Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Improvements

There's a lot going on in the Imagination Garden.  First off... the chicks are growing quickly!  Last night we moved them to a 2.5 'x 4' crate that we had for our old French Brittany, Max, who passed away at the ripe old age of 15 years.  I also built them a short "roost" so they can learn to sit on one.  In the garden, I have cleaned up a lot of weeds, disposed of over 100 slugs, built and planted an asparagus bed, built a stand for a rain barrel, begun work on flower border, and transplanted quite a few seedlings.  There's a lot more to do, but I'm pleased with the progress.

The chicks in their new brooder.  They love all the space.
The cage wire is surrounded by Plexiglas and cardboard
to make it a safe place for them to stay.

The chicks are getting used to their new "roost".  I built it out of 2" x4" wood
so they can lay down and sleep on it.  So far, the Americauna (left) and the
Light Brahma are the only chick we have seen use it.  The Rhode Island
Red doesn't seem to know how to get up there.

The new asparagus raised bed was double-dug to a depth of 12" below
the base of the planter and screened of all the rocks.
The addition of 8" of soil above ground should give the asparagus
ample room to spread it's roots.  The fencing is there
to keep my children from accidentally stepping into it.  The bed is surrounded
by Marigold plants that I started from seed.

This is a new raised bed that I'm putting in for flowers.  I have quite of few
flower seeds started in the greenhouse.  They should be pretty here.  I still
have to level the base stones, and then I will build the bed up with 1 or
2 more rows of stone.
My husband and I built this heavy-duty stand
for our Rain Barrel.  We still have to attach the faucet
and connect it to the downspout.  We used old wood that
had been lying in the yard.  After that wood dries
out well, I'll paint the stand.
We need to hang these lattices on the side of the shed to support the clematis.
There are hundreds of new seedlings growing in the greenhouse now.
The strawberry plants are beginning to bloom.
This rhododendron is always the first to bloom each year.
Our other rhodies are budding out, as well.  Soon, our back fence will
be full of color.
I have begun to frame out the chicken run.  I have (2) 3' x 4' sides cut.
I need my husbands assistance to cut the lattice on a table saw.
The hardware cloth and lattice will be sandwiched between the 2' x 4'
base and 1' x 2' painted board.  We want this coop to protect
our little flock from raccoons, Bald Eagles and hawks.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Chicken Coop Designs

We're in the design phase of chicken coop construction.  Below are a few that I like.  Our local feed store builds an ark chicken tractor similar to the one below for a decent price.  While I like the coops, an ark chicken tractor may be what I end up with.

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/the-chicken-mahal

Of all of the coops I've seen so far, the first one pictured below, "Our Coop Adventure" is my favorite design.

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/our-coop-adventure

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/backwoods-playpen-coop


http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/two-dog-farm-chicken-coop

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/clarkechicks-chicken-coop


http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/new-henstein-castle

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chicks


Today we bought three "city" chicks.  For the past few years, I have wanted to have city chickens, but, unfortunately, our city had not become progressive enough to allow it.  Last year the city finally did a study due to the public's requests and, in December, 2011, changed the zoning laws.  We live on a lot that is slightly larger than 10,000 square feet, so we are allowed to have up to six chickens.  Smaller lots of 6,000 square feet can have up to four chickens.

We almost didn't go through with the purchase this year, even though I recently read two books on raising chickens and had attended a class.  It was fun to read about, but making that leap into unknown territory still felt a little daunting.  Today, we went to the feed store and I fell in love with the little Rhode Island Red.  She was the last Rhode Island Red, and was chirping up a storm because she didn't like being left alone.  After that, we picked out the other two with the help of the store personnel.

I came home, set their box, food, water and light up.  Then I was "blessed" with the experience of bathing our little Americauna who came home with a pretty serious case of "pasty butt".  She was pretty messy on the backside and was squawking and jumping around.  The other two kept nipping at her little vent.  Shortly after I got her cleaned up, she was able to pass a lot of poop and now seems to be just fine.  I'll be keeping an eye out for any more pasty butts!

