Backyard Homesteading All-in-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet - dummies
Cheat Sheet

Backyard Homesteading All-in-One For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From Backyard Homesteading All-in-One For Dummies

Backyard homesteading comprises many disciplines, with a lot of information to remember. Use these cheat sheets as a handy reference guide for some of the important items you may find yourself coming back to often. Double-check the planting guidelines for various crops as you’re getting your garden ready for the growing season. Make sure you’re following all the steps for successful and safe canning. Keep some key considerations in mind when you’re looking at a coop for your flock of backyard chickens.

Planting Guidelines for Backyard Homesteading

Use the following chart as a general guide when planning, laying out, and planting your backyard garden. You may choose to deviate from the information here to suit your situation; for example, you might vary the distance between rows, depending on the method of planting or cultivating, or space plants closer than indicated when gardening in raised beds. The days to maturity and the yield are averages. Depending on weather, soil fertility, pests, and weeds, the yield and maturities you experience may vary greatly.

Crop Seed/
Plants per 100ft Row
Frost Tolerance Planting Depth (Inches) Spacing between Rows (Inches) Spacing between Plants (Inches) Soil Temp for Germination* Average Days to Germination Average Days to Maturity Average Yield per 10 ft Row
Asparagus 1 oz/65 Very hardy (R) 6 (crowns) 36–48 18 50–95 (75) 7–21 2 years 3 lb
Beans, snap (bush) 1/2 lb Tender 1–1 1⁄2 18–24 3–4 60–95 (85) 6–14 45–60 12 lb
Beans, snap (pole) 1/2 lb Tender 1–1 1⁄2 36–48 4–6 60–95 (85) 6–14 60–70 15 lb
Beans, lima (bush) 1/2 lb Very tender 1–1 1⁄2 18–24 3–4 60–85 (80) 7–12 65–80 2.5 lb, shelled
Beans, lima (pole) 1/4 lb Very tender 1–1 1⁄2 36–48 12–18 60–85 (80) 7–12 85–90 5 lb, shelled
Beets 1 oz (seeds only) Hardy 1⁄2 15–24 2 40–95 (85) 7–10 50–60 12 lb
Broccoli 1/4 oz/45 Very hardy (P) 1⁄4 24–36 14–24 40–95 (85) 3–10 60–80 10 lb
Brussels sprouts 1/4 oz/55 Very hardy (P) 1⁄4 24–36 14–24 40–95 (85) 3–10 90–100 7.5 lb
Cabbage 1/4 oz/55 Very hardy (P) 1⁄4 24–36 14–24 40–95 (85) 4–10 60–90 18 lb
Carrots 1/2 oz (seeds only) Hardy 1⁄4 15–24 2 40–95 (80) 10–17 70–80 15 lb
Cauliflower 1/4 oz/55 Hardy (P) 1⁄4 24–36 14–24 40–95 (80) 4–10 70–90 10 lb
Celery 1⁄64 oz/200 Hardy 1⁄8 30–36 6 40–75 (70) 9–21 125 18 stalks
Chinese cabbage 1/4 oz/65 Hardy (P) 1⁄4 18–30 8–12 40–105 (80) 4–10 65–70 8 heads
Corn 3–4 oz (seeds only) Tender 2 24–36 12–18 50–95 (95) 6–10 70–90 1 dozen
Cucumbers 1/2 oz/30–40 Very tender 1 48–72 24–48 60–105 (95) 6–10 50–70 12 lb
Eggplant 1⁄8 oz/50 Very tender (P) 1⁄4–1⁄2 24–36 18–24 65–95 (85) 7–14 80–90 10 lb
Leeks 1/2 oz/300 Very hardy 1⁄2–1 12–18 2–4 45–70 (75) 7–12 130–150 12 lb
Lettuce, heading 1/4 oz/120 Very hardy 1⁄4–1⁄2 18–24 6–10 32–75 (75) 4–10 70–75 10 heads
Lettuce, leaf 1/4 oz/400 Very hardy 1⁄4–1⁄2 15–18 2–3 32–75 (75) 4–10 40–50 5 lb
Muskmelon 1⁄2 oz/50 Very tender 1 60–96 24–36 65–105 (95) 4–8 85–100 5 fruits
Okra 2 oz/50 Very tender 1 36–42 12–24 60–105 (95) 7–14 55–65 10 lb
Onion, seed 1 oz/300 Very hardy 1⁄2 15–24 3–4 32–95 (80) 7–12 90–120 16 lb
Onion, sets 400–600 (no seeds) Very hardy 1–3 15–24 3–4 NA NA 80–120 10 lb
Parsley 1/4 oz/150 Hardy 1⁄4–1⁄2 15–24 6–8 50–90 (75) 14–28 70–90 4 lb
Parsnips 1⁄2 oz (seeds only) Hardy 1⁄2 18–30 3–4 32–85 (70) 15–25 120–170 10 lb
Peas 1 lb Very hardy 2 18–36 1 40–85 (75) 6–15 55–90 4 lb
Peppers 1⁄8 oz/50 Very tender 1⁄4 24–36 18–24 60–95 (85) 10–20 60–90 30 lb
Potatoes 6–10 lb seed potatoes Very hardy (R) 4 30–36 8–10 NA NA 75–100 10 lb
Pumpkins 1⁄2 oz/25 Very tender 1–2 60–96 36–48 65–105 (95) 6–10 75–100 10 lb
Radishes 1 oz (seeds only) Hardy 1⁄2 14–24 1 40–95 (80) 3–10 25–40 10 bunches
Rhubarb 20 (no seeds) Very hardy (R) 4 36–48 48 NA NA 2 years 7 lb
Southern peas 1⁄2 lb Very tender 1⁄2–1 24–36 4–6 60–95 (85) 7–10 60–70 4 lb
Spinach 1 oz/300 Very hardy 3⁄4 14–24 3–4 32–75 (70) 6–14 40–60 4–5 lb
Squash, summer 1 oz/40 Tender 1 36–60 18–36 65–105 (95) 3–12 50–60 25 lb
Squash, winter 1⁄2 oz/35 Very tender 1 60–96 24–48 65–105 (95) 6–10 85–100 15lb
Sweet potatoes 75–100 (no seeds) Very tender (P) NA 36–48 12–16 NA NA 100–130 10 lb
Swiss chard 1 oz/50 Hardy 1⁄2 12–15 24–36 40–95 (75) 5–16 50–60 50–75 lb
Tomatoes 1⁄8 oz/50 Tender 1⁄2 24–48 18–36 50–95 (80) 6–14 70–90 80 lb
Turnips 1⁄2 oz Very hardy 1⁄2 14–24 2–3 40–105 (80) 3–10 30–60 5–10 lb
Watermelon 1 oz/20 Very tender 1 72–96 36–72 65–105 (95) 3–12 80–100 4 fruits

