Tag Archives: greenhouses


April 23, 2015

Chicks Are In!

The chicks were able to sleep in their new coop Wednesday night. My husband still needs to give them a roost and I still need to paint it but they’re in!11160355_926645277386322_2140022752_n(This is not the final product (before we put the door on or did any detail work). It is very make-shift but it gets the job done πŸ™‚ ) 11119760_926645247386325_1910571124_n(For size comparison)


Besides building the coop, I was able to plant some warm-weather seeds and transplants.

I have planted a three-sister’s garden for the last 3 years. I plant it more for a space saver than to improve the soil. Chicken manure and woodchips take care of that πŸ™‚ I read that letting beans climb corn helps keep the racoons away and steadies the corn so it is less likely to fall. I think the racoon deterrent works; however, every year, we have had a big storm right before harvest time. About half of the corn falls and then nothing deters the racoons because the plump corn is on the ground!

SO, the latest thing I read was to plant the corn with sunflowers to keep them from blowing over. With the big storms, only a few of our sunflower plants fell so I thought that was a good idea. I planted corn and beans (two of the three-sister garden) in one row and sunflowers and cucumbers in another row. I alternated rows, planting 4 of each. AFTER finishing, I thought, ‘uh, oh’ – the corn rows are 30″ away from the next corn row. Will they not pollinate each other? Ugh. It’s already done.Nieto Photography 2015(You may be able to see the rows in this picture? The darker ones I planted yesterday but seeds are actually planted all the way to the tree – they were planted the day before)

I planted another patch of corn in a different section of the garden and made a sunflower border around it so the corn will have a better chance of pollinating but will still have the support of the sunflowers. It will be an interesting experiment.

I also buried my sweet potatoes this week. I covered some pots with plastic a couple of weeks ago to heat up the soil. This week, I put sweet potatoes in with soil around the sides. These were sweet potatoes that I harvested last fall. They have made it all winter and we are still eating them. What’s more, they are SUPER sweet (get sweeter with time)! I digress. After putting the sweet potatoes in the pots, I covered them with mulch and then covered the pots back with plastic. I’ll uncover the pots in a few weeks, or whenever I see slips growing. This is what I did last year and our slips AND sweet potatoes did really well!Nieto Photography 2015(Already had a few sprouts in storage) Nieto Photography 2015Speaking of sweet potatoes, as I was planting corn and sunflowers this week, my daughter spotted 2 of the 3 sweet potato slips that had died (or so I thought) from the frost Easter morning. They live! Nieto Photography 2015We were excited…until I realized not only did those live, I am growing my own slips, AND I’ve ordered 24 more slips…aaaaaand no room! I had a little internal freak out as I looked at how little room there is for sweet potatoes this year. Once I finish planting everything that needs to be planted this week, I am going to rip up a bunch of tarp to try to make more room.

I planted snap beans (purple and green), tomato, pepper, and ground cherry seeds early this week. The greenhouses were looking pretty good so I planted most of those out as well.Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015I still have quite a bit more to plant…and tarp to rip up…and I’m still having to deal with the covers for our low tunnels. The wind has been crazy lately. I anchored the insect barrier down and that helped but The covers are still blowing off completely when we get a big gust. Suggestions?Nieto Photography 2015

I am thankful we are dealing with this now because I am planning on using low tunnels and covers a lot this winter (when the wind is just as strong) and I would rather figure it out now than have to deal with it in the winter when it is much colder and crops being uncovered would ruin the them completely.

Questions for you:

  • Thoughts on the corn spacing?
  • Suggestions on how to deal with wind and covering crops?
  • Can I plant my sweet potato slips in the same bed where I just harvested garden potatoes (not the same family but still not sure if it is wise)?
  • And finally, wanna come expand the garden for me so we will have room to plant all of my sweet potatoes?

Garden in April, Eastern NC, Zone 7b

April 2, 2015

Beginning of MarchNieto Photography 2015Beginning of AprilDSC_7737-EditRight off hand, you can see the loss of snow. Other than that, it does not look very different. Oh, but it is!


55lbs of potatoes were planted.DSC_7744 (10 more lbs arrived this week and were planted).

