Category Archives: Organic

SUMMER HEAT!

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After what seemed like weeks of extra-soggy weather, I have been able to really get into the garden again this week! The radishes, lettuce, peas, carrots, onions and beets are all doing beautifully! I can’t wait to harvest the lettuce and radishes!

 

It is terribly hot today – the horses are sweating just standing in their paddocks. I am definitely sunburnt from the work we’ve put in the last few days!

 

I’ve spent some time “redesigning” the garden, from what it was in years past. We are installing “permanent” beds, which will be easier to maintain. Ideally. I was very disappointed that I killed off all of my tomato seedlings. I had to go to the nursery and pick up some started plants to have some for this year. We ended up with a yellow grape variety, “black prince”, heintz, early girl, and an unintended “chocolate cherry”… which, when combining the word “chocolate cherry” with tomato, kind of makes me gag. We shall see how that “whoops” turns out!

 

I just planted cucumbers under the trellis! Lemon cucumbers and “sugar crunch” cucumbers – mmmmm! I was also lucky to find the eggplant varieties I was hoping to plant – “Rosa Bianca”, a pretty white-lavender variety that is supposed to have a less-bitter taste to it, and the standard “Black Beauty”. I have also planted purple bell pepper again, an early red bell, mammoth jalapenos (for poppers, of course), pablana peppers and sweet banana! Mmm.

 

Sadly, much of the garden is not truly organic – it was started under unknown circumstances at the greenhouses where I purchased them. I’m sure the process included non-organic fertilizer – but, at least from this point on they are organic!

Peas, carrots, lettuce and radishes!

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Garden box #2 down! One big one to go! Also have to plant the edges of the boxes, although I have not quite decided what to plant and where.

I planted two varieties of radish – “Easter Egg Blend”, which is a leftover from last year, and “French Breakfast” radishes.

Then I planted two small rows of lettuce – the row on the left has a leaf lettuce blend, and the row on the right has a mesclun blend. Mmm. I’m going to devote a whole paragraph to the lettuce, simply because every time I have tried home-grown lettuce, it bolts or wilts, or both. Ick. So, basically, with the mesclun, you can plant it close, not thin it, and cut it when the lettuces are about 2 inches tall. Baby lettuce salad! My favorite! Apparently the mesclun will continue to grow after it is harvested by cutting it with scissors. Once it germinates, I can cut it anywhere from 1 week to 4 weeks-ish.

Then, there are the carrots. Hopefully this year they grow better, particularly since I planted them in nice loamy, well fertilized “horse” soil.

Mason helped me plant the peas… he is such an intelligent, sweet and fun little boy! I love running around with him. We concluded our garden time by taking Lucy, the mini-horse on a walk when we took him home. What fun!

Onion, parsnips and beets…

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I was finally able to plant something yesterday in the garden box! Whoooooo-hooooo! However, after planting, I noticed two things: the garden box had settled unevenly and the dirt settled at about the half-way point. Oops.

So, on 5/5/11 onion, parsnips and beets were planted.

Chiogga Beets: Germinate in 5-10 days, harvest at 50 days.

Parsnips: Germination can take up to 20 days! Harvest at about 130 days!

Yellow Onion: These I did not plant from seed – they were already started bulbs. Apparently they are ready for harvest when the top browns and falls over. Hmm…

I learned, just this year, that the same idea applies to garlic (in regards to harvest time).

Additionally, the soil is not all that spectacular – it is actually a bit heavy with clay. I pulled it out of the paddock where the horses have aided in the composting process by stirring things up anytime it gets muddy. We shall see…

Additionally, chicken eggs are now for sale! $2.50 per dozen!

Whoo hoo!

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Yesterday it was nice enough outside to go out into the garden and get some work done! Not much, but I did succeed in separating last year’s garlic and transplanting it. I also planted two rows of basil at the far end of the tomato box – a lovely mix of lemon basil, purple basil, Genovese basil and others.

