My Edible Garden

I've been gardening for most of my life and have been a devoted fan of organic gardening the whole time. It just makes so much more sense to work in harmony with Mother Nature than to fight her. Besides which it is better for the planet and better for our bodies. Here you can see what I'm planting and harvesting, with gardening hints and resources thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Around the Garden

front yard bed with iris and dwarf peach

A few pictures from around the garden taken last week that I didn't get posted. Spring is here and rapidly moving into early summer temps!

A bearded iris, rose and my dwarf Bonanza peach.

Granada rose

My $2 rose bush is still alive and blooming; for the story of planting it see the post from Oct 30,2011

Green Globe artichoke

a couple of artichokes have survived


Some snapdragons along the hillside

Florintine Iris

The photo did not pick up the delicate lavender of this iris. This is the Florintine iris, also known as Monet's because it was planted at his home in Giverny. This iris is also known as Orris root because the dried roots are fragrant and are the orris root used in potpourri and perfumes.

backyard veg garden
The backyard veggie garden has been a big neglected; some green onions, elephant garlic and some carrots are in there along with a lot of weeds and Californa poppies.

Tombstone rose

A Tombstone rose, aka Lady Banks. Here is an article about the famous original, listed in the Guiness book of records as the largest rose bush in the world.

marigolds, sunflowers, bush beans

I've been working on the new garden space along the creek where the chickens were before. The marigolds are putting out new blooms, the sunflowers and purple bush beans I planted are sprouting up.

tomatoes in

I got all the tomatoes planted along their arches; the lefthand row has some more marigolds and I randomly poked in some nasturtium seeds.

The far end of the right hand row I planted some Luffa sponges. I have room for one more row, about 12 feet long, which I"m going to work on today.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Buff Orpington Chicks

Nosey, left, Whopper, right

Well Claire and Henrietta, the big beautiful Buff Orpington girls have gone home to Cindy for the summer. Two young cockerels have taken their place here. These boys are the oldest of Claude & Henny's babies. These were hatched and started by Cindy and are about ten weeks old now.

Nosey is a tad smaller than Whopper and is just that really nosey! When ever I'm feeding the other babies Nosey is behind me pecking at my pants and shoes, trying to see what's in the bucket and generally being a nuisance. Whopper just hogs the feed trough and runs off the slightly smaller and younger Black Copper Marans chicks in the pen.

Trouble is just that, big Trouble! Always trying to escape and then getting stuck in a corner somewhere! Trouble is a Claude & Henny chick hatched here on Feb 27 so almost six weeks old.

Trouble's hatchmate

trouble's hatchmate

Trouble's hatch mate is bigger and is getting red wattles. I am thinking perhaps this one is a little roo and Trouble is a pullet, but time will tell.

Look at how wide he is!

Chicks hatched 3/13 and 3/22

More siblings growing out, the ones from the 3/13 hatch are hitting the dinosaur stage, the little one laying down is from the 3/22 hatch

Bianca & chicks

In other news Bianca's eggs hatched today and she readily took on the 6 Buff Orpington chicks that also hatched this morning. A couple of her eggs were still working on hatching when I checked on them this evening, so I won't know until tomorrow how many chicks she has for sure. The silkie chicks are so tiny, they are half the size of the orps.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


pulling coops out of the pens
On Sunday my farmer girl helped me start clearing out the empty chicken pens by the creek. (which is really a dry wash that only runs when it rains)

from the other end

Two of the small coops were were able to move; the larger one was too heavy so I left it for now. Will probably just store plastic pots and such in it for the time being.

coops out, time to dig!

Once the coops were out it was time to start working on garden beds. I had to take my farmer girl back home Sunday afternoon, but she's looking forward to coming back in a couple of weeks.

1st double row ready to plant

I lucked out with having Monday off so I worked on the garden some more and got the first double row ready to plant. More pics in a day or two.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

New Coop, more progress!

Harmony the Farmer Girl with the new coop
Well finally got a break from my crazy job. My boss is back to work and arranged for me to have a 3 day weekend. Whooo Hoooo!

Plus I got out of work early Friday afternoon. After chores I headed for the valley to meet my daughter and oldest grand daughter, Miracle. Miracle likes to draw and had one of her pictures selected to be displayed at the school district's office. I ended up coming home with her baby sister, Harmony.

