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.

Double the Trouble

We have doubled our flock (plus one) – We already had 16 adults, and we just hatched 18 chicks – we sadly lost one chick today so we are at 17.  We had about a 69% hatch rate (from 26 after candling). All the chicks remaining are healthy and alert, and running around in their box.  Here are some pictures of our new additions:

chicks 2
The chicks in their brooder box.
chicks
More chicks in the brooder – we are using a chick heater platform that I borrowed from a friend, instead of a heat lamp – it works really nicely. I may need to buy one for the future. The chicks huddle underneath and it doesn’t get too hot so it can’t cause a fire.

A few years ago I did individual chick pictures – at a day or two, then progression pics as they aged. I was thinking I would do that this time, but then I went to do photos and realized that may be too difficult – it’s hard to tell everyone apart and there are just too many.  I decided to do groups of colors instead, with a few individual pics of chicks with distinctive markings.  See below:

blondes
Here are the blondes and strawberry blondes. I think some chicks may have some buff Orpington in them – otherwise no idea.
tiny penguins
Here are the penguins: The black / gray / really dark brown chicks. Most of these are black with white (hence penguins) but there is one that is a light blondie-gray – maybe they’ll have some kind of splash / blue coloring when they mature – we’ll have to wait and find out.
brunettes
Here are the reds and browns. There are some partridge Chanteclers and possibly Russian Orloff mixed ones.
eyeliner
This little chick has a brown mark on her head and a bit of cat-eye eyeliner. And 5 toes.
orange head
This blondie has orange on her head.
new hairy
Here is one of the gray ones – this is the only feathered leg chick we have.
grey
Here is the blue / splash colored chick – I had a splash once that was yellow with dingy gray – this is gray with dingy yellow – so we’ll see how this one turns out.

It’s very exciting. I hope they are mostly girls, but we’ll have to wait to find out.

Early Arrivals

I have eggs in the incubator, due to hatch this Saturday. I started with 32 eggs; when I candled at 10 days I took six eggs out, leaving 26 in the incubator.  Last night I went to take them out of the automatic egg turner, because you are supposed to remove that about 3 days before hatching, so that the chicks can orient themselves for hatching, and because the turner could hurt them if they hatched in it.

incubator eggs
Here they are after taking them out of the automatic turner. I tried to put them in groups based on where the eggs came from. They are marked as well so I can keep track of which eggs hatched.

As I was moving the eggs, I heard “Cheep Cheep!” I thought that was a little early, but I was excited to hear that at least someone was on their way.

This morning, I heard a really loud peep from the next room, and went to check. I found a chick had hatched! On day 19! Here is a really bad picture (the flash went off and shined on the top of the incubator):

new hatchee
Here was the chick that I found this morning

I’ve never had chicks hatch early – I’ve only hatched chicks a few times, and it’s been awhile, but I didn’t realize they could come that early.  I came home and found that the one had brought a friend; we now have two chicks. They are both comfortable in the brooder, waiting for more friends to arrive.

penguin
Here is one – a little penguin-looking chick.
redhead
Here is one that is a little red and brown. I believe this is the first one that hatched this morning.

I haven’t heard any other pips yet, but they aren’t actually due for two more days. So we’ll see what happens. I’m glad that two hatched so the chicks aren’t lonely. There are still 24 eggs in the incubator, so we should get some more soon.

A Nice Day in April…

Today was a beautiful day. We had temps in at least the 50s, and it was sunny. The snow is melting, and I planted a new bed full of perennial vegetables. Here are some pictures from this nice spring day:

