Patience in the Garden….

I’ve always been the type to need immediate gratification.  Living in the fast lane was fun exciting and dangerous!  I learned that gardening does not supply my need for anything remotely close to instant gratification.  You have learned from my earlier post that I grew up in a family where gardening was important.  Little did I know that gardening required patience!

Free entertainment while the garden grows!

Free entertainment while the garden grows!

My husband started my tomato seeds in February.  He is the one with the green thumb in the family.  He can grow almost anything from seed.  He even had winter squash blooming in March!   After he raised all my heirloom tomatoes from seeds, he planted them in early April, way before our last frost date.  Needless to say, I covered them and replanted them more than once!

After setting out the tomatoes, I covered them with leaves and shredded paper from the office.  I saved all the junk mail and used that too.  My husband thought I was crazy.  I covered the entire tomato patch in paper.  Then I read a collection of Ruth Stout’s articles on organic gardening.  You can read all about that in one of my earlier posts.   This post is about some of the results of my ‘craziness.’

Will they ever ripen?!?!?

My tomatoes are doing very well.  It has been very dry here lately and I haven’t had to water them but only a few times.  The shredded paper, leaves and hay have shielded the earth from the harsh dry weather we have had lately.  The tomatoes are growing and I will have some rip ones soon.  My green beans have yielded about 3 bushels since they began to ripen two weeks ago.  My corn is starting to tassel and I have picked a few cucumbers and zucchini.  Gardening is definitely an activity that requires patience.

Dilled green beans and regular green beans.

Dilled Green beans for Miss Mary…..hope they are good. This is the first time I have made them.

I still have some hay to put out.  I didn’t get the corn patch covered in time.  The okra is suffering from a few weeds as well.  It’s almost time to pull the onions and garlic I planted last fall.  I have started a crock of sauerkraut and canned a few beans.  I made dilled green beans for the first time this year. I have a few cucumbers and picked three Parisian zucchini tonight.  I haven’t had to hoe in weeks!  It is a great feeling….  Mulching with hay is the way to go!  Thank you Ruth Stout for all your wisdom.

Blogging near the coop, the chickens must think I am here to entertain them!


When to Pick Corn 

There are many different ways to tell when your corn is ready.  You can squeeze the cobs, pull back the husk or just count the days to maturity.  But, you always need to pay special attention to the silks.

The corn grows so fast and so tall that weeds don’t grow much. I didn’t get the hay in the corn before they started getting so tall.

When squeezing the cobs, you want to make sure they are firm but give just a little it.  If you are unsure of the ripeness of the cob, pull it off the stalk and peel back the husk.  If the cob feels plump and the silks are all black.  You call almost be sure the corn is ready to be picked.

Pulling back the husks while the cob is still on the stalk is another way to test if the corn is ripe.  Again, you want to make sure the silks are all dark, almost black and getting dry.  Peel back the husk just until you can see a few of the kernels.  If the kernels look plump and full, your corn is ripe.

My tomatoes are ready to pick and the Chickens enjoy scratching in the hay. This is the first year weeds haven’t taken over the tomato patch.

I have also found that you can mark the days to maturity of the variety you have planted.  Some corn takes longer to mature than others.  Conditions have to be perfect for this method to work.  Again, a good sign is to check the silks.

There is only one sure fire way to tell if your corn is ripe.  Wait until the raccoons raid your corn patch!  This is the method I used this year.   I have fenced in my garden with four feet of chicken wire with seven feet of deer fabric on top of that.  Yes, I have a 10 foot tall fence around my entire garden and the raccoons still get in!  They had a party in my garden and didn’t invite me.

The Raccoons left clean cobs. The only bad thing is they knock down every stalk until they find the ripe ears of corn.

 I planted six 30 foot rows of corn this year.   It has been very hot and dry in my region so I have been watering my corn regularly.  Some of the cobs are only 4 inches long and others are 12 inches long.  I obviously have not been watering them all equally.  This is the third year I have raised a garden by myself but I have never grow this much corn.   Needless to say, I think I’ll give up on the corn next year.  All the fencing could not keep the varmints out!  I did freeze about 8 quarts of corn but I should have had 5 times that much!  Good luck with your corn!

