Archive for May, 2011

We went to a small animal swap meet and purchased a new Khaki Campbell duck.  We were hoping to increase our egg production a little. So now we have four ducks and a drake and two hens.

Khaki Campbell ducks

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Four duck eggs this morning

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She is a pretty girl, isn’t she? We haven’t named her yet. Do you have any suggestions for her name?

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There are lots of advantages to growing a vegetable garden. One of the major advantages is that you get to control how your vegetables are grown. We grow exclusively without inorganic fertilizers or pesticides. Another is saving money! Have you seen the prices in the grocery stores lately? Growing your own vegetables allows you to harvest them at their peak of ripeness.

Our new motto is, “The garden dictates our diet.” For example, just the other night we noticed that we had quite a few spinach plants that were getting ready to bolt. So… we had to force ourselves to eat a big plate of spinach and other mixed greens salad drizzled with homemade blackberry vinaigrette dressing topped with homestead fresh boiled duck eggs for dinner. On the side we had some raw turnips and radishes. Don’t you feel sorry for us?

As we harvested the spinach plants and since the weather is still cool enough we went ahead and planted some more spinach seed for a succession crop.

So far this spring we have eaten several kinds of lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, basil, oregano, cilantro, parsley, radishes, turnips and turnip greens, mustard greens, and strawberries.

Mustard & turnips

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We also have planted pole beans, bush beans, soybeans, corn, beets, cabbages, bell peppers and jalapeno peppers, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, sun chokes, onions, garlic, horseradish, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, zucchini, cucumbers, melons, sage, yarrow, borage, and several varieties of tomatoes (Amish Paste, Black Krum, Riesentraube, Hazelfield and Sugar Lump).

Beans, onions, lettuce and hot caps

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Corn w/ Blaze in background

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The asparagus patch that we planted last Spring is doing well but, alas, we won’t be able to even think of harvesting any spears until next year and then only a very minimal harvest.

Marigolds, nasturtiums, dill, and mint have been interplanted for insect control. The mustard is also a trap crop for insects and for seed to use in pickling.

Everything is growing well at this time. We haven’t had very many insect problems up to now …knock on wood. We think the chicken and ducks patrolling outside of the garden are eating a lot of insects before they enter the garden. Also we’ve seen several fence post lizards and toads in the garden so they’re probably eating the insects that the poultry miss 🙂

We are really anxious to have more veggies ready to harvest. The zucchini is just a few days away from being ready to pick. Tomatoes are starting to bloom. The potatoes are hip high. The pole beans are starting to climb their trellis. So….Good Lord willing we will be getting lots more good stuff to eat before long.

What are you growing or harvesting now?

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Guess what we found in the strawberry patch? YEP! A copperhead snake.

I was gleefully harvesting some of our bountiful crop of red, ripe strawberries — thinking  about making some preserves to serve with hubby’s biscuits. The plants have really done well with all the the new organic matter that we’ve added to the garden bed. As you can see in the photo they’re pretty thick and you have to really reach in and search around for the ripe strawberries.

I was just about done, as you can see from the full container of berries) at the bottom of the photo, when I thought to myself, “I sure hope snakes don’t like strawberries.” It was just about a minute later — I was actually getting ready to harvest the last plant in the patch — when I noticed a copperhead snake curled up next to it. YIKES!

Fortunately, Bob was working right next to me so when I shouted out, “COPPERHEAD!”, he jumped up and kept an eye on it and I went and grabbed a hoe that we keep handy by the garden gate.

Dead copperhead snake and strawberry patch.
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This is the second one we’ve killed in just a week or so. Bob was scything some of the tall grass south of the garden when Blaze starting barking like crazy. He made a joke that she’d probably found a copperhead snake. The first time he checked it out it didn’t see anything but then Blaze moved about a foot away and started barking again he moved the grass around with the scythe and saw it WAS a copperhead. He quickly pinned it down with the scythe blade and I brought the hoe so he could use it to chop the head off.

I think I’m going to have to be like the Fat Broad from the B.C. comics and get me a snake stick to check the patch before I go to harvest next time 😉

Hmmmm? Are fresh, ripe strawberries – grown without pesticides – really worth it?

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It was a long cold winter but it’s finally over. The wood stove we built kept us nice and cozy. There’s nothing that can compare to the way the heat feels from a wood fire. This Spring is still a bit chilly. We’re still running the stove now and then on a cool evening.

Hand Made Wood Stove

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Remember No Cost – Low Cost? We made the wood stove from a 55 gallon metal barrel and some black stove pipe. All the materials (barrel, flue pipe, damper, high-temp black paint) used to build the stove cost about $50.

Many a day we cooked a pot of beans on top of the wood stove in one of our cast iron dutch ovens (like you see in the picture) and kept a pot of coffee warm.

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