Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Hosta is another term I recently learned. I have seen hostas for years and just not known what they were. A hosta is a shade tolerant perennial plant. They are mainly grown for their foliage and come in a variety of colors and sizes, usually growing anywhere from 12 to 40 inches tall and wide. Coming in shades of green, white, cream, chartreuse and even blue, they are one of the most popular groups of perennials in the world and are catching on in popularity in Texas.

“By combining different sizes with different heights, you can create a lot of interest in the shaded areas of the yard with just this one type of plant. They make great groundcovers, growing from late March until fall when they begin to disappear until next year, only to come back fuller. The lush leaves add tropical and cooling effect to the garden.”   This quote was taking from the following website:

I found this site very informative and well written. If you don’t have any experience with hostas but have a lot of shade that makes growing ornamental bushes and shrubs difficult, you may want to look into these. They should be planted in March, so that just leaves you enough time to do a little research and planning for this year’s garden.

Happy planting!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Crazy Homestead: Link: How to Build a Hugelkultur Bed.

The Crazy Homestead: Link: How to Build a Hugelkultur Bed.: Dave Whitinger of All Things Plants has written up a very detailed how to article on building a hugelkultur raised garden bed . Hugelkultu...

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Crazy Homestead: Building the Garden

The Crazy Homestead: Building the Garden: If you're following us on Facebook , then you've already heard that we're in the middle of constructing a large vegetable garden on our prop...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Crazy Homestead: Video Series - The $25 Victory Garden

The Crazy Homestead: Video Series - The $25 Victory Garden: Joe Lamp'l of Growing a Greener World shows us that if we're willing to invest a little time and labor, you can have a bountiful food garde...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Link: Epsom Salts in Your Garden

Here's a link to an article detailing the benefits of adding a small amount of Epsom salts to your garden bed. Good old Epsom salts are cheap, easy to find in your local stores, and can really give those plants a bloom boost!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Link - Urban Gardening

Inhabitat brings us a quick article on Tenth Acre Farms, a trio of guys in Brooklyn, NY who are producing tons of produce every year on literally just a tenth of an acre.  If you live in an urban or suburban setting, and don't have a lot of space to garden in, let the people who are already doing it be your guide.  You CAN garden in small spaces.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Video - Growing Garlic in Containers

Here's a video that I found showing you how you can grow garlic in containers.  Though garlic takes an awfully long to time to grow, it's ridiculously easy.  You can buy bulbs from a nursery or online store, or just use what you find at the market.  I've used both.  You separate the bulb into cloves, plunk them in the ground pointy side up, give them a bit of water once in a while, and otherwise leave them alone for like half a year.

The video focuses on planting in containers, but of course, you don't have to feel limited to them.  I have garlic growing everywhere, in both containers and garden beds.  They aren't picky.  Plant some near your roses!  They are very fond of each other.

Around here garlic goes into the ground around September, and doesn't come out again until maybe early June.  Kind of a long time, but at least it wasn't labor intensive!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Seed starting trick/tip

I read a little seed starting tip that I thought was pretty good, so I thought I'd pass it along.  If you want to start some seeds but it's a little too cool in your house right now, moisten a paper towel, place the seeds on it and put it in a zip lock baggie.  Zip it up and place it on top of your refrigerator.  The extra little bit of heat will help the seeds germinate quicker.  I know I'm kind of stingy with the heat, so this is a trick that's right up my alley.  I know tomatoes seeds like it around 80° F and my house hasn't been that warm for a couple of months.  They're getting stuck up on the fridge and I'm going to try to get an early start this year.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ground Cherries

I’m taking Jennifer’s advice and getting my seeds in order. In going through the large box of seeds I purchased a couple of years ago, I noticed a pack marked ground cherries. I must admit, I didn’t know what they were! Obviously some research was in order. After spending a little time online, it is appears that I knew what I was doing when I added them to my shopping cart.

Their taste has been described as being between a tomato and a pineapple. Wow, that’s quite a combination! All the sites seem to agree that the taste is sweet and delicious. One plant will put on as many as 300 berries in a single growing season and our climate is good for growing them. Want to hear one of the best parts? One web site I read actually claimed that they would grow in poor soil. We all mulch and fertilize and try to do what we can to make our plants happy, but let’s face it, a plant that will grow in poor soil is just right for the Texoma area.

It has been cautioned to wait until the paper like husk on the outside has turned dark yellow/brown and gotten brittle before eating the berries. This will add to their sweet taste and reduce the risk of ingesting solanine. That’s the chemical that can make green potatoes bitter and toxic. The berries will stay good in their husks for several months. They are said to make wonderful jellies and pies, as well as being welcome additions to salads.

They are generally an annual plant, but our climate is warm enough to make it likely that some new ground cherry plants will spring up the next year if some berries are left on the ground after the harvest. My plan is to give them a try. They may be a perfect addition to the fledgling food forest in the front yard!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Crazy Homestead: Get Those Seeds in Order

The Crazy Homestead: Get Those Seeds in Order: It's getting close to time to start your indoor seed flats. If you haven't already picked up the seeds that you want for this year's garden...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Got Facebook?

Are you following us on Facebook yet?  Why not?!  Click through to like our page, and join in our gardening journey!

Our Facebook Page

The Crazy Homestead: Get Out & Dig Something

The Crazy Homestead: Get Out & Dig Something: Well, it's a bit windy and cloudy outside, but I'm heading back out into the new garden area to commence double digging the first bed. I am...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

More on Edible Forest Gardens

I know that Jennifer has already posted several videos related to forest gardening, but while looking around at other topics, I stumbled back on some related articles.  After reading for a while, my enthusiasm was peaked and I’m going to bog you down with some more potential information on the subject. 

