A Complete Guide to Organic Gardening for Beginners


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Whether you’re a budding green thumb with a bit of experience under your belt or you’ve never grown a garden before in your life, there are a few gardening basics that are helpful to know when you’re just getting started. Here is everything you need to know about organic gardening for beginners in one handy guide. Whether you’re a budding green thumb with a bit of experience under your belt or you’ve never grown a garden (or perhaps even a plant) before in your life, there are a few organic gardening basics that are helpful to know when you’re just getting started.

On one hand, growing a garden might seem stupidly easy. At its very core, gardening is simply the act of planting some seeds, watering them and watching them grow miraculously into big, beautiful, high-yielding plants. 

But on the other hand gardening can seem so confusing and overwhelming that many people don’t even know where to start!

You need to decide if you’re going to use organic or modern conventional methods (and what that means, exactly).

You’ll need to learn about your gardening zone, your first and last frost dates and figure out what you are able to grow and when you should plant what.

You’ll need to decide whether to start your plants from seed or buy seedlings, and whether to direct sow or start indoors and transplant later. 

You’ll need to figure out how and when to fertilize and know what type of soil to buy if you are purchasing from the store.

And of course you’ll need to decide whether you will be planting in containers, raised beds or in-ground rows. And will you choose open-pollinated or hybrid seeds? And what’s the difference? And how do you know if your seeds are organic or if they are genetically modified? And are those even two sides to the same coin? And wait, what on Earth is an “heirloom” seed???

 

Related: 5 Easy Food Plants Anyone Can Grow

 

Indeed, gardening can be very simple or quite complicated, depending on how you look at it.

As someone who grew up with next to no gardening experience at all and is pretty much completely self-taught, I’ve learned first-hand that the key to success lies somewhere in between these two extremes. 

My best advice is to learn a few gardening basics and then get out there and get your hands dirty. Take a little time to learn the essentials and then take action.

Will you be a world-class gardener right away? Probably not. In fact, even the most experienced green thumbs experience crop failures and bad seasons. But with a bit of foundational knowledge and a willingness to try, you’ll soon be on your way to becoming a skilled home gardener and enjoying  bountiful harvests year after year.

Sound good? Alright. Let’s begin…

 

What You Need to Know BEFORE Starting a Garden

There are a few things you should probably know before you buy seeds or start planning your garden in order to make the right choices, avoid costly mistakes and optimize your growing success. 

 

Know Your Garden Zone

One of the first things you should know before you even buy seeds or start planning your garden is what garden zone (aka. “planting zone,” “growing zone” or “plant hardiness zone”) you live in.

Whether you’re a budding green thumb with a bit of experience under your belt or you’ve never grown a garden before in your life, there are a few gardening basics that are helpful to know when you’re just getting started. Here is everything you need to know about organic gardening for beginners in one handy guide.

2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zones

Garden zones are based on region and climate and help to determine which plants will survive and thrive best in each zone. So knowing what garden zone you live in will help you to select plant varieties that will actually, um, grow in your area.

Knowing your garden zone will also help you determine your average first and last frost dates and will subsequently help you plan when to plant what in your garden.

To find out what garden zone you’re in and what plants do best in your specific zone, you can Google your area or follow this link to find garden zones within the U.S. and Canada.

You can also head over to your local garden or feed store for more information tailored specifically to your garden zone.

 

Understand Microclimates

While knowing your garden zone is important, getting a feel for your microclimate is equally helpful. A microclimate is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a tiny (micro) climate within the larger, broader climate or garden zone that you live in. 

For example, you might live in a garden zone which is generally pretty hot and (surprise!) supports warm-weather plants. But you might also live in a shady area that is typically a few degrees cooler than the average climate temperatures than your garden zone, which might mean that you are able to grow plants that thrive better in slightly cooler, shadier areas.

Likewise, you might live in a garden zone that experiences pretty cold temperatures throughout much of the year, but if you have a greenhouse or high tunnel you can actually create a warmer microclimate so that you can extend your growing season and even grow plant varieties that normally wouldn’t survive in your region.

