Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring planting has begun!

If your area is like ours, it is a very early and unseasonably warm spring. We are planting the cold crops, and it feels like we could plant more!

Check out our spring planting post for details.

Yesterday we volunteered with a friend to prune a vineyard, and we were able to take all the trimming we wanted to propagate new grape plants. If all of these live, we will have lots of grape plants to share!

I have a lot of information I want to post in this blog, but I find less time available for the computer. My posts will have to slow down for the summer, but I will not forget you! I will keep learning and will share as soon as possible!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Blueberries have gotten some good press about their health giving properties. As perennials, small fruits and berries will perform year after year without the startup work required for vegetables. Since we live in the north, blueberry fields are common in our area, and we have grown to love them.

Our plan is to plant 10-20 blue berry plants this spring. The biggest challenge we face is that our soils are alkaline, and as noted below, these plants love acidic soils. This will be a major challenge to change the soil pH around this growing area.

Growing preferences

Blueberries come from bushy plants that love boggy and wet areas. They do not want to be covered with water, but they do like to keep their roots moist. We have a wet area along the side of our field that we think would be ideal for our new blue berry plants.

They also like acidic soil, as is found in a bog. Your target pH is 4.5 to 5.5, and most soil will need amendments to assist in the lowering of the pH. Amend the soil to a depth of 14 inches by two feet wide. Pine needles, pine bark, elemental sulfur, ammomium sulfate and peat moss can lower the pH in your garden bed that will hold your blue berries. Canadian sphagnum peat moss has a pH of 3.0 to 4.5 making it an ideal amendment for blueberries. If necessary lower pH and supply nitrogen by adding 1 lb. of ammonium sulfate commercial fertilizer to 100 feet per inch depth of sawdust. Organic growers can use elemental sulfur and cottonseed meal or feather meal. It takes several months to a year for sulfur to lower the pH. Prepare blueberry planting site well in advance for best results.


Follow this link for a beautiful chart of blueberry varieties. (web)

Elliott has one of the highest levels of antioxidants of all blueberry varieties.
     Once picked Elliott has a storage life of up to 12 weeks. (web)

Varieties we have planted in 2012, and updated in 2014 replacing a dead Bluecrop.

Duke         x1
Bluecrop    x9
Blue Ray    x10
Earliblue    x10
Ka-Bluey    x5
Chandler    x5

Planting and soil preparation

"Select a sunny location with well-drained soil that is free of weeds and is well-worked.  It's best to locate your blueberry plants in an area where irrigation is readily available as best results will be achieved by keeping the root zone moist throughout the growing season.

"Blueberries prefer acidic soils. A fail-safe way to grow blueberries in almost any soil is to incorporate peat moss into the planting medium. For planting directly in the ground, work up a planting area approximately 2½ feet in diameter and 2 foot deep for each plant. Remove 1/3 to 1/2 of the soil. Add an equal amount of pre-moistened peat moss and mix well.  (One 4 cubic foot compressed bale will usually be sufficient for 2-4 plants.)" (web)

Space your bushes from 4 to 6 feet apart with 7 to 10 feet between rows. Commercial farms space the rows 10 feet apart which is large enough for tractor access down the row. The home gardener can plant them 3 to 4 feet apart in any arrangement fitting the home landscape. Set at the same depth plants grew in container or ground. Planting too deeply will smother the roots. Little or no pruning is needed for the first two years except to remove broken or rubbing branches. Strip off all blossoms and fruits until the plant is well established (36 to 42 inches tall).


