Warm days in the garden

The last couple weeks have been non-stop busy around our place. When the warm weather arrives suddenly I can find a million things to do outside rather than vacuum the house. I have been mowing, pulling ivy, painting the chicken coop, clearing blackberry vines, mulching, removing old fence sections, burning brush piles, weeding, and planting. It would be best not to stop by our house right now or the drifting hairballs off Aggie might swallow you whole.

We have big news: I have officially lost my mind. :) I had talked myself out of raising any baby chicks this year to replace the 8 annoying chickens. Then we went to the feed store to get some more seed potatoes and I broke down after looking at the baby chicks. ARG!!!! So we came home with 3 Rhode Island Reds, 3 Red Sex Links, and 3 mystery chicks (probably Araucanas) that were half priced. A couple days later, at a different farm store, I picked up 2 Black Australorps and 2 Welsummers. The bad news is that Lee has banned me from feed stores until chick season ends. The good news is that the chicks are outside in the brooder rather than in my house. Thank goodness for the reconfigurable chicken house Lee built last year.

We weeded around Lee’s hops, thinned them, laid down a nice layer of composted pig manure, and covered it in bark-o-mulch. This picture is several days old–they have already grown two feet since it was taken. We are expecting a pretty nice crop this year.

We ran out of our fertilizer mix like we do every year, so it was time to make up a new batch. We use Steve Solomon’s “Complete Organic Fertilizer” recipe for everything in the garden. The formula is designed to maximize vegetable nutritional value, without encouraging needlessly bulky plant growth. It has worked well for us for several years now, but we also need to find a source for compost to maintain the soil organic matter content. While some people fertilize only with compost, in western Oregon that can encourage symphyla infestation (we have enough problems with them already). The chicken coop only yields enough compost for a couple garden beds each year, and when we eventually get sheep they will be on pasture full time (no handy manure piles).

We had to replant tomatoes as I planted them earlier then I usually do (kicking myself) and a cold snap came through and killed them.

When I was watering our cole crops today I was smashing cucumber beetles left and right. It looks like it’s going to be a bad year on that front.

We planted our last row of potatoes tonight.

I planted a row of winter squash and Lee set up the drip irrigation for it. We bought the starts at a plant sale for our local youth farm. We have so much of the garden planted right now that we are running out of room in the existing beds. I feel so on top of things!

Lee got three pots of timber bamboo today. He is very excited and has plans of making bamboo fences and structures. The next couple days will probably find us preparing a permanent location for a bamboo grove.

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18 Responses to Warm days in the garden

  1. Ali says:

    Sorry about your tomatoes , that’s a bummer. The garden, on the other hand, looks terrific! Amazing what having a power tool can do for your productivity! I’m a little bit jealous. Just a little. :-)

    • robin says:

      Lee and I are pretty amazed at how much better the garden looks too. I think the rototiller has been a huge morale boost for us. We have been trying to stay on top of the weeds and actually enjoying it as we can see our progress. This weekend we have more rototilling and a lot more planting to do. Now some pest problems have been causing us havoc so I guess it all evens out.

  2. Phil says:

    Looking great! You’re putting in some unique items. Anything else going in this year?

    • lee says:

      Well, the vegetable garden has the usual suspects of brassicas, greens, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, squash, and sun flowers. The only odd things are probably the Giant Walking Stick Kale and salsify (the roots of which are supposed to taste like oysters).

      The bamboo is going along a tree line where we hope to eventually grow a significant grove to use as building materials and a sound barrier.

      • Phil says:

        The hops aren’t always an everyday garden item… Some homebrewing plans? :)

      • lee says:

        Ah, you are right. I guess hops just seem normal to me now because we’ve been growing them for three years. The Willamette valley has a great climate for hops and they grow like weeds.

        But yes, I plan to use these for home brewing. We’ve dried and frozen two harvests of cones so far, and we’re going to use those up in brewing this summer before the next crop arrives. This particular variety is Cascade. It’s mostly a flavoring hop, so I also need to plant a bittering hop.

  3. wow, looks great!..really great! I would feel bad about you losing your tomatoes but we have not even had a chance to plant ours due to cold weather..this weekend though! cute chicks..we are liking our Rhode Island Reds..the hens are very passive and quite tame…we should have some chicks of our own in another 10 days..we hope! Bamboo is very cool. It is like the Arther Fonzarelli of the forest…I think I am dating myself..

    • robin says:

      HA! You are dating yourself. Lee had to look Fonzarelli up. (I guess that dates us as well though.) I hope all goes well with your new upcoming chicks. One of our half priced chicks has a screwed up beak so I’m not sure whether to make it a mascot or put it down. Your newly planted garden beds look super nice though.

  4. Benita says:

    You are on top of it this year! Everything is looking really nice. I love the chicks – too bad you can’t go back to the feed store for a while, though. ;)

    • robin says:

      HAHA! Yeah, it would be bad if the farm stores sold sheep and pigs because then I would have come home with more then just chicks.

  5. There’s a special club for people who have bought livestock on impulse. Welcome to it!

    In other news, your garden looks beautiful.

    • robin says:

      **Groan** You are so right! I had been thinking about getting new chicks all spring and trying not to. I obviously didn’t succeed. I’m trying to talk a friend into letting their geese breed so I can have some of those too. :)

  6. Becky says:

    Cute chicks! I hope your mystery chicks are Araucanas. I grew up on a small farm and the Araucanas and Ameraucanas were always my favourite. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to have my own again one day… Your garden looks awesome!

    • robin says:

      We think the mystery chicks might be Araucanas. One has poofy cheeks like some of our others had as chicks. Your chicken adventure sounds interesting and fun.

  7. olemike says:

    Your garden looks great.

  8. Ann says:

    Your garden is just so lovely. Your hard work is paying off and the soil is looking really, really nice. I’m turning blue in the face, holding out for raised beds, but now we’re pricing tillers for our big JD tractor. It’s a step in the right direction.

    You reminded me I had some hops growing up the back of our little garden shed. I’ll have to go out and have a look-see if they’re still there. I also just wiki’d them, and found out hops are poisonous to dogs. Just an FYI. Don’t know if your dogs are piggies who raid the garden…

    • robin says:

      I didn’t know that hops were bad for dogs. I will keep that in mind. Thankfully, the bines don’t flower at dog level (since they are trellised) so they should be ok. This area isn’t fenced in yet so our dogs aren’t allowed to go there.

      Don’t be too jealous of our garden. We are having a pretty severe battle with symphylans. It’s also been cold and rainy this week so no gardening is happening. All the weeds are growing like crazy. GRRRR.

      Having a tiller for your tractor sounds nice! The guy who did our garden for us the first year did a huge section in a very short order that way. The tractor had a bigger tiller so it went deeper too.

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