Whether you’re a budding green thumb with a bit of experience under your belt or you’ve never grown a garden before in your life, there are a few gardening basics that are helpful to know when you’re just getting started. Here is everything you need to know about organic gardening for beginners in one handy guide.

You can create your own microclimates using greenhouses, cold frames and cloches -and yes, even cups- to keep plants warm when the outside air is still cold.

 

Related: 3 Ways to Protect Your Plants From the Cold

 

Whether you make use of natural microclimates on your property or you create them yourself, understanding how they work will help you select the best variety and widest range of plants for your specific area and extend your growing season as long as you can to reap the largest harvest possible.

 

Understand What Organic Gardening Really Means

Whether you’re a budding green thumb with a bit of experience under your belt or you’ve never grown a garden before in your life, there are a few gardening basics that are helpful to know when you’re just getting started. Here is everything you need to know about organic gardening for beginners in one handy guide. If you’re aiming to be an organic gardener, you should understand exactly what that means, including what practices are acceptable and what you should never do if you want to truly go organic.

I won’t go over the laundry list of reasons you SHOULD use organic methods in your garden (you can find tons of information online if you want to know more). But I will say that using non-organic methods poses a risk to your health and to your garden itself as chemical sprays, seeds and fertilizers can affect the health of your soil which can in turn affect the health of your plants (and your ability to even grow anything with success).

So, what should you do if you want to be an organic gardener?

  • Choose organic, untreated seeds and plants
  • Use natural fertilizers (homemade compost is an excellent option)
  • Don’t use any chemical sprays or fertilizers
  • Be careful not to add non-organic items to your garden or compost pile
  • Keep your garden as sheltered as possible from neighbours who use chemical sprays on their garden as this can travel through the air to your own garden.

Of course, it might be difficult to control everything that’s floating in the air, but focus on the things you can control and you can rest assured you are doing everything in your power to go organic as possible.

Also, attracting pollinators to your garden is a wonderful all-natural way to increase your yields and create a healthy ecosystem.

Whether you’re a budding green thumb with a bit of experience under your belt or you’ve never grown a garden before in your life, there are a few gardening basics that are helpful to know when you’re just getting started. Here is everything you need to know about organic gardening for beginners in one handy guide.

Dandelions help to attract pollinators early on in the season. Resist the urge to cut them down (and definitely don’t spray them!)

Plant wildflowers or other brightly coloured flowers to attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Hang a hummingbird feeder. Perhaps even consider purchasing Mason bees or building a bee hotel! Pollinators are essential to healthy crop production. Do your best to attract them rather than deter them:)

 

Know the Difference Between Organic, Open-Pollinated, Heirloom, Hybrid and GMO Seeds

Whether you’re a budding green thumb with a bit of experience under your belt or you’ve never grown a garden before in your life, there are a few gardening basics that are helpful to know when you’re just getting started. Here is everything you need to know about organic gardening for beginners in one handy guide. I could write an essay on this topic alone, but I’m going to keep this short and sweet. There are some fundamental differences between different types of seeds, and some of them overlap or are subsets of each other. Here’s the cliff notes version:

Organic Seeds: “Organic” is an umbrella term that describes any seeds that come from organic plants and have not been treated with any non-organic chemicals. Any of the following seeds could be organic (except GMO seeds by law), as long as they fit this criteria. But any of them could also not be organic if they have been treated or come from a non-organically grown parent plant.

Open-Pollinated: These seeds are as natural as they come. They come from plants grown and pollinated as nature intended (by wind or by insect pollination, or with help from a human hand). This is how plants have been grown since the dawn of time and this method of letting nature do the work has resulted in a huge range of genetic diversity among plant species. 

Open-pollinated seeds can be saved and replanted the next year and will grow into the same type of plant as the one they came from. Because of this they make an excellent choice for organic gardeners interested in seed-saving and who do not want to have to buy new seeds each year.

Heirloom Seeds: These seeds are a subset of open-pollinated seeds, meaning all heirloom seeds are open-pollinated, but not all open-pollinated seeds are heirlooms. Heirlooms are seeds that have been saved from specific plants and passed down through generations (hence the name “heirloom”). They are typically the best of the best as they are organic, open-pollinated and have been carefully selected from the strongest, tastiest and highest yielding plants by generations of gardeners and farmers. These are the all-around best choice for seed saving and organic gardening.

