2021 was a blessing from the Lord. We continued to grow our homestead, we relaunched the Grocery Row Gardening project I had begun in 2020, we managed to grow some very scrappy pumpkins as we chase a new land race, and, best of all, right before Christmas the Lord sent us Good Baby #10:
It was also a year of loss. We lost our friend Sue and my friend Weatherly. Both are sorely missed.
As is my usual practice, I wrap up the year with a post considering what we accomplished and how well we did meeting the goals we set at the beginning of the year.
My goals for the previous year were as follows:
GOAL I: Get the 2nd edition of Create Your Own Florida Food Forest in print
At the beginning of the year my sister Christi took over organizing the illustrators and the illustrations. We ended up with 200 illustrations from 54 artists, so it was quite a process. Unfortunately, my book layout guy ended up quite ill this year so the book is not yet in print, though it’s close. We hope to see it finished in 2022.
GOAL II: Create an Epic Spring Garden
I wrote at the beginning of the year:
“What I plan to do is to adapt the system (I created in Grenada) to a temperate climate and use different species for the high vertical portions. Instead of bananas and papaya, we’ll have Japanese persimmons, rabbiteye blueberries, hazelnuts and other temperate species. I also plan to space my 4′ beds as much as 3′ apart to give the system more space and sunlight.
We need a name for this system, though. It’s almost like food forestry in strips. Fedges with veggies. Not the same as Syntropic Agriculture as it isn’t based on bananas and meticulous timing, but it’s similar. Anyhow, I’ll come up with a cool name. I’m excited about the concept and I’m working on getting a bunch of berry varieties, small trees, shrubs, chop and drop, vegetables and blooms to mix in.”
I ended up naming my gardening system Grocery Row Gardening, and we did indeed build an epic garden over the course of the year.
We went from this:
This was a recreation of the work that I lost when we left Grenada, redesigned for a mild temperate climate.
I also did a lot of experimenting with single row gardening:
And we grew a lot of pumpkins, which I really enjoyed.
We blew the “create an epic spring garden” goal out of the water!
GOAL III: Re-Launch A Plant Nursery
I ended up not launching the nursery this year because I was busy with writing, YouTube and gardening. It just wasn’t worth finishing, though I did create a small propagation and plant nursery area. However, I did help my daughter launch her Good Gardens seed store on Etsy.
GOAL IV: Become Proficient at Painting Portraits in Oil
Nope. I gave up on this once my gardens started growing in spring. I start to get back into painting almost every winter, and then when the weather warms up I have to go back to work on my gardens and my writing and I drop the painting. As much as I want to be an artist, I must face the sad reality that I am a garden writer first. Maybe one day.
I actually still owe my brother-in-law and his wife a wedding portrait which I was supposed to paint months and months ago…
GOAL V: Get Back Into Shape
Yes. I did this. I have been attending the gym regularly since March and am now in much better shape than I was at the beginning of the year.
Me at this time last year:
I cut back on carbs and never stopped going to the gym. It’s now a habit, and I don’t want to go back to being the way I was. Goal hit! In 2022 I will continue going to the gym three times a week. We’ll see what I look like this time next year!
And that is the LAST bathroom mirror flexing selfie I will post here.
Goals Achieved: 2/5
2 out of 5 is a better record than Al Gore has on his predictions. I’m satisfied.
I also had some smaller goals at the beginning of the year. As I wrote:
“I am working on reading through the entire Bible this year, plus I would like to see Jack Broccoli II in print and I’d also like to hit a goal of 2,000lbs of food again.”
I am half-way through Revelation right now, so it looks like I’ll make my Bible-reading goal. We also saw Jack Broccoli II released. As for the food goal, we probably hit it – or got close – but I gave up on weighing everything. I know we had 400lbs of pumpkins and over 300lbs of potatoes, and that was just a piece of what we harvested.
I should make a 2022 goal of setting up a better weighing station for recording my harvests.
2021 Blog Posts (156)
In 2020 I created 167 posts here. That was my worst year of posting since this blog began.
