Friday, May 30, 2014

Identifying Our New Chickens

Now that the chicks have grown up a bit, almost 3 months old, I set to work identifying our brood.  It turns out that we have a collection of:  Dark Cornish, Black Austrolorps, Buff Orphington, Partridge Rocks, Delaware, Speckled Sussex, Silver Laced Wyandotte, Red Star, Americana, New Hampshire Red, and Rhode Island Reds.  Twenty eight in all.

Here are examples of each kind:


Black Austrolorps

Buff Orphington

Dark Cornish


Partridge Rock

Red Star

Rhode Island Red

Silver Laced Wyandotte
Speckled Sussex
New Hampshire Red

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Chick's Have Come Home to Roost

We decided to get a batch of chicks from the Murray McMurray Hatchery.  We ordered 25 and they sent two free ones, one that is a exotic chick.  They all made the trip in their little mothership of a box.

 They were born and shipped out on Saturday and we picked up on Monday morning after a call from the post office.  They got settled in their new home all fluffy and small. 

Day 3 (Day of their arrival)

After a week and a half they are starting to get their wings and stretch their limbs.  We lost three from the bunch, but they seem to have stabilized.  I'm sure there's some percentage of chick mortality figures out there...

Day 12

What Can You Plant?

Now that Spring has arrived, what can you sow outdoors in the Pacific Northwest? Hardy leafy greens and spring peas. Green onions, Cilantro, Radishes, Turnips, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Potatoes. Under a cloche you can sow baby carrots, parsley, broccoli, cabbage, beets, endive, and lettuce. There's still time to start indoors; your tomatoes, peppers, celery, and leeks. Time to start your Zinnias indoors.

The starts from the seeds I planted in January and February are growing steadily now.  


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Transplanting Your Seedlings

When your seedlings form their second set of leaves, it's time to transplant them into individual containers.  They can then form a good root ball that will take them into the garden or a bigger container.  Yesterday I transplanted the lemon cucumbers, cabbage, endive and lettuce.  There will be more this coming weekend.

We also finished the onion box made of a wood box that contained metal roofing from the barn.  Onions don't need a deep box, so this will be perfect for planting my Walla Walla starts when they are a little bigger.

March Madness

The frog song is noticeably louder, with no individual croak heard, only the whole en mass in stereo.  Like our pond is the center of the frog universe where all the male frogs have come to woo their women.  It's not just our pond though, but all the ponds and interconnecting streams that surround this neighborhood that sings.

While I can't differentiate or begin to identify which frogs hang out in my back yard, here's a list of regional amphibians that might come a courtin'. 


American Bullfrog -- Rana catesbeiana
Cascades Frog -- Rana cascadae
Columbia Spotted frog -- Rana luteiventris
Oregon Spotted Frog -- Rana pretiosa
Green Frog -- Rana clamitans
Northern Leopard Frog -- Rana pipiens
Pacific Chorus Frog -- Pseudacris regilla = Pacific Treefrog - (Hyla regilla or Pseudacris regilla)
Northern Red-legged Frog -- Rana aurora
Coastal Tailed Frog -- Ascaphus truei
Rocky Mountain Tailed Frog -- Ascaphus montanus


Great Basin Spadefoot -- Spea intermontana
Western Toad -- Bufo boreas
Woodhouse's toad -- Bufo woodhousii

Here is a cool link to a site that is about nature watching.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Learning to Wet Felt

The spinning guild I belong to also has programs on other aspects of fiber.  Tonight we learned to wet felt using some beautiful wool.  I chose a luscious orangy, almost terra cotta color.  This is the first step to completing a pair of felted mittens.

First we laid our thin layers of carded wool in three layers, the grain facing opposite directions.

 The batting is sandwiched between a layer of plastic and bubble wrap, and netting. 

Then soapy water is poured on it so that the whole batt soaks it up, while you massage it in thoroughly.

 Gently roll it up and tie.  Roll it back and forth slowly like rolling a jelly roll. 


After the final rolling, unroll and determine if all the areas look done.

Bunch it up and drop it in a bin until it is evenly dimpled.

Rinse the soap out and hang to dry.


The next step is cutting the mittens out of the felted wool...

I'm excited to make some alpaca felt, incorporating some ideas that I've seen and making corsets or wedding gown bodices of it. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Winter Winds


O thou whose face hath felt the Winter’s wind,
Whose eye has seen the snow-clouds hung in mist,
And the black elm tops ‘mong the freezing stars!
To thee the spring will be a harvest time.
O thou whose only book has been the light
Of supreme darkness, which thou feddest on
Night after night, when Phœbus was away!
To thee the spring shall be a triple morn.
O fret not after knowledge. I have none,
And yet my song comes native with the warmth.
O fret not after knowledge! I have none.
And yet the evening listens. He who saddens
At thought of idleness cannot be idle,
And he’s awake who thinks himself asleep.

