Of course, major work on the coop means that the chickens spent all day hanging out in the tattered remains of the garden. The corn patch, of course, is still a favorite. But the chickies have also discovered that sunflower leaves also make delectable eating greens. One of the brown Easter Eggers caught a small lizard and made off like the winner of The Grand Prize. She ate it down in one bite. Of course, I didn't have my camera handy, but it sure was funny to watch.
This Yellow Pear did not fare as well as the last one, so it was tossed to a lucky chicken this afternoon. At least I got to eat the other one myself. I suspect that the green tomatoes on the vine now will not make it to ripening as the nights will soon become too cold. First hard frost should be coming 'round soon.
Harvested another Eight Ball zuke this afternoon. Procrastination meant that it is quite a bit bigger than the last one. Still, should be good for stuffing. There are 4 more that are now growing bigger - indicating that they were successfully pollinated. This is a photo of a female flower - you can see the baby fruit at her base. If pollinated, it will darken and start to increase in size. If not, it will yellow and wither. Since I hand pollinated this one, it will hopefully grow and get eaten in a few days.
- Some lessons learned this year
- What chickens don't eat, they will trample to death
- Watering and covering the compost pile really speeds up decomposition
- Eight Ball zukes are cute, but Black Beauty (a "regular zuke") is much more productive for the space and water
- Tomatoes continue to be a challenge to get to fruit - lots of lovely bush, lots of cute little yellow flowers, but not much pollination
- The wild birds and other critters have learned about sunflowers - need to "bag" the heads well before seed formation now
- Need to plant a lot more sunflowers if we are going to supplement the chickens' diet with seeds and leaves
- Young zucchini leaves are relished by young chickens, even if they are prickly
- I will need to make a chicken wire "cage" for the garlic prior to planting it in the ground
- Only going to plant two types of garlic this year - Georgia Crystal and Siberian. Besides the distinct color differerence of the bulb wrappers, I'm going to plant only one type to a bed. This will help with identification when it comes time to harvest. The smaller cloves I will plant together so I can let the scapes mature - the chickens loved the tiny bulbils and garlic is supposed to be good to help clean out their systems.
- I still cannot keep up with pinching back basil flowers when the heat of summer gets here.
- Lemon balm and oregano should be harvested early in the spring before the summer heat makes them bloom.
- Rosemary needs full sun - even in the desert. When the basils start shading it, then it slows down in growth. When I pinch back the basils, the rosemary starts growing vigorously again.
- Strawberries will take over, given lots of food, water and desert sun.
- Do not procrastinate in taking photos of flowers in the spring - today might be a perfect day, but tomorrow a hard frost could destroy all the blooms and buds.
- Baby chickens are all consuming
- The trees need lots of watering in the summer - once a week for the young ones is not enough