Tag Archives: garden

Mid-February Update

February 24, 2014

All of you bloggers who diligently post each week, come lovely or not so lovely weather, one day I will join you. Until then, when it snows and I cannot do anything in the garden, I am less likely to post, hence my silence last week.

Nieto Family - February 13 14 - 0422 Nieto Family - February 13 14 - 0426(up close of the milk jug greenhouses)

This past week, however, we were in the 60s many days! Such is life in North Carolina, snow one week, spring weather the next.

Some things accomplished this week:

  • We were able to cover the rest of the garden and blueberry patch with mulch (where chickens had made holes or rain had washed it away).
  • Planted the rest of my warm-weather seeds in greenhouses.
  • Planted some carrots, lettuce, and kale in the ground (I read they sprout in weather as low as 32 degrees (our lows this week) so we will see)
  • Put out some tunnels and the tractor so the chickens could graze on some grass, since it is starting to grow again.
  • Picked up a load of horse manure and spread it (a dusting) around the garden.

Katys Blog(1)Potato patch and tomato/pepper patch on far left, not in the picture. Blueberry bushes lined in back.

*All sections that are lighter are those with horse manure. It also helps distinguish planting areas from pathways.

Back row (L to R): sweet potato patch, raised beds will have a variety of crops (broccoli, cabbage, snaps, celery, onions, beets, sunflowers, and melons, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, beans), strawberry patch

Front (L to R): 3 sister’s garden (corn, cucs/spaghetti squash, beans), next long bed will have peas and then snaps & celery, final section around 2 apple trees will have a variety of crops

Section around apple trees: We put cardboard down last summer and LOTS of mulch to suppress the weeds. I noticed this winter as I was digging out some weeds around the tree base that the soil under the mulch is fluffy so I decided to attempt to make this new garden area this year.

The plan is to plant crops that like partial shade on the North side of the apple tree and heat loving crops on the South and West side of the tree. I am planning on planting things such as melons, cucumbers (lots of room to ‘roam’), onions on the border, lettuce, kale, carrots, broccoli, and carrots.

You can see a row has already been made and we planted lettuce, carrots and kale. The issue right away with this spot is how much mulch needs to be moved out of the way before we plant. We added MANY inches in order to suppress weeds. I am cautiously excited about being able to grow crops in that area 🙂

Nieto Family - February 19 14 - 0333I would have preferred to spread the manure in the fall so it had all winter to break down but it just did not work out that way. Now, all of the garden patches/boxes/areas are covered in mulch and manure!

The next dilemma was: what to do with the poop and wood shavings when I clean out the coop? I watched the Back to Eden Film again this week (I like to do that every once in a while for fun and because I tend to learn something new each time) and got the idea to put the coop cleanings in the chicken run so it could break down some more. The goal is — the next time I put manure on the garden (next fall), I will just use what is in the run and it will be fine, beautiful compost, as Paul’s is (shown in the film).

Even though I have plenty of greenhouses, people keep giving me milk jugs (I am NOT complaining!) so I think I will go ahead and plant some spring seeds in the last batch of greenhouses so they will get a little jump start and we will get to eat greens SOONER! Lettuce, spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, mmmmm 🙂

We finally finished all of our winter chores by mid-February! Not to shabby 🙂 Now, the only thing that needs to be done in the garden is planting seeds! And, of course harvesting 🙂 That will come soon enough. Right now, we are still getting 3-6 eggs/day. I am hoping the chickens will start ramping up production soon!

The only other thing we want to work on the next time we have energy (this week wore us out!) is expanding the mulched area out to our other fruit trees. The bermuda grass is relentless so even a large circle around each tree with mulch does basically nothing. The only thing that even pretends to keep the bermuda grass away is to cover EVERYTHING with newspaper, cardboard, or plastic tarps and then mulch (and even then some bermuda grass finds its way in — craziness!)

We are collecting a lot of cardboard right now so whenever the mood hits, we can work on expanding. Pictures to come!

Are you harvesting anything or are you still under a couple feet of snow? Check out what everyone else is doing at Daphne’s Dandelions 🙂

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More Garden Updates

December 2, 2013

Since, I’m a couple of months behind on blogging, I’ll just keep updating until I’m caught up! 🙂 mmm, kay?

