The Grovestead

Farm, Family, Fun.

Spring Ahead

Spring has arrived about 6 weeks early in Minnesota this year. That’s not to say winter won’t stop by again, but today is the 3rd day in a row of 60+ temps and will be the last day snow can be seen on our property. Even the grass is starting to green up!

Spring is always welcome here. However, Spring on a Hobby Farm means lots of work! And I’m not fully ready to come out of hibernation yet.

The seedlings are planted and growing well: tomatoes, broccoli (which Becca says she wants every week of the summer), lettuce, and a variety of flowers.

tomato seedlings

The chickens are laying abundantly, after about a 5-month hiatus during the coldest months.

Chickens enjoying the warm weather

All the maple trees are tapped and flowing a full 3 weeks ahead of season. I just hauled in 5 more gallons of sap after taking this picture. 30 gallons collected so far, waiting to be evaporated.

Collecting maple sap in buckets

Tapping maple trees started early this year

Since the sap is flowing, it is also the best time of year to graft trees. I made my first attempt, grafting a branch from a HoneyGold apple tree onto the MacIntosh nearby. The yellow HoneyGold was one of a few trees we planted without ever knowing how the fruit would taste. It turned out be delicious! Like a cross between a pear and an apple, but the texture of a HoneyCrisp. Needless to say, we want more HoneyGold and a simple way to expand the supply is to graft onto another tree.

Graft of apple tree

If successful, the MacIntosh will be bearing both red and yellow apples!



  1. The barn looks great! Gearing up for Summer 2016!

  2. Hi Rory and Becca,
    I love reading both of your blogs and am a HUGE fan of your sis in law Sara! We live in Alabama and my husband loves to garden as a hobby. Last year we purchased your Bee Friendly Garden seeds! The packaging is soon adorable! Just that alone made it worth it! We are novices at the gardening thing and when we received the seeds, we realized that we were a little bit late in the game! So we still have the unopened packets and would like to go ahead and use them! I do have a couple of questions. The Sweet Alyssum, Purple Cornflower and Wild Bergamot all need to be planted inside first. I am guessing that we would get the tiny plastic containers like you have in this Spring Ahead blog entry photo? If that is indeed what we are supposed to use, how many seeds should go in each one? These 3 packets contain 100, 150 and 200 seeds respectively . I cannot imagine that we use one seed per pot? We would LOVE your advice if you have time! Thanks for sharing your life with us! Your family is such a blessing and witness for Jesus!!

    • Hi Susie! The seeds should sprout just fine. In fact we have more Purple Coneflower sprouting, you just couldn’t see them in the shot. Starting indoors is just a way to get a head start on the season. With flowers its not an absolute must, because they are not producing edible fruit that must ripen before the fall. Also, if the temps are consistently above 50, you can go ahead and plant outdoors. Real sunshine beats grow lights any day of the week. I’d recommend planting several seeds, say about 6 to 10 seeds, a few inches apart in 6-inch pots. This gives you better odds for germination and you can either divide up the seedlings for planting later or just pull and discard ones that are too close together. Sweet Alyssum is a ground cover, so you can’t go wrong with lots of seeds, they’ll just merge together.

      I recommend starting in pots whether inside or out so the seeds have a chance to establish themselves before getting overrun with weed competition. I tried direct sowing last summer but it was too difficult to distinguish the flowers from the weeds and eventually the weeds won out.

      Best of luck this year! Please send us photos of your garden!

  3. So cool Rory!! Grafting. Amazing!

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