Harmony is really a farmer girl and game for most anything around here, even if it's a little icky. On Saturday morning we got up early and did all the chores, then headed for Scottsdale. A lovely young woman was moving out of state and I bought this cute little chicken coop from her. She threw in a ton of other chicken paraphernalia  along with a little white Silkie hen. (I seem to have become a Silkie magnet, people keep giving them to me!) Harmony helped me get it washed out and sprayed for bugs (just in case) and then we moved Miss Bianca the broody in with her 8 eggs.


We then returned the beautiful golden girls, Claire and Henrietta to their 'real' chicken mom, my friend Cindy. It was so funny to watch Henny jump up on the wall and talk to Cindy and get loves. Who says chickens aren't smart!

Claire and Henny will take a break from breeding over the summer. They will come back in the fall to visit with Claude so we can hatch more babies. When these two girls came to stay with me a couple of Easter egger pullets took their place at Cindy's to produce the breakfast eggs. So those two girls came home with me to rejoin the layer flock here.

In addition Cindy had two young cockerels from Henny and Claude that also came home with me to finish growing out. I'll have to get pictures of them tomorrow.

And today we slept a bit late, did chores and got going. Harmony helped me plant a seedling mulberry tree that sprouted up in one of my pots last year. It's sited so that in a couple of years it will help shade the kennels from the late afternoon sun.

The wind blew all day but it was cloudy and cool. We had to build a big berm on the downhill side. I am hoping this will help keep runoff water from washing the tree out. When we were done we had some delicious brownies baked by my friend Cindy for my birthday. Yummy ;-)

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Brooder Coop

Baby coops ready for chicklets!
Well I managed to weasel out of work around noon, came home and busted it; cleared out the hoop coop, sprayed for mites, put the new baby pens together. I would have made my own little pens but just did not have time!

Purebred Ameraucans and some Black Copper Marans

Roger & Bianca's babies, hatched 2-27-14

First out were the purebred Ameraucana chicks and some Black Copper Marans, most all of which look extremely male.

Alas, Roger is no longer with us, but I have two chicks from him and Miss Bianca. They will probably be pet quality, but I"m sure someone will love them.

Roger & Princess's baby

I lost Princess in the same predator attack as Roger and only have the littlest chick from them. Alas, those naked legs are a no-no in Silkies, so another pet quality bird.

Gold & Grey Easter Egger

I have a lovely grey and gold chick from Earl, my Easter Egger boy. The photo did not quite catch the right shade of soft grey. I am hoping this is a pullet. This is the coloration I have been breeding for, as it is really pretty.

Buff Orpington babies hatched 2-27-14

We now have about 15 Buff Orpington babies from Claude and Henrietta. These are the oldest two I have here. (Cindy has 3 down in Scottsdale that are older).

Look at how dark a buff their feathers are!

The same two BO chicks
The slightly smaller one has earned the name Trouble. Because it's always in trouble or causing trouble! Every time I open the brooder it comes running out. In the house it was determined it could free range in the living room. One evening when I fed them I thought everyone that had escaped in the process was back in. But not Trouble, there it was, right next to the brooder, as close to the light as it could get.

Wide Load!
BO chicks from 3-7-14

These chicks have nice wide bodies. Trouble's sibling is quite a chunk when you pick it up. That one weighed about 6 ounces at three weeks old.  I should probably weigh some of these guys now.

Some siblings from the 3-7-14 hatch.

BO chicks

In this picture, the chick on the left and in the background were hatched on 3-13. The bigger chick on the right was hatched on 3-7.

BO chicks hatched 3-13-14

These little guys were hatched last week. After getting as much done outside as I could, I had a quick bite to eat and unloaded the incubator of this weeks hatch.

Black copper Marans & a BO chick

These Black Copper Marans and the Buff chick hatched yesterday. The BCM in the lower left was a slightly small chick from last weeks hatch that I decided to keep inside another week.

Here are a couple of the Buff chicks from today's hatch with that older BCM. All of my home grown chicks hit the ground running. I've never had to show them where the food or water was; they are active from the get go, running around, finding the water and getting a drink, finding the food or scratching in the shavings.

Tonight I"ll be putting in more Buff Orpington eggs to hatch, along with some more purebred Ameraucana eggs from some great looking show birds.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

New Happenings

The Silkie Tribe 
Well things around here have been totally insane. I have been working crazy amounts of overtime while my boss recovers from surgery. Hopefully things will settle down soon. Some days it was all I could do to make sure everyone had food and water. Today was my first day in 28 days.

