Tag Archives: chick

Garden in August

August 6, 2014

Garden at the beginning of June

_DSF9171-EditGarden at the beginning of July

DSC_4679-EditGarden at the beginning of August

Untitled_Paaanorama1-2Well, it doesn’t look much different…It looks like the watermelon plant has sprawled more, sunflowers are taller, and there are less potatoes. However, looks (at least looks from far away) can be deceiving. Here is what is going on in our garden (North Carolina, zone 7b) in August, looking from the bottom of the photo to the top:

As you can see from the picture above, there is not much greenery left in the potato patch. We are harvesting them as needed.

There are kale and cabbage seedlings growing under the screens (in the potato patch). The extra shade really seems to be helping them along.DSC_5091The tomatoes are producing well but as you can see in the photo below, I am really having to prune them heavily to keep the disease at bay._DSC2987The peppers are slowly ripening.DSC_5093We have quite a few watermelon growing from ONE plant but we have yet to harvest any (ripe ones) yet…DSC_5087The corn patch has been stripped bare, raked over, composted, and halfway replanted with carrots and peas.DSC_5095Raspberries are forming…we’ll see if we get an actual harvest this year…DSC_5088The sweet potato patches are doing well, at least from what I can see ๐Ÿ™‚

Main Sweet Potato Patch:

DSC_5094Overflow Sweet Potato Patch #1:DSC_5100(Notice the small sweet potato sprouts to the left. That was the box in which I grew the sweet potato slips. Apparently, I left some sweet potatoes in there. I have been unable to grow much else in that box this season because the boxes with sunflowers is right next to it and they, being over 10ft tall, shade out too much sun.)

Overflow Sweet Potato Patch #2 (main sweet potato patch is in the top/left of the photo):DSC_5101(between spent bean plants (planted in April, ripped out last week) and thriving zucchini plants)

Overflow Sweet Potato Patch #3:DSC_5104(Spaghetti squash patch used to be just above these and to their right are the volunteer tomatoes.)

The first zucchini plants I planted were devoured by squash bugs (planted at the end of April). The second round (planted mid May), planted in the original pea patch (where everything seems to do well) is doing great! All of the zucchini harvested so far has been coming from these three plants.DSC_5096More zucchini plants are coming up behind them for whenever/if ever they give out ๐Ÿ™‚DSC_5098The sunflowers are all drooping. How long before I can harvest seeds? I need that space to plant fall crops!!!_DSC2977 DSC_5106Next up: Beans

I ordered Hutterite beans this year instead of Blue Lake Bush Beans. Never again. They are supposed to be bush beans but they vine like crazy. Their beans taste more like pole beans as well. But I bought the seeds so I’m going to use them. As with most crops, I plant beans in succession so I will have a continual crop.

These Blue Lake Bush beans were ripped out earlier this week (seed from last year).DSC_5101The next round of beans (Hutterite) are producing pretty well.DSC_5102And the last round are just sprouting (overflow sweet potato patch #3 to the left, apple tree to the right).DSC_5103Speaking of the apple tree, I planted fall broccoli under it and it is really doing well. The germination rate was great ๐Ÿ™‚DSC_5097That’s what’s going on in our garden at the beginning of August. All of the summer crops but corn are still going strong and fall crops are being planted.


Our youngest chick is not so little anymore. We put her with the other chickens this week to see how she did. She got picked on quite a bit (though she stuck up for herself pretty well). Her mamma did not protect her as she should so we are still separating her from the flock until she gets bigger.DSC_5149

Our other two chicks have turned out to be pretty dominant among the flock. One is a rooster and the other is a big, beautiful pullet. Her comb is pretty red so I would not be surprised if she started laying any day now. They are 19 weeks old. We have gone through two roosters so far (attacked children so we had to get rid of them). So far so good with Whitey. I hope he’s a keeper.DSC_5155(Whitey crowing at me) DSC_5145(Goldie is the darker chicken in front)

I read recently on another blog that back in the day, chickens were only fed supplementally during the winter months. During the summer months, they got plenty of bugs and greens free-ranging. We looked into it and decided to try it.

I was sick of the tunnels. They were impossible to mow around, annoying to walk over, and the chickens didn’t go in them much during the hot days because there is more shade in the run.

The side yards of our house are sloped so they do not get mowed much. The north side (by the chicken coop) was really overgrown so we decided to expand the run and let the chickens do the mowing for us.DSC_5107Since they now have twice the room they had before and A LOT more green, we thought we would give the ‘no feed during the summer’ theory a try. The hardest part is breaking them of the habit of eating feed. They freak out whenever we walk out the door and try to follow us (along the fence-line) wherever we go. I feel badly, but not really because they have PLENTY of food free-ranging! They have just been spoiled up until now. They get garden scraps, table scraps, and all the grass, weeds, and bugs they want.

I hope it works out. We’ll see. We have noticed our egg count has gone down significantly lately. We think it is because of a combination of factors:

  1. An increase of space to roam (more energy on roaming means less energy on egg production).
  2. No more all-you-can-eat buffet of chicken feed.
  3. We have 3 broody hens. We are trying to break them of their broodiness because we are going on vacation in a month and we don’t want someone else to have to take care of a newborn chick.