snow yard 1
Here you can see our yard is on it’s way to being snow-free. It’s taking awhile. This picture is taken from outside of our dog fence, near the garage. On the left you can kind of see my garden, which is still half covered. The garlic bed started to peak out of the snow today, and that was the deepest part of the snow in the actual garden.
snow yard 2
Here is the house with some snow around it – we have a metal roof so the snow falls around the house and those snowbanks always take longer to melt.
chicken path
Here is our chicken-coop path currently. It’s a low, muddy mess. Luckily we have muck boots to wear when we go to the chicken coop. The ducks love this area – they dabble their bills in the puddles when they pass though. (When the snow is all melted and the ground dries out, the “path” actually disappears, but it’s been a pathway for the last several months).
new bed
Here is a new bed I’m creating near the garage for some perennial flowers and vegetables – I originally planned for just sunchokes and crosnes in this area but I think I will put some milkweeds and gogi berries as well since there is enough room. This is a good spot in case the sunchokes go a little invasive, as I’ve heard they can. This area is out of the way, just grassy, and it could use some nice flowers – sunchokes are supposed to have yellow flowers and be nice and tall. I set this up last weekend, and I thought I would have a week or so for the plastic to kill the grass, but I did not; the sunchokes and crosnes arrived sooner than I thought they would.
sunchokes
Here are the sunchokes – they arrived the other day. I got two kinds, a red (on the left) and white fuseau, on the right. I got three tubers of each kind.
crosnes
Here are Crosnes (aka Chinese Artichokes). These are pretty small but they are supposed to be delicious, and a very easy to grow perennial. I read that you should cut the plants before they flower in order to get tubers of decent size though, so I plan on doing that. I ordered 6 tubers – I think I actually received 8 but some were very small.
planted bed
Here is the sunchoke and crosnes portion of the bed planted. I left the rest of the bed with the plastic on it so it can continue to cook in the sun for awhile. I laid fencing over the bed to keep chickens out – it’s very sandy and they would love to make this into a dust bath area. I will fence it soon and then will be able to take this cover off.
moss
I went wandering the woods and yard a bit today – I found some moss that had greened up already – here is a bug’s eye view of the moss.
white crocus
We have crocuses blooming! Here are some white flowers.
crocus
Here are some purple crocus. We have daffodil leaves emerging too.

Maple Syrup, and new friends on the way

We made maple syrup this year.  We started collecting at the end of March, when we still had a bunch of snow. We ended our collection after a couple of weeks because we had run out of room in our freezer and fridge for gallon jugs of sap.  The snow had been melting but then this last Thursday we got hit by the end of the Bomb-Cyclone storm that came up through the middle of the country – we only got 5 inches of snow here at the house though, but it made it look like winter again.  Below are some pictures from before that snow hit us.

trees tapped
Here are some of the trees tapped this year. We only tapped three right at the edge of the yard, because there was a foot of snow around the trees when we first started. We collected sap for about 2 weeks. This picture was from right at the end of that time.
wizard
Here is our cat Wizard, venturing outside on a nice day last week.

I planned on cooking the sap outside this year. I bought a big steam-table pan (I just searched for “maple syrup pan” on amazon) that would hold 22 quarts. We have a firepit already set up that I was going to set the pan over to cook the sap on; but then the day I planned on cooking everything up, it was pouring rain.  I ended up just doing it on the stove using two big canning pots. It took a full day on Sunday and then the evening Monday after work, but it is now complete.

sap on the stove
Sap on the stove.
sap
A close up of the maple sap steam.
syrup
Syrup! We got 6 pint jars.

I also have some exciting news about chickens! Last April we got Bertram, our Russian Orloff rooster, from an ad on Craigslist. I was planning on ordering some chicks this year, but then I was contacted on Facebook by the lady I got Bertram from – she found me through this blog. She asked if I was interested in trading hatching eggs, since she still has another Russian Orloff and then we both get chicks from these roosters.  So we traded eggs – I saved pretty much all our eggs for a week, and gave her 1.5 dozen, and saved 11 for us. I received a dozen from her chickens, as well as nine eggs for Partridge Chanteclers that she got from another lady. So I have 32 eggs in the incubator, they started on 4/6.  I’m possibly going to end up with way too many chickens, but I didn’t want to waste any of the eggs I’d saved, or the ones I had gotten either.  I looked at the 3 previous hatches I did with this incubator in 2016, and we usually get about a 50% hatch rate from the original set put in – typically I candle and end up taking out about 25%, and then at the end another 25% don’t make it, so I’m figuring that is about what we’ll end up with – approximately 15 or 16. We’ll have to figure out what to do with any extra roosters, but I’ll worry about that later this summer.   We do need more hens since mine are becoming slackers – the youngest of my hens are 3 years old, from our 2016 hatches. From 16 hens currently, we are getting about 5 eggs per day if we are lucky.   I am excited for new chicken friends – Fingers crossed we don’t get mostly roosters.

incubator 4.6
Here are the new chicks on the way! We have 32 eggs in here – I expect after candling we’ll have 20-25, maybe. I will candle the eggs this coming week (after 10 days in the incubator). The left 2 columns are Partridge Chanteclers, the middle two columns are mixed eggs from Bertram’s old home, and the 2 right columns are from my hens.