– John Keats (1795-1821)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

President's Day Weekend 2014

In view of her recent stormy mood, Nature seemed full of regretful relentings on Monday, and, as if to make amends for her harshness, assumed something of a summer softness. The sun had not the glaring brightness that dazzles, and the atmosphere, purified by the recent rain, revealed through it's crystal depths objects with unusual distinctness.  ~ E.P. Roe, Opening A Chestnut Burr

Before the rain and wind came this morning, I got right out and planted my peas, using the "tomato" cages that I've found to be too weak for tomatoes but perfect for bush pea supports.  On the end with the metal teepee, I planted Chinese peas to climb it.

I also worked on the hardware for the new onion bed once the rain started, inside the barn cutting two by fours for the saw horses that will hold the re-purposed metal roofing box that will be the "raised" bed for the onions. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Checking In On My Babies on Valentine's Day

Here are what I call my January babies, named for the month they were sown.  By mid February, most seeds have come up.  I'll separate and transplant them into containers in a week or two. 

January Babies - Leeks, Walla Walla, Endive, Lettuce, Snap Dragon, Petunia

There's many ways to start your seeds.  For the longest time I started them in peat pellets, but now that I'm planting more, there are flats that you can use.  In January I only had a few different plants that I could start, so I used a non-divided flat and just divided it off by hand.  In February, there were so many different plants I could start, and wanting to maximize space, used a subdivided flat.  Each row holds a different kind and can hold a lot of seeds, more than the average garden can hold, so you've maximized your growing space under your lights.

February Babies - Viola, Heliotrope, Pansy, Lavender, Parsley, Tomato (Stupice, Yellow Pear, Oregon Spring), Pepper (King of North, Cubenelle), Cabbage, Cucumber (lemon, pickling), Cauliflower, Celery, Celeriac, Beet, Broccoli, Asparagus

All your seeds need is light, moisture and warmth.  To start them, when it's chilly out, use your warming pad to start the process.  Keep the light on them twenty four hours a day.  Babies like the light and are in a continuous state of vegetative growth.  Just don't let them dry out.  

Tonight I heard the first frog of the season, croaking a Valentine tune to the ladies.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pacific Northwest Tested Seeds

I was watching Cisco the other day and he was introducing Osborne Seeds, a seed outlet that tests their seeds in the Pacific Northwest.  All the seeds they carry to their knowledge are non-GMO seeds.

It's nice to know the seeds you buy are suited for the Pacific Northwest.  Many stores buy preset generic sets of seeds which may or may not be the best choice for your area.  I always spend a little time researching the seeds before buying so I won't be wasting my time later, but if you can find a seed company that does it for you, you're already ahead of the game.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Garden Ideas

In my garden there is a large place for sentiment.  My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams.  The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.  ~Abram L. Urban

I'm always trying to find garden ideas.  Like these raised beds made of rock. Now that's a natural look that's practical and appealing. 

Garden Ideas   

Then there's recycling and reusing.

A vertical pallet garden.

And for space minded gardeners...

Small Garden Ideas


Monday, February 3, 2014

Celebrate Gardening Open Day

Gardening, like boating, needs a day to celebrate the opening of the season.  I always choose President's Day, this year February 17th, because officially you can plant peas and onions outside.  The rush of spring just knocking on the garden gate.

I love chinese snow peas; the magenta flowered Carouby de Maussane pea is my favorite.  You don't have to plant too many because they are prolific producers.  The flowers are gorgeous, and to the naked eye, seductively beautiful.  In addition, this year I'm planting Knight Pea and Early Frosty Pea.

 I'll be planting a few onion starts too, although I'm leaving room for the Walla Walla's I started from seed in January. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Groundhog Day 2014

Hmmm...six more weeks of winter.  Well over here in the Northwest, it's been pretty mild so get your garden gloves on.  Take a look at your beds and start dreaming of what to put in them.

I've got some compost this year and some good dirt to add to them.  I'm going to cloche a couple of them so I can work them a little earlier than the others. 

I saw this pallet garden idea that looked so intriguing that I want to try it.  You can staple some landscape fabric on the bottom and fill with dirt.  I'm thinking at an angle propped against a wall would be cool, or stacked for a raise bed look. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

February Indoor Seedings

Part of the reason to keep a garden diary or in this case a blog is to keep track of what you are planting when and how they come out from seedling to harvest.  That way you can adjust and help your garden.  I moved eleven miles away; away from the Puget Sound, higher in elevation, more centered in the convergence zone and in a sunnier patch of earth, changing the timing of the garden.  All said, I know I have a better location than the one at my other house.

