Spring is sprouting

Well, the garden is in!


I used the same gate and fencing from the backyard in last year’s garden. I had to buy one more roll to complete it.

I picked up a few more t-posts and two cattle panels for the tomatoes, cucumbers and pole beans.


I’ve got the broccoli, kale, lettuce, carrots, bunching onions and some spinach planted. I need to start some more Kale and spinach. I’m trying to use the spinach as a border.

I still need to get the chard in and I’m waiting for it to warm up before I put in the tomatoes and peppers.

I bought a heat mat to get the peppers to germinate and it’s working great.


I learned how to make this grow box on YouTube.


Once the seeds germinate and sprout I move them into the windowsill or cold box.


I moved a few things out of the box today and moved cucumbers in. Re-potting them from the soil blocks where they started to sprout into the Styrofoam cups.

I’m also growing herbs and flowers and ended up sprouting some spaghetti squash seeds because I couldn’t resist when they were already sprouting inside the organic squash I bought at the store.


Now they’re growing quite well in the pots. I guess they’ll go down on the hill with the other larger plants like the watermelon.

I’m thinking of growing the eggplant and zucchini in containers to save room in the garden.


The cold box is working very well, too! Everything is staying protected and thriving.

So that’s the current update and hopefully everything will start taking off soon.

Mae Mae and Friends

So, how are the chickens doing?

Well, our flock currently consists of these three Buff Orpingtons.  None of which have names except the one in back that we call “hurt chicken.” She’s fine now, but got a bit messed up by Monty (our dog).  He knows better now, but thought he was playing with her and ripped some feathers (and skin) out.  After she molts in the fall we won’t be able to tell the different between these three.    None of these are from our original chicks.  We drove out to Windsor and got these after we were down to two or three.

Fancy, the one with the large comb in front, is the only original chicken left.  The two Rhode Island Reds are very new and young.  The one in front is Mae Mae and the one in back is Lil’ Red.  The White Leghorn is named Chick-O-Letta (everyone with small children will understand the reference)

We’re not getting many eggs right now.  I locked them in the fenced in area for a few days to remind them where to lay eggs because I’m sure they’re laying them somewhere, I just can’t figure out where. These ladies need to earn their keep (the three young ones aren’t of laying age, yet).

In garden news…

Here’s the update on the seeds in the house.  Appears to be only zucchini and swiss chard.  I don’t think any of the peppers or tomatoes germinated.  I’m probably going to have to find a warmer place for them.  This room used to be a garage and has a great window for sun, but doesn’t stay warm.  It’s not connected to the central heat.

Look at that beautiful zucchini seedling.  I can’t wait to chow on zucchini boats this summer.

These seeds are outside.  This container I have them in isn’t the best.  They’re angled which gives them a lot of sun, but the moisture and nutrients are draining down.

The broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach and such are sprouting.  Again, the tomatoes, peppers aren’t doing anything. And neither is the lettuce, which I’m learning is apparently better as a direct sow.

A little research has shown that I can plant most of my cooler weather crops now.  Kale, spinach, lettuce, onions, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, chard…all of that can go in now.  My main hesitation is that the almanac indicates that we’ll get a snow in mid-March.  I can, of course, cover the beds then, but I had hoped not to have to purchase low-tunnel materials until late summer, early fall.

I received my Lasagna Gardening book on Friday and zoomed through a lot of it before starting my beds on Saturday.

The wind and regular weekend happenings limited how much I was able to get done.  Also, my supply of newspaper.  I really wanted to use newspaper but I don’t have a regular supply of it, so I’ll have to use cardboard to finish up.

My layers are newspaper/cardboard, leaves, compost, hay, compost, top soil (not quite done with that.  Once I’m ready to plant I’ll mulch with either hay or wood chips.  I want to lay everything in the garden around the beds with wood chips, too, but I need a free supply to do that.  I’m also working on a supply of grass cutting from one of the landscapers that works in the neighborhood.

I plan to extend these rows longer, add one on the right and two or more in the back.  I really think this is going to be a perfect spot. Full sun, level, well drained soil…

 

“Farm” Update (Long)

Nolan’s teachers and classmates like to talk about our “farm” since for most of them it’s almost the same thing.

Last time I posted we were winding up the summer garden and I had created a very nice looking fall/winter garden.

Man, I worked hard on that thing and it looked so good! Unfortunately, pretty soon (6 days) after I planted that garden, a hurricane came through and all the seeds washed out.

I still had a few things that sprung up, but the fall/winter here means very limited sun. Since it was already not the sunniest place, nothing did well.  I do still have a few carrots that are starting to grow again now that the days are getting longer.

So…on to plan C.  I’m going to plant a garden in the front yard.  Yep, the front yard.  It’s the only place in our entire yard that gets the right sun.

That tree you see there casts shade over that whole area of the yard that has nothing in it, otherwise I’d plant against the fence.  I do think I’m going to plant some blackberry bushes against the fence.  We already have two blueberry bushes in front of the house.  So…this weekend I’m going to start building the beds in my lasagna garden.  No, I don’t mean I’m growing things to put in lasagna (though I suppose I am).

There are a hundred different ways to do it, but it’s really about using what you have to create your own soil.  Our soil is very dry and sandy, especially in the front yard where that large tree has really stolen a lot of nutrients and moisture.

