The pagoda has been started, but due to an unfortunately timed bout of illness is not finished. The patio is swept, however, and all the leaves stacked in the big pen. I also finished one more panel of chicken wire. The pathway is weeded, and in the process we found more path! This is one of the joys of an older home. :) It can surprise you.
The ladies are clucking along, 2-4 eggs a day, despite the weather. Possibly because I've been winter-spoiling them when it is cold. I hate the cold, so I presume they do to. I'll give the wyndottes this much, they may not like the heat, and they are annoyingly consistent flyers, but they weather winter like no ones business.
I've built a makeshift windbreak on the side of their kennel that faces in to the nest box, and have been feeding them warm rice and lightly coating their feed with drippings on the freezing days. Seems to be helping, or at least not hurting any.
I found that seed catalogs are far too tempting and lead to great indecision. Since I want to start a garden bed and fill the earth boxes this spring, I've decided to go with what providence suggests. In this case, three articles that showed up in my inbox had lists of suggested veggies. One of "Easy to grow", one of "kid friendly veggies" , and one with "top ten nutritious". So I'm gonna make a list of those, and whichever of them I can find, that is what I'll try to grow this year. Fate, fate will be blamed. bwahahaha
I may have a lead on some no-longer-fit-for-critters hay, which would be awesome, and make building the garden bed just about free.
Now if it would just warm up.... ~longing sigh~ I really hate the cold.
List of veggies compiled from articles--
1. Sugar snap peas. Sweet, crunchy pods that beg to be eaten right off the vine; these also make a terrific lunchbox snack. Now's the time to plant in most parts of the country. Just let the vines flop on the ground, or plant along a fence so they can climb.
2. Lettuce, spinach, and other leafy greens. These are dead easy to plant and grow and can thrive in a patio pot, too. Michelle picked arugula, but kids might like some of the White House's other options better. Check out red and green lettuces, kale, cilantro, and dill. Sprinkle a new line of seeds every two weeks, and you'll have homegrown salad all season.
3. Radishes. They grow like superheroes, ready to eat in a month. Try an Easter-egg blend with pinks, whites and purples. Josh Kirschenbaum, product development director for Territorial Seed in Cottage Grove, Ore., says that if you plant radishes in the cool weather of spring and fall, they won't get fiercely spicy. The kids can give them to Mom for Mother's Day.
4. Carrots. Another quick-grower. The tiny seeds need to be sprinkled carefully, but soon you'll have real baby carrots, sweet enough for Peter Rabbit. The green tops attract swallowtail butterflies.
5. Potatoes. Cut in pieces, bury now, and you're eating new potatoes in June. "When you harvest, you just dig in the side of the little hill, and leave the mom plant there so she can grow more, bigger potatoes," says George Ball, chairman and CEO of W. Atlee Burpee & Co. in Warminster, Pa. You can buy seed potatoes, which haven't been treated with growth-retarding chemicals like some supermarket potatoes. But a potato sprouting in the kitchen cupboard should work just fine, too.
6. Green beans. It's fun to plant the big seeds, and beans are delicious raw or cooked. Bush beans are simplest, but pole beans, which grow up a teepee made of sticks, make a great secret hiding place come July. Scarlet runner beans have a stronger bean flavor that some kids don't like, but they attract hummingbirds.
7. Sungold cherry tomato. Buy a small plant at the local garden store, and you'll be picking supersweet orange orbs off these prolific vines until frost. If you've got the space, plant a red grape tomato, too.
8. Pumpkins. They take a bit more space, and you'll have to wait until fall to harvest, but the vines are enchanting. Grow your own jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, or pick one of the adorable minipumpkins like Jack Be Little.
9. Sunflowers. Taller than Dad, or elf-sized mini versions. If you've got a big yard, plant a bunch and make a maze. In the fall, dry and eat the seeds, or leave them in the garden for the birds.
10. Broccoli. You might be surprised to see what kids like when they've planted and harvested the crop themselves. Garden broccoli is sweet and tender. Buy plants at the local garden store to speed up harvest.From here:
Burpee seed company hails the Sun Gold cherry tomato variety as the most popular of its kind. Treasured for its orange-kissed, golden-sweet flesh, this hearty bloomer will provide fruits of the vine all summer long. Plant the cherry tomato from seed or starter and protect it from frost for best results.
