Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Freeze update....

Well, we did get a pretty heavy freeze with a dusting of snow. You want the good news first? The onions, peas, lettuce, spinach, and garlic took it like champs! The strawberries don't even show any sign of frost damage, either.

Now....the bad news, the lovely potato vines all died back to the ground and the fruit trees took a bit of a hit. I understand that the potatoes will be fine..they'll send up new vines and recover nicely...so it's just a matter of waiting. The fruit trees, while they ARE damaged, seem to have only lost some leaves. The blooms had already fallen off, so maybe the fruit will still be fine? Not sure on this one...time will tell. My biggest worry (even though it doesn't give us any food) is my Japanese Maple. It had leaved out and was gorgeous...breathtaking, really...and every leaf is now sadly crumpled and black. Anyone know how Japanese Maples recover from a freeze? /begs for encouraging stories/ I do hope she'll put out new leaves...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Are you kidding me??

Check out the forecast for tomorrow and Sunday!!! Do me a favor and send happy, warm thoughts my way! It's the end of March for petesake! Updates on how the garden fares in this crazy snowstorm coming up early next week...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Garden update:

The potatoes are popping up all over the place. I can't wait to see some blooms so we can dig up our first new potatoes of the season. They are amazing straight out of the garden!

Just beside the potatoes (because the often go together when cooking) are the onions and they look great as well. I noticed one onion top laying on its side this weekend and quickly dug up the offending cutworm and fed him to the chickens. Boy, that felt gooooood! (My little mean streak must've come out there for a minute.../blush/) The little bugger had eaten the whole onion bulb, too!

The lettuces needed thinning, so I pulled up some of the seedlings to make way for the largest plants.

No sign of the beets...very sad...not sure if I need to replant or wait them out.

There are several broccoli plants coming up, but something is nibbling on the leaves...more on that later.

The carrots actually look pretty good! Their true leaves are beginning to emerge. I've never had much luck with carrots for some strange reason, but I'm determined to keep trying because we eat so many of them around here.

The garlic and walking onions have really taken off in the last week. This is my first year to grow these two, so it's fun to see how they progress. In addition, I've been taking a few cuttings of their tops for cooking...YUMMY!

The peas are lovely. The bright green color is just beautiful and they are steadily growing. I do think that I've never gotten them in the ground early enough before and I'm hoping for a big harvest this year to reward my bravery...looking frost right in the eye!!! (DUM...dum...DUUUUM!!!!!!!!)

Radishes will be ready to eat in about a week.

The strawberries are blooming and I bought five more strawberry plants to try to get them started as groundcover in another bed.

In the past week, I've planted cabbage, thyme, more radishes, and more potatoes. The potatoes were from a bag I'd bought at the store and they sprouted...no need in wasting them. They got a late start, but we'll still get a bit of a harvest out of them, I'm sure.

In addition, the blueberry bushes are showing their first leaves! I hope to buy two more blueberry bushes this year at Atwoods to add to the three we've already got planted. I believe I *may* have discovered the trick to growing blueberries in Oklahoma...although they say full sun, I planted these in the afternoon shade. This is the first time my blueberries have thrived...although July will be the true test.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ohhhhh...give me a home....where the buffalo roam....

Remember that post where I asked you guys to share some decorating ideas for the chicken's new home? Here's the coop...all decorated and stuff!! The red boxes you see will soon be filled with bush beans. They used to be some modular shelving that really didn't fit with our decor...so now they're planters! Doncha love repurposing stuff? Also, later I plan to plant some morning glory, moon flower, and scarlet runner beans to grow up the chicken wire side of the coop (on the right of this photo)!

Also, you can see Ginger's (the Bunny) hutch inside...so far so good on the chicken/bunny cohabitation experiment. Ginger is much happier with some room to roam and the chickens can get up on their roost when they need some bunny free rest time.

A trick that totally worked for us...I read online that painting chicken wire black tricked your eye into looking right through the wire instead of trying to focus on the silver mesh. Viola! You can see results above...compare this with the old photo of the coop:


Okay....you can't see it so well on the photo, but trust me...it looks much better painted black.


Amelia seems pretty happy with her new pad. There are roosts up high that she can launch herself off of and fly down to the soft hay below. This is important because although she REALLY wants to fly...she's not so good at it. ;-)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Some pics...