Hybrid Seeds: Hybrids come from two different parent plants that are the same species, but not the same plant. They are created by cross-pollinating two different types of plants to create an entirely new type. Some examples of hybrid plants are sweet corn, meyer lemons (cross between lemons and mandarin oranges), and grapefruit (cross between sweet orange and pomelo). If you save seeds from hybrid plants they will not grow true to the plant you saved them from, but instead will grow into one of the parent plants or may not produce at all. If you buy hybrids you are best to purchase new seeds each year so you know what you’re getting.

Genetically Modified “GMO” Seeds: These are the Frankensteins of the garden world. Genetically modified seeds take hybridization to the next level, and not only combine two different plant types of the same species, but different species altogether! So, for example, you might have a tomato that has been crossed with fish genes, or corn that has been genetically engineered to include a bacterial gene that makes it immune to certain herbicides. 

GMO seeds are also engineered in a lab and are patented, making it not only difficult to save the seeds (as they likely won’t produce true to their parent), but actually illegal! If you’ve heard of Monsanto, it’s likely because they are infamous for genetically modifying seeds and suing farmers who save and replant them. While it is highly unlikely that you will come across GMO seeds as a home gardener, it’s still something to be on the lookout for and avoid at all costs.

 

Getting Started

Now that you have some basic knowledge under your belt, it’s time to actually start planning your garden.

First you’ll have to make some decisions about what plants or seeds to buy to get started. Now that you know your garden zone, have an idea of what type of microclimate you’re working with and understand the fundamental differences between organic and non-organic gardening methods and the different types of seeds and starts you have to choose from, it’s time for the real fun part: choosing your garden crops!

 

Planning Your Garden

Depending on the size and scale of your garden (pro tip: start small if it’s only your first year, even if you have the space), you’ll need to decide whether you’ll be planting in the ground, in raised beds or in containers. 

Whether you’re a budding green thumb with a bit of experience under your belt or you’ve never grown a garden before in your life, there are a few gardening basics that are helpful to know when you’re just getting started. Here is everything you need to know about organic gardening for beginners in one handy guide. We do a mix of raised beds and container gardening and they compliment each other nicely! No reason you can’t do more than one, and containers are always a good choice for certain crops, so if you will be doing any container gardening, be sure to source out the right type, size and quantity you’ll need to get started.

 

Related: Container Gardening for Beginners

 

If you decide to do in-ground or raised beds, you’ll either need to plan your garden to the size of the beds that already exist or plan to build new beds to your desired size. Either way, write down the dimensions you will be working with before you start planning what will go in the soil.

When planning your crops, consider the following:

  1. What will grow well in your zone and microclimate
  2. What do you want to grow/what will you actually eat when it comes to fruits and veggies
  3. What companion plants grow well together (for more on companion planting, check out this post)
  4. What should you not plant beside each other (for more on plants that go well and don’t go well together, check out this post)
  5. What, if anything, was planted in that space last season? Rotating crops is important in organic gardening in order to avoid spreading disease and depleting the soil of nutrients, so if there was something planted in your garden the year before, it’s best to choose a plant from a different family to plant in that spot this year. For more information on proper crop rotation, read this.
  6.  

Choose Your Seeds (Or Starts)

You’ll need to decide whether you will be starting all of your plants from seed or buying starts (established seedlings) from your local garden store or farmers market. You may choose to purchase a combination.

Whether you’re a budding green thumb with a bit of experience under your belt or you’ve never grown a garden before in your life, there are a few gardening basics that are helpful to know when you’re just getting started. Here is everything you need to know about organic gardening for beginners in one handy guide. If you are limited on space or if you want to try a few different varieties rather than a large quantity of one plant, you may opt for starts. 

It doesn’t matter what you choose, but I will say there is something magical about watching a plant grow from a tiny seed! 