P — plants; R — roots; NA — not applicable; Very hardy — plant outside 4 to 6 weeks before average last spring frost date; Hardy — plant outside 2 to 3 weeks before average last spring frost date; Tender — plant outside on average date of last spring frost; Very tender — plant outside 1 to 2 weeks after average last spring frost date

*Range of germination temperature in degrees Fahrenheit; optimum germination in parentheses

Water-Bath and Pressure Canning Instructions for Homesteaders

Canning is an effective way to preserve the harvest of your backyard homestead and make your garden’s bounty last for many months. But it’s important to follow the proper procedures so that your fruits, vegetables, and even proteins are safe to eat when you eventually pull them off the pantry shelf. Follow these guidelines for creating delicious, high-quality homemade treats for your family and friends.

Water-bath canning

The simplest and easiest method for preserving high-acid food, water-bath canning is meant for most fruit, tomatoes, pickled vegetables, condiments, and sauces.

  1. Inspect and get your equipment ready so you can fill your jars as quickly as possible.
    Wash your jars, lids, and screw bands. Get the kettle water warming. Keep your equipment and jars hot while you wait to fill them. Jars should be submerged in hot water for at least 10 minutes. Lids should be submerged in a separate pot of hot (but not boiling) water.
  2. Prepare the food exactly as instructed by a recipe from a trusted and reputable source.
    Don’t make any adjustments or alterations. Use the best quality food for canning; if you wouldn’t eat it raw, it’s not fit for canning.
  3. Fill your jars to the appropriate level.
    Add prepared food (cooked or raw) and hot liquid to your prepared jars as soon as they’re ready. Use a wide-mouth funnel and ladle, and leave the proper amount of headspace. Release any air bubbles with a nonmetallic spatula or tool. Add more prepared food to maintain proper headspace. Wipe the jar rims thoroughly, place a hot lid onto each rim, and hand-tighten the screw band.
  4. Process your filled jars.
    Place your jars in the jar rack in your suspended canning kettle. The jars should stand upright in a single layer and not touch each other. Carefully lower the rack into the hot water, adding water if necessary to ensure the jars are covered by at least an inch of water. Cover the kettle and bring the water to a full, rolling boil for the time specified by the recipe.
  5. Remove your filled jars. Test the seals after they have cooled. Refrigerate any unsealed jars and use the contents within two weeks.
  6. Store your sealed jars.
    Remove the screw bands, wash and label the jars with the processing date, and move to a cool, dark, dry place.

