Thursday, October 30, 2014

adjusting my chicken's lighting

My chickens still aren't laying any eggs. I came across this article: Why Aren't My Chickens Laying, from McMurray Hatcheries. I will follow their advice and set my light timer to come on early in the morning, before dawn, to give the chickens 14 hours of sunlight.

Near Boston, we're getting 10.5 hours of sunlight now (and decreasing fast!). Sunrise today was 7:15 MA, so I should the light to come on at 3:45 AM!! That's early!

I had my light coming on at 6:15 AM and after dusk until 6:45 PM. That was only giving them 12.5 hours, and most of the extra in the evening. McMurray suggests its better to have the extra light in the morning. So 3:45 AM it is. I just went out and adjusted the timer.

I sure would like at least one of the four hens to lay me some eggs.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

today's harvest

harvest IMG_0207harvest IMG_0196

cutting greenhouse plastic to cover hoops

I got my roll of plastic out and brought it down to the garden today. Its standard clear 6 mil greenhouse film from Greenhouse Megastore. Its the first time I've used this. Its 12 feet wide, so seems perfect for covering my 1/2 in PVC pipes, which are 10 feet long. There will be 1 ft at each side for anchoring.

I suppose I could have measured the tunnels, figured out the length of plastic I needed to cover the 12 foot bed plus the two edges and then added 1 ft for anchoring. Instead, I laid it out (still folded) over the bed and cut it in place. I secured the plastic with clips to hold it in place.

Copy of IMG_0179Copy of IMG_0181 Copy of IMG_0182Copy of IMG_0188 Once cut, I removed the clips, unfolded the plastic and laid it out over the bed. I secured the edges with the boards my husband cut earlier for me to use to walk across the beds. I have six, 2x6", 4 foot boards and a couple of 6 foot ones. These seem to work perfect to secure the plastic. I don't know how easy they will be to remove mid winter when I want to harvest from the bed, but I'll find out.

Copy of IMG_0200 I left the plastic on the bed for a only a few minutes, then peeked in on the plants. Hot!! Its 60*F ans sunny today, so the greens do not need to be covered. I took the plastic off and got a good whiff of warm humid air flowing out. I'll wait til temps drop to cover again.

hoops ready for covering

tunnel supports IMG_0123 My winter bed is ready to be covered. The weather has been beautiful so far this month. Perfect for growing a bed full of greens. Today, we are expecting more warm sunny weather, but Thursday, temperatures are going down. I'll get out the plastic and cover the bed today.

tunnel supports IMG_0151tunnel supports IMG_0144 tunnel supports IMG_0121tunnel supports IMG_0156 Not sure if I should put the gnomes in the winter tunnel. They've worked so hard all summer - may be ready for a rest from gardening.

what happened to this Romanesco cauliflower?

cauliflower Veronica IMG_0075 What happened to my mom's Romanesco cauliflower Veronica? It grew into a giant plant and now it has leaves between each floret. We've never grown this before.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

carrot martini

carrot martini IMG_2371 This is a giant purple-skinned carrot that a friend of my mom grew. Perfect for a martini!

Monday, October 20, 2014

today's harvest

This harvest is from my kitchen garden in my back yard.

harvest IMG_2360

today's harvest

harvest IMG_2333 The dogs and I spent the afternoon in my community garden plot. It was another beautiful fall day. I dug sweet potatoes. A 4x4 foot bed full of them. I think I got a better harvest last year, but still the yield was good. I always love discovering fresh tubers in the dirt. I pulled the last small celeriac too and cut some of the ever present dill. And, once again, picked a ton of cherry tomatoes. That tomato plant just won't quit!

A fellow gardener told me the she cures her sweet potatoes. I vaguely remember something about doing this. She puts them at high humidity and high temperature for a week. I think she said she uses a tent and a humidifier. I just store mine in the kitchen and they seem good. I haven't even washed mine, I'll do that when I eat them. (Added later) I just now read back in my blog. Someone recommended keeping sweet potatoes in a box by a radiator. I will wash mine and do that.

harvest IMG_2334skippy  IMG_2346
Isn't my Skippy a handsome boy! And Suzie is posing for her picture again.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

October flowers in my vegetable garden

October flowers in my vegetable garden.pptx

Friday, October 17, 2014

vegetables in my larder

Copy of IMG_2242 While rearranging shelves where I'm storing my winter vegetables, I spread out everything on the patio. Suzie even posed too!

Copy of IMG_2259Copy of IMG_2256 I have metal shelves in the dining room for storage now, but am looking forward to building a storage pantry in the spring.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

parsley pesto

I think I'll make Parsley Pesto today while it rains outside. I had a nice patch of basil, but it got the new basil downy mildew and never amounted to anything I could use for pesto. I don't know what I'll do next year for basil. Has anyone seen resistant seeds yet? Anyway, I have way too much parsley in the garden, so Parsley Pesto it is!

