Urban Homesteading on a Small City Lot

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Garden Update with Better Pictures

I finally found and charged the better camera. The last post was done with the camera on my phone in low light, so the pictures weren't the best. These new pictures were taken in the morning sun with my husbands camera which is still just a point and shoot, but it has a great macro setting.

I have planted several alyssum plants around the garden because I have read that syrphid fles are attracted to them and use them as a food source while they are laying the eggs of the larvae that will eat all of my aphids. They are pretty to have around, too.

My larger blueberry bush is just loaded with berries this year. I can't wait to pick them and eat them.

I've already picked several Jelly bean blueberries from the bush that I planted a couple years ago. The two new bushes are a little behind, but that is understandable because I just planted them in the ground this spring.

One of the most exciting things that is going on right now in the garden is the broccoli. Some are getting very close to being ready to harvest:

The rutabagas are getting quite big already:

The beats are just getting their first true leaves:

I have been eating a lot of green onions, but not enough, apparently, to get these guys thinned out. Anyone want some green onions? 

The first potato blossoms are open today. Potatoes have very pretty flowers. My grandma always said if they are flowering then there are new potatoes under there. This is a good thing because the shelling peas are going to be ready in about a week.

I planted some new lettuce, a mix of romaines, from seed. They are doing well. I will thin them on my next day off.

As always, the fava beans are getting pretty infested with aphids. I think it works out well for the rest of the garden that this happens because it draws in all the aphid predators and gives them somewhere to get established so that they can keep all of the other aphids under control form me the rest of the year. The past three years this method has worked very well. I have gotten other aphids, but for the most part they never get out of hand until very late in the fall. Here is a beautiful lady beetle doing what she does:

If you look very close here you can see the baby lady beetles that have just hatched and are already munching on aphids:

And right next door is another egg mass that will do the same thing, hatch into a voracious aphid eating army:

When my mom gave me the pepper starts that she started for me, there was one that was much smaller than the rest. My mom even told me she wouldn't bother planting it out because t probably wouldn't grow. I planted t anyway because I just happened to have a space for it. It is really coming along. It hasn't caught up to its brothers yet, but I think it will:

Another beneficial flower I always plant around the garden. They are looking very nice.

The raspberries are looking so good:

And Molly's golden raspberries:

The Niagara grapes are looking like grapes already:

The red table grapes, however, are just beginning to flower:

The eggplant is just about to flower. I love how they buds look on these things. Their flowers are also very pretty:

Well, I have to get ready for work, so  will post more later, maybe, if I get around to it.

We May Be Expecting

Well, the Biscottis (that is what I named them all: Biscotti 1, 2, 3 and 4), are expecting. We don't have a rooster, so I had to get some fertilized eggs from some friends. Both of the friends I visited to get fertilized eggs have ducks, so I got duck eggs.

Here are the girls:

They were both sharing one nest the morning I took this picture.

I don't have super high hopes that we will have loads of babies. There have been so many shenanigans. First Biscotti 1 went broody, so I got her some eggs. Then Biscotti 3 decided she wanted to do it too, so I got her some. She started setting on her eggs four days after Biscotti 1. They were both doing fine for about 2 weeks. It takes 4 weeks (28 days) to hatch duck eggs. Then one day I checked on them and they had switched nests and Biscotti 1 looked very grumpy. I had my husband help me lift them out so I could candle the eggs and found that there was a broken egg under Biscotti 1 and she was covered in goo. I cleaned her up as best I could without cooling off her chest and cleaned up the nest with new straw. Two days later they had switched back. then another day later  checked on them and they were both crammed into one nest and the eggs in the broken eggs nest were left alone. (that is what is happening in the above picture) I have checked on them a few times since and they have changed nests again and again. There haven't been any more broken eggs, but I don't hold out a lot of hope that they are doing a good job in there. The first nest should hatch on Friday (3 days from today) if it is going to hatch at all. The second nest would hatch the next Tuesday. I have me fingers crossed that each of them get at least one baby, but I don't know. I will definitely post some pictures of the babies, if we get any.

Buff Orpingtons are prone to becoming broody. That is the only complaint I have against the breed. If I lived on a farm that wouldn't be such a bad thing, but in town, when I am only aloud to have 4 hens it cuts done egg production quite a bit. I have struggled to break them of the broodiness each time they decide to set on the nests, and usually I am successful in a couple days, but it takes a week or so for them to start laying again. This time I decided to get some eggs and let them try to hatch them. Having friends who live outside the city limits is fun, because they have roosters and ducks and I can get fertilized eggs from them. This is just a fun experiment. I won't be able to keep the babies. I do have homes for them though, once they are ready to go.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

May 2016 Has Been Rainy, Weird

I can't remember a rainy May in Wenatchee. It has been nice not to have to water as much. It has been warm enough not to cause concern for things like peppers and tomatoes, but it has been mild enough for the lettuce and peas to do well. Several of the recent Mays here have been way too hot for spring crops like peas and lettuces.

