The Principles of Permaculture: How to Make Permaculture Work For You

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Find out how to apply the principles of permaculture to your own garden, homestead and life. Learn the ethics and design principles behind permaculture design and see how you can benefit from permaculture in your own backyard.

Permaculture. It’s been a buzz word in the garden world for a while now, but what exactly does it mean?

I’ve been curious about permaculture for a while now, but I’ve struggled to understand how permaculture really works in the garden. To be fair, it’s a simple enough philosophy, but one with many complex layers, principles and interpretations. In other words, it’s not easily explained.

That being said, I’m going to do my best to break it down in a way that most people can understand and apply. To help me do that, I turned to my friend Jesse Bowen who has studied permaculture in depth and applied it to his own thriving garden. 

Jesse first became interested in permaculture when he began researching eco building and natural homes. 

“I originally started thinking about all this permaculture stuff after I was researching eco building and I wanted to build cob homes. My friend had built a straw bale house with posts and beams and a green roof and all of that seemed interesting to me, so I wanted to learn about that. But they were always talking about permaculture at the same time as eco building,” said Jesse.

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As he began to discover how closely related eco building and permaculture were, Jesse decided to enroll in an online permaculture design course. As he studied the principles from start to finish, he began implementing his new found knowledge on his own property and now has a thriving, largely self-sustaining garden to show for it.

So, what is permaculture?

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Permaculture comes from the root words ‘permanent’ and ‘agriculture.’ This rightly suggests that permaculture has a lot to do with developing agricultural systems that, once established, continue to regenerate and produce year after year without having to replant or needing a lot of tending to. In essence, it’s the practice of setting up a farm, garden and/or homestead that is by and large self-sustaining once the initial work of setting it up is done.

This is appealing for many reasons, not the least of which is that traditional gardens, quite frankly, take a lot of work to maintain. Imagine planting your garden once and then rarely worrying about weeding, watering or resowing seeds, and yet still getting a massive harvest at the end of each season. This is sort of what permaculture aims to do. 

While annuals do very much have a place in permaculture, the more perennials you can plant and relationships you can create between your plants (and animals), the less work it will be for you in the long run.

Find out how to apply the principles of permaculture to your own garden, homestead and life. Learn the ethics and design principles behind permaculture design and see how you can benefit from permaculture in your own backyard.

Jesse Bowen shows off the stairs he built out of old tires. One of the principles of permaculture is to “produce no waste,” which means repurposing old things to create something new like Jesse’s done here.

“[Permaculture] is about getting the most amount of function and benefit for the least amount of work,” Jesse explained. 

I think of it like this: I’m a teacher, and as a teacher, I know that in order to make the whole year run smoothly, it’s incredibly important to establish systems, routines and expectations up front during the first few weeks of school. This is when students learn what is expected of them, what behaviour is acceptable and how to transition from one activity to another easily without wasting time. 

Once these systems and routines are established, they become habit and students start following them automatically. The teacher does not need to spend any more time on this stuff and can instead concentrate on academics and other teaching-related duties. However, if the teacher does not take the time to establish clear routines and expectations up front (and remain consistent), the whole year will be a struggle just trying to get students to behave, pay attention and do their work.

In the same way, permaculture is all about establishing intentional, clear systems up front, in and around one’s garden, homestead, property and even the larger community. These systems should be set up with the intention that once they are established, they will be self-sustaining so the gardener/homesteader can focus on other things like expanding the garden, adding new livestock or learning new skills instead of constantly struggling to keep up with maintaining what’s already there.

But what does that look like? 

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How do you establish a self-sustaining garden? Where should you begin?

“The first step is observation. That’s where you start,” said Jesse.

“Then if you’re just patient, and you look at something and try to understand what it is or what it wants or what it needs, then you can work with nature and just try to do it the easy way.” 

This could mean observing where the sun hits your property at different times of day. What areas of your property get better drainage? What areas are hotter or cooler than others? Which native plant species are already growing on your property and where are they growing? What is the soil like? Discovering, creating and utilizing microclimates is a big part of permaculture. 