Today I sowed indoors:

Flowers ~ Viola, Heliotrope, Pansy, Lavender

Herbs and Vegetables ~ Parsley, Tomato (Stupice, Yellow Pear, Oregon Spring), Pepper (Cubenelle, King of the North), Cabbage, Cucumber (Lemon, Boston Pickling), Califlower, Celery, Celeriac, Beet, Broccoli and Asperagus.

The January seedlings are almost ready to be transplanted to individual containers.

House Wren by Donna Caplinger

Inspiring February

 "Rich meanings of the prophet-Spring adorn,
Unseen, this colourless sky of folded showers,
And folded winds; no blossom in the bowers;
A poet's face asleep in this grey morn.
Now in the midst of the old world forlorn
A mystic child is set in these still hours.
I keep this time, even before the flowers,
Sacred to all the young and the unborn."

-  Alice Meynell, In February
February Forest with Sheep By Diana Harrison
"Surely as cometh the Winter, I know
There are Spring violets under the snow."

-  R. H. Newell 

February Gardening Chores - Links

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Working Towards Spring

I know of nothing that makes one feel more complacent...than to have vegetables from his own garden...It's a kind of declaration of independence. --Charles Dudley Warner (My Summer in a Garden)

As spring draws nearer, bypassing winter I look forward to it as soon as the winter solstice arrives.  January I start plotting and planning, planting a few things inside in January. Winter doesn't exist if I don't let it.  Every year the garden gets a little better.  Mostly because after moving here 4 years ago I'm finding my routine so I can focus on building up the garden. 

The first thing I had to do is find the best location on the property (2.32 acres).  So I took notice of where the sunniest spot was during all seasons of the year.  Where was the sunniest spot for the longest amount of time during the day?  After I found that, Larry and I started building the garden.  4 x 8 ft 12" raised beds.  We built 8 boxes and ordered in some dirt.  We started with them half full the first year, because it took a lot of dirt and sweat just to get them that full.  Every year we add more dirt and compost to the boxes so little by little they'll end up full.

Every year is a learning lesson.  What didn't work, what did well, how much to plant and how much not to.  Always at the end of the year, you already want the next to start so you can do it better.    

Cold Storage Project

Very often I stop and think (one must) of the hidden life in the cellar storeroom during the winter. I think of all those beings taken from the garden, whom the plucking has not quite killed, and who, without light, barely breathing, live like fakirs, or in limbo. --Fernand Lequenne (My Friend the Garden)

I'm starting this year's project.  A cold storage down in the basement.  So little by little I'll be sharing pictures of the progress in building it.  Here's the beginning:

Step one:  Sweeping and planning where the walls will go.

Step 2:  Covering the ducting.
My plan is to vent the cool air under the addition (where the hole is in the wall) into the cold storage.  Then vent out the warmer air.  I'll be cleaning the floor and painting it then erecting walls with a door.  The plastic shelves work well because they have good venting and will not rust. I may build some different shelving of wood as well as use another shelf like this.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January Babies

Fifty five days til spring.  That's less than 2 months to plan your garden.  All the seeds I planted this month are coming up.  The little Walla Walla seedlings, Leeks, Lettuce mix, petunias and snapdragons bringing up the rear.

I have several projects planned this year.  How many I'll actually get done, we'll see at the end of the year.  One project is building a cloche.  Another is a cold storage room in my basement.  Then there's work on the alpaca pen, a strawberry barrel and other ideas.  One needs more time to the day.  

This weekend we're going to the North Sound Alpaca Association's Winter Social for good food and presentations.  It's a good learning experience every time we go. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Preparing for Spring.

Just placed my seed order for this year. Wonder if I'll have enough room? Wonder if I can keep on task?

KNIGHT PEA (56 days)
CHIOGGIA BEET (55 days heirloom)
CALABRESE BROCCOLI (55 days heirloom)
STUPICE TOMATO (65 days heirloom)
NANTES CARROT (72 days heirloom)
LEMON CUCUMBER (65 days heirloom)
Golden Butter Wax Bean (50 Days)
SMALL SUGAR PUMPKIN (95 days heirloom)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Extending Your Gardening Season

Wipe away those winter blues by planning your spring garden.  Extending your garden season starts in January.  Start prepping your beds for an early planting under a cloche.  I'm planning one bed for lettuce and greens.  Get started by planting your seeds indoors under a light.  Use a warming pad if it is cold.  I have a place out in the barn where I start my seeds, so unheated it needs a little warmth underneath.

Plan out your garden.  Forget about winter and get busy!

In January you can start indoors:

Leeks and Onions
Artichokes, Cardoon, Endive and Lettuce

Bee Balm
Carnations and Pinks
Dahlia  (from seed)
Lawn Daisy
Roman Chamomile
Wax Begonia