Our ducks are excited that it is finally spring – they’ve been searching for snow-melt puddles:

ducks in a puddle
Our ducks wandered to the puddle at the edge of our property last week – you can kind of see them in the middle of this picture here – (the houses are our neighbors behind us). This area is low and it tends to fill up in spring. The ducks love it.
ducks in woods 2
Here they are heading back through the woods to the coop. They didn’t like that I came to take their picture.

Seed Starting 2019

Spring is officially here, even though we still have a lot of snow outside. It’s melting though and our temperatures are getting warmer. The trees are producing sap and getting ready to bud. I did see a couple of daffodil leaves emerging near a tree the other day, so things are coming along nicely. I have been garden planning, ordering and starting more seeds, and getting ready for this year’s garden.

seeds
Here are some of the new seeds from this year.

I had some seeds from last year but I had run out of a few things, and wanted to try some new vegetables and new varieties of old favorites.  I had run out of peas, so I got a new variety of those. I’m growing some dry beans this year – a variety of chickpeas and a Jade bean variety. I am going to try growing some quinoa. I also am attempting peanuts – I had given up hope of ever growing them since they are traditionally a southern heat-loving crop, but I read an article (I think in Grit magazine) by a lady who owns Fruition Seeds in New York State – she has peanuts (for sale) that she received from a person who developed them to grow right here in the U.P!  So I immediately went to their website and ordered some. Fruition has a lot of seeds for this type of climate  – the U.P. has similar climate to a lot of the rest of the northeastern U.S.  The original article I read was actually about growing things for your specific climate, and about finding seed sources for your specific climate.

seed tapes
Seed tapes with carrot seeds. I have 4 varieties of carrots. One is actually a “rainbow mix,” though. I’m giving them their own spot this year in the double-dug bed garden. Last year they shared a bed with the beets, who are also getting their own spot this year.

I’ve been starting a few things – if you read my last post I had started onions in February. This past weekend I started my “April start” crops: Tomatoes and peppers, along with a few others. I also started some shallots – I was originally going to order starts for those but ended up ordering some seeds from Baker Creek seeds. I got a lot of really good seeds from them this year. They seemed a little pricey (which is why I hadn’t ordered from them in past years) but they have a lot of varieties of different things, and they are all Heirloom seeds. So far my sprout rate is awesome from their seeds. I ordered from Seeds N Such last year, because they had great prices, but I had a lower seed sprout rate, and a few things didn’t grow true to what they said they were (for one example, I had a cantaloupe that was more of a honeydew). Plus their seed packets were too general – for example, they’d have a name for the specific type, but the directions would be for “tomatoes, peppers and other nightshades…” on the back, not for that specific type of tomato, or pepper, or whatever.  I did a small order of seeds from Baker Creek this year at first – they came within a week, and the onions and gogi berries all sprouted within a few days. Their seed packets are really big and colorful, have directions/info for the specific thing you are growing, and they actually send you free seeds as well with each order. I got a free pack of free tomato seeds when I ordered my first 3 packets. I placed two more orders (I broke my seed order into two from them, since I ordered a lot this year) and I got some free carrots and other tomatoes, and basil as well.  That’s a nice bonus.

new seed starts
Here are the newly planted seeds for tomatoes and peppers on the left, shallots (in the blue containers), green onions (in the bottom right), and cauliflower (top right). I used toilet paper tubes this year as little seed pots. So far that is working well. This picture is from right after I planted them on Sunday or Monday.
seeds start 2
Here they are today – this is almost a week later.

