Vegetables To Plant In May

I sure hope we’ve had enough April showers to bring May flowers or even better would be May tomatoes.  How many of you are checking those tomatoes daily just waiting for the first one to ripen.  I hate having to buy tomatoes, and the wait is killing me.

When I went to look at my list of vegetables to plant in May, I was surprised at how short it is.  But realizing, what we plant this month will be producing in the heat of summer, it makes sense there are so few.  As they have to be very heat tolerant.   Below is the list of vegetables to plant in May.

Vegetables to plant in May for zone 8b:

  • beans, lima
  • eggplant
  • mustard
  • okra
  • peas, southern
  • potatoes, sweet

My chickens, ducks, and I sure wish I could grow some greens.  I think I may try to find a partially shady place and give it a try.  Maybe, with some shade and extra water I can get one last batch of greens.  I’ll let you know if it works.

Duckies loving their greens!

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My Journey with My Ducks

On March 2 I became the proud owner of 5 baby duckies.  When I got them from Tractor Supply, they were already 10 days old, absolutely adorable, and way too cool.  From the research I had done, everyone said ducks are easier to care of then chickens.  Even though I love my ducks, I do not fully agree with this statement.  I realize ducks are less prone to sickness then chickens, but as far as the day to day care, chickens are easier.  I’m almost afraid to put this in writing, lest I jinx myself, but I’ve had chickens for a year now with no sickness or injuries.  But to be fair, I inherited my chickens in a trade, and they came with coop, run, and instructions.  The previous owners had already worked out all the kinks, which in hindsight  has been priceless.   The ducks on the other hand have been a learning experience from day one.   Here is the account of my journey of how to care and provided shelter for ducks.

Duckies when they first got home

I had been told that they were messy.  I figured no biggie, I can handle a little mess.  I was unprepared for how messy they are.  That is by no means the fault of the ducks, but rather, my lack of knowledge.  If I were to have baby duckies again, I would set up an outside brooder for them, or if they had to be inside I would keep them in the bath tub for easy clean up.  I was also unprepared for how fast they grow.  When I got them their coop was not yet built, but I thought I had plenty of time.  Let’s just say if I had a do over, I would have their coop built before bringing them home.

The duckies at 3 weeks of age

The duckies at 5 weeks of age

I searched for websites with information on how to build a duck coop and run.  From what I gathered, ducks don’t require much in regards to shelter.  For me, it was more about insuring they would be safe from predators.  This means safe from black bears.  I lost 2 hens to the bears, so I knew they had to have a sturdy shelter.   Bottom line, they needed 4 – 6 sq ft each in their coop and 10 – 25 sq ft each in their run.   I’m on the low side for both the coop and run, but since they are allowed out to roam when I am home, this was okay with me.

Completed Duck coop and run

Initially, the ducks were to have an inground pond.  This idea got nixed when I realized it would need to be drained almost daily and this was just too much work.  Instead, they got a $10 kiddie pool, which can easily be cleaned each evening.  I had seen pictures of  how others used hay in the run and coop and this seemed like a good idea.  For the first few days or maybe even a week this worked well.  But then the hay around to pool and waterer got water logged and started to smell.  My original idea was to put the spent hay in my compost pile, but I soon realized this was too much hay to compost.  So, now I have a smelly coop and a question as to what to do with all the hay.   Back to the drawing board.  What was I going to use to cover the floor of the run so I didn’t have one big mud hole or smelly hay?  In my research I found a picture of what someone else had done, (click here), and went from there.

Modifications to the duck run

The end of the run, with the kiddie pool and waterer, has been filled in with egg rocks approximately 3 to 4 inches deep.  Around the outside of the pool there is a single layer of bricks to give them a platform to enter and exit the pool.  The rock allows for drainage and also allows me to hose off any nastiness.  There is a landscape timber dividing the rock end from the rest of the run.  I decided to put leaves in the other end of the run.  I use leaves in my chicken run and it works great.  Once a week I take a pitchfork and flip the leaves and that is about all I have to do.  My only concern is the leaves will end up on top of the rocks, but this is a minor issue I am sure I can deal with.  At least the smell is gone.  I am hoping that my daily duck chores will be cut down to about 15 minutes each evening.  This will entail, baling the pool and refilling, cleaning and topping off the waterer, and throwing a light layer of fresh hay in the coop.  On the week ends, I will remove hay from the coop, and flip the leaves in the run, which shouldn’t take more then about 1/2 hour to complete.  All in all, I am very pleased with the run and coop.  I think I have the problem of the messy ducks under control.  Now I can just enjoy their antics.

