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.

Sunday Musings

The trek to better health kicked off with a bang on Monday when I hiked with Daughter and her two kiddos. It was a great morning that reminded me what a sluggard I had been all winter. Over the past couple of years, I have let a few pounds settle around my middle. My BMI is still normal, but the pictures of me on Monday and the many stops to catch my breath on the ascent caused me to pause and re evaluate. Every weekday this past week and today, there was a good walk taken, my diet again cleaned up of bad habits I was slipping into such as grabbing a few Wheat Thins or a graham cracker a couple times a day, going out for ice cream or making popcorn too many nights a week, not drinking enough water. I don’t need those snacks, I’m not hungry when I get them. If I get hungry, I will eat an ounce of Pistachio nuts that I have to crack from the shell and wash them down with a HydroFlask of water. I’ve started carrying that bottle with me all the time now. In less than a week, progress is being seen. I can again walk up the hill to the mailbox without stopping part way to catch my breath. I have seen a few pounds slide back off my frame. There are a few more to go.

Yesterday was Market day and though I didn’t need much, we enjoy the change in routine on Saturday’s. I had preordered some more garden starts and to reach the minimum sale order, added a bag of lettuce mix and a bunch of salad turnips. The starts were my cabbage plants and some leaf lettuce from which you can repeatedly cut for salads or sandwiches. They were tucked in the bed that will eventually have the popcorn and winter squash at the other end, the longest of the new beds, and covered with the floating row cover over the new poles. They get light, water, and a barrier to the cabbage moth that lays her eggs to produce the little green cabbage worms that make lace from the brassicas. The row cover protected the other lettuce, spinach, and kale from a hail storm on Friday. Last night they were well watered in with heavy rain storms. While I was tucking the new plants in, I noticed at least a dozen raspberry canes coming up in and around the blueberry bed which is next to where the failed barrels that had contained the raspberries had been sitting. They were all dug out and I will have to be vigilant to continue to remove them until the runners all die off.

It took the hens less than a day to remove every blade of grass in the temporary pen. This morning, I took one of the rolls of fencing that I have yet to remove to storage, mostly because the tractor still hasn’t been returned, and enlarged their temporary pen. I’m sure by nightfall, it will be barren too. I may try again tomorrow to open it and see if they will return to that coop by nightfall. I can’t keep them penned in there forever. I really should purchase a 100 foot roll of electric mesh and just move them around each day or two to protect them from domestic and wild predators. That way they are in grass each day but safe.

I finished spinning two breeds for the Breed Blanket Project. The official one for the month was North Ronaldsay, a sheep breed from Scotland and the Orkney Islands. They roam the coast, will eat seaweed, and get sand and other material in their wool. Much of it is processed in a small mill in the Orkney Islands. It wasn’t too bad to spin, and it knit up nicely, but I sure wouldn’t want to wear it next to my skin nor knit it on the edge of the blanket.

The second breed is Finn, dyed in dark colors. It is spun and plied and I just began my first square of it last night. The smaller blanket above the squares is using up the scraps, each breed marked with a deer antler button on which the breed is written. It will be for display use when done and probably will not contain all the breeds in the big blanket.