Category Archives: Growing and gardening

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?!

 

Ripening

The tomatoes are reddening up.  The chickens have even already gotten to enjoy some overripe ones.If all these come red at the same time, I’m gonna have a real glut. Despite the load of tomatoes on these, I’m disappointed with this variety (Earlirouge).  It’s like they can’t decide if they’re determinate or not. And the peppers are coming. And the eggplants seem to be doing even better than usual.

The first Silkie chicks are on their way.  Two so far, both white, and she has three more eggs.  There’s one tiny beak poking out there from under Daisy.  It’s always a surprise how teeny tiny the Silkie chicks are compared to full sized chickens.

Poppies and peanuts close at night

I’ve got some varmint taking out my beans.  It’s really annoying.  I suspected a vole, but, would a vole cut down the beans and then drag them under the overhanging thyme and sage in the next bed?   I’ve got something like a tiny beaver, felling beanstalks and then hauling them to the adjacent garden bed to hide under herbs. These stalks are freshly wilted!I thought I already had scapes.  These are the second round of late or postponed scapery.  Almost as much as the first round.  I’ve got some garlic.

The fence posts I put in this spring are growing.  fenceposts growing branches leavesThree new garden fence posts are sprouting a half dozen lush plumes of leaves.  This isn’t too surprising, fenceposts are known to do that, but the posts are in upside down.  Opposite of the way the tree was growing before I cut it down.  So the wood has decided to reverse the flow of sap?  Root from the skyward end?  That’s wild.  In the greenhouse, the peanuts fold their leaves tightly closed every night like prayer hands.  I like this reactionary plant movement.  Plants have their own responsive awareness.

The tomatoes are all strung up now, in the greenhouse.  They’re looking good, despite our wack weather.  There’s a fair number of green tomatoes.  The cucumbers on the other hand have just decided to get off the couch and grow.

The orphan chicks learned how to let themselves today, squeezing through the orange mesh of the doors.  Happily, they let themselves back in, too, and were ready to go to bed.Two more days in for this bunch.  I want they controlled for the rain coming on Friday, so I can keep them dry in the GH.  Then it will be freedom time!  They’ve taken to hanging out on the top of their cardboard box, even en famille.Speaking of freedom.  This one and (his?/her?) sister, the first chicks of the year, are still all about slipping out of the Silkieland tractor.  They are not as good at getting back in.  I had to catch her this time, so I took some pictures. Ok, show us your wing now. Cutie.  They’re great fliers.

Bloom

The quince is a blaze of hot pink.I have one little tiny magnolia bloom starting to open.  Cute.  I’m pleased that it survived the winter.  It’s covered with little green buds.Outside, the chickens are doing very well at large.    Even the wretched roosters are acting less like weirdos, finally.  The Colonel keeps them at bay from the hens, but they are part of the general flock now, and have even been observed food clucking (which the hens totally ignore).  I got something good!  I really do!  Why doesn’t anyone listen to me?

Actually, there’s been a surprising usurpation! One of the new crew of roosters has unseated the Deputy.  It’s the one that immediately left the others when they first arrived, started lurking around my fenced off Silkie flock, and wouldn’t sleep in the coop, making me think he was different.  I’m not with them.  I’m meant for something better. I referred to him as the one with a brain, and let him sleep where he wanted to in the greenhouse (next to the big coop where all the ladies lived).

He has become number two (with hard work and struggle no doubt), and the Colonel tolerates him up in the middle of the hens with him.   He looks very, very pleased with himself.  The (former) deputy has switched to trying to boss layers around.

The hens perch up in the pine tree, which is adorable.  A few will get up in the branches when the flock is all hanging out under there.