If you do decide to start from seed, you will also need to decide whether to start your seeds indoors to give them a head start on the growing season, or if it is better to direct sow them outside. 

Some plants like tomatoes, peppers and onions tend to do better when started indoors a few weeks before being transplanted outside as it gives them more time to grow. But others, such as peas, spinach, radishes and carrots, do better if they’re direct sown outdoors when the time is right.

 

Related: How to Build an Indoor Growing Stand With Lights

 

If you start your seeds indoors, be sure to harden them off for a few days before putting them outside for good. This just means you need to introduce them to the outdoors slowly so as not to shock them with the temperature difference. First, put them outside for a few hours in the daytime and then bring them back in. Then put them outside for a few hours longer. Then put them outside for a full day and then overnight. Then finally, transplant them outdoors.

If you direct sow your seeds, either be sure to space them far enough apart or thin out the seedlings once they start growing to give each plant enough room to grow.

 

Once you’ve chosen and bought your seeds/starts, time to get planting!

Whether you’re a budding green thumb with a bit of experience under your belt or you’ve never grown a garden before in your life, there are a few gardening basics that are helpful to know when you’re just getting started. Here is everything you need to know about organic gardening for beginners in one handy guide. Check your local garden supply store (or search online) for a chart on what to plant when in your area, or make your own chart according to your garden zone and the instructions on each seed packet. 

Plant your starts and start your seeds. You’re well on your way now!

 

Maintaining Your Garden

We all know plants need adequate light and water, so decide how you will give your plants both. If you start seeds indoors, you will most likely need an artificial growing light. For full instructions on how to make your own indoor growing stand with lights, click here.

If you are planting directly outdoors, you won’t have to worry about light, but you will need to make sure your garden gets enough water. If you have a small garden, you can water by hand. But a very large garden is more easily maintained with a drip irrigation system. What you decide on will depend on the size of your garden as well as the money and time you have to invest in it right now.

Whether you’re a budding green thumb with a bit of experience under your belt or you’ve never grown a garden before in your life, there are a few gardening basics that are helpful to know when you’re just getting started. Here is everything you need to know about organic gardening for beginners in one handy guide. Be sure to give your plants adequate water, but don’t overwater either. Make sure the soil is well drained. In-ground and raised bed gardens tend to need more water than containers as container hold more moisture.

As well as water and sunlight, you will need to “feed” your garden from time to time. You can do this with a store-bought organic fertilizer like fish fertilizer or with homemade compost or even compost tea. Fertilize once every month or so by spraying a liquid fertilizer on the soil or adding organic, well-aged compost to the top of the soil and watering.

 

Weed & Pest Control

Ugh. Weeds and pests. The nemeses of every gardener everywhere. These are two not-so-pleasant side effects of gardening that you will inevitably have to deal with at some point, and if you are sticking to organic methods, it will involve more work and diligence on your part.

 

Dealing With Weeds

When it comes to weeds, you can lay down landscape fabric and/or mulch to help suppress them in the first place. Also, there are certain weeds that prefer more acidic or more alkaline soil, which means you can help to eradicate them by adjusting your soil’s PH balance by either adding things like coffee grounds to make your soil more acidic, or lime to make it more alkaline.  

Short of that you’re pretty much stuck with hand weeding. It sucks, but it’s a part of gardening and it can be quite therapeutic once you get in the flow! 

Whether you’re a budding green thumb with a bit of experience under your belt or you’ve never grown a garden before in your life, there are a few gardening basics that are helpful to know when you’re just getting started. Here is everything you need to know about organic gardening for beginners in one handy guide.

 

Controlling Pests Organically

As for pests, some of the best organic methods include:

  • Soapy water (this works especially well on aphids)
  • Eggshells (deters slugs and snails)
  • Diatomaceous Earth (great for insects with an exoskeleton like ants and earwigs)
  • Beneficial Nematodes (good for underground pests like wireworms and grubs)
  • And of course the ol’ “hands-on” method (but who wants to be dealing with pests by hand when you’re busy weeding!).

