Top 5 Herbs for your Herbal Tea Garden
When I first began my journey into modern homesteading, I was like a sponge. I could not get my hands, eyes and ears on enough information to satisfy my appetite for learning. It was around this time that I discovered the wonderful world of podcasts…a brilliant form of media that I had been previously unacquainted with.
If you’re not familiar with podcasts – let me first say, welcome to your new addiction. A podcast is essentially a series of radio-style audio recordings, usually on a specific topic, available entirely free through outlets such as Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. Podcasts exist on literally every topic you could ever imagine – I listen to food and wine podcasts, dog training podcasts, running podcasts, business podcasts, sex and relationships podcasts, and of course – homesteading and gardening podcasts.
Below is a list of my current favourite podcasts related to the topic of homesteading. There are many more available, and even some that aren’t recording anymore, but are still full of great information. I encourage you to use this list as a starting point as you explore the wonderful world of podcasts for yourself – there is an unbelievable amount of information out there.
This was the very first homesteading podcast I ever listened to, and it holds such a special place in my heart. In fact, this show was my true introduction to modern homesteading, as I was looking for gardening podcasts at the time.
Harold is just your standard, regular guy – he loves his family and his grandkids, he works a regular job, he lives in a regular house in a small town…but what he does in his free time is extraordinary. He experiments in gardening, building, raising small livestock such as meat rabbits and coturnix quail, aquaponics, making his own kombucha, canning…you name it. He is a true inspiration and I’m not sure where he finds time for it all!
On top of all that, Harold is a cancer survivor who attributes much of his recovery to beginning to take responsibility for his health through the food that he was eating. He is a passionate teacher and shares his knowledge generously.
(Check out The Modern Homesteading Podcast)
Whether you’re a brand new gardener or you’ve been growing your own food for decades, Jill has something to teach you. She breaks down gardening in simple, no-nonsense, easy-to-understand terms for the newbie. When I was planning my first garden two years ago, Jill’s podcast was my bible.
A busy wife and mom, Jill keeps it real. She records less in the summertime when she’s busiest, and I respect her boundaries and self-awareness so much. She also interviews some fascinating guests, and together they answer all of the gardening questions that you never even knew you wanted to ask.
(Check out The Beginner’s Garden Podcast)
This podcast is my go-to, nerd-out, in-depth explanation of individual plant species, pests, processes and gardening techniques. Episodes are around half an hour each, and may focus on topics such as JUST potatoes, JUST pollination, or JUST tomato horn worms. It’s a really great way to hone in on one particular garden topic and learn all about it in a simple, easy-to-digest way.
Hilary is a wealth of knowledge based out of Seattle, so she is especially relevant to anyone living in the PNW.
(Check out the Encyclopedia Botanica Podcast)
If you’re familiar with the TV show Growing A Greener World, then you’ll recognize Joe Lamp’l as the creator and host. Joe has a very accomplished career in the world of organic gardening and horticulture, and he is a massive wealth of knowledge. On his podcast, he breaks down relevant and seasonal gardening topics, both on his own and through interviewing experts in each field.
The best part about The Joe Gardener Show is the way that Joe and his guests are able to take even the most complicated gardening topics, and translate them into simple language that even the newest gardener is able to understand.
(Check out The Joe Gardener Show)
Also from Growing A Greener World, but on the production side, Theresa Loe is an urban homesteader living in Los Angeles. Her show is professionally produced and covers a wide variety of topics that help you to – in her words – “live farm fresh without the farm”. These topics include growing your own food, preserving the harvest, and exploring artisan food crafts such as baking your own bread.
Theresa has brought on experts in fermentation, the “locavore” movement, keeping backyard chickens, and more. She is also a canning expert and runs a variety of online courses and academies through her website. I always find something inspiring to take away from Theresa’s show, and she is the sole reason that I finally found the courage to begin my canning journey!
(Check out the Living Homegrown Podcast)
This podcast is especially close to my heart because it is Canadian! Hosted by Sage Garden Greenhouses’ master grower, Dave Hanson, and “rookie grower” Maggie Wysocki, this podcast tackles seasonal garden topics mostly relevant to Manitoba, but really, all Canadians (and northern growers) will love this podcast. The reality is, our season is short, and our conditions can be harsh. Dave and Maggie are full of tips and tricks to help you thrive in our unique northern climate.
Sage Garden Greenhouse also hosts a variety of really cool events in and around Winnipeg, so if you’re in the area, you’ll have even more to gain from this awesome show.
(Check out The Grow Guide Podcast)
Melissa is something of a celebrity in the world of modern homesteading. She runs a huge facebook group, an online academy, and produces her podcast that covers all kinds of fascinating topics. Melissa is passionate about old-fashioned skill sets and wisdom, and dedicates much of her content to things such as natural house cleaners, organic gardening, cooking without electricity, interviewing off-grid homesteaders, cooking in cast iron, and implementing frugality while still maintaining a healthy diet. Let’s just say, you wont find a topic that Melissa hasn’t covered on her podcast or her blog.
At the end of each podcast, Melissa usually spends a few minutes on her “verse of the week” from the bible – which isn’t necessarily my thing, but I almost always glean something from her wisdom nonetheless. I look forward to her episodes every week.
(Check out The Pioneering Today Podcast)
First of all, I have to admit that I definitely don’t consider myself a fly fisherman (fisherworman?) by any stretch of the imagination. I went fly fishing for the first time this summer, and then went out again a few weeks later. I loved it, but I haven’t been making it much of a priority lately. That being said, I have been listening to The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast in my spare time, which has been a massive part of my education on all things Fly Fishing.
