Over the past couple of weeks as the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has rolled into Michigan, we have gone from talking about it impacting out lives to seeing it impact our lives. My employer was ahead of the game in regards to sending employees home to work and as a result we were working at home prior to the rest of the state, since the middle of March. In that time we have left the property for a couple of reasons, the first was to pick up a prescription, the second was to get a load of compost and the third has been for a morning jog. Aside from that we have ordered a few things here and there online, we are getting by. As an introvert I have enjoyed it. As we are firmly into spring and continue to trends towards more uncertainty in regards to the Coronavirus, the economy and what’s next I thought I would share our past years garden schedules, the ones that even last year in spite of an extremely late (read fourth of July) planting we put up quite a bit of food, and some other resources that maybe helpful.


We are located in Michigan in Zone 5b/Zone 6a depending on how old of a USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map you are looking at. We are located ~10 miles from Lake Michigan and it mellows our climate significantly throughout the year. Our typical main planting season runs from Memorial Day weekend until the first frost which usually takes place in the middle of October. I have in past years cover cropped out main garden area on September 15 with a mixture of oats, peas and forage radishes to give the cover crop a chance to grow but not flower. This mixture has proved to winter kill nicely and create a nice dense mat the following spring that suppresses at least some of the weeds. Several of the varieties we grow are dry beans and corn – these we inter-seed with cover crop and harvest when they are ready – the rest is tilled in before seeding. At some point we may do away with the tillage but for the time being, we are working to improve the heavy clay soil we got when we bought this house – and the best way to do this that we have found is by continually incorporating organic material into the ground.

Garden Setup

We are blessed to have the set up we do, we live on three acres in the country – our closest neighbor is across the street and our closest neighbor on this side of the road is 300 yards to the south. We are surrounded by conventional farm fields and garden in what I like to call beyond organic. Over the years we have been here we have deliberately added to our set up in the form of raised beds, perennial fruits and fruit trees and a germination area in the basement.

We initially added raised beds to grow fruit, we have extremely basic soil and many berries do not grow well basic ground and prefer ground that is acidic. We initially put raised beds in place to grow strawberries, black raspberries, blue berries, garlic and culinary herbs.

These initial raised bed were the gateway drug of raised beds, the were so easy to manage – expensive to build but so easy to maintain. We were hooked, the following year we added four more for root crops, broccoli/cauliflower/cabbage, greens and more culinary herbs. We have since added even more additional raised beds as we have made this place our own and currently have about 400 square feet of raised bed space devoted to annual crops of one sort or another. In addition to be way nicer to maintain and harvest from than the regular garden, they allow us to plant earlier and grow longer in our clay, which hangs onto moisture forever (this is a blessing in the height of summer and a curse most of the rest of the year).

In addition to the raised beds, we have a 4400 square foot garden that we use two thirds of which is used for annual crops and the other third is devoted every year to cover cropping during the growing season. This cover crop is typically buckwheat, that we allow to grow bloom but not seed and then it is incorporated into the ground and we start the cycle over. By allowing it to bloom we give our pollinators a little browse and get the maximum growth out of the plants prior to going to seed.

Planting Schedule

With that little bit of background, after optimizing our set up and learning from the past several years being here, below you will find our rough planting schedule. If you are thinking about growing something in the table and the time has passed, it may not be to late. In general we plant for the earliest harvest possible and then to sustain that harvest as much as we can going forward. I have also only included the thing in the list that we grow outside, I will touch on things that are never planted out in a separate post.

WeekPlantsInside or OutsideNotes
Third week of JanuaryArtichokes, Rosemary InsideArtichokes normally would not produce in Michigan, however, by getting an early start – we get artichokes the first year, the plants rarely survive the winter to see the second year. Both artichokes and rosemary can take a while to germinate and grow slow when they do.
First Week of MarchSuper hot peppers, some chili peppersInsideThese are normally slower germinating and longer day species of pepper. I get a good start and can grow them to a good harvest here in Michigan. I usually throw some jalapenos and sweet peppers in here too just to have some a little earlier in the summer.
Third Week of MarchHot peppers, Sweet PeppersInsideAt this point it feels like spring is coming, I hear the rhythm of the song John Henry in my head and it feels like we are picking up steam. I seed the remaining hot peppers, sweet peppers and any other peppers I am growing in the house.
Fourth Week of MarchTomatoes, Onions, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Celery, Most non tender herbsInsideAt this point by germination chamber looks like progression of a forest bare soil to established plants all at once. Things like onions, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, celery and herbs will germinate with just supplemental light and require no supplemental heat.
Fourth Week of MarchLettuce, spinach, potatoes, radish, peas, beets, carrots, arugulaOutsideAt this point, depending on the year, either the last week of March or the first couple of weeks of April I will begin planting the more cold tolerant plants out in the raised beds, the day time sun warms the dirt enough for germination and at this point we are usually safe from a harsh harsh frost. A little snow won’t hurt any of these. Going forward from here I will plant greens and radishes every week or two.
Second Week of AprilTender herbs, some flowersInsideAnything that should be started six weeks before planting out, its go time.
Second Week of AprilNon tender herbsOutsideIf you are itching to get things in the ground, depending on the year now can be a good time to get those non tender herbs you started indoors planted.
Fourth Week of AprilSquash, pumpkins, melons, cucumbers, zucchini, nasturtiumInsideI feel like starting melons, squash, zukes and cukes inside gives me a two week advantage once I plant them out. I start all of these in peat pots. When I plant them out I will also seed some at the same time.
Third Week of MayEverythingOutsideNow is the time I start watching the calendar, once it looks like we are passed the chance of frost and daytime temperatures are up to at least 65°F and the ground is dry enough to work I will plant out everything else including the stuff that was started indoors and the cache of seeds I have been saving, realistically this works out to Memorial Day weekend for us but varies by year. I usually leave space to plant a new planting of corn, snap beans, cukes and zukes every two weeks for the next four weeks, this keeps the harvest going until I bust it up in the fall.
Third Week of JulyCabbage, broccoli, peasOutsideI will usually start a late planting of these in the raised beds to get produce right up until it snows, they are not heat loving but will thrive once it cools off.

