Keeping a homestead in top shape is a never-ending process. From preparing the garden to cleaning out the chicken coop, spring is one of the busiest times of year for the average homesteader. Here are a few spring homesteading projects that should be on your to-do list.
Mowing pastures in the spring will help encourage nutritious grass growth and remove stink weeds that some animals won’t eat. You can also take the opportunity to weed the garden and prepare it for tilling. If you are planning on expanding your garden this year, now is the time to start prepping the new ground by removing any large rocks or other unwanted obstacles. Once the ground has been prepped, till it at least twice to ensure good soil for the coming crop. Lastly, grate driveways that are worse for wear and trim trees around the house.
If you haven’t already started a compost pile over the winter, it isn’t too late. With proper rotation and ventilation, you can have a good amount of compost ready in a few weeks. You can build your own compost bin using old pallets or purchase a few plastic bins. Just remember to turn the pile to disperse the heat and circulate oxygen. Spring is also a good time to inspect your compost bin and add hay, straw, or any nitrogenous materials, such as plants and food scraps, as needed.
Some farm animals, like pigs, are great for churning over soil and adding some natural fertilizer to garden beds. When it comes to mixing your own soil, the rule of thumb is usually one part soil, two parts sand and compost, and three parts peat moss. You can mix in extras to balance the pH—like greensand, lime, rock phosphate, and crab meal. Once the mixture has been prepared, simply add it to your garden beds or raised gardens and till it in with the natural soil.
You want to get an early jump on starting seeds so that they’ll be ready to plant when the weather turns warmer. There are a variety of ways to start your seedlings, including indoors and outdoor cold frames. All you need to successfully grow seeds is a bit of soil and light. The hardest part is figuring out where to plant them once they’ve started shooting up.
Repair Garden Fencing
Gardening is a major undertaking for many homesteaders and keeping the critters out is key to a successful crop. Spring is a good time to access your current garden fences and repair or improve them. For a more effective fence, consider burying the fencing material at least six inches below the ground to prevent rabbits and moles from digging under. You can use a variety of materials for a fence, including woven chicken wire and recycled pallets.
With winter over and summer fast approaching, now is the time to organize all of your springtime tools. Not only will this help you access all your tools and determine which ones need repairing, but it will also save you the time it takes locating all those tools when you need them.
Build a Potting Station
A potting station can save you a lot of time and hassle this spring. You can use old pallets to construct a freestanding potting bench or attach one to an existing wall. Attach hooks to hang necessary potting equipment and make sure you add a few shelves for extra storage.
Cleaning the Chicken Coop
With the warmer weather approaching, now is a great time to clear out the chicken coop and prepare it for the summer. The coop should be cleared out and new straw laid down for the coming season. Once the coop is cleaned, apply some snake-a-way to help discourage unwanted critters from finding their way inside. Repeat the process for any other animal pens you have on your homestead.