June was the month of drought and too much heat (at least for my New England sensibilities). July was the month of rain, including quite a few good soakers. (There was one good gully washer that took people’s gravel into roadways, if their driveway happened to be set up on a hill.) No name yet for the conditions to be for this month, but so far the weather is being cool and temperate. (Most of this post was written on the 3rd and 4th.)
Raised Bed Growings and Happenings
The potato crop (both gold and red) seem to be doing well, but the tubers need to get bigger. A couple of the plants are dying back already; the rest are not. So, I’m harvesting those few plants and weeding around the rest. The signs are that there will be some decent-sized potatoes here.
My snow peas did well, and I assumed they were all done for before now – but I found some today as I pulled out the old vines to dispose of. Okay, a small harvest of leftover snow peas! I’ll definitely do them again next year.
The cabbage is perfect for picking – at the middle of last month I harvested one that was being crowded out by another and the side of the bed. Will get some cabbage recipe inspirations going here!
The turnips (which are salad turnips) are still too small to harvest. The Swiss chard is trying, some plants better than others, but all smaller than expected so far. Onions are doing wonderfully! This was my first year planting for onions in the fall; I will do this again! I pulled one up to add to tonight’s planned dinner. Next year I’ll plant more of them.
Garlic is doing fine. The bulbs for the most part aren’t as large as I’d hoped. The scapes are giving me bulbuls – which I think I will collect and plant. I’d eaten some of my scapes back in July, when they were prime for eating. I do think I planted too much garlic (yes, friends, there IS such a thing!)
This year’s cherry tomatoes are prolific, as a cherry tomatoes around me usually are. But this variety is TOO small. I feel like I’m picking large blueberries! The large heirloom tomatoes – i added two plants – are not very happy. No sign of last year’s saffron, but maybe this fall-blooming crocus will surprise me.
The bok choy was good, and was harvested earlier in July. Although I missed one, which bolted to an unrecognizable vegetative form! I have a bit of sorrel, and the parsley is growing nicely (but was planted too late to be truly prolific this year). I am happy with the progression of the leeks, but have ordered some that are supposed to be planted in autumn.
Plans for Autumn, Raised Beds
I just went to Johnny’s Seeds, and ordered in some fall crop seeds for the beds. In the spring, I’d ordered setups for a ground level hoop house. So, I should have some crops coming to fruition in the fall (fast-growers), some that will be happy for at least some of winter under the hoops, and some that will presumably take off next spring.
I tried to order a new batch of Johnny’s 2520 “Forum” Onion Sets, but apparently they didn’t get them to provide onion sets in 2021. So, I ordered their fall-setting onion SEEDS: T-448.
I also ordered overwintering leeks, three varieties of lettuce, and a packet of kale and another packet of Swiss chard.
Garlic seeds will be planted from what I harvest – I’ll likely do that late September. I really don’t need as much as I planted last fall. And I have arugula seeds for microgreens, but I think I’ll set some out there, for a full growth of the stuff.
The East Side Bed
I found only two fronds of asparagus. At this rate, I won’t be eating home-grown asparagus until 2050 AD, which is a bit too long for me to wait. The horseradish and the wormwood are, however, cleaning up out there. Lady’s mantle is doing well (a transplant from my old home). There are some Jerusalem artichokes – I weeded a bunch out – which also followed me up from my old home – they can get a bit too eager if one lets them. But at least their bulbs are edible. The photo below is the perennial wormwood bush. I use it topically as a poultice for bruises – most effective when you know you’ve clobbered a part of yourself, and prior to full bruise formation.
This bed is actually on the low end of my priorities at the moment – but my plan is for it to come back.
I’ve planted dill seeds – late, but they could take, anyway. I plan to harvest one of the horseradish shrubs this autumn… and knowing how this plant’s roots break off, it will come back in the spring!
Fruit Trees and Shrubs
The apparently-indigenous highbush blueberries are prime for picking right now. Wild blackberry season was good, and appears to be over.
I’d had a late planting of my stonefruit saplings, and elderberries. The persimmon I planted a couple years back has somehow grown back and sent out a new trunk. No fruit of course this year, but I cannot wait! (This is supposed to be a Zone 5 hardy variety.)
The World of Poultry
There are 18 quail – one unaccountably died, another escaped the lodgings, and I harvested two for a really nice dinner. I will be harvesting a third very soon, for a Moroccan dish that allegedly serves two-four people. (ONE quail??) More to come when I cook and find out. I am getting 1-3 eggs a day. I may order another batch of quail eggs for hatching towards the end of November, when I know I am not going anywhere.
Ducks: I am likely getting a couple ducks from a local farmer next weekend. They are adults and may be a bit past their prime – but at any rate, these are slated for the freezer. They won’t be around here long – I don’t have the proper watery setup for housing ducks.
