Tag Archives: potato patch

Harvest Monday

May 12, 2014

This week started off with more strawberry picking! 🙂 Yum! My back was not a fan though. I think we’ve had our fill of strawberry shortcake for awhile…well, I say we have. I know my kids could have it every night!

Because of the storms last week, the mulch guys had about three more loads to bring us this week. The smell of freshly chipped tree is HEAVENLY!

Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0503In the Garden

I planted some more bush beans, flowers, and spaghetti squash and we started putting up trellises for our climbing beans.Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0483

We’ll make the trellises taller as needed…

More things are sprouting!

  • Sunflowers
  • CornNieto Family - May 10 14 - 0467(look really closely! the corn is in the middle. i hope it is able to grow! i may take out a bean plant or two to give it a fighting chance)
  • Squash, Cucumbers, Melons (all look the same when they are seedlings)Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0447
  • Flowers

Chicks and another Broody Hen!

We put the 6 week old chicks with the rest of the chickens and it went really smoothly! They are getting BIG! Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0517(They are seven weeks old and do not compare at all to the other chicks we ordered when they were 7 weeks old. These are HUGE! Amazing what a difference it makes when chicks are raised with their mamas, on pasture from the very beginning!)

Another selling point to getting them out of the dog crate is that we have another broody hen! 😀 Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0553(Unfortunately, hers is the only nesting box that did not get cleaned out so it is all poopy 😦 But there was no moving her — she made sure of that!)

I was waiting to clean out the coop and add more wood shavings whenever we stopped putting the dog crate in and out every night. Wood shavings were getting pushed all around by doing that so it really was pointless to add more shavings.

So, the day after we moved the chicks in with everyone, moved the dog crate out, and right before a friend brought over more fertilized eggs, I went ahead and cleaned out the coop and added more wood shavings. I did not do a deep cleaning…just scraped the poop off of the roosting table and out of the nesting boxes, and added a lot more wood shavings.Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0554(Now all of the nesting boxes (save the one where the broody hen is) are nice and clean)

As before, I dumped all of the cleanings into the run. The flies had gotten pretty bad in the coop since it had been so long since I had cleaned it. The chickens enjoyed scratching through the ‘cleanings’, eating fly larvae, etc. after I dumped it into the run. I do not like doing it, but I sure do like the look and smell of a newly-cleaned chicken coop! And all of that aged poop, wood shavings, grass clippings, and chicken scraps make a great addition to the garden!

The last time we had a broody hen, we had issues with other hens taking over her box, trying to eat her eggs, etc. We decided the problem was that we did not have enough nesting boxes so after the chicks hatched, we added 4 more. We hope that will take care of that and we will not have any problems with this broody hen. My daughter is excited that we will get new chicks just a few days after her birthday! 🙂

She has done a good job staying on her nest…so well in fact, we have been unable to count her eggs. The day after our unpleasant surprise (see below), she was finally off of her nesting box, getting some water and we noticed 4 eggs missing! This same sort of thing happened with the other broody hen before (3 eggs went missing). I have no clue what happened to the eggs…either time. My husband mentioned that since the coop door could have been open the whole day prior, anything could have happened to them. She now has 8 eggs under her and it has been less than a week. As always, we’ll just have to wait and see…

(Unpleasant) Surprise

We decided to take a day beach trip and a trip to the Aquarium as a last hoorah before the baby comes. It was a wonderful day! We came home and…the coop door was WIDE open :\

We are always trying to teach the children responsibility. The oldest child is the only one who has picked up on it thus far…but we continue to try! My husband told child #2 (6.5yo) to give the chickens some food and guess who didn’t bother closing the coop correctly?

SO, when we got home, some of my corn was scratched up, my sweet potato slip growing area was dug up, some place where I planted spinach and tomatoes…the largest area to be nearly ruined was my potato patch…specifically, the beautiful blue potatoes!

If you recall, after we plant them, we cover them with 8″ of mulch. Chickens LOVE a pile of mulch! So, they dug up that patch really well! 😦 I tried to recover everything with mulch. I only saw one potato sprout completely eaten; most were just uncovered and moved around. I was very sad to see the destruction but it could have been MUCH, MUCH, MUCH worse so at the same time, I was very thankful that it was only as bad as it was.


I have never bought starts. I have always been able to start my own tomatoes and last year was able to start my own peppers. This year, very few of my greenhouses did well. Other than our unusually snowy, never-ending winter, I did fail to seal the greenhouses with duct tape. I did not think it would make much of a difference but I am making a note to do so next year.

