Homestead Day

picking-pumpkinsLast Sunday, we had a homestead day. We started by clearing the kitchen garden, ready for the winter.

We have been unbelievably successful in this area. A couple of years ago, the children helped me move numerous wheelbarrows of manure, until the whole plot was covered in about a foot of the brown stuff or more.

teamworkI covered it up in sheeting and let the worms do their job. Wonderful underground farmers. This year we followed the three sister method of planting: sweetcorn, pumpkin and beans planted close together. They work as companion plants.

children gardening - weeding the kitchen garden bean polesAlthough, I shied away from using the sweetcorns as poles.

sweetcorn growing

The pumpkins soon wove their way through the sweetcorn and I seriously wondered if the corns would be fertilised, as the pumpkin leaves started to move skywards and block the cob’s silks.


I really didn’t need to worry. Nature knows best. It was the most successful year yet. We planted about 25 plants in the end, I think. Each plant produced one or two cobs that were as near to perfect as they could be. The children loved eating them. I still have some in the fridge.

big-pumpkinThe runner beans were bountiful. In fact I lost the battle to pick them in time, as I really couldn’t keep up. I saved a clutch of pods to use the seeds for next year.

Finally the pumpkins. We’ve grown pumpkins before. They’ve grown big enough to carve and make into soup. This year, we grew more and they are bigger. We have three big ones and two smaller ones that survived. More than enough.


We brought the small pair in, but the others will wait until the frost kills the leaves.

After we planted up the area in the spring, we only watered until the plants had settled in. Then we left them to grow. Weeding when needed. The manure and leaf cover kept the moisture in.

sunflower-headsAnd the cherry on the top, is that the birds have been busy spreading sunflower seeds around the garden. Two germinated among the pumpkins. Away from my hoe. They grew tall and produced the biggest seed heads I’ve ever seen in our garden. These are now added to our other harvested sunflowers. The idea is to bring out one for each of the cold months for the birds. They’ll go out on the table for our feathered friends to peck. I think these two will be December and January.


All the time, the children help me. We talk about the planting scheme, but the best way to learn is to do. They know the importance of looking after the soil. They enjoy eating the food brought in from the garden. I really don’t think I could have planted as big an area as we did and look after it without their help. Their weeding techniques are improving. They really are involved the whole way through. I’m pretty sure that they will grow up knowing how to grow plants and respect the world around them.

apple-faceMy favourite moment from this week was when Middle One picked an apple off the tree and raced around to show me. Can you see it? Can you see the face? Now you would never find one in the shops like this one. Another good reason to grow our own.

Who knows what we could achieve next year?

 Country Kids


    1. No, the manure is mature. It didn’t smell, but still at the stage that it was loose and easy to move. Even the dogs weren’t particularly interested in it.

  1. I am so impressed with all you have grown. We struggle to get beyond herbs and tomatoes with the odd cucumber. I have failed for 2 years with corn on the cob, yet this is the kids favourite. There must be something I’m doing very wrong. Perhaps I should introduce some pumpkins in between? Enjoy your autumn bounty, it looks like a lovely way to spend an autumn day preparing your land again for another season.

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

    1. I can recommend the three sister approach. I think the aged manure really helped too. We always plant in a square formation as it maximizes pollination. Also not too close to each other. Maybe third time lucky?

  2. Oh wow, this is such an inspiring and wonderful blog post to read! Congratulations on all the hard work and bountiful harvest. I adore the comment from your daughter about the apple’s ‘face’ not being something you’d find in the supermarket. I also love the idea of keeping the sunflower heads to put out for the birds over winter.

    1. Oh, thank you, Sarah. This time of year makes it worth the work. I’m glad my children still want to join in. (I don’t tell them any different!)