So I let some of the birds out to run. The weather was really nice; the iris, tulips and lilacs are blooming. Here the Silkies enjoyed a day in the sunshine from the front, Mr. A. Snowman, Precious, Black Magic, Fiona, Smokey.

Fiona is the girl that was broody, her foster chicks are off in the bushes taking dust bathes.

Bianca is broody

I'm afraid little Princess & Roger were killed by an unknown predator. After that I moved Miss Bianca in with the other Silkies where she would be safer. What I didn't realize was that she was making a nest. She was still coming out every morning for breakfast and with my work schedule I wasn't paying a lot of attention. So I have no idea how long she has been sitting on these eggs. Guess we will just wait for the chicks to show up when they are ready.


Little Precious was apparently injured and spent some time in the house recovering last month. I didn't know that Silkies were prone to brain trauma from head injuries such as another bird pecking them on the head.

But she is well now and doing fine with the other Silkies. I think it was a rambunctious little rooster of another breed that was in with them that injured her.

The Kennels with the chicken house
I bought a large kennel new and found another smaller one on craigslist so have been busy getting them all set up to use for breeding and growing out youngsters. It's still a bit chilly at night and the wind has been blowing; therefor still needing tarps and plastic on the sides. Pretty quick I"ll have to change it out for shade cloth.


Claude is a really big chicken. My son saw him and remarked "That is a big freakin' chicken Mom!". My grandson saw him today and said "That is a big chicken!"


 I have been hatching babies from Claude and Hennrietta, have 11 chicks now with more hatching today. Maybe another day soon I'll be able to get pictures of all the babies I have!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Ducklings on the Way

Muscovy duck at 19 days incubation

I candled some of the eggs in the incubator last night. There are 6 Muscovy eggs left from Karen's flock. Here you can see a little head and bill. They are at 19 days, so just about half way.

So far the 6 remaining eggs all look pretty good so my fingers are crossed they all make it.

When you set eggs to incubate not every single egg will always be fertile. Then there always seem to be some that we call early quitters. They start to develop but for some reason they quit. Sometimes I think it can be a genetic defect in the egg or sometimes it is something environmental or even the nutrition of the parents. (my reading indicates that vitamin E is especially important for hatch ability)

I also checked my purebred Ameraucana eggs, there are 8 of those left and they are due on Monday so hoping we'll have some cute babies real soon. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Little Progress

pallet wood
You know some days I just feel like I haven't gotten much accomplished. Unless I write things down. Then I can see that I did get something done, it just seems like it should have been twice as much in the time I had.

Well building projects around here start out with ripping pallets; this is part of about 6 I took apart first thing this morning.

front of breeding pen

I then seemed to have spent most of the day building this front of a breeding pen, complete with door frame. The door still needs wire, hinges & a latch.

Along with that I did eat breakfast, washed and hung up two loads of clothes.

eggs in the nest of the layer house

I also managed to do all my chicken chores and collect eggs. When I was done building I cut all the trash wood up and brought it in for the stove.

I did take some pictures of some of the birds today. I also checked and spritzed thirty odd chicken butts for lice. They have been a terrible problem here and while some birds never seem to have any, other birds seem to be covered. I'll do all the rest of the birds tomorrow evening.

mamma silkie and her foster babies
black copper marans hatched Nov 28th

Mamma silkie is taking good care of her babies.

The three Black Copper Marans chicks from November look like two boys and a girl.


Henrietta is a show quality Buff Orpington pullet.

Claire is 75% English imported Buff Orpington.

Claude is 100% English imported Buff Orpington. This trio belongs to my friend Cindy. I just get to keep and take care of these wonderful birds as her breeding partner. I have 4 of Henny's eggs in the incubator now and will continue to collect and hatch her eggs for awhile. We are waiting for Claire to lay her first egg. From the color of her comb and wattles, it ought to be pretty soon!
Claude with the wind blowing

Claude has been hanging out in the layer pen and looks like a jolly golden giant compared to the little Easter Egger girls.  Today when I was working on the breeding pen Claire and Henny snuck in there too. There was some fussing with some of the older layers, but nobody was really serious enough to take on this giant golden girls! But all the layers had to come in and investigate the part of the building they usually can't get to. They were all underfoot while I was trying to work!