Category Archives: Growing and gardening

Garlic and grass

Planted the garlic today.  On paper that’s half a month late, but by the weather, it’s just the right time.  The beds covered with hay look exactly the same after planting as before.  So many worms under the mulch!

I started some wheatgrass for the guineas.  I couldn’t remember if wheatgrass required soil or not, and I’m still not sure, so I’ll start trying it soil free.  I will also find out soon how many days it takes to become edible, and cycle trays through the windowsills.  Now we can spend all winter with the windowsills filled with start trays too.

Tomorrow is scheduled to be yard day for the chickens, so that should be fun and exciting.  I have to drape the greenhouse adjunct garden with bird net to thwart the sky predators and the guineas from escaping, and cut doors, and then they will have an outside yard they can come and go from.  I expect enthusiasm.

Boil ’em mash ’em stick ’em in a stew

I looked at the forecast and figured it was the last minute for getting the potatoes out of the ground.    It wasn’t.  They were plenty well tucked in and could have withstood much colder temps.  But they’re out now.First I take the blanket off.   Dig the potatoes…Oh look, I got a heart potato!  That wasn’t staged.  It really turned over the first forkful.  I got two heart potatoes today. Somebody’s been here first.  I don’t have anything against voles, particularly, but – that could change.  It’s hard to tell how much of the potato volume is lost, but there’s evidence of a pretty epic vole party.…and put the blanket back on!   Time for the garlic to in now.

pasture pigs

The wild birds are well fed.  They’ve been cleaning out my crop of sunflowers. From full to this, all in four days.  I grew them for them, but I hoped to ration them out a little better, and for my chickens to get some.

Makes me want to grow a field of them, but then the ravens will come and really clean them out.The pigs are moved again, now in the “pasture”, which is much easier to move the fence through.  Of course, they are hiding.It was a hot and  humid day (just before it got cold and very rainy), so they were in their brushy bit, covered with mud.

Double trouble

Occupied.

They were just hanging out, prepared to stay for the long haul.

This is not a problem I was expecting to have:The squashes  swarmed the fence, and the frost revealed the bounty.  Stuck to the fence.The frost wiped out the morning glories, too, and the zinnias.

Inky and Velvet are so beautiful (and so sweet).  Inky still insists (very, very determined) on going to bed in the tree, but she might give a little chicken hug (neck snuggle) when you move her.  She had Speckles with her one night, and one of the Five once (uhoh, where one goes the other four will also), but so far, she’s the only diehard tree rooster.In different lights they are green iridescent, or purple.  Just gorgeous.

Mr Tomato Head

Look at that tomato.  Eggs (normal and Silkie) are there for size context.  It’s very large.  A Persimmon.  They are so good.  The surprise of the year.  I was expecting a normal-large tomato, not one tomato the size of a loaf of bread!  Meaty, and delicious.  When the hens get a bucket of scraps, they pick out the orange persimmon bits first.

In the tomato fermenting pots, the process is rolling right along.  Look at that scum of mold – perfect.Outside, the morning glories have come, vining up with the volunteer tomatoes.  It seems late, but they objected to the early spring when I planted them.  The rest of the garden is turning senescent and ugly, but the morning glories are beautiful in the mess.

Tomato seeds

Pretty colours!  I set up to save seeds from most of the tomato varieties I grew this year.  They’ve each got annotation on size, flavour, and vine behavior (“disobedient”, “excessive suckers”)

Each tub has the ripest, spoiled on the vine where possible fruits, and they’re going to rot down into a soupy mess with a scum of mold on top, yay.  I may not keep them in the house for that.  Last time I was ferment-saving seeds I forgot about them in the camper and they were perfect.  Excellent germination. I’m excited to have learned that tomatoes grow true (yay!), and I’m not daunted that tomatoes require the seeds to be fermented to breach the protective jelly coating they hold around their seeds.  Easy!

What I am daunted by is the fruit flies.  I didn’t realize I was setting up a fruit fly farm.

Another first successful grow:ground cherries!  They’re so delicious, and look like pearly peach berries, in their little paper lanterns.

I forgot, harvest starts at the beginning of August

Had a very promising canteloupe, despite the vine leaves being all weird, like they’re blighted.  But then I opened it, and it was green, green, green.  Pretty, though.  Pigs and hens enjoyed it.There’s a couple little watermelons coming.

The tomatoes have hit stride, so there’s 1-2 gallons ripening every day.  I’m so not ready to start canning already.  Too soon.  I wondered if I’d get any of these.  Exactly what the song sparrow couple in the next shrub was also thinking, watching me pick.  She’s taking ALL the ripe ones!!  But I think there’s enough for us all, provided a whole flock doesn’t move in. I’ve been getting a bowl a day. Chamomile flowers!  I’m excited to harvest some of my own.  Itðs something I usually buy. And loads of chamomile seeds, so there will be even more flowers next year.

