[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Brief update, just to prove the blog isn't dead. :)

The chickens are now used to regularly going out into the compost yard for several hours during the day, then returning to the covered coop area at night. They love it, and I had no idea compost could be so darn fluffy.

With the last warm blush of pre-spring weather, the girls were up to 3-4 eggs a day, but now that it is cold and rainy again, they are once more down to 0-2 eggs a day. not that I blame them. Cold and drizzly wouldn't inspire me either...Or, as [livejournal.com profile] gryphynshadow  put it: "today is not a good day to bring babies into the world". :)

The children recently harvested a huge portion of tiny baby carrots from the yard, along with the vastly overgrown radishes. The shapes radishes end up in when too much moisture causes them to split are, quite frankly, incredibly lewd.

pics later when I upload them from the camera. ~grin~

The broccoli has continued to slowly produce a bit here, a bit there. In fact, we recently harvested a bunch that had flowered, and yet was still incredibly sweet. I don't understand it, but I did enjoy it. nom nom.

That's about it here...stay warm, ya'll!
[identity profile] gryphynshadow.livejournal.com
I went out into the garden today, to see that over the past three days the broccoli bloomed. Yep, little yellow flowers. So I've harvested 6 out of 9 plants, leaving three on one end that have been lagging behind all season. Those three have got little bitty heads on them, so I think I'll leave them a couple days more, but the six that I've harvested are, I think, done.

The poor brussels sprouts didn't produce at all for me. I think I planted them way too late. February first is really a bit after their ideal plant by time. I'll start some for the next winter season at the end of October, and see if I can overwinter them and get them to produce. I think it's just too hot for them.

I also need to find out what eats the (expletive deleted) worms that have been chewing them to bits. I left the brussels sprouts in the ground, even after it became obvious they weren't doing well, because I wanted the worms to eat them, instead of my broccolis. Sadly, the worms have finally found the broccoli, and gone to town on them. :(

In other news, the tomato seedlings I planted out (was it two weeks ago?) are doing well. I've noticed that the ones in the ground are noticeably taller and healthier looking than the ones in the earth boxes. Phooey. I think it's the microorganisms in the soil, possibly earthworms, too. The earthboxes don't have worms, the soil is different in them... Sigh. I've got one Arkansas Traveler in a box, and one in the ground, and the ground one is a good two inches taller already.

I think I may start a couple more tomatoes, for an extended harvest (and cause I like tomatoes.) Besides, both my Rutger's tomatoes are in a box, and I soo want some to eat! I'm sure they'll produce, I just feel greedy.

Oh, I know, I'll make some compost tea! With molasses and apple cider vinegar. mmm. Plant yummies.

Waiting for me to make room for them are 6 okra plants, 6 (or 12, if I don't thin them) zucchinis, a basil, a marjoram, and an oregano. I need to pick up a pot for my lemon thyme (I already know better than to try to grow thyme outside). Also coming along, I started some zucchini seeds last week, and they're poking up too. Yay!

It occurs to me to wonder where I think I'm going to stick all these plants...
[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Ok, update: we ate our first strawberry out of the garden last week, and this week we had our first harvested broccoli. Apparently there are little grub worm things that like broccoli, but [livejournal.com profile] gryphynshadow  managed to pick them out when cooking, so I don't think we got too much extra protein from that. She has planted the heirloom tomato seedlings she started, 7 of them (I'll let her update you on the varieties and which are doing better or worse) and has shared a bunch of them with [livejournal.com profile] laughingturtle  as well. LT reports that something is attacking said tomatoes and is planning on spraying them with a soap nut mix to see if that solves the problem.

We have the chicken pen almost finished enough to bring the chickens over (taking long enough, isn't it?), we just need to add the roof. Then it will be time to find some food-grade DE to paint the wooden parts of the will-be-a-coop and treat the litter with. We are planning to try the deep litter method, so I'm on the lookout for side-of-the-road plywood to add an edge to the coop area to contain the litter. We still haven't figure out how the best way to add a rain barrier roof over the coop area, but we have some ideas we are bouncing around, so hopefully we will solve that one soon.

Progress in the yard has been slightly delayed by the Evil-Cold-of-Neverending-Lethargy that is making it's way through the family, and by us taking a weekend to work on our yurts for Flipside with [livejournal.com profile] errantember , but we hope to have at least the chickens moved over before we head out to that in May.

The spinach apparently either went in too late to take advantage of the cool weather, or needs to be planted on a side of the house that isn't quite so sunny and warm, as it has all gone to seed.[livejournal.com profile] gryphynshadow  dutifully saved the seeds when it bolted, so while we didn't get edible spinach, we did get the beginning of future spinach out of them.

