Tag Archives: garden

April Garden Improvements

In between building the future rabbit colony housing, I’ve found time to make a few decorative improvements to the garden.  Over the last year, I’ve been adding more and more food-producing trees, shrubs, and plants to the chicken’s yard. And finally, it’s beginning to green out.

They will have blackberries, jostaberries, seaberries, mulberries, apples, currants, grapes, roses, oregon grape, and various other plants and herbs. I’m also working on building them grazing beds, with edible greens underneath.

These two are planted with red clover. once the greens grow up high enough to reach up to the wire, the chickens will be able to pick at them – without being able to kill them by either digging or over-grazing. I need to get more finished, with kale and wheatgrass, and other tasty things.

The south facing stone patio next to our house, while wonderfully warm in early spring, is way too hot at the height of summer. To cool it down a little, I’ve built trellises, and plan to grow green beans up them to provide food and a little shade.

And my personal favorite, that makes me happy every time I see it: a mirror, at the end of one of the garden paths!

It adds the illusion of more space, and more life to the garden. I wish these pictures could fully capture it.

Spring is such a wonderful time of year. Green is such a lovely color, after all that winter….

Big Spring Project

I always seem to make my plans for the year, and then something comes up, and we make a huge change of plans. This year, instead of building new animals housing, we’re making some structural changes to the circle garden. This is mainly roses, clematis, and other flowering plants.  Two years ago, I ripped out a middle section to put in a quail coop. Since then, I’ve been meaning to get around to revamping things, but I never have.

The wood sides are over ten years old, and are in pretty poor shape. After going over a number of different options, I decided to go with the most labor-intensive. Sigh. Instead of replacing the wood sides, we’re tearing the wood out, digging out the plants, carting away the extra dirt, and making the circle garden into a flat, rather than raised, bed.

Yesterday, it was raining pretty hard. We worked anyway. We got the largest clematis and one rose moved, and I hope the clematis will survive. I’ve never moved a clematis before, but the internet says it can be done. So we’ll see.

Today, it was sunny and actually warm! It was much more pleasant being outside, but it is still back breaking work – especially since our backs were already pretty much pre-broken from yesterday.

One half of the circle is done, however, and I have the largest rose moved from the other half.

The ducks were very interested in the whole process.

What ARE you doing down there?

Are you looking for slugs? Your method seems a bit…destructive…

Dexter the corgi wanted to help, but I felt he’d be more of a hindrance, so he had to satisfy himself with being on duck watch. From his patio position, he warned us whenever the ducks were sneaking up behind us. Beware! Feral garden ducks!

It was a good birthday.

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….


A couple of posts ago, I talked about how Josie, our perpetually broody hen, finally managed to adopt three chicks and become a mother.  This is an update on those chicks.

They are getting so big!  They have wings now, and know how to use them.  They can flutter up and down from the Big Girls’ Perch, which makes them feel all kinds of important.  And they have very distinct personalities!

The one with the top knot is Isabella.  She’s a Cream Brabanter.

She’s the Adventurer, so her name definitely fits.  The original Isabella (Queen of Spain) was an adventurer too.  She’s friendly enough to me, and she’ll come sit on my lap now and then, but she never has time to sit for long.  She always has things to do!

The other day she did a circus act with her mother, and I only wish I’d had my camera on me.  She flew up onto her mother’s back, and stood there, wings fluttering for balance, as her mother walked the tightrope (otherwise known as the perch.)  It was adorable.

Freddie is an Ameraucana.

Freddie doesn’t mind being close to me, but she definitely does not like me to hold her.  She’ll come right up to me, but run away if I try to pick her up.  Silly chick.  She’s also the greediest.  I’ve never seen a chick run so fast as when her mother does the ‘dinner call’.  I could swear she teleports.

Bess is my baby.  She is a Blue Andalusian, and judging by her juvenile feathers, I think she’ll actually be blue.  Yay!

She loves to be cuddled and petted.  When she hears my voice, she flies onto the perch and runs up it, trying to get as close to me as she can.  I hold out my hand, and she steps onto it, then snuggles down and closes her eyes for a little nap.  She’s the sweetest little thing.

We’re still keeping them penned away from the Big Girls, but they have had a few play dates together.   The Big Girls try to avoid going anywhere near the chicks, but if they manage to get Josie alone, they will jump on her and remind her that she’s still on the bottom of the pecking order.

In garden news, we have little raspberries growing on the vines Laura S. gave me last year.

And the blueberries we planted last year are making little blueberries!

And those ‘White Soul’ strawberries I’m growing from seed?  Strawberries grow so slowly, but they have two true leaves now.  Two tiny true leaves!

It’s shaping up to be a great year in the garden.