What’s a microclimate?

Find out how to apply the principles of permaculture to your own garden, homestead and life. Learn the ethics and design principles behind permaculture design and see how you can benefit from permaculture in your own backyard.

A greenhouse is just one way to create a warm microclimate on your property.

A microclimate, in short, is exactly what it sounds like: It’s a small space on your property that has it’s own climate within the much larger climate or gardening zone that you live in. So for example, you might have one area on your property that gets direct sun all day, and another that stays shaded most of the day.

You might also have a hilly area that gets very good drainage and stays fairly dry, as well as a water feature such as a pond or a creek. Maybe the area close to the pond has sandier soil while the soil in another part of your property is more loamy. Each of these areas has its very own microclimate within the larger climate of where you live, and different plants will do better in different microclimates depending on what they need to survive and thrive.

If you can, take the time to just observe your property for a full year (4 seasons) before planting anything. By taking the time to observe and take notes on what grows and happens naturally on your property at each time of year, you’ll be better equipped to make smart decisions about where to plant what in your garden when it comes time.

Permaculture is all about working with nature, not against it. So it makes sense that, through observation, you can learn what your area already provides naturally and you can begin to harness that energy to help create a thriving garden instead of working against it and struggling to keep a garden alive.

So for example, if you are looking to grow plants that do best in a cooler, wetter climate, you would plant those plants in an area of your property that remains moist and shaded throughout much of the day instead of planting them in direct sunlight and then struggling to keep them watered every day. Likewise, if you are growing something like tomatoes that need full sun, you would plant them in the area that gets the most direct sunlight, not next to the large trees that shade out the sun for half the day. 

You can also create your own microclimates, which we will talk about a bit further down. Using a greenhouse is one popular way to create a warm microclimate on your property.

The ethics, principles and design of permaculture

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While we often think of permaculture as being directly related to agriculture, it is actually more of a design concept than an agrarian one. 

Permaculture design can be applied to everything from our gardens to our homes to our communities and even ourselves. It’s all based on a code of ethics that can be applied to everything we do and how we do it.

Permaculture is based on 3 main ethical standards: Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share

Find out how to apply the principles of permaculture to your own garden, homestead and life. Learn the ethics and design principles behind permaculture design and see how you can benefit from permaculture in your own backyard.

Earth Care is all about making sure that our actions improve (or at least maintain) the earth and the natural environment. So for example, when it comes to gardening that means we are using organic methods to make the land more productive and diverse and steering clear of herbicides, pesticides and GMOs.

In the home, Earth Care could mean using natural cleaning products and practicing good habits like turning lights and taps off when we’re not using them. In the community Earth Care could mean walking or cycling instead of driving or picking up litter.

People Care is all about making sure the needs of the people around us are met in sustainable, self-sufficient ways. Feeding ourselves, our families and our community members with the food that we grow is one way of caring for people, but it is certainly not the only way.

Fair Share is all about taking only our fair share. In other words, take only what you need from nature and allow renewable resources time to regenerate. Cut down on consumption and waste as much as possible and harness the power of natural energy from sun, wind, rain and biomass instead of relying on the grid to support all of your activities.

The 12 principles of permaculture

One of the founders of modern permaculture, David Holmgren came up with 12 key principles of permaculture that fit within the realm of the 3 main ethics discussed above. These 12 principles are sort of like the 12 steps of permaculture: If you do each one of them in order, you will succeed at setting up a permaculture system on your property and in your life.

Without going into too much detail, the 12 steps are as follows:

1. Observe and Interact with Nature 

Observe the land and the systems that are already functioning naturally to help you decide how to make these natural systems work for you.

2. Catch and Store Energy 

Collect natural forms of energy when and where they are available to use when needed (ie. collect rainwater in the wet months for irrigation in the dry months, chop wood in the summer to heat your home in the winter, etc.)