Another excellent way to control pests is by using predators insects. Ladybugs, spiders and praying mantis’ are some of the best predators for pest control. You can even purchase ladybug eggs to introduce to your garden! I once caught a ladybug and put it on the stem of my parsley plant that was infested with aphids. I literally watched as it started devouring them and the rest of them ran and took cover. The next day, no aphids!

Again, talk to the experts at your local garden supply store about your specific weed and pest problems to get their recommendations on how to best control them organically.

 

End Of Season Gardening Tips & Tasks

So you’ve successfully made it through the gardening season and have some beautiful plants and produce to show for it. Hooray! Now what?

Well, an obvious first step is to harvest that goodness and enjoy it! There is nothing as satisfying as a homegrown tomato right off the vine:)

Whether you’re a budding green thumb with a bit of experience under your belt or you’ve never grown a garden before in your life, there are a few gardening basics that are helpful to know when you’re just getting started. Here is everything you need to know about organic gardening for beginners in one handy guide.

This is just a smattering of the beautiful organic food we harvested from our own garden last year.

Of course, if you have too much produce to use fresh, your best bet is learning to preserve it. You can freeze, dry or can anything out of your garden to preserve it for use all year long.

For some tips and ideas on preserving, check out the Food Preservation section of this blog or invest in the best home canning book there ever was or ever will be (in my humble opinion): The Ball Complete Guide to Home Preserving.

This guide is like my canning bible. I’ve tried at least a couple dozen recipes from this book and every single one has been tasty and easy to follow. I can’t recommend it enough to anyone wanting to learn how to can or expand their home canning repertoire. 

 

Seed Saving

You might also want to save some seeds from your biggest, strongest, healthiest plants to replant next year (assuming you chose open-pollinated or heirloom seeds, right?).

Whether you’re a budding green thumb with a bit of experience under your belt or you’ve never grown a garden before in your life, there are a few gardening basics that are helpful to know when you’re just getting started. Here is everything you need to know about organic gardening for beginners in one handy guide. Beans, peas, tomatoes and lettuce seeds are some of the easiest seeds to save. Just let the plant go to seed (if it’s a lettuce or kale plant, for example, it will bolt and grow flowers which will eventually dry out and produce seeds), take the seeds from inside the tomatoes, wash and allow them to dry out or allow the bean or pea pods to dry out completely on the vine and then open them up and take out the seeds.

It’s always a good idea to save seeds from your best, highest-yielding plants so that you can grow them again the following year, save money on buying seeds and create your own little seed bank at home to increase your self-reliance that extra step. And the longer you save your seeds, the more likely they are to eventually be passed down through the generations. Maybe you’ll even create an heirloom seed!

 

Putting Your Garden to Bed for the Winter

While you may or may not decide to grow a fall crop (remember the basics of crop rotation if you do), at some point you will need to put your garden to bed for the winter. 

  • Be sure to pull all plants out of the garden, mulch and compost the healthy ones and discard any diseased plants (do not compost). 
  • Add some compost or fertilizer to your soil in the fall so it has time to seep into the soil and add nutrients back in.
  • Decide whether to grow a cover crop. Cover crops help to manage soil erosion, control weeds and pests and even aerate and fertilize the soil. You might choose something like alfalfa or clover to sprinkle over your garden over the fall and winter.
  • Consider using hoop houses to keep your soil warm (this can allow for early planting in the spring), help keep weeds at bay and possibly even grow a few cold-hardy plants throughout the winter months. Check out the following link for full instructions on How to Build a Quick & Easy DIY Hoop House
  • And remember to put your tools away! Don’t let your garden tools rust or your watering cans break if they fill with water in the rainy season and then freeze and burst in the winter (can you tell this has happened to me?)
Whether you’re a budding green thumb with a bit of experience under your belt or you’ve never grown a garden before in your life, there are a few gardening basics that are helpful to know when you’re just getting started. Here is everything you need to know about organic gardening for beginners in one handy guide.

Using hoop houses helps to keep soil warmer and keeps some weeds out in the early spring. You might even grow a few cold-hardy plants throughout the winter months if your gardening zone is warm enough!

