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.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Farmer Friday

putting in a ground rod
This week I put electric fence on the *inside* of this 20x20 pen.... Why? That's a secret! Find out in my next post!

blurry sunset
 We've had some cold, cloudy, windy days but no rain yet. But a few pretty sunsets.

low tunnel with fava beans on the left and red mustard 

red mustard
I picked red mustard for market but I pick even more for the chickens. They love it!

low tunnel with baby pak choi on the left, spinach sprouts on the right

baby pak choi
It's so warm the pak choi is trying to flower; they are good though, fresh, green, crispy, juicy.

eggs from the youngest black Ameraucana pullets
Several young pullets have begun to lay and some of the older girls also. By March everyone should be in full swing.

more pak choi ready to go to the garden
I have 4 trays each of pak choi, beets and lettuce ready to go to the garden. This week I also seeded 4 trays of leeks.

me and my .22
I lost about 5 chickens at my house in the big wooden coop in a week. I've never had anything get in there before. It was a skunk, which I trapped and dispatched. Peeee  eeeeeeeeeeeew! I'll be watching for signs it wasn't alone. For now things seem to be OK. for those that don't know, skunks are related to weasels and will eat eggs and chickens. They tend to just eat the heads and necks.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Harvet Monday

baby pak choi
Well I have finished my totals for 2017. I am going to try and be more organized on all fronts this year. Doing it all at once is a pain but now that the forms are set up in the computer it should be easier to keep up. I was actually surprised to discover how much I grew. The following does not include spoiled produce, with bug bites, bird pecks, ect. It also does not include a lot of herbs that I cut and fed to the chicken.

crop 2017
 pak choi 7.3125
apples 19.2500
beets 35.8125
broccoli 6.1250
carrots 25.1875
cauliflower 3.8750
chard 57.9375
collards 50.5625
cucumber, Armenian 67.3750
cucumber, Market More 47.3125
elephant garlic 26.8750
green beans, bush 24.1250
green garlic
herb, basil, Italian 3.6875
herb, Basil, lemon 0.1250
herb, basil, thai 0.7500
herb, chives, Chinese 1.0000
herb, cilantro 5.5000
herb, dill 0.5625
herb, lavender 0.1250
herb, lovage 0.6875
herb, parsley curly 4.1250
herb, parsley,  flat 3.8125
herb, rosemary 0.3125
herb. Oregano 0.3750
herb. Sage 0.6875
kale 20.6875
kale, lancinato 37.5625
kale, red russian 29.6250
kale, scarlet 66.5625
leek 14.5625
lettuce bibb 13.2500
lettuce leaf mix 24.0000
melon, hales 46.8750
melon, Northern NM 34.8125
mustard, red giant 19.0625
mustard, red mizuna 7.0000
onion bulb 27.7500
onion, green 4.6250
potato white creamer 23.0625
potato, all blue 20.2375
potato, all red 17.3750
potato, Belinda 62.3750
potato, chieftan 5.5625
potato, yukon nugget 4.7500
potatoes 5.8000
pumpkin, Jack Be Little 3.3750
pumpkin, volunteer 43.1875
radish 6.1250
snap peas 49.6025
snap peas sweet magnolia 6.1875
spinach 7.5625
squash, Honey Boat Delicata 12.2500
squash, red kuri 30.1250
squash, spaghetti 99.2500
tomato, cherry mix 51.6250
tomato, large mix 13.6875
turnip greens 17.3750
turnips 23.1875
watermelon, Black Tail Mt. 69.8125
watermelon, Hopi Yellow 36.7500
zucchini & summer squash mix 747.1875
total for year 1724.5775

So I'm hooking up with Harvest Monday, a fun blog hop where you can show off your harvests. Of course I forgot to write down what I harvested this week. But it wasn't very much. A lot of things are looking a bit sad with the dry cold. 2018 goal; double the poundage ;-)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Farmer Friday

pea shoot
Yay it's Farmer Friday. We are having very much unseasonably warm weather here, bright and sunny and no rain in sight. That does not bode well for the future. In the meantime things are going along. The peas are beginning to sprout.
Extra Dwarf Baby Pak Choi
I picked some baby Pak Choi this morning. This has been a big hit with my customers and there never seems to be enough. I think I will start planting 4 trays of starts instead of just 2 at a time.

Fava beans and red Mustard
Under the row covers things are doing pretty well. Here's a couple of rows of fava beans and some Giant Red mustard. But I pick the mustard when it's small. Mustard is a hardy, fast growing green. Spicy raw, it has a totally different flavor when cooked.

red and green cabbage
One low tunnel was covered with old row cover which was beginning to disintegrate. So I pulled it off and replaced it with new cover. The red and green cabbages are doing well and just beginning to head up. I'm not sure how long it will be before they are ready to pick, maybe a month or two.

