June 29, 2010

June Garden Tour

I can't believe we're at the end of June. Where did it go! I've been taking photos of the garden all month, but things grow so fast that some of my shots are outdated already!

For example, this one of my front yard herb and flower gardens. Everything's bigger, the calendula is blooming, and I've mulched. I'm happy to report that I have butterfly weed, rudbeckia, echinacea, and yarrow all coming up.

Here's the vegetable garden taken from the top corner. You can see cucumber hills at the bottom left corner, my double row of Swiss chard (short because it was recently cut) going across the photo, and behind that, bush beans. I planted most of my cool weather crops up here first, knowing they would get the advantage of same shade in the afternoon.

My salad bed for example. The lettuce and radishes are done except for making seed, but amazingly, I'm still getting broccoli. The Queen Anne's Lace are volunteers for the good guy insects.

From the bottom corner. My sweet corn made only about a 50 - 60% showing, which is disappointing. I've looked around at other gardens though, and seen the same thing. Pumpkins are planted in there too, and just beginning to sprout. Sunflowers and summer squash run along the left edge of the garden, bush beans and tomatoes behind them, and black turtle beans and potatoes in right background,

The big bare spot behind the sweet corn is where I planted amaranth.

At least I hope these are amaranth! It has only sprouted sporadically as you can see. This plant is something new for me, but I want to collect the seeds as grain for the chickens.

Sunflowers in foreground, corn in back on right, cantaloupe in back on left. Hidden by the sunflowers are yellow summer squash.

Cantaloupes are coming along nicely! I planted three hills of these, but the only ones growing are the ones I started early indoors. The direct sows have been a no show. Or else were eaten.

I have plenty of watermelons, both from seeds planted indoors and those I later sowed directly into the ground. We greedily picked a few last week, which were not quite ripe enough.

I have tons of Romas which will mean lots of sauce.

The potted horseradish is going gangbusters. The ones I planted in the ground are wimps. The potatoes are mulched and doing well, though I had to throw away some plants with signs of blight, which seems to be spreading. This is frustrating because there doesn't seem to be a cure for blight, only preventative measures. Obviously I'm too late for that.

I have two types of green beans. These are State 1/2 runners. Very tasty. I've canned 24 quarts (lost one though) and will let the rest go to seed. We'll save some of that for planting, but they are also used as a dried bean for soups.

Buttercup winter squash in foreground. Black turtle beans behind. The buttercups are a deviation from my usual butternuts and acorns. The taste test will determine what I plant next year. They do wilt pretty badly in our midday heat. I need to offer protection to my squash plants next year.

One thing you can see from the above photos is how little of the garden is actually mulched. I was not diligent in this (for a couple of reasons), and regret it now. Consequently I'm foregoing aesthetics for utility...

... i.e. getting cardboard down as available, but not covering it except around the plants.

Fortunately weeds aren't taking over in this garden. This is thanks to my grape hoe, but also I think, because we tilled it so many times: several times in different directions just to break the ground (which resulted in the death of our first tiller), twice before planting the annual rye cover crop, twice to till in the rye, and before each section was planted. Each time we raked out roots, grasses, and weeds, disrupting the weed cycle.

The most difficult gardens I've had have always been where yard and grass previously existed. It is difficult if not nearly impossible to get rid of established grass. That's the problem I'm having with my strawberries and comfrey. Thanks to all the rain this year, the wire grass especially is insidious. And discouraging. So much so, that for my perennial garden (formerly last year's summer garden), I've succumbed to buying landscape cloth.

Just between you and me, I feel that having to resort to this stuff is a defeat. True, it will keep down weeds and keep in soil moisture, but mulch is supposed to decompose and build the soil. Landscape cloth doesn't do this and therefore isn't sustainable. Even so I've been surprised to find some organic gardeners endorsing the use of this and black plastic. That's bothersome, because it all points toward a current trend which is trying to redefine organic farming, gardening, and foods. For example, there's a movement (sample of how they're trying to sell the idea to the public here) to include GMO seed in organic food production. GMO seed is also not sustainable.

Anyway, I have mulched the strawberries and comfrey with newspaper, leaves, and wood chips, but to no avail. I weed out the grass and it comes back with a vengeance. I can either give up and lose the plants I want, make it a full time job to weed it, or do this. Sigh. Hopefully I can get the grass smothered out by the time the landscape cloth needs replacing.

Also in that garden is my almond tree with (drumroll).....

.... one almond!

Popcorn and Kentucky Wonder pole beans (my 2nd type of green bean) are there too...

Along with some volunteer turnips from last year's fall garden (layout here) ...

Lastly, the fruit trees we planted last fall.

These are next to the vegetable garden (see master plan) We planted buckwheat in that section to begin building the soil and hopefully smother out some of those weeds. As you can see, the buckwheat is very sporadic and very few weeds are smothered out yet. The plan is to till this in as green manure and plant an orchard grass/clover mix this fall.

Whew. That was a long tour. Virtual lemonade and double chocolate brownies for everyone who made it to the end!

June Garden Tour text & photos copyright June 2010 

June 27, 2010

Um, Is This Something I Should Be Concerned About?

I'll be the first to admit I'm not a chicken expert. Any time I think I've got them figured out, they turn around and do something new to amaze me. Much of it I read about from time to time in books or other blogs. But here's something I've not read about anywhere and to be honest, I'm not sure it's "normal."

Lord B, my Barred Holland cockerel, loves the goats.

He especially loves Crybaby.

Seriously. When I let the chickens out to free range in the late morning, he immediately runs around to find the goats. When he finds Baby, he runs up to her and does a little happy dance.

Then he follows them around, accompanying them for quite a bit of the day.

If you look closely at the photo below, you can see Abigail.