Bury a piece of potato that has grown an eye or two, and you will have new potatoes that growing season. The potato creates tubers from the eyes it sprouts, and these will create finger-like roots that yield more potatoes from each branch. Just be sure to leave the original piece to ensure continual production.
Just like Jack's infamous beanstalk, your pole beans will climb like magic up a pole tepee or pyramid and grow profuse amounts of protein rich, hearty beans. Many varieties are available, including the pole bean Kentucky Wonder. Provider, a popular bush or snap bean, grows in mounds without staking.
What could be more thrilling than a vegetable named after colorful, dyed eggs? The sweet pink, white and purple radishes of the Easter Egg variety will delight both young and old gardeners with their carefree profusion and magical hues.
Choosing a pumpkin seed that yields a plant the correct size for your garden space can be challenging. Why not try a miniature pumpkin variety for the ease of cultivation and exciting harvest? Baby Boo, a mini white vine pumpkin, and Jack-be-little, a mini orange variety, will create a little hiding place under a pole tepee as the leaves and vines flesh out.and from here:
Broccoli is high in calcium, iron, and magnesium, as well as Vitamin A, B6, and C. In fact, one cup of raw broccoli florets provides 130% of your daily Vitamin C requirement.
- How to Grow Broccoli
- Grow Broccoli in Containers: One broccoli plant per pot, pots should be 12 to 16 inches deep.
- What to Watch Out For: Cabbage worm. If you start seeing pretty white butterflies fluttering around your broccoli, you're guaranteed to start seeing little green worms all over your broccoli plants. To avoid this, cover your broccoli plants with floating row cover or lightweight bed sheets. If you start seeing cabbage worms, simply pick them off by hand.
There is nothing like peas grown right in your own garden - the tender sweetness of a snap pea just plucked from the vine is unlike anything you can buy in at a store. Aside from being absolutely delicious, peas are high in fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and Vitamin A, B6, and C.
- How to Grow Peas
- Grow Peas in Containers: Sow peas approximately 2 inches apart in a pot that is at least 10 inches deep. Provide support for peas to climb up.
- What to Watch Out For: Hot weather. Once the weather turns hot, pea production will pretty much shut down. Grow peas in early spring and late summer/autumn, or any time of year when temperatures are consistently between 40 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Beans (especially navy beans, great northern beans, kidney beans)
While snap beans (green beans/wax beans) are a great addition to any garden, it's the beans we grow as dried beans that are real nutritional powerhouses. Dry beans, in general, are high in iron, fiber, manganese, and phosphorous.
- How to Grow Beans
- Grow Beans in Containers: Bush beans are your best option for growing in containers. Plant beans four inches apart in a container that is at least 12 inches deep.
- What to Watch Out For: Harvest at the right time. Harvest dry beans when the pods have completely dried on the vine. The pods should be light brown, and you should be able to feel the hard beans inside. Shell the beans, and let them sit out a few days to ensure that they're completely dry before storing them in jars in a cool, dark, dry place.
4. Brussels Sprouts
The bane of many a childhood, Brussels sprouts get a bad wrap mostly due to overcooking. When prepared right, Brussels sprouts are sweet, tender, and delicious. They also provide tons of fiber, magnesium, potassium, and riboflavin, as well as high levels of Vitamins A, B6, and C.
- How to Grow Brussels Sprouts
- Grow Brussels Sprouts in Containers: Grow one plant per 16-inch deep container.
- What to Watch Out For: Cabbage worms (see "Broccoli, above.)
Fresh, homegrown tomatoes are the reason many gardeners get into vegetable gardening in the first place. There's just nothing that compares to eating a perfectly ripe tomato, still warm from the sun. Tomatoes are also incredibly good for us, packing plenty of fiber, iron, magnesium, niacin, potassium, and Vitamin A, B6, and C. They're also a great source of the antioxidant lycopene.
- How to Grow Tomatoes
- Grow Tomatoes in Containers: Container sizes will vary depending on the variety you're growing. If you're growing an indeterminate variety, your container will need to be at least 18 inches deep. For determinate varieties, 12 inches is a good depth, and for dwarf or "patio" type tomatoes, 8 inches is perfect. One tomato plant per pot.
- What to Watch Out For: Tomato horn worm can be a problem in many areas - these large caterpillars should be removed by hand whenever you see them. Also watch out for signs of blight, which is a real problem in many parts of the U.S.
