Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Soil Amending and Seedlings

We don't weed around here. It's a rule, and we follow it to the letter! We shovel, we hoe, we cover with straw, paper, plastic... who cares as long as the weeds are suppressed. I say all this, but there is one exception, and it's a huge one. We weed our berries.  It's just so hard to use weed suppressants in a berry patch. Thankfully the strawberry patch is new this year. So no weeding them! Hooray! Unfortunately the raspberries have been neglected...

So that's what I did this weekend. I weeded the raspberries, the grass had really overtaken the rows. At times it felt like I was clearing sod, which by the way, was very convenient for patching grass holes in other parts of the yard!

After the weeding was finally done, I amended the soil with rabbit manure. It's great! It doesn't need to be composted before applying. It won't burn the plants. And hopefully, I've put a thick enough layer on that it will suppress the weeds!!

budding raspberry plant with rabbit manure amendment

All the plants we'll put out after the last frost are now coming up in the soil blocks. The melons and squash are growing so fast I'll have to transplant them soon! Overall germination has gone well. If you look closely at the picture you can see some of the tomato varieties we'll be growing this year.

Squash plant starts, Waltham Butternut and Vegetable Spaghetti

Tomato starts, Brandywine, Lucia, Pineapple etc.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Time Activities at Spring Garden Acre

We're a busy bunch of crazy kids this time of year. We have rabbits and chicks. Perfect for Easter season. But please don't tell the Easter bunny! Because... well you know... We're also working on everything from planting brassicas to cold frame harvests and more. It's all in pictures below.

35 chicks are 3 weeks old. We'll put them in their tractor as soon as they have permanent feathers on their heads (to keep them warm on frosty nights). We'll have them for a total of 8 weeks. It costs around 6 dollars a bird to raise them this way. They dress out at about 4 pounds. So we're paying $1.50 a pound. I saw a package of organically raised chicken selling for $8.79. We're essentially trading labor for price. It's the only way we can afford to eat organically!
Our egg layers are 3 years old this spring. This will be their last year with us. They'll be hard to let go. Their great birds. The kids love them.
We tried turnips this year for the first time. They look very healthy. We'll plant them outside on Saturday.

These are a few of our rabbits. They are the Australian breed. They are usually all white, but occasionally they are "blue". Very pretty!

This "blue" mamma gave birth this morning to a kit of 4. I think there are probably more. I haven't reached in to see just yet. We don't want to upset the nest, because we could lose them.
These are our brassica plants. We're going to plant on Saturday. We have tatsoi, baby boc choy, broccoli, turnips and cabbage. The boxes that look empty are onions. We started them from seed again this year.

This is where we will plant the brassicas this year. The black soil on top is composted manure. My next big project is to put the broadfork to use and turn the compost into the garden. It's a big job every year, but you know what they say about how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
This is our newly planted strawberry bed. You can't really see the starts, but there is an example of one in the picture below. We got 26 plants in two rows. The rows are spaced 4 feet apart with each plant spaced 18 inches. We'll use the central space to plant other things. Maybe onions?

The garlic bed is growing nicely

Garlic plants are about 4 inches tall now.
This is about 15 -20 pounds of thawing frozen tomatoes. They are from last year. Belle is making a new batch of tomato sauce this weekend.
I don't remember what we planted in this cold frame. It looks like spinach, and I think carrots.
This is our overwintered spinach. We still have plenty of picking to do!

Lettuce for our meals. We've enjoyed eating it all winter long!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Early Spring Vegetable Selections

Our early spring garden seeds are planted. For now they are only soil blocks. But soon they will be starts, and then they will become plants, and eventually they will fruit, and we will eat!

Lactuca sativa VarietyLocationSeed CompanyPlant Count
LettuceFlashy Trout BackPots/Cold FrameDave20
LettuceRed SailsPots/Cold FrameFedco20
RomaineParis Island Pots/Cold FrameFedco20

Allium cepa

OnionNew York EarlyMain GardenFedco24
OnionRed Delicious Main GardenBurpee24
OnionWalla-WallaMain GardenFedco24

Allium porrum

LeekBleu de Solaize
Brassica oleracea

BroccoliWaltham 29 Main Garden Fedco24
Cauliflower???Main Garden
CabbageLate Flat DutchMain GardenAgway12
KaleDwarfed Blue Main GardenBurpee6

Brassica rapa

Pac ChoiPrize Choyspring gardenFedco18
TatsoiYukina Savoyspring gardenDave18
TurnipEarly Purple Milanspring gardenMTG48

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Seed Planting Time!

This week we will start planting our brassica seed varieties -cabbage, broccoli, kale and cauliflower. We'll begin planting the Asian brassica varieties too -tatsoi, bok choi and turnip. The onion seeds and leek seeds are already overdue by one week. Our seed planting schedule is for our 6b region with an April 20 last frost date. Around here, April 20 is a gamble, but we like to put our stuff out early to give the weather a reason to warm up sooner than later.

Please click here or on the link in the side bar to see our 2014 seed planting schedule.

