June 28, 2015

The ducks finally figured out that they are waterfowl

As we worked in the yard this afternoon my oldest stepson yelled out, "look at the ducks!"  They were finally making their way down to the pond all on their own!  How exciting to see them go, in a straight line of course, waddling across the yard down to the edge of the pond, then clumsily through the weeds and into the water.  I went to check on them a little later, and they were hanging out in the cattails, dipping their heads under to eat vegetation. Finally the water has called to them and our ducks have discovered their inner waterfowl!

June 27, 2015

So much green in the garden!

My sunflowers now stand about 1.5 feet taller than me!
Corn is looking strong.  I'm starting to see some tassels.
Cherokee Purple tomato is the biggest so far, though all the plants are loaded with green tomatoes.
I've had to stake my pepper plants because they are all falling over with the weight of their fruits and the wetness of the soil.
I planted some sweet potatoes where I pulled up carrots.  The bunnies may do these little plants in though.  They've been eating the leaves like crazy.
Cucumbers are lush and full!
My first baby cucumber
Beans, too, are full and healthy.  No beans to pick yet though.

All this rain has been good and bad for the garden.  The plants are growing fast and starting to bear fruit, but many of them are also starting to fall over!  The soil is so water-logged that they just can't stay upright.  I've been staking things right and left.  Some of the corn was not salvageable after yesterday's downpour though and had to be removed.  It didn't go to waste though - the birds had a nice snack.

Coop Innovations

A suet feeder stuffed with greens is a fun treat for the girls,
who quickly peck everything out!

Josh made this automatic feeder out of PVC, which we can fill from the outside.
Now we only have to feed them every few days.
He also made this automatic water system out of PVC.
The girls peck at little metal "nipples" to get the water to come out.

Our rooster is really starting to look the part!
"What are you doing in here??"
The hard rains we had yesterday flattened a couple of my corn plants
so I threw them in for the birds to enjoy.  They went to town eating the leaves.
The ducks happily come out of the run in the morning now.  You just have to open the door and walk away and they stroll right out and start flapping their wings and running all about.  This morning I walked them down to the pond.  They only stayed a few minutes then walked back up to the run.

We have been working to make the chicken coop more self-sufficient this past week.  We've got the feeding part down, now it's just the door to the henhouse that needs to be automated.  I'll share that with you when we get it going...

June 25, 2015

Canning carrots

I turned that heap of carrots I picked into jars and jars of Spicy Pickled Carrots.  It took me all afternoon to cut them, cook them, prepare the jars, and process them.  Each jar gets garlic, onion slices, several sprigs of thyme from the herb garden, red pepper flakes, peppercorns and a couple dried hot peppers.  Then you fill it with cooked carrots and brine.  Finally, after cleaning the rims and putting on the lids, you process them for 15 minutes.  I love making these because they have such a lovely richness of colors and aromas.

June 23, 2015

Wild Beauty

I went out this morning to do some weeding around the edges of the yard as there are several types of vines overgrowing a lot of our trees.  I pulled wild grape vines off of my giant lilac bush and my mulberry tree.  As I was dragging the vines down over the hill I saw a flash of red on the ground - wild raspberries!  There was one small bush there by the tree line.  My neighbor, who used to live in my house, has told me many times that there used to be berries all over the place here.  So I started at the front of the yard and walked the tree line all the way back to the pond, looking for more bushes buried in the weeds and grass, and I found bunches of them.  Most were covered in vines or half hidden by overgrown trees, but they were all over the place.  I got my clippers and gloves and went to work clearing the brush to expose the berry bushes.  Then I picked them and sat in the grass, eating and staining my hands purple.  What a great way to start the day!

While I was walking the tree line, I took note of a number of wild flowers starting to bloom.  They add a relaxed beauty to the landscape - imperfect and a little overgrown but still beautiful.  I hope you'll enjoy...


Queen Anne's Lace

Fringed Loosestrife

some kind of thistle?

Ox-Eye Daisy

Common St. Johnswort

not sure what this one is


White Campion

Flat-Topped Aster

Wild grapes

June 22, 2015

Carrots galore!

I needed room to plant some sweet potatoes and my garden is fast filling up.  You can barely walk down the pathways I left because the plants are getting so big!  I decided the carrots were big enough and set to pulling them out.  I took out all the Danvers and Chantenay and about half of the Dragon.  It came to a heaping basket-full of dirty specimens.  I brought them inside and filled the sink with water.  After soaking a little, they washed off fairly easily, and I am left with a beautiful tray of carrots.  I think there will be some Spicy Pickled Carrots in my near future!

June 21, 2015

Cucumber beetles

I'm fighting a new scourge: cucumber beetles on my melons and cucumbers. I found these little sticky traps online that have a pheromone sack in the middle to draw the bugs in, along with the bright yellow that they love. They've only been up about a half hour and I've caught several dozen beetles already. I also filled several yellow bowls with soapy water and set them around the base of the plants. I read that they are attracted to the yellow and then get stuck in the soapy water and drown. I have one beautiful little cantaloupe on the vine now and several tiny cucumbers. I dearly hope  I can discourage these bugs so I won't lose my plants like I did with the cabbage loopers...



My first tiny cantaloupe

Cucumber beetles stuck to my trap

June 16, 2015

Carrots and compost

Carrot shoulders popping up means it's time to pull them!

I tried to get one of each kind to see if they look ready.
I think I'll give them another week or so to grow.

A compost bin volunteer: squash, maybe a pumpkin?

Another compost volunteer: tomato

Inside the bin - looks earthy!

Josh made me a compost sifter to get the chunky stuff out.

A gave each tomato a skirt of compost for a nice dose of nutrients.

I also gave the beans, which have climbed nicely up the trellis, some compost.

The last of this batch of compost went to the cucumbers.

The garden is looking to lush and full!
The quilt square I painted is keeping watch over it.

I went out this morning to get some kale and caterpillars for the birds and noticed some carrot shoulders popping up out of the soil so I pulled a few to see how they look.  I think I'll give them another week or so to grow then start yanking them.  I planted another 300 carrots yesterday for a fall patch.

After I took care of the birds, I opened up the compost bin to see how it was doing.  It looked earthy so I put on my gloves and started sifting.  I got about a half-cartful of nice rich compost out, which I took right in and put around my tomatoes, beans and cucumbers.  It's amazing what food can turn into if you give it time!

The garden is looking so lush and beautiful.  I think my grandmothers would be proud.