Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Chook Run Upgrade


There's always another project when you have a homestead.
 We recently made some changes to the chook yard.
The first thing we did was to replace the nylon fencing
with welded wire and conduit.
It was a simple job that only took us a few hours to complete.
The extra security it offers the chooks was well worth the time.
It was much easier to install than a wooden rail fence,
which would have required digging holes in our Carolina clay
(no small feat).
We're thinking the metal fencing will last much longer as well.
We also added these sail shades to either side of the gazebo structure,
which will provide much more shade throughout the run.
These shades were found at the local home improvement center
and fairly easy to install.
They do not protect from rain,
but the heat of summer will be eased a bit with this coverage.

 Hyacinth beans have been planted at the four inner corners of the frame.
This will provide even more shade,
along with some beautiful vines and purple flowers.

It was a thrill when I was contacted by Omlet,
(the best chicken coop makers in the world),
and asked if I'd like to test their new mobile perch.
The chooks always flock (couldn't resist),
around something new,
and I am working on training them to use it.
I'll do a separate review after we've had it for a while.
Here are a couple of posts on our Omlet coops.

 After our rooster, Gandalf, got attacked last fall,
we knew we had to stop free ranging the chooks.
It took some looking, but I was able to find
this mobile run that can easily be moved every day.
Three of them can fit in it comfortably,
so our son C, rotates the girls every other day,
and leaves them in there for an hour or so.
This gives them some time away from the others,
although we are sure to always keep them in sight of each other,
so as not to cause any distress.

We are happy with the improvements we've made,
and it looks like the chooks are enjoying them too.
I am an Omlet ambassador.
This means that if anyone would like to know about our experience
with this company and its products,
they can contact me and even come to see the products we own.
This is the only product that I endorse publicly,
which tells you how strongly I feel about the company.
If you want to learn more about Omlet,
feel free to contact me
or head to their website, which can be found here.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Garden Friday

Welcome to Garden Friday
on this beautiful Earth Day!
It seems that winter is on its way out,
at least here in the Piedmont.
We are warming up to temps in the 80's in the next few days.
Our mailbox irises are bustin' out all over. 
I love that I can see these from the front window.

Not sure if you can see this,
but I noticed the two varieties of carrots
have very different germination rates.
Danvers 126 (top row) has about three times the seedlings
than the Tendersweet variety.
 Duly noted for next season.

The strawberries are coming on strong!
Soon it will be time for some serious sampling!
Some of our containers were seeded with an herb and flower combination.
Can't wait to see these getting filled up with goodies!
(The wire on top discourages squirrels from digging.)

We had another frost just the other night,
and I didn't want the potatoes to have to struggle to stay warm.
I used some cloches made from 2-liter bottles
and these bins to cover the crops.

The next day, they were just fine.
Hopefully, this is the last of the cold weather 
until autumn.

 The potatoes in the buckets were simply covered with a lid to keep out the cold.
Even though I know they would recover from the frost,
the fear of stunting their growth was enough for me to act this time.

A soil sample was taken from the blueberry patch.
These were planted last year and I wanted to compare the numbers
from the initial sampling to see if I've done enough to acidify the soil.
In a matter of weeks, I'll have my answer.
Want to know how to take a soil sample?
Read this.

  Our woodland garden is coming along.
I keep adding shade loving plants to our backyard,
as it is wooded.
It was a thrill to see these hosta plants pop up,
for I had all but lost hope that they would return.
Along with Soloman's Seal and Toad Lily,
it's beginning to fill in slowly but surely.

 This particular yarrow plant is taking up too much space
in the front flower bed.
It's making it difficult to see the gorgeous poppies,
so maybe I'll just swap them out.
After it finishes blooming, I will relocate it elsewhere,
or simply divide it.
The flower beds are enjoying the newly installed irrigation!

 A trip to the IGA was made earlier in the week,
and I may have gone a bit crazy.
There were so many perennials for sale,
and at $2 a pop, it was more than I could do to resist.
I've never grown stevia before,
but look forward to learning more about this natural sweetener.

A couple of different thyme plants were picked up,
as well as coneflowers, Gerbera daisies, alyssum,
and a few other odds and ends.
About the only type of shopping I enjoy is nursery shopping.
One of our neighbors gifted us with two different azaleas.
This one is called Florida Flame.
I can't wait to see them both in full bloom!

 Would you look at the sweet lil' flowers on this chive plant?
I think I see some potato salad in my future!

 There are always more pots to fill,
and I look forward to making a few more trips to the nursery
before the spring is over.

Spring has sprung, baby!

Friday, April 15, 2022

Garden Friday

Welcome to Garden Friday,
where we share what's growing in our Zone 7b garden.
You know it's full-on spring 
when the apple blossoms come out.
Our tree is usually loaded with fruit,
which the squirrels promptly enjoy.

Several projects were undertaken this past week,
as we had the glorious weather to accommodate our plans.
One thing on my list was to straighten out the edging on both
the mailbox bed and the adjacent butterfly bed.
As you can see, the bricks got all askew and were just a mess.

In about a half an hour, it looked much better.
Hopefully, the mail carrier will be able to 
keep his tires on the road.
The butterfly bed was akimbo as well.
I blame the squirrels.
It felt good to get this tidied up
and looking like a proper bed.
Alright, squirrels, keep off the brick!

