Carrots, Sunflowers, and Purple Mashed Potatoes

We’ve been busy in the garden.  I am starting to get carrots now – I had planted seed tapes this spring, with tons of carrots. My double dug beds are supposed to allow you to cram things in, so I had seed tapes next to each other and carrot seeds spaced about 3 inches between (so I wouldn’t have to thin.)  Because of our lack of early summer rain, the seed tapes didn’t do so well. I got several carrots, but they are spaced way far between – I planted about 140 with the seed tapes and I think there are maybe 20 or so that have done anything – but they are HUGE.  I had a couple that were popping out of the ground, so I picked them – they were mostly dark purple and 11-12 inches long.  I had planted a mixed blend (old seeds I had on hand), plus these dark purple carrots called Black Nebula, and some yellow and orange carrots.

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Some of our first carrots. The purple ones are Black Nebula (I got from Baker Creek Seeds) – they are purple all the way through. I grew a different purple kind last year but only the outside was purple – with an orange center. These are nice, they just taste like normal carrots. (I couldn’t tell a difference, anyway.)
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Here you can see these purple ones have a lot of hairy little roots – those washed right off luckily.
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I was making mashed potatoes and decided to see if one of the Black Nebula carrots could color them. I cut one carrot up and boiled it with the potatoes in a pot – the water turned all black, and when mashed, we got purple mashed potatoes!
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I have a ton of sunflowers and was thinking it would be nice if I had some other colors besides yellow. I forgot I had planted a mixed seed bag – we had a couple of red ones open this weekend. Here is one (with the yellows).
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Here is another one – this one is more orange colored.
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More yellow – these sunflowers are all about 7-8 feet, I am estimating.

The garden is doing well, but we are getting into fall and the Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting some yucky weather later this month.  (They talked about a snow/rain mix at the end of September. Yuck. I hope they are wrong). Hopefully I’ll get all my vegetables to ripen before we have to worry about frost or snow.

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Tomatoes in August, and lots of squash

The garden is doing really well. We are getting ripe tomatoes in August! Typically it’s into September before we get any.  More exciting pictures below!

tomatos
Some of our tomatoes – I’ve been watching for them to start turning pink. Then I pull them in because I don’t want to tempt fate. I left a roma to ripen on the vine and it started getting blossom end rot. So I’ve been letting them start to turn and pulling them in.
big ripe tomato
Here is the big tomato in the previous picture, now ripe.  It ripened on our counter.
round squash
We have lots of squash – I saved seeds from an Heirloom pumpkin (I think some kind of hubbard squash) – I have two plants, and both of them seem to be growing different shapes of fruit. This one has things that look like this, rounded. The other one has big pumpkin shaped green and yellow squashes. We’ll see what we end up with. Either way, it’s very exciting.
pumpkin
I received pumpkins from a coworker in the fall and saved seeds – he had grown them locally. This is one of those pumpkins. The plant has two fruits that I can tell, and they both are oblong like this and currently zucchini colored.
butternut
Here is my butternut squash – this fruit grew from almost nothing in about a week’s time.
giant pumpkin
Here is the other heirloom squash. This one continues to grow. I am wondering if the color will change much when it ripens, or how it will change.
onions
We harvested onions today – I got 110 yellow, and 20 red. I had been taking them here and there for cooking as well, so we grew a little more than that.
calendula
Some of our calendula – these were two plants that have merged into one mass of flowers.
sunflowers
More sunflowers keep blooming.
sugar rush peach pepper
Here is one of my Sugar Rush Peach peppers – it’s not ripe yet – they are supposed to be an orange color.
bee
Here is a bee that was sunning itself on our porch.

The garden is really doing well – a lot of stuff is starting to wind down though. I can’t believe it’s already almost September.  But the season is still in full swing.

