Tag Archives: plants

Mulch ado about nuffin

Things have progressed in the garden to that slight lull in activity between preparing, planting, and harvesting. There is still plenty to do like my bi-weekly spraying regime and weeding, but luckily it is not as hectic as before. In between setting the tub in the guest bathroom at the Clayton house today I mulched raised bed #2.

Mulch06 Mulch07 Mulch08

Comfrey leaves being laid out

Comfrey leaves being laid out

This bed has a bit of nitrogen deficiency problem

This bed has a bit of nitrogen deficiency problem

Comfrey is high in nitrogen and breaks down rapidly, I am hoping this layer of leaves will help boost the fertility in this bed.

Straw Mulch

Comfrey plants can be seen in the foreground of this picture. They are on the downslope end of this bed in order to scavenge any nutrients that leach down.

Comfrey plants, seen in the foreground of this picture, are on the downslope end of this bed to scavenge any nutrients that leach down.

It hit 101* F today! The straw will help keep the soil temps down a bit along with minimizing evaporation.

Isn't this Tomcot Apricot a beauty?

Isn’t this Tomcot Apricot a beauty?

This is Karen's latest foster baby...Tribeca

This is Karen’s latest foster baby…Tribeca

My sweety Karen’s latest foster baby is Tribeca, a cute little kitten with a severely mangled paw that will necessitate amputation of her leg when she gets a bit older.

YummyCammy & Tribeca

Tribeca is socializing well and has a large following on The Humane Societies FB page already, so finding her a good forever home shouldn’t be a problem .

Gooey's new mineral block

Gooey’s new mineral block

Gooey the Mountain Goat

Goats have special mineral needs and now that Gooey is down to one bottle a day I went out and got her a mineral block. Like everything else in her world though the block is just another obstacle to climb!

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Progress, Obsession, or Therapy?

Thanks in large part to the moderation of the weather I have been getting more hours in at The Fruity Chicken on the weekends. I like to think I am making steady progress on my goal of making my 1/4th of 1/2 of an acre as productive and interconnected a Chicken Ranch/Orchard/Garden as possible. To that end I have been making major changes to my Chicken Run.

Chicken Yard

A panoramic view of the Chicken Yard at The Fruity Chicken

Their are no big changes in philosophy in the management of the chicken run this year, just minor refinements.

Chicken Yard

The Juvenile Pen

Brian and I moved the Juvenile Pen from it’s former place against the block wall out to the wire fence that separates the Orchard Area from the Chicken Run. This change moves what had become a bit of a stinky area further away from the neighbors and also gives access to the pen without opening the gate to the Chicken Run.

Forage Area

The Forage Area

On the opposite (West) end from the Juvenile Pen a third of the Chicken Run has been fenced off to create a forage/pasture area. This area has been tilled and seeded with Scratch, Pigeon Feed, Buckwheat, and Dry-land Pasture mix. The Scratch has milo. sorghum, and corn seed; the Pigeon Feed has various field peas, oats, wheat, millet, and safflower; the buckwheat is pretty much buckwheat; and I have no idea what is in the Dry-land pasture mix but it sounded good.

Run

The open area where the Juvenile Pen used to be

Originally I had planned on running a wire fence from the corner of the Juvenile Pen to the block wall separating the run into 3 roughly equal sections. The central area, containing the coop, would be occupied all of the time while the flock would have access to one of the side areas at a time on a rotational basis. That plan is still under review. Currently I am leaning towards leaving the infrastructure as is and only giving the chickens access to the pasture area for short (1 or 2 hours) a couple times a week while leaving the West end behind the Juvenile Pen open. In that area I would like build and place some breeding pens like Barbara’s over at The Crowing Hen. For some reason certain members of my family, co-workers, and friends think that this is turning into a bit of an obsession.

 

 

Over in the Orchard Area things are focused on cleaning up so that I can rework the planting sites for the trees I lost this year.

Clean Up

Pumpkins left over after removing the vines

The Comfrey  I planted this year are doing well.

Bocking 14

One of my Bocking #4 Comfrey Plants

Comfrey

Comfrey Plant I got from the Korean Nursery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The plant above on the left is one of the one year old plants I got from Coe’s Comfrey which is a Bocking #4 variety while he one on the right was purchased at a Korean Nursery in Pomona CA. It is pretty obvious they are different varieties, the Bocking #4 grows much faster and has larger leaves.