Here is a picture from the front of the garden. I now have 8 raised beds, each 8 feet by 4 feet. This year I added a bag of composted steer manure and a bag of composted chicken manure to each bed along with a good topping of my homemade compost. I let them spend the winter covered with chopped leaves and grass clippings. When I dug into them to plant things this spring there were plenty of worms everywhere. I have also added 12 feet of red raspberries from my grandparents house and a patch of golden raspberries, also from the grandparents. I have planted alpine strawberries along the shady side of the house and I now have three small jelly bean blueberry bushes and one medium blueberry bush. The Rhubarb bush in the front garden is also doing well.

The Carrots are just now starting to come up:

I planted marigolds on either end of most of the garden beds. They are from seeds from last year, the french single marigolds that I like.

These are the sugar pod peas. They are the only ones that are making peas so far. I planted them about 2 weeks earlier than the others.

These are turnips from seeds that I bought at the goodwill near my sisters house in Seattle, as a joke. I bet they will turn out great.

The beets came up this week, as well.

These peas were planted from some old seeds and not too many of them actually came up. It is too bad because this is my daughter's favorite type.

Here are my broccoli. No ants have eaten them off around the bottom this year. Fingers crossed.

A few of them are making little heads already:

My mom started some peppers for me. These are Alma cayenne:

These are a very pretty purple Aurora peppers, also from my mother:

I planted the onions (purple and Walla Walla) close together and I thin them as I use the green onions.

The onions are trying to protect the Kale from herbivorous insects, but it isn't really working. I have found quite a few caterpillars on it.

This lettuce over wintered and is now going to seed. It was nice to pick a few salads from it early in the spring, though.

I bought these spindly Jalapeno peppers at the FFA plant sale. They will be great in a while. Half of the six pack are in a larger pot with one of the ollas that my brother made me last year. They already seem to be doing better than the others without the olla.

These are two pots of Serrano peppers that I got at SavMart. There are a total of 8 plants.

These are two pots of orange bell peppers I found at Shopko:

I also got these Green Bell Peppers there. One six pack had 13 plants in it.

This is my basil and tomato bed. I have built a different support system this year. I hope it works  well. I have planted basil between each tomato. The seed packet I used was a mixed assortment of types of basil. There is definitely some lemon basil and a purple basil in there. I am pretty sure one is a spicy globe and there are a couple that smell and taste more like cinnamon or Thai basil which are my favorite.

The wooden trellis is 8 feet tall and I have put twines down to each plant. I will add a twine for each major tomato branch.

Here you can see the potatoes, which appear to be starting to bud. I usually plant potatoes just to make creamed peas and potatoes. I think they will be ready when the shelling peas are, so yay!

Behind the potatoes are the Fava Beans.

They are just starting to make beans.

I have planted alyssum around to encourage syrphid flies to reproduce here to help the aphid problem.

Here is the herb garden. You can see that the sage, savory, chives, thyme, and oregano survived over the winter. The rosemary and french lavender did not. One of the parsleys did make it, but since it went strait to seed, I pulled it out. I planted 4 new Rosemary plants, all different types to see if any will over winter. I also planted tarragon, french lavender, new oregano, thyme and borrage from seeds.

Here is the raspberry patch" the first  few are starting to turn red

I replanted the strawberry bed this spring, so I don't expect to get very many berries.

The golden raspberries have become a pretty large bush.

I just planted this border patch in the back yard. The farthest plant is an artichoke. Let's see how long it takes. If I can get a bud or two I will be happy. The other plants are a Shasta daisy from Fred Meyers and some marigolds from the FFA plant sale.

I am glad to announce that both of my grape plants I planted on the arbor last year made it through the winter and are making grapes already. This picture is the Niagara grape. It flowered very early and has set fruit.

This view shows how both vines have grown:

This is the red table grape, Its still flowering and has lots of large groups of buds. If it sets most of the fruit there will be loads of grapes.

I planted a flat of new alpine strawberry plants and they are almost ready to be planted out.

The plants I planted two years ago are making so many little delicious berries right now.

I picked a few after this picture. They aren't quite super ripe yet, like I like them, but still good.

Well, that is everything that is going on in my garden right now. Stay tuned for an exciting post about the chickens.

Spoiler: I put some fertilized duck eggs under the broody hens.