Author Archives: Homesteader's Supply

Straw Bale Gardening – Photo blog

I notice that this time of year folks start thinking about the garden… I notice the hits on the previous straw bale gardening articles goes way up and also noticed that they are a little short on photographs of the process. In this blog I will document in words and photos the garden from 2010 where I planted in bales of straw.

I went up to the feed store and picked out 20 straw bales. I arranged them in the pattern you see below. Knowing now what I didn’t know then… I’d lay them down on their side instead of standing them up like I did. They become a bit top heavy with plants growing up and holding fruits.

Next, I began the composting process. The recipe I found online called for one cup of 30-0-0 Ammonium Phosphate per bale on day one and 1/4 cup of the same fertilizer each day for 9 more days, followed by a good soaking with the hose. I could NOT find Ammonium Phosphate at any garden store so I settled for Sodium Phosphate (21-0-0) and it did the job just fine. Notice how much darker the sides of the bales are after 10 days of cooking. The insides of the bales have broken down a bit and are soggy and warm.

I took a few of the bales and cut out V grooves in there or dirt and plants… this was completely unnecessary and just bound up my chainsaw… Using a claw gardening tool made a big enough hole for the plant and some added growing material (compost). Again, the pulling out of straw below isn’t needed, just a coffee can size hole where your plant will live or sprinkle seeds on top of the bale and cover with dirt and straw works fine too.

Below is where I added soil to the V shapes I cut out. After I planted in the bale, I covered with some of the loose straw and soaked well..

Now it’s finally taking form!!! See the happy pepper plants spreading out their roots in their new home!

As you’ll see in the photos below it was a very successful adventure. As I said above, if I do this again, I’d turn the bales on the side for added stability. You can see below that some of the bales aren’t doing so well with top heavy plants. The cucumbers were alone the fence in the back for climbing. Peas and green beans didn’t do well in this growing medium… they are nitrogen fixers and in an already nitrogen rich environment, I didn’t enjoy very many peas. Lettuce, cucumber, tomitillo, cilantro, carrots, tomatoes, peppers all did very well.

I hope you find this helpful in your decision on growing in straw bales. It does save the back… but I will admit to growing in the ground the following year… I had to do something with all that composted straw so I pulled all of the twine and tilled it right into the Arizona clay…

Happy Homesteading!!!!


Cookie has COOTIES!!!! ok… Lice… or Mites….

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged… time seems to skip a few beats when spring is arriving and so much needs done on the farm. One of those things gave me the idea for this blog… Cookie has COOTIES!!!! Actually, she has small bald dots on her face. I noticed it one day about a week ago and thought she was rubbing her cheek on the fence… she does that when she’s shedding really bad and it itches her. Then I noticed some bare patches behind her ear, though I thought still it could be scratching. Yesterday was when I began to suspect bugs… not because I saw bugs or saw eggs… but because she developed small bald dots where bald dots would be hard to get from scratching on a fence…. between her ribs! So, off to the feed store I went in search of Ivomec Eprinex pour on. Yes… we do carry it on the site, but we were waiting on stock to arrive and my girl had BUGS!!! So, I go to Olsen’s and they are out too!!! I know D.E. is the organic way to go… and I have a fifty pound bag… and I get that if applied every day for ten days that it should take care of the little critters… but COOKIE HAD BUGS!!!! (I’m not a big fan of eight legged critters that suck on blood) Needless to say, the lady at the store offers me Ivomec injection which I quickly point out to her explicitly states NOT TO USE ON DAIRY COWS! So I dug through the shelf until I found a powder that was safe for dairy cows and had zero milk withdrawal… main ingredient is D.E.! LOL (D.E. is diatomaceous earth which is a long way of saying ground up coral which is so fine it injures the bugs when ingested.) So, Cookie has been dusted and will be treated with the Ivomec Eprinex when it comes in next week. I’ll take new pictures once I figure out that the bugs are gone and the hair is growing back. Here’s to a less buggy spring!!! Keep your fingers crossed that the bugs are doomed!!

Happy Homesteading!!!

Homesteader’s Supply Pail Featured in Martha Stewart Magazine!!!