I feel pretty confident they’ll get over this hump and egg production will pick back up again…We sure have gotten used to an abundance of eggs! We’ll have to adjust our diet again.

If we can make it without buying chicken feed for a third of the year, that will cut costs significantly! Right now, other than start-up costs of lumber for the coop and fencing for the run and tunnels, the only things we spend money on are our seed order once a year and chicken feed. We don’t spray our crops (with chemical or organic spray), don’t start seeds indoors (so no need for potting soil, trays, lights, heating mats, etc.)…this is really what ‘Gardening Without’ is all about! Gardening Without…

  1. Tilling
  2. Spraying
  3. Money! ๐Ÿ™‚

I am linking up with Green Thumb Thursday to see what other gardeners are up to this week!


Harvest Monday

July 21, 2014

Sorry for the silence. I’ve been having blogging issues. They’re not fully fixed but hopefully they will be soon ๐Ÿ™‚

We are getting more variety these days!

The blueberries have finally slowed down. Instead of getting 8 quarts of blueberries/day, last week we got 13 quarts for the whole week and this week only 8. Still plenty to feed us (along with strawberries) but none to freeze.DSC_4752 Nieto Family - July 09 14 - 0001 DSC_4740

Next week, I think we’ll be able to harvest our first watermelon! ๐Ÿ™‚ We have raspberry canes also but no berries. I wonder why. We’ve never had much luck with raspberries. Hopefully one year they will take off. I worry it is the climate. Is zone 7b too hot for raspberries? I realize we will have to buy fruit in the winter months but I would love to not buy fruit from the store during the summer months!

As you can see, we are getting zucchinis! We were able to harvest our first zucchini two weeks ago. It was very exciting since last year, I did not have any and already this year, squash bugs have killed two zucchini plants. Now, we are getting about 2/day and I am running out of ways to eat them ๐Ÿ™‚DSC_4735 DSC_4755 Nieto Family - July 07 14 - 0011 Nieto Family - July 07 14 - 0015

We are getting about two cucumbers and a handful of tomatoes daily. I planted a lot of colored bell peppers so though there are a lot on the plants, I am still waiting for them to ripen fully. We have harvested a few green ones while we wait on the rest. I am just finishing up the gallon freezer bag full of diced peppers from last summer. It worked out perfectly. Only problem — I can’t remember if I had two bags of peppers or only one…

We officially are not harvesting lettuce anymore. It all had to be ripped up. WAY too bitter from all the mid-90 degree days. I have some baby red romaine growing so we’ll see in a week or two how that tastes but until then, no lettuce. We can still (theoretically) have salads…with kale. There are only two problems:

  1. With lettuce, we just have lettuce, no dressing. With kale, I have to marinate (more fore-thought)
  2. The cabbage moths are out like CRAZY. My kale that looked so beautiful this past month are holey now ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I have to throw half of it to the chickens. So sad.

Nieto Family - July 07 14 - 0005 DSC_4739We are able to harvest beans once a week. I need to remember to plant beans in a row from now on. When they are in a block, they are much more difficult to harvest. I am also thinking about growing the purple variety just so I can harvest more easily (more easily visible)!Nieto Family - July 07 14 - 0007Another thought on beans…I grew pole beans around my corn mainly for the purpose of annoying the raccoons. However, I am unable to harvest the vast majority and that is just a waste. So, I was thinking, maybe next year, I can plant my pinto & black beans around my corn…

  1. It will climb the corn, taking care of the raccoon issue.
  2. AND I won’t need to harvest them until I harvest the corn so I won’t be missing out on my bean harvest!

Sounds too simple…there must be an issue…but I can’t think of one yet. We’ll see how it works next year, if I can remember ๐Ÿ˜‰

The last thing on the harvest tally this week is potatoes. I was just picking potatoes as we needed them but the red potatoes started looking…not smooth? I read somewhere that red potatoes are best eaten ‘new’ and if they are in the ground too long, they will become hollow. So I went ahead and pulled all of the red potatoes. I did it at dusk and when I was planting some kale seeds this week (very shallowly), I raked a potato up. I’m sure I missed some. I just hope it was not too many._DSC6675 The potatoes are in the basement, in a plastic milk crate, stacked and covered with newspaper. We are using these first. The other two types of potatoes we have are yukon gold and purple. What I want to do is leave them in the ground (until first frost) and use them as needed, rather than having to pull them all at once. Is that something I can do? Or do I need to pull them all as soon as the plants die back? I need some gardening advice (per usual)!

We also pulled our first corn but I can’t seem to find any pictures right now…

I’m trying to find a way to eat all of these veggies. I am fine with monotony — same veggies, cooked the same way, every night — but I’m afraid after a little while, my kids will say ENOUGH. So I am trying to find a variety of ways to cook them, healthily.