Zoom in.....

And His Lordship is there as well.

He doesn't completely ignore the chickens,

... it's just that he seems more interested in goat business than chicken business.

To his credit ...

.... he will always come greet me when he sees me.

Then it's off with the goats again.

I'm really not sure what to think of it.

June 25, 2010


I am proud to announce our first egg! Laid yesterday morning by our lovely, 19 week old Delaware pullet.

I know you all are standing by with bated breath, absolutely overcome with curiosity to know where she laid it. In my thoughtfully and carefully constructed 3R nest boxes??? Not exactly.

I suppose that under them is better than somewhere outside. I did have a heads-up on this because the day before she had been in that spot, fussing about for the longest time. (Much to the amazement of several onlooking chickens...

... who must have known that something new and wonderful was taking place.)

Weighing in at 1.1 ounce, it is small, as first eggs are. To give you an idea for comparison ....

UPDATE: Just before I was about to hit the "publish post" button, Dan brought in her second egg, freshly laid this morning. It looks about the same size, but weighs in at 1.2 oz.

Of course I'm curious as to who'll start laying next. I'll know which breed by egg color. 19 weeks is a tad early, but then Delawares are known for their early maturing. Hopefully though, somebody will be kind enough to use my nest boxes. :)

Egg! text & photos copyright June 2010 by 

June 23, 2010

Cats & Green Beans

What is it with cats and green beans?

This I can understand....

Or perhaps this...

But this?

Or this?


Any ideas?

Cats & Green Beans text & photos copyright 

June 21, 2010

Colors Of June



Looking closer...

Field flowers

Marigolds & tomatoes



For more Colors of June, check out Sue's blog, Life Looms Large

Colors Of June
photos copyright June 2010 by Leigh at http://my5acredream.blogspot.com/

June 20, 2010

Independence Day Challenge: June 13 - 19

The garden is producing and it's canning time once again. Green beans and Swiss chard are abundant and these are keeping me busy. For the time being plantings about done but there's still a lot to mulch. Weeding of course goes without saying. I'm also taking pics for my June garden tour. Hopefully I'll have that to show you later this week or next.

1. Plant Something -
  • echinacea
  • pyrethrum
  • butterfly weed
  • rudbeckia
2. Harvest something -
3. Preserve something -
  • dehydrated daylily flowers for seasoning
  • lacto-fermented Swiss chard following Sharon Astyk's description for her kimchi in Independence Days: A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation
  • canned green beans
4. Waste Not
5. Want Not
  • Bought a dairy goat to be bred this fall for milk next spring
  • I already put this under "preserve something" but really, the canning is so that we want not come fall, winter, and spring
6. Build Community Food Systems
  • blogging about it
7. Eat the Food
  • garden salads: lettuce, radishes, carrots, Swiss chard, turnips
  • steamed green beans
  • campfire grilled chicken
  • yogurt on cereal and fruit. I've been having trouble getting my non-homogenized milk (they're always sold out), so yogurt is becoming more of a treat than a staple!
  • leftover salads - leftover cold baked potatoes and steamed green beans on a bed of lettuce and Swiss chard
To read what other Independence Days Challengers are doing, click here.

Independence Day Challenge: June 13 - 19
copyright June 2010 by Leigh at http://my5acredream.blogspot.com/

June 18, 2010

Her Name Is Surprise

I have my dairy goat. Not in milk yet, but she will be my milking doe come spring.

This is Precious Memory Farm Surprise

Even though "Surprise" doesn't fit in with my biblical alphabet naming scheme, the name is appropriate because "surprise" is an operative word here. I'm ...

...surprised that I found a dairy goat this time of year
...surprised that she's a Nubian
...surprised that she's a registered Nubian
...surprised when the seller told me she may have been bred

I was surprised that I found a dairy goat this time of year, because dairy breeds haven't seemed widely available in our area recently. There were some earlier in the spring, but the only goats I've seen for sale lately have been Boers, Pygmies, and their crosses. Dairy does that do show up are usually very expensive (even mixed breed) and go quickly.

I'm a little surprised that she's a Nubian, because I thought I decided against Nubians, as I mentioned in my earlier musings about getting goats. Two things changed my mind.

Firstly, milk. Over and over I've read that folks prefer Nubian milk, or even milk from Nubian crosses. I used to enjoy Toggenburg milk, which some people find not so tasty, so personally I wasn't as concerned about flavor, as long as they weren't kept near bucks or didn't eat certain things. However for Dan, this will be his introduction to goat milk, so liking it is very important. Not that we drink milk, but we eat a lot of yogurt and cheese.

But why the expense of a registered Nubian doe? I surprised myself with that decision as well, and this is the second reason I bought a Nubian. Not specifically that she is Nubian, but I've considered that the breed for us might be Kinders. These are a small, dual purpose goat which seem perfect for homesteaders like us. Unfortunately this breed seems nearly nonexistent in my part of the country, and I'm not going to transport goats for 100s of miles from another state.

The other possibility is to start my own herd, which would require a registered Nubian doe, to eventually be bred to a registered Pygmy buck. Whether or not this will actually work out remains to be seen, but at least I have my doe.

I was also surprised when the seller told me she may have been bred. Seems her younger half brother was left in with the ladies a little too long, that is, until after he was old enough to do the man thing. (Bucklings are sexually functional at 2 months of age.) If that's the case she could freshen in November, which I'm really not keen on. My mental time frame doesn't have kids and milking until next year. Hopefully she's not pregnant and I can have her bred on our schedule.

Now comes the adjustment period of introducing a new goat, and the establishment of Surprise's place in the caprine order of things on the homestead. Hopefully that will go well.

Her Name Is Surprise text & photos copyright