge to lay eggs.

nestboxtest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall brings lots of canning and we finished up our last harvest of green beans.

greenbeancanning

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our sweet potato harvest was amazing and we will be enjoying many great sweet potato recipes this Winter.

sweets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I get a bit melancholy about the gardens going to sleep for the Winter and getting ready for the long cold days ahead I make a fire in our fire pit and do some stargazing on a cool crisp night.

firepit

 

 

 

 

 

The Fall is a time of reflection, and making plans for next years gardens and dreams. Though the Winter may seem twice as long as Summer, it is a time that the soil rests and rejuvenates for the Spring. It is a good thing for us to do too. Rest and reinvigorate ourselves, maybe even pamper ourselves a little, something I know I have no time at all in the Spring and Summer to do.  So I will wipe away the blahs and sip some pumpkin spice coffee, indulge in a warm pecan caramel roll, curl up under an afghan by the wood stove and read, gardening books of course, but at least I will slow down and savor the season.

Have a wonderful Fall friends,

Susan

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you have a wonderful Fall and season of reflection.

Susan

 

Sep 112013
 

As requested by our many friends, Itzy Bitzy Farm is happy to announce the first ebook in our series on canning. We will have eight ebooks in our canning series and here is the first one.

Canning Soups ~ Susan Berry (Click title or book image to purchase through Amazon)

soupbookcover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our ebook is available for sale through Amazon for Kindles and Kindle Apps of all types.

Future ebooks in the series will include:

“Can I Can That?”

“Canning Jellies & Jams”

“Canning Vegetables”

“Canning Tomatoes”

….to name a few. We will announce here on our blog when the other ebooks in the series are published so sign up to follow our blog and be one of the first to get our new releases.

Happy Canning!

Sep 052013
 

It is disappointing, I know, to accept that Summer is coming to an end. Yet another gardening year is fading out with the Summer sunset.  But, let us not despair for upon us is Fall! And a great season of garden prepping and tips to make the Winter easier to dwell in and the coming Spring a breeze when it arrives. So here are my favorite 10 Gardening Tips for Fall.

Tip # 1
“With Summer winding down here in zone 6, the soil is feeling tired from all the abundance this Summer. So for a quick pick me up and potential Fall sowing, add some compost or aged manure to the gardens or beds. Turn in to about 4 -6 inches deep. Add a drink of 2 oz fish and seaweed emulsion mixed in one gallon of water and sow or plant your Fall veggies. The plants will love you for it and so will your earth worms who will enjoy the new compost.”

Tip # 2
“Have you ever tried Winter sowing?  Winter sowing doesn’t work for all crops but it is wonderful for veggies that like a cold period before germinating. Cabbage, broccoli, beets, chard, kale, radishes and my favorite spinach are a few. Sow seeds late Fall to early Winter. Add a layer of mulch such as Fall leaves, straw or aged manure. As soon as things start thawing and warming you’ll have early veggies.

Tip # 3
Amend your soil now for Spring planting. Quick and easy amending. Simply add a 2-4 inch layer of aged manure and as the Winter freezing and thawing take place the manure gets worked into the soil, ready to go in the Spring.

Tip # 4
Though sipping hot chocolate curled up by the fire with the new Botanical Interests catalog is my favorite January past time, I also make my cages and trellises during the down time of Winter. Using rolled wire fencing, I cut pieces to the desired size of my cages for tomatoes, pepper and eggplant plants and bend the cut end of the wire over the other side, making home-made cages.

Tip # 5

Fall & Winter are when I clean and sterilize my seed trays and pots that I used in Spring. My organic method to kill any bacteria or diseases that may spread to next years seedlings is to spray the trays with straight white vinegar, then rinse thoroughly. The run off from vinegar wash will not hurt nearby animals, pets or plants.

Tip # 6
Storing leftover or saved seeds from this years gardening is not only preserving the heritage varieties it is economical, since most seeds have a 2-5 year shelf life. Making sure seeds are completely dry, store in clean, dry air tight glass jars. Label and date clearly and store in a cool, dry, dark place. Next Spring you will have extra seeds to sow or share with a new gardener.

