After a gloomy start this morning we finally got a nice sunny afternoon and everyone seemed to enjoy it, despite the humidity. It has rained and stormed on and off here for several days and I was glad to finally see the sun again too.
The bitties have finally gotten big enough that I felt fairly safe in letting Mama take them out into the yard. They have been having a blast too and Mama is pretty watchful and careful with them. Several of the other girls probably have sore spots from getting a little too close and Mama launching herself onto them.
They had a pretty good line formation going out across the lawn today looking for bugs. Very thorough! lol! Later in the afternoon Mama Hen will take them back to their little run and ask to be let back in. (We have to keep the gate closed so the others won't go in there and eat up their food.) Anyway, they go back in then to get a good helping of ration so they won't go to bed hungry. I noticed last night that she is now teaching them to sleep on the roost also, so they are growing up fast.
The wild hydrangeas are in full bloom. I love these things because I don't have to do a thing to them. Except maybe prune one occasionally to help it fill out a bit. And the flowers last for a really long time.
I don't know if this is chamomile or feverfew.....I think the latter. It is not a perennial but rather just resows itself freely every year. I haven't added much to my herb collection lately and need to remedy that. I definitely need to add borage, comfrey and maybe another mint.
Some of the girls thought it was a good day to work on their tan. Ha! They love to lay out in the sun. It has taken me quite awhile to get used to this though and not immediately think I have a bunch of dead chickens when I come out and see them strewn about the yard. I tell ya, the first dozen times I saw them do this it really scared the crap out of me.
The garden is doing well although this is a fairly crappy photo that doesn't show much. The squash plants were some volunteers I just transplanted into a row. Hey, why buy them if they are just gonna come up on their own? Honestly, I'm a lazy gardener; I'll let the plants do as much as they can on their own. Beyond the squash I have cukes (for pickling), eggplant, peppers and some late cabbage that is probably going to get thrown to the chickens. Beside the squash I have one row of tomatoes. I think four are for eating and the rest of for canning. We also planted some watermelon and in the other run we have peas and green beans. The bulk of the main garden is planted with corn. Well, maybe just half. It's a fair amount of corn though.
My grapes are doing great this year so that kinda makes up for the raspberries that have crapped out and the strawberries, which I have let get overran and are not producing much. Hopefully the figs will do well this year, since we didn't get any last year. That's one reason I try to have an assortment of fruits planted; you rarely have a year where everything does well and with an assortment you are going to at least have a couple things that produce.
Of course, seems like the blueberries always do well and this year is no exception. The bushes have grown at least a foot or more and are loaded down with fruit. All the fruit is in the border of the main garden and I have various perennial herbs in between the fruits. In between the blueberries I have lemon thyme, oregano, catnip, sage and another variegated mint.
This variegated mint is not invasive like some peppermints; it seems to behave itself pretty well, and is supposed to be great at repelling mosquitoes and such. Plus, it's pretty and has blooms on it for the bees.
After I finally had the revelation that I could grow beans vertically (duh), Jack purchased 3 cattle panels and made some very cool trellises the length of the run. I then planted my beans in 2 rows, one on each side of the panels. They are doing well and already starting to climb without us having to train them at all. We did the same with the peas. They are a bit shorter right now but should come on up and attach to the panels also. This should help my back tremendously.
Before planting this year, Jack dug out the entire contents of our compost bin and tilled it into the main garden. It's gonna take a lot more to get this soil to a really good level but it is MUCH improved over what it was when I first came here. Now when we dig we actually find earthworms and hardly any grubs, which is the exact opposite of my first year or two here! Of course, we regularly amend with chicken poop too, so it's getting there, albeit slowly.
So, that's the garden update. Hopefully I'll have something a bit more informative next time.