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Gardening Archives | My Favorite Homestead
Christmas Gifts for Gardeners and Homesteaders

Christmas Gifts for Gardeners and Homesteaders

The Best Christmas Gifts for Gardeners or Homesteaders

Ever wonder what Christmas gift to get for the avid gardener or homesteader in your life? These ideas will help you get the best gifts for gardeners and homesteaders!

My husband is hard to buy for sometimes and, being an amazing gardener, he absolutely loves any practical gifts I give him for improving his life on our small homestead. Here are some of the gifts I gave him that he loved! Weedeater, leaf blower, rubber boots, leather work boots, etc. See below for more details.  I’ve gotten some awesome Christmas gifts that I love that are super helpful in the garden. After all men and women both garden and homestead!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link. Please see my disclosure for more details.


Practical Gifts for Gardeners and Homesteaders

  • So you know your gardener or homesteader would prefer a practical gift but just don’t know what actually is practical? Practical varies from person to person, but basically something they can use to make their life easier.
  • Some people just make a little basket with some gloves, a spade, and seed packets.  While this is a great gift, I hope to give you some “outside the basket” ideas in all price ranges that make for practical gifts


So Here’s the List of Great Christmas Gift Ideas for Gardeners and Homesteaders

1. Leather Boots

Leather boots are a great choice for men and women who spend a lot of time working outdoors. Or you could get them just a really nice pair to wear for special occasions!

My son loves these!

2. Rubber Boots

My husband got me these insulated pair of rubber boots one year for Christmas and it is one of the BEST gifts ever! I never knew how much cold I could stand as long as me feet were warm and dry. Although these are the ones he got me, these are the ones I got him! Check it out here!

3. Insulated Socks

I know everyone laughs about giving someone socks for Christmas, but I gave a pair to someone and 3 years later they are still talking about these socks and how great they are!

4. Weedeater

This is an expensive gift and my husband only will use a Stihl weedeater, but my brother-in-law gave my husband’s mom a lightweight lithium battery weedeater like this one and she absolutely loved it!

5. Leaf Blower

Even if you don’t have many leaves, a blower is great for blowing grass and debris off of walkways!

6. Shop Vac

A shop vac or wet/dry vac is so useful for many things, especially cleaning up the mess in the garage when a project is being made.

7. Pressure Canner

If you can you already know the value of this awesome tool! A newbie in your life just starting to garden? Get them a pressure canner to preserve those garden goodies. Check out this post all about pressure canners.

8. Water Bath Canner

Next to a pressure canner is a water bath canner, great for making all those yummy homemade jams and jellies!

9. Canning Set

This is one thing I CANNOT live without! I lived without it for several years and once I finally got it for such a reasonable price I can’t believe I took so long!

10. Electric Juicer

This is not a necessary item for just juicing, but it is a HUGE time save when making tomato juice or blackberry juice. For years we used a manual hand-crank juicer and it was still better than my mom’s method of a wooden paddle, mesh strainer and cheesecloth. But nothing compares to the electric juicer. This is the one I have and use.

11. Garden Cart

I don’t have one of these yet but my mom does and is so handy in the garden. This is on my list this year! hint hint

12. Coveralls

My hubby always has coveralls and one year he got me a pair for Christmas. Another one of my favorite gifts. So handy for going out in the weather to feed chickens and dogs. Not to mention playing in the snow.

13. Heavy Work Coat

Everyone needs a heavy work coat if you live in a colder climate. Unfortunately, I’m not able to live a in a 70 degree year round climate although I would love to. Maybe one of these years. Anyway, this is my heavy coat and it is so warm and durable!

14. Shovel

Forever we just had one shovel and then my boys got old enough to be able to use one so we invested in a couple more like these.

15. Rake

Every gardener needs a rake for leveling out soil and raking up debris.

16. Loppers

This is another one of those items we only had one of but we have a couple hundred trees that the grass needs cut around that you can’t do with the mower or weedeater. Now we have 4 and they come in handy.

17. Wheelbarrow

I only have a 3 wheel wheelbarrow but I’ve heard that some people prefer the 4 wheel one.

18. Leaf Rake

If you have trees, you definitely need a leaf rake!

19. Small Spade or Trowel

We use a small spade a lot for smaller plants and for transplanting. Or a small trowelBoth of these are great!

20. Insulated Thermos

I love the insulated mugs and cups to keep my coffee hot and my water cold. You could even have them personalized with cute sayings for gardeners.

