Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Farm Update: July 3

I haven't done a farm post in nearly two months. I have various excuses: rain, rain, and then a bit more rain. A wedding. The outrageous heat. But truthfully, I had energy for one blog, not two. There you have the unvarnished truth.

For future reference, here are a few stats:

*3 chicks survive from the May clutch. I think two are hens, but unsure still. They are nine weeks old today.
*Ethel is broody on four Ameracauna eggs, one week in. 
*It's a bad tomato year. I have about 25 plants in the garden, but the Mini Orange plants are performing badly because of excessive rain - rotten fruit. The 2 plants in pots with drainage did better.
*Matt's Wild Cherry tomato plants are doing okay. The 3 plants that overwintered on the porch have done extremely well. I should try that again. I had abundant cherry tomatoes all through June, which is early. The rope trellising is not a good solution for tomatoes. We need a new plan. Cages are too short for vining varieties.
*Cucumbers are bearing very well. The pickling variety turn yellow quickly. But the rope trellising is perfect for cucumbers. We will do that each year.

*I started my Blue Lake bean plants too late. I have 8 plants in a bed fenced against rabbits. Difficult to weed. Pepper plants also in there, and growing well.
*The greens bed was fabulous. We could not eat or sell even a majority of it.
*Babies' Breath and Chamomile did not grow well. Heavy rain destroyed the first and heat/weeds destroyed the second.
*Carrots appear to be growing well. No sign of orange root yet. I sowed seeds on March 29.
*A good year for onions, which were put in as sets last fall. At the end of June their tops were down enough to pull them. They're curing on the front porch. Then I think we'll store them in the frig.

* Each year our potato harvest improves. Adam harvested them today. He'll brush off the dirt and we'll store them in the spare bedroom.

*I've had decent farm sales at the market, selling nearly everything. 
*I have so much tomato sauce left over from last year that I'm cooking it down and turning it all into tomato paste, which Adam uses most readily in cooking.
Reduced by half, after simmering for a day

*We ate some peas this year, but did not freeze any. We don't tend to remember what's in the deep freezer, and garden produce sits there for a long time, uneaten. Need to improve on that.
* I made a batch of tea tree soap in February, one of lavender in March, and just made a mixed batch last week. I've steadily made batches of Healing Herb Ointment, Bee Balm, and Insect Repellent Lotion Bars, all of which sell well. I'll make a bit of ointment for ourselves today because we use it so often.
*Herb beds are doing very well, if weedy. I made a large batch of herbal tea (mint, lemon balm, tarragon, lemongrass), and sold the first tin of it at the market on Saturday.

*Adam's willow tree starts are doing extremely well. Thicker wands have grown better than thinner ones. 
*My seven loofah vines are looking very good. They won't bear until autumn. I sold almost all of my last year's loofah scrubs.

I think that's about it! If you want to know more about what's happening in our lives -- the roof, the wedding, the dogs -- skip on over to my other blog, Through a Glass Darkly. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 11, 2018

It May Not Be Summer Yet, But ...

I can feel it from here! At last -- warm weather! Now it's about 85 degrees. Gone are all gloves, scarves, and even long pants. 

What's the farm's status on this lovely May day?

Four baby chicks are a week and a half old.

It's hard to get photos of babies when there are two mamas and a fierce daddy standing right there!

Adam was called yesterday to come retrieve a swarm hive of bees that had settled in a shopping cart at the Food Lion grocery store. So he did.
 He used this portable nuc box. It's fitted out with frames inside, and is a perfect box for a swarm hive to start in. The bees stayed overnight ... but sadly this morning they'd decided to move on. Bees will do what they like.

In addition to mowing and watering and weeding and many other tasks, Adam continues clearing the border to the west of the house.
 He's leaving the large pine trees. There's a slender little tree in the photo, (just above the word "slender") that we wanted to identify. Here's its leaf.
It's a Washington Hawthorn with impressive spikes. Now that it's free of strangling vines and has sun on its face, perhaps it will have bright red berries and pretty white flowers as it's supposed to.
My hostas are looking grand.
 Both elephant ears and amaryllis are happy too.

