Friday, April 30, 2021

Garden Friday


Welcome back to Garden Friday!
With the weather showing its "spring-i-ness",
we've been working diligently at getting projects done.
Melons were started from seed 
and added to our cardboard tube pots.
Some of these are first time crops for me,
and I'm hoping we have enough room for them to sprawl.
What's better than ice cold melon on a hot, sticky summer day?

A quick check on the garden found the onions still doing fine.
This bed is shared with parsley and newly planted
broccoli and beets.

Some of the lettuce is finally starting to pop up.
For some reason, this has been a slow starting season
and the germination rate hasn't been great.
Many crops will need to be reseeded before the planting window closes.

Good news on the berry front though!
Many of the blueberry plants have berries on them.
They are all in place and tucked in
under a thick layer of homemade leaf mulch.
The irrigation has been hooked up
so they are getting plenty of hydration.

The strawberries are flowering and bearing fruit as well.
We have strawberries planted in three different places,
and hopefully, they will help us get our fill.

On the ornamental side,
the clematis that was transplanted to a sunnier spot
seems to be quite content.
This plant will cover the archway in the chicken yard.

Our neighbor had some trees trimmed and 
didn't want the wood chips.
I was happy to give them a home.
I've been registered with "ChipDrop" for a couple of years,
and never once received a load of chips.
This was such a gift.

They were put to good use.
I had enough to remulch the entire garden area
and enough left over to do most of the chicken run.

When Big K was mowing,
he discovered this surprise asparagus from last year.
If you've been reading the blog for a while,
you know that the entire veg garden had to be moved last year.
The asparagus was dug up and removed,
but I guess it's there for the duration.

 Earlier in the week, loofah seeds were planted 
around the gazebo structure to shade the chooks,
especially in the heat of summer.
These take a while to get started,
but once they get going, there is no stopping them.
They absolutely love the humidity!

We have been blessed with new life all around the homestead.
Just look at these bluebird tweeters.

And on the front porch birdhouse,
these wren tweeters are busy eating 24 hours a day.
The parents must be exhausted!

 We made room for more by fixing a couple of bird houses
that were going to be thrown out by a friend.

On my daily walk,
there were such lovely sights to see throughout the neighborhood.
I texted this neighbor and told him I think we need to do a swap.
He is totally on board.

This sweet planting surprised me
with all of the vibrant colors.
It just screams spring, don't you think?

The blackberries are in bloom!
Another neighbor pointed these out to me a few years ago,
and he's been having to share them ever since.
We both walk each morning and snack along the way.

Is this fringe tree amazing?
This belongs to a friend and I am always so glad when it comes into bloom.
What a showpiece!
It's one of the most unique trees I've ever seen.

Our Fabulous Flock

It feels great getting all of these little projects caught up.
With all of the irrigation in for now,
that's a big load off of my to-do list.
Now we will make a few more trips to the local IGA
and pick up some bargain ornamentals
so that we can work on the flowerbeds.
I hope to see a big difference by the end of summer.

What are you working on in your garden?

Friday, April 23, 2021

Garden Friday

 Hey there!
It's Garden Friday,
where we share what's happening seasonally in our Piedmont garden.
The soil samples were brought into our local Extension office,
so that we can get a reading on the quality of the soil in our beds.
Samples were taken out of several beds,
as well as the blueberry patch area.
The office sends in the samples once a month,
and the results are sent directly to the inquirer via e-mail.
This is a free service offered by most Extension offices.
In a few weeks, we should know if any amendments are needed.

These Slenderette green bean seeds were given to me several years ago
by my dear friends, Faye & Lynn,
the farmers in Lake Wales, Florida, with whom I volunteered.
I put ten seeds in a bag with a wet paper towel,
just to see if they were still viable.

Well, I got a 90% germination rate, so I thought they were worth a shot.
These beans are so tender and tasty, with no strings to annoy you.
It's by far the best green bean I've ever eaten.

They were potted up and so far, they are doing fine.
No doubt, with winter's last grip on us gone,
they will thrive in the sunshine.

The hostas that were planted in the backyard are really lovin' their spot.
These were gifted me by a sweet friend
and I think I just might have picked the ideal location for them.
A feeling of accomplishment, for sure.

There are a few more on the other side of the gravel walkway,
and I can see filling in this whole, long path with many varieties.
Can you ever really have too many hostas?
I think not.

The blueberry patch was worked on a bit this week.
I started laying out the drip system,
so that it will be watered at the same time as the raised beds.

As I got the poly tubing set up,
I was again reminded of how easy it is to work with this system.
It saves a whole lotta time and worry
and only requires checking on it once a week
to ensure that everything is working correctly.
Before I set up my own system,
I thought installing drip irrigation was difficult.
Here's where we posted about our original install.

With a day of rain predicted for tomorrow,
all of the garden should be mighty satisfied.
And so will this gardener.
How's your garden growing?

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Earth Day 2021

Happy Earth Day, 
my Dear Mother!