21. Watering Can

Seems like my watering can always gets abused and breaks for some reason. I’m always in need of a new one and bonus if they’re pretty!

22. Hoe

While a tiller is awesome, a hoe can get a lot closer to the plants to get the weeds out.

23. Tiller

A tiller is a must have at our place. This is an expensive gift, but ours has lasted 20 years so far. This is the brand we’ve used and used!

24. Gas-powered post-hole digger

Again an expensive gift so do your research. I couldn’t find the exact one we have. If you have to put up a fence or even plant some large trees, this tool will help you get it done a whole lot faster and easier than the manual one.

25. Manual post-hole digger

For smaller jobs or if you don’t have or know how to use a gas-powered post-hole digger, this one’s for you! Free workout included lol.

26. Chainsaw

My hubby only uses a Stihl. They are more expensive but are so much more durable than the cheaper ones we’ve used. A chainsaw is a must as we have a wood stove to help offset our heating costs.

27. Chainsaw Blades

Get the proper ones for whatever chainsaw you have. If you cut a lot of wood, you can always use another set.

28. Chainsaw blade sharpener

Again, if you cut a lot of wood you might as well sharpen your own blades. This is a unique gift for a homesteader!

29. Small Pruners

This set of small clippers are great for pruning your plants.

30. Leather Gloves

A nice pair of leather work gloves makes a great gift for gardeners to manage those pesky thorns on roses, blackberries, etc.

Hope you enjoyed this list of Christmas gift ideas for gardeners and homesteaders

If you enjoyed and would like to give your gardener or homesteader one of these gifts, I would greatly appreciate you using my Amazon affiliate links to purchase at no additional cost to you! I truly only recommend things that have worked well for me and my family!

To Prune or Not to Prune That is the Question

To Prune or Not to Prune That is the Question

Prune or not to prune: that is the question. Should you prune your peppers and tomato plants? Does it give a larger yield? Well I’ll answer the question for you in this post written by my amazing hubby!

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase using this link.

My Previous Experience Gardening

Since I was a young boy, my family has always grown a garden. We owned a village lot behind our house that we used for a garden, or truck patch, in the mid-1970s. We just planted it for basic Midwest canning or freezing foods, that I recall, for the winter.

Not to get off the subject much, but our garden was HUGE. A regular lot for a house and yard…only there was no house. My younger brother and I tilled that piece of ground every year with a 5 HP chain Dr. Husky front tine tiller. By the way, I’ve got the tiller now. Brings back a lot of memories that I hated then but cherish now.

Usually, every other year, we cleaned out somebody’s horse and mule barn to put all natural fertilizer on the patch. The most truckloads of manure hauled in one day that I can remember was five. All that was done by pitchfork! By the time me and my brother cleaned that manure packed barn down to the dirt, the ole mules thought they had shrunk a foot.

A few times my stepdad just spread 12-12-12 fertilizer over it and tilled it in. As I said before, usually just the basics plants like green beans, corn, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and potatoes. The only real herb that I can recall that my mother wanted planted was dill for canning pickles.

How to Plant a Garden

There was never any special way of planting anything, that I remember, other than digging a hole for a tomato plant or stuffing an onion bulb in the ground about an inch. We hilled our potatoes and my stepdad bought a little manual push planter for green beans and corn. At that point in time, I really didn’t give a rip. I just wanted to get my job done and go do something with the neighbor boys that evening.

Keeping Out Weeds

Really, all in all, that part wasn’t the hardest part of gardening like you would think. The hardest part at that time for keeping a productive garden, and to this day, is keeping the weeds and insects out. All these plastic rolls and environmentally sound material for controlling the weeds around your plants at the time were unheard of.

We manually pulled the weeds from around the plants and hoed whatever you could. Straw was the only thing we used and that was around the potatoes. Why we didn’t use it around everything else I don’t know, but at the time I didn’t care.

Enjoying the Fruits of our Non-pruned Plants

We did so much enjoy though the reaping of our labor later. Just like life folks it’s hard sometimes but eventually it pays off for you. Years later after I left the nest, got married and had two boys, I fell in love with it.

Apparently, something I used to hate but was always in my blood, the smell of fresh turned up dirt. I’ve been around farmers and farms all my life, and if you know what I’m talking about there’s nothing like smelling a freshly disked up field or the inside of an old grain truck. It’s in your blood or it ain’t I guess. And eventually comes back to you.