Chickens: I’ve done a good bit of chicken-rearing this year. I collected some eggs from my chickens, and incubated them indoors, all the while one of the buff Orpingtons had gone broody, and I let her “nurse” about 4 of her own. Ten of those I brought in hatched but one of these was not doing well, so I did the merciful deed. The other nine continue to do well. The pullets (girls) will end up with a friend who wants to start her own chickens (she lives where having a crowing rooster is both not a good idea and in any case, prohibited).
We aren’t done with the chicken story yet – but, a neighbor gave me four guinea fowl eggs to hatch. She suggested I set them with the still-broody hen, so I did that with two of them (along with another two chicken eggs). But as the broody had ill-luck with ANY she tried to hatch, I brought the other two eggs into the indoor incubator, and added four more chicken eggs. So… three weeks after the first batch of hatchlings, I now had four hatched baby chicks. Unfortunately, one of these was very weak and died in a few days. Its siblings kept pecking at it, too – behavior I’d not yet ever seen in chicks prior to this. The guinea fowl took about another 5-6 days to hatch – and only one did. (I candled the other – nothing there.) And again my poor, very dedicated, Orpington outside was unable to hatch any of her new eggs.
The lone guinea fowl that hatched had a splayed leg – I’ve dealt with this before, but this splay seemed to happen at its hip. There was nothing splint-wise I could figure out for this little feller. He survived for about ten days, but was noticeably weaker the last day of his life – so again I gave him a merciful out. (The other chicks I’d placed him with did not harass him in the slightest, however.)
So, anyhow, I have 9 plus 3 (12) chicks from which I will provide 4-6 pullets to my friend a few towns over. The cockerels, barring anything happening to my current roosters in the interim, will most likely end up in my freezer. If I have two extra pullets, they will go to a separate town friend for egg production, if she still needs them. (If not, my main chicken house currently only has one rooster and two hens in it – happily Roo is NOT harrassing his ladies! He’s a low-demand gent!) I do have an idea to some extent as to which are boys and which are girls – but I’m not ready to be sure.
The above certainly have Plymouth barred rock heritage, and the middle one resembles its biological mother, a Rhode Island red. (Father of that one is half-barred rock.) The third one is three weeks younger.
I experimented with a Cornish Cross derivative last year, for a dedicated meat bird. They were really pathetic for a few different reasons, which many people before me have discussed. This year I ordered some “Big Red Broilers”, which are supposed to be ready in 12 weeks full grown for dinner. I am considering doing some for the freezer at “Cornish game hen” sized, too.
The little chicks were under the red heat lamp, and looked nothing like the colors they should have, when I snapped this shot. Hence, I gray-scaled this photo. They are not red yet, and their wings are beginning to develop interesting patters, which are likely to be superseded by the upcoming red. You can see this most here with the chick in the 1 o’clock position.
Further Plans for Poultry
I just took possession of two metal pallet holders that I am designing temporary outdoor chicken housing for. The plans are to keep these as temporary outdoor homes for pullets, cockerels, or meat chickens prior to them being sent to their ultimate destinations. They’re not going to be intended for over-wintering.
I have taken measurements, and am planning thick-ish plywood for flooring (underlaid by protective hardwire cloth, and covered with some sort of laminate or plastic for easier cleanout), hardwire cloth and zip ties for the three sides to be fully enclosed, and a top which would be more hardwire and plywood – with a protective tarp. I am still working out the logistical ramifications for the open fourth side – how to consider a doorway! I do not want the entire fourth side to be a door – there needs to be at least a foot of a “wall” at the bottom, to discourage unwished poultry departures. But maybe a double door, so that at times when I can remove chickens to a transfer box, I can sweep that section out…. Latches, hinges… At least, the three sides and tops and bottoms of the two units have come to mind for me. Atop I’ll attach another beam (I do have some old wood lengths here from earlier construction) so that I can hang a waterer down. All birds will depart these premises well before they are sizeable, or of an age to lay. (I am planning on “Cornish Game Hen”-sized birds for the meat ones, as I am going for as tender as possible this season.)
Inner space at the bottom of this one is 34″ x 39″. These two units weren’t really constructed with full uniformity in mind, something to keep noting here. At the moment (prior to adding wood) they are light enough that I can “walk” them around, and thus move them. The one depicted will need a couple of flat stones (I have plenty) to keep them reasonably level.
Will start working on this later this weekend (although I’ve taken most of the measurements already), other than for the as yet undefined doorway… HELLO, Home Depot!!!
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Are those Sungold tomatoes? I used to grow them, too. Now I’m partial to Sunsugar. Similar but a little bit bigger and IMO sweeter. Just the best! Unfortunately I couldn’t find Sunsugar plants this year and it was a little too late to start from seeds. I ended up growing the Bumblebee varieties. Much bigger but not as sweet. But still pretty good.
Yes, these were Sungold. I do wish they were a little bigger, but they do taste fine.