Tag Archive | compost

Summer harvest

I started planting in February.  Seeds, flats, transplants and grow lights.  My spring harvest was a complete flop. (I am blaming my chickens… I need to work harder on chicken proofing the gardens next year) I did not get any of the broccoli, cabbage, lettuce or cauliflower that I had planted.  Now that summer has come I am starting to harvest things and it really is rewarding.  We planted garlic in the fall and I have been harvesting garlic shoots off of it and using them when I roast chicken and beef, all the while patiently waiting to pull the garlic out of the ground.  Yesterday I had my 15 minutes glory, I pulled 25 heads of garlic, pretty good for my first attempt I think.  I am drying them on top of the hot tub cover I look forward to braiding the stems in a couple of days. 

The other big harvest that we have had is potatoes.  Being able to grow potatoes made me feel like a real farmer.  I don’t know why potatoes made the difference and not the chickens but anyway, we harvested a bucket of potatoes, (red, white and Yukon golds). I cleaned them in vinegar water and look forward to eating them over the next couple of weeks.  I have posted some crazy pictures of our potato “journey”.  For a while this spring we were not sure if we would be moving or not.  My husband was jobless and we knew we would have to go where ever there was work. So I did not plant as much as I would have if I did not have that time of uncertainty.  While I was packing boxes in the basement I checked on my potato starts that I had been saving since fall.  Oh My!!! I was shocked to find a box of potato shoot spaghetti.  With the warm winter the potatoes were growing like crazy in that box.  I had to plant these potatoes.  We laid them out the best that we could in this bed… there was nothing organized or row like about it, and covered them with compost and mulch. I honestly did not expect anything to grow.  Within a week,ImageImageImage we had a very happy little potato patch.  Well it was happy when it was not getting eaten by chickens, but that is a different story. A week ago, last week of June, my potato patch started to turn yellow.  I thought that my plants were dying and that I was doing something wrong.  When I pulled up a plant just to prove that it was dead, a string of potatoes came up with it. It felt amazing.  I stopped everything I was doing and spent the next hour gathering potatoes from this patch.  And also to my amazement, the chickens actually came in handy. I had spent most of the last two months trying to keep the chickens out of this potato patch. When it came to harvesting the potatoes the chickens would dig the potatoes up for me and I would just have to gather them… it is was nice team work. And once I found the snake my son was more then happy to help too, in hopes of finding another snake.

Two first for us, potatoes and garlic.  It was pretty cool.  I am learning so much and having fun along the way.  I still can not believe how you can put this small wrinkly thing in the ground and end up with food, but it is amazing to watch and be a part of.

Go get dirty!

160 degrees

The temperature of the pile.

160 degrees.  That is how hot a pile of wood chips can get in just two days.  160 degrees, it just blows my mind.  It takes a lot of energy to get to 160 degrees.  At first I was mad, that mulch was 160 degrees and I was sitting next to a fire place, wrapped in a snuggie, drinking hot tea, freezing!  How can I get that heat in this house?  Can I put a sleeping bag in the mulch pile?  I was cold!  With both Ry and my personality we could not just allow that pile to be 160 degrees and not do anything with it.  A major brainstorming session started.  We came up with a lot of ideas about how to use that energy to heat the house, the future green house, the hot tub and the chicken coop.  Most of the ideas involved supplies that we just did not have on hand.  So we decided to move the mulch pile to the chicken coop and hope that it would radiate enough heat, or at least insulate the coop, to keep the chickens warm.

Ry was able to move about 30% of a mulch pile off the parking pad behind the house to the chicken coop.  A wonderful friend let us barrow his wheelbarrow, which was bigger then the one we have that we found on the side of the road.  Did you know a new wheelbarrow is $215? Crazy, I can do so many things with $215. I hope we can pick up a good used one for a lot less.  Anyway back to the mulch, Ry used the mulch to surround the base of the chicken coop, up about 3 feet high.   Who knows how much good it is going to do, but when you have 5 dump trucks of wood chips, why not try it and see what happens. I will let you know if the wood chips heat up again and if it keeps the water from freezing.

While Ry was working with his wheelbarrow, I was inside starting seeds.  I started Thyme and some red onions two weeks ago.  They have spouted and are doing great.  This weekend I started Parsley, Celery and Leeks.  I put them inside my shower curtain enclosed table. Under two, four foot florescent lights, which I also got off the side of the road by the way! The lights are hung about 4-5 inches above the soil level. I am using Jiffy Starter Kits, which have a plastic cover on them to help keep heat in. The Jiffy Kits come with 72 pellets of peat moss seed starting mix.  The cheap part of me does not like pellets because of their cost, but these pellets are wrapped in a mesh. I am hoping that I can plant the mesh covered pellets in the aquaponics system when it is up and running. (More about aquaponics later, I promise). So far I can’t complain the pellets are working great and the seeds are spouting.  All and all I think we had a productive weekend.