We became impatient a couple weeks ago and planted several trays of lettuce. It's coming up now, and we're not sure what we're going to do with it. We don't think they could handle the shock of being planted outside in a cold frame. The temperature change is too severe. They're going to be to big to keep in the trays before it warms up.

Maybe we'll plant them in pots and put them in the windows. They are beautiful.

Flashy Trout Back Lettuce
Paris Island

Monday, February 10, 2014

2013 Weight Totals

We began keeping itemized weight totals in 2011. Each year we've steadily increased our yield. We're up again this year, largely because our heavy producers -potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe and corn gave incredible yields.

Watermelon went up 42 lbs this year. Cantaloupe went up 59 lbs, corn 100 lbs and tomatoes had an amazing 136 lb increase over last year. I attribute the tomato weight increase to better weather, better spacing and lots of composted horse manure!

For our own record, and anyone who might be interested, the totals are listed below.


beans (green) 1 lb
beets 5 lb 3 oz
beet greens 2 lb
bok choi 16 lb 2 oz
broccoli 1 lb 4 oz
cabbage 18 lb 5 oz
cantaloupe 75 lb 4 oz
carrots 6 lb 5 oz
cauliflower 6 lb 1 oz
celery 5 lb 7 oz
corn 138 lb 13 oz
egg plant 2 lb 5 oz
jalapeno 4 lb 7 oz
kale 4 lb 14 oz
leeks 6 lb 1 oz
lettuce 30 lb lb 6 oz
okra 4oz
onions 50 lb
peas 6 lb 7 oz
peaches 82 lb 2 oz
potatoes 143 lb 8 oz
pumpkin 54 lb 6 oz
rasp/blueberries 10 lb 12 oz
spinach 12 lb 8 oz
squash 21 lb 2 oz
strawberries 25 lb 2 oz
tomatillo 31 lb 14 oz
tomatoes 327 lb 11 oz
tatsoi 7 lb 12 oz
turnips 11 lb 13 oz
yams 34 lb 3 oz
Watermelon 231 lb 9 oz

Total 1375 lb

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cold Frame Structures and Winter Spinach

I've had plenty of trouble with cold frames. I've tried recycled glass windows. They broke. I've used weather grade plastic sheeting. It tore. I've priced plexiglass. It's outrageous. A friend gave me a great tip. Use cattle fencing as a skeleton for weather grade plastic. You can pick it up at just about any farm store. It's is great! It bends to form a sloped rooftop causing the rain to roll away. It has a strong, 4 inch square pattern that protects the plastic sheeting. It's heavy so the lid stays put, even in strong wind storms. We love it. It's been our perfect solution!

Despite the snow and single digit temperatures, we're growing spinach and enjoying salads in February!

Dave's 2011 seeds -Viroflay Giant

cattle guard frame covered with weather grade plastic and extra light for the long winter nights

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fall Garden Totals

Don't you love fall gardening?

We're seeing more and more freezing nights. But we are still getting carrots, beets, bok choi and lettuce. We have cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, but the heads are so small that I don't expect them to mature in time.
Our favorite right now is the spinach that is growing in one of the cold frames. 

Here's our harvest totals for September and October:

Celery                 1 lb   5 oz
Corn                 60 lb  13 oz
Egg Plant            2 lb    5 oz
Leek                   3 lb   9 oz
Pumpkin              4 lb   6 oz
Squash               1 lb    5 oz
Tomatillo           26 lb 14 oz
Tomato           101 lb 15 oz
Watermelon      11 lb

Total              213 lb  15 oz

Monday, September 9, 2013

August Harvest Totals

We're still keeping a record. Speaking of records we picked a 31 pound watermelon last week! It was delicious.

cantaloupe       61 lb 11 oz
cabbage             3 lb  1 oz
jalapeno             3 lb   9 oz
leeks                  2 lb   8 oz
onions              45 lb
peaches            82 lb    2 oz
potatoes         133 lb    8 oz
pumpkin           50 lb
raspberry            7 lb  13 oz
summer squash    8 lb
tomatoes         166 lb   5 oz
Watermelon    220 lb   9 oz

August Total   801 lb   9 oz

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July Harvest Totals

This July has been productive. We've really enjoyed a surprise harvest of volunteer potatoes. We took them out as baby potatoes because they were destroying our onions. Very tasty Purple Vikings and German Butterballs from Fedco.

Our larger potato patch is doing well. We have a new 20x10 corn bed with Silver Queen growing. They look wonderful. We're also enjoying what could become a bumper crop of watermelon. The winter squash is a moving kind of slowly. We're patiently waiting to see more fruit starts.

Finally, here's a picture of some of our Ventura celery harvest and sauerkraut we're fermenting. Happy Gardening!

Cabbage (Red) 15 lb 14 oz
Celery 4 lb  2 oz (Ventura)
Kale 2 lb 8 oz
Onions  5 lbs (Walla Walla & Rossa Lunga)
Potatoes 10 lb (volunteers)
Squash (summer) 3 lb 1 oz
Tomatoes 26 lb 14 oz
Okra 4 oz

Total 67 lb 11oz