Tag Archives: run

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 🙂

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 🙂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 🙂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! 🙂

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


How a City Girl Takes Care of a Snake

April 11, 2013

Where have I been all week?! Where every North Carolinian has been this week! Outside, of course! After a seemingly endless winter, we finally got a taste of Spring this week! And when I say this week, I mean two days…and then it turned summer.

We had broccoli for dinner for two nights, once the spring weather amped up production.

April 10 13 - 0032(forgive the pics – I had a VERY squirmy 8mo on my hip)

Then, with two days of mid-80s, the broccoli bolted. At least the chicks enjoyed the bolted broccoli.

April 10 13 - 0041

Speaking of the chicks, they got a run this week! The tractor is on the west side of the coop so by 2pm every afternoon, there is just about zero shade left and the chicks retreat into the coop. The run is on the East side so it is much nicer in the afternoon, especially during this heatwave. There is a lot of shade and dirt – dust baths abound 🙂

panApril 08 13 - 0015(2yo spending time w/the chicks)

We had an exciting afternoon yesterday. A baby snake got into the tractor. The chicks fought over the snake, even after it bit most of them. It bit down hard on one of the chicks and no amount of pecking from the others was going to get it off. I called my husband to see what I needed to do, though I knew what he was going to say – pick up the chick and get the snake off. Did I mention this was not one of the most docile birds? Fun stuff.

Did I also mention that I grew up a city girl?! This is my first encounter with chickens…and snakes. First, I got tweezers but thought better and got tongs. Thankfully, the chick ran into the coop. (The only way to get into the tractor is to lift it up & let many other chicks out in the process.) When I opened the coop door, I saw the snake curled around a bunch of the chick’s feathers. Thankfully, the snake had missed its neck and was not choking it. As soon as I went into the coop, another chick pecked the snake off of the first chick’s neck, so thankfully, I did not have to catch the upset bird. And, finally, thankfully the snake fell to the ground, stunned, and before the chick was able to pick it up or the snake was able to attack, I was able to pick the snake up with the tongs. So, amidst all of the craziness, I am extremely thankful to the Lord we did not lose a bird and none of the humans got hurt 🙂

So now, I have the snake. The closest thing I could reach were pruning shears. These bent the snake in half but did not cut the snake.


So I had to go inside to get a meat knife and cut the snake…which proceeded to slither away. WHAT?! So I had to cut it again! Craziness!

I’ll let you guys take a breath…calm the laughter down, people. I know, I know, such a city girl 😉

I hope your week was just as wonderful and maybe a bit less exciting 🙂

Another Garden/Chicken Update

April 5, 2013

My last update was only a week ago but there is much to post about. It will only get busier around here as the weather warms up and the chicks continue to grow!

The first week of March, I planted garlic and potatoes. The garlic has emerged but the potatoes have not 😦 I bought the potato seed locally, waited until the ground was 50 degrees (45 degrees is recommended), and planted them in composted chicken manure. We also put horse manure on top so that whenever it rains, they will get some compost tea for fertilization. We have been having quite a bit of rain so I would not be surprised if they have not come up because they are rotten. I think I will give them a little longer before I dig to see what’s going on.

March 31 13 - 0390(garlic emerging around Peach Tree)

We received our Christmas present from my brother and sister-in-law (raspberries!) and planted those in horse manure this week by our blueberry bushes. It is not likely we will get raspberries this year but hopefully next year we will!

March 30 13 - 0097(Row where we planted 10 raspberry plants. The other bare plants you are seeing are blueberry bushes and if you look REALLY closely, you can see a Peach Tree blooming to the left)

I also planted some peas (OLD seed) and carrots a couple of weeks ago and this week as well. It takes a while for carrots to come up so I am still hopeful for them. I will post pics if anything ever sprouts 🙂 I think I’m going to plant some more carrots today.

The chicks continue to grow. They are 4 weeks now and are flying all over the coop. I was just told our March weather this year was typical of our average January temperatures in years past. Craziness. So, the chicks still have a heat lamp on them at night in the coop.

April 03 13 - 0114

We are working little by little on the tractor. We put the chicks in whenever it is nice enough outside so they can get used to it. We basically only lack a ramp to the nesting boxes before they can go in the tractor daily.

April 03 13 - 0005 April 03 13 - 0022 March 31 13 - 0262

We also put a window in the coop (there is ventilation at the top but we felt they needed more light) that the kids raise & lower every day.

March 30 13 - 0078 March 31 13 - 0246

The only thing we lack with the coop, really, are stairs…

Then, of course, we are going to get started on the run…and we are thinking about getting a dog to help keep the birds safe and to warn our children if there is anything in the coop when they go check for eggs…so we need to go check the pounds for a puppy with some type of guardian dog in him/her…just like making gravy…it never ends…

Oh, the Peach, Pear, and Apple trees are starting to bloom also! It looks really pretty…so of course I forgot to take a picture [meh]…the blueberry bushes are thinking about it…

March 31 13 - 0410

That is what has been happening over the past week outside.  As far as inside, I am trying two new things that I have never tried before. Update coming soon. I have ‘jumped into’ so many things lately that I am kind of on a roll! Support me when I crash & burn, mmm’kay? 😉

Chicken Coop Update

March 21, 2013

Coop building seems to be never-ending but here, at least, is an update.

Day 1: Get Materials (ReStore for Habitat for Humanity)

March 09 13 - 0020

Build Floor and One Wall

March 10 13 - 0017

Day 2: Build The rest of the walls, level, and put up plywood

March 12 2013 - 0080

Day 3: Roof (the coop plans we got off the internet came sans roof so this was completely flying by the seat of our pants!)

March 13 2013 - 0030

March 13 2013 - 0112Crazy windy! and we ran out of tar paper…on to…

Day 4: Finish the roof (with shingles left over from our house and my MIL’s house) & put wire on vents (between roof and walls) to keep critters out.

March 15 2013 - 0136roofa

Day 5: Door (aka: Bane of my Existence)

March 15 2013 - 0158 March 16 2013 - 0069

March 16 2013 - 0139

Day 6: Locks (pictured above), Chicken doors, and a Roost

March 17 2013 - 0271 chicken door chicken door seth March 17 2013 - 0106

We still need to put handles and locks on the chicken doors. The chicks were getting WAY too big for their box though so we nailed the doors shut for now and the chicks are in the coop!

chicks in coopMore pics to come later, i promise! They are growing by leaps and bounds!

I was really nervous the first night and day but they are doing really well and I am enjoying my clean kitchen without all of the fluff in our food 😛

In the next update, I’ll show pics of the area that was cleared that will be their run, more chick pics, the tractor that we are in the middle of building, and any other updates. Like I said, NEVER ENDING.

For anyone new to the chicken gig (as I am), the reason for the vinyl and table under the roost is for easy clean up. It is easier to wipe vinyl clean and it does not rot, as wood would.

Our chickens (once no longer under a heat lamp) will be outside all day. When they are little, they will be in the tractor, prepping the garden for planting, and when they are larger and laying, they will be either in the tractor or in the spacious run. The only time they will be in the coop will be at night, when they will likely be roosting most of the time.

Therefore, most of the poop will be concentrated on the table under the roost. Whenever necessary, I will take a hoe & scrape the table clean (to use as compost tea in the garden) but the rest of the coop floor (covered in hay) will not get very much poop on it so it will not need to be cleaned but once or twice a year. Talk about a time saver!

I am linking to Simple Lives Thursday, as moving the chicks to the coop makes my life easier 😉 And even though having chickens, especially building a coop when we have never build anything EVER, does not make life simple for the moment, it will make our lives more sustainable in the future!