Tag Archives: spinach

Garden in January, Eastern NC, Zone 7b

January 6, 2016

Here is what the garden looked like at the beginning of December.DSC_1018-EditAnd after a very warm and wet December, here is what it looks like at the beginning of January.

Nieto Photography 2015

The grass is greener, what with the warm, wet weather. But the blueberry bushes have lost most of their leaves.

My husband had some extra time this weekend and decided to help me cover the strawberry beds, rip up some tarp, and haul a LARGE amount of mulch!

Nieto Photography 2015Strawberry beds before…

Nieto Photography 2015And after (covered with poop and mulch).Nieto Photography 2015I scraped all of the poop off of the roosting table, spread it over the strawberry beds and over some bare ground after he ripped up some tarp. Then, I spread all of the mulch he hauled. The kids’ job was to weed where we were spreading mulch.

Nieto Photography 2015Nieto Photography 2015(that patch of green is a small patch of overwintering spinach)`

We got SOOO much done, it seems, but in reality, we only weeded, put down manure, and covered about 1/10th of the garden with mulch. Ah well, there’s only so much we can do at a time. All of that pitching, hauling, and raking of the mulch does a number on your back, arms, and hands!

We have picked the spot for our new raspberry plants so the next time my husband has a free day, we will weed, rip up tarp and cover that area with manure and mulch as well.

The garden looks a bit different now than in the first picture. The temperatures really dropped yesterday and we had our first snow! Just flurries. Not much stuck. Anyway, before the snow, we covered everything with the lightweight garden fabric. Part of me thinks we should have gone with the heavier garden fabric but it is only going to be in the low 20s for two nights then it will jump back into lows in the 40s and 50s. I am hoping everything will be okay and I will put the heavier fabric on when the low temps are here to stay.

Here is an overview of what the garden looks like in early January:Nieto Photography 2015Brassica transplants to be…? idk. transplanted later? eaten off of? We’ll see. Nieto Photography 2015Purple headed cabbage. Hopefully we will get an early spring harvest from these. Nieto Photography 2015celery Nieto Photography 2015cilantro Nieto Photography 2015Carrots & spinach Nieto Photography 2015Brassicas (broccoli, sprouting broccoli, and cabbage)

I love seeing the changes from month to month. I wonder what it will look like at the beginning of February?


Harvest Monday

June 8, 2015

We harvest Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On these days, we are harvesting

  • a little bit of spinach and baby lettuce (isn’t bitter like heads of lettuce)
  • strawberries (the groundhog has taken to digging so we are not getting very many)
  • raspberries here and there
  • starting to get a few blueberries! (no pics – never made it out of the garden)
  • carrots
  • beets
  • peas
  • potatoes

Nieto Photography 2015

Nieto Photography 2015Nieto Photography 2015The beginning of the week was the last of the strawberries. The stinking groundhog is stealing them all—except for the ones in the trap, of course 😛

Nieto Photography 2015

Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015Nieto Photography 2015

Nieto Photography 2015

We picked the beets and potatoes for friends.  This is what we were able to deliver this week.Nieto Photography 2015Our potatoes are starting to die off though so weekly potato harvests will begin to increase. This is it for the first planting of peas. We are going to pull the plants this week. The second planting of peas is starting to produce pods but I am not expecting much, as it is in the shade so much.


Last year, we expanded the chicken run in the summer; which resulted in 4 chicken deaths. They were spaced out about every 3 weeks. It was odd but we assumed they just got into something.

This winter, we split the run into two runs so the grass could grow some while they rotated They spent most of their days in the original run and were let into the other run once or twice a day. The deaths stopped but we didn’t think it was related.

This spring, we bought chicks from the feed store. We have also been hatching chicks out. The chicks went into the second run. The feed store chicks kept dying (about two weeks apart) but the chicks with their mama were fine so we thought it was just weak feed store chicks. Lesson learned.

We separated the mama from her chicks because they were old enough and she was picking on the feed store chicks. Not a week later, one of the chicks we hatched out died. My husband was researching, trying to figure out what’s going on and he found that acorns can be deadly to chickens.

That is when it all started coming together. The second run includes a HUGE oak tree. When we originally expanded the run, including the oak tree, 4 adult chickens died. When we split the run and they spent most of their time away from the oak tree, the deaths stopped. When we moved the chicks into the run with the oak tree, chicks were dying.

SO, we have rearranged the runs again. The oak tree is not in any of the runs – hopefully no more deaths!

