Day 3 of beautiful garden weather…

but it is going to end tomorrow, 20 degrees f colder and 100% chance of rain. I took advantage of the day to do the fencing work on the garden. The chickens lost about half of their run around the garden. The south edge of it was about 6 or 7′ wide between the inner and outer fence and had 36″ high fencing on the garden side, plus there were gaps beneath the fence they could get under. I also realized that there were asparagus growing almost to the fence on the north side, and the chooks could reach my comfrey through the fence on the west side. That section was only about 3 feet long. I secured them in their pen and and removed the inner fence, set better posts, shifted it away from the asparagus bed and reset it only on the north and east edges of the garden, a narrow open topped tunnel about my shoulder width and 48″ fencing on both sides of the run. They have scratched nearly all the weeds out already, but because of my shifting of the inner fence to narrow their run, I have some areas in the edges of the garden that now need attention. I put a “gate” at both ends in case one of us has to go in the run.

This morning, we drove to daughter’s house and picked up the post pounder and I set 3 T posts from our supply and used a guide rope between the outer two so that the inner two were in line (that doesn’t usually happen when I am fencing). The sturdy exterior welded wire fence was moved in the 6 or 7′ to the south edge of the area that I plant. After I move a few rocks, that area can now be mowed and the working garden is fenced.

The tall weeds and grass are the old fence line.

I didn’t get to the spoiled hay down today because it was recover and dinner prep time by the time I was done. After dinner, I hung the gate.

And pulled down the solar charger so I can get a replacement battery for one of the two we own. All of the extra fencing was rolled and stored. All of the short cuts were folded up to be taken to the “convenience center” where we have to take our garbage and recycling.

While I was doing that work, the tiny spindle I was awaiting arrived in the mail. I thought the spindle I used the most was tiny, but this one is as small as it’s name, Bee Humingbird.

The ruler is for scale. It came in a little tin with the brown alpaca for me to spin. Tomorrow as it rains, I will spin, knit, and recover from 3 days of hard work. On Wednesday when it is dry and cool, I will move spoiled hay to cover the cardboard and weed mat. I will grab some old deck wood from the barn and terrace the upper third of the garden and get spoiled hay down on that path as well. One more day of weeding and hay moving and then it is plant and maintain. If I work a few minutes a few mornings a week into summer, the maintenance shouldn’t be too bad. My garden plan is done, the worst of the prep work is done. Now to start enjoying the fruits of that labor.

The Garden is Prepped

Yesterday and today have been great days for the garden. Yesterday I took the scuffle hoe to the boxes to knock down the weeds beginning to sprout in them and I used the garden fork to clear the back aisle of weeds thinking I would plant the potatoes there. Then I moved back up to the area where the mint was and using the fork, dug everywhere a sprout of mint had emerged. I got a wheel barrow full of roots and sprouts, but I am winning.

This morning first thing, I took the cut potato pieces out and it took me about two heartbeats to realize that the area I cleared yesterday was much too rocky and compacted for potatoes. The 4 X 8 foot bed that had the failed wren nest in it was the next option. It turned up nicely and is adjacent to the area the mint was, so there is lots of good soil beside it that I can use to make the mounds as the potatoes sprout, so they were planted. The garlic, onions, and asparagus were weeded and a couple dozen dandelions dug. After lunch, I was determined to get the rest of the garden ready to plant and to move the “gate” opening down to the wood post so I can hang a real gate on it. That meant moving a T post and I remembered that I had loaned the T post pounder to my daughter. Instead of pounding in the post, I dug it in as it doesn’t carry a load. The aisle below my comfrey plants was extended down all the way to the south fence line. Two wheelbarrow loads of weeds were dug out of the area that will be the three sisters garden and the weeds dumped in the chicken run for them to scratch into compost. I got weed mat down on the south and west edges of the garden, but I ran out of energy before I got all the spoiled hay down. There is a wheelbarrow load of small rocks that need to be relocated, but the hay will have to be another day.

Before lunch
After an afternoon of weeding

There is a bit of fence moving to be done this week, but I need to get the post pounder back. The spoiled hay needs to be put down on the cardboard and weed mat. And I need to wait out a few chilly nights this week, but next weekend may be planting time for the garden. I still need to clean up the edges some, but I feel good about what was accomplished this weekend. During the war, folks were encouraged to grow Victory gardens. This year, my expanded efforts will be a “Pandemic” garden.

True Spring is Here

We are 3 days from our last average frost date. Now I know what average means and to get that date, there has had to be frosts later than May 5, but looking ahead 10 days in the forecast, it looks as though the arrival of the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds at the feeder and our last frost occurred on April 20. I will wait another week from tomorrow to plant the tomato and pepper starts in the garden, but I did put a few of the puny ones that I tried to start in pots on the south deck. Their primary leaves were red rather than green and they came from a packet of mixed hot peppers, so I am curious about what they might be. Because it is a truly gorgeous day, I took advantage of the alone time this morning to remove the barrier fence from in front of the Daylily bed as they are large enough now to discourage chicken scratching, and moved it around the back of the garage to protect the Calendula and Echinacea seedings there as well as taking a hoe and knocking down all of the Lambs quarters that have sprouted in those beds.

I need a part for the line trimmer, line and fuel so I can edge those beds. The Bearded Iris look like they need to be thinned this fall, so I will have to get busy on my garden inside the stone wall to have a place to put some of them. I need to trim the grass down in there again with the line trimmer, then put down a weed barrier and fill it with soil.

First thing after chores, I realized I hadn’t seen Mama Wren flitting in and out of her nest in a day or two, so I took a peek and the 5 tiny birds have fledged.

Bird’s nests fascinate me that such a tiny creature can locate, move, and construct a birthing house. After having had several chicken hatches here and seeing that within half a day they are up, moving around and looking for food, and comparing them to other birds whose eggs hatch into large mouthed, nearly naked creatures demanding food, caused me to look up incubation and fledging times. A song bird sits on her eggs about half as long as a chicken, then the newly hatched birds spend the next two weeks demanding food and growing into their head size and growing feathers before they fledge. Poultry type birds sit on their eggs longer and their young peck out of the eggs more fully developed. And I already have a broody mama-wanna-be Oliver Egger hen. Though I love their green eggs, they are such a broody variety that I will not get Auracana, Americana, or Oliver egger chicks in the future. I spend my spring and summer trying to discourage the natural behavior. Maybe I should just get some fertile eggs and let her sit. I think I want to return to a tried and true breed and only have one breed when these hens are replaced, perhaps in the fall. If I could get fertile pure Buff Orpington eggs, I would put them under Broody Mama. I need to mark her so I can see if she is the only one or if all of the Olive Eggers take turns.

Now that the Wren is gone, the day stellar, more gardening will be done and the overgrown Barberry bush pruned back.