Since starting our own journey in country living, I’ve realized that there are lots of people following a similar path, but each of us are doing it in our own way. Gardening, animals, permaculture, homesteading–everybody tackles things slightly differently.
There is a lot of information online or in books to help you learn how to do things and what works for you. However, sometimes it’s really nice to talk to people in person and learn from their experience first hand. Sarah in Illinois has found a group of like-minded family and friends who are doing just that.
Last fall a few family members and friends decided to start a small group with the common interest in gardening and homesteading. We had a very informal “meeting” where a few people shared areas that they had interest and knowledge in.
We discussed that when selecting a seed you may see words like open-pollinated, heirloom, hybrid, organic or non-GMO and what those words mean. We learned that if you plan to save some seeds from the crop that you plant this year, you must select an heirloom variety. A couple people brought extra seed catalogs that they had, and we talked about the suppliers that we have had good luck from in the past.
We talked about composting and that it is important to get a good mix of “green” and “brown” ingredients. We also looked over a list of things that you should never add to a compost pile such as meat, bones, pet waste, fats and dairy.
Another cousin brought up the topic of what you should plant and how much. She suggested making a list of, on average, what your family actually eats in a year. Then you can use this list to decide what you will use and also not overplant so that you don’t waste food.
She also gave us a list of books that she has used that she thought may be of interest (not affiliate links):
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
- Joy of Gardening by Dick Raymond
- The Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing
- She also recommended googling Joel Salatin
We ended the evening with a short demonstration on how to make your own yogurt, and a friend brought some for us to sample.
We joke that we are kind of nerdy, but when it is a topic that you are truly interested in, I don’t think you can get too much information.
Then we created a private Facebook group where we could share tips, pictures, successes and failures.
This week someone took a video tour of their garden, and we were all so excited to see it that several of us made tours of our own gardens. We all live in about a 30 mile radius, but this allowed everyone to view the gardens when they had time and it was very convenient.
It was so interesting to see the different crops, different sizes of gardens, different methods for weed control and really just about every aspect of gardening and small farm animal production. (My cousin has 11 goats!)
My tour ended up being 21 minutes long. I toured the fruit trees, the garden, the grape vines, my chickens, my compost pile and my herb garden. And I also rambled quite a bit.
I am going to put a few short clips on my Instagram so that you can view them.
As much as I have learned from my parents and in-laws on gardening, I feel like I have so much more to learn. But each year I have a better understanding, better results and a deeper love of growing my own.
Do you belong to a formal or informal gardening group? What areas of gardening do you want to learn about? Have you ever made a garden tour video?
If you’re nerdy, Sarah, I’m right there with you. This sounds like a really inspiring group to be part of. Country living is a constant learning experience, in my opinion. It’s great that your family and friends have come together in this was to share their experiences.