Jerri was sitting at her desk, feverishly typing… stacks of paperwork to the right and left when suddenly… the phone rang,

“Homesteader’s Supply, this is Jerri…” she said into the phone…

“Hi Jerri, I’d like to order a 9 quart stainless steel pail to feature in March issue of Marta Stewart Magazine. We’re doing a ‘spring cleaning basics kit’ and I think your pail will be perfect to use in this project.” The friendly voice replied…

Well, needless to say, Jerri completed the order and here we are several months later… and indeed our pail was featured on Page 27 of Martha Stewart Magazine March 2012 Issue!!! Notice the ‘103 ways to get ready for spring” on the cover… one of those ways is with a spring cleaning kit using our pail!

The pail is much more sturdy than most stainless steel pails on the market and won’t rust making it not only a great milking pail, but a great multipurpose pail. I personally have two twenty quart pails out in the garage that I use for ash buckets!!! (They were too heavy to carry milk up to the house in – I use the thirteen quart pail for milking good ol’ Cookie Cow!)

We just had to share this great news, so I if you subscribe to Marta Stewart Magazine or pick one up at the local magazine stand… check out Page 27 and see how functional a good pail can be!

Happy Homesteading!!!!

Real Women eat EMU Quiche!!!

Having a breeding pair of emu offers not only a bit of livestock guardianship… but also the blessing of six to ten eggs per year. Each egg is equal to approximately ten to twelve chicken eggs. Our emu laid an egg yesterday, so today we had a ONE EGG QUICHE!! Yes, in a 13 x 9 pan we used only ONE EGG! To say it was amazing, wonderful, delicious… well.. that’s an understatement!
Flaky pie crust was the foundation… then sauteed spinach, mushroom and half of a sweet onion… the addition of pork sausage crumbled, fried and drained… finally, some shredded cheese and the emu egg whipped with approximately one and a half cups of fresh milk… WOW!!!! We cut into it and not a bit of drainage in the pan… it cooked solid and the flavor was amazing… if you have access to emu eggs.. this is a must DO!!

Happy Homesteading!

The New Cheese Press by Homesteader’s Supply!

Pictures to be posted soon!!! Homesteader’s Supply is having a custom cheese press manufactured!!! For the past few months we’ve had issues getting cheese presses. We’d order them to fulfill orders from our customers and then we’d wait and wait and wait… in turn… our customers would wait and wait and wait… Finally, we decided to do something about it. We are working with a local woodworking wizard and he loved the project. We were given the prototype yesterday and will test the press this weekend. Once it meets our approval, we’ll go into production and have them available for sale!

I’ll post picture of the new press soon and then photos of the final product that will be manufactured here in Chino Valley, Arizona… USA MADE!!!!

Happy Homesteading!!!

More on the Pickle Pro

The exclusive Pickle-Pro Fermenting Lid that fits all wide mouth canning jars!

Now reap the benefits of preserving your food the natural way with our Pickle-Pro set up! Yes you can make Pickles and Sauerkraut, and that is just the start. Lacto-Ferment all your veggies and fruits into delicious foods which are better for your health. According to Sally Fallon of the Weston A Price Foundation, “The proliferation of lactobacilli in fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anti-carcinogenic substances. Their main by-product, lactic acid, not only keeps vegetables and fruits in a state of perfect preservation but also promotes the growth of healthy flora throughout the intestine.”

Our set up for Pickle-Pro, allows you to provide your own jars! They will fit any wide mouth quart or wide mouth half-gallon canning jars! We provide the lid with airlock and a rubber seal, you provide the glass jars and the ring to secure it to the jar. No muss no fuss… no broken jars in transit. And best of all, they will fit on all your wide-mouth canning jars! Now when your bounty is fermented, all you do is remove the Pickle-Pro set up, and seal your jar with a regular metal canning lid.

We’ve tried to make this as easy as possible. And to get you started we’ve included our recipe for Garlic Dill Pickles!

Remember, you can lacto-ferment with a salt brine, or whey, or with cheese cultures like our Abiasa Meso III.

And to learn more about lacto – fermentation, check out this great online class by Wardeh Harmen, learn from her by watching videos and receiving her instructions. We even provide the kit for her class, which includes our amazing Pickle-Pro Lids!

here is the link for Wardeh’s site…

Here is a tasty and easy fruit recipe you can eat by itself, use on cereal, or with yogurt:

Slice apples or pears and place in quart jar, top with Blackberries, blueberries or strawberries (even can be frozen fruit) Pour whey over the fruit, leaving 1 inch air space to the top. Seal jar with our Pickle-Pro Lid. Leave on counter for 3 days.