Mothers’ Day and Gardens Starting

5/9:  Happy Mother’s Day to everyone.  It’s a beautiful day (finally) here at the backyard farm.  The garden is looking great – new seeds sprouting, greens ready to harvest for soups, pastas and salads.

The compost and rain barrel are both full and ready to use.  Joe put the fresh compost into the new potato bed and I water the herbs with the rain water.

The chicks are getting big.  They have been with us for two weeks now. The gardens look great and the sun is out.

Turkey chick at 2 Weeks

Chicken chick at 2 Weeks

5/15:  What a fantastic day today.  The weather was in the mid 60’s with blue skies and sunshine.  Joe built another raised bed for me this morning.  It is under the kitchen window in the area where the grass is always dead and hard.  It’s right next to the rain barrel too, so we can run a hose over to it for water.   I planted 6 Roma tomatoes and a few sweet peppers (they may get transplanted later, but I needed to get them in the ground.  I didn’t have a spot ready for them or for the purple cabbage that I picked up but what can I do when I find vegetable starts on sale – 6 plants for $1.50.

I also transplanted the last rhubarb from the garden into the new bed and planted more peas and beans in the main garden.  The peas are doing well, but something is eating the beans just as they start to sprout – it’s probably slugs.  The slugs got my cucumber too.

I soaked the strawberry baskets on the 2nd floor deck and planted a beefsteak tomato in the planter that had the banana tree last year.  I may plant some purple basil in another pot up there tomorrow.  I set the automatic timer on the drip system and it is set to start tomorrow morning.

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Starter Chicks and Rhubarb

5/2:  Well, we lost a second chick last night.  I looks like some kind of failure to thrive.  They just seem to settle down for a nap and not want to get up.  Very sad.  The other chick are starting to get their feathers and getting bigger everyday.

chicken and turkey on Day 5

I’m going to take the “surround” off of the rhubarb today and move it to another bed that I plan on putting some eggplant starts into.  One is a Japanese Long and the Other is a Satin Beauty.  I also picked up a zucchini, a delicata, and another winter squash and put them into the front bed with the eggplant and the broccoli.  Joe netted it to keep the hems out.

April Garden

4/18: The chickens have been busy today. We have a lovely batch of fresh eggs – one of them looks like a goose egg.  Next weekend we need to set up a brooder in the garage for the new chicks.  We are going to try our hand at raising meat chickens.  Last time we tried, the feed store sold us 5 bantys and only one cornish cross.  This time we’re going to the breeder in Hubbard to pick them up.  I think I’ll get a couple of turkeys as well.  

A sad day today in the garden.  We’re going to have to take out the almond tree.  It has a fungus and it may be spreading.  Last spring we lost a nectarine that bloomed beautifully and then just withered and died.  This year it happened to the almond.  There is also a nearby blueberry that I just planted that looks like something has burned half of the leaves.  I sure hope we can stop it before it gets to the orchard.

I put in a row of Blue Lake Pole beans in the second bed from the front on the east side of the main garden and a row of Oregon Sugar Pod II peas in the second bed from the gate at the front of the main garden.  I moved some spinach starts in the beds behind the kitchen and checked on the broccoli starts the I put in a couple of weeks ago in the front bed.  They were attacked by the chickens, but aren’t dead yet. Some of the asparagus is starting to come up, but less than half.

We found another rhubarb that I had missed in the main garden and Joe said he would help me move it into the new rhubarb bed.

This afternoon I planted two more squares of carrots and spinach in the kitchen bed and transplanted two squares of the pak choy starts (still very small and spindly).

Starting Seeds

02/28:  The last day of February and the forecast is terrific – at least for a couple of days then the rain starts again.  I’ve been a bit under the weather with a fever so I finally got a chance to get out and take a look around this morning.  The rhubarb is starting to peak out of the straw mulch and seems much happier now that it’s protected from the wondering chickens.