Peas, spinach, beets, and carrots have been planted 3x (every 2 weeks) in March. The first and second plantings are starting to show! Lettuce and cilantro have been planted twice and the first plantings are starting to sprout as well. Unfortunately, we had one night dip down to 24 degrees and we lost our beet sprouts from the first planting. 😦 DSC_7754(1)(Spinach planted beginning of March)DSC_7756(1)(Peas planted beginning of March) DSC_7757(1)(Peas planted mid-March – just starting to pop through)

All of the greenhouses have been planted. The cool-weather crops have sprouted and are enjoying the sunshine on nice days. DSC_7723 What is that, you say? DSC_7724Why, it’s CELERY!!!!! That’s right! I’ve been trying to grow celery for the past year and have never had success. Those are celery sprouts, my friend. Can you tell how excited I am?! πŸ˜€ DSC_7727 DSC_7728Some of the warm-weather crops sprouted as well. Earlier this week, we got down to 24 degrees one night. I covered the greenhouses with a sheet but the warm-weather crops were gonners. I replanted them this week. DSC_7725They’ll be a little behind but what are you going to do? The cool-weather crops (namely the cabbage and broccoli) were frost-bitten as well. I pray they bounce back! What do you think?DSC_7726(broccoli) DSC_7729(cabbage)


The pear trees are blooming.DSC_7750As is the other peach tree. DSC_7751 We have 3 apple trees. One was attacked by tent caterpillars 3 years ago and it is just starting to recover. One got some type of rust disease last year and I think it may be dead 😦 It is in the foreground of the picture below. DSC_7752The other is blooming. It is incredibly healthy πŸ™‚ However, it does not have any other tree toΒ  cross-polinate with 😦 We will definitely be buying another apple tree this fall/winter! DSC_7753I am so sad these apple blossoms will not turn into fruit 😦

Strawberry plants are still popping through.DSC_7745Raspberries are coming back to life (plant below was one I transplanted this fall).DSC_7747(1)I missed some sprouts when transplanting. There are still a handful outside of our raspberry line. I am just going to let them be and I will move them this fall. DSC_7749(1)Blueberry bushes have not yet bloomed. Frankly, I’m glad. When they bloom early, I am a basket case until we get past the last frost date!


Most of the bulbs have bloomed. I have decided to leave them where they are and just order more this fall to spread throughout the garden πŸ™‚ I have become a flower-lover (if you know me at all, I know how surprised you are)!DSC_7758 DSC_7759 DSC_7760(1)Lastly, in garden news, we are continuing with our garden expansion (always).DSC_7742CHICKENS

Egg Harvests:

  • 61 eggs in January
  • 220 in February
  • 286 in March (plus 11 under a broody hen)

Last year at this time we were swimming in eggs. We couldn’t get rid of them fast enough! Not so this year.

The first year, chickens lay small eggs, very frequently. Last year, we had 19, 1yo chickens and we were getting about 18 eggs/day. This year, we have 16, 2yo chickens and we are getting about 10 eggs/day. The eggs are bigger, but the chickens are laying less frequently.

Our chicks are two weeks old and they are flying all over the place in their box. I keep waiting for the weather to warm up enough to let them explore πŸ™‚DSC_7761 DSC_7762This is my husband’s sense of humor. I know I’m not alone. DSC_7779Some of our hens have gone broody. I am not expecting much, as our roosters are so young and inexperienced but maybe we’ll get a chick or two out of all the moodiness.

How are your gardens doing? Everyone around me I have talked to has not been able to start planting yet because it has been too wet to till. We have been SOOOO blessed by the BTE method of gardening! If you have not watched the film, go do it now! πŸ™‚

Linking up with Green Thumb Thursday

Harvest Monday

March 23, 2015

We had a lot going on this week on the homestead. First up, harvests: We are harvesting onions (not pictured) and overwintered kale.Nieto Photography 2015Chickens

We’re also up to about a dozen eggs/day. However:

  • we eat nearly this many daily
  • we would like to provide eggs to a few families around us
  • our hens are in their 2nd year

I was planning on hatching out as many chicks as possible this year to replenish our egg-laying numbers. We had a number of hens go broody last year but only 3 chicks hatched and of those, only 1 made it to adulthood (our rooster).

So, when I saw our local feed store had chicks for sale, I went ahead and bought 10 (5 Wynadottes, 5 Golden Brahmas). The lady said they were all pullets but she is new and I would not be surprised if they were, indeed, a mix. We’ll find out as they grow.Nieto Photography 2015So what happens if we have too many roosters?