Bugs, good and evil

I think I have a squash bug problem:I dispersed them with soapy water, but they have the military might.  There are honey and bumblebees rolling around together in the funnels of the squash blooms.

It’s true what they say about bees loving Echinacea (coneflower).  I’ve found them NOT easy to grow, though, so I’m very pleased to have some mature, and even better, for them to be established in a perfect place in the garden (that is not always a given – too close, too sparse, wrong height – lots of ways to put plants in the wrong place)I have some that grew from direct seeding last year, and I painstakingly got a few seedlings started this year that are still very small, not blooming. The blooms are glorious, and popular! This Tonello bean has ambitions:Just past 8′.  Its friends wer happy to turn the corner.

Ah, the honeysuckle is happily established on my garden shed.  I hope, long term, that it turns out to be a good location:The tobacco is blooming!  This one in the greenhouse is about waist high.  The others, outside, have not got so big (yet): This is a sad pepper plant.  Chickens think pepper foliage tastes great, and they are a major threat when they get into the greenhouse, especially when the peppers are smaller.  There was an incident…but the peppers recovered.    This one by the door the chickens stretch their necks through to pluck what they can reach.   By the way that snow fence on the door instead of screen has been a pollinator lifesaver.  I did have screen with gaps for the insects, but they still would often get trapped.  This year, I’m seeing almost zero dragonflies and bees getting “stuck” inside.  The key is the orange colour that draws them, so they go right to the door whether going in or out.  But it lets air throurgh and keeps chickens out, except for their little necks.

A lot of pictures, for a day I didn’t take any pictures

All the things I didn’t take pictures of today:

Moving the piggies into some lush new jungle land.  I paid for it in bug bites, but they’re piggy pleased.

Chris and Cream Puff canoodling.  They really are always together.

Two new chicks, little Silkie chicks.

Two new broodies, and wooo Nelly, one of them is vicious!  This one was broody without eggs.  I wasn’t sure she was broody because she was sitting, but not on eggs, and she didn’t know what to do with herself because she didn’t have eggs, so she was moving around.  But I experimentally put her in a covered wagon with eggs, and she is definitely broody, and taking no chances at losing her big chance, now she has eggs!  She attacks!  She’s a biter, not a pecker, and it really pinches.

Cleaning out the box of death (probably best not pictured) and revamping it.  Now there are no holes in the lid – that was a design flaw. Flies in ≥  grubs out.

Preventing a mass red wiggler escape.   I had to extract some castings, because WOW I have a thriving population of worms, and I think they may have been feeling crowded.  Amazing! I’m going to sell some next.  Who needs a worm compost starter worm pack? But sifting through castings and wet shredded paper compost doesn’t jive well with using a camera.

The little barred rock/Silkie (“Barred Rock with a hairdo”) getting trapped inside the greenhouse adjunct garden.

The four little chicks who got stranded under the wrong pine tree when they followed a couple teenagers too far from their Mom.  They needed assistance to find their way back.  Them:  There she is!  Mom!  Here we are!  Mom:  Ah crap.  I was enjoying that break.

Sounds like a big day, and it was, bigger than my usual lately, but not what I’m still optimistically calling my “normal”, even as that normal retreats into the past.  I’m still “battling” Lyme disease (First world lucky, I pop a pill twice daily – that’s not even a skirmish), and the Lyme, or the prolonged use of Lyme meds, is currently manifesting like a mild flu with narcolepsy, and I am at half productivity, at best.  Any day I don’t slip further behind is a BIG win.


I did get some pictures just before bedtime.  These little rascals all crowded up in the chicken door-within-a-door.  They like to pose in the doorway every evening, just not usually all at once.  There are a couple leghorn blends!  Awesome!  Sometimes they look a bit leggy, with the super erect tails.I put rings around the peppers.  What I should have done is put tomato cages around them before they grew up, but now it’s too late, and I had sticker shock at buying 35 tomato cages in one go (now I wish I had). Otherwise, the weight of the developing peppers makes the branches fall outward and snap off, because the stems aren’t terribly strong without a breeze in the GH.  In lieu of tomato cages, I put a circlet of baling wire around each plant, strung up to the tomato suspension guylines.  Better than nothing.Galahad is like Excuse me, you haven’t noticed, she’s not supposed to be in here! Apples and Sprout, being their adorable selves.  Sprout spends more time with her siblings now, but remains very loyal to stepmommy.Chris atop the honeymoon coop.  Needs reroofing. Oh, and today there was a walnut in this coop.  What the heck?  A stand-in egg?  Did a chipmunk move it in?  The walnuts are starting to drop.What the heck is Cleopatra doing way up in the walnut tree at bedtime?!