New Homestead

Wanda Posts: 1 ✭✭✭

My husband and I recently bought an older homestead although it was previously just a house with a big yard. We’ve rented the property back to the people we bought it from and my husband had a knee replacement this week (and second one in December) so now is the time to plan the homestead for functionality and to incorporate the elements we want.

The property is slightly over an acre with an interstate bordering the west side (tree line buffer), the north and east of the property is farmer field (corn this year, soy beans next year) and the road front to the south. The property is basically rectangle with a slight trapezoid shape to the north (barely noticeable).

Other than the house, it has a stand alone garage and an old metal shed (tear down). We intend to put a fairly large pole barn on the northeast corner. While there are some fruit trees and flowering shrubs, they are not productive and have had little care and maintenance over the years (poor neglected things).

I should mention this property was basically an impulse buy — it’s located across the road from my brothers in law 12 acre homestead (combined as there are two brothers two homes two pole barns and other structures on their property .

What pitfalls will we encounter? What overarching principles should we follow? How should we proceed?


  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,361 admin
    edited October 2020

    I'd say the first thing you want to do is to try to minimize chemical drift and run-off from the soy/corn field. You don't want to spend lots of time and money growing fruit and vegetables only to have herbicides, chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides contaminate your land. Maybe a tall berm with a ditch like swale on the outside, with a really thick and tall hedgerow on top? If you can grow a thick cover on your property (legumes and C4 plants... cowpeas, clover, vetch, sorghum, etc... tall sunflowers are good not only for mulch, but they also attract birds that bring natural fertilizer), chop and drop it, bring in all the leaves and woodchips you can find, then do king stropharia mushrooms on that... let everything rot/compost in place for a year, that will do a lot to give you some clean, healthy topsoil, while letting the rain wash chemicals deeper into the soil. Anything that is a "weed" is your friend at this point - just chop it down before it seeds if you don't want more of it, but use that biomass. Go no till and deep much as much as possible. If fertilizers have salted the soil so that it won't soak up water well, some shallow swales and berms and even hugleculture beds may be a good plan. Use a lot of compost tea and as much fungi as you can justify. A very tall screen of hops may help with chemical drift. Basically, when your property is the lightening bug haven of the neighborhood and the soil is several inches deep in composted plant matter, then you can grow most anything with few worries.... and have a real paradise.... maybe a small a very pond few with rain water, full of frogs and mosquito fish.... In the meantime, raised beds would be a great plan.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,361 admin
    edited October 2020

    Oh yeah, also tillage daikon or tillage radish. If you grow them and just let them rot in place - you can eat the tops as greens - but let the roots stay in the ground and rot, that will get the soil loose and full of rich organic matter probably faster than anything... helps it soak in rain water, too. Also, get a worm bin. Apply "worm tea" regularly to your land and when the topsoil gets deep enough, help the worms get into your soil. Some backyard fowl could help too, if you move them around. Manure is great, but make sure it isn't from horses that are full of anti-worm medicine eating a hay full of herbicides. A goat or two on your own property is much better - they chop down the weeds and convert them to manure very efficiently!

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,374 admin
    edited October 2020

    First of all, welcome to the forum!

    My question is, how is the water?

    I agree with blocking as much drift as you can (you really don't want that), but you don't have a lot of space with just over an acre. You will need to be quite selective with what you do, so you will possibly need to adjust @judsoncarroll4's suggestions as appropriate considering your space limitations.

    I would encourage you to not plant a garden immediately, but start preparing the soil with soil remediation practices & a cover crop that you till under (or if you are going no till, cut) before it goes to seed. This will cut down on unwanted weeds and add good nutrients to your soil.

    What are the fruit trees that are present? What type of shrubs? You will need to assess if they can be revived or not. I could possibly help you determine some of this if you are unsure, but would need pictures & would need to know the types.

  • Monek Marie
    Monek Marie Posts: 3,535 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Observe the property and see what it reveals.

    When I first moved here I would take a cup of tea out and watch my yard to learn the wiond patterns, sun path and water fall and any water drainage issues. Time spent watching and making notes will save you a lot of time later on.

    I like making ther most use out opf my space. One to be ablt to put more on tehr land and another reason if its all close it's easier to work, water if needed and time saving. Stack functions when possible