3. Obtain a Yield

All plants (and most animals) should serve a purpose on a homestead. Try not to plant purely ornamental plants or to have animals that are just pets (although pets are wonderful!). Instead, plant plants that will produce a yield of something you can eat or use in some way (like herbs or flowers for medicine or trees for wood). And keep livestock for food, or if you do have pets, perhaps they can do double duty. For example, we have a pet rabbit but we use his waste as manure. Perhaps you have dogs that could help herd other livestock or cats who could control the rodent population.

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4. Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback

Be conscious of what and how much you consume. Reflect on your consumption patterns and make adjustments where necessary. Always assess and reassess what is and isn’t working and make necessary adjustments.

5. Use and Value Renewable Resources 

Try to use resources that are renewable over those that aren’t (ie. using wood fuel over oil). Don’t take too much, use only your fair share and allow these resources the time to regenerate.

6. Produce No Waste

While it is difficult not to produce any waste at all, try to make use of the waste you do create (ie. use grey water to irrigate, repurpose old packaging, fix old tools, compost, etc.)

7. Design From Patterns to Details

Be intentional with the way you design your garden, homestead and property. Observe first and then design your property to take advantage of the naturally occurring systems already in place. (ie. you can create microclimates on your property where ones don’t exist by taking advantage of what already does exist. So for example, you could construct a pond at the bottom of a hill where runoff will naturally filter down and collect).

8. Integrate Rather Than Segregate

Set things up to work together and benefit each other. Companion planting is a great example. Instead of segregating crops and making them susceptible to pests and disease, planting different mutually beneficial crops together will help them to take care of each other without you having to take care of them on your own.

9. Use Small and Slow Solutions

Focus on establishing plants and systems that take time to set up and produce up front, but will produce massive yields later on. For example, fruit and nut tree trees take a long time to start producing, but once they do, they produce abundant harvests year after year with little to no input.

10. Use and Value Land Diversity 

Plant lots of different crops. Plant the same crops in different areas (microclimates) on your property. If one system fails, chances are others will succeed.

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11. Use Edges and Value the Marginal

Utilize as much of the space on your property as you can. The edges of your property are great for planting fruit-producing shrubs and bramble or trees for harvesting wood. Don’t neglect or overlook the far corners of your property.

12. Creatively Use and Respond to Change

Climate and geography can change. Our climate is currently changing on a massive scale, and this can affect small-scale changes on our properties. Or perhaps a system you set up has some unintended consequences, like maybe certain trees you planted have made the nearby soil more acidic. Find a way to adapt to the changes instead of fight them. Grow things that thrive in your new environments. Start at square one again. Observe and then design. Always work with nature, never against her.

For a more comprehensive understanding of these 12 principles of permaculture, check out David Holmgren’s book Permaculture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability.

Permaculture Design and Zones

So we now know about the ethics and principles that guide permaculture design, but what is permaculture design exactly? What does it look like?

Jesse explained how permaculture is based on the design of a spiral, and each part of the spiral (from the centre outward) makes up a different zone.

“[Permaculture] tries to get the most amount of function and benefit for the least amount of work. That’s why you work on a system of zones, and that’s the way you think about things in permaculture,” said Jesse.

Find out how to apply the principles of permaculture to your own garden, homestead and life. Learn the ethics and design principles behind permaculture design and see how you can benefit from permaculture in your own backyard.

Here Jesse stands at “Zone 0” with his wife, Virginia and their daughter Bronwyn. Your house is the first zone at the centre of your permaculture spiral on your property. From there it spirals out into other zones and keeps going out into the community and beyond.

Zone 0 

“You think okay, my house is Zone 0 (inside the house). Around the house is Zone 1 because I go there every day and it’s easy to deal with all that stuff. So [for example] you want your herbs really close to your kitchen so you’ll actually use them, because it’s not gonna be a hassle.”

Zone 1

“For Zone 1, you want your herbs, lettuce… you know, a little kitchen garden somewhere close. You could have pots on your deck or whatever and that’s all zone 1,” said Jesse.

