The Dutiful Homesteader: July

First chore: Begin clearing up summer plantings

cleanup

Summer fruits/veggies harvest times vary so much, that you could wait until it’s all over to begin. But then you’ll have one big monster-of-a-work load on your hands and little time to do it. So maybe it will work out for you to start doing a little at a time..? For example, salad greens that claim to be a ‘summer’ variety don’t really last all summer, and so long before the tomatoes are finished doing their thing you’ll have to figure out what to do with the bolting lettuce and spinach. So get a head start and clear out the bed and replant or begin enhancing the soil for the next crop. Clean up areas under fruit trees and mulch.

Tip: Get rid of bad weeds (like crab grass) by pouring boiling water over them. This kills them all the way to the root making it clean, easy and permanent. Pay extra care to not hit plants you want to keep!

Next chore: Prune berry bushes

Now is the time to prune dead/broken branches off your berry bushes. And also if you’re pruning to shape the bushes. This month we’re just tidying things up. So don’t confuse this with pruning old canes that already bore fruit; this should be done in early spring.

Next chore: Wash and lime the chicken coop

lime away

On a very hot day, clear out all bedding and litter. Wash the perch, nesting boxes (and the floor of the coop if necessary) with soapy water and then hose the whole thing down, inside and out (using a powerful sprayer if possible). Start early enough so there is time for everything to dry out and then repaint the inside with your lime mixture. The lime usually dries very quickly so the chickies will be back in their coop in no time.

Next chore: Store and/or dehydrate garlic, onions (and peppers)

This chore was also added to June since planting/harvest times vary, and goes something like this:

We cannot have enough onions and garlic in our lives and we’ve grown plenty to get us through the entire year. When the onion family has flowered and is ready to leave the building, it’s time to dry them out a bit for long term storage. (Find out more about it here: First-Time Grower, Long-Time Lover.) Then take storing them even further by dehydrating your own minced and powdered cooking helpers. Trust me, you’ll be so happy you did.

And don’t forget to add peppers to the list as the cayenne, ancho and chilies begin to ripen. That’s a lot of money saved now that you don’t have to purchase those teeny bottles of dried spices at the grocery store anymore. What a ripoff!

Next chore: Start freezing veggies from the garden

easy, breezy, freezing

End of June through July is usually the time when all the green beans just bust out with way more than we can eat, so freezing them is a must. I love the fresh taste (better than when I can them) and so we eat more when stored this way.

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: 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 feel like I’m getting worked (over). I just took out the once-a-month portion and added it here, as well as the biannual schedule. 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.

Biannually: This month and then again in January we’ll be cleaning all garbage pails. Clean the coffee maker, stove hood and washing machine, and then wipe down the dryer. Wash the curtains and/or wipe down the blinds. Dust/clean the forgotten things: Moldings, ceiling fans, lamp shades, etc. And finally, vacuum and flip your mattress(es).

Final chore: What to plant this month

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: Brussels Sprouts, Celery, Corn and Parsnips. Thin strawberries and transplant established runners.

Start in pots: Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower.

Resources

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