As we were moving the runs, I discovered all the work the chickens have been doing. The soil is beautiful! I am thinking about making a section of my garden like Paul’s. I am nervous to do it though. The woodchips are my safety net. I know they will keep the weeds at bay. I am nervous that if I put this soil on top, I will be inviting weeds. But this is the ultimate goal…It is why we got the chickens in the first place, afterall – to be our soil manufacturers.

The biggest issue right now is that I am going through morning sickness right now so the energy involved to haul all of this beautiful soil out of the run and into the garden is just not there. We’ll see if soil transfer becomes enough of a priority or not to get it done this summer.

Winter Garden

This week starts planting for the winter garden! If you remember from last year, I do not plant indoors so in order to start my winter crops, I have to start them in an incredibly shady area. We are sowing some cabbage seeds this week. I have chosen this spot:Nieto Photography 2015Very shaded most of the day (a little too shaded for these cabbages to grow but I think it will be perfect for growing seedlings to be planted out later this summer).

What is your garden up to these days? Are you already planting for winter harvests? I am linking up with Daphne’s Dandelions today.

Garden in June, Eastern NC, Zone 7b

June 4, 2015

I have been looking forward to this post for a couple of weeks now. There is SO much to share – beware: this is a LONG post with LOTS of pictures 😀

Beginning of MayNieto Photography 2015

Beginning of JuneNieto Photography 2015Loving all the green! At first glance, the peas that I was worried about (yellow) greened up on their own, the peas surpassed the cabbage hoops, the fruit bushes and trees have really filled out! A lot more green altogether. Love it! 🙂

As always, I’ll start from the front of the picture and work my way to the back:

Shaded Patch…quite the hodgepodge. This is shaded most of the day. It is more of an experimental area than anything.Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015Lettuce Nieto Photography 2015Peas Nieto Photography 2015Beans Nieto Photography 2015More lettuce (maybe if I harvest them small (rather than heads), they won’t be as bitter?) Nieto Photography 2015Pretty pitiful patch of spinach Nieto Photography 2015another sowing of lettuce Nieto Photography 2015Kale Nieto Photography 2015and some carrots

Corn, Sunflowers, Beans, and Melons (Patch #1)Nieto Photography 2015the section by the driveway is doing much better (see pic below) Nieto Photography 2015(green and beautiful above, yellow and pitiful below – same patch) Nieto Photography 2015I threw some chicken manure on the yellow corn. This week has been really rainy so I am hoping all of the compost tea will help with the color and growth.

Peas and CabbagesNieto Photography 2015We are harvesting LARGE amounts of peas every other day.Nieto Photography 2015Cabbages are not ready to be harvested but they are sizing up nicely. I am going to uncover them and see if they are healthy enough to withstand ‘the elements’ (ie. bugs). Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015Here is a recently weeded and mulched section. So pretty 🙂 Nieto Photography 2015Potatoes. Doing well. Flowering more than in past years. I assume that means they are healthy. I can’t wait to harvest them but I am trying to be patient 🙂

Nieto Photography 2015

Carrot and Beet bed: I just realized I don’t have a picture for that bed! We are harvesting carrots and beets now. YUM! I’ll post pics on Harvest Monday, for sure 🙂 I planted a row of melons where we have ripped up lettuces. A friend is giving us a cattle panel so the hope is they will climb that and not overtake our garden. We’ll see.

Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Ground CherriesNieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015These are the smaller of the tomatoes. The larger ones are setting fruit but I found horn worm droppings on them yesterday so I’m going to have to keep my eye out! Nieto Photography 2015Our summer and winter squash seem to be doing well (though I’ve already found 4 squash bugs – HATE those things!!!). The cucumber plant in the pic above actually has baby cucs on it now 🙂Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015

The ground cherries have always had holes in them but continue to grow. I do not know the culprit but I assume they are okay for now?

Onions and Celery. Between our larger tomatoes, we have onions and celery growing.

Nieto Photography 2015

Nieto Photography 2015

Raspberries are starting to ripen. We have been able to harvest about 7 in June so far 🙂

Nieto Photography 2015

Crops planted in the ‘new’ raspberry bed: I had some extra room in the raspberry bed so I planted some kale, beans, lettuce, and carrots.