That is a rough timeline, overtime you will figure out what works best in your setup. In addition to the time frame above, if I have started stuff inside, anytime in May the daytime temperature is above 65°F I will move the trays of seedlings outside in the sun during the day. I will start by doing it for a couple of hours and work up to putting them out in the morning when I get up and taking them in at sunset. I try to keep them out of the wind for the first couple of weeks to get acclimated. One other tip for starting things indoors is air movement, have a fan on whenever your lights are on and I recommend a timer for your lights, its consistent and frees you up to worry about everything else.


The last thing I wanted to touch on for now is equipment, what do you need to get started? Realistically, something to plant in, potting soil, seeds and a south facing window. If you rely on solely on a south facing window for light I would back all of the seeding times I gave up at least two weeks. If you are just getting started and need a few things, below are a list of items I have added to my collection over the years and am now spoiled with.

  • 1020 Trays – depending on where they are I use both 1020 Daisy Trays where I have drainage available and these 1020 Extra Strength Trays from Boot Strap Farmer.
  • Seedling Heat Mat – I have these in several sizes, they are indispensable especially when germinating seeds in cooler areas of the house.
  • Supplemental Lighting – florescent grow lamps work and I used them exclusively for several years, since then I have had high output bulbs, super fancy high output LEDs and recently have fallen in love with the LED T5/T8 replacements like these. They are inexpensive to run and seem to turn our robust seedlings.
  • The final thing is a good timer, I am old school an prefer an analog on but digital one would work just fine.

If you were looking to get started growing your own food this summer and were looking for a place to start, I hope you found something useful and would love to see how it goes. Tag me in your pictures on Instagram as you go or leave a comment below.

Two posts a year is good right?  Well I am going to pretend it is and aim to post a bit more.  We have been busy but wanted to post a couple of updates.  The first is we are going on a year with our first dive into home automation and monitoring with the RaspberryPi – we have a cellar that we automated the ventilation of and built in the ability to monitor it anytime any where.  Additionally, we have a monitor on our chest freezer now that is our cache of meat from hunting and odds and ends from the garden, the freezer is older than me and it would be devastating to lose it and know about it.

The freezer is pretty simple, actually both the freezer and the cellar are quite simple and just make efficient use of technology to do what would take us time everyday to do, should we open the damper in the cellar?  Is the freezer staying cold enough?  At some point in the near future I am aiming to have complete write up of both but today I will give you the top line description of the cellar project.  In the north east corner of our basement was a room that because of how the house was built was buried on three sides with one interior wall.  On the north end of that room was a window that needed replaced, as did the other three in the basement.  These have been since replaced, but back to the cellar.  The window in the cellar was replaced with an insulated wood panel, in the middle of that panel was a home built damper we built with a small motor wired to a couple of limit switches and a relay.  In addition to opening and closing the damper baffle the relay controls a fan used to  boost convection when the damper baffle is open.  This relay is driven by the output from the RaspberryPi, a picture of the damper can be seen below.

The RaspberryPi reads the temperature and humidity of the the cellar in two places as well as outside, additionally it monitors its own battery to  make sure that should the power go out and the battery get low it will shut itself just in case it is a bit too cold outside.  Sure we could look at a thermometer outside and compare it with the temperature inside and make a decision but the RaspberryPi can do it all night and day everyday.  More soon on this build but I wanted to put some time between implementation and documentation, like a year.  One more teaser picture below that was poorly stitched together by my phone.

And finally, since we have been over here just sitting on our hands, we were gifted a greenhouse this fall.  Not something we had planned on but it came up on Craigslist and we were reminded how small the world is.  But we picked it up, moved it 10 miles down the road and its sitting in the barn being refurbished, I think I smell another Pi project coming.