The Mulberry trees are doing great as well.

Mulberry

Mulberry Tree just outside of the Chicken Run

Mulberry

The Mulberry to the West of the Orchard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both of these trees came from the same Korean Nursery as the unknown variety of Comfrey shown above. They are growing fantastically, there are two others Mulberry Trees from another source in the Chicken Run that are growing well but don’t quite compare to these two. It is great getting back into full swing working on this project and as I’ll post about soon all of this is about to get both easier and harder at the same time.

While some may see my focus on progressing this project as an obsession I like to think of it as my Sweety does, Karen says that “Chicken Therapy” is the best thing that has happened to me in a long time.

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Much ado about Mulch

I started this weekend trying to fight off that wee little bugger in the back of my head that was arguin for havin a layabout weekend seein as how my sweety Karen was off an adventure with my sister Lorri. Thats Karen in the picture to the right, it was taken in the lava tubes on the Big Island of Hawaii the year our oldest son graduated from college. I love this picture of Karen because I think it truly shows that inner light that burns so fiercely in her, don’t tell her I posted it though cause she’ll kill me.

But I digress. Mulch….yup I got up early Saturday morning and went out to the UNCE orchard and saw my buddy John. He filled my truck up and smashed it down with the tractor really good so I could close the cover. He also hooked me up with the chelated iron that works in our calcareous, heavy clay, and high PH soil. Sprint 138 right around $100 for 5# but it only takes an ounce per tree of bare root size and it WORKS! I have tried everything from Ironite to Sulphur and nothing will lastingly green up plants in our terrible soil, but this stuff does!

Once I got all that mulch that John had wedged in the back of my truck out I had a fairly respectable pile. Did I break out the Garden Fork and Wheelbarrow and spread it all out? Hell no! it was frickin hot yesterday. I did plant a couple of Artichoke plants and sowed some Indian Corn seeds both of which my afore mentioned sweety, Karen, really likes. Oh I did set up my new fangled ScareCrow Sprinkler thingy, I’m hoping that this will keep the pigeons from chompin up all my sprouts.

But if not it should be worth a laugh or two watching it get unsuspecting little egg thieves like my Granddaughter Alexa. She absolutely loves the chickens and sees absolutely no conflict between her love of Katy Perry and her love of chickens. And yes she will be mad at me the first time she gets sprayed but then she will have a blast trickin everyone else into the kill zone.

SQUIRREL!

I scraped back the mulch about midway between my dripperlines to see how moist the soil is getting. These photos are from two separate rows, as can be seen the soil is moist. In fact in the area in the right hand photo it was dripping wet!

The most encouraging thing I found is in the third photo WORMS!!!!! They are a sign that I am moving in the right direction.

My greywater system has a 32 gallon rubbermaid garbage can for a surge tank, originally the washing machine we had would 3/4 fill that on every cycle. After 12 years that damn thing decided to up and die! The replacement high efficiency top loader my wife replaced it with only uses about half as much water so I’m thinking that each load is discharging about 25 gallons into the orchard with an average of 6 loads a week plus I have a sprinkler valve that comes on every other night for 1 minute which also puts in roughly 25 gallons, I estimate the orchard is getting a total 225 gallons a week. With 400 sq ft being irrigated this is a little over 1/2 gallon per sq ft. What’s all them numbers mean? I don’t know but I do know that is a whole lot less water than the same square footage of lawn takes in this wicked climate. So did I accomplish anything this weekend? You Betcha! I got a load of mulch picked up, unloaded, and spread out; I collected 3 dozen eggs 20 of which I put in my incubator to see if my cocky little Marans rooster is gettin busy; I enjoyed a nice BS session with the UNCE Orchard manager and got a bag of the right kind of Iron supplement, he also sicced me on Master Gardner Fran with whom I had a very informative discussion about what will grow during the summer to feed my chickens and finally I did squeeze in enough time to read a couple hundred pages of Dianna Gabaldon’s 6th installment of the Outlander series! What a great book, really makes you wanna be a sassenach hatin Highlander!

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