And for us chicken parents………

Tip # 7
For chicken owners Winter brings less free ranging and less green feed for our flocks.If you garden in raised beds, make a hoop house over one of your beds out of 1/4 inch flexible PVC, covered in 6 mil clear plastic. Grow all types of greens to feed your chickens. Spinach, kale, collards and micro greens do great in a hot house setting.

Tip # 8
Grow lots sprouts and grasses in window boxes or pots on a sunny sill or porch. Add the sprouts to your flocks feed or fill a suet holder with grasses and sprouts and hang it up in the coop for some healthy treats and pecking fun.

Tip # 9
Fall cabbage can be harvested right before the first frost and stored in a root cellar to feed your chickens during the Winter. If you don’t have a root cellar, leave the cabbage heads in the garden and cover with 6 inches of mulch such as Fall leaves or straw and pick one during the deep cold days of Winter to treat your flock to a healthy fun treat. My hens love to peck at a hanging cabbage head, playing catch the cabbage.

cocoa

Tip # 10

Light a fire in the fireplace or woodstove and curl up with a mug of your favorite hot cocoa. Reflect on all your hard work, bountiful harvests and dedication to living a more self sustained lifestyle. Know that you are prepared for the coming Winter months with your own home grown food in the freezer and your canned foods in the pantry. Ahhhh, relax and rest and rejoice…it’s only a couple more months before the NEW SEED CATALOGS ARRIVE, YAY!!!!

 

 

Aug 152013
 
Winter Garden Prepping

With all the excitement and enthusiasm for “Prepping”  in the country today I was thinking about all the prepping I do to my gardens and beds for Winter and thought I would share my garden preparation plan with you all. Though it may seem like a waste of time and energy to plan so far [...]

Aug 072013
 
Come On In, So Nice To See You.

I wanted to just chat and visit with you. Having a cup of coffee with you , my friends. It has been a challenging Summer for me. With the strange weather I have not gotten the typical harvest I usually have in the past but hoping for a good Fall crop harvest. How has your [...]

Aug 072013
 
How To Build Chunnels

After losing three hens to poisonous edibles in the woods behind the coop, I had to come up with a safe free range solution for my girls. After doing a little research I discovered these “Chunnels” on the internet and made a modified version that I felt would suit our needs. They give Mom a [...]

Jul 312013
 
Home Canning Potatoes

This tutorial is intended to be a guide on canning for food preservation. I follow the Ball canning guidelines or USDA guidelines and DO NOT advise anyone to follow any guidelines other than those available from these two sources. Itzy Bitzy Farm or it’s owners or staff incur no responsibility and will not be held [...]

Jul 252013
 
Dreams

Do you have a dream? My dream is to have 2-5 acres to homestead on and raise pork, turkeys, more chickens, a dairy cow and of course grow vegetables.  I use to have a  5 acre farm in which 3 acres was workable. My husband and I felt we needed to give up our farm [...]

Jul 232013
 
Potato Jackpot ! Growing A Kitchen Staple

Homestead families have been growing potatoes as an important staple crop for generations. A good potato harvest can provide delicious and nutritious meals for many months with proper storing and preserving techniques. A very easy to grow crop, potatoes can be planted in many different places and will produce an abundant harvest for even the [...]

Jul 102013
 
Herbs & Inspiration

This morning I went out to harvest some of the herbs I have growing on the homestead and when I got a whiff of the beautiful Garlic Chives, I got an inspiration. I remembered we had left over mashed Yukon Gold potatoes from last nights dinner and I was hungry for some breakfast. So….   [...]

Jul 092013
 
Our Tomato Varieties This Year

  Here are just some of our tomato varieties that we are growing this year. More pics will be added as the crops develop. Admittedly they are prettier when they ripen but there is something about the first green tomatoes of the season on the plants that is so lovely to me.       [...]

Jul 082013
 
So You Want Backyard Chickens, Huh?

Well let me tell you a thing or two…. Read this then we will talk. “Backyard chickens dumped at shelters……” Ok, so you want to get chickens. It would be so great having your own fresh eggs. It would be a great experience for the kids. It’s all the thing, everyone is getting them! There [...]

Jul 062013
 
Meet The Girls

Here are the newest members of the Itzy Bitzy Family.   Butterscotch and Daisy               Cinnamon               Nutmeg               Nattie                 Dot               Dash [...]