Some cilantro, finally! Because it's been so warm and dry it has not been growing very well. It is a winter weed and likes it cool and damp. But I have a little bit for market tomorrow. I planted a few cilantro seeds between the cabbages when I set them out.

green cabbage just beginning to head
A peek into the green cabbage. You can see the new leaves are just beginning to curl up on themselves.

red mustard and cabbages
You can see more red mustard and the cabbages here, before I took off the row cover. I plant a lot of red mustard even though I don't sell a lot of it, because the chickens really like it. After pulling enough for a couple of bags for market I pull some more to feed to the chickens. If I was only growing for myself I would just pick the outside leaves and leave the rest of the plant to grow. It will keep going for several months that way.

scarlet kale
The kale is looking quit sad these days, I'm not sure if the plants are just too old or they haven't been getting enough water. I do have some replacements started and will plant some more. In the meantime I'll try to get them some more water and see if they perk up.

I"m making some progress on the newish garden area. I'm almost done putting the hoops up, but had to quit first because the battery needed to charge on the driver and because I need to go pick things for market.

hatchery birds
The hatchery birds I bought this fall are doing well, tho a wee bit crowded. The cockerels are beginning to bother some of the pullets, so eggs won't be too far behind.  Those boys will be going to freezer camp pretty soon. As soon as I get done with this new garden space and get things planted out, I'll go back to work on the pen these birds need to move into. When I move them I will probably leave the boys where they are, then they will all have more room.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year

12-15-2016 Black Copper Marans pullet egg
Happy New Year! In some ways the past couple of weeks I've felt a bit sorry for myself, not being able to do everything I want to do, how my life has taken strange twists and turns the past couple of years, the bizarre weather we're having this year, the usual winter blues. so this is a bit of a recap of the year. I have gotten things done. I have made progress on the gardens. I know the only way to go is forward, but looking back at how much I _have_ managed to accomplish will perhaps give me a kick in the pants.
 chickens on compost 1-1-2017
Last fall and winter I had chickens working compost piles and made a new garden space with 300 sq ft of bed space.

kale seedlings under lights
I started literally hundreds of seedlings under lights.

purple potatoes
I planted a lot of potatoes in different colors and harvested well over 100 pounds for sale.

eggs for hatching
I hatched a lot of eggs of from different breeds.
Mixed lettuce March 24, 2017
I harvest a lot of pounds of lettuce, kale and spinach.

cantaloupe & watermelon seedlings 4-25-17
I hauled six truckloads of manure and made another garden space. I planted watermelons and cantaloupes in it.

By May I was picking all kinds of summer squash.

Globe-Miami Farmers Market
In June the farmers market started. It was so much fun to see everyone each week, vendors and customers alike.

Cherry Tomatoes 6-30-17
While 2017 wasn't the best tomato year ever, there were a lot of cherry tomatoes early on.

Black Tail Mountain Watermelons
By July the melons were coming in.
green beans
By August the green beans were coming in. Not as many as I hoped for, but a good amount still.

Also in August, the Armenian and regular cucumbers were coming in.

new pullet eggs
By September the oldest of the new pullets were laying.

Superior Farmers Market
In October the Globe Farmers Market was over so we started in Superior.

cabbage seedlings
By November I was planting fall crops again. Cabbage, mustard, kale, pak choi, and more.

rock wall, new garden area
In December I started working on the area where I grew melons in the summer. Adding a rock retaining wall.

I'm hoping in the next few days to go over my harvest records and do a post about the total poundage of different vegetables harvested this year.

So Happy New Year. I hope 2018 is even bigger and better!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Farmer Friday

cute chickens
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. My oldest daughter came to visit from Florida and brought me some cute chickens. The one in the background is a cookie jar. There are some more, including some metal ones that can go outside but I didn't take a pic of them yet.

The Nankin's first egg
I'm keeping my grand daughter's little Nankin chickens for her because she can't have them where she lives right now. They started laying last week. Their eggs are even tinyer than the Silkies.

steamy compost
I've been turning compost piles this week and made a new one which needs to be turned already. 

