Homestead Chores for the Mid-Summer Months

Manage your homestead this summer by following this guide to seasonal chores and gardening.

| December 2017

The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner (Storey Publishing, 2017), by Ann Larkin Hansen provides expert advice on what tasks need to be done and when they should be done. The book is broken down into 12 seasons and includes handy charts, checklists, and seasonal indicators to help homesteaders manage their chores all year. The following excerpt is from Chapter 7, "Mid-Summer."

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner


The garden is in its glory by midsummer. Harvest volume accelerates, and it’s a rush to get everything picked, processed, and stored. As the weather continues to get drier and warmer, maintain mulch and/or cover crops. Keep watering.

As early crops like cabbage and peas are harvested, plant something to replace them: maybe a green manure that can be tilled down when the weather cools off enough to put in more peas and cabbage or some fast-growing root crops for fall harvest. This is a good time of year to test your soil.


With canopy closure, row crops should now be fine on their own until harvest, but small grains are ripening fast. They’re ready to harvest when the grain is brittle hard (it cracks when you bite it) and the stalks are fully brown. Ideally you’ll cut the grain slightly before or just as it reaches this stage, before birds attack the crop or the ripe grain starts falling to the ground.

The average small holder doesn’t own grain harvesting equipment, either antique or modern (swather and thresher or a combine), and it would be a rare thing to have a neighbor with a combine willing to come over for a little field or a garden patch of grain. For most of us, a sickle or scythe is the most practical harvest method. When cutting, be careful to lay all of the grain the same way, so that all of the seed heads are at one end. Place the crop under cover, spreading it to dry or tying it in bundles and hanging them or leaning a group together and tying it so it will stand up with seed heads at the top. The grain can remain there until you’re ready to thresh it (separate the grain from the stalk and hull).

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