Another task was to get the flower beds in the front of the house
set up with irrigation.
My original plan entailed digging underneath the sidewalk
to place the poly, so that the water line would be seamless under the ground.
Well, I got this far in digging and gave up.
It was so difficult to get under there,
even with my auger to help me.
I went to Plan B.
(It's always handy to have a Plan B.  And Plan C.
Just in case.)

drip holes are every 12 inches

Well, Plan B meant that I scrapped the idea of all that digging.
(Who's gonna argue with that?)
I simply tucked the irrigation line underneath our welcome mat
and connected it to drip on the other side of the sidewalk.
Not professional, but it works.
All of our front flower beds are now fully irrigated.
Can't wait to see all of our lovelies enjoying their hydration.
I dug up and transplanted some clematis
on the outside of the chicken run.
A piece of welded wire was added as protection
from curious beaks.
The hope is that this vine covers the welded wire run.
Can I just tell you how magical these California poppies are?
There are more blooms each day
and they are like a pop of sunshine on even the most 
dreary of days.
Gotta plant more of these.

This week, I spied the beautyberries coming back.
We've had lovely 70 degree days
and they are lovin' it!
All of the gardeners are too!

 The rosemary I took cuttings from and planted in a pot
didn't fare so well.
I had moved both the rosemary and the lavender
so that they could get more sun
and took these cuttings in case the rosemary didn't survive the transplant.
Ah well, it's the chance you take.
I've heard it's difficult to grow from seed,
but I'm up to the challenge.

 Our potatoes didn't much like the last frost we had.
Well, some of them will have to bounce back.

 Others did just fine in the same bed.
Go figure...

The sweet potatoes are lined up facing south
and have begun forming slips.
We still have a ways to go before things will be warm enough
to put them in the garden beds.
Sweet potatoes love the heat!
At least someone does.

Roots on the bottom, slips on the top!

A few strawberries are teasing me whenever I venture out.
The blueberries are getting closer too,
and I can't wait to get enough to fill my belly!

I've been enjoying the asparagus in salads
and in my scrambled eggs too.
It's such a blessing to have this delicious and nutritious crop
growing right in our back side yard.

The area over the septic tank got a little sprucing up.
You may think that's kind of a waste of time,
but I am working on disguising the area as much as possible.
Here, there are spider wort lining the curve near the chicken run.
A healthy patch of oregano is growing,
thanks to the last owners of the property.
We won't be eating that.

The balloon flowers are coming up in the butterfly bed
and they look so healthy.
These will take partial shade,
which is exactly what they'll have
once the crepe myrtles leaf out completely.

The first iris bloomed this week,
and it is still such a thrill to witness.
The mailbox bed will soon be filled with these beauties.

Queenie and a friend

Most of my main projects have now been completed,
including several chook ventures,
which I hope to share sometime next week.
Until then,
here's hoping that you get to spend lots of time outdoors.
It really does a body (and spirit) good.
Be Blissed!

Friday, April 1, 2022

Garden Friday

A friend's flowering almond.

Welcome to Garden Friday!
March is over, but is spring really here?
We've had some temps in the 20's in the last few weeks,
but this week has been free (so far) from frost.
I'll take that as a good sign.

This week, some time was spent on expanding the front flower beds.
An old hose was used as a guide,
so that curves could be added.

A new 4" edging shovel was used to get the job done.
This tool can also be used to keep the edge sharp.
This will save Big K some time edging the flower beds,
as I enjoy using the shovel.  
It gives me great satisfaction to see the clean lines.

Some of the mondo grass (seen here in the center) will get moved toward the edges,
and some plants will be added to the empty spaces.
Once the daylilies and irises finish blooming,
the plants out front will be showcased.

 This is a continuation of the previous photo.
This bed hosts shasta daisies, irises, a butterfly bush,
poppies and yarrow.
More natives will be added, as my intention is to create beds
with very little maintenance needs.
I'm also planning on adding onions as a border,
which also serves to deter pests.
One of my goals this spring is creating more foodscape beds in the landscape.

We were blessed with a full morning of rain yesterday,
which amounted to about 1/2".

 The front bed needs to be weeded, which is on my list for the weekend.
The rudbekia will also be divided,
so that it can be transplanted elsewhere for repetition.
The pansies really enjoyed all the rain!

After work on Wednesday, a stop was made
at a local farmers' market.
A handful of herbs were picked up for a few dollars.
The chives, lavender and parsley will find a place in pots.

The mailbox bed is in need of attention.
The bricks get run over by the mail carrier,
and so are constantly askew.
I'd really like to add some different pavers there,
and have them act as more of a curb.
A few things are popping back up here,
such as yarrow, iris and daisies.
It can definitely use a few more plants.

Yesterday after the rain,
a dozen or so white potatoes were planted into this bed.
The wire panels were added to discourage squirrels from digging.
They can stay in place as long as needed,
and the plants can grow right through them.

 The landscape staples are worth their weight in gold!

Another job I'd like to tackle this weekend
is mulching this pile of twigs and branches.
This will be added to the chicken run after being shredded.
The trailer has a yard of compost that needs to be unloaded as well.
And finally, I have all day Saturday scheduled to
work on my irrigation project on the flower beds.
It'll be quite a task, as I need to feed the poly
underneath the sidewalk.
Wish me luck!

The tulips are almost done blooming,
but it's been a joy to witness.
Spring is such a time of wonder!

What's happening in your spring garden?