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....