A look back on our 2019 resolutions — and ahead to 2020
Hello Homestead’s staff writers started 2019 with optimistic homesteading resolutions enthusiastically hoping to achieve their goals. Did they?
Sarah Walker Caron
editor of Hello Homestead and blogger at Sarah’s Cucina Bella
2019 resolution: “Among my resolutions is to make our food gardens as close to zero waste as we can. We’ll be planting with storing food for winter in mind, and focusing heavily on how to use as much of our plants as we can — such as making chimichurri and pesto with carrot tops to freeze for winter, fermenting excess vegetables, transforming beet greens into canned bruschetta and composting anything we don’t want to consume (spiky radish greens, for instance, are not my favorite), in addition to eating them fresh (carrot tops and beet greens in salads are delicious).”
2019 reflection: It was a delicious and productive year! Our freezer contains string beans, peas, tomatoes and herbs from our garden. There’s also marinara (using tomatoes from the garden) and pesto as well. It’s been so wonderful to eat through it all. However, our beet greens never became bruschetta and some of our crops weren’t really that successful. Cabbage and broccoli, in particular, were pretty disappointing. Still, we did pretty well. In terms of food waste, nearly all of our carrot tops and radish greens were either transformed into sauces or composted.
2020 resolution: We will continue growing as much of our own food as we can in our four raised garden beds. But in 2020, we’ll focus more on variety for those boxes to ensure we have both produce to put up and produce to eat right away. Beyond the garden, I want to work on cutting back our waste. We already use reusable bags at the grocery store but we need to be more consistent with our reusable produce bags. We’ve already traded plastic sandwich bags for reusable cloth ones, but we could be more consistent with ensuring that leftovers get used or frozen for later. Little steps like that will help us continue to waste less.
staff writer for Hello Homestead and Sam Tries Things columnist
2019 resolution: “My new apartment is blessed with not one, not two, but three south-facing windows. My New Year’s resolution is to take advantage of all that natural light and do more indoor gardening. I cook a lot, so I am especially interested in expanding my windowsill herb garden (and, perhaps, finally taming a finicky basil plant). I’m even considering experimenting with hydroponics … we’ll see!”
2019 reflection: In my new-to-Maine naivete, I didn’t realize that no matter how wonderful your view of the south-facing sun is, the limited winter light may still spell doom for indoor plants. Every attempt I made at a windowsill herb garden (or windowsill scallion scraps garden) eventually perished due to lack of light, lack of space or both. A grow light may have helped, but I took one look at my winter electric bill and knew that would not work with my budget; same goes for any dream I had of setting up a DIY hydroponic apparatus. Still, I managed to start seedlings indoors for the first time (though it was touch and go for a while given their lack of light-induced legginess) and successfully transplant them outside for an amazing growing season filled with cherry tomatoes, hot peppers, edible flowers and more.
2020 resolution: I spent a lot of time this past year researching and writing about food waste. One topic always seems to come up again and again when it comes to reducing our collective carbon food-print is composting. I still don’t compost in my apartment, but I am definitely compost-curious (I confessed in my Sam Tries Things introductory column that past attempts had almost gotten me evicted). I have all the materials to set up an indoor compost bin, but I haven’t yet taken the plunge. My 2020 resolution is to do so, and experiment with my homemade compost in my garden.
staff writer for Hello Homestead and blogger at Travels with Chiclet
2019 resolution: “I am setting a personal goal of doing something physical every day and not worrying about times, distance or duration. Just having fun! I also intend to work harder in reducing my contributions to the waste stream. I want to pay more attention to excess packaging, needless bags when shopping and recycling.”
2019 reflection: I started out pretty well with being active. Snowshoeing in the winter and then bicycling in the summer. The cycling was helped with the purchase of a shiny new bicycle that is suited for riding on both pavement and gravel. It was also a reminder that I am no longer 20-years-old or bulletproof (thanks to my careening through a deep washout on a dirt road on the new bike and hitting the ground so hard I partially dislocated my shoulder). Wrapping up the year, I broke a toe Christmas morning — sadly it was done not rocking around the Christmas tree, but walking around my woodstove hearth.
I paid careful attention to packaging waste and food waste in 2019. I moved my long-ignored outdoor composter to a more convenient location and got a countertop bin to collect food scraps for compost. I also purchased reusable produce net bags, remembered to bring my own shopping bags into the store and purchase in bulk when possible. By doing so I have made a real dent in what ultimately gets tossed into the waste stream here on Rusty Metal Farm.
2020 resolution: I am committed to supporting local food production and want to carry that commitment further in 2020. Currently, my freezer is stocked with beef, pork, chicken and fish that was raised or caught within 25 miles of Rusty Metal Farm. And of course, there are the Rusty Metal Farm fresh eggs. I would like this year to experiment with using locally grown grains to make bread and pasta and attempt some sort of vegetable garden — even a simple one using pallets.
I also resolve to be injury-free.
former staff writer for Hello Homestead and editor of Act Out
2019 resolution: “This year, I’m going to stop making the excuse that my property is too rocky and shady, and I’m going to work to expand my gardens and introduce a greater variety of native plants to my property. I’d also like to inoculate some logs to grow mushrooms. While some of the plants we grow will be for our own use and consumption, I plan for much of it to be for local wildlife. For example, I’d like to plant a variety of bushes that shelter and feed birds, and I’d like to dedicate at least part of our yard to pollinators and ground-nesting birds by spreading a variety of wildflower seeds and allowing it to grow throughout the spring and well into summer.”
2019 reflection: I thought that I completely dropped the ball on the 2019 resolution, but looking back, I did partially accomplish some of my goals. In the spring, I planted raspberry and blackberry plants in a corner of my property where someday I hope to have a healthy berry patch for people and animals to enjoy. I also planted some lupines, catnip, mint and bee balm — all perennials that like to spread and go wild. And until about mid-summer, we allowed our back lawn to grow tall, offering shelter for ground-nesting birds and wildflower blossoms for pollinators.
Nevertheless, I still have a way to go before my property is the haven for animals that I want it to be. This year I learned that introducing new plants onto a landscape can be expensive and challenging. I couldn’t purchase and plant everything I wanted, but I could take small steps in the right direction. As summer came to a close, I left dying flowers alone instead of tidying up the garden, which gave the birds time to harvest the seeds. As it turns out, when making a wildlife-friendly yard, sometimes the best thing to do is nothing at all. No pesticides. No mowing. No raking. No uprooting “weeds” that are native plants. I think I’m headed in the right direction.
2020 resolution: I know it’s kind of lame to have the same resolution two years in a row, but I think everyone’s been there. Sometimes resolutions need to span several years — a lifetime, even — before they really make a difference. So in 2020, I want to continue my mission to improve my property for wildlife — and not just the charismatic megafauna. No no. It’s really all about the bugs. Without insects, good luck attracting anything else to your yard.
Why is this resolution so important to me? Well, selfishly, I love wildlife. Bats, birds, beetles, moths. I find joy in observing them and photographing them. The more creatures I have around me, the more at home I feel. But I also care about these things — natural diversity and the health of our planet. And if I want to make a difference, it makes sense to start right at home, on my little plot of land in the Maine woods.