The Dutiful Homesteader: September

First chore: Collect more seed

a nice variety

We started this last month and so the chore continues:

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: Stock up the pantry with your own canned goods

saucy sistas

I don’t know about you, but even with last month’s freezing and dehydrating chores, I still have bucket loads of tomatoes to deal with! So it’s back to canning because we love our homemade canned foods so much, right?

Super-easy tomato sauce

Wash tomatoes and throw them in the pot. (No need to peel and seed them.) Cook for several hours; until super mushy. Run the mixture through a food mill and return to the pot, keeping it very hot. For each sterilized quart jar, add two tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice. Fill the jar with the tomato sauce to a 1/2 inch head space. Add one teaspoon each: Canning salt, minced onion, minced garlic, basil and oregano. Follow the main canning page using the water bath method and process for 40 minutes (quart).

Next chore: Clean gutters

Save yourself a major headache and do this before the crazy weather hits ya. Follow these easy steps:

  1. Clean out leaves and other debris (throw it in the compost pile)
  2. Check all spikes and make sure things are tightened and secured
  3. Check all downspouts and secure any loose rivets
  4. Wash out gutters with a powerful sprayer (keep the angle low/tilted so nothing gets damaged)

See all tips and advice at DIY Network.

Next chore: Clean and set out rain collectors

We’ll be setting up some of our own this year, so look for more information soon.

Next chore: Let the chickens clean up your garden

We’re still cleaning up the summer plantings and everyone has to chip in… including the chickens! Here is the reminder from last month:

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: Build bed covers (hoops) or cold frames for late fall beds

looks good now...

Veggies (like lettuce) love cooler daytime weather. But freezing nights? Forget about it. So here’s a tip: You can extend the growing season by covering them up when the lows get really low. If you’re a makeshift mama like me then follow these steps as outlined here for an easy hoop house:

  1. Use straps to secure bent rebar to the outer sides of your raised beds
  2. Cut 6 mil plastic to size
  3. Staple a 2 x 4 to either side of the plastic (if you have a small box) to easily roll up one side for access or, cover two large raised beds (pictured above) and create your own ‘mini green house’, entering through either end
  4. Weigh down the plastic by the bottom of the beds with brick or whatever you have on hand

The point is so the hoop houses can quickly be removed and put away; and they will use up very little storage space.

Final chore: What to plant this month

how to beef up on iron

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, Bok Choy/Pak Choi, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Cilantro, Collards, Garlic, Kale, Leeks, Head and Leaf Lettuce, Mustard, Onions, Peas, White Potatoes, Radishes, Shallots, Spinach, Turnips

Resources

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