The host of the show, Tom, is a friendly, funny, realistic guy who breaks down the ins and outs of fly fishing so that even the most novice (ahem, me) angler can understand what the heck he’s talking about. Fishing – and fly fishing especially – can be incredibly intimidating when you’re first starting out, so I’ve found that learning about terms and techniques when I’m off the water has helped me to build my confidence.
(Check out The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide Podcast)
I hope this list provided you with a few podcasts that you haven’t heard of before, and hopefully you’re inspired to give them a try! There’s nothing better than learning something new while you’re stuck in traffic, walking the dog, or cleaning the house – and that’s what I love so much about podcasts. Happy listening!
As our 2018 garden season winds down, I’ve been feeling very reflective, and thinking a lot about what worked and what didn’t this year in my garden. One of the many challenges of our northern climate is the incredibly short growing season (this year it was less than 4 months for warm weather crops) so we really have to focus on maximizing the little time that we have.
A few things to know about my garden – it is small. Very small. I grow exclusively in raised beds and containers, and this was my second season as a gardener. I still consider myself a newbie, but this year taught me a lot.
I wanted to share what I learned, what I loved, and what I plan to do next year – because, yes, I am already planning for next year! I never said I wasn’t crazy.
My carrots were unbelievable this year. I got them in nice and early, around the last week of April, and my harvests were incredibly abundant. I grew three varieties – Scarlet Nantes, Bolero, and Paris Market (all from West Coast Seeds) and they all did incredibly well. I was religious with thinning them, which I think helped a lot, and I made sure to feed the soil with worm castings throughout the season.
We finally found our favourite variety of beet – Touchstone Gold – also from West Coast Seeds. They grew incredibly well, their greens were sweet and delicious, and the beets themselves were huge and flavourful. Even Sean – a self-proclaimed “beet hater” – couldn’t get enough. If you or someone you know thinks they don’t like beets, perhaps because of the bitter or “earthy” flavour, give these sweet golden beets a go. You won’t be disappointed.
I grew a wide variety of hot peppers this year, and started them all from seed – Serrano, Cayenne, Jalapeño, Paprika, Ghost Chili, and Ancho. I can happily say that they all produced in surprising abundance on my hot, south-facing front patio.
We had two varieties of cherry tomatoes this year, both in pots on our front patio – Black Cherry and Red Robin. I wasn’t optimistic about the red robin plants. They were tiny and didn’t seem to be producing much, even into late July. And then, all of a sudden in mid August – they absolutely exploded, and I was harvesting gorgeous, ruby-red cherry tomatoes faster than I could use them! Pleasantly surprised.
I am a huge fan of chamomile tea, so I thought I’d try my hand at growing my own this year. Without much thought, I chucked some seeds into a hanging basket, and they went absolutely wild. Gorgeous, fragrant, apple-scented blossoms just kept producing vigorously to the point that I was harvesting a large handful every single day. A few hours in the dehydrator, and now I have enough chamomile tea to keep me warm and happy through the winter – hopefully!
My poor, poor cucumbers. I’m not sure where I went wrong. I planted the seed directly into the raised bed, maybe a bit late, but the plant grew nonetheless. There were plenty of blossoms, even plenty of tiny cucumbers! I was diligent in my hand-pollinating and watering, but, alas, only one mature pickling cucumber was produced. Maybe the raised bed wasn’t large enough, maybe I didn’t add the right nutrients to the soil, maybe the cucumber gods just weren’t on my side this year…I’m not sure. I’m hoping next year will be better.
I had two beautiful San Marzano Roma Tomato plants that were growing and producing like crazy all through the season. I pruned and staked and fed them like it was my part-time job. I was so excited to create all kinds of delicious goodies – pasta sauce, salsa, roasted tomato basil soup, you name it. But when the thick, heavy smoke from the forest fires rolled in mid-August, everything stopped. The fruits sat stagnant, small, green, and hard. Then, the temperatures began to fall near freezing at night, and the tomatoes began to crack and rot. I salvaged what I could, brought them inside to ripen, and they have, but they certainly aren’t the big beautiful Romas I’d been dreaming of.
Another not-so-fun part about gardening in our Southern Alberta climate is the summer hail storms. At the end of July, a massive hail storm ripped through our city, and pulverized my father-in-law’s beautiful apple tree. We lost 417 apples to that storm, the majority of our harvest. We were still able to salvage about a half-bushel of beaten and bruised apples to be made into sauce and pie filling, but it was a very rough loss. There were tears. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a career farmer, where your harvest is quite literally your livelihood, after a storm like that. My heart definitely goes out to those folks.
As Sean and I have accepted that we will, in fact, be staying in this little townhouse for at least a few more years, so we spent an entire afternoon this summer dreaming up even more ways that we can maximize our little space. By rearranging a few things in the back yard, we should be able to squeeze one more raised bed in there. Luckily, Sean likes projects. Or at least, I tell him he does. 😉
One of the best ways to maximize a small space is to grow up, instead of out. This means more space for things to climb, such as peas and vining cucumbers, and planting things like pole beans instead of bush beans. We already produce a surprising amount of food in our small space, but my goal is always to try to do more.
One thing I meant to do this year, but just didn’t get around to, was seed saving. I mean, what could be more sustainable than saving seeds from your own vegetables to re-grow the next year? In 2019, I want to spend a lot more time learning about how to save seeds from things like beans, peas, peppers and tomatoes.
I am continuously amazed by the myriad of lessons that the garden can teach us. No two years are the same, and nothing is guaranteed. But that is half the fun, isn’t it? I cant wait to see what next season brings us. Until then, I’ll be dreaming up my 2019 garden and obsessively browsing seed catalogues…
What worked well in your garden this year? What did you struggle with? What are you planning to do next year? Join the conversation in the comments below or reach out on Instagram.