6. Red Bell Peppers
Red bell peppers are high in potassium, riboflavin, and Vitamins A, B6, and C - in fact, one cup of red bell pepper packs an amazing 317% of the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C and 93% of the recommended Vitamin A.
- How to Grow Peppers
- Grow Peppers in Containers: Plant one pepper plant per each 8 to 12 inch deep pot.
- What to Watch Out For: Aphids and flea beetles are the two most common insect pests when growing peppers. While both can be controlled with insecticidal soap, which is a common organic option, you can also make all-natural, homemade sprays to deter these pests. A tomato leaf spray will get rid of aphids, and garlic/hot pepper spray works very well on a flea beetle infestation.
Beets are a great "two-fer" crop - you can harvest the beet roots, of course, but you can also harvest and eat the greens. Young beet greens are delicious when added raw to a salad, and larger beet greens can be sauteed as a quick side dish or used the way you'd use other greens such as spinach. Beet roots are very high in iron, potassium, and vitamin C. Beet greens are even better, as they are high in iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and Vitamins A, B6, and C.
- How to Grow Beets
- Grow Beets in Containers: Plant beet seeds three inches apart in a container that is twelve inches deep. Because each beet seed is actually a cluster of seeds, be sure to thin the seedlings to one per cluster. Thinnings can be added to salads or sandwiches.
- What to Watch Out For: Knowing when to harvest. Beet roots are at their best when they are harvested small - between one and two inches across. At this size, they are sweet and tender. Larger beets tend to be kind of woody and less flavorful.
8. Leaf Amaranth
Leaf amaranth is a less-common vegetable that is well worth a try in your own garden. The leaves have a sweet and slightly tangy flavor that works well in a variety of dishes, from stir-fries and soups to simply steaming it all by itself. As a bonus, leaf amaranth is one of the few heat-tolerant greens. It won't bolt in the heat of summer the way spinach and kale are prone to. Nutritionally, leaf amaranth is very high in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, riboflavin, zinc, and Vitamins A, B6, and C. Everyone should be growing this!
- How to Grow Leaf Amaranth
- Growing Leaf Amaranth in Containers: Scatter the tiny seeds over the soil's surface in a pot that is at least 8 inches deep. Harvest the leaves when they are two to four inches tall. You will be able to get at least two or three harvest before you'll have to sow more seeds.
- What to Watch Out For: Leaf amaranth is fairly easy to grow, and relatively problem-free. Rarely, leaf miners can become a problem.
Carrots are at their sweetest, crunchiest best when freshly harvested from the garden. These icons of healthy eating deserve their "good-for-you" rep - they're very high in fiber, manganese, niacin, potassium, and Vitamins A, B6, and C. Their only drawback is that they do tend to be high in sugar, so if you're watching your carb intake, you'll want to limit the amount of carrots you eat.
- How to Grow Carrots
- Grow Carrots in Containers: Sow carrot seeds two to three inches apart in a pot that is at least twelve inches deep. Look for shorter varieties, such as 'Thumbelina,' or 'Danver's Half Long.'
- What to Watch Out For: Harvesting at the perfect size. Carrots are at their tastiest when harvested small. Leaving them in the ground too long can result in overly large, woody carrots. You'll also want to make sure to keep your carrots evenly moist, as letting the soil dry out too often can also result in somewhat bitter, fibrous carrots.
OK, I cheated here. I can't recommend just ONE leafy green, because they are all incredibly good for us, as well as delicious -- kale, collards, spinach, turnip or dandelion greens -- how can you possibly choose just one? In general, the "green leafies" contain high amounts of calcium, iron, potassium, and Vitamins A, B6, and C.
- How to Grow Kale and Other Leafy Greens
- Grow Greens in Containers: Grow one kale or collard plant per ten inch deep pot. Other greens can be grown a few plants to a pot -- they should be planted at least 4 inches apart and harvested small.
- What to Watch Out For: Heat and cabbage worms. Most leafy greens are cool-weather crops, so they're best grown in spring and fall in most areas - hot weather will cause them to bolt. In addition, many of these greens are members of the Brassicas family, which means they are prone to cabbage worm infestations. Control them with the same methods outlined in the "Broccoli" section, above.
Try growing one or two (or all!) of these nutrient-dense, delicious vegetables in your own garden, and you'll get double the health benefits: healthy food and time spent outdoors, nurturing your plants.