Below are more pictures of the modified run.

 

 

 

 

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Garden Update

Here it is almost 8 pm and I just came in from working in the garden.  The days have gotten longer and that just means that much more time to work in the yard.  I have been so busy working that I haven’t taken the time to post.

Most of my time has been taken up by filling in my old fish pond, and putting in a new much smaller pond.  I just went through all my pictures and can’t find a picture of my old pond.  🙁  It was about 22′ by 10′. The new one is less than half the size of the original one.  Now days, much of my time is taken up caring for the ducks, chickens and vegetable gardens, so I needed the pond to be less maintenance.   

I still lack planting some flowers around the front and maybe put a lilly or two in the pond, but besides that it’s finished.  I can’t wait for all the plants to grow and fill in.  The green tube you see in the bottom of the pond is for the fish to hide in when the herons come.  The herons have already visited the new pond, but thankfully the fish were smart enough to hide in the tube.

Last week end I decided to have a plant sale.  My seedlings that I started back in February have done very well, thanks to the low tunnel.  The tunnel spared them from all the freezing and near freezing nights we had in March.  I knew when I was planting my seeds I didn’t need that many of each variety of tomato and pepper, but I just couldn’t help myself.  So what was I going to do with all my extras?  I decided to have a plant sale.  By selling the seedlings for $.50 and $1, I knew I wasn’t going to make a ton of money, but anything I can do to help my habit, I mean hobby, is a good thing.

By 10 AM all the plants were sold.  I made a little money and had a great time chatting with all the veggie lovers who stopped by.

The vegetable gardens are doing quite well.  I have finally gotten all my seedlings planted and only lack replanting a couple beds.  Here is a picture of the east garden.

East Garden

The front row left has cabbages, that need a bit more time, and broccoli that is going to the chickens and the ducks.  The right side has lettuce, beets, and swiss chard.  In this picture, the middle bed on the left has a few head of cabbages.  I took this picture yesterday, but this evening I replanted that bed with the last of my tomatoes and zucchini, but it was too dark when I was done to take a picture.  The middle row right side, has volunteer tomato plants.  I know I tell you to rotate your crops but I am breaking the rules.  Last year this bed also had tomatoes.  It held the tomato plant that produced the best for me.  That tomato plant had come up as a volunteer, so I don’t know what variety it was, and of course, neglected to save seeds from it.  So I am hoping that these seedlings will be that same variety.  Back row left side, carrots and cabbage that are about ready to come out.  The right side has peppers, tomatillos, and eggplant.  The front trellis bed has peas and behind it is a trellis bed with cucumbers.  Something dug up that bed so I decided to give up on having peas in it and plant my cucumber seedlings instead.  On the outside of the garden, on the right, which you can only see a tiny bit, I made a bed.  I planted cucumbers to grow up the fence, zucchini and summer squash.  Zucchini and summer squash take up so much space, that I am going to try them out there where they will have more room.  On the outside left is my herb bed.

West Garden

The front row beds have potatoes.  They really got hit pretty hard by that late freeze we had in March.  Next year I hope to put low tunnels over most of my beds to keep this from happening.  But even with the freeze they are doing quite well, though they were twice the size before the freeze.  I dug down around one of the plants the other day and it had tiny potatoes, so I think they will be fine.  The second row left has bok choy, cauliflower, and kale.  The bok choy is starting to go to seed already, I’m thinking because of the warm weather.  Hopefully that will be on the menu tomorrow night.  The row on the right has onions.  The back row beds have tomatoes.  Running down the left side are my blueberry bushes and they all have blueberries on them.  They are only a year old, so I should have taken all the blooms off, and not let them produce, but I just couldn’t do it.

I will leave you with a few pictures of the baby chicks.

Until next time!

 

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Vegetables To Plant In April

I think that spring has finally arrived!  Though truthfully, I think we are going to go straight from winter to summer and not have much of a spring.  But, only time will tell.  Hopefully everyone has had a chance to get their gardens ready to plant the first round of summer veggies.  Below is the list of vegetables to plant in April.