As you can see, I’m growing a lot of different onions this year. I have pretty much two whole spots in my double-dug garden set aside for them on my garden plan – there is still a foot or so of snow on the actual garden, so I’m waiting for it to melt before I can assess everything and clean stuff up.

onions
Here you can see the onions from before are doing well. just waiting for their spot in the garden. Right now it still has about a foot or so of snow on it. These seem crowded but they are doing well so I will leave them as is. If they seem stressed I’ll start pulling some or repot them in a bigger container to spread out before transplanting outside.

I am going to try some perennial vegetables – sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes) and crosnes (also called Chinese artichokes) – these are both root crops that are supposed to be relatively easy to grow and/or become a little invasive. I picked a spot near the garage that gets a lot of sun, good drainage, and just has been tall grass for these. They both are supposed to have nice flowers, and they will have plenty of space in case they do become invasive.  I ordered tubers for these from a company called Norton Naturals out of Canada – they don’t ship till sometime in later April.  In researching perennial vegetables I came across Walking Onions, which supposedly “walk” around your garden (their shoots touch the ground and grow roots) – you shouldn’t need to replant them to get onions. I think I’m going to wait until next year to get some of these though, but it’s an idea for later.  I started looking into Perennial vegetables because it would be nice to have a bed or two of things we don’t have to replant each year.

gogi
Here are some of the Gogi berry bushes re-potted. I ended up with about 12 plants. They are still very small.
ginger
Here I am attempting to sprout Ginger. Fruition Seeds had a bunch of good info and they are selling rhizomes and fertilizer for these. I have 4 rhizomes in this tray. (It looks really dry here, I think I had just put them in).

I am going to attempt to grow Ginger as well – as you can see in the pic above I have some in a tray over a heat mat set to sprout soon; I think I’m going to grow them in bags like we do potatoes, only sideways. Ginger spreads outward instead of up – so you hill it like potatoes but very lightly (like an inch of soil or so at a time) and it will spread its rhizomes outward.  I have a good spot in our back yard that I think will give them the heat and sun they want.

I’m planning on doing potatoes in bags again this year – we had an excellent crop last year (as long as the bags are protected from the chickens, they do fantastic in them).

birdie
Here is a little bird, I’m not sure what kind. He (she?) was visiting our feeder and flew into the window. I heard the thud, went outside and found him knocked out on the porch. He sat in my hand for a few minutes and then flew off.

Spring seems to be finally in full swing. We are tapping trees for sap and planning for new chicks soon, along with all the garden plans.  Now that more is going on farm-wise, I am planning on giving you readers updates more often.

Tons of snow, and a tiny bit of green.

I have been pretty busy this winter, but haven’t had much to post about. We had a somewhat mild winter for most of November and December, but then got pummeled by the Polar Vortex and a bunch of snow the last few months. Here are some updates of our farm:

late december snow
Here was the snow in late December. You can see how the garden was covered. This was pretty mild for us and temperatures were not bad. They went down right in time for the new year.
snow feb
Here it is today. (same view). We have about 2-3 feet on the ground at the moment. We’ve gotten most of this the last few weeks.
snow now
Here you can see our snowbank next to the chicken coop. The chickens are not enjoying this – they mostly stay inside right now. The ducks mostly stay inside too.
digging snow fort
Here is my son, in the trench he dug between the snowbank and the chicken coop. He’s building a fort back there.
d snow fort
Here he is inside the snowfort.
seed starting
I started some Seeds! Onions (Yellow Spanish on the left and some Red onions on the right), and Black Gogi berries in the middle. I’ll start other stuff way later, but the onions needed to be started now. The Gogi berries will be bushes so I figured they could start now too.
onions
A closer view of the onion seeds. These sprouted within 2 days of planting. I was very surprised at their speed.
onions 3
Another view of the onions. I decided to start with seeds this year instead of onion sets because I could pick exact varieties instead of just “red” or “yellow” – these are a Yellow Sweet Spanish and a Weatherfield Red. I got my seeds from Baker Creek.
onions 2
More onions. So exciting! There are tons! I love onions and we ran out of our grown supply at the end of December – I’d like to have enough to get us through the whole winter next year.
gogi berries
Here my Gogi berries are sprouting – just came out of the soil today, I planted them last Saturday (so just over a week). I have 10 or so that I planted so I expect to see more come up soon.