Put everything away in your shed, garage or greenhouse and button it up for winter. Then crack a jar of home preserved goodness and eat it with a spoon as you take a well-earned break and dream of garden seasons to come.

After all, once you start dreaming about gardening or get giddy at the arrival of a seed catalogue, that is the true marker that you’ve officially earned your status as a home gardener. All the rest will come with time:)

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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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We’re officially halfway through the pantry challenge and we’re into the “messy middle.” This is the point in the challenge when it can start to feel like a bit of a slog, and even if you’re not doing the pantry challenge, you may still be feeling the slog as we hit the mid-January mark, so to spice things up, I’m offering a pretty massive giveaway...

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Well, it was no small task, but I FINALLY got everything in my pantry inventoried, organized and put away.

I wanted to share my process with you too, so if you’re interested in getting a full tour of our pantry and seeing how I organize things, click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead and check it out on YouTube!

P.S. I know you’re not supposed to stack canning jars as having multiple heavy rows stacked on top of each other can compromise the seal of the jars on the bottom. I avoid stacking when possible, but due to the style of our pantry I have made the conscious choice to stack one row (max) on top of the bottom and always make sure to stack jars of equal or lesser weight on top. And yes, we do have plans to add more shelves soon. Just a disclaimer since I’m sure I’ll get more comments about it;)

Also, be sure to leave a comment and let me know about any pantry organization hacks you use! I’m always looking to improve our system:)
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Finally got around to taking EVERYTHING out of the pantry today and now getting ready to take inventory.

When everything is buried in the pantry, it can be so easy to forget what you have. That’s why I always recommend taking everything out when starting a pantry challenge so you know exactly what you’ve got. I was feeling like we hadn’t preserved enough food this year to get us through the month, but now that I see everything, I’ve got all sorts of creative ideas for how to use up the abundance of food that we have.

I’m also finding things I didn’t know I had, seeing what I have more than enough of and finding gaps in my food storage. This is one of my favourite reasons for doing a pantry challenge: it’s an excuse to pull everything out and actually see what we’ve got so we know what we’re working with.

In order to keep everything organized, I also created printable pantry, fridge and freezer inventory sheets where I can record everything I’ve got (so it doesn’t get lost at the back of our very deep pantry again). If you wanna grab these printables, along with my weekly meal planning sheet, homestead pantry checklist, pantry substitutions chart and 31 Days of Dinner Ideas cheat sheet, click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead and sign up for the Homestead Pantry Challenge and I’ll send everything to your inbox:)

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Have you started organizing your pantry yet??
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#homesteadpantrychallenge #pantrygoals #homesteadersofinstagram #homesteading #homesteadkitchen #foodstorage #foodsecurity
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🌱 One of the things I get asked the most during the #homesteadpantrychallenge is what we do for fresh veggies. Now, I much prefer to eat seasonally, which means eating the veggies that we preserved over the summer and fall during the winter. But I do start to miss my fresh greens by the time January rolls around.

Sure, I could grow some salad greens over the winter months, but that would require a level of organization that I frankly haven’t reached yet. And quite honestly, I don’t love going out to the garden in the middle of winter due to the torrential rain, swampy mud and frigid temps we get here in the PNW. No no, I’m a little too lazy and disorganized for all that! I’d much rather plant seeds a few days before I want to harvest them and do it all from the comfort of my kitchen during the nasty weather season.

And so, I turn to microgreens to provide me and my fam with fresh greens this time of year. They’re not only packed with nutrients (said to be higher in nutrients than their full grown counterparts!), they can be grown on your countertop and are ready to harvest in just a few days!

Not to mention, they taste delicious and look beautiful! I made this cheesy pasta dish topped with broccoli microgreens for dinner and the microgreens (which are just the seedling version of the full grown plant) tasted just like broccoli. Plus, the purple and green colours take an otherwise kinda boring dish and make it pop💥

I get all of my microgreens from @trueleafmarket, one of the sponsors of this month’s pantry challenge, as well as the current issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine!

