July Flowers

A lot of things in our yard are in bloom right now – we have many different wildflowers, and I planted some flowers in the garden that are currently in bloom.   Here is a tour of the flowers in our yard this month:

Here are some Snapdragons and Pansies I have growing in a barrel on our porch.  I've never grown snapdragons before. They are very colorful.
Here are some Snapdragons and Pansies I have growing in a barrel on our porch. I’ve never grown snapdragons before. I like them, they are very colorful.
Here is some yarrow that is growing next to my not-yet-bloomed lilies in a barrel.  We have some wild (like this one) and some that I believe my mom said she planted that comes in different colors.
Here is some yarrow that is growing next to my not-yet-bloomed lilies in a barrel. We have some wild (like this one) and some that I believe my mom said she planted that comes in different colors.
I am not sure what these are, but they grow on the side of our house and they are pretty.
I am not sure what these are, but they grow on the side of our house and they are pretty.
I'm not sure what this is, it's a wild daisy-type flower that grows in my yard.  The plant is about 3-4 ft. tall, and these flowers are about the size of a quarter.
I’m not sure what this is, it’s a wild daisy-type flower that grows in my yard. The plant is about 3-4 ft. tall, and these flowers are about the size of a quarter.
Here is one of my marigolds.  I have a few of these scattered in the garden, and in some flower barrels on the porch.
Here is one of my marigolds. I have a few of these scattered in the garden, and in some flower barrels on the porch.
One of my Calendulas, now in bloom.  This is the first year I've grown this, I really like the flowers.  They are very bright.
One of my Calendulas, now in bloom. This is the first year I’ve grown this, I really like the flowers. They are very bright.
One of our many hollyhocks.  We have a tiny hollyhock "forest" near our side door - my mom planted some years ago and they keep coming back each year.  There are probably 10-12 plants, and this is one of the first to bloom this year.
One of our many hollyhocks. We have a tiny hollyhock “forest” near our side door – my mom planted some years ago and they keep coming back each year. There are probably 10-12 plants, and this is one of the first to bloom this year.
A large Mullein growing in our asparagus patch.  This is a medicinal plant, and it's probably about time to harvest it - I need to do some research on the proper method of doing that.
A large Mullein growing in our asparagus patch. This is a medicinal plant, and it’s probably about time to harvest it – I need to do some research on the proper method of doing that.
These clematis grow near our rose bush. Our first spring here, I stole their support fence for a different spot, because I didn't know they were growing there.  They are in an area where the grass gets really tall, so that is what is supporting it at the moment. I plan on giving it better support here soon.
These clematis grow near our rose bush. Last year was our first spring here, and I stole their support fence for a different spot, because I didn’t know they were growing there. They are in an area where the grass gets really tall, so that is what is supporting it at the moment. I plan on giving it better support here soon.
Here is my Black Eyed Susan Thunbergia, growing up my fene.
Here is my Black Eyed Susan Thunbergia, growing up my fence.

Thanks for checking out some of my flowers.

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New chicken run!

For the last couple of months I’ve been planning on adding a second run to our chicken coop.  Here’s the way it was:

A view of our old chicken run - we had the babies in a chicken-wire fence away from the adults.
A view of our old chicken run – we had the babies in a chicken-wire fence away from the adults.

For the last few weeks, my five “teenage” roosters have been terrorizing my hens. They actually gang up on them – one mounts a hen and another runs up and bites her head while the first one mounts her – once it’s over she runs away and is chased by another one who was waiting for his turn.  It’s gotten so ridiculous the last few days that some of my hens have been hiding in their nest boxes. Just hiding in there, all day long.

Today, we fixed the problem.  We added a new fenced run, but partitioned it so that the roosters are separated from the hens.   We also are going to separate them inside the coop – The back part was the hens and teenagers (roosters and one hen), and the front was my chicks (3 months old now).   Since we have to separate the roosters, they will have the back room of the coop, and the ladies and chicks will have the front part.  We are integrating the babies in with the hens – I figure everything is new for everyone, so it may cut back on the drama as they get to know each other.  I have at least a couple roosters in the chick batch, so if I see any mounting they will get moved in with the roosters.

