As winter fades and springtime arrives, it’s time to make your homestead ready for warmer weather. Whether you’re a seasoned homesteader or are still making your way into the homestead life, you need to take time to prepare your property for the busy season.
People tend to wait until the last minute to check off to-do lists. However, homesteaders must do multiple tasks that it would be impossible to fit it all into the weekend before you begin planting. That’s why now more than ever is the best time to complete maintenance and chores so you’re fully prepared for spring.
Here are 10 steps to prepping your homestead for the spring so one of the busier times of the year will run smoothly. With a bit of cleaning, organization and planning, you’ll be ready for whatever the spring season brings.
1. Inspect the Homestead and Execute Maintenance Where Necessary
Depending on where you live, the winter months may prevent you from doing much maintenance on your homestead. Cold temperatures and heavy snow could leave damage to your homestead, fencing and other buildings on your property. Before spring arrives and you’re busy with everything that comes with the new season, you should inspect your property and execute necessary repairs.
As you walk through your property, take note of maintenance issues or repairs to ensure your homestead will be ready for spring and summer. This is also an excellent time to look over your routine springtime general maintenance tasks so you can complete them all at once.
If you’re looking for some maintenance work, here are a few typical pre-spring tasks for you to accomplish:
- Clear the gutters
- Stabilize fences and fence posts
- Fix leaky or collapsed roofs
- Check for drafts or cracks near windows
While the list provided isn’t exhaustive, it’s a good start, especially if you’re still new to homesteading. As you find things to repair or maintain, keep a note of them so you can check them next year to ensure smooth running of your homestead.
2. Create a Plan and Begin Your Garden
Wintertime is the perfect time for you to begin planning and planting your garden. You don’t have to wait until the first thaw to start planting, depending on where you live. When you create an action plan for your garden, you’ll avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed with all of the garden chores that need to be done.
Write a list of tasks that you can do on warmer or sunny winter days, like clearing the garden beds, checking the fence around the garden area and stocking up on garden materials. Then, make a separate list of the vegetables you want to grow.
Ordering seeds ahead of time will allow you to get what you want before the rush of other gardeners heads to the store. Once you have your seeds, you can start them indoors on time. You can actually save money if you start your own seeds as well since you’re doing all the work of starting them.
Additionally, during the winter, prepare your garden tools. They’ve likely been sitting all winter, so check for rusted and broken tools. While you’re in the tool shed, organize it so you won’t have to spend time digging and searching for what you need when spring arrives. It’s always good to have a plan in place to set you up for success.
3. Prepare Orchards and Trim Bushes
In late winter and early spring, you can begin preparing and caring for your orchards. By the time early spring arrives, the danger of hard frosts should be long gone. If you have pomegranates, figs or other more tender plants, you can take off their winter protection.
This time of year is a prime time to spray holistic sprays on orchards made from your compost liquids like tea or other safe oils. Apply the sprays before pests arrive to combat them early on. Plus, some sprays help fight plant diseases.
Make sure you have enough compost and mulch to apply to your trees. Hopefully, you’ve been adding to your compost throughout the winter. Give it a good mix and estimate how much you’ll need for your orchards, bushes and garden.
Trim bushes before spring arrives. Wild birds use bushes and shrubs to nest, so by pruning now, you won’t risk harming a nest in the spring. Spring is a big time of the year for pruning, trimming and fertilizing. Ensure you have your pruning materials ready for your orchards and bushes.
4. Clean Buildings
In the spring and summer, you probably don’t want to be cleaning out buildings where there’s so much more to do. Start your spring cleaning early and organize the buildings on your homestead.
If you have a heated greenhouse, you might use it throughout the winter to grow vegetables. Since winter is nearing its end, it’s time to prepare your greenhouse for the spring season and a new planting cycle.
Livestock shelters need to be cleaned as well. With the warmer weather coming soon, your livestock will be able to once again roam throughout the pasture. When you send them out, give the barn or shed a thorough cleaning after a whole winter of them being inside.
Organizing happens inside and outside of the home. It’s a great time to purge sheds and your own home of any clutter that piled up throughout winter. The spring season brings newness and freshness, so get started on the right foot with the growing season by cleaning and organizing every building on your property.
5. Get Your Equipment Ready
Busy season is quickly approaching, and you want to ensure everything is prepared and ready to go once spring arrives. While you clean out your buildings, gather all of your planting, gardening, pruning and any other equipment you need for the spring season.
Getting your equipment ready now will prevent you from losing time later in the warmer months. By repairing tillers and tractors, you’ll have an easier time transitioning into all of the spring tasks ahead.
Whether you need to schedule oil changes or clean tools, there’s always something to do with tools and other equipment during the winter. It’s easy to learn how to do all of those simple maintenance tasks, too, so you can save money and learn a new skill.