I also set out the plants that were started in our bathroom “grow house” – giant pumpkin, 3 varieties of tomato, bell pepper, marigolds, malva and aster. I set them in the barn aisle, so that they were not in direct sun or wind – I did leave them out there overnight (doors closed, of course) so they’d acclimate to the cooler weather. The pumpkins were looking wilty this morning and the marigolds were kind of leaning. Hopefully they’ll come back around once they are transplanted in the fertile, horse manure-laced soil outside!

Here is a quick look at some of what has been happening in the garden:

A purple coneflower (echinacea) nestled against a border of German chammomile.

 

Snap peas sprouting adjacent to our wedding trellis.

 

The surprise peony! Growing in the middle of a group of Iris!

 

The transplanted garlic, at the near end of the tomato box... mmmm! My fave!

 

Additionally, the hens have been laying about 9 eggs per day, including 2-3 pretty blue-green Aracauna eggs! We collect our eggs daily and they go straight to the refrigerator. On the days we forget, the eggs go to the garbage… better safe than sorry!

Garlic and Rain

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I’ve spent a lot of time pondering our garden this year. I’ve spent just as much time getting excited about it! I was not excited when I realized that garlic bulbs were something like, $5 for 3 to plant. I had planted garlic last year and was very disappointed when the leaves turned yellow, then brown and died. I did not realize that this meant the garlic was ready to dig!

Fast forward to this Spring: that garlic from last year was never pulled. I assumed (wrongly) that the roots must have turned to mush. Nope, they were busy making more garlic!

Each day I look out in the garden become giddy thinking about all of the yummy plants, but this year, I’m especially nuts about the garlic. I love cooking with garlic, and it looks like last years garlic has presented us with many garlic plants to divide and grow! Yay!

However, as it is, the rain has been non-stop and the garden and the awesome paddock “stirred compost” are equal parts water and sludge. Ick.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow, when I can get out and start making our garden look like a garden!

Chicken nipples and worm poop?

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A few weeks ago I ordered 3 chicken automatic waterers – commonly referred to as “chicken nipples”. Ultimately, what it boils down to is the equivalent of a guinea pig waterer for chickens. I set one up yesterday for the chicks and was so pleased that they caught on in about 2 minutes. Once they discovered the little silver pin gave them a “treat” they went to town!

Another pleasant surprise was that the chickens have been busy laying eggs again… I’ve just been too busy to notice. It is the time of year where the coop needs to be cleaned out, and the chickens have been laying them on the floor. During the week we have to restore the nesting hay every few days… and this job has been neglected as of late. I am also going to be changing the bedding to wood shavings for them once the cleaning is done.

In the garden – I finished repotting several more of the tomatos… and I am hoping that the overwatered seedlings that I started come back around. In my research about overwatering, I discovered “compost tea”… which looks like more work than what I’m willing to put in currently. However, I went to the local feed and grain store and found “Earthworm Casting Tea Bags”. It is completely organic. We shall see how this works! I will be misting the tomatos with this ucky (think: worm poop) concoction. I’ve heard it helps give the plants more nutrients, and it is actually good on the leaves, too! I always thought that getting the leaves wet would cause problems… apparently I was wrong! Can’t wait to see how well it works!

Fun!

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Just placed an order with a relatively local breeder of Black Copper Maran chickens. Sometime in May we should be getting 4 adorable chickies who will grow up to lay beautiful dark, reddish-chocolate brown eggs. That is, if we get hens.

Black Maran Roo:

Pretty - not too spectacular, but pretty!

Black Copper Maran Hen:

Love the striping on her head and neck feathers!

 

Maran eggs:

Look at how gorgeous these eggs are!

 

Our current flock consists of one Comet Roo, two Comet Hens, four Barred Plymouth Rock hens, four Black Australorp hens, three Auracana hens, and two Rhode Island Red hens.

Speaking to the hubby today, we are considering replacing part of the coop ceiling with plexiglass to allow more light into the coop in the winter months without having to provide artificial light. Hmmm… it would also mean that we would only need to buy culk – not shingles! Also looking into other ways to improve upon our chicken-tending 🙂