Winter in the north brings many of the homestead activities I have been learning to a halt or crawl. Naturally many of my recent posts have been about robotics and tech but learning about homesteading continues in the cold winter months. Here are how some of the homesteading activities have been doing in these cold winter months.
Winter Homesteading Updates
The greenhouse I built is one of my favorite homestead experiments. I was not sure how warm the greenhouse would be in the winter so I was eager to see what the temperatures would be like during the cold winter months. On sunny days the greenhouse will warm up to between 50 and 60 degrees. On cloudy days it remains just above freezing. While it feels really nice to sit inside and enjoy a little warmer weather, it does not currently stay warm enough to grow year round. However, it does stay warm enough to get an early start and extend my season. I will continue to update as I learn more.
As I mentioned in my vermicomposting homestead article, my compost tumblers had frozen solid early in the winter. While the tumblers have basically been dormant, the worm bin has been doing well. It is amazing how fast vermicomposting turns food waste and other compostable materials into a rich, usable fertilizer. Our worms really enjoy their basement home and steady supply of food. I have learned a few things about vermicomposting since beginning. Here are a few tips:
- Keep adding paper/newspaper as you go; this will keep the smell rich and earthy and minimize any fruit flies
- I use a homemade fruit fly trap on top of the bin to entice any that may hatch – this was a problem at one point because the bin was too wet
- The bin will compost way more material then you think; I have consistently added around 5 gallons of kitchen scraps per week and the bin is still only 1/4-1/2 full
- Keep a pitchfork next to the bin; it helps mix things up and keep the moisture at a good level
My dwarf citrus plants have been doing well in the winter, although now they are inside. The lemon tree has only produced tiny fruit that have fallen off before being usable. As I am new to raising trees I do not know if this is normal and whether they will produce more as time goes on. The dwarf lime tree has been much more productive and produced a good crop of fruit. The limes have been delicious in my homemade guacamole! The last time I made guacamole the kids and I thought it would be fun to try and sprout some avocados. Currently they are sitting on our kitchen counter; I may post about them if they turn into anything interesting.
Other Winter Homestead Updates
For me winter homesteading has been mainly about learning and planning. In the spring I will be expanding my raised garden beds and more then tripling my gardening area. I will also be planting raspberries, blueberries, and fruit trees. Finally, we plan on replanting some of the woods that were once on our property. I have been working on deciding what to plant, where to plant it, and when.
Perhaps one of the most enjoyable winter homestead activities has been enjoying the fruits of my labor! We have really enjoyed eating my strawberry jam, raspberry jam, and applesauce. It has been a great learning experience to get an idea of how much of these we go through. This will help planning for the future and move us one step closer to growing and making the majority of the food our family eats.