Vegetables to plant in April for zone 8b:

beans, bush and pole
beans, lima
cantaloupe
collards
corn
cucumbers
eggplant
mustard
okra
peas, southern
peppers
potatoes, sweet
pumkin
squash, summer
tomatoes
turnips
watermelon

I’ll leave you with a fun picture of my duckies.  Today was their first day coming out of their coop and enjoying the back nine with the chicks.  They loved the weeds and other greens I was giving the chicks.   Tomorrow they will be six weeks old and I just can’t believe how big they are, not to mention how much food they consume.

The duckies!

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And The Winner Is….

Congratulations to Cris C for being the proud winner of the Char’s Gardening Tote Bag.  Cris please email me at charsgardeningatyahoodotcom and give me an address where I can send your tote.

A special thanks to those of you who participated!!

 

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Spinach Quiche Cups

I love looking for new recipes.  Not that I make half of them, but you never know when you might get the urge.  Well, I found this recipe for spinach quiche cups on Pinterest the other day and couldn’t resist.  Here’s a link to the original recipe.   They are easy and delicious.

Spinache Quiche Cups

Ingredients:

  • olive oil (to saute mushrooms and onions)
  • 10 oz of spinach (I used frozen because it’s what I had , but fresh would probably be better)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of your choice
  • 8 oz mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1/2 medium onion (diced)
  • 1 Tbs of milk (the original recipe call for heavy cream or half and half, but I didn’t have either so I used milK)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put a little olive oil in pan and saute mushrooms and onions

Cook spinach according to directions on the bag. Be sure to drain excess water.

Beat eggs in large bowl. Add the other ingredients and mix well.  Season to taste.

Spray muffin tin, and fill. Should nicely fill 12 muffin cups.

Bake for 20-23 minutes or until well set/ toothpick inserted in center should come out clean.

I topped mine with some tomato basil feta, and they were to die for.

Total preparation time was about 50 min.

If you have extra eggs and don’t know what to do with them, this is a great recipe.

 

 

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A Milestone Reached

I can’t believe it.  After two and a half years, minus a one year sabbatical, I’m finally on my 100th post.  A huge thanks to all of you who are following along on my journey.  It’s been a bit rough as I was not sure in the beginning where exactly I was headed, but the future is much clearer to me now.  Thanks for putting up with me as I share my vegetable gardening, chickens and newcomer ducks with all of you.  I am hoping to be doing a lot of canning and preserving in the near future.  My goal is to become as self reliant as possible.  I know on one half acre that I will never be completely self reliant, but I hope to do the most I can with what I have. I saw this saying on a facebook page I follow and I think it says it better then I could,  “It is not the amount of land you own, but what you do on that land that makes you a homesteader.”

I have never been big on prizes and give-a-ways, but I think this special occasion deserves one.  I am going to give one of my Tote Bags to someone who comments on this post.  I will put all the names in a hat and Holly will draw a name.  Next Saturday, March 16th, I will post the winner, both on this page and on my facebook page.  Thanks for playing.

Looks like the weather this weekend, at least in my neck of the woods, is going to be fabulous.  Hope everyone gets a chance to go out and get their hands dirty!

The winner will receive this tote!

 

 

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Vegetables To Plant In March

March is a busy, busy planting time of year.  The list of vegetables to plant in March seems endless.  If you are going to try to do one last planting of  winter veggies, get them planted as soon as possible.  Temps will be rising before we know it, which is hard to believe considering it’s been colder lately than it was in January.  It is definitely time to get your summer veggie seeds planted.  If you are brave and getting a head start on planting summer veggies in the garden, be prepared to cover them, it is possible we could get another freeze before spring gets here.

Vegetables to plant in March for zone 8b:

beans, bush and pole
beans, lima
beets
cantaloupe
carrots
celery
collards
corn
cucumbers
eggplant
endive/escarole
kohlrabi
lettuce
mustard
okra
onions – bunching
peas, english
peas, southern
peppers
potatoes
potatoes, sweet
pumpkin
radish
squash, summer
squash, winter
tomatoes
turnips
watermelon

I thought I would add a few pictures of how my garden is growing.

