Monthly Archives: July 2013

Garden Update

Look at this gorgeous poppy!  And this daisy!

I love my ornamentals, but this year I’m loving my veggies as well.  We have beans, peas, and radishes ready to pick, and last night we harvested a whole bunch of Bull’s Blood Beets.  We chopped the little beets into little squares and steamed them with their greens, and it was wonderful.  Beet greens have such wonderful flavor!  I have a lot more beet seedlings started.  More Bull’s Blood, and also Golden Beets.

New and exciting in my garden this year are Ground Cherries.  I’ve never grown these before, but so far the plants and the fruit are looking good.

Also completely new to me are gooseberries.  We have our first one beginning to ripen, and I can’t wait to taste it!  Assuming it’s not a complete dislike, we’ll be putting in more bushes next year.

The apples are looking great….

….and so are my peppers!  I think I finally found a place they like to grow in my garden.

My favorite veggies of all this year, though, are my cabbage.  I don’t know why, but I just find them tremendously pleasing.  I’d grow them as ornamentals!

In fact, I’m loving my fruits and veggies so much this year, that in addition to turning the south-east chicken run into a garden (the hens will still get to use it during the off-season), I also have plans to turn about 1/3 of the front yard into a veggie garden.  Right now I’ve just dug up a section in the middle of the future bed, and planted a bunch of squash, beets, and various other sun-loving things.

Eventually, we’ll fence this section in, and then the Girls will get to do a little off-season bug patrol here as well.  And I really can’t tell you strongly enough how incredibly helpful they are.  My garden was always OVERRUN with slugs and other nasties.  I had a ‘Slug Patrol’ of ducks, which helped, but not nearly enough.  I used to go out in the evening, and the grass would be full of huge slugs.  It was the Great Slug Migration every night!

Then I got chickens.  Suddenly, the slugs vanished!  Now I only see the occasional ‘baby’ slug, and my lettuce aren’t destroyed overnight, my pansies aren’t eaten off at the stem, and my strawberries aren’t full of holes.  Chickens, you see, unlike ducks, eat slug eggs.  And if the slugs don’t hatch, they can’t infest your yard.  Next year, I plan to get a couple of ducks again, but just to patrol the garden and pick up the few slugs that do manage to hatch.  It’s going to be the perfect system, and I just can’t wait to put it into practice!  The chickens will get to run in the garden in winter and early spring, before the plants get going.  The ducks will get garden access year-around, because they don’t scratch up and eat plants like chickens do.

And in case you think my slug situation is a fluke, my gardening friend Laura recently started letting her chickens run through her garden in the off-season.  In Spring she came to me and said: “It’s so strange.  I have no slugs in the garden, even though I still have lots of them in the front yard!  I don’t understand it!”  I knew immediately why….

Quail and Chickens

Most of the quail coop is built – it lacks only the nesting box added onto the right side.

I love my blue door!  I found a full size (but narrow) door, cut it down and painted it.

Along the back side, there is a narrow bed for planting beans, peas, sunflowers, etc, to let them grow up the wire.  Right now, I have peas, beans, AND sunflowers planted, because I had a few of each left over from my other plantings.

The green roof is also ready to go.  We finished up too late to put in the Sparkle Strawberries, but they are on order for next Spring.  In the meantime, I have a few squash and a watermelon up there.  I got the idea for that by discovering that a volunteer had seeded itself, and was busy growing up there!

No idea what kind it is, but I’m hoping for a Spaghetti Squash.

I’m also putting in a few of the White Soul strawberries I’m growing from seed.

The quail themselves are growing SO FAST.  I swear, I can almost see them grow.  Last week, they were two weeks old, and they looked rather amusing with almost fully-feathered in adult bodies and fluffy baby heads!  It was especially striking in little Peabody, our white Texas A&M.

This week, they have adult feathering on their heads, too.

They have paid visits to their outdoor coop (it’s been very sunny and warm here) and they LOVE it.  So many greens to nibble on, so many places to have a dirt bath, or just stretch out in the sun!

I’m really liking quail-keeping so far.  They are quiet, no trouble at all, and so pretty and interesting to watch.  And sometime around the first week of August, they should begin to lay eggs of their own!

The three adopted baby chicks are almost grown as well, although they still like to sleep underneath their mother at night.

It’s super awkward for mama, and way too warm for them.  They sit under her panting, but they won’t give up on the idea.

This is Frederika.  Only I’m certain now she’s a he.

Although he’s too canny to let me catch him crowing (although I *did* hear some suspicious noises one morning) I did catch him molesting Isabella behind the Lemon Balm.   If anyone wants a rooster, or knows of someone who does, please do let me know!  I’ll keep him until he starts crowing, but after that, he’s gotta go.  We live in the city, and there are no roosters allowed.

For fun I gave the Girls a mirror out in their coop yard.

Isabella was the one most taken with herself.  Who IS that bird with the funny topknot???  I never saw HER around before!

And in other chicken news, Leda (our Silver-Laced Wyandote) has gone to live with my friend Laura’s chickens.  She was a massive bully to my hens, and even the hens higher in the pecking order hated her.  I’d feel sorry for how much she got pecked, until I watched how she’d repeatedly cross the entire yard just to chase Josie away from anything Josie was enjoying.  And when they were locked up in the coop?  Josie and the babies got no peace at all.  Leda would follow them anywhere they went to harass them.  Luckily for her, she seems to be fitting in with Laura’s hens much better.  Luckily for her, because I’d given Laura permission to eat her if she didn’t behave!  The flock has been so quiet, peaceful, and happy with Leda gone!