Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Pond

So Milady has been wanting a pond in the back yard for Lo, these many years. We finally did it.
Here's the plan: this is where we want it.
(Note: we'd already uprooted a small spruce tree, and trimmed the rhododendron and vine maple quite a lot.)
We begin digging.
And digging.
And digging.
 And eventually we got a rough fit.
 And then a better fit.
 And eventually:

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Leeks & Onions

I may have set myself up for a problem here.
This is where I grew garlic last year. I harvested six or eight weeks ago, and I've let the soil just sit there since then. It appears that I didn't get all of the garlic, as I see a few starts of what appears to be more garlic.
Today, I decided it was time to get the leek and onion starts into the ground. This spot was mostly empty, and what was there was of a kind with the starts I wanted to plant, so I added the onions (top row of this picture) and leeks (bottom half of this picture) to the few garlic that's already sprouting.
So next summer, I'll have leeks, onions and garlic in the same spot. I'll have to work on distinguishing the three, I suppose. Well, that's probably a good skill to develop.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fall Planting 2015

I really enjoy snap peas, and I've always wanted to try a fall planting of them. And I had an extra shipment of sugar snap seeds. Only one thing to do: try them out.

This bed was the home of the squash was during the summer. I harvested them all and cleared the soil (leaving a lone sunflower in place). And I over-planted sugar snap peas, and covered them in compost.

A local squirrel, providing for his winter supply, decided he as willing to thin my planting for me. So I covered the seeds with cayenne pepper powder from the dollar store.

I visited the local farm stand this morning, looking for some veggies for my chickens and my compost pile, and came away with more than I could handle: seven boxes, I think. I filled one compost bin, between that and the remains of squash and sunflowers & tomato prunings.

Among the boxes of veggies were maybe a dozen heads of garlic. So I planted them, or at least the larger cloves from them, in what had been the cucumber bed this summer. I also planted maybe a dozen cloves from some wonderful elephant garlic that I just harvested a month ago.

And to round things off, I planted the rest of that bed in lettuce, two or three types, intermixed.

The weather forecast called for rain, but a total accumulation of maybe a tenth of an inch, so I watered the whole thing as well. Felt stupid with the sprinkler on in the rain, but the rain was light and only lasted five or ten minutes.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Upgrades to the Chicken Yard

The previous chicken fencing was working fairly well, but a couple of the chickens would regularly get out over the 40" webbing.
Comment: The Leghorn named Clueless by my niece who raised her from an egg is easily the most curious bird I've ever met. And she's one of the smartest. So much for living up to your name.
Besides, the plastic fencing was designed to be temporary. It was time for a more permanent fence. In addition, there was some territory behind the chicken yard that was pretty well lost to us, so we just incorporated it in the new chicken yard.
We replaced the green plastic held up with rebar poles with real chicken wire, held up with real 4x4 posts.
I still don't have a "real" gate: for a temporary gate, I'm just using a 60" length of the plastic fencing, turned sideways, and stretched between nails on the post and nails on the compost bit. But I've set it up so that the chickens can have access to all three bins of the compost pile, or just to the first two bins. That gives me some freedom to dump things in there without having to worry about pushing them out of the way.
Once we finished the fence, I needed to modify it so the handle to the girls' door would still work. Discovered it when I was trying to put them to bed, and needed to fix it in the dark.
Added some stepping stones in front as well.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

My Garden Helpers

These are my garden helpers.

They're incredibly busy, pretty much always working outside the home, and coming back to share the wealth of their day.

It's my observation that since these guys have lived in my garden, my garden is far more productive than it used to be.

For example: my tomato harvest is pretty generous. This is about how many tomatoes I harvest from one 3' x 8' patch of tomatoes.    

This year's varieties, all heirlooms, all indeterminate:
Slicing tomatoes: Cherokee gold. Incredible flavor, modest production. I'm going to replace these with Brandywine next year: Pink, slightly more production.
Cherry tomatoes: Chocolate Cherry. Very good flavor, excellent production. I'll probably supplement these with Sun Sugar next year: yellow, prolific, and stunningly sweet. I do like cherry tomatoes in hanging baskets.
Cooking tomatoes: San Marzano: good flavor, incredible production. I'll probably use these again next year, but I might not plant them so thickly, and I'll attempt to prune them more often.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Most Amazing Weeds

We took a tree out of a flowerbed in the front of our yard. It took a fair bit of mass with it, leaving a substantial hole. We had just retired a couple of old compost bins, so we had a lot of compost. So we filled the hole with fresh, and perhaps not completely mature compost.

We got some of the most interesting weeds. In addition to the usual assortment of weeds, we have some fruits and veggies. We have a really healthy zucchini, and it's not a hybrid pumpkini! We have a tomato plant and what appears to be a tomatillo plant. And we have what appears to be two very healthy melon plants.

If I'd planted them intentionally, I probably would have spaced the melon and the zucchini a little better, but they seem to be happy snuggled up together.

I don't actually know what kind of melons these are. The leaves look like a cantaloupe, though they're larger than the cantaloupes I've grown in pots. But the fruit itself shows some signs of watermelon-ness (I've grown both in the past, but no other melons).

It seems perfectly happy growing in our flower bed, so we'll let it grow there for a little while and see what we get.

Serendipitous gardening. How fun!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

2015 Midsummer Report


 The summer of 2015 was ridiculously hot. I got all of my starts in the ground by late April, and nothing froze. I was eating fresh Kale weeks later, fresh tomatoes before the end of May. Lettuce and spinach bolted almost immediately. The melons were terribly happy. I left a few dozen sunflower weeds in place.

July 2015