Tips on How to Prune Apple Trees on the Homestead

Tools to Use when You Prune Apple Trees These two tools are recommended by mastor arborist Paul Gautschi, who I talk about below. This Samurai Japanese pruning saw cuts through the branches like butter. And these Felco F-8 pruners, are excellent. Paul has used his pruners for so long, the red plastic layer on the handles has worn off to the blue beneath. I really like how they came with an extra blade as well. Do NOT use loppers. They are not the best tool for pruning. Where I Learned How to Prune Apple Trees Thankfully, I watched the Back to Eden gardening film online a few years ago. The film is a documentary, featuring Paul Gautschi, a master arborist. Not only does he share his famous no-till method of gardening with wood chips, but he also opens up his garden once a week in the summers for tours. He also opens up it up for pruning lessons in the winter and teaches people how to prune apple trees. I have on my bucket list to get over there and see his work first hand, as he is also in the Pacific NW. Thankfully, many folks have video taped his tours and lessons, and they are available on YouTube to watch.   How to Prune an Apple Tree Video with Paul Gautshi Tutorial from YouTube Thank you to L2Survive for allowing me to share this video.  Please check out his You Tube Channel here at L2Survive Several years ago, I came across a video of Paul Gautschi giving a lesson on how to prune apple trees on YouTube, and it all began to click for me. I’ve watched him every year before I begin pruning, to remind me of what the trees are supposed to look…

Tamara


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5 Things Friday – 2/23/18

Today I am starting a new series, that I originally saw on Erica Strauss’s blog NWEdible called 5 Things Friday. Every Friday I will aim to post about 5 of my favorite things that week. I will try to post one thing for each of these categories: Homestead Garden, Homestead Critters, Homestead Kitchen, Homesteader Entertainment and Personal a thing from my Homesteader life. These may be handy gadgets, recipe’s, quotes or moments in time. I hope you will all share some of your Friday Favorites with me as well. Homestead Garden Favorite: This week, my 5 Things Friday favorite gardening item is this Japanese pruning saw that I learned about from Paul Gautschi in the Back to Eden gardening film (which is another favorite of mine, if you haven’t seen it, you MUST!!!!!). It works so well, pruning the fruit trees has been so easy. It cuts through like butter! And a tip from Paul, who is a master arborist, never use loppers to prune. He swears by this saw and a good pair of pruners! That is all you need. I will do a post soon with more info on pruning. Homestead Critters Favorite: This week, my 5 Things Friday favorite critter item, is our glorious eggs! The birds have really starting laying up a storm, and the pretty colors just get me every time. Unfortunately, our two olive eggers are still slacking except for the one huge double yolker that one of them laid in this photo, but I think everybody else is donating to the cause. Which means we have enough to keep our egg customers happy! Homestead Kitchen Favorite: My 5 Things Favorite Kitchen item, is something my oldest received as a wedding shower gift recently, and then I just…

Tamara


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Seed Starting 101: Winter Sowing

What is Winter Sowing? Winter Sowing is using plastic milk jugs or other plastic containers, and using them as mini-greenhouses outside in the middle of winter, to sow your seeds. I first read about Winter Sowing, here on Kevin Jacob’s blog.  I have been doing this now for the last 5 years or so, and it has worked so well for me, that I wanted to share the idea in hopes that it works for you too. Because it is SOOOOO EASY!!!!! Sow those seeds, and then forget about them for a few month! Seriously. That is all. To see how I also start seeds the traditional way, using all sorts of equipment indoors, please see my Essential Seed Starting Equipment post. Winter Sowing Containers or Mini Greenhouses for Winter Sowing: I like to use milk jugs for my winter sowing containers. To prepare them, first, poke a bunch of holes in the bottom for drainage,  and a few holes around the top for extra air circulation.  I use a Phillips head screwdriver that I heat up over a gas burner, than just poke it thru the plastic a bunch of times. Then you cut the milk jug almost all the way around about 4″ up from the bottom, but leaving an inch or so intact opposite from the handle, as a hinge. So that you can lift the upper part of the jug open. I use an X-acto knife to do this. How to Plant your Winter Sowing Jugs: Fill the bottom part of the jug with 3″ of damp potting soil. I use the same kind of potting soil I talk about in my Seed Starting Equipment post.  Have some duct tape or similar tape on hand, that you will need to…

