Monday, May 19, 2014

Growing on now in the garden

The chickens are in their new home and loving it. They have plenty of space to say the least. 

They are 6 weeks old this morning.

Griz says, "What? I didn't know we had chickens."
While we patiently wait for the chickens to produce some delicious eggs, we'll take a look and some of the other foods we are patiently waiting for. One of the things I'm most excited about are the figs. Last year the tree did not produce very much and what it did produce got stolen by the birds before we were able to get them. This year, we fed the 3 fig trees lots of compost and we have been watering it regularly. The biggest tree has responded in a wonderful way by setting lots of fruit.

Willie is happy to show us
A look at the promise of figs to come

Gidget doesn't see the allure of figs but she heard me say something about birds so she and Griz are on the hunt.
Thankfully the cats aren't very good at hunting birds. They are also not very good at hunting gophers so I'm beginning to wonder what they are good for.

Other than figs we have a lot of other foods growing that we hope to eat and maybe share soon. Here's some of the watermelon and corn that we planted a few weeks ago. When we thinned the watermelon, we tried to move the small plants to another location. Don't bother trying that in your garden, just thin them and walk away. Watermelons do not transplant well - or at all.

This is suppose to be 3 rows of corn. I don't know why most of the third row did not come up. 
The tomatoes are growing like weeds and setting fruit nicely. There are also some small sunflowers in this bed that are close to blooming.

A variety of brandywine and other medium sized tomatoes
Here we have some cucumbers and beans in the front bed and bell peppers and cherry tomatoes in the back. The peppers are just starting to bloom and those got sprayed with worm casting tea yesterday. It seems to me that they set fruit better after a foliar feeding with worm tea.

Our mouths are watering in anticipation
We have some zinnias volunteering in this bed along with some butternut squash seeds that we are waiting to appear.

Zinnias are such happy flowers.
The first corn we planted is moving along nicely.

Tassels on our first Fishers Early sweet corn.

And the silks are appearing on the cobs that we should be eating soon. 
There is enough corn in this area that we should not need to pollinate it by hand but I think we may need to intervene with the other bed. 

The thing we are eating regularly right now is mulberries. They are absolutely delicious.

Giving the tree some compost and regular water seems to have made it very happy. 

Gidget thinks someone needs to get a handle on these gophers, I agree Gidget! Get on it. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Growing Fast

One of the first things I learned about gardening is that plants will increase growth significantly as temperatures rise. I saw this first hand a little in San Diego during the "heat" of the summer but with the non-existent weather there it wasn't as apparent as it is here.

The temperatures in Elgin have been in the mid to high 80s during the day, and in the 60s at night regularly over the last couple weeks and I am absolutely amazed at how quickly the plants are growing. Now I've learned that there is a threshold and at some point the plants will get too hot to set fruit. Timing has become more relevant than it ever was before.

Last year we didn't even move in until May 2nd and didn't get around to planting anything until late May or early June . Our results were dismal. It got so hot that we were unable to function outside the comfort of air conditioning and the plants didn't want to perform either. I hope we'll be slightly more acclimated this year. And I hope we'll be eating a lot of food from the garden.

Gidget isn't looking forward to summer. She plans to spend a lot of time in her box.

We haven't perfected the timing yet but we are certainly doing better this year than last.

The tomatoes look good and are setting fruit. I gave them an inch of compost today. 

And while we're talking about rapid growth, our chicks are getting huge. We're planning to move them to the big chick house this weekend. They will be a month old on the 6th of May.
May 1, 2014 - 30 days
Farmer D worked all weekend long on the chicken house with awesome results! We've got one heck of a unique and functional chicken coop happening. We cleaned out an old shed that was packed with all sorts of stuff the last folks left behind. Then we insulated the interior framing and Farmer D cut and hung old plywood for interior walls. The last folks left a lot of plywood that was painted up as signage.

Walls insulated and plywood hung. 

The chickens have some interesting reading. 

My favorite part is the little chicken door and ladder that Farmer D built.

We're going to split the interior into two parts because it's a lot of space for 7 chickens. It will make it easier and less expensive for us and the chickens will still have plenty of room. Then we will fence an outdoor run to protect the chickens from predators while they're outside. It will have two sections that we'll alternate.

Other than that there isn't much to tell you about. We've been watering regularly, spreading compost, spraying worm tea, harvesting mulberries which are delicious, thinning seedlings, weeding and planning. We're always planning.

We have carrots, potatoes, peas, tomatoes, peppers, corn, beans, pumpkins, watermelon, sunflowers and more in various stages.

We will do more planting over the next week or so but only certain crops like beans, chard, pepper plants, zinnias, sunflowers and a couple others. Then it will be all about maintenance. We will be able to set up the automatic watering system soon because we won't have so many different stages of plants growing on.

It's incredible how quickly our spring is passing while so many other gardeners around the country are still frozen or barely thawed.  The Travis County Planting Schedule has been a huge tool for me this season.

Gidget is almost happy about her chickens but remains skeptical about our plans for her garden.