We have a lot going on here, and I’m dreaming of spring; Doing a lot of planning for this year’s garden, and planning to order some new hens in the next few months. Right now we’re just trying to keep ahead of all this snow.

Planting the Garlic

I planted garlic this past weekend. You plant garlic in the fall and get a mid to late-summer harvest. It was recommended to have the garlic in the ground 2-4 weeks before the ground freezes. It’s hard to predict actual ground-freezing date, but this is probably a good time. I planted last year on October 11, this year it was October 7th, so we are close. This fall has been really cold as well so I’m thinking we may get freezing earlier than we’ve seen the last couple of years.  I planted four varieties – two porcelain garlics (Music and German White), an artichoke variety and a purple stripe variety. The pictures below will show you my planting process:

garlic 2
Here are the heads of the new garlic I ordered from Filaree Farm –  two different Porcelain varieties. They get 4-6 cloves per head. I got 6 from one of these and 5 from the other.
giant cloves
Here are the cloves – these are monsters! They are not elephant garlic, just a large non-elephant strain.
regular cloves
Here are the cloves I planted from my old varieties (from my garlic that grew this year) – the white are an artichoke garlic, and the purple are a purple stripe variety. I ordered a “starter kit”  a couple of years ago from Filaree Farm, and they sent these. (They pick the best ones for your area). Both of these strains are very good. I replanted after the first year so these came from that first re-planting. I saved the largest heads for planting and these are the bigger cloves from those.
regular and giant
Here they are together – you can see the huge difference in cloves sizes, and my old ones aren’t small! I’m excited to try the porcelain garlic but I wanted to make sure these all get planted, so I will have to wait till they grow to try them.
prepped bed
Here is the bed prepped. It only took me 10 minutes to prep because I am re-using my double-dug raised beds! I was hoping that re-digging them to replant would go quickly, and it did. (Check out my earlier summer posts if you are curious about what I did). This bed did have cucumbers this year, but now it has garlic. I prepped it here by shoveling out any weeds, and then using a pitch fork to turn the soil, throwing a little more compost in and turning one more time.
garlic in bed
Here are the rows of garlic. The bed is like 3×4 feet. I have two rows on the left of the porcelain, one row in the middle of purple stripe, and two rows of the artichoke on the right.
straw cover
Here I’ve put a thick pile of straw over the top to mulch it. I wanted to give it 4-6 inches of cover.
straw 2
Here it is again in relation to the garden.
grape vine
Here is a grape vine I planted today. It’s been outside waiting to go in the garden for awhile and I finally figured out where I wanted it. I didn’t want to bring it in for winter, so I figured I would plant it now – it got some mulch as well to help protect it – hopefully it will be ok.

If you want to check out Filaree Farm’s site, you can find them at http://www.filareefarm.com – I’m sure other places have good garlic too, but I’ve been really happy with this company. They sell heirloom organic garlic, shallots, asparagus, and other things. They have lots of different varieties of garlic and a lot of useful information on how to grow them.

I planted the 11 cloves I got of the porcelain, 14 of the artichoke, and 8 purple stripe – so hopefully next year we will have 33 heads of garlic. I love garlic and cook with it all the time – I’m excited to see how these grow!

A review of this year’s garden…

Summer is over, and fall is in full swing. The garden is now pretty much done for the year. I picked the last of the Kale and Chard yesterday, or at least I think this is it.  I may go pick some more broccolini if it produces, but I’m at the point I get to every year where I’m pretty tired of the garden.  Picking and processing things have taken their toll, and I’m now ready to just stay warm inside and not deal with a garden.   I know that in a couple months I’ll be tired of winter, and again be perusing seed catalogs and getting excited for spring.  This happens to me each year, I have found.

pretty trees
The trees are changing colors – here are some pretty trees – the view from our yard this morning.