  3. Fantastic efforts! Our neighbouring sheep farmer lets me have manure whenever I want it so very grateful of that. At one end of my main patch I am growing courgettes and coudn’t think what to put in the space next to them with the peas in front and I think I may plant a couple of pumpkins, might be just enough room. Love that the young ones like to help – mine are ok once I get them outside! We grew 9 sweetcorn plants and had probably half a dozen cobs off it, not many but delish. It looks as if you have a lovely big garden.

    1. Ha! You sound like you understand the joy of manure, like me! We are so lucky to have a local horse man that delivers the manure free to my neighbour, who then puts up with my family descending on his garden to collect some of it. Very blessed. Pumpkins spread and weave in and out of other plants, so they need more room than courgettes, but are good at sharing the space. I started with a few sweetcorn one year and now plant between 25 to 40. Wouldn’t miss them out of my planning.

    1. I ask the children each year for a list of the plants we should grow. Sweetcorn and pumpkins are always on it. Courgettes are banned!

  4. I have serious garden-envy now. I love the look of your garden and the way everyone is helping out. Would love to be able to have that too and especially grow our own veggies. #countrykids

    1. I have to fight for the area. Used to have a bigger plot. My husband would happily grass it over. Much easier to mow, but he does change his mind at this time of year.

    1. Thank you, Michelle. I was hoping to have a sunflower head out for each month, but managed enough for the colder ones, so I’m pleased. Next year, I’ll try again. 🙂

  5. This is incredible. I love the fact you have grown your own pumpkin, this is inspiration for me for next year. I managed to grow a few parsnips this year and my broad beans all went black on the outside – but I kept the seeds like you.

    Coming along from #CountryKids…

    1. Definitely recommend growing your own pumpkins. I have images of walking through Hagrid’s garden, whenever I go to that part of our patch. Not quite as successful, but enough pumpkins for us. I’m hit and miss with parsnips, but you are right, there is always next year.

  6. Wow, such an amazing haul. I really miss having a nice garden to grow food and thats why I insist on taking my girl to the pumpkin fields each year #CountryKids

    1. I’m sure your girl is going to hold on to these childhood memories and experiences. It’s a lovely idea to take her to the PYO each year.

  7. Wow, that’s quite a bounty. Impressive. I’m not a gardener at all, and the OH isn’t interested at all. I was hoping N would be interested in his Gramps’ garden and learn about gardening from him, but apart from cutting the grass, he’s not fussed either #countrykids

  8. This post took me back to our allotment days, I still miss the allotment so much. As for the apple, when I was young all fruit and veg came in all shapes and sizes. Lettuce complete with a few slugs was the norm and spuds with mud on. Lovely post thankyou

  9. What a beautiful plot you have to share as a family. We have an allotment & love spending time there. So important for children to learn about growing food. Lovely post & I’m jealous of your pumpkins, the slugs got ours!! #countrykids

    1. Only problem with growing your own sweetcorn is that the children won’t eat shop bought ones during the rest of the year. They even question if they really are sweetcorn.

  10. Wow you really have had a bumper crop – this makes me hungry just looking at it, so many lovely vegetables! I love that your children are so helpful and are such a big part of this. It is such a perfect family project/activity! Enjoy the pumpkins! #CountryKids

    1. The children love to get involved. In fact, if it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I’d get started each year. They motivate me each spring.

    1. Don’t give up on pumpkins. I’ve had some years where I’ve got it wrong and no fruit. I think the manure and space was the key this year.

    1. I can’t imagine an autumn without produce from the garden and storing it away for winter treats. I must have been a squirrel in a former life.

  11. How lovely to grow and harvest your own fruit and veg – I never knew that corn, beans and pumpkins work well when planted together. I love that your children are so involved in helping to prepare, plant and harvest everything. Love the face in the apple – definitely not something you would find in the shops! 🙂 #countrykids

    1. I try not to force anyone to help. Only willing help. I think that’s why they still come out and join me. The apple is funny. Still sitting on the table in the kitchen, but I’m going to have to face (pun intended!) up to using it eventually.

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