The peppers lost their blossoms to the last cold snap, but those that had already set are doing their darndest to become peppers we can eat. And the accidental-pumpkins are blossoming as well.

The compost is doing better, and our daughters were absolutely enthralled to learn what our son already knew; that when you play outside, the mommies LIKE it when you pee in the compost.

[livejournal.com profile] goudananda  has offered to be on the lookout and try to get a hold of some barrels for us to use for rainwater catchment, so hopefully by the end of the season we can get a hold of a few of those and go about converting them to harvest rain off the roof.

Chicken pen progress, this pic is slightly outdated, as I have actually taken the pile of salvaged brick from the garden-bed-against-the-house removal and placed them inside the pen around the edge to discourage chicken digging of holes beneath the fence.

future peppers! Our first strawberry! wheee!! It was delicious...we shared it between [livejournal.com profile] gryphynshadow , myself, and our friend [livejournal.com profile] tazfromtx  who was over at the moment of harvest (clever timing) and all agreed it tasted far superior to store purchased strawberries.

Pumpking blossoms! Broccoli! They got slightly larger than this, but not by much, and then we harvested....I don't remember if GS said that was because she couldn't wait, or because they were starting to open up and preparing to bolt, but either way, it was tasty.





[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Ok, I've been really bad about posting lately, many of you already know the power supply on my pc blew and I'm having to share computer, but also I've just been lazy, so here's a quick update.

The chicken pen is taking longer than we thought, mostly because life keeps throwing us curve balls, but progress is....progressing. Basically, we have all the posts in for the main section, and the two rows of poultry netting in place that make up the walls, and a kind helper came and installed the privacy fence panels left from our last project to make the walls of the eventual-coop section.

This means what is left is putting the poultry netting over the top (more to keep predators out than to keep chickens in, if our dog was worth anything we wouldn't need this part *grin*), wire the top and bottom panels of netting together (I wish they sold 6' poultry netting here, but they don't), and put paving stones around the inside at the bottom of the wire. We actually didn't know we would need to do that last part, but our chicken-experienced friend came over to check things out (thanks [livejournal.com profile] laughingturtle !) and informed us that if we want to save headache later we should do that now. She informed us that  chickens like to scratch holes in their dirt to give themselves dust baths. I knew that part, what I didn't know was that they have a decided preference for doing so at the EDGE of their pen....and then escaping through the resultant hole.

Suburban chickens + hole in their panel= unhappy neighbors. So we will absolutely want to do the paving stone thing.

So complicated.

On a fun note, we attended the monthly Brazos Progressives potluck and met several other suburban folks with backyard chickens. When they heard we were installing a pen we were regaled with funny stories about their own building surprises and some really hysterical tales of what happens when city folks are faced with their first egg and/or butchering.

It was good to hear others walking this path and know, without doubt,  we aren't the only ones who are finding the practical is often more complex than the theory.

If [livejournal.com profile] gryphynshadow  hasn't told you, she has her first tiny broccolis starting on the now very-much-larger broccoli plants, and we have a few strawberries, they just aren't red yet. She plans to harvest the first crop of (tiny) onions this weekend, and I'll try to get pic updates to you as soon as my pc is back up and running.

[identity profile] gailmom.livejournal.com
Progress is slow so far, but we have accomplished a few things. Since they happened before we started the blog, let me catch you up. :)

We have put in a compost pile. When I say "we" in this instance, what I mean is that I helped weed to provide things for the compost pile and [livejournal.com profile] gryphynshadow  did all the rest of the work. There was some confusion for a while as to why it wasn't heating up (the germinating pumpkin seeds in the middle were sort of a clue we were doing something wrong). But G got on the internet and discovered that one of our problems is that (duh!) bone dry stuff does not rot. She has begun watering it, and we are getting some heat in one, though nothing in the other. Still not sure what the problem is there.

compost-stage one

We also (and again, I mostly mean her, I bought the plants though! lol) planted three strawberry plants,  a row of broccoli, and a row of brussels sprouts on the south side of the house. Then, with some help from the visiting [livejournal.com profile] errantember , we (and I actually do mean "we" this time) put in three Earth Boxes worth of onions. The Earth boxes are left over from my container gardening era before I had a capable human to live with and could contemplate other methods of growing food. I've had good luck with them in the past, but this will be the first time I've tried them without their plastic cover (which I don't have any more of now) so I'm curious to see if they perform as well as they did with all their intended pieces.

brussels sprouts & broccoli, stage oneonions-stage onestrawberries-stage one


Oh, the red thing in the photo? That's the painted stump from one of the four trees we had removed before we installed the privacy fence.

So that's where we stand right now; couple of rows of plants put in at the tail end of the recommended planting season, a stubbornly cool compost pile, and big ideas!

The next step will be putting in the chicken pen.....



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