Here are the onions!!

And this is the backyard garden bed...the one with the onions, potatoes, beets, carrots, and loose leaf lettuces. Mom informed me that it looked like a graveyard. Ummm....thanks, Mom. The soil is heaped up in order to increase drainage in our heavy clay soil. Also, I needed to be sure the veggies got the most benefit out of the enriched soil we provided, so I heaped it up and left the walkways hard clay beds covered in loose hay. Hopefully it won't look like a graveyard after the freshly dug graves are covered in lush greenery.../sigh/

We also have another, larger bed out west of the privacy fence and two square foot beds you see in the background. I worked today on creating four container gardens in front of the chicken coop...perhaps pics of the decorated coop will come soon!!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Freeze Update and Summer School Plans...

First of all, let me update you on the garden after all the freezing rain and such. Everything still looks great...no freeze damage that I can see. This is good news on more than one front. All the precious seeds I planted are not wasted and I can considerably lengthen my growing season now that I know these plants are really hardy enough to stand a light freeze. For years I've waited until ALL danger of frost has passed before planting...even with my handy dandy Farmer's Almanac tool I was apprehensive of planting this early, but I decided to jump in and give it a try. Mission accomplished!

Secondly, I've been looking forward to summer. It really is a fantastic time at our house because mommy gets to be a stay at home mommy for the most part, and I love to enrich their schooling by doing our own version of summer school. I use some ideas from Waldorf Curriculum because it centers around nature and back-to-basics living, but I also do other project-based constructivist learning activities. This year I decided to begin a list of things the girls ask to cover at the OAH Summer School Extravaganza. Here's what we've got so far...

Wee One (she's 4):
How to make "coffee cookies" (I think she is referring to mommy's favorite dip-in-my-coffee treat...biscotti.)

Big Kid (she's 6):
Exercise and bones and muscles
Multiplication (AKA "How to do times...cause A. knows how and I don't.")
Past Presidents
Reading real big words and stuff and short words, too
Cursive
How to cook

Amazingly, it looks like Big Kid has covered all the traditional subject in her initial wish list! We'll keep adding to our list as we discuss the possibilities. I know we'll be doing a bit of food science, mud-pie making, and artistic exploration as well! Man, I love summer!!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Everything's comin' up roses!!

The fruit trees are just beautiful right now! I couldn't resist taking tons of photos when I took a morning walk around the OAH on Tuesday morning. These are the blooms on the pear tree (above).

This one's the apricot tree you saw in the chicken coop photos.

These bright pink blooms are on a miniature weeping peach tree...the most unique of our four peach trees by far! Aren't the blooms an amazing color?

The blackberries are showing signs of life! Check out these tiny, perfect leaves on that beautiful reddish-brown cane.

Last, but not least, the wando peas! These are really outpacing the other peas we planted. It will be interesting to compare yields from these two so we'll know what grows best in our climate for future garden plans.

We are getting some cold rain this morning...and it's cold enough that it was frozen on the cars when we got out to go to school, so I'll be checking on the trees and garden later today to see how they are faring. Everything we've planted thus far can reportedly take a bit of a freeze...we'll see.

As for the chickens, I moved the bunny hutch in with the little chicks. Ginger's hutch has a ramp that opens down so she can come and go as she pleases...of course, she has never had the opportunity to test this out because I was afraid she'd squeeze under the fence and get away. Now that she is in with the chicks, they are having a great time! The chicks were a bit hesitant at first, but they warmed up quickly. So, Ginger will play with the chicks awhile then hop up into her hutch for a quick nap and snack. I gave the chicks comfy shelter filled with lamb's wool (too short to spin into yarn) and they seem to be handling the cold quite well. I'm keeping a close eye on them today in case they need to come into the garage, but so far...so good.

Keep the comments coming on Tuesday's post! I love the ideas everyone has sent for prettin' up the chicken coop/bunny run. I hope to work on it over Spring Break...so stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Chicken Coop...Need Advice...


