Most visited this week:
Fighting tomato blight with pennies
The best chicken breeds for homesteaders
Square foot gardening rebuttal
Smallest wood stoves
Refrigerator root cellar chimney cap
A year ago this week:
Heated kennel pad update
Got Sun? Go Solar?
Movie star root cellar and farm tour
Chicken pasture gate latch
Walden Effect Facebook page
We've still been having an
issue with rats in the chicken coop.
Last year at this time, we were chowing down on kale and lettuce leaves that survived the winter under quick hoops
and started rebounding as the weather warmed up. Not so in
2014. I was able to find a handful of brussels sprouts that had
been protected under the mulch for dinner Wednesday, but otherwise it's a
waiting game right now. The new lettuce I planted a few weeks ago
has sprouted and some of the kale plants survived and are sending out
new leaves, both of which we'll be eating in a few weeks.
positive side of the cold winter is that it helped me get a more solid
handle on the cold hardiness of various greens. Last winter, Fordhook Giant Swiss chard
survived the winter with no protection, so I thought the Swiss chard
might be just as hardy as our kale. Not so. Swiss chard I
protected with quick hoops this winter completely perished, along with
the Laciniato kale, but my troopers (Red Russian and Dwarf Siberian kale) survived the subzero temperatures under their quick hoops.
I used to think of Red
Russian as the more delicate of my two dependable kale varieties, but it
turns out that the smaller variety did better during this excessively
cold winter. Those of you in the true north should take note and
plant accordingly, although I'll admit that if we started having winters
like this one more regularly, I'd follow Eliot Coleman's advice and erect a high tunnel over my quick hoops.
What would I do differently
when installing another heavy
duty shade trellis?
As you may have noticed,
I've been running a bit of an ongoing series here with answers to
questions new chicken-keepers might have. Previous posts included how to hatch homegrown chicks and how to choose the best chicken breeds for homesteaders.
Today I want to touch on a topic that's not so photogenic, but that
needs to be considered by anyone who wants to get into chickens --- how
to protect those delicious morsels from the wild animals who'd love
nothing more than to eat them up.
We upgraded our grape
shade trellis today.
I'm always of two minds
about the first spring flowers. On the one hand, I really, really
want to see them, not just for myself, but for my hungry bees. But
on the other hand, I know that early blooms on the fruit trees often
mean no harvest that year due to late freezes. So I decided to
poke back through the blog to determine when our peaches and crocuses
have bloomed in past years, and how that relates to the subsequent peach
This Snap On extra long ratchet driver made
these hard to reach jobs easier.
After quite a bit of experimentation,
last year I settled on a very simple (but effective) method of
propagating figs. I take hardwood cuttings and sink them about
eight inches into damp stump dirt
in a pot, put the pot on a heating pad, and ignore it for a few weeks
until I need the heating pad for something else. I water
occasionally during those heating-pad weeks and during the subsequent
weeks, keeping the soil at the moisture level appropriate for
seed-starting (or just a hair drier), and put the pots in a sunny spot
once the leaves begin to push out of the buds. By the end of the
summer, the cuttings are extraordinarily well rooted and are ready to go
into the ground.
A popular chicken hang out
during snow days is under our old camper.
If you want to go to a
conference 45 minutes from your father's house and want to squeeze in a
visit at the same time, do you attend the conference first and visit
afterwards, or do you have family time right off the bat? Mark's
gut said the latter, and I think he was right, since I wanted to see
Daddy more than I wanted to learn at the conference...and some weeks I
can't manage even one night away from home. After a wonderful
visit on Friday, I managed to net two whole hours of sleep, and that
only came once I gave up on the bed in the guest room and on the quiet
and comfortable couch and went to squeeze myself into the back seat of
the car. (Yes, I am the world's weirdest sleeper and really like
small spaces. I should have brought my tent.)
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