Preparing and cleaning equipment yearly before the spring arrives sets you up for a smooth spring. You’ll know early on if you need to replace a piece of equipment, and by doing routine preparations, your equipment will last longer.
6. Make Accommodations for New Animals
Spring is full of new life, and that means newborn animals! It’s always such a joy to add a new flock of chickens or a baby goat to your homestead. However, set up accommodations well in advance to ensure your new furry addition has a place to sleep, eat and roam.
For chicks, clean the henhouse and brooder as well as any water or food vessels. Give them a fresh start! If you plan on hatching your own chicks, make sure the incubator is in working condition. You can begin pulling eggs from hens you already have, or you can purchase eggs to incubate.
If you have any hoofed animals, like cows or goats that you use for milk, set up a milking station. This usually consists of a stool, a place to tie the animal and a pail to collect the milk. Each time after you milk, clean the bucket so you can use it again.
Spring is also birthing season. If you’re expecting any of your livestock to give birth, have a birthing station and kit prepared. This might include gloves, towels and a basket for those animals that need extra help in the process.
7. Mix Compost and Gather Fertilizers
Planting season is just around the corner. Purchasing and starting seeds are essential to have a garden. However, to grow them and make sure they receive all of the nutrients they need as seedlings, you need to ensure you have compost or other fertilizers for them.
Fertilizers and composts are used for more than just vegetables and orchards, though. Your lawn needs care as well. If you weren’t able to add a layer of compost or fertilizer to your yard before winter, you should do so now if there isn’t snow on the ground to replenish those nutrients back into the soil. You can also sow seeds in any areas where there are empty patches.
Mix your compost now so decomposition is complete by the time you need to use it for planting. When the thaw hits and the sun begins to shine, your compost will be the perfect mixture for your garden, lawn, trees and bushes.
Just like seeds go quickly right before spring, so do fertilizers. Stock up now on environmentally-friendly fertilizers or soil additives to replenish and restore your soils so they are prepared to take on the growing season.
8. Organize Your Kitchen Area
One of the most used areas of your homestead is likely your kitchen. You have to eat every day and prepare food, but sometimes, the organization and cleaning are overlooked. Now is the right time to organize your kitchen area and get it ready for the season ahead.
During the spring, you’ll be planting, and in the summer, you’ll begin harvesting. That means it’s time to clean out your freezer if that’s where you store food for the year. If most of your harvest from last year has been used up, you can defrost and deep clean the freezer. You’ll be able to see what you have in stock and use it before you begin refilling the freezer.
In addition, organize your pantry. Reorganize and rotate canned goods. Again, this allows you to take inventory of all of the food items you have before you begin harvesting and canning. It might be a good idea to shop for canning season, too. Canning supplies run out quickly, and they may be gone even sooner due to the pandemic.
If you have any other storage spaces for food, you can give those a deep clean. Your kitchen is an essential part of your homestead, so give it some love before the busy season arrives.
9. Set Up an Outdoor Living Space
With spring comes warm weather. It’s almost time to enjoy the sunshine and outdoors once again, especially if you live in a region with cold, snowy winters. Your homestead should be a place where you can sustain and enjoy yourself.
By creating an outdoor living space now, you can fully enjoy every bit of sunshine for the coming months. It’s a great place to relax after long days of work and a great place to start your mornings.
If you have outdoor furniture, pull it out now. After sitting all winter, clean it off and set it up wherever you would like. Put it in a shaded area for those hot summer days, or place it in an open area so you can soak in everything surrounding you.
After being cooped up all winter, you want to enjoy every bit of spring, summer and fall that the earth has to offer. Plus, there are so many benefits to having outdoor living spaces, like boosting your vitamin D levels, supporting your immune system, improving your mood and reducing stress.
There’s one last thing to accomplish before spring arrives, and that’s de-winterizing. It’s time to put winter behind you and embrace spring.
First, harvest leftover winter vegetables. If you have a heated greenhouse or live in warmer climates, you can still grow produce in winter. Some common crops include radishes, carrots and even lettuce. Pulling out leftover vegetables prepares you for spring planting.
People have different ways of winterizing, like adding layers to coops and beehives to keep the animals warm. Take off these layers for the springtime once it’s warm enough. Covering garden beds is another winterizing task, so you can remove the covers now if you have them on the beds.
Store winter tools and equipment, which may include shovels, snowblowers, de-icing materials and winter clothing. It’s best to put them near the back of your shed or storage area to keep them out of the way and separated from your spring and summer equipment.
Are You Ready for Spring?
Organization and preparedness are critical to a functioning and effective homestead. It may seem like a lot of work, but if you begin now and slowly check off these jobs, you’ll be thankful you accomplished them once spring arrives.
As you go through the task list, take notes of everything you do and save your notes for next year. That way, you’ll have something to look back on, and you’ll be even more prepared for next spring and other seasons.
Jane is the editor-in-chief of Environment.co. She is passionate about sustainability, gardening and homesteading.