Our new fence
Our new fence
Another view of the new fence
Another view of the new fence

We made a fence “door” that closes off either the rooster or hen side for when we are moving them in and out – this means that the roosters will be stuck outside during the day, so we made them a makeshift shelter in case it rains or they want some cover.   The hens / chicks can get in the coop if they want.

The hens enjoying their new run.  (The babies are hiding inside for now)
The hens enjoying their new run. (The babies are hiding inside for now)
The roosters are a bit upset that they can't get to the hens.
The roosters are a bit upset that they can’t get to the hens.
We used some sawhorses and boards to make the shelter for the roosters.
We used some sawhorses and boards to make the shelter for the roosters.

The rooster’s shelter should protect them from rain for the most part, but it’s a little flimsy on top, which is good – I’m hoping that because it is, they won’t jump on top and try to fly over to the hens.  We’ll have to see how this all works out.

the old dirt run
the old dirt run

My next step is to plant some chicken forage into the old run – I have some organic chicken forage mix seed ready to go.

Hopefully everyone likes their new run.  The roosters probably aren’t so happy, but they get nice grass to wander through/peck at. My hens seem a lot happier already.

The garden is growing…

What a difference two weeks makes! I love watching my plants grow – it’s nice to look back at pictures of what it looked like a few weeks ago.

The left shows my garden on June 24th, and the right is my garden today, 7/12/15.
The left shows my garden on June 24th, and the right is my garden today, 7/12/15.

My plants are doing really well in the garden.

Here is my corn. The older batch, shown here, is just over a foot tall now.  I have some on the other side of the garden that I planted 2 weeks later, when I noticed that the original seeds I tried to plant didn't take.  Those are about 6 inches or so now.
Here is my corn. The older batch, shown here, is just over a foot tall now. I have some on the other side of the garden that I planted 2 weeks later, when I noticed that the original seeds I tried to plant didn’t take. Those are about 6 inches or so now.
Here are my brandywine and beefsteak tomatoes.
Here are my brandywine and beefsteak tomatoes.
Here are my black krim tomatoes.  I have not tried these, they are supposed to be an almost black / purple tomato that tastes really good.
Here are my black krim tomatoes. I have not tried these, they are supposed to be an almost black / purple tomato that tastes really good.
A sunflower that somehow ended up in the corn rows.  I don't care, I love sunflowers. I must have dropped a seed while walking in the garden.
A sunflower that somehow ended up in the corn rows. I don’t care, I love sunflowers. I must have dropped a seed while walking in the garden.
A mystery squash.  Could be a zucchini, yellow squash, or acorn. I'm not sure yet. I lost track of where they were planted with my efforts of re-seeding in empty spots when seedlings died.
A mystery squash. Could be a zucchini, yellow squash, or acorn. I’m not sure yet. I lost track of where they were planted with my efforts of re-seeding in empty spots when seedlings died.
A calendula plant - it's forming a flower. I'm excited, I haven't grown these before.
A calendula plant – it’s forming a flower. I’m excited, I haven’t grown these before.
More sunflowers. These ones were planted on purpose.
More sunflowers. These ones were planted on purpose. The taller plants on the lower left of this picture are Amaranth.
My beans are doing really well, and are starting to climb the strings I put in to support them.
My beans are doing really well, and are starting to climb the strings I put in to support them.
The artichokes are doing well also.
The artichokes are doing well also.
Here is one of the pansies I put in amongst the vegetables.  This one has really pretty coloring.
Here is one of the pansies I put in amongst the vegetables. This one has really pretty coloring.

I really enjoy seeing my plants get bigger.  Thanks for taking a look.

Garlic, and silly roosters

I LOVE garlic.  I had never grown it before, and last year I decided to give it a try.  In the early fall, I bought some organic garlic heads at the grocery store, pulled the bulbs out and put them into the garden.  This spring I saw them growing, and they’ve grown really well. I read that you dig the garlic heads up when the leaves start yellowing. I noticed the last few days that they were yellowing, so I pulled them up today.