This was a weird year for gardening – most things grew ok, but there are a few things that didn’t. In the early season this year, we lucked out over last year in terms of rain – my seeds all lived and everything seemed to take ok.  But this fall has been really wet and cold. We got so much rain that a lot of my tomatoes got blossom end rot – probably half of what I planted was lost, and even some of the rogue tomatoes. Thankfully I had a lot of rogue cherry tomato plants – those made up for the loss of other tomatoes. I did get a few really nice beefsteak tomatoes from the planned-plantings, but those were all ripened in the house.

tomatoes
Here are a lot of the tiny tomatoes that have ripened, and some romas
tomatoes 1
A couple of the beefsteaks I got. I big red and a purple kind. And a roma above them.
tiny tomatoes
The rogue cherry tomatoes we have left waiting to ripen.

My kale and chard did good; I grew broccolini this year – I had shied away from any kind of broccolli because I tend to have a lot of problem with cabbage worms. I haven’t had much luck with brassicas except for Kale.  I remember my mom telling me once that broccoli wasn’t worth growing because of all the bugs in the heads.  This year I tried broccolini because of the tiny heads. I am very glad I did. I grew about 5 plants, and it’s been a nice cut-and-come-again patch for us.  You start the plants, and then cut off the first head that grows (which would be the main head), and then the plant will grow tons of tiny heads – those are the brocollini that you pick.  I did have a lot of cabbage moths – I found worms on my kale this year which usually seem to be immune to them, but this year the worms were really bad. I think the tiny heads of the broccolini make them easier to pick the worms off.  It was a bit time consuming for cleaning, but not bad. And the crops weren’t decimated, just a tiny bit munched on – surprising for how many moths were flying around.  I’ve grown cabbage before and had the worms get it all before I even realized what was happening.

brocollini
A couple of tiny broccolini heads.

Some things did really well, and some things didn’t. We had too much lettuce – I will grow less next year. My tomatoes and pumpkins and squash were in the back garden, which ended up not getting as much sun as the plants needed. I think that and the rain contributed to the tomato problem, as well as the fact that my squash didn’t produce too well. We got a few patty-pans, some zucchini, and a yellow squash or two. But I had 6+ plants and we didn’t harvest nearly what should have come from that amount of plants; we should have been overrun but we weren’t.  I did notice a couple of tiny zucchini rotting on the vine at the end (because of the rain, I think – I do think they had been pollinated).  Next year those will all be moved back to sunnier areas of the garden.

My pumpkins didn’t do very well – I grew a tiny variety and got several, but some most of them were rotting by the time they were ripe enough to pick. I’ll probably grow a larger variety next year, in a sunnier spot. I missed having some for the freezer for this year. I had a couple pumpkins that rotted once we had picked them (they must have been on the way to doing that when they were picked) – I got one that actually is lasting:

the one pumpkin
Our tiny pumpkin.

We didn’t have a lot of luck with our vining plants except for cucumbers. I got tons and tons of cucumbers – we made lots of pickles. I gave tons of cucumbers away. And at the end the chickens got a lot of them, we got so tired of them – I grew a Spacemaster variety, and had 4 plants – next year I may grow two of them.  Or one -we’ll see.  I also grew an Iznik variety which is more of a salad cucumber, I believe – it didn’t have many seeds. I only got maybe 5 or 6 cucumbers from one plant.

My watermelon didn’t do very well – I grew a Yellow Doll variety and we got one melon; it was tasty but way too seedy – we won’t grow that one again. I grew some cantaloupe that didn’t get very big; I found that they need sandier soil than we have in that garden, so next year I’ll plant them in the behind-the-house strawberry bed/herb bed – it’s next to our foundation and has extremely sandy soil.  I grew a tiny Tigger melon that got a few melons really late (I picked them last week when we had a freeze warning).  They didn’t have a lot of flavor.  Next year I probably will only grow one cantaloupe for melons and give up on the rest for now.

