2023 is well underway, spring is almost here, seeds are started and I am itching to direct sow seeds in the gardens. Years ago I stumbled across Roots and Refuge’s YouTube channel while looking for gardening inspiration. I was in awe of Jess’s raised beds and many cattle panel trellises. I told myself one day I would have cattle panel trellises and raised beds. At the time I was still doing in ground gardening, battling weeds constantly and hoping for a better, easier way to grow my family fresh seasonal eats. I had supplemental containers, but was really only growing for fresh seasonal food. I would dehydrate or preserve what I could when I had an abundance of produce or purchased a large amount from the farmers market, but my growing space wasn’t really enough to sustain our family of 5 for more than the growing seasons. That’s when I made plans for expansion, time went by with not much progress, then I found Gardenary and the Kitchen Garden Academy course after finding Rooted Garden on Instagram and loving the kitchen gardens Nicole was creating in Houston. I decided I was going to take a blend of Roots and Refuge and Rooted Garden and create a garden that fit me in so many ways.
I am so happy I was able to finally create the kitchen garden I had envisioned in my head for so many years. Something Jess teaches in her YouTube videos is to turn your waiting room into your class room. To learn the tasks and skills you will need when you have reached your end goal or location, etc. I did just that, I worked with what I had, in a space that was okay for the amount of time I had to garden with 3 small boys, but I knew in my heart I wanted more. I wanted more sustainability, more harvests, more preservation, more fresh food. My boys were hungry teens by this point and I had more time available to garden and more food needed to be made to feed hungry teens. Creating the kitchen garden in early 2020 added more growing space and so much less work in the garden than what I was used to. I no longer had to battle weeds in my main growing space! I still had to battle them in the old garden space. I quickly realized that the old in ground garden space would be better off with raised beds or grow bags. I decided on grow bags because they were more affordable and I could start them immediately. Over the last few years this had worked for me and I will continue to use grow bags wherever I can fit them in, but I want more raised beds.
I want to share with you some of my 2023 homestead goals to maybe inspire you to see where you can make changes or additions to your homestead whether it’s on acres or in a suburban or urban setting.
2023 Homestead Plans:
- Move and Rebuild Our Compost System – Our barrel composter literally fell apart on me at the end of last season while turning it. Compost spilled everywhere and was a nightmare to clean up off the rock the composter was sitting on. Plus it’s part of a school assignment, so it’s a win-win! I plan to move the compost system to another spot in our yard and create a large 3 bin system.
- More Raised Beds – At the end of the season last year I purchased two Vego garden beds to add to my raised bed growing space. They will not be located near my cedar kitchen garden area, but near or possibly where my old in ground garden sits. I keep changing my mind, but they will be set up within weeks.
- More Grow Bags – I love growing in grow bags because they are affordable, easy to immediately install and can be placed exactly where you can fit them in. I couldn’t tell you how many I have, but it’s a lot and I plan to add more in, based on need of course.
- Leaf Mold Setup – This is part of a school assignment, but also something I had had on my to-do list for quite some time. I usually just leave the leaves in a huge pile in the corner of the yard, but this year it’s time for an upgrade. I already have the chicken wire from previous garden projects to build this setup near where the compost os getting moved to.
- Worm Farming – This is also the year we setup a worm farm, which has been another thing on my to-do list for years. I will enlist my son who also needs the worms for his axolotl to help with this project.
- Herbs, Herbs and More Herbs – Many assignments within my herbal medicine program have to do with growing herbs, especially the process of growing herbs from start to finish through various growing methods. Though I already grow many herbs, I have many more to grow specifically for school assignments. I am looking forward to all the herbal preparations I can make from all the sowing and growing of these herbs. (This is also a big reason why I am expanding my gardens again.)
- Focus on Production – This year I am focusing more on production and getting higher yields than in previous years so that I can preserve more garden harvests to get us through to the next growing season.
- Learning and Experimenting In the Kitchen – My two favorite spaces of our homestead are the garden and the kitchen, I plan to experiment more with fermentation, canning, etc. to really push the boundaries with our food preservation. I will try fermenting things I haven’t tried to ferment before, will be trying new canning recipes, etc. exploring more with herbs in the kitchen. Just generally playing and having fun in the kitchen to find new flavors and meals.
I hope this shows you how a homestead or garden is built over time and many years. I have been at this for almost 2 decades and do not think my garden space will stop evolving. My homestead and garden to-do list is ever expanding as our families needs, wants and resources change too. Start small, create long term goals and work towards ticking each box off the to-do list as you can. Jess has taught me to create a 5 year plan, instead of yearly. It helps give a broader perspective of goals. It also helps you feel like you have accomplished or reached your goals if they happen within the 5 year plan versus a single year. Patience is key, grace and gratitude are key. Growing a homestead takes time, even when we want it all to be done, all at once. I still have a goal of moving to acres and really expanding our capacity for growth, I believe this too shall come, just as I did the kitchen garden. One day you’ll look back and realize just how many goals, to-do items and dreams you reached when you make use of the space you have and the time you have. Let me know one of your 2023 homestead or garden plans in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!