Saturday, February 21, 2009

Farmer MacGregor must have really been somethin'

Vegetable Garden Plans

Between our house and the green barn, we have a circle drive and in the middle of the circle drive I am going to develop a vegetable garden. The drawing below basically shows the curve of the driveway as it comes from the road to the right of the drawing and then bears to the left. The drive is actually an oval as it circles the drawing below. To the left of the proposed garden, we have a sixty foot Norway Spruce that takes up about a twenty foot diameter. Otherwise I would use the entire oval for the garden. Is that as clear as mud?

As you can see, I am being fairly basic this year and not stepping too far out of the ordinary. Each of the burgundy rectangles will be an 8' x 4' raised bed. We have such sandy soil that I am going to have to import some decent, loamy dirt to fill all of these beds. Later, I will add my own composted materials, which the chickens are at this very moment helping to create! I took 6 wheelbarrows of really good straw/manure out to the compost heap. I will focus a little more energy on creating a better compost system this spring/summer.

We want to freeze a lot of things this year so we can enjoy the garden well into next winter. We will have lots of green beans, and I saw a lady freezing tomatoes, instead of canning them. That looked easy and time-saving. We have a prolific pear tree and we are determined to can ALL of the pears this year. The grape arbor is a steady producer of three types of grape that I cook down and make juice. I then can this juice and as needed, I make up a batch of grape jelly. Another nice feature of the farm is an old crab apple tree that gave me 2 bushels of beautiful red apples last year. I still have several jars of that jelly down in the cellar. We also have our wild blackberries and raspberries that will be made into jams and syrup.

Three Sisters
Please note the green circle that says "3 Sisters." Native Americans planted these circular patches all around their villages and planted corn, climbing beans and squash together. The corn would go in first and as it started to get tall, the pole beans would go in. As the beans grew, they would climb up the cornstalks. The beans not only provide good food, but they put nitrogen into the soil. A week after the beans have started to grow, squash is planted around the edge of the circle and the runners are encouraged to grow into the circle. The squash, as it matures, has large leaves that keep weeds from taking over the garden. So, these Native Americans had some excellent thinking going on here! I am going to have three different squash plants growing in my circle: cinderella pumpkins, acorn squash and butternut squash. I have sweetcorn and several varieties of popcorn that I am going to try. The circle will be approximately 15' in diameter. (The drawing is not to scale)

Sunflowers Galore

Our daughter, Lesley, is getting married in our orchard this summer! As you can imagine, we are very excited!!

One of the projects she has requested is that we have lots of sunflowers on hand to help celebrate this great day. So, I have ordered 2,500 sunflower seeds, and I am going to plant every last one of them! This will take some planning, and some plowing. I am going to start about 200 of them in the basement under the grow lights, so we get an early start on the ones that will be planted as a backdrop to the ceremony.


I also have orders to grow some black pearl peppers, (which have black leaves and little black peppers that turn scarlet when ripe.), as well as a lot of coleus. I will plant these things everywhere and when the time comes for decorating and making things for the wedding, Lesley and Ruth (and no doubt moi) can get out the scissors and cut away to her/their/our/my heart's content!



Six Weeks Old
This is a Cochin/Maran combo. I have a feeling it is a rooster, as there are little nubs on the insides of the legs, which probably will be spurs. This little guy is so cute! He was docile and content to sit on my hand and look around at all the wonders that are outside of the brooder box.


Monday is hatch day at school where I have an incubator containing 37 eggs. Our school had a power outage one night for three hours, so I am not hopeful for a great hatch. I expect about 50% of the eggs to hatch, but you never know! I candled the eggs and every one seemed to be doing well. So, either this is a miracle batch, or I am really bad at candling. One of my students and I made a candler out of a powerful flashlight, but we found that the computer presenter's light was way better! I hope to gain a good number of brown egg layers from this batch. If not, then I will try again. $5.00 per dozen for the eggs, plus a small shipping fee! The eggs are Rhode Island Reds, Light Brahmas, and Black Sex Links, (or Black Stars).
I'll let you know!!

45 comments:

granny said...

Wow,so much going on at your place!Sounds like you are going to be very busy,after the long ,cold winter I guess you would be itching to get stuck into some gardening :0)Sunflowers are one of favourites too,always so cheery.I cant wait to see the photos of them.I have just pictured the fields of Tuscany!!how beautiful.

Lanny said...

Oh there is entirely too much in this post for my brain to grab hold of. The three sisters thing would not work here that's for sure (tried it when I was a young gardener, even though I was warned it wouldn't work here) because here the green beans out grow the corn by a mile and well, it just isn't a pretty site.