To enter to win your own self-watering microgreens growing kit from True Leaf Market, be sure to join in the Homestead Pantry Challenge on Instagram, and to learn more about microgreens AND score yourself a sweet 10% discount off all True Leaf products, make sure you’re subscribed to Modern Homesteading Magazine (discount code is in the magazine and in the delivery email).

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What’s your go-to source for fresh greens in the winter??
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Well, we made it. It’s hard to believe that 2020 is finally behind us, but here we are, at the dawn of a new year; A fresh page and a new chapter.

This past year has been one for the history books for sure, and it most definitely has not all been good. But it hasn’t been all bad either. Us humans have a tendency to focus on the bad. It’s a survival tool that’s hard-wired into our brains to be on the lookout for danger. So we have to make a conscious choice to see the good in bad situations; To find what we can control and cling to it in a sea of things that we cannot control and, therefore, must let go of.

But with a new year comes a symbolic chance to let those things go and to move forward with hope and determination. No matter what’s scrolled on the pages of the past, the future has yet to be written.

As we enter 2021, I encourage you to remember that those things that were out of our control last year are still out of our control this year. They always have been, and always will be. But what is in our control are our thoughts and actions; How we choose to see and react to the world and to each other.

My hope is that we can begin to leave the past behind us and choose to see the world in a new light. In the Universe there is no good and bad. Everything just is. We assign the value.

I also hope that we begin to see each other as fellow travellers on the same journey, and to treat each other with equal respect, no matter our skin colour, gender, political or religious beliefs.
 
Finally I hope that the trend of people taking an interest in modern homesteading and taking action toward living a more sustainable, self-sufficient life continues long after COVID is behind us. As a whole, I think this was one of the best things to come out of this past year; A bright silver lining on a dark cloud.
 
There’s no way to know for sure what 2021 has in store for us, but I know that if we enter into this next chapter with open minds and hearts, along with a willingness to step up and take charge of the things in life that we can control while committing to let go of the rest, well then 2021 will be a good year no matter what.
 
To a new year and a fresh start 🥂
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year...

Time for the 2021 Homestead Pantry Challenge to begin!!!

Every year in January, I like to challenge myself to eat only what I've managed to store away throughout the year and avoid the grocery store at all costs. And after the year we’ve just had, many of us are doing our best to avoid the grocery store already. Plus, with the financial impacts of lockdowns and the fragility of our global supply chain, saving a few bucks and taking steps to become more self-sufficient are top of mind for a lot of people right now.

Needless to say, a pantry challenge might be just what you need right about now to reign in your spending, put your resourcefulness, kitchen skills and creativity to the test, increase your self-sufficiency and decrease your dependence on the grocery store and on people and systems that are outside of your control.

Kicking things off with a fun pantry challenge can help you to start the new year off on the right foot and gain momentum and motivation that will help get you moving in the right direction and take control over your food supply right off the bat so that you set yourself up for success in 2021, regardless of what unexpected surprises it may bring.

This year's Homestead Pantry Challenge is even bigger and better than before too, with some exciting prizes up for grabs, including a @lodgecastiron skillet, a self-watering micro greens growing kit from @trueleafmarket and an 8-quart Duo Nova Instant Pot!!!

🥫To join in and enter to win, post photos or videos of your pantry, your meal planning, your meals, etc. during the pantry challenge and use the hashtag #homesteadpantrychallenge in the caption. Every post equals one entry:)

🎞 You can also post in your stories using the hashtag #homesteadpantrychallenge and tagging me @thehouseandhomestead for additional entries!

I'm SO pumped about this year's challenge and I really REALLY hope you'll join me!

The challenge officially begins on January 1st and runs until January 31st, but you can sign up via my link in bio @thehouseandhomestead and get all the details before we begin!
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Merry Christmas friends!

While this year, and subsequently this Christmas has been anything but normal, and while we weren’t able to be with our extended families this year , I hope you’ve been able to find peace and joy this season, and to enjoy slower, more intimate moments at home with your immediate family.

