Another year is coming to a close. I can’t believe we have been here over two years now. It has been 2 years of homesteading joy and mistakes. Everyday I look out my back door and am amazed I live in this beautiful place. When we found this property I envisioned wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables on the family table. Maybe selling surplus at the local farmers market. We planted everything we could imagine and soon realized we were in over our heads. Not only did the summer heat overwhelm us but there was just so much to do and keep up on. The established fruit trees and bushes alone are enough to keep us busy through the season. Adding all the vegetables we could imagine with summer heat and humidity we have never experienced the likes of was enough to makes us wonder if we had lost our minds. Not to mention we were learning and there is so so much to learn.
So my first word of advice for those looking to homestead. Start slow. You will want to do everything you can possibly imagine but don’t even try. Spend your first year learning and plant a small garden for personal use only. Remember this is a long term project.
We moved here from out of state and really didn’t know anyone. Not only did we need to learn about the plants we already had established but we needed to learn about our local market. Get to know the other local farmers/homesteaders. Enjoy going to the local farmers market learning about those doing what you want to do and what they specialize in. Learn what will work best for you. It is easy to have grand ideas of selling at the local farmers market and such but learning and managing all that it entails is a challenge especially if you work a regular job on top of working the homestead, which we do.
Our second year we learned the temptation to plant everything is strong. I mean how do you not plant all the things?! It is so easy to get excited when the seed catalogs start coming in and you know how delicious those fresh tomatoes can be. Again, remember this is a long term project. Did you learn all you needed too about the established plants you have? We learned that with all the planning you will still be controlled by the weather. Our pear tree and multiple seeds were damaged by a late freeze. We ended up getting only a fraction of what we planted. We had a late freeze and half the pollinators we had the year before. We also learned that the fig trees that we ready to be picked in August our first year were ready to pick in July our second year. We also learned that picking figs in the July and August heat and humidity of southern Arkansas is incredibly difficult. I have a medical condition that makes working in that heat dangerous for me so my husband and son get all the fun. That is ok though because all that produce needs to be processed and that is what I do.
We are now entering our 3rd year. We have decided to focus on our fruit trees, bushes and vines. They are well established and honestly keep us very busy. The plum tree is ready the first weeks of May, the blueberry bushes by the end of May and into June then the Fig tree’s all 30 of them are ready by July/August and just as we are winding down with the fig tree’s the Muscadine grapes and pears are ready to be picked. We will plant some tomatoes and peppers this year and I have a medicinal garden that I will expand on this year for the tinctures and seasonings I like to make. I will keep you updated on how it goes this new year, our 3rd, on this beautiful homestead we like to call home.