Tag Archives: tunnels

The Weather Is Warmer So Things Are Getting DONE!

March 31, 2014

We had some more below freezing nights and days in the 30s but I am hoping we are done with those days!


We allowed the chicks to do some monitored free-ranging once the temps rose above freezing. They are so cute!

Nieto Family - March 27 14 - 0068 1547951_717975918253260_1950278981_o


There was a tree trimming company last week at a neighbor’s house so we invited them to dump the mulch at our house.


(load #1 of 6 or so)

They stayed in the area for a whole week. We now have about as much mulch as we did when Asplundh came two years ago. I am using the new mulch on areas that we want to suppress grass-growth and saving the old, decomposed mulch for planting areas. IMG_8459(You can see the newer mulch in the foreground. We’re just trying to cover more grass — less places to mow. Only a little got done that day because it was so windy and because I’m so stinkin’ pregnant!)

The edges of the garden are the worst for creeping grass so my husband is trying to nip that in the bud by putting chicken tunnel around the majority of the garden. The chickens are loving it and are doing a wonderful job. The only problem is, they are eating grass faster than it is growing right now, since we are still at the beginning of spring.


(Tunnel goes all around the garden area. You can see the raised mulch area – potato patch – and beyond that are all of the blueberry bushes, which you cannot see yet because they are still bare right now)


My mom ordered strawberries for me for Christmas this past year. They came in this week and as soon as the weather warmed (to about 60), I planted them. I had already prepared a strawberry patch this past fall with chicken & horse manure and wood chips. I measured it and thought I could fit 90 plants. She ordered 50 so I went ahead and planted spinach and lettuce on the border of the patch. Not surprisingly, I must have measured incorrectly or something because only about 40 strawberry plants fit in my strawberry patch 😉 No worries. I planted the rest close by. I plan on expanding every year anyway.

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(25 of the plants — look at those beautiful roots!)

Nieto Family - March 27 14 - 0011 (I found some cow compost in the shed when I cleaned it out last month so I mixed that compost with some of our chicken compost from out of the run for a planting medium for the strawberry plants.) (It is really difficult to see the baby plants right now so here is a close-up of one of them.)Nieto Family - March 27 14 - 0399

The weekend was warmer but extremely windy and rainy so I planted here and there when I could. Along with my strawberry plants, I was able to get all of my peas planted, some beets, and some onions.

My 6th child/third trimester body can only do so much at once. I find that after only an hour of planting, I am worn out! Just pitiful! With all that needs to be planted, I’ll have to just go out when I can and stick with it until everything is planted…especially since we are at a later start than normal because of our long winter this year.

So from now until…? I will be planting, little by little and when I am not planting, I will be weeding. There are not many weeds, thanks to the mulch. However, two types are relentless: bermuda grass and wild onion 😛 I’ve gotta say though, pulling weeds in the mulch is a whole different ball game than pulling in dirt. It is easier, it does not need to be done as frequently…comparatively, it is wonderful! If you have not yet, go check out the Back to Eden Film!

I am still nervous (because of my impatience) about the lack of sprouts in my greenhouses but I looked over my posts from last year and saw that it was not until mid/late April of 2013 that I started getting sprouts in my greenhouses. That is also when my potato plants started to come up. I am so thankful to have this blog, if for no other reason than to keep myself in check 😉

I haven’t spoken much of harvests because, though that is the goal (hence the planting), I have yet to have any plant harvests this year. We are still harvesting eggs daily and are extremely thankful for those! Check out what everyone else is doing at Daphne’s Dandelions today 🙂


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 🙂