Tater Time and Crossed Fingers

The ones in the box have been morphing from potatoes to aliens. The ones beside the box are some organic russets from the grocer. It was time to put them in the garden bed. There are now 32 potatoes planted and hoping that the spring like weather holds or they stay small enough to cover. Any potatoes from these will be bonuses.

The two beds nearest the old raspberries are challenge, sprouts are popping up everywhere there isn’t cardboard or weed mat down. Every trip over there results in digging out more volunteers. I hope I win the battle before it is time to put the tomatoes and peppers in the bed, the rest are in the blueberries and require carefully digging so I don’t damage the roots of the blueberries.

I have a sick laying hen. She is isolated in the garage and doesn’t look any worse, but not improving much either. It will be several months before the littles are producing. If this hen doesn’t improve, I will be down to 7 layers. An average of 3 eggs a day.

I finally gave up on the Cilantro seed and started a germination test with the seed I used and a different batch. Hopefully I will end up with some sprouts soon. If not, I will have to buy plants when they are available.

I planted Baptisia in the garden last fall which is one of the techniques I read about, then put more seed in the hydroponic garden. I’m hoping it comes up in one place or the other.

The tomato starts continue spending most days outdoors on the deck and in the south windows at night and until the mornings reach 50. Daughter and I want too many different varieties of peppers, so I am hoping for healthy starts from the nursery in about another few weeks.

On a non gardening note, I finished my second breed for the blanket and knit two squares.

I have realized that have been too obsessive about trying to get two or three breeds for the blanket done when the requirement is for 1. This has resulted in not getting anything else knit or woven. If I am going to have anything in my shop in the fall for holiday shows, I am going to have to cut back and get some other items done.

First Hummer

I finally spotted my first Hummingbird of the season on the feeder this morning and didn’t have my camera and it would have been taken through a screen anyway.

It was spotted as I cracked windows and doors to turn on the self clean feature of the oven. I don’t need a house full of smoke and that was what was happening every time I used the oven above 350f. I can get it clean and the first thing I cook in it will spill over and the problem begins again.

After dinner last night, I decided to try the hens loose in the yard again, hoping they would all return to the Palace by dark. Without taking down the fencing, I just made a 3 foot wide opening and let them go. Again, they ran straight to the old coop and run area and peck around outside it, but by dusk, they had all returned to the safety of the Palace. Seven perched on the ladders and one still exploring the food and water options. This morning, I removed the wire roll and reconfigured the poultry mesh to give them a pen with an opening and let them out. The opening is large enough for the hens to come and go but will deter our dogs, though I don’t think they will bother the hens as the hens are used to seeing them and don’t run from them.

The chicks now all come running toward the open door with me standing in it when I go over to give them treats or refresh their food and water. All but a few will peck treats from my hands. I am hopeful that they are seeing me as the giver of good, not evil so they will come to the shaken treat cup when they are big enough to let out in the yard. All 15 still seem hale and hearty and I find them perched on coop frame as well as perches when I go over. The two smaller Buff Orpingtons are catching up in size, but one of the Marans is still appreciably smaller than the rest.

The treat giver cometh.
The small Maran is at about 11 o’clock in this picture, between the the cluster of browss and the three larger Marans.

They are beginning to look like small chickens with pretty feathers, not the gawky adolescents they were just a week or so ago. The big girl feeder and water dispenser suit them well. I wish the couple that are still shy would come around before I start letting them into the pen. Late this week, we have a couple of cooler nights, not freezing, but I’m glad to see rich feathers on these gals.

While I was putzing around in the kitchen, I spotted this shoot. It looks like one of my succulents is blooming.

A few days ago, I spotted a very alien looking sprout in the succulent nursery, it wasn’t a succulent. I pulled it out and there was as much under soil as above and attached to the bottom was an almond shell. The holiday nut bowl had been on the counter behind them. I guess one dropped and sprouted several months later. I didn’t bother to keep it or pot it, but it was curious to see. When the dishwasher installer came, I found 3 almonds and a pecan still in their shells under the old dishwasher. That was even more curious as the dishwasher had a kickplate on the bottom that was so close to the floor, it was difficult to remove.

