Container Garden & Raised Bed Surprise: April Progress

The volunteer tomato we found growing in the compost pile was first transferred to a container, then to the raised bed. I think the other tomato seedlings are afraid of it - they're still not thriving like this monster.

The sprouting sweet potato that I cut in half and planted, sprouting sides up in the garden bed? Growing like weeds. Love it.

The Dirty Girl tomatoes (from saved seed) are also growing healthy and strong.

The container garden, at this point, has six tomatoes (because fifteen other tomato plants just ain't enough) plus basil, cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, and oregano. We've a couple of Italian fig cuttings that have taken root and put into pots until we figure where to plant 'em. A Mandarin orange tree, a small Meyer lemon, and a bay laurel tree, all potted. Oh, and some mint. I managed not to kill it somehow. Will wonders ever cease?

In the house: Thai lime, aloe vera, and thyme. So far, so good.

Oh, forgot to mention: those Dirty Girl tomatoes? They're also playing hostess to...

...four baby bunnies. I heard a yelp when I was watering, and found the burrow. Go ahead and squee. I won't tell anyone. 


The Wandering Moe-Duck

"Moe! Mooooe! Where are you, Moe?" Moe Duck, the Queen, usually responds to her name with a sound that reminds Spouse of the villain "Penguin"'s laugh in the old Batman television series. For three days, she did not respond, day or night.

Pic: Her Highness, Queen Moe
"Moe! Mooooe! Where are you, Moe?" For three days, my neighbors did not firebomb the property out of exasperation during my long, plaintive calls. Thank you, neighbors.

Oh, I worried. I fretted. By the second day, I wondered if I needed to start writing her obituary. By the third day, I gave her up for dead. Oh sure, there was an outside chance she'd gone broody somewhere, but since Khaki Campbells aren't known for their broodiness - they're far more career-minded - well, let's not give one's self false hope, eh? After all, whatever happened to her was probably all my fault. [I've never been one to pass up a good self-flagellation.]

Then on the morning of the fourth day, through my pre-coffee dazed gaze, it looked as if one of the ducks had somehow escaped the duck pen and was trying frantically to get back in. No wait, it's Moe! "Mooooooeeee!" I yelled, waking everyone across the tri-county area. She responded with a "quackquackquack", as if to question where the heck was her share of morning lettuce? I opened the gate to let her in, then gave everyone their stash of greens.

[We've enough pasture now that the geese & ducks really don't need store-bought greens anymore, but this keeps down over-excited intermingling (and pecking) of the various birds until they've all calmed. Morning routine is THAT exciting, y'all.]

I watched her eat, then dash out of the pen, root around the pasture/lawn areas, and then toddle off behind the Chicken Haus, alone... hey, wait! Walked over to the coop, and she had vanished. Poof! She was not to be seen again until the next morning.

This has been her routine for the past few days. I'm finally past having a heart attack each night she doesn't respond, and am taking it on faith that the dogs will do a good job of keeping her protected outside of the night pen. Now taking bets that she has a nest somewhere, and if the dogs don't find the eggs first, possibly a batch of Moelings within the next 28 days. Will keep you posted. Yay Moe!


Experimental Planting

It's looking like a hot mess, but I've dedicated one of our raised planting beds to a couple of experiments:

  • Cut an organic, sprouting sweet potato in half and plunked both halves into the soil (sprouting side up).
  • Planted two corn seedlings, two squash, and a couple of beans to see if a Three Sisters setup can survive our winds. I'll probably have to hand-pollinate the corn, since there's only two...
  • Planted one Burgundy Okra, and 
  • One Eggplant.

Pic: Babs the Goose says "Who, me, work?
Talk to the butt."
The sweet potatoes are planted towards the front of the 4x4 raised bed where they need the deeper soil space, the corn/squash/beans in the middle, and the okra and eggplant in the shallower back end. I'm hoping the shade from the corn will protect the eggplant & okra on our Summer afternoons, as I've found they tend to fry in the heat. All in one box, yep, and probably too tight of a planting for the size of the bed, according to Square Foot Gardening recommendations. Heck, one squash plant alone could take up the entire bed. On the other hand, the staff at the local nursery plant their exhibition 4x4 raised beds more densely than recommended, and with good results*. I also figure with all the compost we used to fill the bottom of that particular terraced bed, as well as the soil mix (with more compost) on the top level, there should be enough nutrition for all - just gotta keep up with the watering and judicious pruning.

I'm also continuing the experiment of planting by moon signs, and oddly enough, it's working well. Hey, if the lead horticulturist for a local famous garden park swears by it, who am I to knock success? One side benefit of moon-sign planting is that it helps organize my work days. On the days that aren't good for planting, work on other stuff. Good day for planting? Seed the pasture, transplant seedlings, etc. Keeps me from the falling into the dreaded "paralysis by analysis", as there's so many chores and projects from which to choose. "Life on the farm" ain't "kinda laid back" 'round these parts, no ma'am. And the geese refuse to pitch in. Rotten geese.

[*As a side note for my one-point-five readers who are interested in self-sufficiency before TSHTF, be it economical or other disaster, take this oft-repeated advice seriously: start experimenting with planting NOW, whether it's cool weather, warm weather, or mid-season. Why? So you can get your mistakes out of the way that much faster, and learn what truly works for your climate, soil, and way of living. Even if one thing works for your neighbor, you may find because of your specific microclimate (sun & direction exposure, winds shifting through seasons, etc.) that it won't work for you. Though I'm happy to be of service, please don't take my bad examples as gospel.]

Of Mice and Various Snakes and new Duck Feed Station

As mentioned in the previous post, our region is experiencing a near-Biblical plague of mice. "It's due to all the moisture we had...