Tamara


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Seed Starting 101- How to Plant Onion Seed Indoors in Winter

Starting Onion Seed in January January is the month my fingers get itching to plant onion seed. Luckily there are a few things you can plant by seed as early as January here in the PNW, even earlier in milder parts. In this post, I will teach you how I plant onion seed indoors. It is usually the first thing I plant in the dead of winter. Other things that may be started this month by seed are celery, artichoke, asparagus and hot peppers. Different Methods for Sowing Seeds I sow most of my seeds using two methods, Winter Sowing and also indoors using your standard seed starting Equipment. Please see these two article for more information on both methods: Seed Starting 101: Winter Sowing in which I share how I use milk jugs outdoors as mini greenhouses to start seed and my post about Seed Starting Equipment lists more detail about equipment needed to start your seeds indoors. It also covers what type of soil I use for starting seeds. Choosing Which Onion Varieties to Plant I chose several varieties of onion seed to plant, with my primary focus being on onions that are excellent keeping onions or also called storage onions. These types of onions will last in storage all through winter after harvesting and curing them. When trying to grow most of our own produce for the year, it is essential to look at varieties of food that keep well. These type of onions are the yellow ones you would buy in the grocery store. For this reason, I choose not to start my onions by onion sets. Often onion sets will bolt very early, and there are usually not many varieties to choose from when using onion sets. You can plant any varieties of onions including…

Tamara


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Seed Starting 101 Series: Essential Seed Starting Equipment

Seed Starting 101: Essential Seed Starting Equipment Thank you for following along with me on my Seed Starting 101 series. Today we will be going over the essential seed starting equipment that is needed for you to successfully plant your seed indoors. Before we get going, a couple thoughts I want to share. First, please remember as we go along, that I grow a LOT of stuff. My goals are to grow most of the fruits and veggies that we eat. I also grow extra seed starts to sell. So please don’t be overwhelmed by my set up. You can start with one tray of seeds, or 5 or 10, or more. That is all up to you. Please also think about the space you have to dedicate to seed starting before you begin. It can easily take an entire room, or not. But you have to plan for where it is going to go. If you have cats, or inquisitive dogs, you may want to put your seed starting project in a room with a door so you can keep them out. It is horrible to have put in all the time and effort and then come find your cat has dug up your baby plants, or your dog has knocked a tray over. Another completely different way to start seeds that you might want to read about is my Seed Starting 101: Winter Sowing article. It is an inexpensive way to start seeds outdoors in the dead of winter, using milk jugs as mini-greenhouses. OK. Here we go. Plant trays: These plant trays are the first essential thing you need. Baby plants to not like to be watered from over head. They want to be watered from the bottom. So trays allow you to do…

Tamara


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Seed Starting 101: Series Launch

Seed Starting 101: What to Grow Welcome to the new year and my new Seed Starting 101 guide! The most exciting thing to me after the holidays, is getting ready for starting my seeds. Here in this series, Seed Starting 101, I will document the step by step the process I use, and what to plant and when to plant it. First, you need to start with a garden plan. There are many online tools to help you with this, or if you are like me, just sketch it out with pen and paper. First and foremost, grow what your family will eat. If they hate Brussel sprouts, then don’t grow them. Really think about the food you currently eat. Do you eat pasta with red sauce once a week, once a month? Pizza sauce? Salsa? I think about all of these as well as fresh eating, to determine how many tomatoes to grow. Basically I grow as many as I possibly can because I love tomatoes in all forms, and can up any that we don’t eat fresh, in some way shape or form. If you are new to preserving food, the easiest way is in the freezer. Or dehydrating. Do you buy frozen veggies? Than grow them and freeze your own! And don’t forget to grow some extras for your friends or your family. I sell extra starts, so I can make a little extra money to cover my costs. Seed Starting 101: Where to Acquire Seed Ideally, save most of your own seed from year to year. As the plants adapt to your soil and growing conditions, they become stronger plants, so that is the absolute best seed you can use. But if you haven’t saved your own seed…

Tamara


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