The garden of mini greenhouses
The garden of mini greenhouses

No sprouting from the seeds yet, but the chard and spinach seem to have survived the freezing mornings just fine.  The chard under the 2-litre bottle “greenhouses” does seem bigger than those that were not.  I didn’t see as much of a difference in the spinach.  I was able to get some more bottles from the recycling program at school (reuse – then recycle) so I made more for the rest of the chard and one more spinach this morning.  I had enough for everybody, but about half of the labels didn’t come off and had to go off for recycling.

left - no greenhouse    right- greenhouse
left – no greenhouse right- greenhouse

Okay, I’m trying peat pellets again.  I’ve never had good luck with them, but I found a site were the man cut the top of the netting off when he inserted the seeds and then remove the netting completely when they were ready to transplant.  Maybe that’s what I’ve been doing wrong all these years.  Anyway, I started 21 Clarinette Lebanese Hybrid Summer Squash (Ed Hume seeds) and 15 Waltham Butternut Squash (Ed Hume seeds).  The summer squash are marked with green toothpick and the butternut squash with plain toothpicks.  For the last 14 pellets, I put in some Pak Choi (Chinese mustard) seeds) (Hume Organic Seeds).  This could be a mistake – the seed package only gives instructions for direct sowing, and the packet is dated 2008 – but what have I got to loose. These pellets have no toothpicks.  I also planted 2 squares of Early Wonder Beet (Ed Hume) seeds in the raised bed behind the kitchen after soaking them all day in a wet towel.

Peat Pots: Maybe they

03/05:  The Pak Choi is sprouting along with one squash seed.  Time to put them under the fluorescent  fixtures in the kitchen.

I started to trim the kiwi vine today.  It’s probably too late as the sap is running, but it’s huge and messy and I have to do something to clean it up.  It’s huge so I’m guessing I won’t actually manage to kill it.  The weather is supposed to be nice again tomorrow and I think we may head out to get our chicks from the feed store.

03/06:  A PEA HAS SPROUTED IN THE MAIN GARDEN!!  I was up there transplanting some spearmint and peppermint into the upper-side bed when I noticed a tiny shoot just breaking the soil.

Joe and I went over to Portland Nursery and got the seed potatoes today:  red thumb (late), Austrian fingerling (early), La ratte (late), Yukon gold (mid), and Calwhite (mid-late).  I’n not ready to plant yet, but last year I waited too long and everyone had sold out.  I also picked up a couple of Martha Washington asparagus crowns to fill out the bed, an Italian parsley and a few lettuce starts to tide us over until it is warm enough here to start it from seed.

The potatoes are waiting to be set out

I’ve heard a rumor that they’re calling for snow in the valley soon.  I hope not, I’m enjoying this early spring.  TIme to check the Weather Channel.  Snow levels down to as low as 1000′ early in the week.  We should be fine but I’ll put my little greenhouses back on the chard.

More Spring Gardening

2/21:  Wow it was chilly this morning.  I woke up to frost and 25 degrees.  This might not seem unusual to most people, but this has been one of the warmest winters on record and it was 60 degrees on Saturday.

  • I made some mini greenhouses this afternoon out of some 1 and 2 litre plastic bottles.  It will be fun to see how the spinach and chard grow under them compared to the ones that are just out in the cold.
  • Joe and I had to come up with a barrier to keep the chickens out of the rhubarb bed.  For some reason they love to scratch in there and they are scratching all of the tiny little sprouts off of the roots.  Darn those hens.
  • Other than that I just cleared some blackberries out of the rabbit yard – it seemed too cold to be out today
  • The Rhubarb Cage

Tomorrow I need to re-engineer a couple a giant paper-mache ostriches for the library.  I had to remove the legs to get the into the car and now I need to figure out how to reattach them and make them stable.  I am so thankful to the wonderful folks over at our local Anthropologie store.  They have been giving me their window and store displays as they finish with them.  I’ll post some photos soon.

2/22:  What a busy week.  I had no time to get out into the garden and the weather was pretty dreary.  More soon , I promise……..

Early Spring Gardening

2/7 – I put in two squares of spinach and two squares of carrots in the bed outside the kitchen.  First I used string to divide the bed into 28 1’x1′ squares.  I put a few spinach (Olympic Hybrid) in the center of each of two squares.  I subdivided the carrot (Danvers half-long) squares into four sections and put four shallow holes into each for the seeds.

Noah and I mulched the strawberries and the rhubarb with straw and planted a row of peas (Oregon Sugar Pod II) in the bed to the left of the big garden gate.

I transplanted a chive into a larger pot and moved the bay tree out onto the edge of the porch.

2/8 – Wouldn’t you know it.  I planted a little over the weekend and this morning it was 29 degrees.  Oh well, there wasn’t much to lose.  This was my first day back to work after sinus surgery, man am I pooped.  The air in the school is very dry and does not make for a happy nose.  No news from the garden……although I did stop and buy two blueberry plants to put in where the roses have never done well.

2/9 – Still no gardening – still pretty pooped.

2/10 – Rain again…….drip……drip……drip