From the greenhouse:
Tomato plants are going into the beds. All are Matt's Wild Cherry this year. We like them best. 
 I have a dozen of these to sell at the market tomorrow, plus a dozen cucumber plants, three loofah plants, and nine basil plants.

There's wedding planning in the garden too! How so, you ask? I'm growing gypsophila, also known as "Baby's Breath." You can't have too much Baby's Breath at a wedding.
 I've since weeded that bed more, once I was able to identify said flower. I sewed the seeds not knowing what it would look like.
 Next to it I sewed a small bed of chamomile. It's the ferny-looking stuff.
Here's a close-up. It's for making tea.
Everything's growing this time of year. So far, it seems only our lemongrass and most of my lantana died over the winter. I'm still holding out for the lantana though.
Oh -- if you missed my most recent Herb Beds Tour (I know -- Oh, the excitement!), here it is:

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Vegetable Garden Update

Both in the greenhouse and in the garden beds, Lady Spring is making progress in spite of our chilly weather. Where shall we begin? Let's go in the greenhouse. Here's my "work table" - my soil table.
 Adam sifts his cured compost and it's my potting soil for most things. See it at the back of the table? I use that little black square thing to sift it more. The most important tool right now for transplanting delicate seedlings is that old chisel. It's the perfect size for digging out a little seedling and placing it gingerly in a new pot. 
Regarding watering: I did use a mason jar (above) with holes punched in the lid. But it was so slow, and not big enough. The juice bottle it better. I punched holes in its lid with a knife. It's perfect. When the plants are bigger, I graduate to using the watering can (above also).

Here are some dill (left) and basil (right), newly moved into square pots.

I already have dill and basil in the ground in the herb garden, so I'll probably sell all these.
Here are tomato seedlings (left) in bigger pots, and loofah seedlings (right). I'll have more loofah plants than last year, and might sell a few.

Sadly, during our recent windstorm, the greenhouse door Adam made was ripped open and bent out of shape. What a wind!

Above is the smallest of my tomato plants that overwintered. It's looking rather happy ... considering.
Our lettuce/greens bed is great! I'm quite pleased. I sold some kale and spinach at the market Saturday, and will do so again.

 Asparagus is coming right along. Not a massive cloud of stalks yet, but well-established.
 Some unexpected radishes erupted recently (left). And a couple of stout kale plants too. I have difficulty telling the difference between a big kale plant and a collard.

This is where some of those tomato seedlings will go when they are older and bigger. The weeds encroach so fast!
 Now ... Rabbits!!! Oh, naughty rabbits. They come through the fence (you can't see it) over there along the trees (below). They started nibbling the tops off our pea plants -- the tender growth shoot! This was not to be tolerated.
 Adam had heard that rabbits are rather stupid. He didn't have enough fencing to enclose the entire pea bed (see above, the long bed with the posts). So he erected a line of fencing between the peas and the pasture fence where they creep in. Sure enough ... they never thought to go around the fence! Our peas have remained unmolested for a while and are now growing up the trellis. Soon they will be safe.

I have a few onions sending up seed heads (left) and some that aren't (right). I must continue reading up on onion habits.

Below is the carrot bed. Well, the front part is carrots, tiny seedlings just come up. The rest of the bed shows you there are plenty of spots we have neglected still. I don't know what will go in the rest of that overgrown bed, and I'm not digging it out until I have a plan.
 Potato bed:
Adam found some purple potatoes in the barn office that he'd forgotten last year. They had long rubbery roots growing on them, so he stuck them in the ground too.

I videoed (that's a word!) my chickens being crazy this morning. Sylvie (broody mother) got off her eggs. Other chickens were pecking and pestering her to get back on her eggs. Lots of squawking and dancing and fluffed feathers, wings outspread. Finally she and her sister decided to sit on them together. Later, the newest chicken (sex as yet undetermined), who two days ago began sporting a rakishly dashing tail feather, let out a pitiful but discernible CROW. I think he's out of the closet as a roo! Two seconds later, Arthur (the resident roo in that flock) came careening over to fight him! How dare Cassie-now-named-Cassanova to crow around him! We will have to work on this dilemma. Cassanova will move away to another farm where roosters go for a lovely but short life :(
I meant to say -- that video was too big to load here, so you'll have to imagine the ruckus and fun. 