Farm updates early August

Everyone is very busy around here – the garden is giving us a lot of vegetables, and showing us a lot more to come. New pictures below:

bee balm
Here is some bee balm (bergamot) I didn’t know I had – I planted it last year but it didn’t actually show up / bloom till now. In the spring I had what I thought was Moldavian balm coming back, but then it bloomed into these. It is really pretty and the bees love it.
bee on the balm
Here is a bee enjoying the bee balm.
atat and downey
Our dogs, Downey at Atat (Atat is in front) playing outside. They miss Nova but they seem to be taking her loss ok.
goldendrod
Here is some goldenrod that is in my hollyhock bed / weed garden. The bees really like this as well.
hollyhock
We have hollyhocks again! The chickens had decimated them, and so last year I fenced the bed and planted some new hollyhocks – only a couple plants lived till this year, and now one is blooming.  (The fence got knocked down a bit by snow falling from our roof, so it’s a little bent in- hence the hollyhock is actually growing through the top of the fence.)
big tomoato
A monster tomato waiting to ripen. I noticed my cherry tomatoes are starting to turn, so hopefully we’ll have some ripe ones soon.
cantaloupe
Here is a cantaloupe, I have found there are at least two growing. I grew this kind last year and I don’t think we even got one melon. I changed the location this year and they seem to like it.
chilis
Our first peppers are getting big – these are a “Sugar Rush Peach Hot pepper.” They should be orange, sweet and hot.
pumpkin
Here is one of the pumpkins we have growing.
rooster
A couple of our young roosters. The one in the center – I really like his coloring so I think this is probably the one we’ll keep (along with Bertram). We have many contenders this year for “2nd rooster.” We are waiting to see how annoying they get with their crowing, and if any get really aggressive. Mean and annoying roosters don’t stick around long.
rooster band
And here are a lot of the roosters. Most of (if not all of) the chickens in this picture are boys. The gray one on the left might not be, and the buff one on the left with her head down is most likely a hen. We had a white rooster also but he was crowing incessantly and he was not on the “keep” shortlist, so we took him out last week. We now have 28 chickens. 7 or 8 boys, we think, besides Bertram. We might list some of these guys on Craigslist, but it is hard to get rid of roosters.
short corn
Here is some of my corn. This is an “Art Verelli’s” variety.  I had read that the stalks don’t get very tall, and these are about 4 feet tall – so very short for corn. They already are forming ears. My other variety is a regular sweet corn variety and that one is still just getting tall, with no ears yet.
squash
Here is one of my grocery store pumpkins (I think a Hubbard squash, actually). They were supposed to be heirloom squash so I saved seeds, and here we are.
summer squash
Our summer squash are starting to be prolific. You can see our light zucchini, the yellow squash, and our patty pan squash here. I also have one plant that produces dark green zucchini.
watermelon
Our watermelon is doing good – I need to make some kind of sling for this one – I’m worried the weight will break the stem eventually.
sunflower
Here is a bloom from our second sunflower to bloom – I have many blooms on our first one, but this is the 2nd plant to give us a show.
garden
A picture of the right side of our garden. The weeds have caught up with me a bit, but my plants are not being overrun, so I’m just not worrying about it unless they are. (There is carpeting in the path, that was an old rug we cut up in an effort to keep weeds out of the main path).
garden 2
A better pic of my main garden as of yesterday.

Rest in Peace, Sweet Nova

Nova
Here is Nova enjoying the sunshine and some petting.

We lost our wonderful dog Nova this past Monday. She started coughing in late June, and our vet at first thought it was bronchitis. A week or so later she started coughing blood – they did an x-ray and she had a massive tumor in her lung.  The nearest vets that do any kind of biopsy are way down in Wisconsin, or way down in the Lower Peninsula; the tumor was pressing on her trachea (actually bending it) so we figured the best thing to do was to keep her comfortable for whatever time we had left.  I hoped it would have been longer, but it was only about a month.

nova

We had her for almost 4 years. Nova was a yellow lab mix. She came to live with us in November of 2015; Her story as we know it starts when she was roughly 2 years old, she was a stray dog down in Georgia, found with a dog that they figured was her daughter.  She was adopted from a shelter by my former coworker’s son, who was in the Air Force down there at the time. She was with him for a couple of years until they moved back up here. Nova lived with my coworker for a little while, since her son could not keep Nova at his new apartment, but she seemed lonely there.  I had two other dogs so my coworker let us take her so she would always have someone around.  She was a very good dog, she loved to eat (too much – we had to buy her a “slow down” bowl).  She loved to eat apples off the ground when they fell off of our tree. She loved cuddling with us on the couch. She loved to play with her dog brothers, Downey and Atat, and she loved to sit in the sunshine.  Her favorite thing was to get petted by people. She didn’t care who it was, or what else they were doing (cutting her nails, etc) as long as she was being petted.

