Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Day of Lemons

It's the middle of winter. So of course, I think about tropical fruit.

I got a bunch of past-their-prime lemons and limes from a fruit stand for cheap. They're too overpowering for smoothies. So I sliced them and now I'm drying them. I'll use 'em on fish.

That left me with a bunch of lemon seeds (the lime was, unfortunately, seedless). And what does one such as I do with unexpected seeds? Why you plant them, of course!

They say, keep 'em moist, and keep 'em warm. 
This is part of the trick for the lemon seeds: wrap 'em in bags to keep the moisture in. It's kind of a pain for watering them, but it's better than not succeeding.

I'll put a warming pad underneath later this weekend.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Taters in Winter? Ridiculous!

This is ridiculous. You don't grow potatoes in winter!

I had some purple potatoes going to seed, so rather than throw them out, I planted them, at New Year's! Fortunately, I had a big bin and a back corner in the greenhouse to plant 'em in.

They're growing! And growing well. I added another four inches of dirt and compost.

If I'm not careful, I'll have fresh purple potatoes for Easter. Won't that be interesting potato salad at the family gathering?

(Comment: Purple taters are an experiment. We like 'em. We think they taste different, more flavorful, maybe. And they certainly are striking! We're going to do this again!)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Upgrading the Compost Heap

So just last fall, I made a serious commitment to a real supply of compost for next spring's garden. Why bother gardening if you don't have dirt that will grow the stuff you want?

Pallets are a good building material, so I built with pallets.
I had to expand almost immediately. A lot of leaves came down this fall! Doubled the depth, and made a funky little gate.

And pretty soon, thanks to contributions from the neighbor's leaf-raking efforts, even the enlarged version was too small.

Then I realized I couldn't turn the compost, couldn't mix it.

And the straw & sawdust from the chickens wasn't doing anything more than just sitting there. It was dry and dusty, a month into the rainy season!

Time for another upgrade. I doubled the width (thanks to some extra-large pallets from a local spa shop). Now I have room to turn things. But what a mess.

And it's still all carbon: tree leaves, straw, sawdust (with a little chicken poo and horse poo mixed in).
 I spent the morning gathering stuff. I got 3 boxes of vegetable trimming from a fruit stand (including one box of lettuce trimmings, as you can see), a big bag of pulp and trimmings from a juice stand, and maybe 40 pounds of used coffee grounds. Lots of nitrogen!

As I moved the pile from one side to the other (by hand, with a pitch fork!), I layered it with fresh produce & juice pulp, used coffee grounds and shovels full of "starter": successful decomposition (thick with red wrigglers!) from the two worm bins in the back yard.

I hope I got enough nitrogen in the mix to balance the immense carbon load, but I think I got a good start. Next month, I'll fork it all over to the right side again, and add either carbon stuff or (more likely) more nitrogen to keep it even.

Let's see how this turns out come spring!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dose Day for the Ladies

The chickens got roundworm. We let them out a lot, so who knows who they got it from.

Today we dosed them. I don't know what with. Milady works for a veterinarian who specializes in birds, and who has several dozen chickens on his property at home. We trusted whatever he gave us.

We caught them, one by one, coming out of the coop (they love coming out of the coop!). I held 'em, and held their beak open; milady squeezed the syringe in, and we let 'em go. Came back and gave 'em mealworms as a treat for being good chickens. 

But we can't eat their eggs for a month. February 20th or so, we get eggs again.


Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Winter Crop of Herbs & Spices

Roasted some onions in the toaster oven.
Dehydrated them for a couple of days.
Ground it to powder.
Several sticks of rosemary.
Dehydrated them for a couple of days.
Ground it to powder.
A pound of Costco garlic.
Roasted the in the toaster oven 'til they're brown.
Dehydrated them for a couple of days.
Ground it to powder.
Harvested the last of the peppers:
  Jalapeno peppers
  Thai chilies
Dehydrated them for a couple of days.
Ground it to powder.
(Use sparingly.)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Looks Like Spring is Confused

I was looking around and I've found a number of things that I usually associate with spring.

 This is rhubarb beginning to sprout.
These are our day lilies, over by the gate. Looks like they'll do well this year. Again. 
These are some flower bulbs - gladiolas, I think - beside the house.

You can tell that we mulched with fallen leaves this year, can't you.
The witch hazel tree is blooming before it even finishes dropping the leaves.

I don't understand witch hazel.
Garlic is happy, but that's not especially spring-worthy.
A fair bit of winter rye in the garden. Seems to be doing well also. We'll just till this in come spring. It won't propagate, but it will add nice biomass to the dirt.
And because of all the signs of spring, I needed to start some seeds. These are broccoli-raab. It's a cousin to broccoli with smaller flowers (heads) scattered around the plant.

It's not real yummy, but the chickens love it.

And it satisfied my need to plant something.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Half an Egg

The chickens surprised me today. Instead of the usual 4 or 5 eggs, they gave us 4½ eggs.

One was a tiny little thing, about the size of a yolk only.

The all-knowing Interwebs educated me: 

Tiny or miniature size eggs in standard size hens are the natural result when a small bit of reproductive tissue or other small foreign mass enters the hen’s oviduct and triggers the regular formation of an egg.

Inside the hen’s body the bit of tissue is treated exactly like a normal yolk and is swathed and enveloped in albumen, membranes and a shell and is eventually passed from the hen’s body. When it is laid it looks just like a regular chicken egg except that it is very little and teeny.”

I haven't opened it, but I'm told to expect all egg white, and no yolk.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Breaking the Rules in Winter

I took a few photos of some of the very few things that are going on in the greenhouse this winter, largely because this is my Garden Journal, and I needed to journal them.

But what kind of theme works for these three photos.

Aha! Breaking the Rules in Winter. These are all things that, if I'm honest, this is completely the wrong way, the wrong time to do them.

1. I just planted Potatoes. At the New Year.

I know it's all wrong. But I had some purple potatoes sprouting aggressively. What can I do? I'm not going to throw out purple potatoes!

So I planted them in a very large pot and hid them in the back of the greenhouse.

They may not survive, even there. But it at least they won't have died because I didn't try to do something with them!

2. I have some starts going strong. At the New Year.

I planted these last summer, wanting to get them into the ground before it got too nasty, so they could grow over winter. I was too late: they weren't ready to face the wild outdoors when the time came.

So we'll have some early broccoli and onions, I guess. These are white onions; I wanted more white onions this year!

3. I'm growing a freakin' pineapple! At the New Year. In Washington!

The biggest surprise: it's working!

I get it that it's a scrawny little thing. I get it that it's the middle of winter, and it's a long, long way away from home, but it's growing!

I'm kind of excited.