Zone 2

“You’d probably put your chickens in Zone 2. You might do some animals or raised beds or other gardens you need to go work in so they’re not too far away.”

Zone 3 

“Zone 3, you might have a pasture area for sheep or goats or something, or just let it go to meadow or some natural thing that you don’t have to take care of much… Maybe a food forest.

“Food forests are kind of a permaculture word for ‘establishing things that don’t take a lot of maintenance or work together.’ Companion planting, things that come back every year or self-seed… Things like that. [This way] you can go and harvest from it but you don’t have to spend a lot of time in it. Get your fruit trees in zone 3,” he explains.

Zone 4

“Depending on how big your property is, Zone 4 might be like the back trail in the woods [around] your property. [For us] it’s the trail and the beach that’s a 5-minute walk away.”

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Zone 5

“Zone 5 is probably the grocery stores and stuff in my community where I can go and get stuff.

“[Permaculture] is about [spiralling] out from your centre of what your designing for (or whom you’re designing for). Spirals are a natural system. Everything grows in spirals in nature, or at least a lot of things do.”

Zone 6, 7, 8, 9 and so on…

As is the nature of a spiral, the zones could keep going forever, and that’s sort of the point. You want to start at ground zero (Zone 0) and then work your way out. Once you’ve set up Zone 0 and then Zone 1 to work for you, then focus on designing Zone 2, 3, 4, etc.

If Zone 5 is your community, Zone 6 might be the city or region where your community lies. Zone 7 might be the state or province. Zone 8 might be the country, and so on. There are no hard and fast rules about what constitutes what zones. The spiral can be applied anywhere, even to an individual person (your consciousness being Zone 0, your thinking mind being Zone 1, your physical body being Zone 2, your environment being Zone 3, etc. It’s sort of up for interpretation.

The spiral effect

Spirals are the basis of all design in permaculture because spirals are a recurring design element found in all facets of nature from flowers to forests and flora to fauna.

It all has to do with some pretty fancy mathematics involving the Phi Ratio (Golden Ratio) and the Fibonacci Sequence. As fascinating as I find all of this, it is certainly not my area of expertise, so I won’t bother trying to elaborate here. But I highly recommend doing some independent research to learn more about the mathematics of nature as it is indeed quite interesting and enlightening!

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What’s important here is that we understand that permaculture is intentionally based on the spiral design for good reason. And we can incorporate the spiral design in our own gardens. Jesse did just that with his herb spiral, which is often the first project a permaculture practitioner takes on in his garden. (A permaculture gateway drug of sorts!)

“For my herb spiral I just put in all the things that I would like to be able to pick and eat for my kitchen,” said Jesse.

“The spiral I built up so I could get different levels and everything will be pickable because it’s only a 6-foot diameter circle. So I can reach the middle from any side. And you get little different microclimates within the herb spiral because some will get more sun, some will be more protected from the wind so you can put things where they’ll be most comfortable. So you can read up on whatever you’re trying to plant and then pick the spot where it would do best.”

In this sense, the herb spiral makes perfect sense: It follows the spiral design found in nature, it creates and makes use of different microclimates, it makes things accessible, produces a yield and fits the Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share ethics model.

Find out how to apply the principles of permaculture to your own garden, homestead and life. Learn the ethics and design principles behind permaculture design and see how you can benefit from permaculture in your own backyard.

Jesse’s prized herb spiral. An herb spiral is one of the first garden projects many permaculture enthusiasts attempt. It incorporates many aspects of permaculture, including creating microclimates, easy access to a diverse yield of crops, integration and companion planting and, of course, the spiral design.

Jesse also made use of other materials he found on his property to create his spiral, which made use of natural systems already in place and cut down on his consumption and waste production.