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Our hearts are broken but at least she is not hurting anymore.  We will miss our sweet little dog.

nova ears

Poultry in Summertime

Our chickens and ducks have been enjoying this summer. We let them free range when we are home, and they love to wander around our yard, looking for yummy things to eat. We currently have 4 ducks and 29 chickens (14 adults, 15 chicks/almost adults). Here are some updated pictures of the flock:

older ducks
Here are our older lady ducks. These two and the new ducks still hang out in two pairs, mostly. We can tell them apart because these ladies have dark-stained bills, the newbies have orange bills.
newbie ducks
Here are the new ducks, they were running away when I tried to take their picture. Another way to tell the pairs apart is that the male (in back, here) quacks softly, all the time. So you always know where he is in the yard.
Esky
Here is Esky (short for Escape Artist). She is one of our oldest hens, and the only one who lays white eggs.
esky daughter
Here is Esky’s daughter – she has the same comb as her mom, and was born the next year (so is about 3 years old)
brahmas
Here are our two Buff Brahmas, they were enjoying a dust bath. They along with Esky make up our 4 year old hens.
bertram
Here is our older (2 years old?) rooster Bertram, patrolling the yard.
food
Here are a bunch of chickens coming for treats. The black hen at the front is an older lady, and most of the rest are chicks from this year. You can see some of the coloring now – some of the chicks have really amazing feather patterns.
orloff son
I believe this is a young rooster, and he looks like a young Bertram.
chicks
Here are more chicks – they are all different – some light, some bright orange, some black and gray. We have a lot of muff-necked chickens now.
red and brown
Here is one of the really cool looking ones – orange and black with a muff neck.
white roo
Here is one of our young roosters. If you look back at our chick pics, this one was the one with little cat-eye eyeliner. He likes to come out of the coop each morning and crow before Bertram does. Bertram doesn’t seem to mind just yet.
buff hen
Here is a Buff-Orpington looking hen (she seems docile like a hen, anyway) as well as the back of our older Brahma’s head.

 

The Garden is Growing!

We started off this summer a little dry, but we’ve been getting more rain now, along with hot, humid weather. The garden is very happy about this – my plants are growing like crazy. Here are some photos of the garden from this weekend:

yellow sky
The sunset from a couple of nights ago. We looked out and the sky was yellow, so we had to take pictures.
garden 1
Here is the left side of the main garden. (Taken from my porch, where I usually look out at the garden).
garden 2
Here is the right side of the main garden.
ground cherry
I’m growing ground cherries this year for the first time. The plants are doing well, so I’m hoping they will fruit for me. I have never tasted them, but I’ve heard they are good.
peanuts
Here are my peanut plants. They are now getting flowers. At some point they are supposed to get a stem of some kind that pokes into the ground and that is where the peanuts grow. These seem to be growing well so far.
first fruit
My first tomato! This is one of my larger types, so this is not ready to ripen yet, but hopefully I’ll will see a few ripe ones before September. I usually have to pick them to ripen in the house.
english cucumber
Our first English Cucumber. I am growing these and an Iznik variety. I grew Iznik last year, they were good but not very prolific. I haven’t grown English cucumbers before.
squash
Here you can see my jungle of summer squash plants. I planted the rest of my variety seed packet from last year, so the types I get would be a surprise.
patty pan
They are all fruiting now, so I know I have a couple of Patty Pan squashes like this one here, a few yellow squash plants, a light green zucchini and a dark green zucchini. I put in 9 plants but I think only 7 survived. They are blending together now so it’s hard to tell.
watermelon
Here are my watermelons. I put these and the cantaloupes in a really sunny, sandy-soiled spot. They do seem to be growing really well. I read that they prefer sandy soil so I’m trying that this year. (My foot for scale) I have two plants here and am trying to train them to grow away from each other.
ginger2
Here is one of my ginger plants. They are growing in bags in the garden and are doing pretty good so far, especially now that it’s hot.
ginger1
My other ginger. I started with 4 rhizomes but two died when I was trying to sprout them.
cantaloupe
My cantaloupe plants. These seem to be happy as well. I have three plants here.
chickpeas and rogues
My chickpeas seem to be growing well. I have rogue tomatoes growing among them – I may leave them since the rogues are these really good cherry tomatoes that keep coming back each year.
cabbages
My cabbages. They have gotten a little cabbage-worm damage but I made an insecticidal soap/garlic oil/citrus concoction, and I’ve been spraying all my brassicas with that. So far it seems to be working, but I have to respray each time it rains. There is damage but they are not destroying the plants. I consider that a win.
atat and hubbard squash
Here is my Atat, outside of my garden fence. To the right you can see my Hubbard squash / heirloom pumpkin now growing outside of the fence. (I’m not sure exactly what it is, it was an Heirloom pumpkin from the grocery store).
sunflower prebloom
My first sunflower bloom – this is the flower I posted the pic of last week. It has grown so the flower is almost eye level with me (I’m 5’6″). And it’s about to open.

The Farm in early July

This summer’s garden is going well.  We have had a weirdly dry year, compared to the last few. I have had to water things to make sure my seeds sprout. (I’ve had seeds drown and wash away in previous years). Everything seems to be growing pretty well though.  The chickens and ducks are doing well too, and seem to be happy with the summer weather. Here is a photo tour of our little farm:

roses
The roses are blooming. My parents planted these many years ago.
roses 2
Here is a better view of the roses.
peonies
Peonies. These smell really nice.
columbine
Here is the columbine I found in the roadside ditch last year and transplanted to my front flower bed. It grew back this summer and bloomed, so it must like its new spot.
bleeding hearts
Bleeding hearts (this photo is catching the end of the bloom for this year).
hens
Some of my older hens hanging out near the shady side of the house.
chicks
Here are the chicks – they are doing well although we lost another one about a week after my last post. (I was on vacation, my husband said that he counted at night and one was missing, with no trace). We have luckily not lost any more since then. So we now have 15 chicks (29 total chickens). They are almost full sized so hopefully that will deter whatever took the two we lost. They free range in our yard, so they were behind the chicken coop here.
bright chick
This is one of the chicks. Possibly a hen, we are just starting to figure out who is what. We have at least three young roosters, based on them crowing. We’ll have to decide what to do with them later this year.
comfrey
My Comfrey is doing well. I put in 3 plants a few years ago and they keep coming back and spreading a bit. They are pretty and the bees like them.
strawberries
Some of our strawberry harvest! My patch did really well this year, I got at least 6 cups of strawberries.
potatoes and squash
Here is a side view of my back garden – the potatoes are on the left, summer squash on the right in the middle of this picture. Strawberry patch is behind the summer squash.
cauliflower and brussels
My cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, and lettuce on the right.
butternut
Butternut squash plants. I put in a fence trellis for them to climb – the trellis is resting on the main outside fence of the garden, with enough room for us to go in and grab fruit if it ends up hanging under the trellis.
garlic
The garlic are doing really well. I harvested some scapes the other day.
corn
Here are some of our corn. I have two patches, two different kinds – these are a Golden Bantam variety.
peanuts
Peanuts! These are growing well, as far as I can see. Our summer has become hot and humid lately, and they seem to like that.
onions
My onions. These are doing nice.
main garden
Here is a picture of the right side of the main garden – the other corn patch is in the background. Then coming forward there are peanuts, peppers/green onions, and cucumbers/shallots.
tomato fencing
Here you can see my tomato trellises. I set it up right this year (instead of using sticks like last year). I just used welded wire fence sections, and pounded some stakes in and attached the fence with wire. I tied the tomatoes up after I took this pic – most of my tomatoes are determinate varieties but they still get pretty big, and droopy when the fruit comes in. Some are indeterminate though. They are starting to get flowers now. I can’t wait for tomatoes!
grape vine
A grape vine my uncle gave me last year. I had it in a pot until late fall and I realized “oh, I’d better get that in the ground before it snows.” – I put it in not knowing if it would come back, but it did. It’s in a good spot too, right at the fence at the northern side of the main garden, so it can grow there and not be in the way.
sunflower
Here is my tallest sunflower so far – it’s about 3.5 feet tall currently. I have 14 or 15 sunflowers coming up that I’ve found so far.  I planted several seeds, but I have some rogues coming up as well.

