Tag Archives: cover

Planting, Covering, and CHICKS!!!

April 18, 2015

Thursday was a big day for us!

I planted 80-90 onion seedlings, 28 buttercrunch lettuce, and 14 garnet rose lettuce. I also transplanted about 5 celery plants. I am unsure what happened to them in the greenhouses but most of them died. I went ahead and planted the ones that survived, even though they were itty-bitty. I am not expecting anything from them but we’ll see.

The plan was to harvest 100 onion plants each year so depending on how these do, I’m in pretty good shape. Last year was the first year I had ever grown onions from seed and they never got very large at all. I learned AFTER I had ordered all of my seed for this year that I have been ordering and planting the wrong kind of onion seed! I have been ordering long-day onions when I need to order short-day onions. Oh well. I try not to waste anything so I will just see what happens to these and I’ll be sure to order the correct kind next time.Nieto Photography 2015(See those itty-bitty pieces of grass? Yeah, those are onion seedlings) Nieto Photography 2015(more planted under the apple tree)

The lettuce I planted in the greenhouses were looking lovely until our unexpected frost Easter morning. It killed the lettuces (or so I thought). A few days of good, soaking rains brought most of them back to life. They all were frost-bitten a bit but alive. We’ll see how they do after being transplanted.Nieto Photography 2015Our broody hen also hatched out FIVE chicks!!! When she went broody, we went ahead and put 11 eggs under her. I had been checking for weeks to see if our eggs were fertile (looking for the bulls eye) and only half or less than half were fertile whenever I checked. Because of this, I was not expecting much. She lost 3 throughout her 3 weeks of sitting (they were kicked out and eaten by other hens). The last time she was broody, a hen stole one of her baby chicks and ate it so Tuesday night (two days before her due date), we put her and her eggs in a dog crate, to keep everyone safe.

We checked on her about 8 times throughout the day Thursday (her due date). We didn’t want to mess with her too much until all the eggs that were going to hatch did so. Each time we went in, we were able to see more and more chicks peeking from behind her. So exciting 😀 We found the fifth chick Friday. Two more eggs are under her so we’ll see if we get any more chicks. One egg was crushed (not sure how).chicks5(I apologize for quality. I was getting ready to post and realized, although we look at them 10x/day, we had yet to take any pics! Here they are, 2 days old 🙂 )

Last year we tried to hatch out our own chicks when a hen went broody 3 times. We did not have a rooster then so we ‘borrowed’ fertile eggs from a friend. We were able to hatch out two chicks first (one died at 5mo, one is our rooster 🙂 ), no chicks the second time, and one chick the third time (was put with the other hens too early and was trampled). This year, when a hen went broody, we were able to use our own eggs. We are super excited so many ended up being viable 😀

I spent Friday morning covering all of the brassicas. I used old covers to cover the cabbages. I ordered 50 feet of agribon insect barrier from Johnny’s and used that to cover my broccoli and kale tunnels. When we were unrolling them, they were stuck together and left holes every foot or so 😦 I called Johnny’s and they said they would mail me a new one first thing Monday. They aren’t kidding when they say ‘satisfaction guaranteed’. Color me impressed.Nieto Photography 2015(cabbage rows between peas, covered haphazardly. covered low tunnels in the back) Nieto Photography 2015Kale low tunnel (75 sq. feet) Nieto Photography 2015Broccoli low tunnel (100 sq. feet) Nieto Photography 2015

Since I had planted all of the cool-weather greenhouse plants and the afternoon turned out to be quite hot, I spent it indoors, making carrot, beet, and spinach seed mats to plant out Saturday morning.

I hope to plant out peas, carrots, beets, spinach, and maybe lettuce today and Monday I’ll have an actual harvest to post!!!!!


How Is the Fall Garden Progressing? Eastern NC, Zone 7b

August 21, 2014


I have been trying all year (well, since January) to grow celery. No such luck. I know it does not grow well in North Carolina because it likes cool temperatures and we are not known for that here in the south. However, we go through celery with all of the juicing we do so I keep trying!

I tried sprouting celery seeds in greenhouses during the winter, planting seeds in the shade, sprouting them inside on a wet napkin and then planting the sprouts…nothing worked. So, I took a break from seed planting (I’ll try again in the winter in a more controlled environment) and tried to plant from celery stumps from the store.