I spent a lot of the morning thinking about where on our property would be the ideal location.  We have eighteen acres, it shouldn’t be too hard, right?  What I have come up with (and not told my husband yet) is that our front yard is the perfect spot!  It is close enough for the kids and I to monitor and water easily, gets plenty of morning sun, some afternoon shade and must have decent soil because everything I stick out there seems to thrive.  The only problem is that we already have more than a dozen ornamental trees there and they’re just too lovely for me to dig up.  This is where our plum trees flourish though, as well as some mint (and roses, and irises, and chrysanthemums).   You may be getting the idea that the yard is pretty full.  I’m still working out the details in my mind, but am sure that it can be successfully done.  The result will be a combination of bountiful harvest and flowering beauty.  How’s that for a goal?

Do I have you interested yet?  Here are the links that energized my thoughts last night.  The reading is lengthy and can get a little heavy, but it’s well worth the time.

I hope I have provided some food for thought! 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Crazy Homestead: Link - Toilet Paper Roll Planters

The Crazy Homestead: Link - Toilet Paper Roll Planters: Click here to see how You Grow Girl is re-purposing toilet paper rolls into biodegradable seed starting planters. What a great way to keep...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Quick Tips: Mulch That Soil

Mulched bed. The bed in the back was next!
Naked soil is unhappy soil.  Even if your garden beds aren't in use (like now for most of us), keep them mulched.    Good soil is alive with microorganisms, worms, and a myriad of other critters that keep it healthy.  Protect its balance with a healthy bed of mulch, preferably the kind that will compost down over time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Using houseplants for better health

I’ve enjoyed taking care of houseplants for many, many years.  Even as a small girl, I used to find joy in nurturing my mother’s plants.  I never stopped to think that this might be beneficial in ways other than the obvious – giving me a hobby and teaching me a little bit about the responsibility of taking care of something other than myself.  It turns out that there are actually quite a few benefits that we can garner from keeping a variety of houseplants.  If we keep them happy and healthy, they can do the same for us!  It seems that a lot of research has already gone into the subject, so once again, instead of retyping all of the information out there, I’ll provide you with a couple of links that I found particularly interesting.

The following article gives a lengthy list of benefits:

If you scroll down on this article you’ll find a list of common plants, what their particular benefits are, and where they are best used.  Let me note that the whole article is worth reading.

This is in no way a complete list of the information out there on the subject, but I hope that it has piqued your interest enough to do a little digging on your own. 

Happy Gardening!

The Crazy Homestead: Building Seed Starting Racks

The Crazy Homestead: Building Seed Starting Racks: Here's a video from Steve Howard, the Growing Your Grub guy, showing us one way to build a seed starting rack with grow lights. Do You Need...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Garden Chat on Twitter

I'll be peeking in on #gardenchat at 8pm Central tonight on Twitter, discussing something near and dear to my heart:  biochar.  Should be fun.  Come be a part of it if you like!  Use hashtag #gardenchat to participate.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Crazy Homestead: Chicken Care - Be a Chicken Watcher

The Crazy Homestead: Chicken Care - Be a Chicken Watcher: After locking the chickens up for the night and giving them a bowlful of feed, it has become my habit to sit for a while and just observe ou...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Recommendation: Grow Biointensive DVD

Grow Biointensive is a DVD put together by John Jeavon's team over at  It's a great reference guide for growing the biointensive way, with double dig garden beds and a focus on homemade compost to enrich native soil.  Pick up a copy if you can.  Most of the video is available on YouTube, broken up into many parts.  I prefer having the full copy in my home library.  Great reference tool!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Chicken Butchering Classes

Cypress Lake Ranch is offering classes on how to butcher chickens. If you live in the North Texas area, give them a call. They are a knowledgeable family who can help you in your homesteading efforts. Follow the link below for more details.

Chicken Butchering Classes

Quick Tips: Find a Seed Buying Buddy

Quick Tip:  You can save on the shipping costs from online seed orders by joining up with a friend.  Place your order together, and split the cost.  Group orders can also make buying seed in bulk an affordable option.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Crazy Homestead: Quick Tip: Use Your Clothesline

The Crazy Homestead: Quick Tip: Use Your Clothesline: If you're looking to cut some of the fat from your budget, one very easy thing that you can do is introduce yourself to your clothesline. Y...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Crazy Homestead: Quick Tips: Keep Those Garden Tools Sharp

The Crazy Homestead: Quick Tips: Keep Those Garden Tools Sharp: Many of us take our garden tools completely for granted. We buy them cheap, and just pick up cheap replacements when they stop performing ...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Quick Tips: Watering & Fertilizing Houseplants

 Use a pencil or a finger to check if your houseplants need watering.  The soil at the surface can be pretty dry, while the soil a couple of inches under is holding moisture.  Many people see the dryness at the top, and assume that the plant needs water.  Not so!  Check the soil 1-2 inches under the surface, and water when that feels dry.

Used coffee grinds make a great fertilizer.  As with water, houseplants don't need fertilizing as much or as often as outdoor gardens.  Used coffee grinds are a gentle and effective way to enrich your houseplants' soil.  Just sprinkle some on the surface when you think of it.  Many houseplants can actually grow IN used coffee grinds, so you have much less worry over burning your plants with this than a chemical store bought fertilizer.