More Ducks!

My ducks have been seeming to want male attention. They keep bugging my rooster; they will bob their heads and quack while surrounding him. He has not seemed interested at all, so I figured I should try to find an adult male duck to add to the flock. I put an ad out on Craigslist, and was contacted by someone who needed a home for his pair of Pekins – a male and a female. So we now have two more ducks. Pictures are below of the ducks together, and some updated chick pics:

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Here are all four together.
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The orange-billed ducks in the middle here are the newbies, they are about a year old.
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My older girls have the darker bills – they are about 3.
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Everyone has been getting along well. Yesterday they went in their pool, taking turns – the new ducks went in first, swam a bit, and then the older ladies went and took their turn – the pool only fits two of them at a time. But I thought it was cute that they are taking turns.
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Here they were hanging out their first full day here. We got them over the weekend.
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The chickens were hanging around them as well.
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Here are the chicks – they are getting very big. They are about half the size of the adults now.
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You can see Atat in the background – the chicks were investigating him a little. (The dogs are separated from the chickens by a fence).
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Here is one of the chicks.
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Here they are hanging out on some boards at the edge of the woods.
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Another picture of them in the woods.
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This orange one (I believe a Buff Orpington, but they are all mixes of breeds). 

Everyone is doing well.  We did have an unfortunate event happen with the chicks.  I typically count everyone when I put them to bed.  We put everyone away on Friday night and found that one chick was missing. We counted and re-counted several times, and looked all over. They usually hang out together.  I figured if someone was stuck somewhere they would have been chirping – they are not quiet at all when they are unhappy. We think something, possibly a hawk, came in and got one.  There is no sign of that chick.  So now we have 16 chicks. In my 5 years of owning chickens, this is the first time that I’ve lost any to a predator,  so we’ve been pretty lucky.

Early June 2019

We’ve been really busy here lately. It has been mostly a colder spring with night temps in the 40s- we had our heat still going at times until last week, and we even had a frost advisory for June 1st;  but then this weekend we got a warmup – we were at 90 degrees yesterday!

The garden is mostly planted; I have a few things that are waiting to go in, but I am mostly just working on maintenance and weeding now. Seeds have been slow to start because we are really dry this year as well.  That is somewhat of a nice change over the last few years but I have to make sure to water everything often, and I have seeds that I haven’t seen sprout yet, like my broccoli and some of my beans (I’m growing 6 kinds of beans this year – some are up but some have not sprouted, and some have not been planted yet).

Here are some pictures of the goings-on at our tiny farm:

