Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Tiny Egg

Itty Bitty Teeny Tiny Ray of Hope!

This is a very small egg - still not sure if I'd call it a Fairy Egg,
but its close, its the closest we've ever come yet to a Fairy Egg anyway.

Beyond the fact that its an adorable tiny egg - its also our first egg from our young ladies!
My only regret this year is that all my hens are brown layers.
Tomorrow I'm going to see if I can figure out which lovely lady laid this for us.
For tonight, we celebrate new beginnings and more to come!

New Growth - Plum Health

My Stanley Plums new straight leaves!
You can see where something tried to take a few bites out of the newer leaves, so I've continued spraying the tree with water/soap every week or so at night.
Thankfully the new leaves show that an infestation hasn't taken hold a second time.
See Curled Plum Leaves and how I treated them

We bought 4 Concorde Seedless Grape vines to plant,
picked up the bare root cuttings April 25th and soaked them in wet paper for a few days before planting.
Two of the grape's took off almost over night and are over a foot each with lots of growth.
The above grape was my last hold out.
Earlier this week we FINALLY got a leaf to sprout!
Never stop watering grape vines, they are tough and resilient.

This was the other grape that was struggling to survive for a while
but is growing happily now.
Two years from now those vines will be massive and cover tons of fence line!

These grapes came with our house.
The vine had been neglected and looked horrible, we looked up advice and cut the entire plant back to root.
Three years later we are getting some fantastic looking grapes and I can't wait to find out what type they are!

Also my Thornless Blackberries are outpacing my coffee addiction!
They are growing so fast and so much that no matter how quickly I get the leaves to turn green, they flip back around and yellow again!
Next winter instead of putting our coffee grinds on the compost pile I'm freezing it to use on my blackberries next summer!
This is their second summer and I could not have predicted this many berries!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Our Bit of Dirt

Our Bit of Dirt

Previously I've stated that we have a very small urban homestead.
Our property is roughly one quarter acre large. (small)
Yet we've fit so much!

The black and white version shows everything listed out.
*forgot my compost pile - its on the drive way near the large shed*
Sorry for my bad handwriting.
My husband found this amazing program to create a mock up our full yard.
It even has a 3D walk through option - haven't yet figured out how to share that.

What these photos show is what we currently have.
My darling
(and very patient husband)
also made a mock up of our future plans.

One day we would love to move to proper rural land with several acres.
We'd love to have pigs, goats and a cow.
Until then we have chickens and rabbits,
with future plans for ducks and bee's.
Its amazing what you can fit into a small area.
This last year we've focused on returning crops - last year we added in the berries.
This year we added tree's and grapes.

We also focus on different things each year.
Last year I grew cucumbers, cucumbers and even more cucumbers.
So much that I have several years of sweet pickle relish.
Next year I will be planting one trellis of cucumbers, as we've really eaten down my dill pickles.
Found out those are a family favorite.

Last year I made both Plum Jam and Plum BBQ Sauce.
Next time it will ALL be Plum Jam.
While the BBQ Sauce tasted great, my family is addicted to the jam and are currently fighting over my last quart.

This year is also my first year planting onions, as well as successfully growing potatoes.
Here's hoping the potato harvest is a great as think it will be.
Next year I plan on increasing my potato area, future plans are to grow a full year supply for my family.
We increased our garlic patch last year - we LOVE garlic.
As it was last years garlic almost lasted us a year.
Last years carrots almost lasted us a year as well.

I never knew that my gardening goals would go from a summer supply of fresh healthy food to wanting to grow enough for a full year!
No matter the reason (saving money, healthier, no GMO, no pesticides ect)
home grown food just tastes better!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Our Hen House

Our New Ladies!
We finished butchering our older ladies, we cycle our ladies out every two years.
That way the oldest our hens will be is 2 1/2 years old.
Still young enough to be edible without being extremely tough.
When raising chickens you have two good options and one really bad one.

1. Cycle out your chickens every few years to keep a young egg laying flock.

2. Keep your flock until they die of old age, because they are family.
#1 problem with #2 is space. Most cities have limits on how many chickens you can have at a time.
We can't afford to feed a non laying flock.

