Happy Garden

This evening when I checked the garden, I found that quite a few things are coming up. And not just weeds! Well, weeds too. But mostly veggies. I’m glad to see that the seedlings are enjoying the mild sunshine we’ve been getting and I plan to plant the other halves of these beds this weekend. We spaced out our planting (half the bed two weeks ago; the other half this weekend) so that we don’t have everything ripen all at once. Our little family of three can only eat, can, and preserve so much at once. Hopefully the two-weeks will be a good harvesting gap.

Contender Valentine bush beans
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Red Mammoth cabbage
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Brussels sprouts
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Spinach
(See my bed markers? I wrote the name of each crop in Sharpie on small pieces of thick plastic and stapled them to the corresponding wooden stakes. Now we know what is where!)
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Flamingo Swiss chard
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Quinoa? I’m not sure because I’ve never seen it grown before, but there are a few of these thin sprigs in the bed… so one would assume.
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Also growing are the: blueberries, bulb onions, green bunching onions, broccoli, pie pumpkins, leeks, and cilantro. Yet to be seen are the: potatoes, carrots, and beets. Yet to be planted are the: honeydew melons, tomatoes, eggplant, gherkins, and paprika peppers.

Slightly unrelated to the garden, we have been selling our extra chicken eggs to friends, family, and co-workers. At three dollars a dozen we aren’t making any profit, but it does pay for their feed and (perhaps someday) their housing. One can dream.

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Clementine’s Litter Update :: video

Clementine’s litter of nine will be four weeks old on Tuesday and are officially eating hay, eating pellets, drinking from the water bottles, and driving Clementine crazy. But really, with nine young’uns under a month old, who wouldn’t need some time alone?!

Speaking of time alone, Clementine had the 100 square foot play area all to herself this afternoon. She was jumping, and sniffing, and running around to her hearts content. Here is a brief video update on the little ones. Sorry if it’s hard to see the babies’ colors properly. I literally ran in after their evening feeding time to take this impromptu video because the one little rabbit was sitting in the food dish. If nothing else, I wanted needed to catch that silliness on camera.

X’s and O’s from Bucks and Does

Clementine’s babies are really growing up! Fast! Everyone is hopping and exploring the cage. Whenever I open up the cage door, all of the kits come running along side their mama. Sometimes a kit will take advantage of feeding time when Clementine gets her oats and will dive under her, feet up, and try to nurse.

If you look at the last picture here you will notice that I marked the ear of each kit with a “B” or a “D”. I tried my best to do an early gender assessment of each kit and I plan to check again every week to see if my opinion on each individual kit has changed. “B” for buck or male and “D” for doe or female.

I am really loving raising rabbits. The whole family is enjoying it really. It’s just so fun to be involved in an animal’s life cycle from the very beginning. You get to care for the parents, have the excitement of seeing the babies as soon as they are born, take guesses on the colors, and watch them grow until they are taken home by their new family. But until they do go home with new owners, we are going to get all the furry hugs and kisses we can get.

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Planting Potato Towers

As with just about everything else on this micro-farm, this is our first time ever trying to plant potatoes with a “potato tower”. In the past we have planted potatoes in dug holes covered with mounds of dirt with varied (and pathetic sized) results. So this year we are trying the potato tower.

The idea is that you make a tall tube out of chicken wire or outdoor reed fencing, fill it with enough dirt to plant the potato seeds in, and then progressively pile it up the rest of the way with straw until the plant dies off giving you a hundred pounds of potatoes. We’ll see.

We even made our own “potato seeds”. A few weeks ago I bought some organic purple potatoes from the store and cut them into a few pieces making sure each section had at least two eyes on it. I let them dry out on newspaper making sure they hadn’t molded and that they had formed a skin on the cut ends. We have found this to be the easiest way to make your own potato seeds.
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Last weekend we built three towers from scraps of chicken wire and metal stakes we had on hand. Each tower is about 3′ feet in diameter. Today we filled each of the towers with about 4″ inches of compost as a base for the potato seeds to grow in.
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Then I put six seed potatoes into each tower, eyes facing up, trying my best to space them out evenly. All of the directions for potato towers I found said to space the seed potatoes at 12″ inches but I cheated a little and made the spacing more like 9″ inches.
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After adding another 2″ inches of compost on top of the planted seed potatoes, I soaked them thoroughly. Potato plants need lots of water. Ill keep you up on the progress as long as you cross your fingers for a prolific potato harvest in a few months!
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Planting Quinoa

So after finding that grain seeds are more of a specialty item, even from “seed companies”, we decided to purchase our second choice of grain. This year we will be planting quinoa instead of rye. It may be for the better since apparently quinoa is quite the flowering beauty while rye is… well, not.

This is what we’re going for:

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Basically, the quinoa will grow between three to four feet tall with beautiful red, pink, and white flowers and then die back leaving the harvestable seeds. Quinoa needs only moderate water (it isn’t a heavy drinker) and will grow even in sandy soil. Much like rye, but not a huge heat lover. Since this is our first ever attempt at growing quinoa, or any grain for that matter, it will be interesting to go through the process.

Our first task was to clear out a spot in the “garden annex” where we keep our raspberries, potatoes, and growing fruit trees. The annex is fenced in from deer, but doesn’t have the built up soil the main garden does.

Trevor weed-eated (is that a word?) the whole area with what he has named “the Prius of weed-eaters”. No offense Prius owners, but like this electric weed-eater, the Prius is pretty gutless. It would have been nice to have a muscle car weed-eater.
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Then the work crew shoveled off the top layer of grass leaving the bare dirt underneath in a 4’x8′ plot.
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Hard rocky dirt just wasn’t going to cut it so we shoveled in some nice black compost to pick up the slack.
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The package said to make rows, but our thick compost wasn’t going to allow for that. We just cast out the seeds as evenly as possible, gave it a good soaking, and wished the new patch some luck. I did, however, realize much too late that 100 seeds is barely a half of a handful and we would need more seeds. I’ve read that many people have had great results with packaged eating quinoa from the grocery stores since it is unaltered and identical to the packaged “cover crop” version. We will have to pick up a small bag and test this theory.
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