Friday, January 24, 2014


Today it was above freezing, and so I planted some prairie seeds that I should have planted last fall.  They will still easily get their 60 or 30 days of cold they need - I just hope birds dont' eat them again this year.  I mixed them all together, and put them on the east side of the garage.

Stiff goldenrod, Prairie Coreopsis, New England Aster, Anise Hyssop, and Butterfly Weed.  I used about half of what was left in each packet, and maybe I'll start some indoors.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Garlic Planting

I'm very behind schedule this year, but I decided I didn't want to skip garlic.  I found Keene Organics on Local Harvest, and they were great.  I ended up calling, because there were so many choices, but I was so late in the year, I didn't know what they'd have.  The woman I talked to was helpful, and I ended up getting a package - 4 varieties for a total of 3 pounds.  I have no idea how many pounds I planted last year, but this listing said it would be enough for a family, plus plenty to plant.  So that's what I got.  It ended up costing $50.30, including shipping, which was fast - two days, I think.

Here's what she sent:
Chesnok Red (Purple Stripe) - 7 bulbs, about 12 cloves each.  I planted them in bed #9, on the east 2/3.
German Red Rocambole - 3 bulbs, about 12 cloves each.  I planted them north of the strawberries in a row along the path.
Georgian Crystal Porcelain - 3 bulbs, about 6 cloves each.  They went north of the German Red in a row about six inches away.
Inchelium Red Artichoke Softneck - 8 bulbs.  I didn't count the cloves, but I ended up with 16 rows of 8, which adds up to a crapload.  They are in all of bed #2, except the walking onions on the east side, and the west 2 feet of bed #7.

They're all hardneck, except the artichoke.  Softnecks tend to store longer, but she said porcelains store pretty well.  Here's hoping, I guess.  There's a flyer with lots of info that I'm sticking in the garden notebook.

The woman also suggested soaking them in fish emulsion and then vodka.  She said I could skip the vodka, but the fertilizer would really get them started well.  The directions she sent call for soaking the cloves in a gallon bucket with  1T baking soda and 1T fish emulsion, for 15 minutes to overnight, then 20 minutes in vodka, isopropyl alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.  I soaked them in 1T baking soda and 1T of my fertilizer, which is Gardener's Supply All Purpose Fertilizer, from animal and vegetable sources.  I re-used the water once, so that the Inchelium Red was first, then German Red.  Fresh water for Chesnok Red, then reused for Georgian Crystal.  It said to take the paper off.  I did take the outside paper off - not sure if the clove covers count as paper.  A few of those came off, but not many.  I skipped the sterilizing soak.  Supposedly this soak helps them start growing in about three days.  That's impressive.

I haven't mulched yet.  It is supposed to rain and snow for the next couple of days, but then warm up again this weekend.  So I will mulch over the weekend, with bean straw.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Red Ranger chickens

The chickens were scheduled to go in to be processed at the very end of August, but when I showed up the night before to pick up crates, there were signs on the door saying they were closed until further notice.  Dad knew of another place in Cherokee, which fit  us in yesterday.  We took in 35 - 5 were White Rocks, 1 Salmon Favorelle, 1 old Silver-Laced Wyandotte (Ruby), and 28 were Red Rangers.

The Red Rangers got to be huge chickens.  I haven't weighed any of them, but they must be easily 6 pounds.  They also got to be total assholes.  The roosters picked on the hens *so* meanly.  A couple of the hens were also laying.  Normally my chickens have laid at about five months, around November, - these started laying in August, so about three months.  Crazy!  I guess they just matured early in general.

I started with 6 White Rocks, I think I lost one to Besty.  There were 36 Red Rangers in the beginning.  I lost two right before we took them in - I'm assuming from the heat.  They were never that active of birds, and it got quite hot in the beginning of September, although it's been a mostly cool summer.  That means I lost 6 to early sickness and Besty.  Not as bad as I thought it was.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

First Fruits

This summer, we had a number of new fruits.  I'm writing this later this winter, so I'm not really sure on dates at all.

Peaches, which were incredibly delicious.  The end of August, I'm pretty sure.  They were ripe all of a sudden, and almost rotten about 2 weeks later?  It was really fast.  The peach is a Contender from Gurneys, planted in the spring of 2011.

Blackberries.  There weren't that many, but they were tasty and tart.  Prime Jan from Jung, planted in spring 2011.

Black raspberries.  Just a few.  Bristol Black from Jung, spring of 2012.

Red currants.  Only from one bush.  They were planted together, so that's a bit odd.  Although this year they were OVERRUN by volunteer sunflowers, so maybe that's what's hurting the other bush.  That and two years of drought...  Red Lake #1 from Gurneys, planted in spring of 2011.

Gooseberries.  Weird, but tasty.  They were good right off the bush, not just cooked, as I had read.  Pixwell, from Gurneys, planted the same spring.

So, I guess I'm glad that I planted so much fruit that first spring, in defiance of common sense.  I'm hoping there will be even more this coming spring.  I'm dying for some cherries and plums, which were planted in 2010.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Apple Tree Identification

This morning when I went out to check on the chickens, I noticed that the northwestern-most tree, our earliest apple tree, had dropped almost all its apples very recently.  So we picked up a five-gallon bucket of fallen apples, and I now have about eighty cups of apples simmering on the stove.  I'm using the "Feeding the Whole Family" approach again, minus cinnamon and sugar.  The only issue is that I did my math wrong when adding the last 10 cups of apples, and added about twice as much salt as I should have.  Ooops.  Worse case scenario is having to cook some more apples.

I took a few pictures of the apples as I was cutting them.  I'm very curious what kind of trees are in our old orchard.  This tree ripens every year by mid-August.  This year the apples were pretty small,  but there were tons of them.  They aren't very good eaters - bit mushy, and tart to mix with the sweetness - but they make great applesauce.  Two years ago I made all my applesauce with them, and probably will again this year.  (Last year we didn't have many apples because of an early spring, then late frost.)  Here are photos of the apples and the tree.

A few weeks ago at the farmer's market in town, someone was selling Empire apples.  They were green, and she said they weren't good for eating, but were great for cooking.  She also said when they turn red, they all drop off the tree, which is just what these did.  Empire is an old apple variety, so I'm going to look into that.

Monday, August 19, 2013

My children are the worst namers of cats.

We are overrun with cats right now.  The cold weather this spring caused me to put off fixing one of the mother cats, so we had two litters this spring - one of four, one of five.  Only one died.  And of the eight kittens, only one seems to be male (there is one we can't catch).  So I guess we'll be spending all our money on the vet this fall.  T uses old lady names; for the rest of the kids it's a terrible free-for-all.

Chicken Soupy
Bobo Brothers
Hissy Pie
Gllgll (or Nikoli Gogol)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gardening Fails

This time of year, I tend to feel like a total failure because my garden is never what I hoped it would be.  This year, I got too lazy about watering the seed starts in my basement, and most of the peppers and all the cabbage died.  Then this blog comes in handy, because compared to last year, I'm doing great.  I haven't had all my seedlings eaten off by cutworms, while still in my basement.  I haven't had seed starts blow away multiple times.  It doesn't help as much as it probably should, nor does thinking about two years ago's "garden," or jungle of pigweed and lamb's quarter.

I was foolish enough to buy a small greenhouse (on super sale) and set it up.  It promptly blew over and collapsed, in what amounts to a stiff breeze around here.  My tomato seedlings are leggy and unplanted, my garden mostly in chaos, and being taken over by grass, and once again my carrots seem unwilling to come up.  BLEH.