Learning to Prune Tomatoes and Peppers

Well, in the last two years they finally took away my landline phone, and I had to get one of those smart phones. Yes it was a sad day, all my buddies now in their 50s almost had a heart attack! I was now in the whatever century it is.

So being one of those geniuses now, that I am, I discovered YouTube. YouTube, well I guess I can say, it can be entertaining and educational and, Lord have mercy, everything on it I reckon you can imagine.

Well, after looking up old Jerry Lee Lewis film and cooking videos, I looked up healthy plants for tomatoes. I’ve always planted the garden the old way as usual, still pulling weeds and using a little (affiliate link) Sevin dust if I have to.

My First Experience Pruning

I got onto a pruning channel on YouTube which, like always, there’s a bunch of them, like every other thing. I studied them a little and got some advice from more than just one site.

Never in my life had I pruned a tomato plant or a bell pepper plant. I learned where the suckers are on the tomatoes and where to prune on the bell peppers also.


This year of 2019, I had 70 bell peppers, 16 tomato plants, along with the same amount of jalapeño peppers that I pruned just to try it. The final result one by one I observed was bell peppers usually are about 3 foot high here in Southern Illinois, the production was no more, the time taken was quite a bit, and you had to bend over about two feet more to pick them.

The tomatoes didn’t seem to produce anymore but maybe got taller. Pretty well the same results with the jalapeños. If I were to trim anything, in my personal opinion, would be the leaves of the tomatoes touching the ground.

Natural Fertilizer

Far as fertilizing, folks, especially tomatoes, if you have access to turkey or chicken manure, put it on your ground after fall harvest and till it in. I have an abundant supply around here but here is a warning: like I said after fall harvest because it is a hot fertilizer and will burn your plants up probably if applied in the spring.

One more warning, if you have close neighbors while applying turkey manure you could have trouble! The smell is very pungent but is a fantastic fertilizer for maters.

Final Thoughts on Whether to Prune or Not to Prune

So to answer the original question I can only give you the answer for me and my set-up, final answer Not to Prune!

7 Steps to Propagate Tame Blackberries

7 Steps to Propagate Tame Blackberries

7 Steps to Propagate Tame Blackberries

We grow tame or thornless blackberries and can make some extra money from them. Well, did you know that you can propagate these blackberries to basically double your crop? Here are the steps we took to propagate these blackberries.

Step 1

Backing up, blackberries (tame or wild) spread by once a long stem touches the ground, and gets in contact with the soil it roots and then starts a new plant.

The first thing to do is find where a new plant has started from the old one. You will see one of the stems from the old plant touching the ground and then usually a single long stem is coming up from the ground.

Step 2

From the old plant clip off the stem close to the ground. You should have just the new stem left of the new plant.

Step 3

Dig up the new plant left in the ground. Be sure to leave a pretty good sized root ball intact.

Step 4

Dig a new hole a little larger than the one you just dug up. Add any soil amendments.

Step 5

Plant the new plant in the hole and backfill making sure their are no air pockets.

Step 6

Water well, add root stimulator according to the directions, and mulch. (We use straw)

Step 7

(optional but will make your life a lot easier when it comes to harvesting)

Make a trellis out of two by fours and wire for the blackberries to climb on.

That’s All

You did it! If you’re like us, you were able to just double your plants and in the next couple of years double your crop! Blackberries don’t usually produce unless the canes are two years old. People around here pay quite a bit of money for blackberries and they’re pretty easy to grow. I personally don’t think the tame ones are as sweet as wild blackberries but they still taste good and you don’t have to mess with thorns.

Vintage Ford Tractor Makeover

Vintage Ford Tractor Makeover

My husband Brian is an extremely creative person. He loves to come up with inventive ideas for just about anything and our vintage Ford tractor is no exception! See below for the amazing before-and-after of this tractor. Trust me you’ve never seen anything like it!

*This contains affiliate links which means I get a small commission if you make a purchase at no additional cost to you*

As you can see the tractor is pretty rust and greasy. My hubby wire brushed and degreased everything before priming. He likes to use Awesome degreaser.  Then he got it all cleaned up. Next was time to prime. He uses Rustoleum spray primer.

Here are some pictures of the in progress tractor.

After priming it is time to paint. He used Rustoleum engine primer for the engine before painting that. Also, he likes to paint with Rustoleum spray paint (red, white, and blue).