Our potatoes did fantastic – we got over 45 pounds of potatoes! I grew them in chicken and dog feed bags that were converted to grow sacks – I cut each bag in half, cut handles onto the sides, and then poked some holes in the bottom for drainage.  I planted 2-3 potatoes in each bag, covered with some dirt (I used old composted chicken bedding from last year – it was nice and crumbly) and then once they had grown a bit I buried them to the top of the bag with dirt – then I just let them grow.  I had 12-13 bags growing. I probably started with a few pounds of seed potatoes – I used smaller ones so I didn’t have to cut them. Our local feed store has seed potatoes in spring, so I was able to hand pick the individual seed potatoes I wanted.  Next year I will weigh the seed potatoes so I know what I started with. We grew a red variety and Kennebec, a white variety.  They are all very tasty.

potatoes
Here is the remainder of the harvest, sitting to cure before we store them (or just eat them all – my husband is a potato fiend).

If you read my other posts, you may have seen that we had a really nice garlic harvest. I’m going to be planting garlic today for next year’s harvest.  I saved a couple of heads from our harvest that had really big cloves, and I also ordered some new varieties from Fillaree Garlic farm – I had been growing an artichoke and a purple striped kind, but the new ones are Porcelain garlic (I got Music and a German variety) – Porcelain garlic has 4-6 cloves per head! The heads I got are huge – almost like an elephant garlic but they are just normal garlic – I will be planting these today:

garlic to plant
My new porcelain garlic heads – hopefully my garlic will grow this big next year.

We also got a decent crop of carrots and beets, and beans and peas. I also grew edamame (soy beans) and those did fantastic – I will grow those again next year.  I think the garden in general did really well, except for a few hiccups.  I have already planned out next year’s garden layout – we’ll see if it holds up or if I change it in the middle of January when I start getting wistful for spring.

sad garden
Here’s my main garden today – very sad and picked over.

Late Summer Photos

There has been a lot going on this August, and the garden is still growing well.  We have tomatoes but none are ripe yet. We have had an overabundance of cucumbers and starting to have a ton of summer squash. Here are some cool pictures of our farm from this past month:

onions
My onion crop! We got 103 yellow onions. I also planted some red onions late in the season, I am not sure if those will be ready this year or if we’ll have to wait till spring. This is my second time growing onions from sets, and the best harvest I’ve had. Last year the chickens kept dust bathing in the onion patch – this year the onions were not where the chickens could go.
garlic
I got a good garlic harvest too – I think there were a couple that didn’t grow though; I planted around 40 cloves from last year’s harvest, which grew into 36 bulbs, and these were mostly pretty large sized. I am saving a couple of bulbs for replanting, and also ordered some more garlic – a couple of Porcelain strains to try. Those have really large cloves – like 4-6 per bulb on average, so that will be exciting. I ordered my bulbs from Filaree farm. (filareefarm.com)
tomato and squash jungle
My tomato and squash jungle. I will be cutting the tomatoes back soon to let things ripen up. They don’t get a lot of sun in this spot except in the afternoon, so I think that is holding them back a bit – these were all early (60-65 day) strains, but they are just sitting green currently. Some large tomatoes though!
squash and tomato garden
Here is another view of the squash and tomato bed. You can tell the sunnier part of the garden (toward the cars) since the plants are a bit taller there.
tomatoes
Here you can see the big beefsteak tomatoes sitting on the plant, in the center of this photo.
back sunflowers
Sunflowers at the back of the house.
sunflower 1
Here is our tallest sunflower, I’m guessing this one is about 10 feet or so – it towers at least 4 feet over my head.
tall sunflower
A better view of the tallest sunflower plant. This is a rogue that grew in the middle of my garden. Sometimes those seem to grow better than the ones I actually planted. Although I have a few very tiny ones that grew from the birds dropping seed in my yard. Those are cute and about a foot tall.
sunflower and bee
A bee hanging out on a sunflower. We have a lot of native bees here – I used to want to get hives for honey, but I’ve been rethinking it the last year or so – I’ve been trying to do more to support the native bee species we have around here.
bees and flowers
Here are three sunflowers, each with a bee. The bees seem to really like to hang out on these. I think they get a “sunflower coma” – like a baby would get a “milk coma” if that makes sense – like their bellies are full and they are tired so they take naps on the flowers.
bees
Here are two bees napping on a coneflower. The bees are cute.