Friends of ours are butchering their older hens this year and we are planning on watching (and maybe participating) so if we do end up having too many roosters, we can use them for stews.

Another option is to just use them around the homestead for pest control. Another friend lets her extra roosters go ‘wild’…basically, we would not put them up at night & would not keep them in the run during the day. They would hopefully keep our bug population down but not do as much damage in the garden as a whole flock of hens. We’ll see. If the lady at the feed store was right, I won’t have to worry about that!

Even if all 10 chicks are pullets, I am still going to let the hens hatch out their own chicks if they so desire. It is so much fun to see the interaction between mama hen and chicks.


Temperatures rose enough this week that we were able to open our greenhouses some. My mistake last year was definitely not duct taping them shut! Keeping the cool air out while they germinated made all the difference! All of the cool-weather crops have sprouted and some are starting to put on true leaves. Nieto Photography 2015(greenhouses on the inside are warm-weather crops and have not sprouted yet) Nieto Photography 2015(onions) Nieto Photography 2015(purple cabbage) Nieto Photography 2015(red and green lettuce) Nieto Photography 2015(kale)

The beginning and end of the week were nice. The middle was cool and wet. We planted on the warm days. We planted lettuce, cilantro, beets, carrots, spinach, peas, and 25lbs of potatoes. These are normal plantings for this time of year.Nieto Photography 2015(the kids planted the first 25lbs) Nieto Photography 2015(I covered them with 8″ of mulch – no need to hill!) Nieto Photography 2015(more planted in these two raised boxes)

They left me to plant the next round (20lbs) later in the week. We planted 20lbs red, 20lbs yukon gold, 5lbs white, and we are getting 5lbs purple later in the month. In years past, I have tried to plant potatoes in a low area where there will be plenty of moisture. This year, I am just putting them wherever (running out of places). I hope our harvests do not suffer. I may have to water just in case (I rarely water, using the BTE method).Nieto Photography 2015(potatoes covered) Nieto Photography 2015For experimental purposes, I also direct seeded broccoli, cabbage, kale, 12 varieties of tomatoes, 4 varieties of peppers, and two varieties of ground cherries. I typically do not direct sow warm weather crops until April 21 (last frost date for zone 7b) but we have not gotten down to freezing temps for a couple of weeks now and there was nothing close in the 10 day forecast so I thought I would just plant one seed each. Always experimenting! If only I were better at recording the outcomes πŸ˜‰

We started seeing some previously-planted seeds sprout this week as well. Peas, carrots, beets, and spinach planted at the beginning of March:Nieto Photography 2015(peas) Nieto Photography 2015(Nearly impossible to find those carrot sprouts (look btwn my finger & thumb)! Especially covered by DE. Last year all of our sprouts were eaten by slugs though so I am doing what I can to get a good harvest this year) Nieto Photography 2015(Spinach sprouts not much easier to see but they’re there! Looking forward to fresh spinach salads!!!!)

There is a lot more going on here but I will save that for a post later this week. It has to do with flowers! πŸ™‚ yay!

Are you harvesting? Planting? Babying seedlings? Head over to Daphne’s Dandelions to see what other gardeners are up to.

Harvest Monday and Garden Chores

March 16, 2015

This past week turned out to be really nice (it was supposed to rain most of the week). We are harvesting eggs AND our kale made it through the winter! We are harvesting lightly but really, we are super excited about the kale sprouts that will be coming up soon! YUM!Nieto Photography 2015We are also seeing some sprouts in the greenhouses!Nieto Photography 2015some kale… Nieto Photography 2015some purple cabbage…

We also have broccoli, lettuce, onions, and even one tomato (or ground cherry?) sprouting!

If you have been following our journey from the beginning, you will recall before we knew about Paul Gautschi and Back to Eden, we covered our garden with tarps to keep the bermuda grass out (nothing else worked). We would cut through the tarp to plant. All around our blueberry plants and around our raised beds is mulch on top of tarp.

As we continue to expand the garden, we put down newspaper/cardboard and then mulch. We eventually want to expand the garden to the fence line (on the other sides of the pruned trees)…Nieto Photography 2015 and all the way down the hill. Nieto Photography 2015That is our burn pile. with all of our prunings. We tried to burn it this week…Nieto Photography 2015but everything was too wet so we basically burned the grass…we’ll try to burn the wood if it ever dries out here. I am looking forward to being able to add the wonderful minerals from the wood ash to the garden.