“So this was really cheap to build. I used chopped up maplewood as the base, so I actually used Hügelkultur, which is basically rotting wood mounds that you put dirt on and then grow on. As [the wood] decomposes it’s gonna feed the plants and the pile will just keep nourishing itself with rotting wood. Because the centre’s built up higher, all the centre has the wood in it to build it up so I didn’t have to spend so much money on compost and soil and manure and stuff that I mixed and put in.

“I just had rounds [of maplewood] and I just stacked the rounds in as tightly as I could, and then I just put peat moss all over it and mulched up leaves that I had collected that were all fungus-y (which is really good because it gets a micro-biome going in the soil). Everything I planted in here did really well,” he said.

“I built [my herb spiral] out of wood that I had trimmed from a hedge next to it. It was a Laurel hedge and I was reading up on it and laurel supposedly has cyanide in it and I was a little bit worried about poisoning my plants with cyanide. But now I think it’s totally fine. It’s better to just try something than to worry about it and do nothing. If worst comes to worst at least you’ll learn something.”

Try something new

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At first it might seem as if permaculture is a complex and complicated design process that is vague and unspecific at the same time. Indeed, it is all of these things. But at its core it is actually quite simple: Permaculture is based on the same designs found in nature, and aims to work with nature rather than against it to create a self-sustaining garden, homestead and lifestyle that benefits both the people that depend on it and the earth and ecosystem(s) around it.

To begin practicing permaculture in your own life, start by keeping the 3 main ethics in mind and make sure that you constantly reflect and reassess to make sure your actions and your design planning adhere to these ethics. 

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From there, follow the 12 steps laid out in David Holmgren’s book. Start by observing. Think longterm and don’t rush the process.

But don’t wait forever to start either. It may seem daunting at first, but as they say, all great journeys begin with a single step. And permaculture may just be one of the most noble journeys one can embark on in our time.

At the end of the day, it can’t hurt to give it a try. Maybe permaculture won’t inform your every decision or dictate how you live every minute of your life. But maybe it will make some aspects of life just a little bit easier, better and more fruitful for you, for your family, for your community, for the planet.

As Jesse said, “it’s better to just try something than to worry about it and do nothing. If worst comes to worst at least you’ll learn something.” 

What can permaculture teach you?







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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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Okay, I’m just gonna come out and say it: I’m a total sucker for pumpkin spice.

Call me #basic, but it’s the truth.

In fact, I’m all about everything fall: the colours, the coziness, the sweater weather, and yes, pumpkins and pumpkin spice. There’s just something comforting and nostalgic about it; Like grandma’s kitchen or the warm scent of pumpkin pie that wafts from the table at holiday dinners with family and friends.

What I’m NOT all about are the chemical preservatives and lab-created “natural flavours” in most store-bought and coffee shop pumpkin spice syrups and lattes. Not to mention, I don’t exactly love paying $5.00 or more for a single drink at a cafe.

This homemade pumpkin spice syrup, made with REAL pumpkin and spices and NO added preservatives solves all of these problems... It’s 100% natural and costs just pennies per batch. (And trust me when I say it rivals even the famed Starbucks #PSL when added to a homemade latte).

You definitely want to try this at home this pumpkin spice season. Er, I mean this fall 😉

Click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead for the full recipe or go to
#pumpkinspice #pslseason #pumpkinseason #homemade #fallvibes #flavorsoffall #homesteadkitchen

As much as I'm honestly kinda over the garden by this time of year and ready to tuck in indoors and rest for a while, I know that the effort I put into my garden in the fall will pay a huge return come next spring and summer when we're ready to plant and then harvest our next round of crops.

For one, fall is the best time to amend and enrich your soil, so adding compost or manure or some sort of organic matter is pretty crucial this time of year.

Also, you should always cover your soil, especially over the winter months when soil is more likely to erode and nutrients can get washed away. A cover crop or a thick layer of mulch is a good idea to help keep your soil protected and intact.

And of course, garlic should be planted in the fall before your first frost to ensure huge bulbs next summer. Us homesteaders always have to be thinking ahead a few seasons!