I still find myself wondering if we should have have purchased more than three chicks, considering chicks are flock birds.  When my husband and I discussed it, he only wanted two because he didn't think we would eat through the eggs fast enough.  I didn't want to start with two, so I purchased three.  I'm tempted to go back and get a fourth to prevent "odd man out" behavior.  I'll think about it this evening.

The light yellow chick is a Light Brahma.  The black and reddish chick is an Americauna and the reddish chick is a Rhode Island Red.  They are all 3-4 days old.  Now that they are settled in their box, they seem to be very content and chirping softly.

Now I need to settle on a coop design.  There are two that I like.  I think I'll need to price the wood and supplies and let the price help me make that decision.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tent City

I have my own little tent city of sorts.  The early spring plants are quickly being planted out throughout the gardens and seem to be adapting well to their new homes.  Since I grow organically, I take every measure that I can to ward off the pests that are attracted to the garden.  It's a little more work growing organically, but it is worth it knowing my children don't grow up playing in a yard full of chemicals.

Three of the side yard 4'x4' raised beds have covered wagon-style frames
made out of PVC pipe that enable larger plants, such as broccoli,
to grow unhindered.  I built them a few years ago and they have
held up very well.

The peas and Swiss chard were transplanted yesterday.  They are perking
up despite the fact that they were becoming root bound.

Broccoli happy in their covered home.

Cauliflower looking strong and healthy.

This is my "trap" garden this year.  What is a trap garden?  It is filled with
mustard, broccoli, cauliflower and marigold and is left uncovered
in hopes that the pests will congregate here and leave the covered gardens alone.
As plants become infested, they will be pulled out and burned.

The mustard plants (in the middle) were planted by my three children during
VBS (Vacation Bible School) last summer.  Those plants have been transplanted
a few times throughout the garden and are still growing strong.

The prize of the garden.  My seven-year-old son planted
these beans at school.  He's so proud of them. 
When I was talking to him about the beans yesterday, he emphatically said
"Mom, it's not just a bean - it's a broad bean!"




Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring has us Growing

I have my work cut out for me.  I need to plant some more seeds - there's space in the greenhouse!  Ha!  Seriously.. I do need to get tomatoes, eggplant, peppers seeded indoors if I plan to have those crops this year.  Our warm weather season is very short so we have to make use of indoor planting to have excellent success with some of those warm season crops.

These are the seeds that were planted on February 24.  They include
broccoli, cauliflower, marigolds and Swiss chard.

The marigolds are fully hardened off.  I can plant them outside
whenever I get a chance.

Either I better get busy fully hardening off the broccoli, or I'm going
to have transplant them again!  They're getting leggy.

Two flats of peas were planted on March 23.  They're showing signs of life.
I planted (72) Oregon Sugar Pod II Peas and (72) Super Sugar Snap Peas.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Hardening Off the Brassicas

March 15... Today is the day we can begin to transplant and plant cool weather crops in the garden.  Considering we had mid-March snowfall on March 13, I think my seedlings are going to be hardened off in the portable greenhouse for a week or two.  I may even hold off planting peas a day or so, as well.  Today, the brassicas are hanging out in the greenhouse for the first time.  I'll let them begin to harden off about one hour.  I'll need to pot up the marigolds soon, as well.

Portable Greenhouse
March 13 Snowfall
3 Week Old Seedlings Broccoli Waltham 29
3 Week Old Seedlings Cauliflower Early Snowball
3 Week Old Seedlings Swiss Chard Fordhook Giant
3 Week Old Seedlings Marigold Tiger's Eye

Friday, March 2, 2012

Giant Broccoli

Hey look! We have giant broccoli! Almost as big as me (if I were a LEGO minifigure).

 
OK.  Truth be told.  My husband caught me snapping a picture of my baby broccoli plants and he suggested I make the photo a lot more interesting by adding a LEGO minifigure.  For some reason, he didn't think a photo of teeny, tiny broccoli plants would be very interesting.  I guess you have to be a gardener to get excited about baby plants.  I'm excited that all 24 of my brocolli seeds sprouted.  We're off to a good start.
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