Now that the big day has come and (almost) gone, it’s time to slow down, to rest deeply and recharge for the year to come. Nobody knows what 2021 will bring, but after the year that was 2020, we’ve proven to ourselves just how resilient we can be. And that is one of the greatest gifts of all. (Well, that and this accidentally inappropriate ornament we got to commemorate a year that will forever live in infamy;)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night ❤️
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Cranberry sauce is a holiday tradition, but if you’ve ever had store-bought cranberry sauce out of a tin, then you probably know how unappetizing it can be.

From the “glurp” sound that it makes as it slides out of the tin and into the bowl, to the way the jelly stays formed in the shape of the tin even after it’s out, to the bland boringness of the flavour.

No offence to anyone who loves commercially canned cranberry sauce, but even if you love the store-bought stuff, then you’re definitely gonna love homemade cranberry sauce!

I know a lot of people put orange juice or orange zest in their cranberry sauce, and you can totally do that too! But I’m actually not a fan of the orange-cranberry mix, so my recipe calls for a little cinnamon and vanilla, as well as some sugar to give it a sweet spiciness that goes oh so well with Christmas dinner.

But perhaps the best part is that you’re able to can this cranberry sauce too, which means you can make a big batch this year and have enough homemade cranberry sauce on your shelves to last you multiple holiday seasons! Or you could even give some away to loved ones with whom you’re not able to spend Christmas with this year.

Whether you want to can it for later or eat it fresh or just refrigerate it until Christmas, this recipe is a must-try this holiday season.

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to get my full recipe plus canning instructions:)
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#homemade #fromscratch #christmasrecipes #cranberrysauce #delicious
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Look at that JIGGLE!!!

If you don’t make your own bone broth, this might look really weird (and kinda gross tbh), but this is actually EXACTLY what you wanna see in a homemade bone broth. This jiggly gel means this broth is super high in collagen, which comes from the bones, skin and ligaments of animals (in this case grass-fed beef cattle). It’s also the most abundant protein in the human body, and many studies have show that increasing our collagen intake can help up the collagen in our own bodies.

Collagen has so many health and beauty benefits, including healthy skin (and reduced wrinkles), shiny, healthy hair and strong bones, cartilage, joints and muscles.

I love making my own broth at home because I can pretty much guarantee a good gel and lots of collagen in each batch. Plus I make mine super frugally, with bones and veggie scraps that I save in the freezer.

I’ll be posting my recipe (and canning instructions) soon. Start saving those scraps!
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#bonebroth #collagen #nourish #wholefoodnutrition #homesteadkitchen
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After 9 long months of extreme hand washing and sanitizing, the last thing our skin needs right now is the harshness of winter. But winter is here my friends, and that means it’s time to give your skin a little extra TLC.

I make my own body butter every year around this time, and it’s become my favourite way to moisturize my skin during the winter months. Much like a deep conditioner works on your hair, body butter absorbs deeply into your skin to help moisturize, repair and protect it.

While lotions contain water (aqua), they also requires additional preservatives to keep them from going moldy due to the water content. But this homemade whipped body butter doesn’t have this problem because it’s made of nourishing oils and fats like shea butter, sweet almond oil and coconut oil (plus beneficial essential oils for all-natural fragrance). These oils are not only all-natural and highly beneficial for your skin, they’re also easily absorbed, giving your skin a “deep conditioning” rather than just a surface moisturizing.

But the best part of all is how quick and easy this body butter is to make up in your kitchen, and what a nice gift it makes this time of year too! So you can make a jar for yourself and a few jars for the people you love:)

Click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to https://thehouseandhomestead.com/homemade-body-butter/ to get the full recipe and “whip up” a batch today;)
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#bodybutter #naturalbeauty #naturalliving #skindeep #homemade #handmade #naturalskincare
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The holidays are fast approaching, and that means it’s time for my FAVOURITE THINGS!!! 🎉🎁🎄(aka. The modern homesteader’s Christmas wish list;)

I’ve rounded up all of my fave kitchen tools, books and home and body products that I use all the time and could not live without (ok, I could live without them, but I wouldn’t want to!) and I’m sharing them all with you in this week’s YouTube video!

Grab a mug of something warm (or a glass of something chilled) and come on in for a tour of all the goods!

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to YouTube.com/thehouseandhomestead for all the latest videos:)
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