We are pleased to present...the new chicken coop! It was made with tin salvaged from Granny and Grandpa's house when it was torn down and one of the salvaged wooden screen doors from the house. Dad kept the details secret, but he (and some of his friends) welded the frame so that it would "last forever." The metal frame is painted brown. It still needs a bit of work...I have to finish tying in the chicken wire on the top, create an enclosure inside the tin shelter area, and do some paintin' and prettyin' up over spring break (That's where you guys come in!), but I think our four ladies like it! They've been outside since we built it...scratching and flapping their new little wings like they own the place!

We've decided to name one of the hens "Nellie" (because it's just a great old fashioned name) and one of them "Amelia" (because that chick is always wanting to fly, so we decided to name her after Amelia Earhart). Any suggestions for two more great hen names??

You can see our apricot tree blooming just in front of the coop. Just to the left, planted against the fence, are two blueberry bushes. To the right of the coop are two teeny apple trees. This area of the yard will be positively heavenly as these bushes and trees mature and the chickens become an integral part of the OAH.

Please, please leave comments with suggestions to pretty up the chicken coop! I would like to paint the tin, but not the screen door or the brown framework. I'm also considering finding an antique sign to hang on the tin. What color would you paint it? What kind of sign would you hang? Do you have links to other great looking coops? Do share!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lovin' Springtime!!

I am having THE HARDEST time getting anything accomplished indoors lately. The weather today is supposed to top out in the 90s and there is nothing I'd like to do more than get the west garden ready to plant. I took a stroll through the backyard with the garden hose and saw lots of exciting news to report...here goes:

  • The apricot tree is blooming with lovely white blooms.
  • The pear tree is showing it's first baby leaves.
  • The peaches look like they will bloom any day now.
  • The peas are looking great! Lots of tiny plants.
  • Garlic looks promising...maybe I didn't plant at the wrong time after all!
  • Spinach is sprouting.
  • Radishes are sprouting.
  • Both the lettuce and mesculin mixes are sprouting their first tiny leaves.
  • The onions look great...lots of green tops poking through.
  • Still no sign of the potatoes, but I know they'll spring into action soon. (Get it...SPRING...:-)
  • The apple trees look like they've put on quite a bit of new growth. Not expecting any apples this year, but it's wonderful to see them progressing.
  • And out in the garage...I only had a few tomatoes not sprout, so I have several plants each for five varieties of tomatoes. Now if I can just decide where I'll plant them and what type of supports I'll try out this year.
I'm hoping we can put a load of compost on the west garden this weekend and till it in. It's time to plant cucumbers and pumpkins.

I'll try to take some pictures soon!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ummmmm...awkward

Remember my cute little fuzz ball baby chicks? Well...they're gone! In their place, I now have four very awkward, teenager chickens. This is serious...worse that puberty and your voice changing at the most inopportune moments by FAR. They are in a weird state of half fuzz, half feathers. The fuzz that is hanging on is poking out in unexpected places making them appear a bit...well, nutty professor-ish. Here, check it out for yourself:







Did you notice the crayon inside the box? My wee ones decorated it!

My dad is coming this weekend to build the coop and run...the bad news is that dad has kinda taken the project over and has his own plans. When dad has plans, you don't argue. We'll see how this all turns out. See how we came full circle back to ummmm...awkward? Yeah.

In any case, the chicks will have an outdoor home to transition into slowly as the weather warms up.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Grrrrr...

Last night I was mixing some biscuits up...trying a new from scratch recipe...and reached over to preheat the oven. While it was beginning to preheat, I heard some strange sounds and saw a really bright light coming from inside my oven. Ummmhmmm...little fire inside my TWO YEAR OLD Frigidaire oven!!! After turning it off and allowing it to cool (after the fire went out, of course), I started snooping inside to see what the heck was going on. Believe it or not, my baking element burned in half. Molten metal (from the element) had dripped down onto the oven floor. I'm just so thankful that I was right beside the oven and noticed it quickly. Needless to say, no biscuits last night...or until we get the oven repaired.

I did a bit of research and found that it should be an easy DIY fix, but that doesn't keep me from being a mit more than miffed that our home could have been destroyed by an almost new, perfectly clean oven. There was no reason for the element to burn in half. So...take home message, do not leave your oven unattended. I know my MIL sometimes puts in a roast then goes to church...if we'd done that, we'd be homeless right now.

They just don't make things like they used to, do they?
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