Nieto Photography 2015

Blueberries: bushes are LOADED! Just waiting for them to ripen! We typically get our first harvest mid/late June.Nieto Photography 2015

Broccoli: nothing is heading up but I’ve never had such healthy broccoli!Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015

Strawberries: the plants eaten down are starting to bounce back.Nieto Photography 2015Looking healthy! See the fencing falling down to the right of the picture? I didn’t notice and that night, something got in there and ate most of the berries 😦 The fence is back up and hopefully the strawberries are, once again, protected. Nieto Photography 2015

More Corn, Beans, and Sunflowers: much healthier than the patch by the house.Nieto Photography 2015Greener, and growing bigger, faster. Nieto Photography 2015There are quite a few crops I am missing…more sunflowers and zinnias, kale, sweet potatoes, more tomatoes, more onions, more spinach…I am planting every couple of weeks but one sprout looks like another so I spared you 🙂

Chickens & Eggs

We harvested 223 eggs in May. Down 50 from April. We currently have 2 mamas with their babies and another broody sitting on eggs. I thought we were done with broodies; and frankly, I was ready. Then another one decided she was ready to be a mama.

Thinking long term, we need to keep hatching chicks in order to feed our family and others. Right now, with our 16 hens (12 layers), we are getting about 6 eggs a day. That is barely enough to feed our family. I would like to get enough eggs to feed other families as well. In order to do that, we need to keep hatching them out (do you hear me rationalizing?)!

What is going on in your garden? I am linking up with Green Thumb Thursday today.

Harvest Monday

June 1, 2015

We have stopped harvesting lettuce for eating. We are still harvesting lettuce each day for the chickens though 🙂 We are trying to feed them more from the garden and less chicken feed.

The first and second sowings of spinach (beginning and mid-March) were pulled this week. Most of them were bolting. The next day, I planted bush beans and carrots in that bed. Summer and winter squash were sown where the lettuce was pulled. I also planted some sweet potato slips, and the next round of succession plantings for cucumbers, kale, cilantro, melons, and lettuce.

We are harvesting spinach from April sowings still. As our spinach harvests are lessening, our strawberry harvests are increasing. We also started harvesting peas this week. The kids are so excited. They LOVE raw peas 🙂

We harvested this much (pics below) every other day – so 3x this week.

Nieto Photography 2015Nieto Photography 2015 Nieto Photography 2015(I planted purple-podded peas for easy picking this year. They don’t taste as good but picking a breeze!)

We eat peas steamed as well. I was going to add some butter or some type of seasoning but the baby wanted to nurse, like, NOW, so I just served it. SO glad I did! It was amazing! I have never tasted such sweet, tender, peas. LOVE it!

The baby loves the strawberries and peas as well. This is how we keep her busy while we harvest every morning.

Nieto Photography 2015

I pulled a carrot to see if they were ready to harvest. Nieto Photography 2015They’re getting there! I think we’ll see if we can hold off a little longer. We all were able to taste it though. It was sweet and juicy! Not sweet like a strawberry and no juices dripping down my chin but I typically would not describe a carrot as such and it really was.

This is the first year I remember our peas and carrots being so tasty! I think that is a reflection of how healthy our soil is becoming! Another thing, this is the carrot, after being pulled (not dug). I wiped it on the grass a bit but no need to wash it before eating. YAY Back To Eden gardening!!!

After harvesting, we weed the garden. You may be thinking, ‘Wait a minute! I thought one of the draws to BTE gardening was that you don’t have to do any weeding!’ Well, first of all, no garden is without weeds; however, weeding is TREMENDOUSLY cut down. Two reasons we have to weed:

  1. Dirt is exposed. The mulch decomposes with rain and heat. It is wise to put more mulch on top of the garden each fall for fertilization all winter as it rains/snows (when God fertilizes) and to keep weeds from germinating in the coming spring and summer. When we don’t get around to doing this, dirt is exposed and weeds flourish (like in a traditional garden).
  2. Fresh Horse Manure. I figured, horse manure is better than no manure and our chickens just don’t poop enough 🙂 so when someone offered horse manure, I jumped at the chance. No. More. Oh, the weed-seeds. The vast majority of weeding that is done is in the sections I added horse manure. Where I have chicken manure, NO.WEEDING. Okay, maybe a weed here and there but nothing like this (picture below).

So, we weed every day. It’s not so bad when you take one section at a time and you have about 3 helpers with you. Then, at night, we cover the weeded area with mulch to keep it weed-free. (Top of photo — where are the plants? It’s all weeds! This bed was covered with fresh horse manure this winter.)Nieto Photography 2015(Bottom of photo: weeded and recovered with mulch to keep the weeds at bay.)

We are giving away about 1/3 of our harvests to other families.


Our last set of chicks hatched this past week. Three of four eggs hatched.

