Tuesday, June 6, 2023



 I'll be away taking care of these two cuties.
Or maybe they'll be taking care of me.
Dogs make my heart smile.

See you in a couple of weeks!
(Secretly hoping that my garden is still alive.)

Friday, May 26, 2023

Garden Friday


 Welcome to Garden Friday!
Our Zone 7b Piedmont garden is keeping me busy.
So are these curious and ravenous critters,
who insist on not only stealing the corn
from the chicken run,
but also diving right into the chook feeders.
This guy cracked me up when he tried to make a quick escape
with the corn cob still in his mouth.
He couldn't fit through the welded wire so he had to leave it behind.
Score one for the chooks!

The green beans have started climbing up the corkscrew poles.
More varieties of drying beans have been started
including Jacob's Cattle beans, Rattlesnake beans and Red Ripper beans.
The okra has also germinated in the soil blocks,
so those will be planted out as soon as they have their second set of true leaves.

The sweet potato bed was prepped with twigs and shredded leaves,
compost and then organic soil on the top.

With nearly three dozen slips that were homegrown,
we're hoping for a great harvest later in the season.
Sweet potatoes are one of the easiest crops to grow,
requiring very little in the way of care.
I'm trying to come up with a proper trellising system,
mostly to keep the chooks out of the bed,
but also so that the vines (which are edible)
don't take over the garden. 
sweet potato bed 2019
It looks like the asparagus is slowing down.
It's been fairly consistent in producing delicious, tender stalks,
some of which were quite lengthy!
The ferns have started to fill the bed,
which ensures that another crop will show up next spring.
What a blessing!

Some of the lettuce varieties have started going to seed,
but a few are still being harvested every week.
The chooks get any that are pulled up to make room for new crops.
They don't seem to mind the bitter taste of bolted lettuce.

I've sampled a few ripe, red strawberries in the main round bed,
but we also have these coming along in grow bags.
Every two weeks or so, they get a good dose of fish emulsion.

A batch of compost tea was made up this week,
and being stirred at least once a day.
It will be strained and used to pep up anything edible.

The flowers are still taking off!
This rudebeckia just doesn't quit,
and it's a bright pop of color in our front porch bed.
This week a few foundation plants were installed,
as I continue to work on recreating my flower beds out front.



We swapped out the bird feeders and added this baffle
to deter squirrels from eating us out of house and home!
So far, so good.
This feeder, which was gifted us,
has a rotating ring on the base,
which is supposed to deter squirrels from raiding your feeder.
They figured that out pretty quickly,
so we moved it to the back of the house and added this baffle.

All is well in the chook run this week.
I sure wish that they would chase off the squirrels
that invade their space.
At least they got all of these yummy leftovers.
They love rice!

Life is Better with Chickens.

Have a safe weekend.
Bless those who gave their all.

Friday, May 19, 2023

Garden Friday

Welcome to Garden Friday!
We are bloomin' up a storm this week,
and tweaking our Zone 7b Piedmont garden.
This dandelion and spider wort combo really strikes a pose,
don't ya think?

Turmeric was harvested this week,
and replanted for another season.
This crop grows all summer into a beautiful, lush plant,
almost tropical in nature,
and then hibernates during winter in our garage.
Not much to look at, but oh, so good for you!

You may not believe this,
but I actually got to eat this plump, ripe,
and very juicy strawberry!
The netting I put over the bed has kept the chooks out of it.
(They still get all the wild strawberries they I can find.)

These probably look like brownies, right?
They are actually my first attempt at using
the new soil blocker that was acquired for the spring season.
I'd love to do away with as much plastic as possible,
and this seemed like a good start.

Old sheet pans are being used as a base,
until I construct something else.
Or maybe I'll like the cookie sheets.
They can always be found at thrift shops,
so maybe we'll just stick with that.
It's always so much fun to hone your system.

 A large section of this 3X8 bed
was sown with corn.
There is probably not much chance that
the squirrels won't beat us to it,
but I just had to try it.
A section of welded wire covers the newly planted seed,
to allow the seeds to germinate without pesky squirrels 
digging it up.
The Who Gets Kissed? variety from Sow True Seed was planted.
Who could resist a name like that?

The salvia in the front porch bed has gone bonkers!
The deep, rich purple hew is a sight to behold.
I am so grateful for eyes that see color.

Shasta daisy

 I'm enjoying the way this yarrow is 
enveloping the stem of the crepe myrtle tree out front.
This rue (in the forefront with the yellow blooms),
was planted to foster the black swallowtail caterpillars.
It's one of their host plants, along with
dill, parsley, carrots and fennel. 
Plant some and see what happens!

One calla lily has bloomed so far,
but no doubt there will be many more.
What a magical looking plant this is.
Clumps of these have been planted 
around our bird bath.

There is so much color out there right now,
and I know it's just the beginning!
Spring is so exciting!


Who doesn't love a coneflower?
I find them lovely at every stage,
and the pollinators adore 'em!

Our front porch pot is growing well,
with Gerbera daisies, nasturtiums and several types of lettuce.
This experiment was inspired by Brie Arthur,
who encourages folks to try foodscaping.
Here's a link to her YouTube channel,
where you're sure to learn something new!

Here's a peek at the front porch bed in transition.
We still have a ways to go,
but we're making steady progress.
Lamb's Ear and lettuce have been used as a border.

