Category Archives: Garden

‘Tis the season

Things have geared up full force for spring.

Saturday we went fiddlehead picking. In the course of a week, the fiddleheads have poked their lazy heads out of the sandy stream banks and bolted. They’ve gone by. Normally the picking season is just gearing up for the second week of May. This year, it’s done and over with all ready. We didn’t even get a quarter of what we picked last year. Tonight we’ll cook off the few pounds we have, enjoy some for dinner, and freeze the rest of the cooked ones to be added by the handful to pasta and other dishes. We still have four frozen servings from last year, so we’ll have some throughout the summer, just no Yule time fiddleheads from the freezer this year.

The next thing on the list for foraging and trying is a tie between Japanese knotweed and dandelion greens. I know, what type of homesteaders are we that we haven’t tried either yet? Insane! ;-) Both are things that I think I’ll be trying solo as neither Hubster of Little Mister seem too enthused about the idea. Regardless as to whether I get to try the greens or not, I need to start harvesting dandelion root as I’m almost out. At least I have more of a plan this year, so it should go a lot smoother than in the past.

Saturday we were also able to sell our original, and now unused, chicken coop, which gave us the funds to purchase our first blueberry bushes. I’m hoping to get them in the ground this weekend at the latest. I’ll be doing a more in-depth post on those later, but needless to say, we’re all excited! They’ll be going in down amongst the rhubarb and will really help pull that piece of the yard together.

Sunday saw us outside practically all day. Hubster, bless his heart, was devoured by black flies in the morning while beginning the tilling on the gardens. The large garden that we added last year as been extended a bit and we mergered two older gardens together and expanded those as well. We also tilled a 6×10 plot for Little Mister to have as his own first garden. He and I will be working on the fencing for that this weekend, most likely. He’s super excited about it. Now if I could get him to understand the blueberry plants aren’t for his garden….

Given the crazy season, updates on here might still be a bit more sporadic than what I would like, but I’ll try to share and re-link past posts from our excursions and adventures in order to keep things more entertaining.

And so comes spring…

A lot has changed in the past two months since I have had time to update here. Personally, I’m suffering the set back of having to extend my Master’s work yet again, but this will be the last time, thankfully! The time that I’ve had to devote to my writing, the mental prep and planning for planting season, and the physical exertion of growing another farm hand has left me with very few chances to get onto the blog. I’m stealing a few minutes to update everyone about what we have going on and what’s changed.

We decided to rehome our white crested Polish rooster, Jovi. No sooner did we than his immune system apparently shut down on him. He passed away only after a week of living in his new home. It killed me to hear that he had moved on. I just hope that depression and being away from us did not exacerbate his health issues. His new owner did say he didn’t seem to be in pain when he passed. It’s hard, though. You can say as often as you want that you won’t get attached to the live stock – the breathing beings that provide you with food – but it’s hard not to.

Our only rooster now, Gimp the Rhode Island Red, has been dealing with some health issues of his own. At a later date I will do an entry on both of the specific ones he went through and how we treated each, as it’s very important information that I feel many chicken owners, including myself, tend to over look. Needless to say, he’s lost half a toe and two toe nails due to frost bite issues and is allergic to hay.

We’re also looking to rehome a few of our hens who just aren’t fitting into the flock as well as we would like. they are great layers and barely a year old, so I can’t see just sending them to freezer camp. We have a few people interested, we just have to decide when we need them gone by.

It’s also chick season around here. We bought 6 Black Australorps pullets from Aubuchon’s since we couldn’t get the from the hatchery. While there, I entered for their Chick Days drawing, which ws a chick starter kit. For once in my life, I won something! Not only did we get a tote with all the fixings (water font, 2 feeders, heat lamp and bulb, treat stick, and themometer), but it came with six free chicks (one mystery chick and then I chose the rest), a bale if shavings, and a 25 lb of feed!

We now have the 6 Black Australorps, 5 Jersey Giants, and one mystery chick (most likely a Brown Leghorn or Welsummer roo) in one brooder box. The other brooder box has 10 Buff Rock roos, 2 Buff Rock pullets, 2 Blue Andalusian Pullets, 2 Silver Laced Wyandotte pullets, and a mystery bird, which I’m pretty sure is a Cochin. Our basement is very lively right now!

We also have expansion plans for the gardens and will possibly be adding in blueberry bushes this year as well. Oh, and let’s not forget fiddlehead season is in a few weeks! Let’s hope this waddling mama doesn’t fall into the Sandy Brook when fiddlehead picking!

