Monthly Archives: March 2014

Setting up for chickens

It’s spring and time to get busy on the flock of chickens. Is it time to start your first flock of layers? Or maybe some of your older hens need to be retired and replaced. Homesteader’s Supply has the equipment you need to get going or add to your equipment.

chick daysThe Small-Scale Poultry Flock


A little time spent reading before bringing your chicks or chickens home can save you some heartache and back break. We have books you’ll find to be helpful whether you’re just beginning or have been raising poultry for years. You’ll find all of them listed here.

Superbowl bucket feeder for poultry

Holds 50 lbs of food

The Superbowl bucket feeder holds up to 50 pounds of food, decreasing trips to the coop with more food. It’s easy to fill and can be hung up or placed on a base to discourage hens from scratching their food onto the floor.

Poultry can make a mess of their water quickly by stepping in it and throwing dirt in when they dust bathe and scratch. Suspend a bucket fitted with Poultry Nipples. There’s no pan needed because it doesn’t drip. It’s also excellent for ducklings that are prone to getting soaking wet (the way ducks do…) and cold.

Poultry Nipples

EZ-fit Chicken Coop 5ft X 8ft

EZ-fit Chicken Coop 5ft X 8ft

The EZ-fit Chicken coop will provide a safe, secure place for your poultry. It’s available in three sizes. Shipping is free to the lower 48 states!

The optional skids make moving your hen house to fresh grass easier. The skids don’t get stuck in ruts as easily as a tire will. They’re also a good way to keep the coop off off the ground. Hens bring mud into the coop on their feet. A ramp helps remove some of the mud, helping to keep not just the coop but the eggs cleaner.

The nest boxes are located on the outside of the coop for easy pick up and nest box cleaning. Other features include:

  • Chicken Door & Ramp
  • Inside Roost
  • Predator-resistant Wire Mesh
  • Man Door
  • Window(s)
  • Standard window color is white
  • 25-Year 3-Tab Shingles
Egg basket

Egg basket

Our egg basket is coated with plastic to help keep it clean, and make the clean up it will eventually need easier.

Dimensions: 14″ top diameter x 9″H x 10″ bottom diameter.

You can see our entire line of poultry supplies on our website.

Homestead Happening: Seedlings

Something’s always happening on a homestead. Homesteader’s Supply wants to share your life. No homestead is too big or small to share what’s happening with us. Let’s make this a Friday tradition.

Share a photo on your blog of something that happened on your homestead this week. Copy this into the top of the blog to join in. Leave a link to your blog in the comments below and we’ll visit to see your Homestead Happening.

Tomato seedlings under the grow lights.

Tomato seedlings under the grow lights.

Getting Started with Container Gardening

Our food supply becomes a little less stable and more expensive each day because of drought and flooding, transportation costs and world issues. Everyone can grow at least a little bit of their own food. It’s simple to do, doesn’t cost a lot of money, takes little time, and can take up little space. Let’s get started.

Containers can be small clay pots, large wooden planters, plastic saved from your kitchen, and everything in between. Short term, we like to start with recycled containers. Any plastic container you can poke drainage holes in should work.

Container Gardening, salad container

Salad container used for leaf lettuce.

This is a container from mixed greens purchased in the grocery store. A few inches of seed starting medium mixed with a cup of worm castings is all it takes to support this cut-and-come-again salad mix. Notice the tomato seedling in the left corner? It will be transplanted into its own pot.

Container Gardening, Coral Shell Pea

Coral Shell Pea

This is a Coral shell pea. It’s a small plant that with vines only two feet long, perfect for a six inch clay pot. It will stand up straight until it’s seven or eight inches tall then lean over and hang over the edge. Choose a short vine variety for small containers.

Do you have extra coffee mugs cluttering your cupboard? As long as you avoid over watering or can drill a hole through the bottom they make great containers. This mug holds store bought celery. It will develop roots and continue to grow.

Container Gardening, Coffee Mug

This coffee mug holds celery.

Transplant seedlings into containers with the same guidelines as if you were planting them into the garden. Each plant must have enough room for its roots to spread. The container should be heavy enough with soil and plants to keep it from tipping over if you move it outside.

