Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Ruffians--When Cute Chicks Go Punk

My sweet little day-old peeps are growing up fast.   We went from fluffy oreos...

 to these scruffy rapidly-growing pullets in three short weeks.  Sigh. 

At three weeks old, they are half fluff, half feather--they've definitely got a punk vibe going. Happily, a sweet chorus of peeps still serenades us from their powder room homestead.

They're skittish babies one moment and fearless ruffians the next--as schizoid as spring weather.

Their chick brooder aka former rabbit cage seems to be rapidly shrinking in size so I'm looking forward to fully-feathered damsels that can graduate to outdoor living in another three to five weeks. It's time to plan what changes will be needed for this new flock

I need to lower the coop for easy access (for the pullets not for me!) and plan to update the run. I'm especially looking forward to constructing a cottage-style white picket fence and gate this time around. The current rickety structure was thrown together quickly before we went on a trip and isn't exactly something you'd Pin or see featured on Backyard Chickens.

I was thinking a spiffy white, but don't you love this blue gate that Manuela has in her garden? I could picture an aqua one--very tempting.

 Especially since it would nicely match the inside of the coop. 

And we all know girls appreciate those thoughtful decorating touches.  Happy chicks are my aim.  That...and fresh eggs in four months.

And since it's supposed to be eighty-seven degrees tomorrow, guess who's gonna get their first outing into the Great Outdoors?!  Photos to come...

Sharing at My Romantic Home's Show and Tell Friday, of course!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Le Potager in Mid-May

Our early spring has benefited the vegetable garden.  Le potager is almost a whole month ahead of where we usually are plantwise.

I planted our seed potatoes on St. Paddy's Day, a tradition that makes it easy to remember when I planted.  This year we'll be trying Cal White and Kennebec taters. I wanted to plant last year's winner--the Peter Wilcox--and although I couldn't find them as seed potatoes I had a few marble-sized Wilcoxians left from last year's harvest that I planted.

Pretty much all our veggies go in raised beds in our climate because of our year-round cold nights, but the potatoes go the raised route for ease of harvest.  I'm trying a straw mulch system this year...once the seed potatoes sprouted and reached the top of the bottom boards, I piled on compost and raised the bed with a second set of boards.  Within a week they were well above the six inch boards so I added yet another set of boards and more compost/cherry blossom drop/straw.  As you can see, they've flourished and I think I'll add one more layer and then leave them alone.  Theoretically we should be able to (easily) harvest a (bumper) crop of potatoes from the organic layers I added on top of the soil.  I wasn't diligent last year about adding layers but I did notice that I did get a decent crop from what I did layer and I didn't have to dig much to harvest them.

We usually have good luck with our Sugar Snap peas but this year they were dug up within a few days by the Golden Retriever who seems to enjoy digging more than I'd like. At least I could tell they were germinating. I just tucked them back in, watered them and crossed my fingers. Because I do love those pods in our salads well into summer! Most of them made it and I had enough extra seed to replant the little corner that didn't.  With three (completely accidental) planting dates, we'll have an extended season for peas this year.

It's not like the peas need the added protection from the row cover since they like our cool springtimes, but I had the time to sew a custom cover to fit the PVC frame so I did.  Protection from the marauding Golden was a bonus.

I wanted to get some sweet onions again since our crop last year was my most successful try at onions yet. I settled for Stuttgartner which sound delicious. At least they look happy in their new home. Although it looks a bit like a jail with the hardware cloth protecting it from chickens and Golden retrievers.

I planted a package of Black Seeded Simpson lettuce back in late March. It's not fancy, but I didn't get the germination from my Farmers Market blend that I wanted due to a dry winter, so I went with what I could easily get and knew would do well. Sometimes it's better to just go for the sure thing. However the fates seemed to be against any lettuce harvest since Miss Golden Retriever (who else) dug a very deep hole in the lettuce plot as well. Lettuce needs light to germinate and who know how many seeds were left anywhere near the surface. Watering and hoping didn't do any good.

As it turns out, the dog paws left just enough plants that we've actually already harvest three good salads with no end in sight.  There's nothing quite as tenderly delicious as home-grown lettuce!

Without a full bed of lettuce I had room for an experiment.  I'm gambling (I live in Nevada, after all) and planted a first crop of Blue Lake Bush beans in the blank spaces.  It's waaay too early but I have the row cover and if the weather stays as warm as it has, we'll be harvesting quicker than usual.  I'll be planting French filet green beans and some pole beans too as the season rolls along.

This year I wanted to grow Sunsugar or Sungold tomatoes, or Santas, all of which get good reviews for flavor.  But do you think I could find the seeds anywhere in this town? I'm not into mail order...but maybe next year. Anyway, the Romas (beloved of my son) are in as well as a giant Red Cherry tomato and we're seeing true leaves so they're ready to transplant.

I did find a packet of Black Cherry tomatoes (at the feed store--go figure) which are described as having intense flavor so I'm hoping they germinate as nicely and live up to their advance advertising!

I can hardly wait to start some zucchini and more beans. And see if the pumpkin seeds I saved from the minis last fall will germinate and give me a fall decorating bonus.

Tuesday Garden Party time!
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home too.