Friday, July 31, 2009

Smoothie (Chicken) Shack




In addition to the Chicken Chateau, we now have the Smoothie Shack.

My husband reused two old smoothie signs from a remodeled restaurant to fashion a little chicken coop for Scrambles. Why did Scrambles need her own digs? New chickens alert!


We bought three new hens and the lady threw in a rooster for a dollar. Unfortunately for the rooster, he will become Chicken Tacos in the not too distant future. But he will have a fantastic life of luxury until then. Scrambles did not take too kindly to the teenage pullets- pecking them and chasing them around. We decided she could have her own space at night and free range during the day. The, as of yet unnamed, chickens are currently turning over a new garden bed under the chicken tractor.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Seeds!




So the rest of my order came today from Bakers Creek Heirloom Seeds. And no they aren't sponsoring me, but I wish they would.

We have been eating quite a bit of stir fry lately so I thought we should try to grow some Bok and Pak Choy. After an entire minute of googling I was unable to figure out if there is a difference between Bok and Pak Choy. So we will have to wait and see- that is just the kind of dedicated research you get here at DKITW. We also ordered green and red long noodle beans and they threw in some free Thai Basil. I love getting things for free.

Add in a few more packages of cabbage, lettuce and beets and we are good to go.


Doesn't this look like an amazing festival? Will this guy be there?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Delusions Of Grandeur




Here is the beginnings of our beginnings of our fall garden.

We went a little crazy buying seeds from Baker's Creek Seeds. The more I read the less I am interested in purchasing anything that supports Monsanto. As they gobble up more companies, it gets a little trickier. Enter stage left: Rare Seeds.com.

Plus, it is fun picking out unusual varieties that have been passed down from gardener to gardener for decades. This is only half of what we bought. The rest is in transit. Not to mention the overflowing seed box we already have waiting to be planted. But we can rationalize the purchase because it is so easy to save heritage seeds. We will never have to buy this variety again! (or so we tell ourselves each season.)

We also have some tomato, onion, broccoli and basil transplants growing in the window. You can also see our high tech method of labeling our plants. Popsicle sticks. My family is forced to eat a lot of popsicles to mark these guys. Its hard work - but somebody has got to do it. Now if only it would drop below 100 degrees-we would have ourselves a party.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Edamame




Today's soybean harvest.

It is pretty easy to grow, harvest and cook soybeans-which has me baffled over the high price of edamame from Whole Foods. Not that high prices at Whole Foods should shock me but there is not much easier than heavily salting some water and boiling a few beans for 5 minutes.

Best of all for the garden- soybeans are nitrogen fixers and refresh beds that have been used to grow nitrogen gobblers.

Chili Pequin



We have a Chili Pequin bush doing well. Also known as the Bird Pepper because birds love to eat them. I think ours was transplanted for us by a birdie. Pick a few of these and throw them in a sauce for a spicy kick. Great in Mexican food.

Hot Tip: You can pick a whole bunch at once - they freeze well.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Reports of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

My water bill states that we may soon be going to a stage 3 drought for the first time ever. Which translates into watering with a sprinkler every other week. Truth.

But I may have exaggerated how many of our plants had been fried. After a reassessment- we still have quite a few hardy guys hanging in there.

Here are some happy plants.

The peppers.

The chocolate mint and spearmint.
Nothing can kill the Amaranth.
Satsuma Oranges
The future: baby corn sprouts and pumpkins

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Microgreens: An Inside Job





To beat the heat, we have taken to gardening inside. I planted some saved lettuce seeds in a pot in the kitchen window and plucked them for microgreens for use in salads and sandwiches. I felt so self satisfied with that easy endeavor that when I spotted a packet of Renee's Garden Microgreens at the grocery store- I bought those and planted them too. I only planted a small handful and it seems a really high percentage of them came up. One micro success at a time.

Drought!


The only green patch in our whole lawn is a circle spot normally under my daughter's kiddie pool.

The lead story in The San Antonio Express News today concerns farmers and ranchers arguing if this is the worst or the second worst drought of all time.

Add to that some record highs over 100 degrees weeks in a row and water restrictions... and we have one hell of a sad garden.

Gardening in South Texas is not for the weak of heart.

I shall now list the things that are still alive, as that list will be shorter than what has been killed off:

1. The glorious herb garden- still alive!
2. The peppers like it hot.
3. Soybeans fields.
4. A few tomatoes not (yet) infested with the spider mite.
5. Lemon grass.
6. The Esperanza is going strong.


That is about it. Its a sad state of affairs. The chickens are still hanging in there and laying eggs. The worms are still churning out the compost. Barely.

I feel for the farmers and the ranchers trying to get by around here. We need a really good rain dance.


Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Worm Composting for Women




Ok I think worm composting is for everyone. But after reading about all these amazing women keeping bees and building their own straw bale houses- I thought hell if they can do it- I can do it. And that's what I want you to think about keeping the worms. Plus it can involve sweet shabby chic finds from the thrift store (old wooden night stands) and now hot pink mesh! Whats not to love?

Here's my fool proof plan for harvesting the worm casting.

Don't put any food in the bin for a week or two- depending on how much food is currently in there. You want the worms hungry. Then put something sweet (watermelon rinds, strawberry tops...) that worms really like in an onion bag and put it into the corner. I usually make two onion bags and put them at either end of the bin. After two days pull the bags out-they will be filled with worms- and put them into a holding bucket.

Hot tip: Don't put onions in the onion bags. Worms don't like them.

Now this method gets out a lot of the worms- but what about the worms that are left?

Buy hot pink mesh. Oh ok- buy any color you want. I bought 1/2 a yard for a whopping 35 cents from a fabric store. Rubber band it around the top of a bucket.

Scoop the left over soil from the bin on to the top and sift it out. Only larger chunks of soil and the worms will stay on top.

Put the worms in the holding bucket. Confession: I use a plastic spoon so I don't ever have to touch the worms. This leaves you with really nice fine worm compost in the bottom of the bucket. Repeat until the whole bin is empty. Use worm compost on needy plants. Then rebuild the bin with fresh food scraps, ripped up paper and some dirt. Replace the worms. Ta da!



"A three year old child is a being who gets almost as much fun out of a fifty-six dollar set of swings as it does out of finding a small green worm." Bill Vaughan

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Three Eggs Today!



That's half of a half a dozen!

Which means all three chickens are laying now. The novelty of going to my backyard and picking up eggs has not yet worn off. It's hard to tell from the photo but the two in the middle are from the Americana and are light blue. The darker brown eggs are from our New Hampshire Red- which has laid an egg every day so far. The lighter brown egg is from our bantam, a Silver Laced Wyandotte.

Remember when I said our chickens were not bothering the established crops? Well- that is still true- but we tried to seed alfalfa and more corn- and they tore those sprouts to bits. They managed to fly out of the area we had fenced off behind the garage, which is how they became really really free range in the first place. Tonight after the corn massacre- my husband built a taller fence. The area used to be covered in nice rye grass and some other novelty plants I stuck back there. Now its all dead and dried out. Also the chickens made a really nice nest under the canna lilies and I feel bad they won't be able to use it now. Clearly I have gone insane for the chickens. They are such funny little pets. And last I checked- our dog never made us food.

So now I am trying to think of some nice plants to put back there for the chickens to enjoy.