When Daughter and her kiddos came for Easter dinner and the egg hunt, they brought me a bouquet of flowers. On Saturday, I bought a small bouquet of tulips from Stonecrop Farm at the Farmer’s Market. Today, what was still thriving from the Easter bouquet were added to the tulips to decorate the dining table.

I haven’t wanted to cut the daffodils that I just planted this spring from prestarted bulbs, so it is nice to have some cut flowers in the house. Two of the stems from the Easter bouquet are dried or ones that will dry, so they were removed to a small pottery jug without water on the mantel to look pretty next winter as well. As other ones come in the house that can be dried, they will be added. I am hopeful that the Baptisia will germinate and grow enough to produce the pods that can be used to dye fiber blue like indigo, those pods are pretty dried as well.

I want to plant a Pussy Willow in the yard. I love when the catkins come out in the early spring and then turn to white flowers that look almost like small Magnolia flowers. I didn’t get any branches with catkins this year, just watched them develop along the Huckleberry Trail during our walks. I also want to add a second Hazelnut so maybe we will get nuts. Though they are a native shrub here, there must not be another anywhere nearby as the one we planted has never produced nuts.

Only a couple more hours of the nasty oven cleaning smell, though not as bad as chemical cleaners, then the noise of the vents and fans can cease, the oven cool down so it can be wiped clean.

Soon I will plant potatoes. The Virginia Extension site says they can go in soon. There are sprouted Kennebecks left from the fall purchases at the Farmer’s Market and about 10 sprouting chunks of Russets from a bag of organic potatoes I purchased at the grocer. I must pull out the spacing instructions and we will have to purchase more soil. They are going in the bed that is built on cardboard over the hardpack part of the garden where I couldn’t get corn to grow. It is filled deep enough to get them started with bagged soil and compost from the bin, but as the potatoes grow, I will continue to fill that box side dressing them until there is a good layer of soil in it. I think that box may be my winter crops as it has the deepest sides and I can make a mini hoophouse out of it in late fall.

We Survived

The two cold days and frigid nights are in our past. Hopefully, the last of the season, but it is still 5 weeks to last frost date. The covered young plants all survived, though I need to made the fence tunnels for the two 4 foot square beds so I can drape plastic over them to make a mini hoop houses. The plastic shower curtain liners wouldn’t stay taut enough to not droop down on top of some of the seedlings. Yesterday I pulled them back tight and this morning they were droopy again.

The chicks in the garage did fine, though they are so very crowded in the big water trough. I do want to power wash the inside of the coop before I put fresh straw in it to move them. Three are still smaller than the others, but all have feathers and I think they will be fine with the warmer nights upcoming.

Saturdays are Farmer’s Market days and this was the first week the opening changed from 10 a.m. to 8 a.m. and I didn’t want to be there that early, so I feared it would be mobbed. It was so cold, it was mostly vendors out there, bundled up and standing out in the sun in front of or behind their stalls. The weeks goodies were purchased and we went down to Tractor Supply to get chick feed and some poultry fence so I could build a temporary pen for the big hens. They have been cooped in the Palace for a week, it is dark in there with no windows except some hardware cloth high on the south end and a hardware cloth door on the north end. Once home, a small 64 square foot pen was erected and they were allowed out into the grass to peck and scratch. If they return into the Palace on their own for the next few nights, I will remove the pen and give them free range time again.

I don’t really want to have to set real fence posts and erect a wire fence to give them more room if they balk at using the Palace as their new home. I have the posts and the old fence wire available if I have to take that route.

Tomorrow I will have daughter and her kiddos here for Easter dinner. I have hidden some eggs with trinkets and coins in them for an Easter Egg hunt, though I suspect grandson will find it childish as a young teen. Granddaughter will enjoy it. There are six different colors of eggs and I have assigned 3 colors to each, plus a small Chocolate bunny each, so it will be fair and no arguments (I hope). At the Farmer’s Market I bought Hot Cross buns for the bread for dinner to go with the ham, au gratin potatoes with local cheese, and a green salad or cooked vegetable. I wish the asparagus were up, but not yet. Daughter will bring deviled eggs and we will enjoy some time togther. I found out this week that both sons have had at least one vaccine, so maybe we will be able to see all of our family again soon.