Oh, and one last thing ... look what survived our horrible winter and has new, little sprouts?

It's my eucalyptus! It survived 8 degree nights (brrr!) -- Adam did put a make-shift tent over it, which caved in under the winds.
You can see the history of this eucalyptus. We've lived here 3 winters. The tree survived the first winter and sent up a tall trunk in the following summer. The second winter the trunk died and Adam cut it off, but that summer new side shoots grew (in the photo). Those in turn died this past (third) winter. However ... new shoots again! I hope the root system is deep enough, strong enough now to survive nearly any winter. I don't care if it's tall, scruffy, spindly -- I just want to cut eucalyptus branches. Actually, shorter might be better! Anna wants eucalyptus in her bridal bouquet, so perhaps I'll be able to oblige her with some from my own tree!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Will Spring Ever Come?

I know that, technically, Lady Spring has arrived, but it doesn't feel like it. We still have lows in the 30's! In spite of this, on Friday Adam put the plastic back on the hoop house.
 This year he added PVC rollers on the bottom edges so we can roll the sides up and cool the house that way, when need be.
Adam snapped the plastic in place with this brilliant wiggle wire:
 The four large, leggy tomato plants from the front porch were moved out there right away. I don't care if it was 38 degrees last night -- they have overstayed their welcome on the front porch!
 Adam is building a new door for the hoop house. He used the old one on the chicken coop. Chickens first!! Haha!

Our greens are slow but doing well. Can you see them in the bed? From left to right, a smattering of spinach, red kale, lettuce, and more kale.
 The peas are up and looking great, about 25 of them, too short for their trellis.
 The apple tree in the orchard is blooming. They are the loveliest blooms.
 I let my younger chickens free range today; I feel so sorry for them with no greenery in their run.
The three hens didn't want to eat. They wanted to dust bathe.
 I want them to free range, but I lost one of the young chicks to a predator about a month ago while they were free ranging. A second chick died because of its cross-beak. The third chick, Cassie, is the lowest of the low, on the Chicken Totem Pole. It's so sad. They make her sleep on the floor of the coop, on the other end, while they all sleep on the roost. I feel sorry for her.
Speaking of birds, these friendly fellows perched near us on the ferry yesterday, as we returned from the flea market.
 The gulls were particularly active. Some have white heads, and some have jet black.
 We went across the river Saturday morning just at sunrise -- the 6:15 a.m. ferry.

 Those of you following my weaves, here's the finished shawl/scarf, for sale. It came back home with me. It ended up being 12" wide and over 70" long.
When we drove into the driveway, Trixie trotted up to greet us. She was not supposed to be loose! Trixie was left in the fenced farm pasture with Ned and Baby, to play for the day while we were gone. She should have been behind that fence, but she had somehow escaped! It was horrible to think of what might have happened, but evidently she's a smart cookie, and knew to stay on the back porch waiting for us to come home. Phew! Adam was mighty relieved.

That new market across the river is wearing us both out. I think the verdict is still out, whether we will do it long term. But yesterday was good. However, this not-a-morning-person girl finds it a challenge, that's for sure!

You will probably read this on Palm Sunday, or afterward. Please have a blessed Easter week. It's time to think about Jesus, about His mighty sacrifice and His eternal, persistent love for us. We're having a Seder Supper at our church on Thursday evening, a "recreating," if you will, of the Last Supper, which was, of course, a redoing of the Passover, and simultaneously the first Lord's Supper/Communion. Adam walks us through the dinner, explaining it all, and we break half-way for our own covered-dish supper also. It's a great evening -- if you're local, please come! All are welcome at 6:00 p.m. Have a blessed week.