My garlic fresh out of the ground.
My garlic fresh out of the ground.

They were a decent size, I believe most of them were the same size as the heads I grew them from.  I cleaned off the dirt with a paper towel:

My garlic after brushing off dirt
My garlic after brushing off most of the dirt.

I read that you should leave them to cure for a few weeks with the roots and stems still attached.  I put them all together in a bunch and they are sitting outside in a shady spot on my porch, where they’ll get good airflow but not get any sun at all. I have them hung up; I wasn’t sure if my friendly neighborhood squirrels and chipmunks would try to eat them. I’ll have to keep an eye out and make sure nobody tries to steal them.  Once the leaves dry out completely you can cut the leaves and roots off. Then you can store them for later use, and save more of the bulbs to grow new garlic for next year.  That’s my plan, at least right now.  We’ll have to wait a few weeks to see how they taste.  If they are good, I’ll grow them again.  The original heads I bought had a good flavor, so hopefully these will too.

Here's my young Buckeye rooster
Here’s my young Buckeye rooster

One of my young roosters is very goofy – he’s kind of aggressive. More in-your-face every time we’re in the coop.  He has been very friendly since he was small, but now he’s always underfoot.  It’s like he always needs to follow me to see what I’m up to – as if he’s worried I’ll do something to hurt the hens or him.  He likes to peck my pant legs. He bit me the other day, but  that was because I was trying to pick him up, because he wouldn’t go in the coop at night. He seemed to be helping me round up everyone else to get them in, but then he wanted to stay outside.  I went to grab him and he bit my hand.  I got mad and just picked him up and put him inside.   I’m not sure what we’ll do with him yet.  I need to let him mature a bit and see how this personality of his develops.  If he gets more aggressive, he’ll have to go.

For a while I was hoping he was just a very assertive hen, but he’s massive, and the other day he started mounting some of the hens, so it’s now confirmed.  I believe he’s a Buckeye, and they are a rare breed from Ohio.  We’ll see.  I just have so many roosters! I have confirmed that three of my six “teenage” chickens are roosters. There are two more that I’m pretty sure are but they haven’t mounted anyone yet – they are just starting to get long tail feathers now though, so I’m 99% sure.  I have one hen out of that batch, my little Speckled Sussex. Then in the smaller chicks I have at least one, possibly 3 or 4 roosters (out of 8 chicks).  We are planning on keeping 2 or three roosters through the winter, and we’ll have to decide what to do with the rest.  We haven’t picked the keepers yet; I want to see them in all their pretty rooster glory first, once all their feathers have come.

Wildcrafting in the yard – Lamb’s Quarters

I discovered Lamb’s Quarters were edible last year.  I have seen them as weeds in my gardens throughout the years.  They are delicious, with a spinach-like flavor.  I liked them so much last year that I bought seeds for this year so I’d have more.  I didn’t end up needing to plant them. I have a ton growing all over my back garden plot this year.

Lamb's Quarters
Lamb’s Quarters

They typically grow in open spots in cultivated gardens.  They were brought over to the U.S. by European settlers many years ago and have naturalized – they are supposed to be found throughout the country now.  They are related to spinach.  They were very popular throughout Europe, and then in the 1600s Spinach was introduced from Asia;  People started growing spinach instead.  My guess is that they found the spinach a lot less labor intensive.  I like them but they do take awhile to get ready – I pull the leaves off the stems, rinse very well, and then steam them so they wilt, like you’d do with spinach.

Lamb's Quarters waiting for cleaning
Lamb’s Quarters waiting for cleaning.

While picking the leaves I tend to be selective, because bugs also like to eat them.  I don’t want to eat bugs.  That adds to the time-intensiveness of cleaning.  They cook down a lot, so if you harvest, pick double what you think you’ll need.

* As a caution, please always be 100% sure of what you are picking when eating wild plants. I first confirmed with several websites and pictures before eating these, just to make sure I was picking actual Lamb’s Quarters – better to be extra safe. I don’t believe there are any dangerous look-a-likes for these, but I may be wrong, depending on what part of the country or world you are in.