apple blossoms
Our apple trees are in blossom.
bumble bee
Here is a big bee visiting the apple blossoms.
tulip
A lone tulip. This came up randomly in the middle of our yard. I haven’t seen any tulips here in years, although my mom used to have a lot of them. I replanted it in a safer spot.
main garden
Here is the main garden. It is mostly in – I’m waiting for the corn to emerge and then I’ll put some more beans in to grow up the corn.
tomatos
Here are the two tomato beds, with some marigolds planted among them. I have 18 tomato plants this year, 7 different kinds.
crosnes
Here you can see my Crosnes are coming up – they look a bit like mint; I had to look them up online to verify what the plants look like, but there are 5 or 6 of them that have emerged.
sunchokes
Here are some sunchokes coming up as well.
shade garden
Here is the back / chicken garden (I stole it from the chickens last year). It gets less sun so I planted things that can take a lot of shade toward the back, like lettuce and herbs.
back garden
Here is my back of the house garden. I put some watermelon, cantaloupe, and summer squash in here. This bed gets a lot of sun, and is sandier soil – supposed to be really good for melons, so I figured I would try them here this year. The bags have potatoes. At the far end of the garden is my strawberry/mint patch.
strawberries
Here is a close up of the strawberry patch. You can see the mint intermixed. I use mint a lot, and the strawberries are getting lots of flowers. Hopefully I’ll get a lot of berries this year.
chicks
The chicks are growing up! I put them in with the adults a couple weeks ago, so they could see each other but were separated; they are now mixed with the adults and everyone seems to be getting along well.
Nova
Here is Nova enjoying the sunshine and some petting.
atat
Here is Atat out in the sunshine. I’m not sure where Downey (our other dog) was when we were taking pictures, but he has been enjoying the sunshine too.

This summer is shaping up to be a nice one so far.

Chick and Garden Updates, mid May 2019

Our spring finally seems to be in full swing – we kept getting unseasonably cold weather for a bit – they were calling for 6 inches of snow last week but we didn’t get any, luckily. The temperatures are starting to warm enough that I put in a bunch of the garden this past weekend (the stuff that can tolerate frost, anyway).  I heard the frogs chirping the last few evenings –  it’s finally been warm enough for them.

The chicks are growing up really fast. I gave them a larger box from their original brooder box. I think I have mostly females but there are at least a couple of roosters in there – someone has been attempting to crow, but it’s not very developed yet. Below are some new pictures of the chicks and the rest of the farm:

two weeks old
Here are the chicks today – they are just over 2 weeks old now.
penguin
Here is one of the penguin-looking chicks. I’m hoping it’s a girl but with that comb it doesn’t look promising. I do have some adult hens with large combs, so we’ll have to wait to find out.
gray
Here is one of the gray chicks.
brown
A couple of brown/red chicks. They were not happy that I had moved them, they were ducking down a little scared.
yellow
Here is one of the blonde chicks.
yellow two
Here are two of our blonde chicks – the one with the orange head is on the left, the one with the cat-eye-eyeliner is on the right. (From individual pics in the last post)
yellow 3
Here is another pic – you can see the wing feather coloration change on the right. It’s cool when their feathers come in – chicks’ coloring can completely change as they grow.
potato bags
We are growing potatoes in feed bags again this year – we have 20 bags planted – I put in about 11.5 pounds of potatoes, three different types. We had really good luck last year growing them in bags. They are in the garden fence to keep them from the chickens.
strawberries
Here is our Strawberry patch. It is also a mint patch (they are both taking over this area). Hopefully they can grow together and keep the other weeds out but let each other grow. There may be a fight. Even though I love mint, I would still let the strawberries win.
back garden
Here is my back garden that I took from the chicken coop – last year we grew squash and tomatoes here but it doesn’t get enough sun later in the season. I am putting a lot of shade tolerant things in here, lettuce, peas, and other things. I planted everything yesterday that can go in already. Peas, spinach, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, lettuce, chard, kale, and brocollini. I have some other stuff started inside, and I will direct sow beans in June.
onions
Here are my onions! I have a full bed of yellow and a half bed of red that I planted this past weekend. The red onions will be sharing a bed with radishes for this month and then peanuts in the summer. The radishes should be ready before I put the peanuts in.
garlic
Here you can see the garlic starting to come up through the straw – this was planted in October.
garden preseason
Here is my garden as of today. There are only a couple of beds ready – this is the double-dug French Intensive garden. I have 12 beds in here, but the weeds are trying to take over. Most of this garden will go in next month, so I have some time to get the beds weeded and ready.
daffodils
Our daffodils are finally blooming!
purple
Here are some purple flowers we have growing in our yard. I’m not sure what these are called.