Monday, July 30, 2012

Today in the Garden

Climbing Spinach
Bush Beans

Pinot Noir Peppers

Carrot seed (Danvers I think)

Friday, July 27, 2012

So . . what's going on at the Ppatch anyway?

Let's start with the worst.  Here is the hill that Hubby planted wildflowers 3 TIMES.  Nothing came up.  In the back are a few Mammoth Sunflowers (not so big).  On the lower right corner is a few leaves of a small orange cherry tomato plant, other than that, Nada.  So yesterday the girls and I planted the last of the brassicas that were slowly dying in their pots and 6 peach pits (Mesha's new project since her apple tree sprout died)  We have 1 bale of hay left and will mulch this weekend.

Here is the other part of the hill.  Again, sunflowers on top, sweet corn in front.  Between and not really seen is the Greek Amaranth and popcorn (still really small).

Bell Peppers are growing at the base of the straw terraces.  The plants did not get big, but they are producing.

Hubby and I rescued some beige carpet that had been abandoned in the alley for a couple weeks and cut it in strips for the rows - 1/2 our weeding is now eliminated.  The tomatoes are huge, but the heat has halted their blooming.  But we have green fruit.  There is a tripod I erected today - volunteer Grampa Otis Morning Glories.  They are COVERED with bees.  Woo Hoo!

Juju's raised bed is the star of the show.  Her mystery tomato is growing well as are the sunflowers, cosmos, and basil.  The climbing squash has reached the top of the decorative "lattice" and I connected it to Mesha's with some long branches - cross your fingers for a covered arbor in a couple weeks.  There are little J-shaped fruits and everything.

The livestock have really enjoyed the weed from ours (and our neighbors') patches.  I do get funny looks when I point to someones weed pile and say "can I have that?"

BTW - we gave 2 of the new hens to another family, they are thrilled to now have 8 and we are more comfortable with 14.

And what, you ask, was Hubby doing while the girls and I have been working so hard in the yard and garden. . .

Making wood swords for the girls to take to RenFair this weekend - nicer than anything we saw there.
Mesha's short sword and shield - with a wand holder inside the shield (she bought a wand at RenFair a couple weeks ago)  She has since painted them black with a diamond design. 
One of two Scimitars for Juju.  The handles are wrapped in hemp twine.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The tenacity of spearmint

This cutting has been in my kitchen window since late June.  It has been dried out from the heat at times and nearly out of water at times, and yet it is rooted and growing sprouts (underwater no less).  I love that it grows and takes over in the yard, but unlike vinca and Virginia creeper, it is useful.

I feel like spearmint sometimes.  When I carry water from the duck pond to the parking area garden.  As I replant beans again and again.  While working in the Ppatch until dark after getting off of work.

But I also feel like a hot house orchid more often than not.  The times that I look at weeds and overgrown vines in our yard and think it is too much.  When nothing comes up after we plant and replant pollinator flowers at the Ppatch.  When I let the seedlings I nurtured inside die because I didn't feel like planting them after work.

Maybe I should have been a Gemini.

With the drought throughout the farmlands of the nation it is more important than ever for us to produce more of what we will eat.  This year I increased our food budget for the first time in 5 years, and I expect that I will have to do it again each year going forth.  But now is also the time to make a difference where we spend it.  Meat from local farmers is much more expensive than from Costco, but I will know the animals raised have had the same good life as our own hens.  Vegetables from the farmers' market are in season and local, again higher in cost, but also higher in ethics and flavor. But if I wish to spend more of our budget on better items, it is necessary to produce all that we are able to offset the cost.
These statements are not anything new or surprising.  We have already heard and read them to the point that the ideas have become ubiquitous, blending into the greenwash marketing, of well, everything.  But that doesn't make them less valid.

So today I strive to be more like spearmint. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

my coop overfloweth

Today was spent in the garden.  Juju and I hit one of the local nurseries that was advertising buy 1 veggie get 2 free.  The starts were leggy and hail damaged, but I expected that.  I picked up 12 white cauliflower & 1 orange, 2 Brussels sprouts and 5 broccoli and 8 cabbage.  I also picked up a 2 pack of petunias and marigolds (at the suggestion of Earthchild Marie) that Juju and I planted in the Ppatch to hopefully give whatever is eating my sprouts second thoughts.  For this bonanza I paid $10.  Now I just have to get the brassicas into the ground before they die.

