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.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Harvest Monday

Wow I can't believe I have miss a couple or three weeks here! Just my crazy life! I love Harvest Monday, hosted by Daphne's Dandelions, stop over there to hook up with loads of other gardeners from around the world.

The past couple of weeks I've been trying to get all the squash vines cleared out so I can get some more stuff planted. This is my little love seat covered in squash because I don't have any place to put it! All of these tromboncinos are from the two vines on the greenhouse; there were still a lot of small green ones that I didn't take a picture of. There are still a few more outside on the rabbit pen and the patio! The dark green squash are buttercups and the yellow ones are spaghetti. The average Tromboncino weighed around 10 pounds; the biggest one was almost 17! I think there is probably over a hundred pounds there, but I haven't had time to add up the tally sheet yet.

I have managed to get all the vines off the greenhouse and out of the back garden. Tomorrow when it warms up a bit I'll get the plastic up on the greenhouse frame. The bad news is that I think a skunk has moved in under the house through a hole on this side. I could hear something under the bathtub and when I was working outside I'd get a whiff of skunk once in awhile.

bell peppers

green chili

I also picked all the peppers ahead of our first frost and cleared out the bed. I have a bit of extra time off this week so hopefully will get some more crops planted; I am waaaay behind schedule!

In other news I lost one of my Welsummer cross pullets to an owl the other night, so had to spend some time stringing bird netting over the pen. So far so good. One of those young ones is getting a red comb, so should start laying soon.

My Buff Orpington pullets have begun to lay cute little pullet eggs and two out of the three old banties are laying. The older Welsummers are not laying a lick, but they are pushing 5 years old. I did have to cull one; picked her up to look her over because she just didn't look that good and found a large hard mass in her abdomen. Autopsy showed a huge tumor, took up about a third of her body cavity, poor thing, no wonder she didn't look so hot. It became detached as I was pulling it out of the body cavity so I'm not sure where it originated from, the intestines or the ovary.

I have some eggs in the incubator due to hatch on Thursday; fingers crossed but most of them were shipped and got scrambled by the PO. Some I can't see into, so it's just a wait and see game right now.

Welsummer chicks, one month

I already have chicks in the living room, but hope to get them outside soon. The four Welsummer chicks hatched Oct 6. One boy and three girls. Not bad. That's the boy on the right. We'll see what he looks like when he grows up; he might be a breeder or he might be dinner!

And there were three baby bunnies in the nest box  when I checked this morning so yeah! Lots of good eating coming my way.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

More chickies on the way!

Hatching Eggs
OOPS! boy I didn't realize it's been a couple of weeks! Life has been a bit crazy and time is just flying by! I can't figure out where Aug & Sep went, let alone what happened to Oct!

Well my first incubator hatch came off so successful that I decided to do some more eggs. I bought some that were shipped to me. Shipping lowers the hatch rate because the eggs tend to get scrambled by the PO, even when marked FRAGILE.  The pale green eggs were in a box, marked fragile and one corner of the box was crushed in. The eggs were well packed, each egg individually wrapped in bubble wrap, placed in a smaller box in the center of the big box with more packing between the two boxes. Even so the egg closest to the crushed corner was cracked. The orange blob is some crayon was I melted over the crack to help keep out bacteria, just in case the egg actually was able to grow. Those pale green eggs are from chickens called Easter Eggers, which is not a standardized breed of chicken, but crosses between Ameraucauna and other breeds. Also, Amercauna chickens that are not up to the Standard of Perfection and cannot be shown, are also referred to as Easter Eggers or EEs, even if they are purebred. (confused yet?)

Those dark brown eggs are from French Black Copper Marans, a breed that comes from Marans, France. The darkest of the eggs in this pic are the lightest allowed in the breed and I have seen pictures of some that were so dark they were pushing towards black. 

The 7 light brown eggs are from my banty hens and my big Buff Orpington rooster.  I put all these eggs in the incubator on Oct 25. Today is Day 9. I finally got a really bright LED flashlight to use for candling the eggs. Candling is where you shine a light through the egg so you can see what is going on inside of it. I am still learning to candle, so unless I am really sure the egg is a dud I leave it in the incubator. I'm afraid I will toss one that was actually still good in my inexperience.

scrambled egg

This one was definitely scrambled, that blood ring goes all the way around the egg, pulled 4 EE and 2 Marans that looked like this.

chick embryo
Excuse the fuzzy photos. The camera shutter takes forever because I'm doing this in a very dark room and the fuzzys come from breathing while the shutter is open. Maybe next time I will try to pull out the tripod.