Weddings, I love home weddings! We have had two here. One was our own daughter's and one was our friend's daughter's. We did everything ourselves (with the help of friends and family but no "professionals") We served complete sit down dinners for 150 and 100 people for the weddings, cooked out of my tiny kitchen! I am excited for you! whatever you all do it will be so memorable and so special mmmummmum!

nobody-but-us-chickens said...

Very interesting about the 'three sisters' I want to try that.
I think that chick will be a rooster as well, the comb is quite large already.
I have become such a fan of butternut squash these days.

VioletSky said...

I have to go have a lie down after reading this.

Hope the 50% hatchling is an under estimate.

warren said...

You have a lot going! I can't wait to see the sunflowers! They are absolutely beautiful so I suppose 2500 must be beyond beautiful!

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

Oh a vegie garden is next on our list!
I just want one again so much.
Nothing better.
And just get a look at your bubba chook...Don't they grow so quickley our babies are about 3 times what they were born.
Still cute but getting to the ugly in between stages...lol!

Don said...

I got a little carried away with the keyboard this week.

Sorry about that!

Don said...

granny: there are lots of things going on, and I probably am biting off more than I can chew!

Tuscany, now that's a picture.

Don said...

lanny: our daughter is arranging all of the details for her wedding. She has an idea in her head and I think she is doing ok. You must have had a busy day feeding the 150. Did you have five loaves and two fish?

Don said...

nobody but us chickens: I agree with you on the rooster. It's too bad. I want more brown eggers, especially home grown ones!

Don said...

violetsky: I hope it turned into a nice long nap!

I hope the hatch rate is better than 50% too.

Don said...

warren: I hope they grow! we have lots of critters who think very highly of sunflower sprouts.

Don said...

cupcakes: I think my seven are in that teenage stage where they are a little scraggly.

Good luck with your garden plans.

freefalling said...

What are you going to do with all those squashes?!
And what is popcorn?

I like the idea of the 3 sisters planting!
I'll have to give it a go next year.

What about a quince tree - have you got one of them?
Quince jelly is THE best!

Susan said...

Don, you are making my head spin with all these plans! I'm tired just reading about it. I hope Ruth is going to help you, because you're gonna need a lot of help, Mister!

Is it true that popcorn and sweet corn have to be planted apart from each other to avoid cross-pollination? It seems I read that somewhere sometime, but not sure.

I love the idea of your island garden. I wish we had sandy soil here. It would sure be an improvement over hardpan clay. We're doing raised beds this year, too, which will definitely be an improvement.

I'm so jealous of your crabapple tree. I love crabapple jelly. One of my friends used to make it for me, but she always made it a little too sweet for me. I like a bit of tartness. And canned pears! What a luxury in the winter!

julie king said...

i hope you'll post photos of the three sisters garden over the summer. it sounds so interesting! congrats on your daughter getting married. how fun to have masses of sunflowers growing on your farm.

ChristyACB said...

Loads in this post!

I'm also doing 3S method in one of my raised bed. I got so many questions I did a little post just on it to explain.

I'm surprised how many people want to try it when they hear of it.

I'm excited to see the progress all of us doing it make this year. I'm guessing so long as we choose varieties native american tribes in our own areas used, it should work, yes?

Very cute guy there...looks mellow and a mellow rooster is good!

Susan said...

Ruthie sent me your hatching video. The grandkids and I found it fascinating! And nobody got "heebed out". :)

Bob Johnson said...

Don, awesome about the Sunflower seeds, but how long do they take to grow, will they be in time for the wedding?

Your plans look great , lots of work coming up for you guys, cool about having the wedding there, should be some excellent photos.

Oh I love crabs, apples that is, I hate crabby people, The neighbors tree hangs over our fence where I get my supply,lol, oh and cute chics.

Loring Wirbel said...

Temperature is borderline there for considering green chiles (Anaheim/Hatch, not jalapenos) in part of the bell pepper space. Have you become addicted to green chiles yet? You roast them and peel them, and use them in soups, chili, sandwiches, omelets. Addicted is the active word, because the capsacin content will turn you into a chile junkie - but in a good way.

lesleyanne said...

Exciting!!! I love your drawing of the veggie and herb garden, so high tech. It's going to be so beautiful! Are you going to build a fence around it too?

And that's a GREAT idea about the sunflowers for the backdrop! I am so ready for spring, wish I had a garden to plan. :)

Rhode Island Reds remind me of our old farm in Milford. And those horrible roosters, ah!

lovies

Sandy said...