Blueberries require mulch. For the first year mulch with fir, pine, or hemlock well rotted sawdust extending out 2 feet around plant to a depth of 3 inches so roots will not grow up into the mulch. After the first year increase mulch to a depth of 6 inches mounded around the crown. As plants mature extend the mulch out to the drip line. Mulch will gradually break down to help feed the plant and supply the high rate of organic matter blueberries need. More important, mulch provides a cool root run and conserves moisture, both requirements for blueberries. Other materials may be used as mulch such as composted pine needles or shredded leaves. General compost made from vegetable materials may be too high in pH for blueberries. Fresh grass clippings can heat up and damage surface roots. (web)

Planting History 2012

We ordered one Ka-Bluey plant online via a sale, and 4 more from another online site. The 30 other plants were picked up at a wholesaler, at a much better per unit price. The single Ka-Bluey came in the mail a week before we had scheduled to get the other plants from the wholesaler, so we put it in the ground on April 2. We were gone to a retreat for the next week, and there were some cold nights while we were gone. We watered well, and a friend also watered the plant, but when we returned, the once green leaves were brown red. I thought it was dying. Looking this up on the Internet, I see this is common for plants that were used to the warm, being transplanted into the cold of early spring to have the leaves turn red. This is the normal coinsurance in the fall due to cold temps. I hope the plant pulls through. Since we have been back to the homestead, I have protected the plant by covering it with an overturned bucket on the nights of frost danger.

10 Bluecrop ready for planting
We have waited to plant any additional plants till the 10 day forecast does not include the chance of frost. Hopefully we will plant the rest of the blueberry plants this Friday, April 13. Since our soil is alkaline, I wanted to dig a large hole and amend the soil with ag sulfur deeply. With the backhoe, I dug a trench 2 feet wide and about 3 feet deep. I will mix peat, ag sulfur, and compost and return the soil to the trench, and then will plant the blueberries with a generous amount of peat around its roots (say 2 shovels full).

We are planting the blueberries in 2 rows of 20 plants. We are setting our plants 4 feet apart within the row, and the rows 7 feet apart. We are not planning to need to drive the tractor down the row, and can therefore save the space, and have the rows closer together.


"One of the biggest mistakes home gardeners make with their blueberries is lack of pruning. Aggressive, annual pruning will result in healthier, more vigorous plants and more prolific fruit production. Here are some simple tips:
  • Pruning is best done in the spring before the leaves come out.
  • Remove low growth around the base.
  • Remove the dead wood, leaving bright colored lateral branches. Cut out any short, discolored branches.
  • Continue pruning until you have removed 1/3 to 1/2 of the wood out your plants each year. Remember, this will promote growth and berry production so prune away!" (web)


When you prune your blueberry plants, remember to save your clippings to start new plants. Clip the root end of the swig at an angle, and the top cut flat. Dip the angle cut end in rooting hormone, and plant in growth medium, and keep the atmosphere moist.

When roots have developed, plant in a location where you can protect it through the first winter. Some suggest building a mimi-greenhouse of plastic, straw and more plastic. This would sandwich the straw between the plastic to keep the straw warm, and preserve the thermal blanket effect.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Building Construction

Proverbs 24:27 "Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house."

We need to set our priorities when starting to develop a homestead. Preparing our crop land would take priority. Crop land and orchards need to be planned, prepared and planted. For even the work of preparing the soil, you will need to properly store tools. You could store tools in a covered trailer. Or you could build a garage, or workshop structure to store tools. Remember to focus on the crops and to not get distracted with the early construction of structures.

If you are starting with bare land, you will have the advantage of being able to plan the ideal placement of your home, a barn, tool shed, etc. I encourage you to develop a master plan, so that you do not constantly have to redo previous work. If you have a master plan at the onset, you can coordinate projects to compliment each other, and in the end make the process more efficient.

Once you decide on your building master plan, set a time-line for the included projects. Organize your projects in order of importance, and so that the projects interact in ideal efficiency. Pray at each step for the Lord's blessing. Psalm 127:1 "Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh [but] in vain."

I like the idea of having an exact materials list for what the project will need, and obtaining the materials in an efficient manner. The more you plan, the less you will have to make miscellaneous trips to the store for materials. The farther you are out, the more important this will be!


