Spring Gardens

Spring gardens are pretty easy. Cooler temps mean fewer weeds and pests, making the spring garden a less daunting introduction to the season.

My helpers, Wendell and Scout
Collards

Previously I have had cabbage worms bothering my kale, but not so far this year. Since putting the plants in the ground, we have consistently gotten about an inch of rain a week, so I haven’t had to water more than a couple of times. I’ve also only fertilized once with liquid fish fertilzer and then yesterday used organic granules on the collards and kale. Maybe my plants would be bigger if I’d pumped them full of miracle grow, but organic gardening on the cheap is my thing. I want to produce a lot of food while using few resources. And any amendments I do use should enrich the long term quality of the soil.

I’m grateful that this garden and I have been really lucky. Everything is growing beautifully right now.

Strawberries
Broccoli
Mizuna, lettuce, and kale
A friendly little face
Lots of room to grow!

1/21 leafy greens seeds started (84 days); 2/17 transplanted, also snowpea seeds and green onion seeds; 3/11 strawberry bare roots in (35 days), also beet carrot & turnip seeds

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April Flowers

Sometimes it’s nice just to go around admiring and sniffing, especially at the end of a hectic day.

This damn mess sure boasts some amazing beauty.

Pink dogwood flowers
New leaves on the pink dogwood/mess
Our scraggly little driveway apple tree
Sweet smelling apple blossoms
White dogwood
White dogwood flowers

I love spring!

Summer Seeds, Winter Temps

Yesterday I planted 4 trays with a total of 244 cells. Lots of everything:

  • 8 tomato varieties
  • 6 pepper varieties
  • Eggplants
  • Pickles
  • Okra
  • Watermelon
  • Annual herbs
  • Various flowers

I soaked many of the seeds overnight, using a handy dandy styrofoam egg carton. It worked great, but you have to be very careful not to overfill or slosh the carton around otherwise everything could easily get mixed up.

I filled the cells a little more than halfway with regular potting soil and soaked them as best as I could, first by bottom watering overnight (fail) then by drizzling a gallon of water over them.

Next came the seed starting mix, which is difficult to wet in the little pots and shrinks substantially when you finally do get it wet. So I filled a plastic 3 quart container with the mix, watered it down, stirred it around, and repeated until the container was full. Each tray needed an entire container. I ran out of my new Jiffy professional organic mix and was happy to find my leftover Burpee organic mix. (But the Jiffy seemed a bit nicer to mess with…less stringy coconut crap).

Then came the seedy fun.

So it only took about 4 hours or so, but all the babies are tucked in ready to rock and roll!

I’ve got this shit all figured out!


I was running late this morning so I didn’t stick the babies out in the sun. And really, they don’t need any sun yet.

But it’s really very cool outside and in the basement. Doesn’t feel much like spring at all. So out of curiosity I stuck a digital meat thermometer in the soil. I got readings between 55 and 57 degrees. A quick google search let me know that ain’t going to cut it. (I don’t got this shit fugured out apparently.)

My 2017 germination issues make a lot of sense now.

Babies got moved upstairs for the night.


I scored 6 new varieties of heirloom seeds from Park today for $1 each with no shipping. Dreams of infinite seeds and plants from that $6 investment stoked the fire in my farmer’s heart and oiled the gears of my calculating mind. Then that huge oversight of required germination temperature reminded me that I’m still a very young student. But like some chick on this documentary I watched one time said, “If you grow for 30 years, it’s only 30 tries. Imagine trying to be an expert musician after 30 tries.” Or something like that.

Next year when I’m a farmer I’ll buy some heat mats.


I bought some heat mats from Amazon with same-day shipping.  🙂

Marigold’s First Egg

Our pretty little Welsummer laid her very first egg today. It is tiny and lovely but weighed in at a surprising 47 grams. Clementine’s first egg was only 41 grams.

It’s only slightly larger than the other two “first eggs” that I’ve kept in the fridge for over a year. The old ones are light and seemingly hollow now. They sound like glass when tapped. I hope I never break one in the house. I’m sure they’re rank.

First Eggs

Good job, sweet girl!

Marigold almost didn’t make it: Part 1 Part 2

Clementine photo bomb
Rosie Photo Bomb

Soggy Snotty Sunday of Strawberries

It was another drizzly day in the garden. My bare root strawberries came in from Park Seed yesterday so after a 12 hour soak, they were ready to hit the dirt.

