Homesteading has been growing in popularity in the US over the last several years. But what is homesteading? One definition says it is “a lifestyle of agrarian self-sufficiency as practiced by a modern homesteader or urban homesteader.” We invited Jason from Cog Hill to talk about his homestead and a little bit about the different types there are.
Jason has never been able to grow sweet onions and bell peppers; while it’s always been a struggle for him in the past, this year he has great success. Normally most people will cut up their potatoes before planting them, not Jason, he planted the whole potato (Red Norland), and even with all of the rain this season and planting later than he normally does, he had a big potato harvest.
Along with Jason, Greg planted his potatoes later this year due to all the rain but had the best potato harvest he has ever had and he is still not sure how or why. We have our G90 sweet corn that will be ready to harvest in the next couple of weeks, we are excited about that. Our Purple Boy and Lemon Boy tomatoes are both new varieties to us but we love the taste of these. Both of these varieties would make a great Market Tomato with great flavor.
What is Homesteading?
While everyone has their own opinions or ideas on homesteading, more than likely you will agree with Jason. “Farming is for profit, while Homesteading is for yourself, family and friends. You have to depend on yourself for everything like food, meat, and being sustainable.” Although some homesteads can gain profit from selling their harvest or meat, most just want to be able to grow their own food. Jason and his family raised meat chickens for 5 years, along with quail, rabbits, and ducks.
Bring completely sustainable can be very hard to do and accomplish. You have to make things work for you. Everyone has different land and soil which plays a lot into starting a homestead. “Adaption is key” in homesteading. Many years ago, most people would think of homesteading as having to live off your land because you were considered less fortunate or poor but in reality, it was because most people enjoyed doing it. If you get a chance to watch Cog Hill’s YouTube channel, you truly get a sense that Jason and his family are enjoying life on the homestead. “If we didn’t love it, we wouldn’t do it” Jason states.
Starting a homestead can be very stressful but the number one piece of advice Jason shares to Greg is that you should go slow! Starting out it can become very overwhelming. He also recommends that you shouldn’t get caught up in “fads”, if you see one homesteader out there and they are very popular, don’t think that that is the way it should be done. You have to be yourself because every situation is different and there may be so many others out there just like you. You have to figure out what works best for you.
There are many things you can’t depend on others to tell you when starting a homestead, growing your own food is very subjective. Your soil issues may not be someone else’s soil issues which would make your watering routines different and then in turn would make your fertilization regimen different.
Principles to Follow:
- Do your research!! Planting onions for warmer zones is completely different for the cooler climates. The time of year, what type of onion to plant and when to fertilize all play a HUGE factor in being successful.
- Be Flexible! If something doesn’t work, change it! If you fail at something, try again! Just don’t give up!
Crops for Beginners:
Summer squash would most likely be the easiest to start, you can direct seed them and not have to start them in seed trays. Most squash varieties are pretty disease resistant, the summer squash varieties have quick maturity dates and you can continue to plant them throughout the summer months. While tomatoes are the most popular crop to grow, they can be difficult for the beginner due to the struggles of blossom end rot and not knowing how to treat or prevent it. Again, do your research! Cucumbers are also a variety of easy fruit to grow that is very rewarding! One of the best things about growing squash or cucumbers is that you can grow these varieties with a trellis, you don’t have to have a big area to grow these.
Jason has had great success with growing collard greens but he and Greg both agree that you may have to be from the “South” to appreciate that. Greens are very easy to grow and will keep producing for several weeks. A few of Greg’s favorite winter crops to grow are lettuce, spinach, kohlrabi, broccoli, and cauliflower. We have found that a lot of people only think of gardening in the spring but more and more people are starting to realize that you can be just a success with winter crops.
You can find Cog Hill on almost every social media platform (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Tik Tok) at @CogHillFarm