Yet in 2021, I only wrote 156 posts – my NEW worst year!
The breakdown by month:
This blog doesn’t bring me a huge income, so it has been pushed aside somewhat in favor of writing books and posting videos. That said, I LIKE this blog and intend to post regularly again this year. 156 posts is better than most, but it’s nothing compared to what I could have posted. I should start posting every weekday again. YouTube has taken up some of the time I used to spend working on this site. And speaking of YouTube…
2021 YouTube Videos (190)
Of this number, 145 were normal videos and 45 were livestreams. In 2020 I only posted 118 videos, so this was a marked improvement.
I’m trying to post a new video every weekday now – we’ll see if I can keep that up in 2022.
We started the year with 112,000 subscribers and are ending the year with 153,832 subscribers.
We also got our YouTube silver play button in the spring of this year, which was wonderful.
Thank you for watching.
In 2021 I left my previous publisher and launched Good Books Publishing. Now I own an honest-to-goodness publishing house, and not only am I publishing my own books, I’m publishing books by other authors.
This year we published John Moody’s excellent book Winning the War on Weeds:
Along with my little book Grocery Row Gardening:
And, most importantly, GARDEN HEAT: A Jack Broccoli Novel:
In this new year we should release Water-Wise Gardening by Steve Solomon, along with my new book The South Florida Gardening Survival Guide and the long-awaited second edition of Create Your Own Florida Food Forest. I also hope to write and release Alabama Survival Gardening, and publish The Organic Gardener’s Composting Guide by Steve Solomon. There may be another couple of John Moody books in the works as well. He has some excellent ideas.
This fall we BLEW the launch of Garden Heat, due to my layout guy’s trip to the hospital and me getting overwhelmed. There were 127 pre-orders that got cancelled because I didn’t post the final ebook version in time. That was frustrating, but it’s life. I’m really glad my layout guy recovered, so I can continue to work him to death.
This year we got lots of chickens plus two cats, two goats and two sheep. One of the sheep died and we gave the other one back. So far the cats and chickens and goats are alive, though I am tempted to feed the cats to a mulberry tree.
The egg supply from the henhouse has been consistently good, even through winter, and it’s great to have fresh eggs for breakfast every day. The goats don’t pull their weight yet, though, as they are not producing kids or dairy at this point. Sometime this new year we hope to have them bred and then they can become productive for us. At least they clear brush.
We have meat birds that should be sent to freezer camp in a few weeks, which will be good. There are about 70 birds there, which will keep our family supplied with meat for a few months. If we’re lucky, we’ll also get a couple hundred pounds of venison from our neighbors.
God has taken wonderful care of us this year, giving us a new baby, a great garden, a healthy family, and even a new (used) van, plus a nice borrowed diesel truck, along with two pianos so the kids can learn to play we can record background music for YouTube.
Thanks for joining us. May God bless you and keep you in 2022. In my next post, I’ll share our goals for 2022.
You didn’t mention what gives you the most OG points. 10 KIDS!! It’s so rare to see a man following the Christ, living after the design and patter of our creation to work and subdue the land and be fruitful and multiply. And all with a great attitude and spirit. Praise God!
Thank you, Joe – Happy New Year!
I echo Joe, and would add how proud I am you selected Alabama for this chapter in life. I hope it’s a long one for you.
Thank you, Steve. All those seeds you sent will be put to good use – what a great welcome to the area!
It was fun to visit you last spring. See you in 2021 maybe.
May God bless you this year 3 fold the blessing you have been to us. Thank you.
What an exciting and, hopefully, fulfilling year for you, Rachel and the kids. May 2022 be even better!
2022 is sure to be a better year in the garden.
I think so!
What a year! So neat to see all these wonderful blessings summed up in one spot. God is just so good, even when life is a bit bumpy. May God continue to bless you and your family in this coming year x
You too, Carla.
My wife says the bathroom selfie didn’t count, you still had your shirt on. Which tells me I need to hit the gym if she’s talking that way…
Happy New Year!
That is hilarious.
Long live Beautiful Rachel. ROCK ON, SISTER.