See that red dot in the middle of this one? that's  the head of the embryo, the fainter squiggle below it is it's body. You can also see the network of veins that draw nutrients from the egg yolk to feed the developing chick. This little guy was jumping and swimming all over the place.

Most of the Marans eggs are too dark to candle, but at least one showed definite signs of life. Some of the EEs were also lively and all seven of the banty eggs were jumping for joy!

The eggs are due to hatch November 15. So yea, think we'll end up with chicks in the living room all winter....

Monday, October 15, 2012

Harvest Monday

Yellow Zuchinni
Welcome to Harvest Monday! This is a great blog hop hosted by Daphne's Dandelions. Go visiting with gardeners from around the world and see what they are harvesting from their backyards, balconies and community gardens!

My apologies to so many; life has been so very crazy and I haven't been able to visit with all of you like I want to. Hoping this week things slow down a little bit more.

October is a month of decisions. Should I leave the zuchinni another week so it can make a few more squash before frost or pull it out so I can plant the garlic on time. (In the end the garlic won)

My Buff Orpington pullets are beginning to lay, right on schedule. Which is a darn good thing because the banties have quit completely; no eggs all week until I got this first tiny pullet egg. The banty girls have a bit longer to finish their molt and if they don't pick back up, then it's chicken soup and pot pies!

chicks, one week old
And speaking of chickens, the chicks are one week old. I know it's hard to see here, but they are already growing tail and wing feathers. The ones in front are the Buff Orpington X banty that are sold. The four Welsummer chicks that I am keeping are in the back, brown stripes on their heads like chipmunks.

German Butterball potatoes
I dug the rest of the potatoes. The March planted ones were pathetic; won't be doing that again. Either plant in Jan or June. Think I'll order some soon, then divide the order and plant some of the same varieties at each time and see how they do. Wouldn't mind just planting early, but I don't have a cool enough place to keep them over the summer.

Bell Peppers

Got a nice bunch of bell peppers, tho a couple had sunscald where they flopped over and the peppers weren't covered. Note to self; stake/cage all the pepper plants!

Spaghetti and Tromboncino Squash
Picked some more spaghetti and tromboncino squash. Can't seem to sell any of the big ones at market, but the spaghettis go pretty quick.

I did eat one of the tromboncino the other day; just cut a piece off and cooked it in the microwave. Very much like a butternut, about the same color, a little stringier, more like a pumpkin. But if I can't sell them, I suppose the chickens and I will be eating them all winter, which is fine with me.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Harvest Monday

yellow zuchinni
Welcome to Harvest Monday, a great blog hop sponsored by Daphne, where gardeners all around the world show off their harvests, please consider joining in! The more the merrier!

This week is short of harvests, not because there weren't things to pick but because of lack of time to pick and process; This week the work schedule is a little lighter, so next Monday's post will hopefully be a bit heavier on the pics!

Besides this overgrown yellow zuchinni (it's supposed to be yellow, btw) I picked some tomatoes, herbs and such.
squash on the roof

I also climbed up on the roof, there are a bunch more squash growing up there! Mostly tromboncino and spaghetti.

veggie soup stock and peachy pear butter

I did a little canning, some veggie soup stock and some peach-pear butter. The white stuff on the jars is the calcium from our hard water. It wipes off pretty easily.

banty chicks
Of course the news of the week is that 17 out of 20 eggs hatched! 4 were Welsummers, which I'll keep and all 13 of the banty eggs hatched, which I"m selling. 6 are already spoken for and there is some interest in the other 7. Good thing because at the moment the poultry project is deeply in the red with the cost of original birds and feed. Right now the Welsummers have quit laying and my young Buff Orpinton pullets haven't started yet, tho I expect them to any day now.

I did butcher out one of the Muscovy drakes and dressed weight was 4 pounds, 3oz. I had to skin him tho because when I went to start plucking discovered that he wasn't actually done molting. So will wait until November to do the rest. I don't know what value to give this meat tho, no body here sells duck meat and the gourmet order online place is so outrageous, I don't want to use their price! (About $50 for two Muscovy breasts!) Can you buy duck where you live? What is the going price for whole birds?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Chicken TV

Well it has been a lot of fun watching the eggs hatch, I can see where this could become very addicting! I set 13 banty eggs, their daddy is my big Buff Orpington roo. I set 7 eggs from the Welsummers that I was given and 4 of them hatched. Actually I'm amazed I got them, these were the last eggs the girls laid before quitting for a full blown molt. And those chickens are 4+ years old; I wasn't sure they were fertile because the roo had not been doing the roo dance that I ever saw. (Unlike my other rooster who is after the girls all the time!)