I'm taking you into our garden as we're tearing it down and planting out our garlic. I'll show you our fall gardening routine and I'll walk you through planting garlic so you can start growing it at home too! (It's honesty the easiest, most rewarding crop that we grow).

It's time for the grand finale in the garden this year as we tear it down and prep it for next spring. Will you join me for one last hurrah?

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#fallgardening #garlic #healthysoil #homesteadersofinstagram #humanswhogrowfood

First batch of homemade candles for the season. It’s a cold, grey day and we’re about to light the woodstove for the first time this season too. Now I have some homemade spice-scented candles to go with the cozy vibe:)

I LOVE candles, but good ones are pretty expensive to buy. However, since I started making candles myself I haven’t bought a single one from the store and I’ve probably saved myself hundreds of dollars.

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Sometimes I question why I do what I do. Why do I take on so much? Why do I bother making everything from scratch and growing a garden and preserving food when I could just as well buy it from the store and save myself a ton of time and effort?⁣⁣⁣
Why am I working hard to build a business out of my passion when I could just as easily go to work for a pay check and just enjoy homesteading as a hobby on the side?⁣⁣⁣
Why do I choose to do everything the hard way and see against the grain? Why not just go with the flow and hope for the best?⁣⁣⁣
I can’t say for sure that I would have chosen to follow all the same paths that I’ve gone down over the past few years had I not become a mother, but what I 𝘥𝘰 know for sure is that my beautiful daughter is worth every ounce of hard work; every dollar I’ve invested in our future goals and dreams; every late night work fest and canning session; every seed planted and loaf of bread baked.⁣

She’s worth it because I want to give her the best I can in life. I want her to eat good food and live a long and healthy life. I want to teach her how to be self-sufficient so that she has the skills she needs no matter what kind of world awaits her in the future. And I want to show her that anything is possible and any dream is worth pursuing, even if the work that it takes to achieve it is harder than following the herd and taking the road of least resistance.⁣⁣⁣
This little human right here: this is my why. This girl and her goofy smile make everything worthwhile ❤️⁣⁣⁣
What (or who?) is your why?

This growing season has seriously been the strangest I’ve experienced so far. Summer came so late we thought it wasn’t gonna come at all. Our greens and peas and spring crops produced for weeks longer then they normally do as we waited FOREVER for our tomatoes and peppers and summer crops to grow and ripen.

Now that we’re into October, we’re having a warm spell and the garden is acting like it’s summer! The tomatoes are all just starting to turn red, the cucumbers and zucchini are still givin’er, the pumpkins and squash are having another growth spurt, and now the green beans are starting on round two after about a month of dormancy!

We’re supposed to be going fishing tomorrow, and I’m wondering if the salmon are a little late this year too...

If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us all it’s that nothing is ever certain. So even though I’m sort of ready to be done with the garden already, I’m reminded of how fortunate we are to have such abundance come from our property and our surrounding environment; To have so much when so many have so little; To live in such a beautiful, bountiful corner of the world surrounded by a kind-hearted community that values sustainability and self-sufficiency like we do.

I love making plans for the future, and we wouldn’t be where we are today without some pretty serious planning. But sometimes you’ve just gotta go with the flow and trust that even when things don’t work out exactly as you’d imagined, they work out exactly as they should.

I wasn’t expecting to still be busy with the summer garden in October, but I have to say, this year, no matter how ready to be done with it I might feel some days, I’m more grateful than ever for everything we’ve been blessed with.