Park (lovely company that it is) sent 27 roots instead of 25, but holy cow strawberries take up a lot of room! I used up roughly 112 square feet of precious garden space for 20 plants, stuck 5 up by the house, and put 2 in a pot for my mother-in-law. (Evidently I’m still a newbie since I’m surprised by this.)

During the first hour after I gave the area a quick till, I realized that I’m probably not actually yet well enough to be laboring out in 45 degree rain. And the level of soggy muddiness was even a bit disgusting to me. Here I am showing off my mud and misery as well as the patch of potential.

Ta-Da! Amazing, isn’t it?

I still have the weird smell of the bare roots in my nose.

I also planted my seeds for root veg today: carrots, beets, and turnips. Moon is a waning crescent in Capricorn, which is an earth sign so a-ok for planting roots and yeah, I’m doing that this year. And here is a shot of how the rest of everything is growing.

By the time I came in, Gordon had a lovely pot of spicy delicious chili ready to eat. Now I’m lounging around sipping some echinacea lemongrass tea, hoping that my body can continue to recover from the bad cold I had last week, even though I abused it somewhat today.

Among the Dirt and Creatures

For a moment today my existence was perfect. Here in simplicity and solitude it revealed itself:

It was cold and rainy and I was out in the garden still sick with a virus. I noticed cutworms had tried to kill another seedling. But the victim, a baby collard, survived with two of its main leaves. I took the nearest tool that had been left out leaning against the pecan tree. It was Silas’ tiny yellow hoe. Hacking around the young plant, I happily unearthed the offending cutworm, in all of its dirt-coloredness. I contemplated how best to kill it without inadvertently stomping it back into the muddy soil and without maliciously popping it between my fingers. I decided to toss it to the hens. As I approached the coop with the intent of nourishing our cute fluffy food source with the enemy of another food source, a deep knowing came over me. I was the caretaker; the sower and the reaper, in sync with life and death and able to tip the patterns of existence toward our favor. Confirmation of my belonging among the dirt and plants and creatures and rain.

Chicken Omelette

No, silly not an omelette with chicken in it — An omelette made for the chickens!

I worked late Tuesday and forgot to get any offerings from the girls. So yesterday at least one of the three eggs was clearly a leftover. Whenever that happens (although I know in real life that leftover egg is completely safe and fine), I just cook the batch up for the girls.

Today’s gormet recipe:

  • 3 beaten farm semi-fresh eggs
  • Crushed eggshells
  • Strawberry tops leftover from packing Silas’ lunch
  • Roughly chopped garlic from a bulb that’s been growing on top of the microvave

Mix it all together, add a splash of water, and microvave for 2 and a half minutes, stirring once.

Garnish with Silas’ leftover Cheerios and — *muah* Magnifique!

Yum!

A Good Day

Clad in the turtle dress made more than twenty years ago by the hands of my mother and me, today I labored in love.

Stinky organic fish fertilizer nourished the children.

The garden shed is once again in functional form.

The truck topper storage was relocated.

And a grassroots protest took place.

It was a good day.

Coop Renovation

My body is broken and I’m ready for bed. But this weekend was wholly productive and I’m thrilled about it. Yesterday I got the cool season veg all planted and today we got the chicken coop addition installed.

It really sucked trying to do anything in the coop. I couldn’t stand up and had to work hunched over. I bumped my head frequently and had to crawl in shitty coop dirt to get at anything under the box part. I bitched quite a bit about it so Gordon decided to build something for the coop to sit on. I was skeptical that our starter coop that we bought used on craigslist could handle being lifted like that after rotting in our muddy soil for the last year and a half. But he planned and built it anyway.

The timely addition acted as a halfway house for Marigold after her injury and then a time-out pen for Rosie the bully.

It was quite a pain to dig out all of the chicken flooring in order to rip off the hardware cloth that was stapled to the inside of the bottom 2x4s. But now there’s a load of fantastic compost on a tarp in the garden.

With much effort we were able to put that big heavy decrepit thing on top of the new. Gordon ended up having to cover one board with a new one because it was split, but other than that it went OK. The chickens were annoyingly interested and Clementine kept flying up into the coop while we worked.

Ta-da! It’s pretty great.