Asparagus Has Been Planted

Asparagus 2014_1We had to swing into the local hardware store today to pick up more screening and staples to chicken/groundhog proof the gardens. While I there I decided to buy myself a Mother’s Day gift: asparagus roots. Last year we planted a crown from my FIL’s old asparagus bed, but I know better than to think one crown could ever produce enough for us. When I saw the bin marked ASP – JERSEY SUPREME 25/$12.99, I couldn’t resist. In the top photo here you can see the asparagus bed is, marked out by the bright orange posts, and the five brambles that we transplanted last year (2 wild and 3 bought). This is down on the peninsular that our stream floods over every year. It’s the only area that has enough sun and drainage for both the brambles and the asparagus, so we’re hoping all will do well.

Asparagus 2014_2Here’s a picture of the bed itself. It’s about 6′ long and 2′ wide. After cutting the top soil with a spade, I flipped the chunks of sod over to help kill off the grass. I then added a wheelbarrow full of mulch that we had kicking around from another project. I placed the small root bundles in groups of two (and one of three) rows and placed a wheelbarrow full of compost on top of that. Hubster helped me cut a strip of chicken wire and peg down on top to help deter the chickens and groundhogs from investigating. On top of the wire we placed some grass that had been scalped from where the new garden bed will be.

All in all, I feel pretty confident in it. We’ll see if anything comes up this year, and more importantly, what comes up next year .

And thus it begins…

IMG_2282
As the snow finally melts away, we are left with what remained at the end of last season. It’s a new war that is dawning: an adventure to parallel the likes of the Ring Bearer making his way to Mount Doom. The last few years have been trial and error when it came to what we need for gardens and how to fence them in. This year will be the year of massive planning and retrofitting the existing beds to work for a more long term mindset.

When we first moved into our home it was with the idea that we wouldn’t be here for more than a few years. Things change. We decided that starting a family was (and still is) more important than waiting until things are “prefect” – which they never really are. With that in mind, we’ve both finally come to terms with the fact that we’ll be here for another five, possibly ten, years.
(I will admit, it took me a lot longer than the Hubster to come to terms with that.) I finish my Master’s this December, so this is the last season that I will definitely be on site pretty much 24/7. These two things mean that this is the year to really hammer out the homestead. Or at least get the gardens up to snuff.

The plans, in no particular order, include:

* Re-fencing both existing southern gardens (seen in the photo)
* Tilling, fencing, prepping, and planting the new 10’x30′ plot. (This will go to the far right on the other side of the bed that’s going to be turned into two raised beds with trellises. We started work on this last fall.)
* Re-fencing the north garden
* Starting two potato towers made from locally sourced, free, untreated pallets.
* Mulching the bahgeebers out of the garlic patch.
* Fencing in the cucumber bed
* Re-fencing the old pepper bed for Little Mister’s growing spot

None of this includes making the “run way” for the sun flowers, herb boxes, lettuce boxes, of the mini greenhouse for the hot peppers.

On top of all the gardening, there will be foraging, wood splitting, house repair, animal raising, and all the other crazy goodness that comes with the spring.

We might not win every battle, but we’ll surely win the war. ;-)

Seeds and Tubers On the Way!

Here are the seeds that we’ve ordered from FedCo for this year:

  • Ireland Creek Annie Bean OG
  • Patriot Shell Pea OG
  • Green Arrow Shell Pea OG
  • Little Leaf H-19 Pickling Cucumber OG
  • Tonda di Parigi Carrot
  • Atomic Red Carrot OG
  • Danvers Carrot OG
  • Antares Lettuce OG
  • Lollo di Vino Lettuce OG
  • Summer Lettuce Mix
  • Winter Lettuce Mix
  • Czech Black Hot Pepper OG
  • Thai Hot Pepper OG
  • Oregon Spring Tomato OG
  • Principe Borghese Cherry Tomato OG
  • Wild Bergamot
  • Catnip
  • Bodegold Chamomile
  • Caribe Cilantro OG
  • Bouquet Dill OG
  • Greek Oregano
  • Mammoth Grey Stripe Sunflower
  • Plum Purple Radish

We still have pole beans, bush beans, Ireland Creek Annies, radish, spinach, pie pumpkin, cucumber, carrot, Coral shell peas, tomato, and bell pepper seeds as well. We’re picking up a couple different tomatoes this year – Oregon Spring and Principe Borghese Cherry – as the Glaciers and San Diegos didn’t seem to do too well. I’m really excited about growing bergamot, catnip, and chamomile, as it will lower our necessity to buy tea a ton, especially when you consider that we already have a surplus of mint in one herb bed.

For potatoes we decided to be a little more selective this year. Last year we bought the “classic keepers” variety pack which really helped us to take note of what does and doesn’t grow really well for us. Out of the five types we got to try, we’re ordering Kennebecs and German Butter Balls, both late varieties. We’re also going to take a stab at Rose Finn Apple, which is an early fingerling, and Red Golds, which are about a mid season potato.

I’ll update more on what the gardens will look like and such later.