What are you feeling grateful for this year? It’s Thanksgiving next weekend here in Canada, so we’ll be talking a lot about gratefulness this week in our house 🙏

Can you imagine how bland and boring our food (and life) would be without spices??⁣

Seriously! We take them for granted nowadays because they’re so readily available in our pantries and on grocery store shelves. But for thousands of years throughout history, spices were coveted, revered and hard to get. For around 1,500 years, spices travelled overland on camelback and horseback on the Silk Road from China to the west. And then, just over 500 years ago, explorers set out into the unknown to find a maritime trading route, and one of those explorers just so happened to stumble on the Americas along the way, essentially shaping history and the modern world as we know it. ⁣

But besides history and geography, the science behind spices is just as fascinating. Their culinary and medicinal uses have had a huge impact on the world and on the dishes we enjoy on a regular basis today. Oh, and did you know that, scientifically speaking, it’s actually possible to GROW even the most “exotic” spices at home, right here in North America??⁣

I LOVE to geek out on this sort of stuff, so doing the research for the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine was actually so much fun. (If you hadn’t guessed, this issue is all about spices!!)⁣

I’d love to tell you so much more right here, but I’m a bit limited on space! However, you can read more about the fascinating story of spices, their culinary and medicinal uses, how to put them to use in your kitchen and yes, even how to grow them at home in the October issue.⁣

So if you’re already subscribed, be sure to check your inbox for the latest issue (it came out yesterday). And if you’re NOT yet subscribed, then head on over and click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead to subscribe for FREE, and get the latest issue delivered straight to your inbox!⁣

Wishing you a rich, flavourful fall season full of spice, pumpkin and otherwise;)

The weather this summer has been as unpredictable as 2020 itself. The cool, grey, wet start to the summer meant that our sun-loving crops got a slow start in the garden, and that’s led to an unprecedented number of green tomatoes at the end of the season.

You’ve probably heard me complaining about our green tomato “problem” all summer. We do, after all, have great fruit set and TONS of tomatoes on our plants. They’re just almost all green!!!

While I do love me some green tomatoes (green tomato relish is my FAVE and fermented green tomatoes and hot peppers are out of this world), I refuse to give up on luscious, red, homemade tomato sauce and salsa just yet. I refuse to accept that they’re all just green and that’s just the way it is! So I’m taking matters into my own hands and ripening them myself.

Luckily the process of ripening green tomatoes indoors is ridiculously easy, so if you’ve got more green tomatoes than you know what to do with too, or you’re just keen to get another batch of sauce on your pantry shelves, I’m sharing this simple trick with you today for ripening green tomatoes that has stood the test of time (for real... my great grandmother used to do this).

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead or go to to learn this simple hack!
#greentomatoes #gardenhacks #tomatoharvest #homesteadhacks #puttinuptheharvest

Okay, I MAY have totally messed up a batch of blackberry jam today, but check out this carrot! Thing’s almost as thick as my forearm and as long as my face! (Is that an accurate way to measure things?)🤷🏻‍♀️
#homesteadersofinstagram #peoplewhogrowfood #humanswhogrowfood #homegrown #harvest

September is such an odd time of year. It’s the time of year when we tend to find ourselves with a foot in two worlds: A transition season, if you will.⁣

In the garden, some plants are dead or dying. There’s brown, crispy stems, dried pea pods bursting with next year’s seeds and a natural layer of mulch in the form of fallen leaves. But at the same time there’s still so much life. So much greenery and colour. So much of summer still left.⁣

Indoors we’re busy putting up the harvest, stocking our shelves with jars of colourful food, baskets of cured onions and garlic, dried herbs hanging everywhere and crocks of fermenting foods on every countertop. But while we’re still dealing with the summer bounty, fall has begun, which means we’re back to schedules and routines and, for those of us with kids, school.⁣

But this year our return to our “normal” fall routines is anything but. For many families, there is no return to school. Not in the traditional sense anyway. Instead, more families than ever before have found themselves educating their children at home for the first time, whether by force or by choice. And trying to balance all of the usual September tasks with navigating full-time homeschooling can feel daunting, to say the least.⁣

I know we can all use as much help and expert advice as we can get at this time, so I’m honoured to have Ginny Aaron, a full-time homeschooling, homesteading mom of three sharing her wisdom on the blog this week. She’s generously shared her best tips for incorporating homeschooling with your existing routine and finding the teachable moments in the every day so that you don’t need to uproot your life or find another 7 hours in your day to recreate a classroom environment at home.⁣

