Sunday, June 29, 2014

I'm a believer in row cover

My friend and educator Megan Cain will tell you at every chance she can about the wonders of "remay" or row cover. I've been using it for years too, but saw visible proof this spring.

When I put row cover over my beets and radish seeds this spring I ran short on one bed. "Oh well," I thought to myself, "I'll see the difference between using it and not using it."

Row cover helps maintain moisture, protect seeds, soil and fragile seedlings from the rain, protects seeds from foraging birds and keeps insects off. You really can't go wrong. Only one problem is you have to remove it to weed underneath!

Row cover on right, covering beet and radish seeds

 Row cover removed, look at the size difference and the higher germination on the left!

Friday, June 27, 2014

First produce of the season

My friend Jason R. recently posted a wonderful photo of a bunch of spring produce he harvested from his garden. He captioned it something like "I'm my own green grocer."

With the chicken coop project in full swing this spring, I planted a radish, beet and parsnip seeds and then kinda forgot about them. So after seeing Jason's post, I went to check and found lovely radishes in the garden. THIS is why I do what I do.

Poultry word of the day
Chicken feed: insignificant amount of money.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Forage from your own front yard

Foraging in both urban and rural settings has been, and seems to be again, a popular way to find food "from the wild." I haven't practiced this much (yet), but what I do do is find and eat unlikely food from my own front yard. I have two examples for you today. But first, the poultry word of the day.
Chicken or hen scratch: unreadable or ugly handwriting.

Garlic scapes

Here are the scapes still on the plant.
Garlic scapes are that curly "whip" that grows up the stem of hardneck garlic. Softneck garlic does not have this whip, and I recently learned that most commercial garlic found in the grocery store is softneck precisely because growers don't have to deal with the scape.

"Deal with?" you ask. If the scape is not removed, the plant will put lots of energy into developing a seed pod at the end, thus leaving less energy for the underground crown which is what we like to eat. Removing the scape not only helps develop a larger crown of garlic, it's also tasty.

This year I harvested at least 90 scapes. We've already started chopping them into salads and sauteing with asparagus. If I get time, I want to try to pickle a jar of them. If you haven't snapped yours off yet, it's time to get them, and then eat them!


This "weed" grows in our orchard, probably came in with the compost or the hay mulch we used last year. But I'm not complaining - we eat this early summer green raw while weeding, and cooked as a side dish. Our favorite way to prepare it is to steam with a bit of oil and vinegar. Think wilted spinach, except free, and very organic ;)

Close up of lambsquarters leaf so you can identify it. The leaf underside has an interesting white powder; it's one sure way to identify this plant in your garden.

Dinner guest

Tonight while eating on our lambsquarters and garlic scapes on our front porch, this little one hopped in and started helping itself to clover. Jay remarked that we've probably created a bunny haven; no dogs and lots of clover. But as long as they don't eat any of the shrubs, they're keeping the clover to a manageable roar.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Coop and chick photo updat

Here's a quick look at the coop's progress and the chick who are growing so fast!
Chicken word of the day: "Chicken with it's head cut off" - a lot of activity without direction; acting hysterical or brainless (well, I guess you'd be brainless if someone cut your head off)

Jay and Matt installed the roof, which they found rather difficult to get to at some points.

Rooftop selfie while insulating the coop roof.

When we removed old insulation from our house to prepare for an air sealing project last year; I saved the insulation thinking we might need it some day...
We only insulated the coop (on left) to keep them warm in the winter.

Matt securing a metal roof panel on the run.

Jay and Matt installing the last metal panel on the run.
The run on the right is finished, and the chickens moved in on June 8.

The coop (the insulated part where they will stay in the winter and where their nest box will be, still needs doors. The space on the bottom will be storage for food and bedding materials, and will also have doors.

Moving day!


Betsy (brown, in front), Flora (white, in back), Mifflin (black) and Olive.

Flora explores the ramp to the coop. The door at the top is currently boarded up.