I decided to go ahead and buy some tomato and pepper starts this year as I still do not have any respectable-looking tomato or pepper plants growing yet. My daughter’s birthday is coming up and she asked her grandparents for some tomato starts for her birthday. So, at the end of the week, we picked up some cherry tomatoes, brandywine, roma, and some early girl tomatoes to get our tomato patch started. We will pick up some peppers and more tomatoes this week. I am not used to spending this much on the garden (I generally spend money on seeds but nothing else) but it’s either this or no tomatoes this year and I do realize all of the tomatoes we will get from our starts will more than pay for themselves in the long run so I will just grin and bear it and next year, try to grow some more! 🙂

Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0497(my daughter’s tomato plant) Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0461(A volunteer tomato I discovered in the corn patch (was the tomato patch last year)! It will be transplanted when it gets older 🙂 ) Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0443(Early Girl, Brandywine, Roma Tomato Starts)


We’re down to about 14 eggs/day. We have two hens not laying (new mama & broody) but production has gone down more than I expected. I would not be surprised if we found a nesting place somewhere in the near future…

I am hoping next week, I will be able to share our first harvest of kale, lettuce, and/or spinach. Nieto Family - May 10 14 - 0480(Pinto beans to the left, then kale, and carrots to the right)

Then again, even more than that, I would love to share next week that we’ve ‘harvested’ our own baby 😉 That is not up to me, though. We’ll just see what the Lord has in store…

Check out what everyone else has going on in their gardens around the world at Daphne’s Dandelions 🙂


Fall Clean Up and Planning for Spring

August 17, 2013

I did a lot of garden clean up this week and some more fall planting. I ripped out my corn and threw it in the run. The chickens have been enjoying it for the past few days.

stripped corn(One of the many joys of a Back to Eden Garden: I literally gave each stalk a tug and they came out, easy as pie! Gotta love mulch 🙂 ) cleaned corn bedsI have decided to let these corn beds rest until spring (unless I am really hard up for more planting spaces). I am going to add chicken manure as I clean out the coop but other than that, I am going to let them be.

I ripped up some bush bean plants, and planted some more fall crops where the chicken tractor used to be (built in fertilizer). I planted peas there two weeks ago and so far, they are looking great! I planted carrots, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, kale, and broccoli (the last three are covered (see broccoli plant).

new plantingsLast week, I ripped up four layers of tarp & mulch for our 2014 potato patch. I noticed this area stayed wet longer than other areas. It is also surrounded by tarp (we had weed invasions this year in our potato patch) AND it is right next to the house – a major plus!

final potato patch(The different colored mulches is just varying stages of wetness. It took me many days to get this done so the lighter colored mulch is just mulch I put down first and it has dried out)

I ripped up the tarp, laid down veggie compost and chicken compost, and covered it back up with just a few inches of mulch. Right now, I am talking to a friend about aged horse manure. I think I’ll put that down and then put down some more mulch so it will be ready for planting in the spring!

I am thinking about planting potatoes this fall…but I haven’t made up my mind yet. Paul Gautshi harvests his potatoes in September and replants the best ones at the same time (he does not rotate crops). So, I am thinking about looking for potatoes at the farmer’s market and go ahead and planting them this fall. There are no potatoes available from seed catalogs and we have eaten all of our 2013 potatoes already so that would be my only option. I’ll let you know what I decide and how it turns out!

I have also decided to look for sweet potatoes from the farmer’s market. Slips are pretty expensive and slips seem pretty easy to grow so the plan is to buy a variety of sweet potatoes this fall from local farmers, preferably organic, store them all winter (that will be the hardest part – not eating them), grow slips in the spring, and plant our own slips! Has anyone done this before? Any tips for me?

As far as fall plantings go, I continue my succession planting (planting every two weeks), looking at last year’s notes to determine when to stop/start. Because I plant every two weeks, I do not plant an incredible amount so I can afford to lose some seeds if an early frost comes or an unusually cold winter. Being in NC, however, I tend to find that we are surprised more often than not by warm weather in the winter and in those instances, I am rewarded 🙂

Are you planting a fall/winter garden? I read Four Seasons Harvest three years ago. It gave me the motivation to attempt to garden year round and I love it! Some people really need a season or two off from gardening after all of the heat, bugs, and especially weeding all summer long. Gardening with mulch, Back to Eden style, allows me to garden without weeding as much and in turn, there is no weariness after many seasons…well…I’ve been weary of the critters this year but…it doesn’t stop me from wanting to garden! 🙂

Harvest Monday

August 12, 2013

Where has this week gone? We are still eating off of previous weeks’ harvests of green beans so I haven’t harvested any this week. I picked the last corn (that wasn’t stolen by the raccoons) this week, pulled all of the stalks, and started planting beans in those beds (snaps and peas) to replenish some nitrogen. The chickens enjoy tearing apart the stalks. I also am continuing to harvest more tomatoes as they ripen on the vine.

ripeningI am looking forward to harvesting some yellow squash (late planting – earlier plantings all died) this week and some cantaloupe.


ripecantI think the cucumber vine is just too shaded by the pole beans. I have a second planting…we’ll see if we have warm enough weather to get some more cucumbers from this planting.