So I have 17 new babies (I haven't given up hope on the last 3 eggs yet, but not holding my breath either). The chick dead center and the one to the immediate left of it are Welsummers. They have really cute faces, and stripes on their backs like chipmunks. I will be selling all the banty chicks and just keeping the Welsummers.

In other news I butchered out my first Muscovy drake. Should have waited awhile longer, he was still growing in feathers so I ended up skinning him because plucking some parts were impossible. I think I will wait until about the 1st of November to do the others; hopefully they will be done molting by then! I'm going to go cut some fresh herbs to stuff him with and pop him in the crockpot to roast for dinner. (My oven is still broken, need to remember to call the guy to come fix that. Maybe he can look at the ice maker on the fridge while he's here)

Friday, October 5, 2012


I came home this afternoon to find some of the eggs had pipped (made a little hole in the shell) and lots of pecking and peeping going on in the incubator.  And just a couple hours ago the first chick burst out of it's shell.

Now you are not supposed to open the incubator during the hatch but this little guy was lurching around all over, knocking the eggs around so after he was partly dry I whisked him out to my brooder set up to finish drying off.

Just now chick #2 popped out. This is so exciting, I can see how this could become addicting! No word from the Welsummer eggs yet, both of these little guys are from my bantys.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Holding my Breath

Well for almost 3 weeks now I've been keeping a secret. I've got some chicken eggs in an incubator. I've probably done some things wrong (OK I know I have!). For instance I forgot to turn the eggs while I was saving them up before setting them to hatch. The incubator I've borrowed didn't have it's wire shelf or humidity trays in it and then my friend went on vacation. I wanted to get the Welsummer eggs set before they got too old so I jury rigged a piece of screen to fit and put in some foam meat trays to hold water for the humidity. I have faithfully turned the eggs over every morning and night, so the embryos don't stick to the shells. I don't have an egg candler so used my old flashlight. It's a bit dim and I couldn't see into those Welsummer eggs with their darker shells. But I also set some banty eggs which are lighter and I could see that at least some of them are viable.

Today is what they call "lockdown". It means you fill up the water pans to raise the humidity, you stop turning the eggs and you aren't supposed to open the incubator until the hatch is finished. They are supposed to hatch on Saturday, so we shall see what happens. I should be able to hear some peeping maybe tomorrow night.

The Welsummer eggs are the larger darker ones, there are 7 of them. I don't really want any more bantys, but set 13 eggs because I had them and I was pretty sure they would be fertile and capable of hatching. (The Welsummer chickens are much older than my banty hens and I'm not sure of their fertility). I figured having both in the 'bator at once, if the Welsummer eggs don't hatch but the bantys do, then it's more likely the chickens and not something I did during incubation. I figure I can probably sell off the banty chicks and just keep the Welsummers. Holding my breath and crossing my fingers for a good hatch.

Now I gotta go find that heat lamp and get ready for the babies!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Harvest Monday

Northern New Mexico Melon
Welcome to Harvest Monday, a great blog hop sponsored by Daphne! Go on over and visit with other gardeners and see what is being harvested around the world from back yard gardens, balconies, and window boxes!

It seems I was terrible about taking pictures last week. I was working a huge number of hours and actually didn't harvest a lot, even tho there were things to be eaten.

I did have to climb up on the roof of the house. There are a lot of squash up there, but most are not ready to pick. But a couple of things were stuck in the rain gutter and actually spreading the metal apart as they grew. Got them out and found this Norther New Mexico Melon while I was up there. From the shape I'd say pollination was incomplete and watering a bit irregular, also something was eating on one end. It only weighted about 5 pounds, but it was as sweet and delicious as the 11 pound monster I picked before.

Sadly I don't seem to have any pictures, but I did pick more yellow wax beans, a few Italian Heirloom tomatoes, lots of small salad tomatoes, some more Burgess Buttercup squash. Hopefully my work will slow down a bit this week and I'll have time to take more pictures.

I did snap a few out in the chicken pen.

My young Welsh Harlequin drake gets prettier by the day. He got his curly drake feather on his tail, the other 3 ducks don't have one (yet, they are a bit younger) so they may all be ducks. Harley is getting the rich green feathers on his head now.

Welsummer X Americauna cross

I'm trying to decide sex on my young poults. They are Welsummer x Americauna, so they could lay olive eggs. They will be 6 months old in Dec, though I don't expect them to start laying until the days get longer in spring. Two look to have a single type comb like this one.

