A Modest Success

My garden has gone from being an abject failure, to showing a modest amount of productivity. I feel overwhelmed with all that I know I need to learn, and it doesn’t help that I suspect that it is just the first chapter. On the bright side, we had so much lettuce, even though we ate salads twice a day, we were able to share generous bags of it with several friends. It was almost a relief when it got too hot for the lettuce and it bolted, turning the leaves bitter and unsavory. I left the lettuce heads in the garden in an attempt to collect the seeds. That experiment is ongoing. 

The cherry tomatoes are transplants from Lowe’s and besides being a stink bug magnet, they are pumping out tomatoes faster than I can decide what to do with them; this even though I planted them much too close together. I planted an heirloom pear shaped variety as well as the usual Sweet 100. We are getting plenty of 100’s but sharing a hefty percentage of the heirlooms with the stink bugs. I take great delight in sharing the stink bugs with my hungry chicken. 

My cucumber vines are slowly dying. We have a stink bug problem there, too, but I think something else must be going on. The leaves are turning brown and yellow and speckled. I have no idea. But I learned cucumbers can apparently inflate overnight. We found some tiny pickle looking babies that looked as if they put on squash costumes the next day. I thought perhaps they had cross pollinated with the squash, but upon investigating I learned that never happens.

Jonathan and Hope faithfully help me check the garden every morning. Sometimes I get other volunteers, but always these two. They are excited about the watermelons we have discovered in the foliage, and they love to pick anything that is ripe. In Hopesie’s case, it does not have to be ripe. We do our best to keep her supplied with stink bug ruined tomatoes to ferry to Penny, or else she will start picking anything within reach and throw it into the chicken pen. We had to pick off all the flowers on our blueberry bushes to let them focus on getting established before they make fruit. We missed a few buds and found some fat, juicy berries which we planned to savor at just the right moment. I suspect Hope or Penny savored them because they have all gone missing.

I found an odd orange vine strangling my basil and attempting to murder the passion flower vine on the fence. It has no root and even though I kept pulling it off my basil, it kept coming back.  Google told me this is a parasitic vine called Dodder. It has other chilling names such as Strangle Weed and Witch’s Shoe Laces. I decided to pull out all the plants infested with it and throw them in a burn pile. This stuff can take over a whole garden if left to itself so it is best to nip it before it buds. Unfortunately, mine is budding right now, so I will probably have to deal with it a second time. 

Our baby chicks are at least ten times the size they were when we first set eyes on them. The worm box did very well for a brooder at first, however it was becoming a bit too high maintenance to keep the dog away from them. One day Mike and I rounded the corner to see Chance standing inside the brooder, which is on top of the workbench, closely inspecting the chicks. They were all freaked out, running to the far corners of the box while Chance swung his snout around trying to get a good whiff of chicken rear end. He didn’t hurt them at all, but we were alarmed nonetheless. I do wish I could have seen how he catapulted in there. We installed a lid for the box made of a lightweight wooden frame and a screen. That was enough to keep the dog out, but not enough to keep the chickens in. I went out to feed them one morning and found one on top of the screen. I tried to reach out and grab her, but she would have none of it, and the box was too wide for me to reach all the way across. The little chick would run to the opposite side, I would run around, and she would high tail it back to where we started, repeatedly. I decided I would have to outsmart the chicken, so I tilted the lid and shook it. All her friends screeched and a handful of them flapped out of the box, onto the floor, Mike’s work bench, and beyond. I called for reinforcements and we eventually rounded them all up and redeposited them in the brooder. We couldn’t be sure we had all twenty seven though, because they don’t stand still under normal circumstances, and if you point at them and count, they figure you are a hawk and they scramble. We had to scare them into a corner, scoop them into a cardboard box, and then count as we replaced them in the brooder. Amazingly they were all there. 

Last weekend Mike and the boys baby proofed a chicken nursery in Penny’s yard. We gave them a third of the area and let Penny have her house with nesting box and a sunny bit earth to scratch in. All the chickens now utilize a third of the total pen, while the remaining two thirds are growing weeds for future dining. When it was time to catch the chicks for the big move, I was happy to stand back and take pictures.

© Being Fruitful, 2012