Look in your seed catalogs for a note or other indication marking varieties suitable for containers. It’s become such a popular way to grow vegetables now that many companies point these out to us. These are some of our favorites:

  • Cucumber – Salad Bush, Space Master. Two plants per one gallon container. Look for words like Bush and Space in their name.
  • Bush Beans – Tendercrop, Derby. Three plants per one gallon container.
  • Tomatoes – Determinate varieties stop growing when they reach their maximum height. A five gallon container will hold one tomato plant. Super Bush is an excellent choice. It maxes out at three feet tall, is very frost hardy, and has three inch tomatoes. The stem is dense and keeps the plant upright with little or no staking. Tomatoes love the additional warmth containers offer.
  • Peppers – Probably the least picky plants we’ve grown in containers. Provide a minimum of a two gallon container. Pepper plants have large roots when they have enough roots and might be more than four feet tall in good soil. Jalepeno and Ace bell varieties do very well.
  • Swiss chard – Peppermint and Bright Lights are tasty and attractive. Two plants fit well in a one gallon container. You can choose a container that is wider than it is deep. Avoid over heating these cool weather plants.
  • Tatsoi and Boc Choi do well in containers. Choose a “baby” variety of Boc Choi such as Purple or Shuko. You can combine tatsoi and boc choi together in one container to add a variety of color and make the container attractive. Avoid over heating.
  • Cabbage – Little Jade or other Napa varieties do well in container gardens. Be sure to place them toward the back or in a partly shady area so their roots don’t over heat.
  • Zucchini – who knew! Astia zucchini has performed well in an 18″ container every year for us. Hand pollinating is recommended for good production.
  • Leaf Lettuce does well in containers. For variety, choose different colors and leaf textures. Leaf lettuce can be cut and left to grow again for another harvest. Salad Bowl, Red Sails, and Black Seeded Simpson do well with container gardening.
Leaf lettuce in a hanging basket

Leaf lettuce in a hanging basket

Container gardening outdoors requires some attention. Soil can dry out quickly in the heat and wind, or become flooded in heavy rain. Check them now and then to be sure roots haven’t grown out of or soil hasn’t blocked drainage holes.

Use a soilless mix or part soil mix for your containers. Avoid using 100% garden soil as it will compact over time, blocking good drainage and make it difficult for roots to spread. Your garden center will be able to show you what they offer and explain which brand might be best for your particular containers. It will contain vermiculite or perlite, and have a fertilizer such as composted cow manure in its mix. If you live in a hot and/or windy area you’ll want a mix with soil because it retains moisture better than soilless mixes.

Pole beans in a container garden

Pole beans need a trellis to attach themselves to.

Carrots are a great vegetable for kids. Seeds placed around the outer edge of the container will be able to be seen before they reach maturity and are pulled. Choose a container at least 12 inches deep, or grow a miniature variety.

You can avoid poor soil and space issues and still grow a lot of food by grouping containers together. Keep like plants together, such as tomatoes or peppers, to aid in pollination. Place containers wherever you have room. They don’t have all have to be together. Is there room for pots at the base of your mailbox? How about on your steps?

Do you have questions? Suggestions? Something to add? Comments are open!


Cool Weather Gardening

What a winter. It seems like it might never end in many areas. It’s nice to day dream about cool weather gardening while the garden is still covered in snow and weeks away from thawing.

Cool Weather Gardening

Homesteader Supply has a long list of cool weather gardening seeds. You can wait until the ground is ready to plant, and you can start some of your seeds indoors to get a jump start on the growing season. Seeds started six to eight weeks before the soil is ready for transplants gives you plenty of time for germination, transplanting into containers, and growth. You want your seedlings to be well developed without being root bound. Transplant shock is minimized when the roots aren’t too heavily disturbed.

Detroit Dark Red Beet, cool weather gardening

Beets are a good choice for cool weather gardening.

Beets can be seeded a few weeks before your average last frost date. There are multiple seeds in each cluster so be sure to plant them at least two inches apart, and be ready to thin when the time comes.

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Pac Choi, kale, lettuce, peas, radishes, spinach and turnip are cool weather plants. If a seed package says “sow as soon as the ground can be worked,” take that to heart. The ground can be worked when you squeeze a fistful of soil and it crumbles when you let go. If water drips from the soil or it forms a mud ball rather than crumbling it needs a bit more time to drain. Planting in soil that’s too wet can cause a loss of seeds by rotting in the cold soil, and by crusting. If the soil crusts as it dries the cotyledons will have a hard time breaking through. Better to wait a bit longer than lose seeds and have to replant.

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, Pac Choi and kale are great seeds to start indoors to have ready for transplanting. Cauliflower isn’t quite as cold hardy as the others in this list and should be started indoors for early spring transplanting. Start cauliflower seeds two to three weeks later than the others to give the ground more time to warm. When plants are stressed by cold or heat the heads might take on a pink to purple tinge.

Snow Crown cauliflower seedling, cool weather gardening

Snow Crown cauliflower seedling

Cool weather plants don’t have to be grown only in cool weather. When your peas are spent you can toss the plants into a compost bin, amend the soil, and plant again. You’ll want to time this so that plants blossom after the hottest part of summer. Most cool hardy plants won’t be affected by a light frost, and for some, like peas, a day under the late fall snow will be just fine.