One thing we are NOT harvesting is…eggs 😦 We ordered our chicks with a friend (she got 10, we got 20). She is getting approximately 2/day. We are still getting nothing :\ Our chickens are 23 weeks old today. They get plenty of water, plenty of grass & bugs, food (not a ton because we want them to forage but enough…), plenty of room to roam, and are not stressed out. I am getting very impatient. I was not happy when I had to put eggs on the grocery store this week. Maybe next week…

joncleaning(chillin’ in the tractor…rooster cleaning himself)

I planted spinach, lettuce, kale, carrots, peas, and snaps last week. I also ordered more carrots, cabbage, spinach and peas to plant next week. It may be too late to plant some of these but you never know with crazy North Carolina weather. I’ll plant a few and see what happens!

I also took a wet area of the garden (previously covered by plastic & mulch), ripped up the plastic, covered it with vegetable and chicken compost (after cleaning the coop), and covered it back up with mulch. This will be our potato patch in the spring. Paul Gautschi said potatoes like moisture (he plants by a pond) so we think this is our best bet (even though it is shaded until almost noon – still, that’s 6-8hrs in the spring & summer).

Check out what everyone else is harvesting this week at Daphne’s Dandelions!

Back to Eden Garden Update

April 18, 2013

This post is an update from the ‘Early Spring Back to Eden Garden Update‘ post, from the beginning of March.

I had just planted a LARGE potato patch. Even after a month, nothing had come through and since it has been raining quite a bit, I assumed they had rotted. Thankfully, I was wrong! We have potato plants! I am giddy 🙂 I am trying not to get my hopes up because a lot can happen from now until harvest time but I am excited to see the sprouts, nonetheless.

April 12 13 - 0120April 17 13 - 0056The potatoes were planted in composted chicken manure, then layered with 8″ mulch, and then we put horse manure on top of the mulch…partially because we were given the horse manure after we had already planted but it turns out to be a good thing – the potatoes get manure tea (aka. fertilizer, free and organic) every time it rains 🙂

Do you remember the greenhouses I started? I have not posted on them since the beginning because nothing seemed to be coming up…but kale.

April 13 13 - 0140

Of the 5 jugs I planted seeds in, only one came up. I left them though and planted a second round. Turns out, the seeds were not sprouting yet because it was not warm enough but as soon as it warmed up, the warm-weather seeds did, indeed, sprout…just like the blogger said. I am very excited that I have pepper and tomato plants sprouted because the indoor ones flopped. Big time.

Katy Blog2(top; L to R: lettuce, cantaloupe, pumpkin bottom; L to R: two kinds of tomatoes & more lettuce)

All but the kale is still really small but the I transplanted the kale and it is doing really well so I have hope that these will continue growing so they can be transplanted into the garden soon!

Speaking of the transplanted kale…in the first picture, look at the bottom middle. That itty bitty thing is a kale transplant in a bed I have yet to layer with mulch. (The other plants are those I planted straight into the bed in January had have been covered since then.)

April 16 13 - 0037 April 16 13 - 0033(This picture is the other transplanted kale. It is hard to tell the difference (sorry) but this one, in mulch, has weathered the transplanting MUCH better.)

Some other Back to Eden Garden updates…

I planted some carrots and peas. It will likely get too hot too soon because of how our ‘springs’ go in NC, but it is old seed so I wanted to throw it out there to see what would come of it. The peas (older seed) are giving me spotty germination but the carrots are coming up strong.

April 16 13 - 0030

Remember the raspberry plants we got as a Christmas present? Some of them have already ‘greened up’. I am not expecting fruit this year but seeing the green gives me hope for next year!

April 16 13 - 0042

The last update from the early March post concerns the chicks. They roost during the day but at night they still huddle up in the same corner where the heat lamp used to be. They are 6 weeks old. I certainly don’t want any of them to die from being smushed but I didn’t think a heat lamp was necessary since they are fully feathered. Hmmm. We may have to put one out there again. We’ll see.

They are LOVING the run, not so much the tractor. They eat our kitchen scraps. They especially love the juice pulp, probably because it is already in little bits. They lay out in the sun in the mornings and they all lay together in a big group under a cluster of trees in the afternoons. They are some happy birds.

How are your Back to Eden gardens coming along? If you have a blog, I would love to see some pics!

I am linking up to Simple Lives Thursday