I really enjoyed reading about your garden plans and can't wait to see all those sunflowers blooming. The plot plans look excellent and I only wish I had the time and energy to get a garden growing here, but I would need lots of help with fencing to keep the critters out.

I love the new chick photos! Just love them.. here and on Ruth's blog.

And I'm really excited about hearing/seeing more wedding plans from both you and Ruth...

Country Girl said...

Great garden plans. I froze tomotoes this past year and this year I plan to can instead. We had a September wedding with lots of sunflowers (that we grew). We did a fall theme with gourds and pumpkins too, it was the best.
Lastly, I have incubator envy...I so want to get the kids one!
P.S. johnny's is just up the road from my house....so is fedco, aren't I lucky?

Don said...

freefalling: i'll probably give a lot of squash away and bake a lot of it.

Popcorn? you know, popcorn, like you get at the movies.

i would like to try quince. We had one at another house, but that was before I wasa a farmer's wife

Don said...

susan: you're right about keeping the popcorn away from the sweetcorn. I'll plant the popcorn out behind the barn. Thanks for that heads-up!


We'll have to compare notes about the raised beds.

Don said...

julie: I hope to have some success with the 3 sisters. I'll post pictures of the garden whaatever it looks like!

sunflowers are happy things!

Don said...

christy: I think everyone should go read your posts, especially the one on the three sisters. It is very informative. I want to do as much as I can like the potawotami did here in Michigan.

Don said...

susan: I was lucky to catch the first one hatching out. I have 21 out of 37 that hatched today. I hope more make their way out tonight!

Don said...

bob: the sunflowers should be in full bloom after 60 days. I am planning on starting a batch early, and then planting the rest directly into the soil the last week of May.

that's funny about your neighbor's apple tree.

Don said...

Loring: thanks for that tip. I found some seeds at Johnnys and am going to order and plant them.

They sound fabulous!

Don said...

lesley: hopefully we'll have some good luck with the flowers!

real high tech drawing, kinda like autocad...?

Don said...

sandy: thanks for the encouragement! we are having fun thinking about the wedding. Lesley is doing most of the planning.

Don said...

country girl: your weddings sound beautiful. aren't farms great??

i love the incubator, it makes things so interesting. I'm going to try hatching out some turkey chicks in May.

did you have problems with freezing tomatoes?

Anne Marie said...

looks like a plan that you can rotate well no?

I too am working on "the plan"...don't you just love it!

I have been wanting to order some meat birds, and didn't know if you sell your fowl...let me know.

Emily Kotz said...

Good Luck with the Garden! Its clear as mud to me. We have a "garden" in our backyard too, but we only grow rasberries. Its been fairly successful.....

jen's farmily said...

I had never heard of the 3 sisters thing- do the beans not kill the corn?

I think it's a great idea that your daughter is requesting sunflowers- that will save a lot of money from having to buy flowers and sunflowers are so pretty! (And the seeds are great for your chickens!)

Bob Johnson said...

Geez, that's a lot shorter time frame then I thought.

Peter said...

"So, either this is a miracle batch, or I am really bad at candling."

Haha, Mowry humor.

I miss the little chickens. I walked to a beach in St. Thomas today and had a rooster strolling next to me, with a hen following closely. It was like the animal version of you and mom keeping me company.

Don said...

anne marie: I am really thinking a lot about this gardening stuff! I hope what I am envisioning can actually happen.

I have not sold any meat birds, but have egg customers asking if I will start. I am a little worried about selling meat to others, so at this point, I don't think I will sell any.

I give them to my family members, but I need to be greedier and keep more of them this time, because I ran out!

Don said...

emily: mud is good!

the raspberries are always welcome, but hard to manage and pick.

Don said...

jen: I have never done the three sisters garden, but from what I am reading, they all work together pretty effectively.

I hope the critters will leave the sunflowers alone and let them grow!

Don said...

bob: I believe these sunflowers were developed for the florist industry and have a shorter growing season than the "real" ones.

Don said...

peter: that was my bionic rooster and hen I sent down there to keep an eye on you.

That must have been fun to have some walking buddies. WHat kind of chickens were they? (more attempt at humor)

Gwen Buchanan said...

Your place is going to be even more alive than it already is... I am looking forward to it as much as my own... I really like that you have a plan all drawn out for your area inside your circular drive... nothing wasted...

Ginnie said...

Your energy and creativity inspire me to no end, Don! And I'm just saying that 'cuz it's true! :)