The Dutiful Homesteader: August

First chore: Start collecting seeds

glorious seed...

It’s easy to harvest seed in a wide variety of crops. All you need is the space to let them sit out and dry for a while. Some, like squash and melon seeds, will need to be washed and then laid out on a towel to dry. Pepper seeds don’t need to be washed, only laid out for a short time. And peas are dried right in the pod on the vines. Most seeds are ready to sow the very next season. Store inside an envelope or recycled paper, stick it in a jar and put it in a cool, dry place… they’ll last years!

Tip: Got lemons? Don’t let these seeds dry out if you plan to use them. They need to go straight from the lemon, get washed and then planted. Start in a teeny pot with a small amount of starting mix… they’ll want to be transplanted soon afterwards to soil they really like (sandy, well-draining) so don’t leave them in the starting mix for very long.

Next chore: Continue freezing veggies from the garden

Depending on where you live, this chore has either stepped up or is slowing down, but either way it still makes it to the list for August:

Using my Seal-a-Meal machine I cut the bags to size and seal one end. Blanch the veggies for one-two minutes in gently boiling water, run it under very cold water (or keep a bowl of ice water on hand) and let it sit out on a towel to dry. Fill the bags leaving enough room to seal the other end and let the machine do its thing. Most veggies last in the freezer for up to six months.

Next chore: Let the chickens clean up your garden

a very complicated chickie

Chickens do wonders in the garden… as far as cleanup goes. They are so destructive that allowing them into the garden prior to cleanup is iffy. But when it comes to end-of-season gardening, let ’em in because they will eat, till and fertilize all day long. Some farmers use chickens to turn compost piles, since they are nonstop with digging and pecking. And if you have a weed problem, they’ll take care of it; save your back and let them do the rooting for you!

Chicken poop decomposes quickly and will be ready to go by spring. A chicken tractor helps when you want a specific area targeted. Think of it as a portable poop machine that’ll give your garden beds a much needed boost. You can also do what we do and use portable fencing to target areas that need cleaning and fertilizing.

Here’s a great article on how to do it right: Chicken Proof Garden

Next chore: Dehydrate tomatoes and more

tomato power! oh, powder, that's it

Near the end of the harvest, tomato plants just bust out with more tomatoes than we can sometimes handle, right? That’s when you must tap into your inner mother squirrel and put ’em up. A great way to do it is to dehydrate them and turn them into a powder for thickening/flavoring sauces. Think about dehydrating other big performers too since just about anything can be stored this way.

Next chore: Stick to a house cleaning schedule

The entire cleaning schedule that I use breaks it down to a daily, weekly, monthly, biannual and annual schedules, so that housework doesn’t get too far out of hand. This is the monthly schedule and remember, you’re just trying to stay ahead, not be perfect.

Monthly: Clean out the microwave, oven and fridge. Wipe down the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Wipe down towel racks, toilet paper holders, hooks and other fixtures. Dust the laundry area/room. Vacuum upholstered furniture. Dust behind TV. Wipe down doorknobs, light switches, windowsills and baseboards. Extra for this month, clean inside and outside of windows (assuming the weather is still fair).

Final chore: What to plant this month

greens have it good

Like in springtime, we’ve got major sowing/planting going on. This planting schedule assumes you are in zone 8 or 9 and practice succession planting… so you may also see the same items listed on other months.

Seed or plant the following: Beets, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Cilantro, Collards, Kale, Leeks, Head Lettuce, Mustard, Onions and White Potatoes. Thin strawberries once again and transplant established runners.

Resources

The Farmer Fred Rant
The Weekend Homesteader Series (amazon.com books)
Real Simple
Martha Stewart Living
pickyourown.org