Monday, May 31, 2010

Just not Having Much Luck

We just haven't had much luck with the seeds this year. The tomatoes and hot peppers never sprouted at all. I have only three corn plants and they are only 3 inches tall. I have a total of three cucumber sprouts and they are looking puny. And a majority of the herbs never sprouted.

Part of the problem was old seed. Part of the problem was a late cold blast. Part of the problem is the weather which has been dry and hot recently. Part of the problem, at least with the herbs, was the chickens remorseless dirt bathing after I planted the seeds. And, I suspect part of the problem was using seeds from a supplier I had never heard of until this year.

We went to Canadian Tire Friday night where I broke down and bought tomato, cucumber, and herb plants for the garden. These plants looked particularly healthy and were fairly cheap too. I also bought some more nasturtium seed has I had stupidly not bothered to look up this "new weed" in the garden, and pulled them all up last week.

Everything has been planted now, and the garden already looks more like it should at this time of year. I replanted the corn, zucchini, watermelon, and squash since I had the extra seeds. Hopefully, the new seedings will do better than the last set and the garden will begin producing in June. If not then I think I will just give up on gardening for a couple of years. Hah! Not likely.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What is Love?

What is Love? This is a question that has plagued mankind since we crawled out of the muck and learned to think about such useless things. I know this question has plagued me since my first marriage fell apart and my Mother announced in a knowing tone that she knew it wasn't Love.

Over the years I have discovered many things about Love. Love is the ability to sit in silence together. Love is making compromises without keeping score. Love is not having to swallow your pride because pride doesn't come into the equation. Love is the ability to be completely honest with each other. The most important thing I have learned, so far, is that Love is the ability to work elbow to armpit with someone for several hours without the intense desire to murder them. Maybe poke them with something sharp and pointy, but not murder them.

When I said elbow to armpit, I literally mean elbow to armpit. You see, this weekend we were installing the new window into the bathroom and it is a very small bathroom. The bathroom is 5 feet by 6 feet. The window is 1/2 inch, yes inch, from the wall that normally holds the door into the bathroom. The toilet is opposite the door and is only 6-8 inches from the other side of the window. That gave us about 3 feet to stand side by side to test fit, level, and finally install the window.

The window is installed, most of the mouldings have been installed and stained, and the bathroom is finally coming together. We are waiting for some shower door hardware to arrive. Once the staining is completed we have to caulk around the window. We have to do some touch-up paint on the walls. And we have to stain and install the new bathroom door which we finally decided on and purchased this week. All in all, I'm pretty happy with the progress.

I am also pretty happy with my progress on working out exactly what love is. I don't think I will ever know everything about Love. The things I do know about it, and the many trials that have led to that knowledge, makes me realize that I am truly in Love. I also know I am looking forward to the next adventure that fills in another blank or two on the subject.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Disaster Averted and Success

Last weekend and into the early part of last week there was a freeze warning for our area. Of course the cabbage, beans, peas, and cucumbers had sprouted. So we had to try to protect the baby plants from the coming weather.

Luckily, we had straw on hand. We used the straw in the winter to lock the wind from getting underneath the coop, allowing the chickens a dry, relatively warm place to sit in the sun during the cold winter days. Now that the snow is gone the straw can be used for other things, like mulching new plants.

We lightly covered all the sprouts and left them covered for the four days the freeze warnings were in effect. After the freeze warnings cleared we uncovered the young plants to allow the sun to get to their tender leaves. Rather then removing the straw from the garden, we used it to to mulch around the plants to keep the soil damp as the new plants struggle to grow.

A quick tour of the garden just a few days later showed that our technique worked like a charm. The sprouts that were only a couple of centimeters high last week are several inches high now. Except the cucumbers, but they are slow growers so I am giving them some more time.

The potatoes have actually broken the surface of the soil and seem to be healthy. The peas and beans are reaching up to start their climb to the sky on our homemade trellises. The garlic tops are now 6 inches high. I've even seen some ragged little sprouts trying to grow in the chicken ravaged herb bed.

All in all it looks like it might be a good garden year.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Smarter than the average Chicken?

I like to think of myself as being reasonably intelligent. I'm not a genius but I can usually figure myself out of most situations. However, it is beginning to look like I am not as smart as the average chicken.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the chickens destroyed my herb garden. I put up a decorative fence, since the garden can be seen from the road. Turned out 10 inch wide chickens can squeeze through openings 5 inches wide. Fine, I added strands of wire to create 3 x 4 inch sections. Turned out chickens can squeeze through those as well. It takes a little more effort on their part but seem to not mind it at all.

So, I added more wire to create smaller holes. This flummoxed the chickens for maybe 20 minutes. They figured out that if they push their heads through the small openings and push really hard, maybe two or three of them pushing from behind, they can do one of two things. They can either spread the wires far enough apart to squeeze through or they can actually pull apart the wire where it is twisted together. Either way they can get into the garden and wreck havoc.

I spent the afternoon adding left over 1/2 inch welded wire hardware cloth the the majority of the decorative fencing. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough to go the full length of the herb garden but it covered 80% of the distance. So far so good. Of course it has been raining and hailing on and off since I added the extra fencing, so the chickens may not have seen the recent addition and thus have not figured out a work around yet.

I think my next attempt will involve a fully enclosed cage that fits over the top of the herb bed and allows room for the plants to grow. Let me see the chickens break into that.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Pre-seasoned Chicken

What do you get when you mix a freshly planted herb garden with free ranging chickens? As the title of this post suggests, you get pre-seasoned chicken. Before anyone gets upset I did not kill the offending chicken. I would have had to kill them all as they were all taking turns destroying all my hard work.

It was my own fault really. I planted the herb bed without putting up a proper anti-chicken fence. That has now been remedied and the herb bed has been replanted with the left over seed I had from the first planting. Hyssop, garlic chives, onion chives, thyme, cilantro, fern leaf dill, marjoram, summer savory, winter savory, and mint have all be planted from seed. I had no rosemary, sage, or catnip seeds left so I will have to find some live plants at the nursery next time we go into town. Now if I can just keep the squirrels and chipmunks out long enough for the seeds to sprout and start to grow.

The apples trees are slowly leafing out. I am hoping the new trees will actually bloom this year but it may be another year for them. The old apple tree only blooms every two years so he will not bloom this year. So, if the new apple trees bloom it will be up to each other and the crabapple to pollinate and hopefully produce some lovely apples.

We built two new beds last weekend. The plan for these beds is to give us a place to grow grains and to extend our planting area beyond the old beds. We filled the beds with dirt yesterday in the hopes that we get buckwheat, tomatillos, and ground cherries planted today. I'm not sure if that will happen as we don't have enough posts to put fencing around them. And as I suggested in the paragraph above, that would be a stupid mistake on my part. We would have pre-seasoned and pre-stuffed chickens.