Sunday, March 28, 2010

What else I've been up to

Because believe it or not, it's not just all baby, all the time. I have big gardening plans for this year, very exciting. (To me.) In what was last year's vegetable garden, we're putting in raspberries. It's a bed along the south edge of the backyard, about 18' long. Raspberries are pretty much my favorite fruit (hard to say as I love them all but definitely up there in the top five) and they're always expensive, even in season. I'm so excited about having my own! According to The Garden Primer, once they're established I can expect "up to a quart of berries per foot of row". Eighteen quarts of raspberries! Not this year, of course, but still. Along the back (eastern) edge of the yard, we've* built a raised bed that's about 35' long and 30" wide, that will be this year's vegetable garden. (Next year, I'll be planting asparagus there.) Nothing fancy, just the basics like tomatoes, green beans, zucchini, salad greens, herbs, and flowers. Lots of flowers. To decide what to plant, I thought about what we bought the most often or spent the most on at the Farmers' Market last summer; we were always buying salad greens, zukes, and bouquets of flowers. So, in addition to edging both raised beds with alyssum, nasturtiums, and marigolds, I'm planting zinnias, cosmos, calendula, ageratum, and sunflowers for cuttings. No more spending $7 for a handful of zinnias this summer**! Don built me a plant light so that I could start seeds inside for the first time. I'm starting all the flowers ahead, since they're expensive to buy as plants, and I wanted a lot of them. I plan to buy some plants still, especially tomatoes. My logic is that I only want about six tomato plants, but I don't want all six to be the same variety. So I could either buy 3-4 different seed packets and use maybe 2 seeds from each one, or just buy the plants themselves from the Farmers' Market and get all the variety I want, with no waste. Right now I have 144 seed cells started, two trays of 72 that I'm running alternately under the light.

This is the first tray, three days after planting.

And here it is after one week. At least a few of everything has sprouted so far, and they're growing fast. I had one little problem with the marigold seeds I ordered from Seeds of Change, as the website described this variety as growing 2-3" tall. Turned out to be a typo as they meant 2-3', which luckily was correct on the seed packet itself. Since I wanted to use them to edge my garden, I had to buy more seeds from Lowe's, and use these elsewhere. No big deal really, although I'm still kicking myself for believing that any marigold could be only three inches tall. (I sent them an email in case someone else makes the same error, and they wrote back saying they'd fix it.)

The girls are doing wonderfully well, even after one of the snowiest winters in old-timer recollection. They seem to be perfectly healthy and happy, which reinforces the fact that chickens don't need much pampering to get by. Their house is unheated, and a bit airy (I was more worried about ventilation than insulation when we built it) but it's dry and out of the wind. I took this picture from the kitchen window, which is upstairs and many feet back from the backyard. I really like my new camera, and its 10X zoom feature. Gimpy Girl (to the far right) seems to have finally hit chicken sexual maturity, as her comb has grown larger and turned red, and she has laid at least two eggs. One was this tiny little thing, like a robin's egg but brown, but the other was a small-ish but normal chicken egg. The other day when I went to collect, there were four eggs nestled together, simple as that. She may have laid more than that, it's hard to tell since they all lay in the same place. We get anywhere from none to three, generally, with two being the median.
If I keep on with the blogging, expect many more boring posts about gardens and chickens.
*i.e. I design, Don builds to my specifications. Except when he doesn't, and I end up with something funky. Like the raspberry bed that's about 16" wider than I wanted, which is OK because I'll plant a row of onions in there too.
** Don't look too deeply into what the garden itself is costing... These things should be amortized over a few seasons anyway.


songbird said...

I'm happy to hear about gardens, chickens, and the baby. And you will appreciate looking back on it later. Keep writing! :)

Villas for Rent in Italy said...

It's really amazing sharing hats off to you.