"When we heal the earth,
we heal ourselves."
~David Orr

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

A Tale of Two Coops


We've had our chooks since last summer,
when a dear friend had to relocate out of state
and needed to find a home for her flock.
It's been one of the best things to happen to us,
as we enjoy caring for them
and the bounty that they bring in the form of eggs and compost.
Even our son, C, who rarely ventures outside,
has become fascinated by them and is in charge
of putting them to bed and collecting eggs.

We started out with a traditional wooden coop,
but soon found that it was not working out.
After some research, we landed on the Eglu coop from Omlet,
and it has turned out to be the perfect fit.
It is so easy to clean,
which at this stage of my life is paramount,
and the flock seems to be quite content.

We started out with the largest coop,
with room for up to 10 chickens
(they haven't seen our rooster Gandalf),
and three, count 'em, three nesting boxes (shown on the left side)
for cozy laying for the hens.

Even through the snow and frigid temperatures,
the chooks have been comfortable.
The insulated walls have done a remarkable job
of keeping the temperatures pleasant inside.

The Omlet Go
At some point a few months ago,
our sweet Queenie began to sit on eggs.
Unfortunately, her timing was off,
as we had no way of allowing her to continue
and keep the eggs safe from the other chooks.
You see, although there are three nesting boxes,
as is often the case, they all use the same one.
I ended up taking the eggs until we could accommodate her maternal urges.

The smaller Omlet Go was purchased a few weeks ago
in hopes that she would remain broody.
In this way, she could have the coop to herself
and the other chooks would be separated from the would-be momma.
The Go has only one nesting box,
but still room for up to 6 chooks.

The smaller coop was added to the yard
just to get them used to it.
There was no shortage of curiosity seekers.
This coop will double as a hospital, should it be needed.

Now that we're prepared for chicks,
Ms. Queenie is not showing signs of broodiness.
Ah well, at least we are ready in the event
that someone decides they want to be a momma.

New chicks on the homestead would be a thrill
and an especially valuable experience for C, 
who has really taken a shine to his charges.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Garden Friday

It's Garden Friday
and the livin' is easy.
At least if you're a chook.
The flock has been moved around the property
with temporary fencing keeping them safe.
We are working on ideas for a more permanent fence solution.
 The asparagus bed was prepped for planting.
We use the hugelkultur method to fill the bottom half of the bed
with twigs, branches and shredded leaves.

 The nutrients from these materials feeds the soil
and also helps with aeration.
It also encourages tiny critters to hang out,
which adds even more goodness to the soil.
We were finally able to pick up some compost
from our local source.
It was so hot, that it was necessary to wait a few days
before planting, lest we burn the crops.
Yesterday I took the time to plant the ten crowns we had,
spacing them 18 inches apart on each side of the bed.
This bed measures 2 X 8, and  the plants were staggered to fit.
It will be 2 to 3 years before the asparagus can be harvested.
This handy-dandy gizmo was purchased for some of our strawberries.
We have some planted in a large washtub,
and those plants are thriving,
but I wanted to try something new.
This vertical planter is made by Mr. Stacky,
a company located in Lake City, FL.
Don't feel that it limits you to strawberry planting,
I can imagine herbs, flowers or salad greens doing nicely.

I first saw this type of growing container
on one of the YouTube channels I follow.
Mr. Stacky is a bit more affordable than the ones I had seen,
and, being made in the USA, I felt good supporting this company.
The feature I really like is that when the top pot is watered,
the water continues to drip down to the lower pots,
so it's easy to make sure everything is evenly watered.
I'll let you know how they work out.

Speaking of the washtub with the strawberries in it,
I moved it and look what was found underneath.
You know what they say,
if you see one, there are certainly more.

After checking out a new nursery in town,
(what fabulous news that is!),
a flat of marigolds was purchased and planted
 in one of the front flower beds I'm working on.
There is plenty of space to fill in,
so I can see myself patronizing that lil' nursery throughout the season.

I'm especially fond of the French marigolds,
with the bicolor, ruffly petals.
The hostas in the back of the house are coming back.
What a thrill to see them pop up through the heavy leaf mulch.
These were added last year to some of the shadier spots out back.
The back area is another spot that I'm working on.

 Most of the soil testing got done this week,
although there are still a few beds to be done.
When these boxes are dropped off next week,
I can pick up a few more to complete the tests.
It usually takes only a week or two to get results back.
This service is free from our County Extension Service.

With the busyness of the birds lately,
I thought it would be nice to help them out with nesting materials.
A bag of potatoes that had the mesh lining on it
(onions come this way too),
was repurposed to provide string, leaves, and pine needles
to the birds for nest making.
It was hung on a shepherd's hook right underneath several bird houses.
One stop shopping!

After years of holding onto these birdhouse gourds,
I was finally motivated to create bird houses out of them.
The tools were assembled and the task was quickly completed.
They were left natural, although I did cover them in a
coating of bee's wax/mineral oil to help protect them
and make them last a bit longer.
It was a fun project, and I hope to make it an annual ritual.
They are a welcome gift for most nature lovers.

With an abundance of seeds shaken out of the gourds,
it looks like we'll be growing plenty to share!

How's your spring garden shaping up?