We put the celery stumps in water on our kitchen table until they started sprouting.Nieto Family - August 11 14 - 0010Then, I planted them in the most shaded area of our garden (does not get sun until 1-2pm every day) under a shade cloth (repurposed window screens that were ripped).Nieto Family - August 11 14 - 0011(At first the screen was just propped up on rocks.) Nieto Family - August 16 14 - 0026I later took the screen out of the window frame and covered the celery properly. I also planted more stumps. A couple have not done well. I think I may have planted them too high up on the stump. But most of them are growing well. I am still very much at the beginning of the celery experiment. We’ll see how it progresses…

Cabbage & Kale

I planted kale and cabbage in the section of the potato patch that does not get much sun during the day, where potatoes had already been pulled. I did not cover them at first because it is so hot. The cabbage butterflies loved that 😛 So, I covered them in garden cloth until I got around to covering them properly with shade cloth (previously mentioned in the celery section). There are still plants with many holes in them but they are bouncing back (kale especially). Nieto Family - August 16 14 - 0027(holey cabbage) Nieto Family - August 16 14 - 0028(kale, bouncing back) Nieto Family - August 16 14 - 0267(Celery at the top of the picture, cabbage in the middle, kale towards the bottom…not quite enough screen so I improvised to keep out the cabbage worms.)

Now to figure out where to plant them once the weather cools so they can get more sun…

Peas & Carrots

If you recall, after clearing my corn patch, I decided to plant a two foot border of peas all the way around and root crops in the middle section. I planted half of the area with carrots and peas, but ran out of carrot mats and peas (a neighbor had given me his leftover pea seeds from the spring).

I bought more pea seeds and planted the rest of the bed with those, more carrots, beets, and bunching onions this week.Nieto Family - August 13 14 - 0001The dark U-shaped section is where I planted the rest of the peas, covered them with chicken compost and mulch (just starting to cover with mulch in this picture). The sticks are to deter the cat. She is a great garden cat as she keeps the moles/voles, bunnies, and birds away but she LOVES to dig up freshly planted root crops! Drives me insane! The sticks deter her enough though so that’s good 🙂

Same space, different angle:Nieto Family - August 13 14 - 0002Here, you can see the peas are starting to come up from the first planting. The carrots and beets are starting to sprout as well, they are just harder to spot. Nieto Family - August 13 14 - 0003 Nieto Family - August 13 14 - 0004(Look closely, past the out-of-focus pea shoot to the itty-bitty carrot sprouts.)

Spinach & Lettuce

I planted spinach and lettuce right next to the celery, cabbage, and kale (uncovered) in the potato patch. They are just starting to sprout. I also planted some spinach and lettuce in the box with volunteer sweet potatoes. It is covered with yet another broken window screen.

Most of my broccoli, planted under the apple tree, has been eaten by something 😦 I want to plant a lot more broccoli, cabbage, and kale but I think I’m going to have to buy some real shade cloth before I can do that. It is supposedly too late to plant but I am going to keep trying. It doesn’t hurt and as long as I keep a good garden journal going, telling when crops were planted and how they did, the garden will do better every year. That is the hope, of course! 🙂

What else do you plant in your fall garden? Am I missing something tasty? I have yet to venture out to grow my own herbs. They scare me.

I am linking up with Green Thumbs Thursday to see what other gardeners are up to!

Fall Garden

July 24, 2014

I started year-round gardening two years ago, after reading Eliot Coleman’s book, ‘Four-Season Harvest‘…. I’m sure there are many others who have made the same decision for the same reason. It is a wonderfully inspiring book.

Year 1 (Fall 2012)

Incredibly mild. We had kale and lettuce throughout. Broccoli was able to grow slowly throughout the whole winter and we were able to harvest some April 2013February 16 13 - 0067 February 24 13 - 0116 April 10 13 - 0032 DSC_2367

Year 2 (Fall 2013)

Incredibly cold and long winter. I was able to grow kale, carrots, and one cabbage that fall. It was being eaten by cabbage worms but the chickens attacked it right before first frost. They ate all of the worms and then it was warm enough for it to finish growing but cold enough, the cabbage butterflies did not come back. I was able to harvest that head with minimal damage. DSC_3474(notice: bottom left is where the chickens were pecking at it)

However, by January, everything had died (or so we thought) and we were unable to harvest anything from February until May. Turns out, the kale I thought had died did revive in the spring, so that was nice.