We got home from weeding and planting and watering the Ppatch just in time for a late lunch.  I am happy to report that all of our tomatoes and peppers are fruiting.  the dozen amaranth plants are growing (slowly) and the bush beans that made it past the initial sprout are thriving.

And the popcorn freaked me out.

When I planted sweet corn before we left on vacation I put 3 (new) seeds in each mound.  I had one sprout in most, 2 sprout in four, but none of the hills had all three seeds go for the gold.  So when I planted the tom thumb popcorn, from leftover seed from the history museum (I figure at least 5 years old) I expected maybe a germination rate of 10%.  So I planted the entire packet (intended for a small field) in two staggered rows 25 feet long.

Damned if they didn't ALL sprout.  I almost hate to thin them, but I am going to give it another day or two to see if  one or two stand out from the rest.

So anyway after lunch Juju and I took a break during the heat of the day (Iron Druid anyone?) before tackling the side yard and watering the lower garden.

Then the call came.

Would I be interesting in 4 laying hens from Aurora?  Their owner (a friend of a friend of a friend) got them about a year ago and her disapproving neighbor just noticed them and reported to animal control that she was keeping livestock.  (what a bitch right - not like she had noticed them for AN ENTIRE YEAR!)  so she had to find them a new home ASAP before they were confiscated by the city.

Like I had to think about it.

So during dinner a lovely and understandably melancholy couple (granddaughter in tow) came by to drop off 2 Rhode Island Reds and 2 Barred Rocks.

Am I ever thankful to have neighbors willing to be bribed with fresh eggs.  This brings our hen count to 16.

I hope the new girls are happy, Hubby and I moved them from the tractor into the coop after dark.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Accentuate the Positive

Three days of rain and our melon plant has gone crazy.  I think in quadrupled in size.  It is covered with male and female blossoms and our fingers are crossed that summer lasts long enough for us to get some fruit.  There is a wood frame over it so worst case senerio it could be covered with plastic to help it along.

 On the side yard I had planted 3 old pole bean seeds I found in the bottom of my seed basket.  I have no idea what they are.  but they have outgrown the repurposed Christmas tree frame (it is meant for lights, not plants) and are reaching for the crabapple tree.  I carefully unwound the ends and directed them to the fence instead.  They are covered with dark purple blooms.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


 Our lovely neighbor Deb brought over a few plants today.  First up is Lipstick Strawberry.  It was created in 1966 by crossing a fruiting strawberry with a Cinquefoil.  The result is a pink flowering strawberry that fruits rarely and spreads rapidly, used primarily as a ground cover in less than perfect soil.

I chose to place the 2 plants with their runners in with the Ozark strawberries I planted earlier this year.  New runners from this cross pollination should fruit more and the pink flowers are a nice change from Ozark's white.

I also got to plant a couple Red Russian Kale (Yum)  Perfect next to the small Howden Pumpkin that gets dappled shade from the ancient apple tree in the back yard.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Carla Emery to the rescue

Potatoes in the parking area
For me the woman known as Earthchild Marie is something of a mystery.  Her 8 seasonal garden plans are shown in every edition of the iconic Encyclopedia of Country Living but no one seems to know who she is.  All other people mentioned in the tome seem to be woven in Ms. Emery's personal history.

But I am happy with the garden plans.  I am using them as a guide to jump start my garden year.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

egg update

 Juju's hens, Chocolate & Pretzel started laying while we were on vacation.  We now get 4-6 eggs a day.
Alice (blue), Tweedle Dee (medium brown), Pretzel (light brown), Tweedle Dum (dark brown), Chocolate (pink tinted) & Sonja (white)

This is good.  Especially since Harley and Quinn started molting during vacation and Harley has not laid in nearly a month. 
Not to mention that we can only tell them apart by size these days, Quinn has lost his Mallard-like coloring.