I plan to go with 1) newspaper, 2) chicken compost, 3) dried leaves, 4) not sure…maybe more chicken compost, purchase some mushroom compost or ask the neighbor or lawn company for grass clippings 5) topsoil (necessary because we’re starting in Spring instead of fall which would have given it months to break down) 6) newspaper, 7) hay as mulch.  Everything gets wet down between layers.

I don’t have kitchen scraps to put on/in it because well, 1) no time for it to break down and 2) I bought this countertop compost bin for our kitchen scraps and we give them to the chickens.  I actually just bought a second one for things that can be composted but aren’t food for the chickens, like paper towels, coffee filters, coffee grounds, etc.

The plan is to get the front garden built this weekend (thankfully it’s supposed to be in the 60’s and 70’s) and let it do it’s thing until after the last frost (March 15th around here).

In the meantime I’ve started my seeds.  I went a little overboard and bought a LOT of seeds.  I bought most of them from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company.

I also bought some other organic ones from Seeds of Change.  I kept remembering other things I wanted to plant so I also bought some bunching onions and cucumbers off Amazon and then some Heirloom green pole beans at Home Depot.I haven’t started most of the larger things like corn, watermelon, cucumbers or any of the things that can’t be transplanted such as carrots or the bunching onions.  They’ll have to wait until mid-March.

So far I’ve started peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, basil, kale.  I plan to put the basil and cilantro on the deck in some planters (away from dogs and chickens), strawberries, too. The corn, watermelon, cucumbers, oh, and sunflowers I plan to try in a garden down on the hill where I have more room. That will be more of an experiment, but I plan to use the same method.

I started the seeds outside in cold frames as a different experiment.  The ones in plastic went out first and after 9 days they hadn’t germinated so last night I moved them inside only to realize after two warms days they HAD started to germinate, so I left the ones in the 3 tiered container (in soil blocks) outside and put a second cover over them.  Some of the seeds on the bottom had started to germinate and those I just planted on Sunday so I’m stoked.  I’m sure I’ll provide pictures in the next week or so.

 

Obviously I was a little into gardening already, but what has really gotten me going is stumbling onto this Vlog.  I would go so far as to say I’m slightly obsessed. lol

They’re actually only days away from leaving the farm for 10 months and touring North America on a school bus they had converted to an RV.  I do miss the garden videos, but they’re touring farms (it’s called the Great American Farm tour) so I’m sure there’ll be plenty to see and learn from.

That vlog is where I learned about soil blocking, which is planting seeds in little blocks of soil with no containers.  They’re not cheap, so I bought a small one to start and so far so good.  The idea is the roots get more airflow and also you’re not spending money on plastic containers or throwing those in the landfill when they break.  I did just like Justin Rhodes did and didn’t cover the seeds.  Just laid them in the little indentations created by the soil blocks.

Clicking around on different related vlogs led me to the Baker Creek Seeds and lasagna gardening.  I’ve got this Lasagna Gardening book on the way and I am just so stoked for spring.  Having all this prep work to do has really made winter go by faster.

Okay, so that’s my really, really long garden update and hopefully there will be more to come soon on the chickens and other life updates.

 

 

Spring Fever

I can’t believe it’s been 3 months since I blogged.  Crazy how quickly time can get away from us.

We’ve had some really great times this winter, partially due to the crazy back and forth weather patterns.

One day we’re at the zoo in January…

20160116_140858-1-1

The next, it’s sleeting and snowing…

20160117_132311

Snow…

20160215_083548

…then warm enough to go wander around Colonial Williamsburg.

20160130_120757

We’ve even had days like this:

IMG_20160316_172443 IMG_20160316_155419

Well, Josh and Nolan did. I was at work. 🙁

Right now I’m completely over the back and forth, though. We have passes to Busch Gardens and Water Country, we’ve got camping equipment, we’ve got a little johnboat…I’m READY FOR SUMMER!!!

I’ve been working hard to get my garden going.  Trying to do it right this year, by planting seeds and getting things ready early.  I’ve got garlic, onions, green beans, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, watermelon, and lots of peppers.  As usual I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m going to keep trying.  I just wish the weather would cooperate so I could get stuff out of the ground and into the beds.

Zone 8 Virginia Garden Schedule

IMG_20160318_183633

IMG_20160318_183636

We also got chickens!!! Can you believe we finally did it!?

We got 6 hens, the max we can have in our city (no roosters).  Two of them are Buff Orringtons, two are Barred Plymouth Rock and the other two…I honestly can’t remember.  They’re living in the guest room under a heat lamp.  They have to stay there until they get their feathers (about a month) and Josh is working on the chicken coop for when they’re ready to go outside.

Oooooh! And we got a chocolate lab puppy, named Monty.

FB_IMG_1454616807066-1

He was about 10 weeks in the picture above and the one below is from Easter weekend. He’s a little over 4 months now and it’s about time for him to go to puppy school.

IMG_20160326_165229

IMG_20160315_185536

I even got all crafty and made him (them) a dog bed.

20160215_210007-1

Sure, it may have cost as much as buying one, but…at least I have a sense of satisfaction. 😉

The only other development is my obsession with Lularoe (and apparently selfies).

If you’re in the Hampton Roads area, I’m having a pop-up on April 28th.  Use the Contact Me form to shoot me an email and I’ll let you know where.

Hopefully this post will get me back in the blogging groove.  It’s gonna be a great summer and I can’t wait to share it with you!