I am hoping this year will be different. I am not good at covering things. You have to remember to uncover them when it gets too hot…then remember to cover them again at night…then what is growing under the cover has to be watered…it’s just too much work and too much to remember!

However, if I want to ever harvest broccoli or cabbage, I need to get with the program in regards to covering them. I want to be done feeding the cabbage worms! This also means I need to plant them all together. I tend to scatter plants throughout the garden. This works for some plants (keeps the bugs confused for a time). But nothing confuses those stinkin’ cabbage butterflies!

Things I am doing differently this year for my fall/winter garden:

  1. Planting MORE.
  2. Starting seeds in shade and then I will transplant them to a place that gets full sun during the winter that I can cover properly.
  3. Having multiple hoop houses so covering crops will be easier (hopefully?)

Planting More

My goal is to not go to the grocery store anymore one day. I try to plant more and more each season in order to achieve that goal. I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle yearly for inspiration 🙂

The other day, I wrote down the minimum amount of what we will need to grow in order to feed our family of 8 in a year. The bare minimum. And then I doubled that. I figure by doing that, it will take care of any failed crops and it will feed others around us in need (another goal of mine).

So, the plan for this fall is to plant:

  • 100 celery seeds (or keep planting until I figure out how to get them to sprout. grrrrr)
  • 34 cabbage seeds
  • 40 kale seeds
  • 52 broccoli seeds
  • 484 carrot seeds (you can never have enough carrots!)
  • 85 beet seeds
  • 26 lettuce seeds
  • 40/50 square feet of peas
  • 260 spinach seeds

I have planted the celery, cabbage, kale, broccoli, and carrot seeds already. For my zone (7b), they had to be planted by the end of July in order to mature fully before winter. That is the goal with fall/winter gardening: getting plants to full maturity before it gets so cold, they will not grow anymore. That way, you can still harvest out of the garden in the dead of winter even though nothing is technically growing.

Starting Seeds in the Shade

I don’t plant seeds indoors (our house is tucked in the woods & I am not shelling out $$ to buy lights, shelving, heating pads…) but the summer sun is so intense, I have to figure out how to grow these delicate seedlings outdoors in the middle of our hot, North Carolina July/August.

I tried planting some in the sunflower bed, thinking they would get dappled sunlight but still stay cool enough to survive. Turns out, it was not enough sunlight.

The next round of seeds went on the east side of the potato patch. The potato patch is on the edge of the woods so it gets shade in the morning and then the seedlings were shaded enough in the afternoon by the potato plants. However, now that they are dying back, the seedlings are getting less shade. We’ll see if they survive. I am shading them from the afternoon sun with old window screens propped up by sticks right now.DSC_4888 DSC_4891(some kale in the foreground…the rest are just coming up)

My latest attempt is to plant some seeds under the apple tree. I know things grow well there. We have harvested some of our best beets, spinach, and lettuce from under that tree so far this year.

Hoop Houses

If you have been following this blog for over a year, you know we used to keep the chickens in a chicken tractor.April 13 13 - 0024 It is a great idea (fertilize lawn while enclosing chickens) but it does not work as wonderfully as we had hoped. Come to find out, this is the case with everyone I know (personally) who has tried using a chicken tractor.

My neighbor suggested covering the chicken tractor with plastic and turning it into a greenhouse. Genius! That is exactly the plan for this winter. I am thinking I will transplant some of the cabbage and broccoli into an area of the garden (Where? I don’t know yet.) and put the chicken tractor over them to keep them safe from cabbage butterflies in the fall and freezes in the winter.

I have three or four extra PVC pipes left over from various garden projects. I am thinking I can make another small hoop house by putting rebar into the ground and slipping the PVC pipes over them, then have a cover over that. Maybe I can fit the rest of the broccoli and cabbage under there.

Kale can stand cold weather better than other crops so I think I’ll use extra wire from our electric fencing and just cover those plants when temperatures get really cold.

I think I’ll plant lettuce and spinach in my 4×4 raised beds. Those are low-lying crops and easy to cover with wire and a row cover/plastic.

I don’t need to cover the root crops. My ground does not really freeze with all of this mulch insulating it so carrots are pretty easy to pull, even in the dead of winter.

Of course I am hoping that once all of these things are harvested, I will be able to use the warmer hoop houses to get seedlings started in the spring! I will keep you updated on how everything is going. Are you planting a fall garden? We can learn from each other! 🙂

I am linking up with Green Thumb Thursday to see what other gardeners/homesteaders are doing this time of year.