West Garden

Front row boxes have potatoes, second row on the right, onions on the left, very small bok choy, kale, and colorful swiss chard, third row is waiting for tomatoes and peppers, at the back is my low tunnel housing my seedlings.  I have been meaning to make a post on my low tunnel but just haven’t got to it.  To make a long story short, in the middle of last month some friends of mine gave me sliding glass doors and I plan on making a greenhouse, which will be to the left of the low tunnel.  I have not had time to build my greenhouse but needed somewhere to house my seedlings so the low tunnel was my solution.  It is fairly inexpensive and very easy, I will eventually get around to putting up the directions on how to build one.  I have to say I was a bit worried about my seedlings with this cold weather we have had the past few weeks, but they are doing well.  My tomatoes look like they are almost ready to up pot.

Cucumber seedlings in the low tunnel

Pepper, Eggplant, and tomato seedling in the low tunnel

 

East Garden

Above is a picture on my east garden.  Front row on the left, broccoli with a few cabbages and mustard plants, on the right, newly planted lettuce, bok choy, and beets.  Second row on the left, cabbages that are ready to be harvested in the next day or two, on the right, only a few remaining radishes, basically it is ready to be replanted.  Third row on the left has lettuce, carrots, and broccoli, and on the right mustard greens with a few radishes.  The trellis beds have peas, the front bed is doing great the back bed the top of the peas were eaten by the vols, which I have finally been able to get rid of, I hope.  I may have to replant that bed.  I will make my decision on that this week, as time is running out to plant peas.

 

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Ducks Have Arrived

I am so excited I finally have ducks!  I have to admit that compared to chickens they are messy, messy little creatures.  If you thought having the chicks throw their food around was bad, well that’s nothing compared to water everywhere.  But as far as cute goes, they are adorable.

They are adorable.

We got them at TSC (Tractor Supply Co.) yesterday.  They were the last ones of the older batch and TSC was desperately trying to get rid of them.  The smaller ones are even cuter then these, but these guys needed a home so now they have one.  🙂   I have to say when looking for information on how to care for ducks there is little compared to the ton of info on chickens.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far concerning their care:

-Make sure their water dish isn’t to deep.  They can drown.

-They must have enough water to cover their bills when they drink.  They need to flush the vents on their bills.

-They must have water when eating in order to help wash down the food.

-They need a place to go to warm up after they are done playing in the water.

-Feed the growing babies a feed that has 20% protein, which is a higher percentage then the baby chick’s food.

For now they are inside and I’m planning on keeping them in for at least another week or two as the weather has been pretty cold.  Here is a picture of their condo:

Duck Condo.

Their water and food is in the bin in hopes of keeping the mess contained.  The other part has a light so they warm up and plenty of room for them to run around.  They are not too friendly yet, but they are getting used to me coming in the room and aren’t hiding in the corner anymore.  I have no idea if they are males or females as they came from a straight run.  I’m hoping they are girls, but I will keep you posted.  Next, will be figuring out housing for them.  From what I read they don’t need much, but protection from black bears and other wild animals will be key.

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How To Make Laundry Detergent

I’ve been wanting to make my own laundry detergent for some time now, just wasn’t sure where to start.  Then awhile back, LaFountain Farms posted on facebook that she had made laundry detergent, and she shared her recipe.  To make it even better, it is a liquid detergent rather then powder, and for some unknown reason that is what I prefer.  So guess what?  I made laundry detergent today, and I can tell you that it was much easier then I thought.

How To Make Laundry Detergent:

1 Cup Borax

1 Cup Super Washing Soda

1 Bar Fels Naptha Soap (all was found together in the laundry aisle at the grocery store).

Ingredients for Laundry Detergent

Directions:

Fill a 5 gallon bucket with hot water, take out a pitcher of water and put in large pot and boil. Grate the bar of soap and slowly add to boiling water, slowly and stirring the whole time, it will suds up if you go to fast. Boil that soap until it is all melted. While that is boiling, add the two powders to the bucket and stir.

Boil water and melt soap

When soap is melted, add to bucket and stir good. Put the lid on and let sit overnight, it will gel up by morning. Then give it another good stir. Makes 5 gallons of concentrated soap, so then you can put this in an old soap bottle or milk jug and mix half and half with water. Shake it real good when you use it, as it will gel up again.

Jugs of concentrated laundry detergent

You can add smelly oils if you like, but I like it the way it is.

 

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