We searched and searched for a place to get a new Logo and finally found one on ebay I think. He found the perfect blue seat at Rural King. He replaced One of the large tires for now and will replace the others as we can afford it.

Side note: He got all of this done and it was up and running for about a day! Now we’re waiting on the carburetor to be rebuilt to get it going again.

Well, are you ready for the big reveal! Here comes, let me know what you think of this vintage Ford tractor makeover in the comments below!

I call it the Patriotic tractor! Pretty cool, I had to get the pictures taken because this is probably the cleanest it’s going to be lol! Let me know what you think about this tractor in the comments below!

Want to learn more about homesteading? 

See my post  Small Homesteading: The Beginner’s Guide.


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Seeds or Plants: Which Should You Choose?

Seeds or Plants: Which Should You Choose?

You may wonder whether or not you should choose seeds to plant or just purchase plants already started when planning your garden.  We do a combination of both and I will tell you which ones do well.

*this post contains affiliate links which means I get a small commission if you make a purchase through these links at no additional cost to you. However, I only recommend products I love and use!

From Seeds

We always have a fairly large garden–between a large garden and a truck patch–over the years we have learned what works best for us regarding whether or not we buy plants already started or seed packets.

1. Lettuce

Any lettuce we plant always comes from seeds. In our area, Valentine’s Day is when everyone usually plants their lettuce seed.

However, we have a low garden spot that always takes a while to dry out after the spring rains so we wait until a lot later (around Mother’s Day) before we plant our lettuce. I love buttercrunch lettuce.

Basically, we plant our whole garden around the same time. Our lettuce always does well even thought we plant it that late.

2. Carrots

Carrots are one of those things we always plant directly in our garden with seeds. Once the seedlings emerge, you do have to go in and thin those puppies out to produce good carrots. Get organic seeds here.

3. Green Beans

Green beans are one of our largest crops. They are one of the few green vegetables my whole family eats! We can a lot of green beans.

Also, we always plant bush beans so I can’t give any recommendations on pole beans. Bush beans do fantastic planted directly into the garden.

4. Zucchini

When you plant zucchini, you hill up a mound of dirt and plant three seeds. One hill will about feed a county, so unless you have a plan for getting rid of all that zucchini, plant one hill!

If not, you might find yourself eating things such as zucchini pizza, zucchini apple pie, zucchini anything you name it.

5. Okra

Okra is another one of those plentiful producers. A few plants will do you. So you probably won’t need the whole seed packet unless you have a plan.

However, okra should be harvested when it is small. If you let it get too big, it gets tough. We freeze it instead of canning it. If you like gumbo and all that jazz, you may use it more than we do. We basically just like it fried.

6. Potatoes

While these are not “seeds” per se, they are grown from the eyes of the potato. We always plant these in a hilled up row in our garden and when they start to vine, my hubby keeps adding dirt on top of the row until it’s a foot or more high. We’ve never had the problem of having vines only and no potatoes.

7. Sweet Corn

We love to grow sweet corn. Usually, we just grow enough to eat on through the summer. If you want to have enough to freeze for the winter, you need to grow a lot! Always plant at least two rows for pollination. These do great from seed. We love Peaches and Cream.


1. Onions

We usually buy candy onions which come in a small six pack and take a lot of separation because there are multiples in one pack, but those are the only sweet onions that do the best here in the Ohio Valley. Plant them far enough apart to allow them room to get big.

2. Tomatoes

We always buy these as small plants to transplant, although they can be grown from seed, these just have a head start. We plant a few different varieties and always can a lot of tomato juice and sauce. Last year, we had around 100 tomato plants! I like to killed my husband when it came time to can lol!

3. Herbs

I always buy plants for my herbs rather than trying to get those seeds to survive or produce, but I’m sure you could. Read my post on herb container gardening.

4. Peppers

I always buy pepper plants rather than starting from seeds most of the time, although my husband started some Carolina Reapers from seed and they did pretty well but they took a long time to mature.

All other pepper plants like green, red, yellow bell peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos, habaneros, and the like we’ve all done from plants.

Also, you may need at least two pepper plants to help with pollination. Even if they are self-pollinating having more than one seems to help them bear more fruit.



Now if you plant hot peppers close to sweet peppers there is the possibility that some of the sweet peppers could have some heat. Depends on how much on the wild side you like to live!


