Lots of seeds in the ground means…waiting for seeds to sprout. With an extended stretch of sunny weather I found myself carting water to and fro and generally fretting as all gardeners do in spring. Gardeners are rarely happy with the weather. After receiving some much needed rain I took inventory of my sprouting seeds and found some beets and radish poking through the compost.
Garlic and my red onion sets are popping up along with peas and what I suspect are some parsnips. I swore off parsnips a couple years ago after growing some robust plants that were huge garden bullies. But they taste so good…so I put in a row or three.
Since waiting for seeds to germinate is similar to watching paint dry I busied myself with trellis installation in anticipation of my 100 tomatoes. I also included two arched panels for pole beans and scarlet runner beans. Installing an arched trellis is a two person job but I managed it myself with some gritty determination and a copious amount of cursing. It took ten times longer and I almost killed myself but they will look beautiful covered in beans.
This week I’m looking forward to getting wood chips to cover my cardboard walkways and installing a few pumpkin beds because there is nothing more exciting than giant pumpkins. Except maybe multiple giant pumpkins. Like 100 or so.
I’m ready to get started planting the Enormous Frickin Vegetable Garden with early spring plantings. At the front of the bed I’m putting in Walla Walla sweet onions, probably my favorite all time onion. I picked up a bunch of onion starts at a local nursery a few weeks ago before we were all on lockdown. I like using onion starts because they are easy to handle and fast to plant.
These guys all got separated and placed into the bed a few inches deep with the dirt firmed around them. As they grow we will need to ‘ring’ them which is essentially moving the dirt away from the growing bulb so it can plump up unimpeded. But that is a later task for warmer weather.
I separated each onion and laid them out on the bed. For this planting I’m going with four in each row. This is a four foot wide bed so it worked out great. It only took a few minutes to plant them up.
I also planted some onion sets or bulbs. These sets are red onions which are my second favorite onion, they are sweet, caramelize easily and are great sautéed in olive oil with red peppers and a little red wine vinegar. Sets are available at nurseries and feed stores in the early spring.
There were 100 bulbs in the bag! I planted some in my other vegetable garden closer to the house so I am estimating I only planted 50 or so.
While I was searching for the red onion bulbs I came across an old package of beet seeds and decided to go ahead and try them. I sowed them a little more thickly than I would have a new package because I’m expecting that some of the seeds might not germinate. In a few weeks we will see what comes up!
Here’s a few video links to what I accomplished today.
The Victory Garden. It’s a thing. During WWII, to help offset rationing and support the war effort, people were asked to plant a vegetable garden. Some estimates suggest that people grew as much as fifty percent of their own produce.
I’ve been growing fruit and vegetables for almost thirty years. I’m by no means an expert but have found through the years that enthusiasm accounts for a lot.
If I’m honest my veg garden always starts out looking organized and tidy and by mid season looks like the ball pit at Chucky Cheese during a birthday party, total chaos and disorder. 🤷♀️🤷♀️🤷♀️
This year I made the decision to turn my horse arena into an enormous vegetable garden. My horse friends are mostly appalled but I’m feeling good about the plan. I decided to blog about the process hoping that I would find additional motivation to keep it all tidy, weed free and productive.
I generally grow around 30 tomato plants, mostly heirloom varieties, but I’m ramping up to reach a goal of 100 plants. A lofty goal for sure but is there any other kind of goal??? 😂😂😂
Here’s a short video clip that starred out with multiple interruptions and required me to physically extract my dogs from the UPS truck. (My UPS driver is a saint)
I hope this video entertains. It will certainly be fun to document the experience. If it inspires anyone to grow a garden I will send you a virtual social distance high hive!
People often ask me what it’s like to have a herd of milking goats. Mostly they are frowning and interjecting every few sentences with, “But how do you go anywhere???”
It’s true. Milking goats require you to be home to milk them. If you are milking twice a day you will need to adhere to a schedule so both you and your goat will be happy.
Goats like routine just like any other farm animal. It’s important to train them to use the milking stand. They will happily jump up there to eat when it’s time to milk.
Training goats is easy and fun if you are patient. Goats can be stubborn and like to think things are their idea not yours. Luckily Saanen’s have good temperaments and are generally agreeable.
It’s a lot of work, but like all things worth doing, it comes with an enormous amount of satisfaction and plenty of goat love.
Olive Egger chickens have recently become fashionable. They are the offspring of a brown egg laying chicken and a blue egg laying chicken. Kind of a mutt really.
Mutt or no, it really doesn’t matter because their eggs are beautiful. This morning I received my first olive egg from a chicken I raised last year. Pictures really don’t do it justice!
George is a small (ish) dog of complex ancestry. Containing bits of rat terrier and pug, he is both introverted and extroverted which basically equates to a hot mess. One of his redeeming qualities is that he has become a very enthusiastic digger of truffles which grow here on our farm.
Here is a link to a YouTube video of George finding truffles.
People often ask me how many animals I have. There is never a simple answer, like an actual number. It usually goes like this:
“Well I had four alpacas and then someone gave me two more…but one was white so I traded it for a rose grey one but then they had a fawn one and it was buy one get one free day so…”
Recently I finally got down to one rabbit, however, he managed to escape and take up residence in my neighbors chicken coup. I know this because I was feeding my chickens early in the morning when my neighbor called over the fence to ask if I was missing a rabbit.
After a lengthy convo over the fence that involved her explaining her rabbit math (she has four rabbits) we decided that what she really wanted five rabbits and one less goat. A bargain was struck. A trade was made. A goat was put on a leash.
When doing farm math it’s important to remember that 1. It’s not linear and 2. It requires lots of stories to explain why you have a goat on a leash while in your pajamas.
There’s nothing like first eggs. After raising 30 chicks last spring, I’ve started to get some of the first eggs from them. Since I have almost 40 chickens, some already of laying age, there is no way to be sure these eggs are from the babies I raised in the spring. However, I don’t recognize them as coming from my older chickens.
Each chicken lays a unique egg. I recall having a Wellsummer chicken which laid a beautiful dark brown egg with tiny even darker brown spots. I could tell her eggs from my other chickens including my other Wellsummers.
Today’s eggs, I’d like to think, are from my young hens. Raising newly hatched chickens is a boat load of work. Baby chicks are messy and require looking after several times a day. Clean water is essential and 30 chicks will keep their water clean for approximately three seconds. This means that the water needs to be changed approximately four hundred times per day. Their light source for heat needs to be constantly monitored and adjusted. Wasted feed and poop mingle together and foul up the bedding which needs to be changed. It’s a chore, but all that work is forgotten when you find a nest of first eggs.
I love orchards. We have about thirty fruit trees planted at the moment with plans for more.
Each tree needs a protective bit of fence around it to keep the alpacas and deer from eating them. Eventually when they are big enough we can remove the tree wells. This is usually around the three to four year age of the bare root trees we buy. I spaced these trees fairly close together which means I can’t use the tractor to mow, I picked up a crappy push mower on Craig’s List so I plan to mow it a few times a year by hand…in the mean time I planted several hundred daffodils.
Planting anything with the help of dogs is so much easier than without the help of dogs. Said no one ever. Dogs get very excited about digging holes. When they get tired they like to curl up in them.
I can’t wait for Spring to see the bulbs bloom. I hope to add more bulbs every fall. Also toying with the idea of underplanting with lavender. So many great ideas!