These are the kind of varmints I don’t mind finding in the garden!

You can’t make a hen sit on a nest.  You can leave eggs in a nest only to throw them out a week later becasue none of your hens are ready to brood.  Then, all of a sudden one day, your meanest nastiest hen decides to sit on a few golf balls!  She bites, gets all puffy and upset if you try to steal the eggs from under her.  Lifting her out and running her out of the coop isn’t working.  This is the hen that chases the cat for sport.  Otis doesn’t mess with Ms. Phyllis!  He sees her coming and runs for cover.  Otis is a good kitty.  I have taught him not to bother the chickens and believe it or not, he listens.

The next day, you still take the eggs.  Not realizing she has gone broody!  After three days of this behavior, I start leaving the eggs under her.  The third day, she has 4 eggs, then 5 then 6.  I know they are not all hers.  She is in the favorite laying nest and when she leaves the nest, the other hens are laying eggs in her box.  I also have 20 eggs in the incubator so I am really not thrilled to have a broody hen.  Oh well….lets just see what happens.  This is my first spring with laying hens and I really don’t know what to expect out of them.  After two weeks I candle the eggs and find two of them are not fertle so I do not return them to the nest.

In the mean time, I only have 4 that hatch in the incubator.  They are two weeks ahead of the ones Ms. Phyllis is raising.  Miracle of all miracles, I get home this afternoon and Ms. Phyllis has three little fur balls under her.  She was sitting on the nest a little funny and had her wings furthur out then usual.  I gently lifted her and say little yellow legs stickig out from under her wings.  One, two then three little heads popped out from under her.  They are so cute!!!  I love the little ones!  I rooted them all out so I could take a couple of photos.  The 4th one is starting to emerge from its shell do I didn’t bother it.  Here are a couple of photos of the new babies.


What to do about Japanese Beetles

I was out in the garden early this morning.  Since I have mulched most of the garden with hay, I made quick work of hoeing the few rows I have without the hay.  I must get another bale this week to finish off the mulching.

The Bean Patch

Picking off the japanese beatles is smelly and not fun. Thank goodness they only eat the leaves!

I was walking down the bean rows and found Japanese Beetles at work.  I let the chickens in the garden all winter hoping that the Japanese Beetle population would suffer.  I’m not really sure how well it worked as I found many Beetles at work on my beans.  I know the chickens couldn’t possible eat all the grubs so I am expecting a few.  I got me a milk jug and started picking the beetles of the plants one at a time.  After awhile I noticed the beetles will slide off the leaves.  So I started putting the jug under the leaves and then tilting the leaves so the beetles would slide right in.  Voila!  Success!  I collected about a half cup of beetles.

I found a recipe for making beetle juice to spray on the nasty little creatures to keep them off the plants.  I think I will try it in a few days after I collect enough of the nasty little creatures.  I will share it with you now.  Put one cup of beetles put in a blender and liquefy them.   Add enough water to the thin the mixture until it can be used in a sprayer.  Spray on the plants affected by the beetles.

See their distinctive Feathers?

Dominiques had black and white striped feathers

I have interviewed a few people and they tell me that if you start collecting the beetles, they have fewer and fewer of them each year.  I think I will collect them and make the spray just to make sure.

I’m not an organic farmer but I do want to be a good steward of the small part of the Earth that God has blessed me with.  So I am going to try this instead of using chemicals that could destroy my little part of this world.

What comes from the ground, return to the ground!

Buster the Rooster

Buster the Rooster. Protector of the flock!

Chicken Keeping – What was I thinking!

It all started with 6 little chicks – 2 New Hampshire reds, 2 black Austalorps and 2 Golden Comets.  I thought I was going to be a first class chicken keeper.  A friend gave me “Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens.”  I was set.  I had all the information I needed and a small cage to put them in.  I calculated that I had about 8 weeks to get a coop built.  My kind and generous husband volunteered.

