Here at the Trupes homestead, we love to eat. I mean, we LOVE to eat (who doesn’t, though, amiright??). We especially love to eat things that we have grown or raised ourselves! Last year (2019), was the first year we processed chickens. We plan to do that again this year – you can read about our animals here.
But, we also love to grow our own fruits and veggies! Pa Trupe is the master gardener around these parts. He has an amazing green thumb (Ma Trupe’s is a little more brown sadly). He even managed to grow bell peppers inside during the winter! They didn’t get very big, but they grew and were delicious.
We are in growing zone 7 or the Yellow Group if you use Planting By Color. I highly recommend the Planting By Color website. They have a lot of great information. Being where we are, we have found that we don’t really need to start many seeds inside except for tomatoes and peppers.
Our favorite thing to grow is jalapeno peppers. Pa Trupe is a HUGE fan of jalapeno poppers. We just take the seeds out of the peppers, fill em up with cream cheese, top with shredded cheese, and bake them in the oven until bubbly! Such a good snack with a little bit of spiciness!
When we first bought our house, we had some decorative, flowering bushes in the beds in front of it. I love a pretty plant or bush as much as the next person, but we want our landscaping to be more functional. Plus, they were azaleas which are poisonous to goats and we had goats at the time. So, we replaced those pretty, but nonfunctional, bushes with blueberry and boysenberry bushes! I’m excited to start harvesting those berries. In front of those, we have a row of strawberry plants. In between we also have clover patches (for those bees!) and a few calla lilies (Ma Trupe’s favorite).
In our side yard, we have a fenced in 24′ x 24′ garden space. Here we grow sweet peas, lettuce, spinach, broccoli, a variety of peppers, tomatoes, cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, and winter squashes. We’ve tried a few other things as well – watermelons, cantaloupes, etc. I’d like to try and grow corn soon. Around the outside of the fenced space we have planted sunflowers.
This year, we are working on adding a medicinal herb garden. Ma Trupe likes to make her own products (lotions, salves, soaps, syrups) and this garden would allow her to make her own essential and infused oils. She’s so excited! So far, we have lavender seeds ready to go – another bonus for the bees who love lavender!
Last Fall we bought and planted two dwarf apple trees from Stark Bro’s Nurseries. We got a Scarlet Crush and a Double Delicious tree. The Double Delicious is a graft of two types of trees. It will give us both Golden Delicious and Red Delicious apples. I’m really excited for the kids to see a tree growing two different colors of apples! The Scarlet Crush is a hybrid from Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink apples. I really love Honeycrisp apples and am looking forward to trying these. Unfortunately, that’s a few years off, but I can’t wait for all the apples, apple sauce, apple cakes, apple bread, candied apples, and apple pies! We also have a pear tree and a plum tree that were here when we moved in.
In addition to growing food we eat, we also try and harvest seeds from our plants so that we don’t have to buy new every year. And we can also share and trade with our fellow gardeners and friends! To do this for veggies, you basically just need to let one of your plants bolt and gather up the seeds. For fruits, we just harvest the seeds out before we eat the fruit. We store our seeds in little baggies once they have dried out enough to not get moldy in storage.
We expand our garden by trying to grow at least one new thing every year. We recommend starting small and working your way up. It’s really easy to buy all the seeds and equipment and never get much done with it (from our experience, anyway). And be realistic – if you don’t buy it from the store or farmer’s market now, you probably won’t eat it if you grow it. One year, we grew beautiful eggplants, and they ended up in the compost because we don’t really like eggplant. Live and learn.