Back to expanding. πŸ™‚ We typically will expand a section or two each year, as we collect cardboard. This takes the whole family, one wagon load of mulch at a time, as we are without machinery.

In the meantime, I am increasing our planting area within the garden by ripping up sections of tarp and covering the bare ground with mulch. The mulch will have all summer to break down and it will be ready to be planted in next spring or maybe this fall (depending on how strapped I am for space).

Here is a section of tarp, ripped up.Nieto Photography 2015Even being covered in tarp for 3 years, there were sprouts of green (from where the tarp was thin) that needed to be covered up with newspaper. Nieto Photography 2015Here it is mostly covered. Nieto Photography 2015Notice in the foreground (to the right) is another of different-colored mulch — that was a section I did a couple days before I took these pictures. In the foreground (to the left) is where we planted corn this summer (for perspective). Nieto Photography 2015Later in the spring, when I’m busy getting seeds and transplants into the ground, I won’t have time to do any garden expansion. Might as well spend these nice days (before planting time) doing something productive outside!

SOOOO, Garden Chores I Accomplished This Week:

  • Pulled up tarp and covered with mulch (two areas)
  • Weeded the whole garden in an hour (yay BTE!)
  • Staked the raspberry plants (last year they drooped and ants had a field day!)
  • Moved the tractor
  • Set up low tunnesls for brassicas

Raspberries staked:Nieto Photography 2015Tractor moved from here (where the cabbages and kale were):Nieto Photography 2015(Left side of pic where tractor was…Right side of pic where tractor is) Nieto Photography 2015Ready for planting! Last spring, peas were planted here. During the summer, sweet potatoes. I am planning on planting tomatoes and ground cherries outside of it so they can climb up the sides and shade-tolerant crops inside. Nieto Photography 2015And finally, setting up my low tunnels for brassicas:

I followed the tutorial from Mother of a Hubbard. I LOVE her blog. SO informative regarding fall/winter gardening! We do not have a stud bar so I used a piece from our broken down trampoline πŸ˜‰Nieto Photography 2015As you can see, I marked 12″ with a sharpie so I would know when to stop driving it into the ground. I used a post driver to do so. I used 10′ PVC pipes we had left over from making chicken tunnels. Nieto Photography 2015The holes are 5′ feet apart and the hoops are spaced 5′ apart. So here I have a 5’x10′ bed. I could have spaced the holes 6′ apart but I am growing broccoli in here so I wanted the hoops higher. They are 3′ high. If I end up with more transplants than room, I can always add another hoop.

I made another low tunnel the next day for kale. I have such issues growing brassicas because of the cabbage worms. I am going to be proactive this year and cover everything from the start! Also, now that I see how easy it is to make low tunnels, hopefully my 2015/16 winter garden will be hoppin’! πŸ˜€

Are you ready to get out into the garden? I know this was a long post but frankly, I’m happy about it — I was sick of the ‘only harvesting eggs’…’too cold to do anything’ posts πŸ˜‰

Check out what other gardeners are doing at Daphne’s Dandelions today!

Harvest Monday

February 23, 2015

Same ole, same ole. We are only harvesting eggs right now. We are up to a dozen/day. Love it! πŸ™‚

We had snow and ice this week. I was unable to plant anything (even though my calendar says I am supposed to) or even go outside much. Brr. More snow is forecasted for this week. I realize we are not alone.

Even though more snow is forecasted in the upcoming week, our temps are rising. We are getting out of the single digits and teens and into the 20s as lows.

In other news…our bulbs are starting to poke through the mulch!!!Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015These pics were pre-snow/ice. They did make it through the precipitation however πŸ™‚ Speaking of…You can see, I do have some greenhouses planted already (celery, onions, lettuces, broccoli, cabbage, and kale).Nieto Photography 2015I am hoping to be able to plant some more greenhouses this week. The ground is still frozen so nothing in the soil yet… I also need to clean out the coop and I’ll spread the manure in my future sweet potato patch. This may or may not happen…if they daytime highs don’t get out of the 30s, I may have little motivation to work outside.

I am chomping at the bits to spend some time outside (as are my kids!) and I know I am not alone! Check out what other gardeners are up to at Daphne’s Dandelions.