Living a homesteading lifestyle, the rhythm of my year is an extension of the seasonal changes and activities of the homestead. Planting in spring, tending in summer, harvesting in fall, resting in winter. But while the agrarian calendar is rather firmly integrated into my life, I still rely on a homestead to do list to remind me what needs to happen each month.
Partly, this is because I’ve moved so many times, homesteading in Oregon (zone 8b), Missouri (zone 5b), and now Vermont (zone 4a).
But mostly, it’s because there is an endless variety of tasks to entertain us homesteaders, and sometimes we need a nice checklist.
My Homestead To Do List may not exactly match your own month-to-month needs, but I hope it’s useful as a starting point for your own homesteading task list!
Homestead To Do List
- Make big picture plans and goals for the year.
- Organize seeds, test for viability, and order what is needed.
- Review your garden journal for areas that you’d like to adjust and improve this year.
- Plan for any additions to your food forest or orchard. Select fruit trees, and place orders for delivery in early spring.
- Wrap up finances from previous year and edit budgets as needed
- If you have animals, keep a close eye on their health, and make plans for the year’s breeding, purchasing, culling, etc.
- Identify skills that need improvement, and make a plan for building those homesteading skills.
- Turn your chicken’s deep litter bedding if you use this method.
- Make a year-round garden plan, and purchase any hard goods that might be useful (row cover, plastic, trellis or fencing materials, soil amendments, etc.).
- Amend the soil in your greenhouse and get it ready for spring growing and planting!
- Sow early seeds (for me, this will include onions, some brassicas, peppers, herbs, celery).
- Prepare taxes
- Inventory the freezer, root cellar, and pantry, and enjoy your frozen, canned, or stored food!
- Fermented food like kimchi or sauerkraut helps keep your gut happy and your plates full of raw veggies.
- Microgreens or shoots can help satisfy your craving for freshly harvested food.
- If weather permits, consider cleaning out your chicken coop and adding fresh bedding. You might need to wait another month.
- Order chicks!
- Get in the dirt! Depending on your growing season, it may be time to plant seeds in the ground, or start seeds indoors.
- Extend your growing season by planting spring crops under high or low tunnels or in greenhouses.
- Count back from your last expected frost date to determine when you should start your tomatoes, peppers, and other warm weather crops.
- Prepare for animal births by gathering necessary supplies and creating birthing pens.
- Sugaring season begins! Tap backyard trees to make syrup.
- If you already have a laying flock, enjoy the abundance of eggs!
- Prune and fertilize existing fruit and nut trees. Weed around the dripline, and mulch with wood chips.
- It’s spring cleaning time. Tackle one area at a time, whether that be house, mudroom, storage shed, basement, chicken coop, barn, garden, etc.
- If you haven’t already done so, it’s time for a full clean-out of the chicken coop with fresh bedding before it gets too warm outside.
- Take inventory of your homestead tools, including those used in the home and garden, and repair, sharpen, or replace as needed.
- Begin new compost piles with animal bedding.
- Continue to sow seeds and/or plant outdoors under row cover. Be sure to harden off anything you intend to plant outdoors.
- Sow cool season crops directly outside, such as carrots, lettuce, radishes, arugula, Swiss chard, and broccoli.
- Depending on where you live, plant fruit trees into your orchard.
- Lay down weed suppression barriers, such as wood chips, compost, or fabric, in areas that need it before the weeds and grass start really growing.
- In the spring, dairy livestock will increase their production. Use this time and the following months to start making hard cheeses to enjoy in the winter. And don’t forget to make and enjoy homemade butter!
- Prepare and plant the garden!
- This is a great time of year to forage for food and medicine in your backyard. Dandelion, chickweed, ramps, nettles, and lamb quarters are common and easy to identify wild edibles.
- Double down on eating canned, frozen, or root cellared food to make room for the coming harvest.
- Mulch the garden and orchard well to prevent weed takeover! Often, local farms will be eager to sell “mulch quality” hay by this time of year.
- Weather dependent, transfer young chicks outdoors.
- Sow flowers for companion planting and to attract beneficial insects to your garden, and medicinal herbs to stock your homestead herbal medicine cabinet.
- Harvest and preserve garden and foraged abundance! Be sure to preserve fresh herbs as well!
- Collect firewood for winter.
- Make a lot of compost with fresh green grass clippings and garden weeds!
- Now is the perfect time to pick strawberries and mulberries if they grow in your area. Then, turn them into homemade jam and jelly.