Structures that you may want to consider in your homestead (some of these may be combined):
  • home
  • root cellar
  • firewood storage under cover
  • garage
  • tool shed
  • work shop
  • pole barn for tractor and implement storage
  • greenhouse
  • seed starting room
  • produce washing / packing area
  • canning kitchen
  • maple sugar shack
  • animal barn(s)
  • chicken coup
I encourage you to take time and plan out your homestead even before you are ready to build. You can start dreaming of how you would best want these structures to work together and in what proximity.

Construction Tools

The minimum would be a good hammer, nails and lumber. A pneumatic nail gun can save a lot of nailing time! If you add nail guns, then you will need an air compressor, hoses and power to run the compressor. A good quality power hand saw, a chop saw and a good table saw will be indispensable. A speed square, framing square, plum bob, level, masonry string, and layout marking pencil are small tools that are also needed.

I hate to say it, but when looking at power tools, you need to condition yourself to looking for and purchasing the most expensive (ie best quality) versions of the tools you need. The economy (plastic) tools are not meant to last for what you will need when building a variety of homestead structures.

Permits and building codes

Find out what is required in your area for permits, inspections and building codes. You will want the best practices for your structure, and some locations allow the home owner to do their own construction. (I would have you find out about this before you even select your property, and don't go to a place with a lot of regulation and control.) Build with better than modern standards and safety, even if no inspections are required. Building codes have been created because of past tragedies, and you do not want to cut corners with safety on your own homestead. Also keep in mind that we will experience more and more damaging wind and storms as time goes by.

Home construction video series

Structures, Tips and Plans

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday Observance Legislation

You would think that we would be excited about government promotion and regulation of worship. We are very religious. We adhere to and promote the Christian faith. We believe in the Bible as God's Word to mankind. We want nothing more than for a revival and reformation to sweep across America, and beyond to include the entire world. Why would legislated Christianity be a concern?

The Bible tells us of two opposing forces at the end of time. Both will take on the claim of Christianity. There will be a true form of Christianity, represented by a minority who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus. The other group will be a vast majority, who follow a power that appears Christian, but who's counterfeit is marked by enacting laws regarding the day of worship.

The reasons for legislating worship are admirable. The proponents talk of the need for balance in a time of financial and economic crisis, the need for family and social cohesion, the need for time for recreation and sports, and the need to return to spirituality. I can agree with these ideas! But in light of Bible prophecy, I see this movement is walking in the shadow of a sinister power. When religion and government unite, there comes a drastic loss of liberty. This is not a new scenario. This exact recipe took place in the dark ages of 538 AD to 1798 AD. This time period is the 1260 years of Bible prophecy. And in the end times, the beast's deadly wound is healed, and it returns to the same modus operandi.

You can read about the promotion of Sunday observance legislation to the EU at the proponent website:

Today, March 4, is the day that this group devotes to Sunday legislation agitation in the EU. Today, I post this article as an opposing voice. I oppose the union of church and state. I oppose the legislation of conscience. I see the need for the Bible to be the basis of our actions, not the rule of law. Americans: never forget the reason the pilgrims sought a new land, so they could enjoy religious freedom. Religious freedoms were unknown in Europe, from whence they fled. And it appears Europe will lead the world in a return to legislated Christianity.

