The Weekly Digs #103

by Becky

In the garden 

I often think of pioneers and homesteaders from a few centuries ago. If they were settling in a new area, there was no “I hope this works” but more of a “this has to work” attitude. I think sometimes as a modern day homesteader, we don’t worry so much because the store is always there to back us up when we fail at growing a crop.

While this is a nice fall back plan, I think it sometimes can also hold back your true potential of what you can achieve and how creative you need to be. I’ve had to up my own creativity when my yellow onion seedlings just didn’t do well this year.

I know some people would be ok with buying onions from the store but ever since we set the goal of growing all our own vegetables, I’ve never gone back on it. We strive to do that every year. So when my yellow onion seeds did grow well, I sowed more seed. They still didn’t really germinate that well.

Rossa Di Milano Onion

All my other onions thrive while one variety, the one we use the most, only has about 50 onions that germinated. I’m trying to grow at least 600-700 onions this year to make it a full year. I probably have about 300 red onions and need the rest to be yellow or white. 

I don’t have the store as a backup option in my mind. And I’ve found my attitude is different because I want so badly to make this work. After the second time the onion seedlings failed at thriving, I knew the variety I was growing was not resilient enough to work for me in the future.

I searched high and low and found a new variety called Australian Brown Dry Bulb Onion. This will replace “Valencia,” my old yellow onion stand by, as long as it grows well. Even though I ordered the seed several weeks ago it came this week. 

I knew at that point there was no way I was able to get them to maturity in time for my climate if I started them indoors now. So I did something that I’ve wanted to try for a long time but never really had a need to do, I sowed them directly in the ground. 

It is an experiment but in my mind I just keep thinking, this has to work! I really want enough onions this year. We ran out pretty early last year even after growing about 250 onions. Luckily I had lots of dried leeks from two years ago that we used in place of yellow onions. So we made it through the year ok. 

On top of the yellow onion failure, I had another disaster this week. I have been leaving my seedlings outside to get sun everyday and yesterday I did the same. It was supposed to rain so I pushed them all under the eave of the house where they would be protected. 

Unfortunately my idea didn’t work out because it poured so hard that it hit the ground and splashed back onto the soil block trays. The rain completely washed away 3 entire trays of lettuce, kale, and echinacea. Cameron and I were out on a date and I couldn’t check on the trays until we got home. 

I replanted what the little seedlings I found remaining and will plant again asap. It was a bummer but luckily the seedlings weren’t that far along. 

Other garden plantings:

  • Planted snap peas. Sugar snap and royal snap II.
  • Planted Wando shelling peas (the remains of last years seed). My order of green arrow peas got delayed a month and I just used what I still had. It wasn’t quite enough so I went to my farm store and found a variety called Little Marvel. They had tons and for cheap! I was able to finish planting my row and will probably plant one more row.

Farm Animals

So now for some exciting news! We are getting pigs next week! I’m nervously excited. This is more Cameron’s desire and territory. I will tend to the garden mostly and he will take responsibility of the pigs in addition to the cows we already have.

We debated back and forth on getting pigs this year because our plates are already so full. We also really wanted to try berkshire pigs but didn’t have much luck finding a local purebred seller. Instead Cameron found someone who had 50% large black, 25% Tamworth, and 25% Berkshire cross breed pigs. 

While it’s not what we were hoping for, it will still be better than buying from the store. The current owner said in advance, just know that once you grow these pigs you’ll never be able to go back to store bought pork. Haha. Yes, we’ve experienced that with the chicken too.

We will be rushing to put up a pig fence this week but it seems like that’s just how we work best. The deadline helps a project get done fast! 

House Progress

All the utility digging is mostly done and back filled. RV hookup is all piped. Our sheetrock is almost done, they are just waiting for it to completely dry.

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Harsha March 14, 2021 - 6:52 pm

Great post!
I am sure all your hard work will be rewarded!
Congrats on tje new farm addition. We are thinking about either adding dairy goats or maybe a cow in the near future.
I am not sure if your onion seeds were the problem with the germination or if it was the condition of the soil/temp. I have found that when I sow my onion seeds in a wide and deep container they do much better than the small seed cells. I like to use 1/2 gallon pots for the onions. The roots come out all the way to the bottom when the seedlings are very small so I know they love the extra space.
Keep us posted about how the direct seeded onions do!

theseasonalhomestead March 19, 2021 - 12:47 pm

Thanks! I will!

Katie C. March 15, 2021 - 1:44 pm

Isn’t just so frustrating when something doesn’t grow to plan? You and your onions. Me and my garlic. We have tried several kinds. This is the third year. If it fails, three strikes and you’re out!

theseasonalhomestead March 19, 2021 - 12:51 pm

Haha, yes. I was just telling my friend the other day that as I become a more experienced gardener, I’d like to think the problems and mistakes I make with gardening would just disappear. That couldn’t be further from the truth! I do feel like I improve every year but it’s never perfect. It’s all for a reason though. I learn so much more when I mess up! 🙂

Elisabeth March 23, 2021 - 1:49 pm

Hello I really like to read your blog and learn from you. Your amazing cold storage for food is my dream.
I send you a link to a really interesting gardening program, in english. I just hope you are able to se it over there. It is a good way to may gardening easier..

Take care and good luck with your farming and gardening

theseasonalhomestead March 25, 2021 - 1:43 pm

Thanks! I have watched it before and really enjoyed it. I do a modified version of back to eden gardening. I still use mulch a lot in my walking paths and on the long maturing plants. Everywhere else I use compost. Thanks for sharing the link to the video!

Terra meade March 25, 2021 - 4:04 pm

I am very new to your blog and find myself visiting you often. We are located in Ohio and in Zone 6 as well. What have you so far planted outside in your garden? I’m new to this and want to make sure I’m doing this right. Also, where do you buy your seeds?

theseasonalhomestead March 27, 2021 - 1:10 pm

I have planted kale, spinach, broccoli raab, cilantro, cabbage, celery, radishes, arugula, snap peas, shelling peas, and carrots. I have a little chart of when I plant for zone 6 here: I buy my seeds from a few places. Mostly Johnny’s Selected Seeds, High Mowing Organic Seed, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.


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