1/4 inch sifter screen
I made a sifting screen with 1/4 inch hardware cloth. I sifted a lot of peat moss and added some vermiculite for seed starting. This will be much less expensive than buying small bags of mix from the store. I'm planning to make some other sizes of sifters also.

a rock retaining wall begun
In this area last year I dumped 6 truckloads of mixed manure and planted melons. The melons grew fairly well once I was able to keep out the squirrels. When the melons were done I put some young cockerels in there because they needed more space. I've culled that group down to 2 birds and put them in another pen. This area is quite sloped and needs a retaining wall at the bottom. I thought about using some tires, but decided I liked the idea of a rock wall better. Sill a lot of work and clean up to do. I started putting up more fence and that job needs finished also. There will be space here for 2 new beds 4 feet wide and almost 20 feet long, with some space along the rock wall for some herbs and flowers. I will probably have to terrace the 2 beds also, using some old boards to help keep things even. 

more work on the wall

mystery fork
We had our Christmas dinner on Saturday. On Christmas morning I found this fork in the driveway. All the kids deny it falling out of their cars. So I don't know, maybe it was elves or aliens.

The little cafe where we do our winter farmers market is closed this weekend so we are taking Saturday off. Felt a bit odd not to be picking and washing and packing veggies this morning!

Giotto gets a mouse
Mom's barn has become mouse heaven and I'm really tired of those little buggers. There are literally hundreds of them tunneling all over. They are eating the feathers off the chickens to the point some birds have no tails. So I've been digging up or pouring water into every hole I see and Giotto helps. Sometimes the mice jump out of a different hole where he's not expecting them and doesn't see them quick enough to catch them but other times he gets them. Sometimes the chickens catch them too and eat them. Giotto just plays with them.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Throwback Thursday

Superior Farmers Market Dec 2016
Last fall was a much better time for produce and eggs than this fall has been! Last year I had beets, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli as well as an assortment of greens. This year I wasn't able to protect seedlings from birds, bugs and squirrels in July, August and September when things needed to be planted. So part of the winters work is to make more hoops and buy more row covers to help keep hungry critters out!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Winter Solstice Dec 21

December 21 is the Winter Solstice. This is the longest night of the year so of course it is also the shortest day. This is an important landmark on the gardener's calendar for several reasons.  Vegetables need at least 10 hours of full sun daily to grow well. When there are less hours of daylight growth slows down noticeably, even if the weather is warm.

You can use this website to see when your area sees less than 10 hours of daylight. In my area the time period from December 9 to Jan 1 has 10 hours or less of daylight. Even though we are having a warm winter this year plant growth has really slowed down during the past few weeks due to having less sun. It is fun to look at the chart linked above to see what two days of the year are the same length. I know that by March most of the hens will be laying and the earth will be bursting with green. Interesting to see that March 14 and August 27 both have 13 hour days.

If you keep chickens you will see fewer eggs during this time period also. It isn't the cold weather, but the length of day that slows or even stops egg laying. Chickens need 14 hours of daylight to trigger the hormonal processes that start them in to laying. In natural light the birds will begin to lay when daylight hours hit 14 and will increase laying to their maximum ability when days reach 16 hours long. They then decrease laying as day length decreases. Since they will also slow down or stop laying when stressed, such as when summer temperatures are over 100 degrees, I do add lights to some of my pens for the winter. Some people feel that is not natural and the hens should have a rest period. I figure they already rested in the summer and now they need to get busy and earn their keep. Chicken feed isn't cheap.

Another reason to pay attention to the length of day is if you are raising animals that are seasonal breeders. Heritage breed turkeys, guinea fowl, geese and some other poultry species only breed in spring, when days are getting longer.   While domestication has bred out seasonal breeding in cows and pigs, goats, sheep and horses continue to be seasonal breeders.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Farmer Friday

We had a little rain early in the week. The garden got a whole .1".That was the first rain I've had since September 10th.  Last year at this time we were getting snow. It is just now barely freezing at night. This is the weather I expected in October so winter is coming later and later. No rain in the forecast for at least 10 days. We really need our winter rain, everything is still dry and brown so it's been a real battle keeping things going. The sparrows and quail descend in hordes to gobble up any speck of green they can find. Sometimes they find their way under the netting and devour the seedlings despite everything I do to foil them.

frozen squash
I have cleared out the last of the frozen squash plants and replaced them with spinach. Now if I can keep the birds out......

covering the greenhouse
I got the greenhouse covered with plastic the other day. I hate using so much plastic each year. Plans are to replace these structures with more permanent ones that will have solid but openable siding so I can do away with the use of plastic sheeting. In the meantime it does help warm up the house and it does produce a lot of food and seedlings.

Avocado seedling
The one good thing about our milder winters, my avocado seedling is still alive and doing well on the back patio.

steamy compost
I turned compost this week, getting ready to make a new pile. The pile in the front has cooled off and ready to use.

Lancinato kale
The kale has been struggling with the warmer weather. It encourages aphids which I blast with cold water from the hose. Hopefully now that things are cooling off it will grow better. A new set of chard seedlings are waiting to go out into the garden, while the collards are growing well along with the mustard. I don't sell much mustard (don't know why, they are delish) but the chickens really like them.