Pressure canning

Pressure canning preserves low-acid foods such as vegetables, meats, poultry, seafood, and any combination foods that contain both low-acid and high-acid ingredients.

  1. Inspect and get your equipment ready so you can fill your jars as quickly as possible.
    Equipment includes your pressure canner, especially if you have not used it in a while. Wash your jars, lids, and screw bands. Keep your equipment and jars hot while you wait to fill them. Jars should be submerged in hot water for at least 10 minutes. Lids should be submerged in a separate pot of hot- but not boiling- water. Ready your canner by filling it with 2 to 3 inches of water and heating it.
  2. Prepare the food exactly as instructed by a recipe from a trusted and reputable source.
    Use the best quality food for canning; if you wouldn’t eat it raw, it’s not fit for canning. Don’t make any adjustments or alterations.
  3. Working quickly, fill your jars while they are hot.
    Pack food into each jar so that the food is snug, yet loose enough for liquid to circulate into the open spaces. Ladle in boiling water (or the liquid from precooking), leaving proper headspace. Release any air bubbles with a nonmetallic spatula or tool. Add more prepared food to maintain proper headspace. Wipe the jar rims thoroughly, place a hot lid onto each rim, and hand-tighten the screw band.
  4. Process your filled jars.
    Place filled jars on the rack inside the pressure canner, making sure you have the recommended amount of simmering water in the canner. The jars should not touch each other or the sides of the canner. If your canner allows, you may process a second layer of pint or half-pint jars, using a second rack and staggering the jars on top of the bottom layer.
  5. Close and lock the canner.
    Follow the manufacturer’s directions specific to your canner. Allow steam to escape for 10 minutes or the time recommended by your manual. Close the vent and bring the pressure to the amount specified by your recipe. After the processing time has passed, turn off the heat and allow the pressure to return to zero.
  6. Release the pressure by opening the cover away from you.
    Follow the canner’s manual precisely for this step; there is no quick-release option! Remove and cool the jars completely. Listen for the telltale popping sound that indicates a successful vacuum seal.
  7. Test the seals after they have cooled. Refrigerate any unsealed jars and use the contents within two weeks.
  8. Store your sealed jars.
    Remove the screw bands, wash and label the jars with the processing date, and move to a cool, dark, dry place.

Chicken Coop Details to Consider for Backyard Homesteaders

If you include chickens in your backyard homestead, your flock needs some sort of housing. Whether you’re buying a prebuilt coop or building one from scratch, you should keep in mind some important considerations. To keep the specifications straight as you look through design options, these basic guidelines will help you settle on the perfect palace for your pullets:

  • Any coop must provide shelter from weather and protection from predators (who could come from the air or underground, too).
  • Your coop should provide 2 to 4 square feet of floor space for each bird you keep.
  • Chickens need 14 hours of sunlight every day, all year long. A coop should offer daylight via a window, door, or skylight.
  • Ventilation is a must for the health of you and your birds. Also think about how you’ll clean the interior of the coop from time to time.
  • A coop must have a horizontally-oriented, elevated roost. Figure 12 inches of roost for each bird, placed as high inside the coop as possible while still allowing birds to sit upright. You may need more than one roost. The area underneath the roost will collect a lot of droppings.
  • Egg layers need nest boxes. Keep them at least 12 inches square. One nest for every two to three birds is sufficient. The nest box should be dimly lit and in a warm area of the coop, no more than 3 or 4 feet off the floor. Consider how you’ll access the nest boxes to collect eggs.
  • Chickens need a run, or outdoor recreational area. Each bird needs 3 to 6 square feet of open-air space, but more is better. If predators are a concern, enclose the run with fencing. Some coop designs incorporate the run in a single unit along with the housing.
  • A simple ramp at the door of the coop isn’t a necessity but will be appreciated by your birds so that they don’t have to flutter and flop in and out.