  1. Lettuce
  2. Carrots
  3. Green Beans
  4. Zucchini
  5. Okra
  6. Corn 


  1. Onions
  2. Tomatoes
  3. Herbs
  4. Peppers
Got any other plants you like to start from seed or plants?


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Small Homesteading: The Beginner’s Guide

Small Homesteading: The Beginner’s Guide

Small Homesteading: The Beginner’s Guide

Small homesteading is a great place to begin the homesteading experience. With all the concerns regarding food quality, it is important to know where your food comes from.

My husband and I both grew up growing, preserving, and enjoying our own food. We now have a small homestead of around five acres.

Since we’ve been married (almost 20 years now!), we consistently have a garden, raise some animals, and attempt to learn from the older generation. Homesteading comes with a lot of trial and error, and I hope to share some tips we’ve learned along the way.

One property we had was just a very small yard but were able to raise enough to feed our family pretty well for an entire year! It requires some hard work and dedication, but the joys of knowing that you have contributed to caring for your own family in such a personal way make it all worth it.

What is homesteading?

Homesteading nowadays is not the traditional definition of the government giving away land in exchange for people working the land to earn it.

Homesteading means many different things to different people. In my mind, small homesteading is making a home while trying to be more self-sufficient.

Some common misconceptions people have about homesteading are that you need a large acreage to be successful. While that can be true if you are planning to raise large animals and you want to feed your animals with your own land, it is not necessary.

If you have a windowsill that you can place a planter on, you can get started!


How to get started


Start SMALL! I can’t stress this enough. If you are brand new and have never grown anything, start with one thing in a container.

Herbs in containers are a fantastic way to get started. They take up a small space and can be placed on a balcony or just outside somewhere. You’ll be surprised that even one herb plant can produce more than you can use. Learn about herb container gardening here. 

As far as starting a backyard garden, use a tiller to break up the ground and amend your soil if needed for your garden spot or build raised beds and fill with good soil. My hubby is a stickler for straight rows so he uses a string attached to two stakes at the end of the rows and uses a hoe to make the line to plant seeds or his pepper plants. (If you’re trying to decide whether to use plants or seeds in your garden, check out this post)

If you have space for animals, again start with just one or two to learn how to care for them before branching out. I highly recommend beginning with plants and produce before branching out to animals. You can have animals even on a small homestead. We only have chickens, cats, and dogs right now but would love to get started with goats one day.


Tips for Success in Homesteading


  • Start small. Pick your favorite herb and learn how to grow, care for, harvest, use, and preserve.
  • Be patient with yourself. You will make mistakes along the way. Some years are just better for some crops than others. It’s all part of the process.
  • Don’t give up! the crop that didn’t do well this time may be your best one next time.

Common Questions/FAQ


What is the first thing I should do?

  • The first thing you should do is plan. Plan the size of your project and research what you want to begin with. Whether it’s conatiner gardening, starting a backyard garden, canning your food, raising animals, or just baking your own bread, these homesteading skills can all be learned over time. Pick your number one thing to focus on and master before moving to the next thing.

Do I have to have a large acreage?

  • It depends is the most concise answer. You can homestead anywhere! An apartment, balcony, small yard, five acres or less, or hundreds of acres can all be the right size for homesteading.


    What are the best animals to have?

    • The first animals I would try would be chickens. Depending on the breed, chickens can be very docile and good layers. If you are looking just to have eggs for your own family and are not looking to sell them, three or four would be plenty.


      What do I need to do to prepare the ground?

      • Preparing the ground needs to start in the fall. If you till ,that is the time to do it and add any natural fertilizer. If you apply natural fertilizer (aka manure) in the spring, you could burn up your crops.


        What is the easiest thing to grow?

        • I find the easiest things to grow in our area are peppers of all kinds. Although, my sister said she always has difficulty with peppers. But we’ve grown and sold bell peppers, banana, peppers, cayennes, habaneros, and Carolina Reapers. My hubby makes a fantastic hot sauce that everyone pretty well loves. 


          What is the easiest thing to preserve?

          •  Preserving onions, garlic, and potatoes are pretty straightforward and don’t require canning, blanching and freezing ro dehydrating unless you just want to. 


            The Last Thing You Need to Know about Homesteading


            • The main thing to know about small homesteading is that it can be accomplished in a very small space, even a windowsill can get you started. You decide what works for you. Starting small and being patient are key when beginning.                                                                   
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            vegetable plants for homesteading


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