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Garden and Chicken Update: A Busy Couple of Months

5/26/2010 1:37:42 PM

Tags: Paul Gardener, Chickens, Greenhouse, Garden, Solar

A photo of Paul GardenerDespite a back that makes me feel like I'm 20 years older than I am, having had two May birthdays in our home plus mothers day, weather that just will not cooperate, a last minute visit from my parents on the one decent weekend we had and a firm deadline at work that kept me working weekends three weeks in a row,  we've managed to get quite a bit done in the last month (little over actually) that it's been since I last added my two cents around here. Shall we catch up?

In early April, we decided it was time to start the process of beginning a new flock of chickens for the backyard. They were indoors in one of my "Chicken Condo's" as I like to call them and reminded us all how darn cute the little guys really can be.

Chicks in cardboard brooder

We decided on a few new varieties this time around. In addition to the prolific white egg layer breeds that we already have experience with, the White and Brown Leghorns, we also decided to try out a couple of Buff Orpingtons and some Rhode Island Reds. Both are brown egg layers and are supposed to be a little less flighty. So far it seems to hold true.

Gangly teenage chickens -- Buff Orpingtons and Rhode Island Reds

Just like all teenagers, they have to go through that gangly, "don't look at me, I'm having a bad feather day" period. Not as cute, but still fun to watch as they sort out their pecking order.

And speaking of cute teenagers, my wife and I spent a great Earth Day at a local educational nature center with our own "flock." We were appreciating the fine solar array here and thinking of the day we'll have our own. Don't yet know when that'll be, but it will be. My little alternative energy engineer in the green shirt there, already has his own small solar array in the backyard that he's using to charge an old car battery. He and I have plans to get my greenhouse "off the grid" this summer. We won't be able to heat it with this, but I will be able to handle small-scale lighting and air circulation. It will be fun to work on together.

Admiring the solar array

And speaking of that greenhouse, it's been chock full! I did some major transplanting in mid April and was actually able to take the thinnings from the seedlings that I had and propagate them into fresh cell packs to have entirely new plants. I think all told I ended up with nearly 110 tomato starts for this year. Those extra propagated starts will be getting donated to a community garden that I'm going to be helping out with, but that is fodder for an entirely different post.

I should also mention that I started a YouTube Channel in April. A demo on how I went about thinning and propagating my tomatoes was one of the first things I added. I plan to add many more as the season progresses.

Tomatoes and other plants in the greenhouse

Tomatoes and peppers aren't the only things growing in there though. Because of my shorter growing season, I've started cantalopes, watermelons, cucumbers, zucchini and these pumpkin plants that are loving the heat among other things.

Pumpkins in the greenhouse

I mentioned the two birthdays in the house ... well, I guess I can admit one of them was mine. I slid into 39 this year and treated myself to one of the things that I've been really wanting for some time: a Meyer Lemon tree.

A Meyer Lemon Tree

And that weather I complained about earlier. Well, this was what I got the other day, May 14th actually, as a warning that spring is still here and Mom Nature will do as she likes! One minute the day was beautiful with a few clouds over the mountains, the next I noticed them getting darker and it looked like rain. I had barely put the plants I had out of the greenhouse hardening off back inside before these started falling from the sky. Wacky!

Hail stone

All in all, I'd have to say things are going pretty well though. The garden beds are filling up, the days are longer, and even if the weather does leave a little bit of predictability to be desired, it's still been a pretty darn nice spring.

How's everything going in your necks of the woods? Hopefully Springing up nicely!

You can reach Paul Gardener by email, or learn more about his garden at A posse ad esse.



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