This recipe looks good: Parsley Pesto at Food and I'll just process the parsley, garlic, olive oil and salt then freeze it. Nuts and cheese can be added when we use it.

I scaled the recipe up.
10-12 cups lightly packed parsley leaves (a large bowlful)
7 cloves garlic
1 Tbs salt
2.5 cups olive oil
1 cup blanched almonds
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Puree parsley in food processor with garlic and salt adding olive oil gradually in a thin stream to the processor to keep the parsley processing. Add nuts and cheese and process to mix.

Serve over fresh pasta.

I made one batch and we ate a serving fresh off the cutting board (yummy!!!). We froze the rest in baggies. Then we made a second batch without adding garlic, nuts or cheese. Just parsley and olive oil. We could use this for anything! We'll remember to add cheese, garlic and nuts later if we use it for pesto.

parsley selfie IMG_2186
parsley row IMG_2188picked parsley IMG_2189

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

today's harvest

Copy of IMG_2168Copy of IMG_2172

today's garden work

It's 80*F a couple days after our average first frost date! And warm weather is still ahead of us. It's great to be still picking peppers and green beans, though the rest of my summer crops have faded with the fading light. i am ready to put up a winter low tunnel over greens, but no need for it yet. the hoops are standing bare and waiting.

Work today in my home garden:
- pull carrots
- pick green and red chile peppers
- start bagging late blight infected tomato debris for disposal in the trash (I should have done this earlier, but there is so much that I piled it and let it rot down for a while.)

October backyard

october pond view IMG_2122 Not too bad for a cell phone photo! I forgot my camera at my parents' house last week. I'll have to make the hour trip back up there to get it soon. I set this photo as my desktop background.

This afternoon the dogs and I took the row boat across the pond to conservation land under those tall pines you can see. We walked on the trails for an hour. Lots of other dogs and people were out walking on this beautiful day. Sad that it took me so long to row across a little pond. I have to learn how to manage a couple of oars. It's a lot harder than a kayak paddle. At least the dogs didn't complain. They love being on a boat!

not much left in the garden

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oct 15 IMG_2158oct 15 IMG_2155
oct 15 IMG_2162oct 15 IMG_2154
The late fall greens are growing and lots will be ready soon. Hoops are standing bare, awaiting cold weather. The corn is down, I pulled all the carrots and picked all the eggplants. The broccoli is trying to broc again, but may not make it. Green beans are still making a few pods. Shell beans are finishing up. The peppers are going strong. I guess they'll go right up to a frost.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

all you need is a garden and ...

A bumper sticker on front of me: "if you have a garden and a library you have all you need." cissaro

Maybe a garden and an Internet connection? and the family, friends and DOGS!

Monday, October 13, 2014

today's garden work

I spent a few hours in my community garden plot this afternoon.
- Pick a few cupfuls of beautiful fall raspberries
- Pick at least a gallon of cherry tomatoes. I brought these to Hildy, who delivers donated garden harvests to a local shelter. My single cherry tomato plant (Jasper) is amazing! Its taken over the back corner of my garden and just won't quit.
- Dig one last potato bed for what I thought was the third time. I ended up with about 20 great big All Blue potatoes. Oops. I guess I hadn't dug this bed. That's why I tell myself to triple dig.
- Pull 4 celeriac and trim the hairy roots. Another 4 are still in the garden for next time I'm there.
- Dig the front corner of my sweet potato bed. I got a nice amount of orange and red tubers.

chicken update

Its been a long haul getting my two new pullets accepted by my two one-year-old hens. I got the pullets mid-August, mail order from McMurray Hatchery. I think this weekend, two months later, they are finally "getting along".

When the pullets first arrived, I kept them in a large metal dog crate next to the chicken run. Occasionally, I let all the chickens out in the yard to forage. At first the big hens chased the pullets and wouldn't come within 20 feet of them.

Over the next couple weeks they foraged closer together. After a month, they stayed together in the yard unless there was food around. If I put feed out, the big hens would protect it from the pullets, pecking at them and chasing them off.

Every week or so, I put the four hens together to spend the night in the coop. At first, the big hens would keep the pullets crowded into the back corner of the coop on a small perch. They kept them there day and night till I separated them and let them out. Gradually, they let the pullets move around the coop more but protected the food.