New Roses

I just barely have room for two more roses in my garden; heirloom roses of course, because I have very little use for modern roses.  They aren’t cold hardy, they get diseases, they too often sacrifice “perfect” shape for scent.  I’d rather have a true old-fashioned rose shape, and a scent that can fill a garden, than a rose version of an anorexic blond supermodel.  🙂

So this year I scoured the internet (and I mean scoured – no one seems to sell this rose!) until I found a nursery that sells “Leda”.  She’s a damask rose, originating in England around 1827,  and here’s what my rose book says:

“At first the buds are a deep black-red, but they open to full white flowers whose individual petals are delicately caressed with a filigree of fire red, giving the blooms a hand-painted look.”  (Taken from ‘100 Old Roses for the American Garden’, by Clair G. Martin)

My second rose is one called “Mme Zoetman’s”.  I needed more white roses in my garden (I’ve only got one “Wild Spice”), so I was on the lookout for an old-fashioned white.  The internet says:

“A Damask rose from 1830. Scented like sandalwood, this rose inspires like the loveliest, most desirable layered-up, creamy, silk organza (hue of the flower is described above) with buds that appear modeled at the tips of young, tightly held petals in antique aubergine covered mostly in cream. The newest, just opening, buds are almost lime green.”

Oh, yes.  Now that’s a rose!

Why I Love Late July


Freshly picked green beans, grown in my own garden, about to be cooked with bacon.

Most are Blue Lake, but the purple ones are a mystery heritage bean that are just starting to produce.  Too bad they don’t stay that pretty; they turn green as they cook.  Oh, and there’s some Scarlet Emperor Runner beans in there too.  They taste good (despite having fuzzy skins like peaches which need to shave), but the real reason I grow them is because of how pretty they look entwined on the trellis.  Other beans have little barely visible white flowers; runner beans have gorgeous bright red blossoms.


Went out in the garden this afternoon and discovered this rose:


My Garden in Early May

Spent a good share of yesterday out working in the garden.  Why do I even use the word ‘work’?  If it were work I wouldn’t do it.  It’s fun.  It’s delightful. It’s loverly.  Even killing slugs is better than not being out in the garden killing slugs…

So here’s a tour of my garden (minus the slugs):


Above is a view from my back door, including my dog Jacks.  (She’s trying to look nonchalant, as if she isn’t thinking about eating earthworms and black beetles.)  The white arches are brand-new, and yet to be filled with climbers.


Camera slightly rotated.  The square white arch leads into our “circle garden”, which a little later in the season will be overwhelmed with purple clematis and apricot-colored roses.


The barrel is where my cat, Poo, sleeps on hot afternoons.  The old ladder doubles as a trellis.  I think I’ll grow beans up it this year.  To the left, is my white bleeding heart, and just behind it, my pink bleeding heart (see below pic).



One of my many garden paths. The wire fence to the left is where we eventually will house our chickens.


Above is the “rose garden”.  It’s packed with roses, foxglove, and peonies a little later.  Right now the violas are in bloom underneath the bench!


The “circle garden”, looking from the back of our yard toward our house.  It’s not fully planted in yet.


Above is the “herb garden” in front, and further back, under the little honeysuckle tree, is the “woodland garden”.  The window you see on the right, is actually my studio window.  While I costume or sculpt dolls, I can watch the hummingbirds and squirrels.  The herb garden is looking a little sorry this time of year, since I just cut all the old growth down.


One of my woodland flowers, the white anemone.  Love these guys!  They spread every year and the slugs don’t touch them.


The pathway under my studio window, wild strawberries to the left, potting bench straight ahead.  Lots of bare dirt this time of year.  That’s an excuse to go to the Nursery tomorrow!

Dirt Under My Fingernails

I’m so happy, there was dirt under my fingernails today for the first time this year!

It was sunny, and I didn’t have to work this morning, so I took a stroll out in the garden and discovered this:


So then, of course, I had to get down on my knees and dig for a bit.  I love the feel of dirt on my hands – people keep buying me gloves for gifts (and I actually have bought a pair myself, pink ones!) but I never seem to want to wear them.  There’s just something about touching the soil and rumaging about in it barehanded that makes me happy.

Spring is finally coming!

Plus, I found out yesterday that my Renaissance Faire is happening this year.  Last year it was canceled due to the supreme ignorance and stupidity of a few local Commissioners, but this year we’re back, and we’re going to be bigger than ever.


Obama’s Buying My Chicken Coop

It comes as little surprise to me that, precisely as I predicted, Obama’s reaction to our crashing economy is to add another trillion+ in national debt by giving us another “stimulus package”.  In fact, so eager is he to further sink our economy that he can’t even wait until he’s sworn in.  How any sane person can believe these packages are a good idea is beyond me.  It’s like giving a drowning person a brick – it gives him something to hold onto, but it sends him to the bottom that much faster.  Click on the link below for real, genuine ideas to save the economy:


But until we get a president with a clue, I’ll take my check, and I’ll let Obama buy me a chicken coop.  We’re designing it right now, and planning the breeds of chickens to buy through www.mypetchicken.com Besides the standard-sized egglayers, we’re getting a few Silkie Bantams.  These chickens are an amazingly bizarre breed with a history – they were brought over from China by Marco Polo.

And they are so cute.  I think they look like miniature gryphons.




Real eggs, as opposed to those sickly and tasteless store-bought imitations, bug and slug control, free manure for my garden, and affectionate new pets that love to lap-sit and snuggle – you can’t deny that chickens are awesome.

So good luck to you, Mr. Obama.  Thanks for the hen house, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens once everyone realizes you’re already begun breaking your campaign promises, before you’re even in office.  That has to be some kind of record.

Change.  Remember that word, Mr. Obama?  Change means doing something different, not just to just keeping repeating the previous administration’s mistakes.  At least in my back yard, though, the results of your “stimulus” will be crap that’s actually beneficial to my garden.