Back in March of this year, we found a place at the bottom of a slope that holds moisture well. We decided this would be a good place for our first potato patch. It was away from the rest of the garden so keeping weeds out would be a problem but we thought we had it taken care of with cardboard boxes and 8 inches of mulch. Bermuda grass laughs at gardeners’ efforts. Weeds invaded 😦

As soon as I dug up the last of the potatoes in July, I decided on a new potato patch for the 2014 season. I’m not sure if it gets enough sun but it is in the garden area (surrounded by a border of plastic, covered with mulch) so at least I know weeds will not be a problem.

In September, I noticed I missed some potatoes and we had about 7 new plants popping up in the old potato patch. In October, I covered the patch right before the first frost to keep them growing…

DSC_3241 DSC_3242but they still wilted.  I went ahead and dug up the potatoes and planted them in the new potato patch.

November 2406 13 - 0010It will be a good experiment to see how they do, overwintering here in NC. (For those who do not know, Paul Gautschi harvests & plants the same day and does not rotate his crops.)

Also before the first frost in October, I cleaned out part of the garden area with the snaps, tomatoes, and peppers. Little by little, as I get more energy, I have been cleaning out the rest of the garden.

DSC_3247(still not enough energy, etc. to save all of the unripened tomatoes) DSC_3245(saved just the best looking ones & gave them away) DSC_3246(one row cleared out)

The next step is to cover it with chicken manure so that can overwinter & the garden will be ready to plant in the spring! Paul points out:

Gardeners fertilize in the spring…but when does God do it? In the FALL! (think leaves falling) That way, the manure/mulch/compost has time to work its way into the soil, the worms have time to do their job, and no work is needed to be done in the spring!

How do you prepare your garden for the winter…all at once or little by little?

Garden and Chicken Update

November 25, 2013

Almost two months later and…I am feeling almost normal! I am 16 weeks pregnant. For me, this means:

  • eating every 3 hours
  • only getting sick about once a day
  • taking only one nap most days
  • doing school with the kids again
  • cleaning the house again
  • gardening a little (like 30min/day)

Garden News

I thought I had planted enough lettuce, spinach, carrots, and kale to last us through the winter. However, because I was sick and so very tired, I had my 7yo go cut the lettuce, without instructing her how to do the ‘cut & come again’ method. She cut all the lettuce down to the nub so it is not growing back.

I planted some lettuce and carrots the other week & covered them to keep in some heat. Because of where we live (NC), the weather fluctuates enough that some things can continue to grow throughout the winter. We have been having 60 degree days on and off so I thought maybe I could grow some more lettuce…but none have germinated. I am planning on starting to set up all of my greenhouses in December so I’m sure I’ll get some more greens then. Until then, I am very happy with all of my fresh, organic carrots! 🙂

October 23 13 - 0237Chicken News

We had the chickens in a tunnel system this summer. We moved the tunnel to new grass every month or so & it worked out really well. As soon as fall hit, they were getting out of the tunnels, no matter what we did. We made sure they had plenty of grass but it did not stop them. As we were still trying to figure out how to make the tunnels more secure, the chickens got in the garden and ate ALL of my greens. They left one cabbage and all of the carrots are fine. However, no more lettuce, spinach, kale, or broccoli. I am so sad 😦 Fresh greens are my favorite!

October 20 13 - 0141(digging up my new potato patch – no potatoes in there yet so that was okay for the time being) Ocotober 30 13 - 0004(when they get out of the tunnels & have no way of getting back into the coop to lay…)

We finally decided to keep them in the run for the time being, probably until spring. The Australorps, my best layers, keep flying out of the run but the Orpingtons are staying in. I have no more netting and the fence is 7ft tall already…eventually, I’ll have to figure out how to keep them in for good. I can’t find where they’re laying either (the ones flying out). We are getting about 10 eggs/day right now from out 19 chickens. Is that good b/c we have only 11hrs of daylight or a bad number of eggs for that many chickens?