Nieto Photography 2015

However, a snake got in the coop and ate the other egg and two of the chicks 😦 Sad, sad day. We think the snake may have killed one of our older chicks as well (3mo chicks we bought from the store).Nieto Photography 2015Nieto Photography 2015(You can see the lumps halfway through the snake. That would be two baby chicks 😦 )

The next day, a friend messaged me that she had 2 orphaned chicks and asked if I wanted to see if the newest mama hen would adopt them. So far, so good. They are SO CUTE!

We currently have 16 hens, 2 roosters, and 15 baby chicks.

I think we’re done with broody hens for the year. We are getting about 8 eggs/day from our 13, two-year-old chickens (the 3 mamas are not laying yet). Hopefully, all of the chicks will be ready to start laying when they older hens start to molt later in the summer. I hope to not have to buy eggs from the store ever again!

Coop Clean-Out

Another thing that happened this week – the coops got their yearly clean out. It is my least favorite chore but it is wonderful for the garden and I love how the newly-cleaned coop looks (though it is short-lived).Nieto Photography 2015(all cleaned out!)

We go to the local lumber yard to pick up free woodshavings.Nieto Photography 2015

Nieto Photography 2015As I cleaned off the roosting table (where most of the poop is) this winter, I spread it over the sweet potato section. The clean-out this week finished covering that area (just in time for me to plant some sweet potato slips).Nieto Photography 2015 The rest of the coop shavings covered most of the newly expanded area. Maybe I can plant some fall crops here…? We’ll see.Nieto Photography 2015I have purple sweet potato slips being shipped from Sandhill Preservation Center so I may need more room for sweet potatoes before it’s all said and done. We’ll see.

What’s going on in your garden? What are you harvesting? Check out what others are harvesting this week at Daphne’s Dandelions 🙂

Harvest Monday and Creative Problem Solving

April 25, 2015

I harvested our greens for the week, soaked them in cold water and then spun-dried them…well, tried to.DSC_8401We ended up using pillows and spinning the pillows around our heads (like a sprinkler) to get the water out of the lettuce, spinach, and cilantro 🙂DSC_8394 DSC_8393 DSC_8392Later in the week, I bought a new salad spinner. I am harvesting this amount of lettuce and spinach about twice a week. The lettuce is starting to bolt so I am ripping some up every day now to give to the chickens. The first planting of spinach is bolting but I am still harvesting from the second, third, and even 4th planting still (I started planting beginning of March and have continued every 2 weeks).

Some days, we had a little bit of strawberry harvest (because of the critters)…DSC_8366Other days we had a larger strawberry harvest (thanks to new fencing).DSC_8413DSC_8451We are now harvesting a large bowlful of strawberries like this every other day.

During the winter, we bought 3 bags of apples and 3 bunches of bananas at the grocery store. Right now, we are down to 2 bags of apples and 2 bunches of bananas. Whenever the blueberries and raspberries start to ripen, hopefully we’ll be done buying apples and bananas until September (when the apples go on sale).

Insect Issues

Two insect issues I have been battling the past 3 years are cabbage worms and bean beetles. This year, I am covering my brassicas in order to keep the cabbage moths off.

I am covering my bean plants in DE (diatomaceous earth) this year to try to battle the bean beetles. I have never used DE before this year. I know I need to make sure I do not put any on flowers because it will kill bees as well, but other than that, I have little knowledge, other than it is safe (not a pesticide). DSC_8363 DSC_8364Most of my bean plants already had holes in them but one section did not yet (newly-planted) so that will be the real test to see how well DE works on bean beetles.


We’re always expanding! If we have cardboard, we spend our time expanding out. When we do not have cardboard, we spend time ripping up old tarp and covering with mulch. That is what we did this week. Look at the zig-zag pattern. Forward, turn to the right, then turn to the left and walk forward — basically all of the dark mulched areas. This all used to be tarp. Now it is mulch. DSC_8441I am going to cover this area with chicken manure from the coop but I need woodshavings from the local lumberyard first to refill the chicken coop. Maybe I can get that done next week. It will be ready to be planted in spring of 2016!

For those new to BTE gardening (or gardening in general), please do not be overwhelmed by our garden. For perspective, our first year gardening, we had 3 raised beds. The next year, we started our BTE garden and had those raised beds and the bed you see to the right (with lettuce, beets, and carrots). That’s it. Each year, we have expanded. When you’re not spending all of your time weeding, you have time to expand more! 😀

Check out what other gardeners are harvesting at Daphne’s Dandelions.