Friday, June 15, 2012

Our Gardens- Week 1. Nothing but dirt.

That's how a garden starts out...dirt. All the hours of tilling, raking, weeding, tilling and raking again and not much to show for it. Of course it's lovely to walk across it and sink in 4 inches to the cool moist fluffy soil below, but seeds have got to get planted! So here's a few pics of our garden as of today, June 15th 2012. Planted are potatoes, Provider green beans, Spanish Onions, Wisconsin pickling cukes, tomatoes, zucchini, Paris Island Cos (romaine lettuce), Detroit beets in the same row as french breakfast radishes (you pull out the radishes in 20 days and make room for the beets to grow, works well for carrot rows too), Laxton's progress peas and I think that's it so far. I'd have to check my map. Yes, I have to make a map so I remember planting dates and where everything is. While I'm planting I say to myself "Oh I'll remember that I planted beans here" and then I always forget. So having a map is good. It allows me to see what's going to be done where and to plan for fall plantings. But despite all the work the only things in the garden showing signs of growth are the chicks. It's taken a lot of work to get it all tilled but the planting of main crops should be finished this weekend. Then the greenhouse can be planted and the fun begins! Our first harvest of lettuces and radishes will be in 3 weeks and will be quickly followed by peas, beets and beans. I'll leave some row space for later plantings of all of these so that I get a continuous harvest but I did plant 2- 50ft rows of peas and beans just so that I could harvest lots at once for freezing.

At our home garden we've got smaller quantities of celery, lettuce, greens, peas, peppers, beans, corn and tomatoes growing. It's nice to walk outside and have fresh veggies and herbs for the table so I'll make sure I plant some new things each week. The 4 Jubilee (yellow) tomatoes I planted in manure by the garden shed are doing really well and are getting taller so I'm expecting good things from them. And the same for the small patio tomatoes that are in pots on my deck. The first flower clusters are out and if the bees do their magic we should get a good crop of tomatoes from them too. The biggest concern with them is keeping them watered as the small pots dry out easily. Sort of like the garden, it takes a lot of water to get it deeply watered. The main garden has soaker hose as seen in the pics and the home garden so far has overhead sprinklers. We'll see how that works as the garden grows.

I must say though that the petunias I grew have turned out to be fantastic so far! Definitely will try to keep seed and see if I can repeat them again next year.

The pics in this post are from top to bottom:

1. Our Main Garden with the soaker hoses along the rows.
2 & 3. Chris's bottom half and the meat birds, now 3 weeks old, enjoying some sunshine and a snack in their chicken yard.
4. The hen houses alongside the gardens(don't worry, we skipped planting potatoes right outside their door) are open for ventilation.
5. Some lettuces in the home garden.
6. Petunias on the front door step.

In pic 4. you'll notice that the hen houses have the sides open. The dryer the hen houses stay the healthier they are, so we open the side panels during good weather. They only need cleaning once a month because the hens are mostly outside and so the litter stays dry. You can see inside the hen house in the picture and it is still clean and fluffy after 2 weeks of use. We use wood shavings for the litter on the floor. To keep out the rain they are covered with a tarp and during the winter we'll be cleaning them out weekly to maintain a dry and healthy environment. I'm considering using peat for bedding too, it'll make great compost! We use diatomaceous earth in their litter and in their dust baths to prevent lice. The hens and Wyandottes go off into the woods for the day and return on their own at night. The meat chicks though are confined to an outdoor pen 25 feet by 25 feet with shade and grass. And if you're a chicken person you'll have noticed one buff orpington chicken with the meat birds. She's out chicken that got sick and is there to have a warmer and safer recuperation with higher protein feed and lots of fresh water.

Well that's the report on the garden for now. Hopefully it'll be looking a lot more green in the next few weeks with veggies and not weeds. Wish us luck! And yes...I remembered the sun screen today :)

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