Our last chicken news is that we finally had to get rid of our rooster. He was great until the chickens started laying. Then he got VERY protective. When the chickens were in the tunnel, I just told the kids to make sure the rooster was out of the coop when they checked for eggs. However, because there was a stretch when they were getting out of the tunnel & free ranging, he started attacking the kids.

I showed my oldest (7yo) how to keep him away but he eventually kept attacking, no matter what. She was screaming one day as she was waving a stick at him, keeping him from attacking her, but he was not letting up. I came outside & grabbed a metal garden rake & swung it back & forth at him. He continued to come at us. I swiped him a few times in the neck and he never backed down. Finally, I hit him hard enough that some feathers flew & he backed down. I decided that was it. We had a friend take him & she made stew out of him. I am sad we do not have a rooster anymore because I really wanted to be able to have chicks one day. 😦

October 23 13 - 0009(Rooster – he would only NOT attack my husband) October 25 13 - 0003(Rooster after we had had enough!)

How are your gardens growing? Check out Daphne’s Dandelions to see what everyone is up to with their Fall & Winter gardens.

Free Resources for the Garden

September 12, 2013

I am planning on adding two new crops to the garden next year. Strawberries and sweet potatoes. I prepared the beds by covering them with manure when I cleaned out the chicken coop this summer.

I am planting in the sweet potato bed right now for lack of room but I was able to find a free source of horse manure recently and went ahead and covered the strawberry patch and the newly prepared potato patch.

DSC_2926(strawberry patch covered in chicken and horse manure)

DSC_2923(potato patch covered in horse & chicken manure)

I am always watching L2Survive’s YouTube videos where he goes and talks to Paul Gautcshi. I love learning from him! One thing I learned recently is that he uses wood shavings (about 6 inches) in his coop. It soaks up the ammonia smell and makes a fine, very rich compost. He says to spread it very finely over the garden. Truthfully, I’m just looking forward to the lack of smell 🙂 Our coop doesn’t smell horribly but I love the smell of the wood shavings! I’ll post a pic when I get it all spread out 🙂

I saw an Asplundh truck the other day & they said they would be more than happy to bring by some mulch. They never showed up 😦 I guess they were not able to find our house. We don’t need any more mulch but I was excited anyway.

It hurts me to spend money in general so buying things for the garden tends to be put on the back burner. Especially since I’m saving up for expensive crops like strawberry sets and sweet potatoes! Are you getting any free things for your garden?

I am linking up to Simple Lives Thursday. Check out what other people are doing to save money (among other things)!

Harvest Monday

August 5, 2013

Man, I stunk it up in the picture department this week! 😦 After the raccoon came back to take more corn, I went ahead & pulled all the corn in two patches. The third patch has pole beans wrapped around the corn (raccoons supposedly hate the feel of climbing those and this patch has been untouched thus far) so I am leaving those a bit longer…but no pictures :\

We ate more corn on the cob a couple of nights and some I cut off the cob and made a very large pot pie with corn, potatoes, carrots, snaps, and peas (found while cleaning out the freezer – from ’08 harvest but tasted wonderful 🙂 ) with homemade crust and cream. Y.U.M.

pot pieAnother thing harvested was our first cucumber (again, no pic) and our second cucumber. I remembered halfway through cutting the second one up for supper to take a picture so my 7yo snapped a quick one.

cucThere are no more forming on the vine. It is right next to my 7yo’s pole beans and I think they are just shading the cucumber plant out (they are both on the same netting). I have had trouble with cucumbers for the past two years – trouble getting them started…I don’t know what the deal is. Anyway, we LOVE cucumbers around here so we thoroughly enjoyed any little bit we get!

I also harvested my first tomato! With such a cool summer, this was quite the delight. Romas are starting to ripen on the vine and hopefully, the rest are not far away. I ate this tomato on our veggie patch pizza this week. One of my favorite pizzas 🙂

harvest(neighbor’s tomatoes in the background. the one in the bowl is my first 🙂 We continue to harvest plenty of pole & bush beans.)

My marigolds had a tough start as they were among the plants which had to be transplanted when I was ripping up weed cloth. Only two survived but one is beginning to bloom! We’ve been waiting so long! We’re almost more excited about these than we are about our veggies! 🙂

marigoldsCheck out what everyone else is harvesting over at Daphne’s Dandelions!