Monday, February 16, 2009

Freedom Gardeners Site

Freedom Gardeners is an online community group of people trying to do more with growing their own food and being more self-sufficient. It's a nice way to get in touch with others and get advice. You can see our profile as a way to enter the site--just click on the title of this post.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Netting is Annoying!

And did I mention how annoying the netting is? In addition to getting caught on anything and everything, it also catches things, too. In December we discovered a gigantic black racer that had wriggled through the netting until it had gotten itself completely caught. We thought it was dead until Jeff touched it. NOT DEAD. Nevertheless, Jeff very carefully cut the snake out of the netting using a tiny pair of scissors while the snake at first wrapped around his wrist and then tried to bite him multiple times. Well, there's the wonder of nature for you! With the last snip the snake shot off under the fence to our neighbor's yard, so all was well that ended well.

But that netting is damned annoying. Any ideas out there?

Click to see Jeff in all of his Marlin Perkins glory (no, not dating myself at all there with that reference!).

The Green of Change

I don't think I've ever before appreciated how cool gardening is. Sure, it's nice to put things in the ground and get useful or beautiful plants as a result, but being witness to the process of growth is really amazing. It's hard to fathom day to day how much a seemingly simple little plant can change. From barren dirt to two little seed leaves and a stem poking out of the ground, new branches on a tomato plant coming from seemingly nowhere, leaves on the lettuce plants puffing out where I had just picked off older leaves 48 hours beforehand. And they do all of this, endlessly, with no more than the four elements. Clearly, our ancestors were on to something when they called out Earth, Air, Water and Fire as the most essential building blocks of life. Plants bear out their testimony in the most remarkable ways. It's really quite a privilege to see it, especially in a society where we are increasingly divorced from the natural world.

Today, we harvested our first edible head of broccoli. This is our second attempt at broccoli after our crazy chickens wiped out the first batch in a single day at their own personal broccoli buffet. The cucumbers are just sprouting (my first experiment growing directly from seed), the lettuce is going crazy in our beautiful weather, we have nine or ten types of tomatoes in the ground (c'mon bees, show up this time!) and yesterday I noticed that all eight blueberry bushes have tiny berry buds nestled in their leaves, which are still flashing their autumn/winter shades of rusty red. The blueberry bushes are still very small, but they've all survived and look determined to fruit at least a little bit. I'm hoping to nurse them along to full size this spring.

The girls are still happy little hens, it seems, and are back on a pretty regular laying schedule now that they're done molting and the days are getting longer. I expect we'll see an even greater output with the increasing sunshine. They're still noisy, but no neighbor complaints so far. It's amazing how much goodwill a handful of beautiful, sage-colored eggs can buy you. The chickens would be quieter if we let them have at the garden to stuff themselves, but we've draped everything in a fine bird netting that keeps them out. They are not shy about voicing their displeasure. Every. Single. Morning. The netting is terribly annoying stuff but will do until we figure out how to enclose the whole area in something more workable. One project at a time!

Next on the list--planting our last box with delicious tidbits, pulling out some old plants and replanting with spring veggies and hooking up the rain barrel. Oh, for two weeks off!

As always, click the photos for larger versions!