I just love Ginny’s approach to homeschooling and if you’re anything like me, I think you will too. You can check out her full post by clicking the link in my bio or go to

It’s also Ginny's first time guest posting so be sure to leave a comment while you’re there and let us know what school looks like for your family this year.⁣

Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead

I’ve been feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders lately. Between balancing work and the garden and all of the canning and preserving tasks this time of year, I’ve already got enough on my plate. Add a string of social commitments, back-to-school and extracurricular activities, and I’m definitely feeling the pressure, as I usually do this time of year.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
But lump on a pandemic, worsening political tensions, division and civil unrest, intensifying environmental disasters (we’re currently socked in with smoke from the California wildfires), and it all just becomes too much to bear some days.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
I know I’m far from the only one who’s feeling this way. And yet, we all have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep going even when we’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed and burnt out. Even when the present is frightening and the future is uncertain.⁣

I’ve developed some strategies over the past few years that have helped me keep moving forward and get things done even when I’m feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, and I want to share them with others who need help coping with stress and overwhelm right now too.⁣⁣
You can check out my list of 10 tips for managing stress and overwhelm on the homestead (and in life!) by clicking the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead and then clicking the link to the full blog post at the top.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
You can also grab my free time management planner by clicking the link in my bio and then clicking on “Free Resource Library,” (find it under “Homesteading & Self-Sufficiency Resources” in the library).⁣⁣⁣
No matter what you’re struggling with right now, I hope some of these tips help keep you navigate these extra stressful times and stay focused and moving forward with your to-do list, as well as with your big goals and dreams. But most of all, I hope it reminds you that if you are struggling and feeling overwhelmed right now, you’re not alone.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
Link in bio @thehouseandhomestead to read more.⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣

I don’t think I have a jar big enough for this pickling cucumber 🥒 ⁣

What do you do with the huge pickling cukes that inevitably get missed in the garden??⁣

Please leave suggestions below! I’ve got two of ‘em! 😂
#humanswhogrowfood #homesteadersofinstagram #mypickleisbiggerthanyours

Late summer is truly the time of abundance (and by far the busiest time of year for us).⁣⁣⁣
We’ve got so much food that’s ripe for the picking in our own garden, plus baskets full of produce that we purchase locally when it’s in season and preserve for the winter.⁣⁣⁣
Between harvesting and preserving (and trying my best to document it all for you along the way), there’s little time for much else in August.⁣⁣⁣
We’re busy sweating in the garden and the kitchen, working around the clock to preserve all of the fruits (and vegetables) of summer so that come winter we hunker down and relax knowing we’ve got a pantry full of food to sustain us.⁣⁣⁣
While there have been more times than I like to admit when I’ve asked myself why we do this when we could be at the beach or floating down the river like everyone else, come winter I am ALWAYS grateful for the time and energy we invested in the spring, summer and fall to grow and preserve all of the food that lines our pantry shelves.⁣⁣⁣
With everything that 2020 has brought so far (and more uncertainty to come), this year I’m feeling grateful even in the thick of it; Even while I’m sweating and pulling late night canning sessions and constantly scraping dirt out from under my nails. This year it’s more apparent than ever how much growing and preserving our own food is worth the time and effort that it takes.⁣⁣⁣
If you feel the same way and you’re looking to get even better at gardening, preserving and homesteading in general, or maybe you’re finally ready to start living a more sustainable lifestyle where YOU have control over your food supply, I highly encourage you to check out the Gardening & Sustainable Living Bundle (link in bio @thehouseandhomestead). It’s packed with almost $600 worth of resources designed to help you take control of your food security and live a more self-sufficient life, and it’s on sale today only for just $19.99!⁣

If you ask me, we would all be wise to invest in our own food security as we head into fall and winter 2020, so click the link in my bio @thehouseandhomestead to grab your bundle now. The sale ends tonight at midnight so don’t wait!!

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