Tagged with: , , , , , ,



We have made it through yet another year on the ‘farm’, which sounds better than ‘small scale agriculture experiment’.  We have a cellar full of food for the winter and are looking for to the meat store opening, which to the rest of the world is known as hunting season.  No doubt the coming weeks will outline some of the projects we have undertaken this summer and ones we are looking forward but for now, a list:

  • Our chickens survived another year and continue to lay
  • We have a FULL cellar – and our garlic is fantastic
  • We planted 6 new fruit trees this spring as well as blueberries, black raspberries and strawberries (both June and Everbearing)
  • We got watermelons – first time we have managed to ripen them
  • We grew ARTICHOKES and harvested them
  • We have been working on the house and after many long hours have restored our original pine floors in both the living room and bed room downstairs
  • We installed our first permanent raised beds for the fruit listed above as well as herbs for culinary and medicinal use

Aside from all of that I am sure I will think of more – check back in the coming weeks for some more in depth follow ups.

Tagged with:

Let’s pretend that blogging has a fiscal year that floats from the calendar year, that will make me feel better about this post.  I was looking back at 2015 and realized that I manged three shameful posts the whole year, I apologize.  In my mind I am much more active in the blogging space, telling you all about the changes that are happening around here, what we are eating and how we making it.  But reality is I suck at this whole blogging bit lately. 20151207_212016

So let me give you a little catch up, the blog has been devoid of tasty recipes as of late – with good reason we have been eating lots of the same things, lot’s of venison and vegetables from our garden.  This past year we canned up a lot of food from our garden in all sorts of fun arrangements, we are eating it this winter and hopefully I will tell you about some of those, but in the mean time here is a picture of our canned stash – it is not amazing, but it is sustaining us through the winter.

Since this blog started off as a cooking blog I suppose its only fair to issue a warning, this will probably become more of a generic farmstead type blog in the future.  We still like to eat and cook – but we are much closer to our food now that we are out in the sticks.

Our chickens are doing their job too, giving us eggs and lots of manure, their coop after some finagling, is finally working out better than we could have hoped.  It is still stationary for the moment, but we are hoping to get it mobile here just in time for spring.  The wheels are sitting in the kitchen – just showed up yesterday.

In addition to updates to the chicken coop we will be adding more fruit this year – we have a couple more fruit trees on the way and have purchased blackberries, blueberries and strawberries to plant this spring.  We will be doing a bit of work to create a suitable planting area for them as we live on the worst drained hillside known to mankind.


I have started to plant seeds in our grow box in the basement and thus far have twelve varieties of peppers planted, artichokes, rosemary and sage.  In a couple of weeks we will start our tomatoes and a couple weeks after that our melons.  I am hoping to get a cold frame in, in our root vegetable garden plot to get some onions started in the ground.  And I am excited to try some garlic scapes when the garlic I planted last fall pops up this spring.

And like that we are off, I promise this year I will do better, if nothing else come and tag along on Instagram

Tagged with: ,

This is horrible, I have neglected my poor blog, nearly a year since I posted last and it feels like I have lived two.  Our first year in our home, with out bigger than we should have started with garden was a success.  We are still consuming the fruits, or more appropriately, the vegetables of our labor.  In addition to the produce we produced not 100 feet from our back door – I was fortunate enough to get a few deer this fall as well; as a result we are living high on the hog with lean, truly free range protein and garden vegetables and preserves.  Aside from our garden last year we planted a couple of peach trees, -which seem to have made the winter, found a neighbor who is also a bee keeper willing to keep a hive here – which is fascinating to watch and spectacular for pickle production and we put in a compost bin.

We also did some landscaping and got a couple of cats, well actually we got one cat we rescued from being coyote bait, he was scrawny and malnourished, someone thought he needed a friend and as such we got him a friend.  But let me tell you what I have learned about cats, cats are not dogs – good grief these two HATED each other when we brought the second one home, hated, would not tolerate each other.  Because of their deep seated hatred for one another we created the friendship cage – maybe a little obsessive but we did it and after several months of the friendship cage and slowly acclimating them to one another and then allowing them to be together we have a couple of cats who seem to be the best of friends, in fact Hazel the second cat we brought home will cry and cry and Finley, the first is out of sight.  Who knew cats could be such a pain?  But they are barn cats – and thus they live in the barn, but fear not the ‘cat condo’ as it is known is quite posh and climate controlled, these are the yuppiest barn cats one will meet.

As I write this our seedlings for this year a growing away in the science fare experiment that is my grow box, surely I will write more about the grow box in the future but is my attempt to liberate my seedlings from the pillaging of the mice and provide them with a climate controlled location to thrive prior to being subjected to the outdoors.  It’s also as close as I think we are going to come to a greenhouse, even though it is in the basement, like I said more on this later.

In addition to the garden this year we are going to be adding some chickens to our portfolio for eggs – we are getting them for eggs.  Well more correctly I am more anxious for the chicken poop they will leave behind I can use to build up my garden, but the eggs will be a nice bonus.  We have a bit going on here but I wanted to make sure I remembered how to use this thing before we get started on another summer season, one with hopefully some updates.