Frustrated by slow progress, I worried winter would come or the pullets would outgrow the dog crate before they could all live in the coop. So my husband and I enlarged the run. We added space to make the run about 3 times larger than it was before. At first, I left the old run walls up so I had two separate spaces. I alternated keeping the chickens apart and together and in one run or the other for a week. Then I cut open the old coop walls and let them all hang out together. With the extra space, there is so much room for the little girls to run. I left a small wall and some posts in the center, so there are places to hide. Its all good now. I suppose they knew my old coop was rated for 3 hens and just needed more space.

chicken coop IMG_9952 So the four chickens are getting along, BUT NO EGGS! When I added the new pullets the big hens were laying, but they gradually stopped. And the pullets haven't started laying yet. SO I have NO EGGS! I tell the girls they aren't earning their keep at this rate. I am guessing the problem is either the disruption of adding the pullets or its the fading sunlight. I put a light bulb in the coop. Its on from 6 - 8 am and 4 - 7 pm. I also fixed up the nesting boxes real nice with fancy hay. I put a fake egg (a golf ball) in one box. And now I am waiting.... waiting...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

chicken work

Today I hung out with the hens a while.
- Replace multiple tarps with one large tarp on top of the run.
- Remove chicken wire between the old and new run sections.
- Move hay storage boxes to the front of the run.
- Watch chickens to see if they are getting along.
- Add more hay to the laying boxes and put golf ball (decoy egg) in one.
- Talk with chickens about laying more eggs.

Saturday, October 11, 2014


popcorn IMG_2038 Today we pop-tested my new crop of popcorn. It was delicious and popped great. Very small kernels though. It looks like we can work on eating the rest of the crop now. Ha! I harvested way more than we can eat ourselves. I look forward to packaging it for gifts.

Mid-spring, I planted a 6 x 6 foot bed with 6 rows, 9 plants per row. My neighbor commented she'd never seen corn planted so close together! The popcorn variety: Robust 997 from Johnny's. The corn sprouted great and grew into a dense patch of 9 foot stalks. Mid-August (finally), ears formed and filled out fast. I watched and worried that racoons or corn ear worms would find them. I meant to spray with spinosad in case there were worms in the ears, but finally decided to wait and see how the harvest went without any spray. Late September, I harvested and shucked 43 ears of corn! I was relieved to pick it before any racoons found it and amazed there were NO WORMS in ANY ears!! I pulled the husks back and hung the ears in a back closet to dry.

The ears have now dried for about 4 weeks. I plan to strip the kernels soon and store them in canning jars with lids closed.

popcorn IMG_9766 popcorn  IMG_9777popcorn IMG_9776

Friday, October 10, 2014

today's garden work

planting garlic - compost IMG_0061planting garlic - 2 rows IMG_0063 planting garllic IMG_0065planting garlic IMG_0068 I've been visiting my parents for a couple days. Today I helped out with some garden work. It was a beautiful day for gardening!

- I took down "the annex", a small (about 10 x 15 ft) garden section that we created in the lawn next to their garden last year because they needed more room. They grew tomatoes, summer and winter squash here and it did great. I pulled out fence posts and stacked them under the porch, removed and rolled up the 5 foot tall plastic deer fence and saved it for next year with the posts under the porch, pulled up and disposed of the mostly decayed landscape fabric that they used to keep down the weeds, collected and stacked the bricks used to hold down the fabric and, finally, racked smooth the soil surface. The area would ready to be mowed with the rest of the lawn, except that LOTS of wild kale came up all over this new garden and my mom is still using that.

- I planted garlic. Earlier, I explained to my parents that its best if they plant their own garlic that they grew last year. Its the first year that they've gotten a really nice garlic harvest. My mom was disappointed at first to give up 7 or 8 heads. then when I told her it should be the biggest heads, she was crushed but complied. Last year I planted 40 cloves for them, they want to have 50 heads next year, so I we counted out the largest heads to give 50 cloves and I planted them. Before planting, I layered on a good amount of their homemade compost (yeah for homemade compost!!!) in two rows, turned it into the soil, then planted the cloves. I planted double rows of garlic in the two rows, staggering the cloves alternately, then smoothed over the soil. In the next few weeks, I'll cover it with salt marsh hay.


fall IMG_9998 You have to keep your eye on fall because it passes fast.

fall yellow rump female IMG_0005 Fall female yellow rump warbler

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

canning pears

canning pears IMG_9914 canning pears IMG_9916canning IMG_9922 canning IMG_9918 I thought I'd never finish! I canned a big basket full of Kieffer pears. They were perfectly ripened. I canned them in light syrup, some in pint jars and some in 12 oz jars. I added them t my counter top with pickles, sauerkraut, relish, compote and now canned pears. I think this is the last canning I have for the season.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

tonight's food preservation

- Can 7 pints sauerkraut
- Process and can 13 pints pear port compote
- Roast, skin, seed and freeze 4 bags of chiles roasting peppers IMG_9901