- If you’ve covered garden beds with row cover for insect protection, keep an eye on their flowers. You may need to either remove the row cover for pollination, or hand-pollinate crops.
- Consider starting a batch of “weed tea” using nettles, dandelion, lambs quarters, and comfrey. Combine weeds and a few handfuls of leaf mold in a bucket, and top with water. Allow to ferment, then strain for use as a foliar spray, or liquid organic fertilizer.
- Plan your fall garden.
- Harvest garlic scapes and make a batch of lacto fermented garlic scapes.
- Prune and train tomato plants and pinch basil flowers. Continue to do this throughout the summer.
- Make a butchering plan for meat birds. If you haven’t done so already, book appointments with mobile meat processors or gather the equipment you’ll need for meat preservation.
- Put up hay or source it locally.
- It’s rewards time! Enjoy the abundant harvests of the summer with seasonal meals.
- Preserve food by canning, freezing, dehydrating, and fermenting. Make connections with local farmers to purchase what you’re not able to grow.
- Foraged and planted berries are at their peak! Time to pick and preserve raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries!
- Clear out spent spring/early summer crops to make way for a fall/winter garden. As you clear out beds, immediately amend and prepare them so planting is quick and easy.
- Plant fall garden crops outdoors and continue to start new fall seeds.
- Harvest garlic and make beautiful garlic braids! Make sure you stop watering two to three weeks before and remove mulch to help the bulbs dry.
- If your growing season allows, planting a second crop of beans, zucchini, and greens will allow for longer harvest windows.
- Continue fall sowings/plantings. This includes direct sowing seeds like kale, Swiss chard, lettuce, and other fall favorites.
- Now is a good time to stop watering your dry beans.
- Take time to preserve and harvest from the garden every day, even if it’s just for 10 minutes.
- Water the garden as necessary. Consider investing in rainwater catchment and/or drip irrigation for the future!
- Keep an eye on pests. Cabbage worms love young brassicas, and tomato hornworms can be fierce at this time of year!
- Harvest elderberries to make elderberry syrup!
- Start canning tomatoes! It’s time to start making delicious tomato sauce, salsa, BBQ sauce, and many other delicious tomato canning recipes. I like to toss tomatoes into the freezer in small batches and make sauce when I have several freezer bags worth.
- Depending on your growing zone, September may bring first frosts. Keep an eye on the forecast and cover tender crops with row cover and/or plastic to prevent frost damage.
- It’s apple season! Head to a local u-pick and pick enough apples to store for the winter and make hard apple cider
- Turn ripe jalapeños and other hot peppers into fermented hot sauce!
- Harvest and cure storage crops such as potatoes, squash, and root vegetables before storing in the root cellar or basement.
- Direct sow fast-growing fall greens and radishes.
- Keep up on home preserving, canning, freezing, and more. Don’t let the harvest go to waste!
- Harvest the last of your annual crops, or make sure season extenders are working well.
- As much as possible, clean and cover the garden before winter. Tidying, weeding, and mulching now will make for a much easier spring planting!
- Winter-proof all outdoor systems – water, animals, barns, fencing, etc.
- Clean out your chicken coop one last time before winter and store additional bedding close at hand.
- Plant garlic and apply a thick layer of mulch.
- Collect leaves to use as mulch.
- Add winter protection, as needed, to your perennial plants
- Foraging continues in fall with acorns, persimmons, and Autumn olives.
- Enjoy the year’s efforts with a harvest feast!
- Make notes in a garden notebook about what worked and what didn’t work. Include favorite varieties, recommended changes to your planting schedule, etc.
- Consider supplemental lighting for your chicken coop, and make sure your heated waterer is working properly!
- Begin making homemade holiday gifts.
- If you have frozen fruits or vegetables with the intention of turning them into jams or sauces, now is a great time to do this!
- Request seed catalogs from your favorite companies.
- Wrap up finances, including last-minute purchases for homestead businesses.
- Maintain your day-to-day chores, but also savor this period of relative rest before planning season hits again!
- Continue harvesting greens under low tunnels until the snow is so deep that you can’t see the garden!
- Stock your pantry and freezer with staples that are often deeply discounted at holiday time (e.g. butter, flour, sugar, nuts).
- Make, barter, or purchase herbal remedies to restock your homestead herbal medicine cabinet.
- Stock up on, or make beeswax candles for winter coziness and light during winter power outages.
- Enjoy the short days of deep winter!
What Tasks Would You Add to This Homestead To Do List?
I’d love to hear! Please share in the comments below, and tell me what you consider essential tasks for your homestead to do list.
And as always, thank you for reading and sharing!