How should we respond? I find these quotes from a favorite author to be instructive:
"We as a people have not accomplished the work which God has committed to us. We are not ready for the issue to which the enforcement of the Sunday law will bring us. It is our duty, as we see the signs of approaching peril, to arouse to action. Let none sit in calm expectation of the evil, comforting themselves with the belief that this work must go on because prophecy has foretold it, and that the Lord will shelter His people. We are not doing the will of God if we sit in quietude, doing nothing to preserve liberty of conscience. Fervent, effectual prayer should be ascending to heaven that this calamity may be deferred until we can accomplish the work which has so long been neglected. Let there be most earnest prayer, and then let us work in harmony with our prayers. It may appear that Satan is triumphant and that truth is overborne with falsehood and error; the people over whom God has spread His shield, and the country which has been an asylum for the conscience-oppressed servants of God and defenders of His truth, may be placed in jeopardy. But God would have us recall His dealings with His people in the past to save them from their enemies. He has always chosen extremities, when there seemed no possible chance for deliverance from Satan’s workings, for the manifestation of His power. Man’s necessity is God’s opportunity." – CCh 336.1
And notice this quote as well:
"There must be more spirituality, a deeper consecration to God, and a zeal in His work that has never yet been reached. Much time should be spent in prayer, that our garments of character may be washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb.
"Especially should we, with unwavering faith, seek God for grace and power to be given to His people now. We do not believe that the time has fully come when He would have our liberties restricted. The prophet saw “four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.” Another angel, ascending from the east, cried to them, saying: “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.” This points out the work we have now to do. A vast responsibility is devolving upon men and women of prayer throughout the land to petition that God will sweep back the cloud of evil and give a few more years of grace in which to work for the Master. Let us cry to God that the angels may hold the four winds until missionaries shall be sent to all parts of the world and shall proclaim the warning against disobeying the law of Jehovah." – Pr 274.2-3
I don't know how these events will unfold. According to Bible prophecy, it is not a matter of "if", but "when". My concern is not only for the EU. This movement is foretold in Bible prophecy to be a world wide movement. I am praying that we have a few more years of grace. Join me, and pray for world wide religious liberty. God's judgments will surely follow the disregard of the 4th commandment Sabbath rest, via the legislation of a Sunday worship day.

Do Americans think that decrying the loss of liberty is crying wolf? If so, have you considered how many civil liberties have been lost since September 11, 2001? This is not only concern from a religious point of view. Consider this article regarding NDAA, and the loss of liberty in America. I quote:
"Yes, the worst things you may have heard about the National Defense Authorization Act, which has formally ended 254 years of democracy in the United States of America, and driven a stake through the heart of the bill of rights, are all really true." (web)
It does not take a leap of faith any longer to see the lamb like beast (America in Bible prophecy) to speak like a dragon. There is a change from being lamb like to dragon like, and we are seeing changes now so rapidly, that I could no longer call America lamb like!

Let's band together in prayer for a little more time!


Friday, March 2, 2012

Book: Root Cellaring

The best book on Root Cellaring I have read is: Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Bubel. I like where the author starts in the first chapter, in a discussion of what crops to grow for winter storage. Having a plan for what you plan to store in your root cellar will assure success.

I especially enjoyed chapter 2, which not only suggest "beets" but lists beet varieties that have proven good keepers, and suggested suppliers for that variety of beets. There is a list of several varieties for each food type.

In the last part of the book, there are some excellent drawings and photos of root cellars. There are ample notes, stories and ideas to help guide in your own cellar project.

I came away after reading the book being sold on our need for a root cellar. I think it is an excellent way to remove dependence on electricity to keep food cool and preserved for a longer time period. Before you start a cellar project, I would suggest your reading this book. There is enough reference material in it, I would suggest you purchase it.

Following are the Book Contents:

Chapter 1         Planting Crops for Fall Storage
Chapter 2         Good Keepers
Chapter 3         Growers Keepers: How to raise top-quality storage vegetables
Chapter 4         How to Harvest and Prepare Vegetables for Storage
Chapter 5         Life After Picking
Chapter 6         Spoilage
Chapter 7         Food Value in Winter Keepers
Chapter 8         Vegetables
Chapter 9         Fruits
Chapter 10       The Underground Garden
Chapter 11       Other Good Foods to Keep in Natural Cold Storage
Chapter 12       Trenches, Keeping-Closets, and Other Vegetable and Fruit Hideaways
Chapter 13       Planning Your Root Cellar
Chapter 14       Keeping Things Humming in the Root Cellar
Chapter 15       The Basement Root Cellar
Chapter 16       The Excavated Root Cellar
Chapter 17       Root Cellaring Experiences
Chapter 18       Cooking Sturdy Keepers