I searched the internet for low cost chicken coops since I didn’t know how long or what kind of farm I wanted to have.  I found some great ideas on using old pallets and reclaimed wood.  I wanted something eclectic for my little flock.  When I shared this information with my husband, he had other ideas.  He had some left over building materials from when he built his house.  He found some old linoleum in storage.  After everything was gathered, he ordered tin for the roof and the construction began.  I ended up with a much nicer coop for my chickens that I had imagined.  Thank you for the wonderfully nice coop, Jackie.  I do appreciate it.  My chicken keeping had begun.

This is the second go around of yound birds I have raised.  My teenagers.

I might have overdone my purchase of chicks this spring. 6 Dominiques, 10 Ameraucana’s and 6 Golden Laced Wyandottes.

Jackie had other ideas about how many chickens we should have and showed up with an incubator and 18 eggs from a friend.  They hatched at 80% and we had more chickens moving into the coop.  It turned out we had 5 roosters.  We had way too many chickens for me.  So we decided to keep one rooster and sold the rest.  Buster has been a good protector of the flock.  I have lost half of my chickens to the wild life in the area.  We had a fox take a few and a pair of hawks has taken the rest.  I know now that I need twice as many as I thought if I am going to let them free range.  I have had enough eggs to sell and supply my family.  I have sold enough to pay for the feed so I think I have done well.  The eggs are delicious and have very dark yolks from the foraging.  I am having a hard time deciding if I should continue to let them free range or if I should keep them in the run all day.  They eat a lot more feed when they are locked up all day but, I don’t lose any hens to the wild life either.  So I am really torn.

See their distinctive Feathers?

Dominiques have black and white striped feathers

I have been gardening on and off for most of my life.  My Grandfather first introduced me to gardening as a small child.  Eating fresh peas from the vine and carrots from the ground…dirt and all was a part of my life.  A little dirt never hurt anyone.

I have the tomatoes covered. On to the rest.

As an adult, I wish I had paid more attention to my Grandpa!  He was trying to teach me and I wasn’t noticing.  I learned that gardening was a lot of hard work.  He taught me to put the best tomatoes in the bottom of the bushel basket.  Put the ripest ones on top.  When I started growing my own food, I learned his green thumb was not inherited by me!  I worked hard to make a garden that the weeds would finally take over and I had little to show.  How did he keep his garden so neat?  Where were the weeds?  What is the difference in watermelons and cucumbers? They all look alike when they are about six inches long.  Needless to say…I threw a few watermelons into the woods one year while helping in the garden while grandpa was on vacation.  Grandpa never asked me to help in the garden again while he was gone.

This year, my younger sister shared a book of articles written by Ruth Stout.  I have adopted the ‘Ruth Stout’ method of gardening this year.  It involves mulching the entire garden with hay.  Six to eight inches of hay will keep the weeds out!  Who knew?  Not me!  I’ve always used bark mulch in my flower beds and have never had many weeds.  How do you till a garden full of hay? You don’t!  No tilling…impossible!   My sister always has a weed free garden.  If there are weeds, she just throws a handful of hay on them and they disappear.  My husband declared that he wasn’t helping with the garden this year since the chickens dug up 5 tomato plants.  The garden was all mine!  Yippee! I was going to try something new.  I had my dad deliver some hay to me and fun began!  I am trying the ‘Stout’ method.

I have a good start on spreading the hay. About a third done. More work to do!

Hello world!


You have to start somewhere!  So, here it goes.  My first blog post. 

I have been told that I should have started this a long time.  I guess timidity has kept me from starting this sooner.  Procrastination could also be another problem for me.  I have always been able to exress myself better in writting than in speach!  I do put my foot in my mouth quiet often.  So, watch out world.  These pages will hold only my thoughts and opinions.  I hope they are as entertaining to read as they are for me to write.

Happy reading.