One night, we had steamed corn, potatoes, and green beans and zucchini tater tots. Another night we had the same thing, but this time with zucchini fritters (we like the tots better). DSC_4749Later in the week, we had pasta primavera, zucchini quiche, and steamed corn on the cob. It was SO beautiful! We used our zucchini, bell peppers, yellow squash, onions, carrots, cherry tomatoes, and eggs. It was a bit time consuming & I do have a 2mo who likes to be held A LOT. But I decided next time, if I have someone home to hold the cutie patootey, I’m also going to make kale salad and mashed potatoes. Other than cucumbers, that will take care ofย  ALL we have been harvesting from the garden ๐Ÿ™‚ And fruit for dessert, of course…maybe some banana, blueberry, strawberry ‘ice cream’. Our favorite!

The sad news: no pictures. The camera wasn’t working and my husband was away with all of his cameras (wedding photographer). I WILL be making that supper many more times though so pictures will come eventually. Everyone but the 2yo loved it. He was just skeptical because he couldn’t tell what everything was. He loves cherry tomatoes but because I cut them up, it took a lot of convincing to get him to try them. Silly boy.

Can you tell I’m trying to be especially creative with zucchini? I have never had luck growing zucchini but this year, I have three plants that are producing wonderfully! They are in the old pea patch. Everything seems to do well in that area. It was prepped by the chickens last summer. I used 3 zucchini in our supper last night and we still have 7 on the counter! I know I could freeze it but I would rather use it fresh ๐Ÿ™‚

The mama hen, with the 4 week old chick, has started laying again! Crazy. And I think our other chick (of the rooster/hen pair) may be laying…I don’t know how to tell without looking at her bottom though & that ain’t happenin’. Her comb is getting red though. She (and the rooster/her brother) are my daughter’s and she wants to get paid for the eggs so we do need to know when she starts laying…question is: is is worth it to isolate her to see?

Head on over to Daphne’s Dandelions to see what other gardeners around the world are harvesting! ๐Ÿ™‚

Harvest Monday

June 23, 2014

This is the first week we have had a more varied harvest. I am certainly not complaining about our greens harvests. I love greens! I would prefer to have more weeks of greens…alas, in North Carolina, our springs are just too short. On to summer! ๐Ÿ™‚

I am still harvesting lettuce. It is starting to be a bit bitter as we have been hitting mid-90s pretty regularly but I am still eating it because I love salads, I know how good it is for me (organic and what-not), and I don’t want it to go to waste!Nieto Family - June 18 14 - 0008The strawberry…let me explain…We got strawberry plants from my parents for Christmas this year. They are everbearing plants. It is suggested to pinch off the flowers the first season so the plants can get established. We did this…for 2 months. I kept waiting for them to stop flowering (what with our high temperatures) but they never did…so I gave up. So we are getting a trickling of strawberries right now and I am hoping for a real harvest in the fall. Nieto Family - June 18 14 - 0003(This was actually the first strawberry harvested. VERY juicy!) Nieto Family - June 18 14 - 0006(another strawberry and a bowl-full of blueberries)DSC_4581(handful of strawberries)

Our blueberry bushes are coming along. As I said before, this past week was INSANEly busy so I did not have very much time to pick but it worked out as the blueberries still needed a bit more time to fully ripen.DSC_4562(about 2 quarts of blueberries…it’s picking up!)

I took a picture of my son’s plate the other morning. I was so happy to see all home/local grown/made food on his plate! This is the goal for ALL meals ๐Ÿ™‚Nieto Family - June 18 14 - 0011(berries from our garden, egg from our chickens, strawberries from a local farm (raw jam made with strawberries and flaxseed in the food processor), homemade bread with wheat berries ground in our kitchen)

I was able to harvest some potatoes this week! Man! The difference in taste of store bought versus homegrown…Nieto Family - June 18 14 - 0010Nieto Family - June 18 14 - 0364I also harvested the first of the green beans (snaps)! ๐Ÿ˜€ These are one of few foods we ONLY eat in season (a few others are blueberries, strawberries, corn, and tomatoes) so the first ones are such a treat! ๐Ÿ™‚Nieto Family - June 18 14 - 0009DSC_4567(and later in the week, some more…)

Another meal to be proud of…Nieto Family - June 18 14 - 0438(Our lettuce, beans, and potatoes…corn from a friend’s 2013 garden. We also had Sloppy Joes (made with chickpeas, pinto beans, tomato sauce, onion, and spices) on homemade bread but there was no room on the plate so it was added later ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

And last, but certainly not least, was a grocery bag stuffed with kale. It was promptly juiced. (Mean Green Juice) YUM!Nieto Family - June 18 14 - 0004One more ‘harvest’ to mention…_DSC1034Only one chick hatched. However, since all were duds for our last broody hen, I’ll take one. One is still a win for us ๐Ÿ™‚

Will I be able to add a cucumber or our first tomato to the harvest tally next week?! We’ll see!

Check out what others are harvesting and what they are doing with their harvests over at Daphne’s Dandelions ๐Ÿ™‚