Our beloved Betty is back with her friends 
after being isolated for a while because of health issues.
She seems happier, but her skin condition is still there.
We don't know what other steps to take,
other than what has been suggested to us,
so as long as she seems content,
we will let nature run its course
and continue to pray for healing.

Life is Better with Chickens.
How's your spring garden coming along?

Friday, May 12, 2023

Garden Friday

Welcome back to Garden Friday,
where we share what's going on in our
Zone 7b Piedmont garden.
Peonies are all abloom at this time of year.
They are gorgeous, with all of their fluffy layers.

Work has continued on the front flower beds.
This week, I was able to install our handmade birdbath
that a friend made for me.
I think it looks great next to the purple salvia. 
As beds are coming together in the new plan,
I'll share some before and after pictures.

The greens are growing gangbusters!
With the irrigation running once again,
I've been able to pick fresh salad greens all week!

This is the best looking tat soi I've ever grown.
It is vibrant green, so you know it has to be good for you!
It is usually eaten raw, but I'll bet it's great in a stir fry.

My cup, er, basket runneth over.

This circus-tent contraption was necessary
after I spied the first ripe strawberry of the season
being eaten by a naughty chook.
I really can't blame her, she knows a good thing when she sees it.

This volunteer squash/pumpkin was found growing 
from the gravel off of our driveway.
Amazing how plants will grow anywhere.
This will be transplanted to a raised bed this weekend.
(For the record, I gave up growing squash a few years ago.)
My sister was kind enough to pick up this raised bed
at a yard sale.
It will house our sweet potatoes this year.

This week, I was bitten by a jumping spider.
Avoid them if you can, for it was mighty painful
for a full 24 hours.
With all the time I spend outside,
imagine the shock of being bitten on our sofa!

Another curious critter I learned about this week
was this click beetle.
It was found resting on one of the terra cotta pots outside.
God sure makes some interesting creatures, huh?

This pesky varmint did not succeed in pilfering much feed
from this new feeder that was gifted us.
It has a perch that spins,
so that anything larger than a small bird
will not be able to dine.
This guy had that figured out from the start,
but thankfully, he did not achieve his goal.
Update:  (He later cleaned us out!)

This lovely critter was a bit big for the feeder,
but I think it managed to get a few morsels.
sleeping micelets
These wee things were found in the garage this week.
No momma came back to claim them 
and we didn't really know what to do.
We did our best to nurse them,
but one perished before we could get them
to someone who could help them recover.
What an amazing woman I met who does
animal rescues out of her home.
There are really some good souls in this world.

 The other good thing about our adventure
is that we ended up taking everything out of the garage
to look for the momma or a nest.
Neither was found,
but our garage sure looks a lot better!

What discoveries have you made on your homestead this week?

Friday, May 5, 2023

Garden Friday

 Welcome back to Garden Friday!
Here in our Zone 7b garden,
the flowers are starting to burst into color
and a big project has begun.
Queenie and Wilma have seemingly bonded recently,
and can often be seen beak-to-beak in the chicken run.

The irises are not only lovely in full flower,
but the buds are beautiful in every form.

These geraniums that a friend gifted me
are starting to spread out and love their sunny spot
near the front door.

We have become overrun with yarrow!
Much of it has been dug out of our front flower beds
as a reboot has taken place.
Some of this was relocated to a sunny spot
in the back of the house.
We recently had those trees trimmed,
allowing more space to grow things that need sunlight.

This 3X8 bed is being deconstructed.
The wood on the side was starting to fall apart,
so the decision was made to remove it and keep
it as an above-ground bed.
Straw has since been added to the area
and the plan is to grow corn here via the Ruth Stout method.

The beans and peas were planted underneath the bamboo trellis.
These are bush beans and snap peas and a few modifications
keep them safe from curious chooks.

I used lengths of flexible twine with scrap pieces
of welded wire inserted between to keep them out.
They love scratching anywhere there might be a tasty treat!

This week we did a massive spring cleaning to the coops.
The girls seemed to be wondering what happened to their homes.
The top was removed so that we could really get in there and tidy up.

The power washer made quick work of it.

The project referred to earlier was the removal 
of most of the plants in the front flower beds.
The majority of them were relocated to other spots.
The edging was also redone to define the space.

The garlic border stayed in place,
but many new things will be added to this bed.
I'm going for a cottage vibe.

Before the removal took place,
the yarrow can be seen in this shot, 
 taking over almost half of the bed.

This is the after shot, making a clean slate in which to build the new garden.
That yarrow kicked my butt!
One thing I realized,
is that it's much easier to remove it if it has been cut back.
So, I pruned like mad and then started digging.
Yarrow grows like a weed, 
so there will be no problem in it flushing back before too long.

These strawberries grow wild
all over our lawn.
I don't find them too tasty,
but the chooks love 'em!
I spend some time almost daily
tossing them into their free range area
and they gobble them up like nobody's business!

Here's a bluebird update.
Just look at those sweet things all snug and cozy.
We have counted four babies in this particular box.

This amazing display of crimson clover is planted
in a field at one of my jobs.
The picture really doesn't do it justice, 
but if you click on the photo, it will increase in size.
What a glorious sight it is to behold!

What discoveries have you made in your garden this week?