3. Give away your two year old flock to someone new to chickens who doesn't understand you just gave them a whole flock of birds that will cost them a lot in feed cost and produce fewer eggs.
#3 May sound terrible, yet every spring I see people "giving" away egg laying hen's all 2 years old and healthy.
I am not a fan of #3.

Our Hen House

Silver Laced Wyandotte's

Esther – Purple
Celia – White
Arya – Pink
Sookie – Yellow

Black Astrolorp's

River – Red
Katniss – Green
Nicci – Purple
Lena – Pink

Rhode Island Red's

Ginny – Yellow
Jensen – Red
Saphira - Green


As you can see, we've put bands on the legs of our ladies.
Normally as a rule, you don't NAME an animal you will eat at some point in time.
However when it comes to my chickens and the fact that they aren't a quick turn around animal.
We name and band them - it helps us keep track of each animals health.
If you need to keep track but not get attached
(which you will do anyway chickens are fun & quirky)
band and label by color.

We got our new hen's in January, so they should start laying in the next two or three weeks!
A few are starting to show signs of squatting - which shows they will soon be laying eggs!

Also like all my hens, my ladies are named after some of my favorite written characters.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Hilling Potatoes

Hard to see but that is a 12 inch ruler.
You don't want your potato plant to grow over 12 inches, so as it grows you need to hill it.
  Dirt layer

Compost layer

Each time I hill I add lots of composted material, hay & rabbit poop is my main go to as the plants are literally 6 feet from my grow out bunny pen.
You want the potato to be able to easily grow potatoes and not spend so much energy fighting against the dirt.
However I like adding a layer of dirt to a layer of compost as it helps hold its shape as well as keep water in my growing large mound!
They are growing SO FAST! Here is what they looked like mid May.

Crossing my fingers this year I get a great potato harvest!
Last time we were not prepared!
Didn't plan or research enough and got three teeny tiny things instead of lovely potatoes.
However at the moment everything thing looks perfect!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

When It Heats Up

Its been 95 degrees here! We went from mid 70's one week to 95 the next!
Next week its supposed to dip back down to the 70's!
When the weather jumps up and down that quickly our animals - chickens, rabbits, dogs,
can't adjust that fast - heat is very hard on them.
Heavy panting is a very bad sign!

We have several tricks and tips that we do during the course of the summer to keep them cooler.
First our water system is shaded and keeps the water in their drip lines cooler - on hot day's we will go out and bled a few feet of water from the line to make sure they are getting the colder water and not what's in the line getting hot.

We take out ice bottles - old glass bottles that we fill half way with water and freeze.
I feed them mint leaves when they are old enough and the mama's aren't feeding them.
Mint can dry up their milk supply so you don't want to give it to them while they are feeding but all other times mint is GREAT at helping to cool off.

We have shade for all of our bunnies.
This photo is right before I watered the grass they are laying on. I also made sure to water the wall they were leaning against to help it cool off.
Once I was done watering they went right back and cuddled up to the wet cold wall.
Feel free to post any of your cooling off tricks below!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Chinese Long Beans & Thai Purple Beans

My not yet finished bean trellis!
Hubs is still working on adding the top and the trim.
Next years plan will be to grow the spring peas
on one side before planting summer beans on the other.
Peas in the shady side
Beans on the sunny side.

The first trellis has Purple Thai Beans on the sunny side.
I planted late onions on the shady side when the other Thai Beans didn't sprout there.

Chinese Long Beans on both sides on the second one.

Again both sides of the third trellis is Chinese Long Beans.
Which you can buy from various rare seed dealers
or like us you can have them shipped from China for cheaper.
If you are going to find them on ebay and have them shipped from China
(packaging is super fun! and all in Chinese)
buy them EARLY!
5-6 weeks for them to arrive - as my hubby bought them in Jan we didn't mind waiting.

Chinese Long Beans on Sunny Side
Radishes in the shade.

Yes I would have planted them differently but this was our first time and we did just finished building and putting the trellis in two weeks ago.
I can't wait for it to be complete!
Also can't wait to see all the beans growing up and over it!
Its going to be so pretty!