Welsummer X Americauna cross
Two of them have this funny sort of double comb. (I'm not really up on all the comb types and names. Didn't even realize there were different ones until just a few years ago.)

At first I thought these doubled combs would be roosters, but then realized that the Americauna have this sort of comb, while Welsummers have normal single combs. So still, anyone's guess at this point!

My apologies for not getting around to read and comment on everyone's posts last week. I tried, but I worked over 50 hours and just couldn't do it. Hoping this week is a bit easier!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Harvest Monday

Welcome to Harvest Monday, hosted by Daphne's Dandelions. This great blog hop lets you see what others are harvesting around the world.

My apologies for not getting around and commenting on every one else's posts last week. It was a really crazy week at work plus our county fair week.

I didn't get a  lot of pictures of fresh harvests, although I did pick small tomatoes, squash and snap beans.

I also got eggs. Several days last week I got really small eggs like the one on the left in the picture. I'm not positive yet if this is from one of the banties that has been molting and so not laying for awhile or if it's from one of my Buff Orpington pullets. The egg in the middle is one of the normal size banty eggs. The big egg on the right is from one of the Welsummers  that I just picked up a  couple of weeks ago.

Buttercup squash
I did pretty good at the county fair, most of my veggies placing 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

German Butterball potatoes

green chili, Joe E. Parker
green onion, Tokyo long white

Princepe Borghese
Snow White

Spaghetti Squash
Yukon Gold potatoes

Pencil Pod Yellow Wax

Buff Orpington pullet

My Buff Orpington pullet was 2nd in her class. She and her sisters should start laying any time between now and Halloween.

My young Welsh Harlequin drake took a blue ribbon. My two Muscovy drakes and the two Muscovy ducks all were given red ribbons. I just didn't get good pictures of them this afternoon.

Harley takes a bath

Harley was especially happy to be home and to be able to take a bath!  He's the ring leader of his group of ducks (the others are WH crossed with runner duck, but they were all hatched and raised together). I wish I'd had my camera out when I first put Harley back out in the pen. One of the other ducks from his group came up to him making soft noises and stood rubbing the top of their head under his chin, like, where have you been? I was so worried about you, glad you are home. It was really cute.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Getting Ready; County Fair

Most of the collection of vegetables
Our county fair is this week and I'm scrambling to get my veggies ready to take to the fairgrounds, having to juggle some crazy work stuff along with that.

Besides some single veggie entries I'm also entering the vegetable collection. This first pic is most of them, the other one are things that would wilt quickly so they are waiting in a jar of water until I take off.

the rest of the veggie collection
There are 23 things in my veggie collection:









I'm also entering some of the same veggies in their individual classes and have them sorted and labeled to make it easier when I get to the fair grounds.

winter squash
That Tromboncino weighs in at 12 pounds as near as I can figure (I had to use the bathroom scale!)

tomatoes, potatoes, chili, beans

Monday, September 17, 2012

Harvest Monday


Welcome, once again, to Harvest Monday! This is an awesome blog hop sponsored by Daphne. Hop on over and say Hi and see what other gardeners around the world are harvesting from their gardens!

It was a really crazy week at work so I did not get many pictures of the harvest this week.

squash and tomatoes

Besides the eggplant, squash and tomatoes shown here, I did harvest more yellow wax beans, Kentucky Wonders, some of the Baby Blue Hubbard and Buttercup winter squash, along with some really nice bell peppers.

I also harvested a couple Amish Paste and Italian Heirloom tomatoes. While I am overrun with squash of all sorts, I have yet to experience a tomato glut. In fact, aside from the small salad tomatoes I haven't gotten enough to eat my fill fresh, let alone have any to can.

Sunday was a beautiful fall day, crisp and delicious in the morning, with an almost too warm afternoon. I spent most of the day working 'out back'.

outback before
outback before

I am working to tear down an old pallet fence, pull out the weed trees, patch the stone wall where I can or pull it out where it's too far gone, all to run some chainlink.

I will say the pallets have lasted well, considering that they were just wired together and have been sitting on the ground all this time. Besides that, the pallets in this area were also part of the compost bins.

There are still several good sized weed trees to pull out of here, but it was getting late and I was getting tired. Since I"m on call while the boss is on vacation and our county fair is next week I doubt I will get back to this project for awhile. Once I can get the piece of fence done, I'll work on cutting up all the old pallets for stove wood, especially as many of them are oak. That should greatly condense the mess back here.