Thursday, April 17, 2014

Growing Indoors.



Nice looking pepper. 


The other things I have started indoors that have either not germinated or are somewhat insignificant in photos include; ground cherries, celery, tomatoes (just started them over the weekend) petunias and a couple cabbage, broccoli and kohlrabi plants. I started some arugula, lettuce and kale indoors soon although to me they don't really count since they'll be going outdoors very, very soon. The moment the weather cooperates I'll harden them off and transplant them out covering the lettuce on any VERY frosty nights, hopefully that won't be necessary.  

Fermented Chicken Feed

I recently started fermenting our chickens feed. The benefits are the same as fermenting food for humans like breaking down phytic acid,  increasing nutrient content and increasing digestibility. Even soaking your chickens feed overnight will start to breakdown the grains and increase digestibility.

 Initially I had hoped to keep a bucket of fermented feed going, similar to having a sourdough starter, unfortunately no matter how hard I tried it continually went bad on me. I'm really not sure what the problem is, as in theory as long as the feed is covered in water (grains do not need an airlock to ferment) it should ferment with good bacteria and keep the bad bacteria at bay. What I am thinking is a possibility is that perhaps the grain may have a bit too much 'bad' yeasts, mold or bacteria that inevitably start taking over. Since I'm also working on collecting all the ingredients to mix our own organic feed, I will most definitely be trying my hand at fermenting that feed to see if I can keep a bucket going. For now I am soaking a serving a feed for one or two days and feeding that to the girls. They love it! I knew they would judging from their preference of old feed we threw around the yard as 'scratch', going back to it after days and days of sitting out in the yard on the ground and devouring it, to them it's gourmet.  

Our hens aren't huge feed eaters anyway, they honestly consume very little. I certainly can't blame them when they're able to free range for whatever they'd like to eat. When I say whatever they'd like to eat, I mostly mean bugs. Bugs are the staple of a hens diet. People really don't realize that chickens are far from vegetarians, you don't even want to know what all they would eat if able to. They eat all day long, taking short breaks to destroy my flower beds, dust bath and nap in the woods. I'll be remedying the flower bed destruction by moving them into their tractor for the summer months the moment we're done renovating it, stay tuned for pictures! 

The girls when we still had lots of snow, there's still some although not this much! 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Snowdrops and Updates.

The very first flower bulb poked up and out on Wednesday of last week. The crocus and winter aconite are not too far behind, they were all open yesterday although slightly unimpressive for photos. 

All the garlic is poking up now through it's mulch. On thursday I planted a bed of arugula, radishes and baby mesclun mix lettuce. I threw some bok choy and kale seeds in a few places where the soil was dry, workable and warm. The remainder of the garden is still quite wet and unworkable, now covered in a layer of snow we received last night that should melt today. My garden would likely be drier if it wasn't as heavy with clay as it is. Someday I hope to have the clay fully remedied by continuing to add manure, compost and seaweed every year. It gets better every year even though I never underestimate just how much it will settle over the winter months. I cover any bare garden soil with either eel grass or by planting it with oats to help minimize any erosion and to help protect the soil from pounding rains that cause run off and compaction.  It's a really good idea to stay out of your garden when it's too wet, the rule of thumb being that if it sticks to your boots, it's too wet. 
You can actually do more harm than good tromping around in the wet garden as your boots can compact and generally disturb the soil. 

The snow has mostly melted off our asparagus plants and strawberries. I'll be keeping my eyes on them for any action in the following months. Everything has germinated in the cold frames and overwintered cold frame plants have started producing again. We've eaten a few kale leaves and cannot wait to be overrun with fresh greens.  After letting a lot of greens, lettuces and radishes go to seed last year, I was elated to see some had seeded themselves in the garden. Looks mostly like radishes and lettuce so far. I will certainly be allowing them to grow, nothing like bonus veggies. The overwintered seed waited through all the cold weather for the time Mother Nature signaled them to sprout.  

I'll never forget Marjorie Willison's (The East Coast Gardener) wisdom about planting the first crops. "When the first bulbs; snow crocus, winter aconite and snowdrops, bloom the soil has warmed enough to plant the first crops."  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Repurposed Fish Bowl Cloche

I planted some peas today under this re-purposed fish bowl used as a garden cloche. Hopefully these sugar snap pea seeds, saved from my own peas from last year, will get a head start before I am able to plant a whole bed of peas. The funny thing about peas though, is no matter how early you plant your peas, they're very likely to be producing their peas at the same time the later peas are planted. They don't really sulk when they're planted earlier, they just won't take off until a bit later. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Seedling Update

My best looking celeriac plant. Growing lots of these this year after last year being our first year growing this fantastic crop. They were amazing to add to mashed potatoes and I can't imagine not growing them every year as one of our staple crops. 

We didn't grow many leeks last year, as you can see I'm making up for that this year. I really missed having leeks in the fall months, especially since we have fresh deer and chicken in the fall. Leeks are nutritious and delicious, making them a must-grow for your onion collection. We also grow red onions, shallots, scallions and lots of yellow/white storage onions. 

I almost forgot that we are trying our 'thumbs' at growing sweet potatoes this year. Which will be an adventure, and hopefully, a success. I ordered cuttings to root and am excited to try this crop. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My seed starting station. Celeriac sprouted their true leaves and were potted up accordingly. Celery has just germinated, I had to wait for my seeds so they're slightly behind their celeriac 'siblings' we'll call them. Petunias are almost ready to pot up and we're waiting on ground cherries and peppers to make an appearance. I have lots of leeks and red onions started, the rest of the onions will be direct seeded in the garden. I started a few cabbage, broccoli and kohlrabi plants indoors to see how they'll do planted out in the cold frame. That's about it for now. I won't be starting my tomatoes for a little bit yet and I'll be starting a few more things for early transplants. I also fully planted my second cold frame over the weekend with lots of spinach, a few pea plants, lots of radishes, bok choy, tatsoi, mizuna, mustard greens and various lettuces. I then covered the seeds with a row cover like the other cold frame which will help keep in heat and moisture, aiding in germination. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

I am super lucky to have some red onions left over from last year. Perfect timing for salad season. I kind of saved them since we don't eat a lot of raw foods during the cold winter months and I mostly use red onions raw.