Aug 11, 2010
Published in Yardstead Blog

Well it's been quite a while since I've posted anything here at the yardstead.  Kathleen and I have been very busy and just haven't  taken the time to post.  We had a good productive spring.  We grew a bunch of sqush and zuchinni as usual, along with a few new varieties.  This year we tried some seminole pumpkins and cuban squash.  Both were very prolific, but we haven't given them the taste test yet.  We also added 9 new young hens and 1 rooster in with our mature birds.  We were down to 3 laying hens and one rooster due to a dog attack earlier in the year.  We still only have three hens laying, but the new additions may start laying by the end of the summer.  Lots of other things are growing great and we will be posting some updates (along with pictures) on our fruit trees.  Our bamboos are doing great as well as Kathleens water chestnut.  Anyway, stay tuned for some updates of our doings over the spring.  I will be adding some new pics to the gallery this week as well.  You can click on any of the pictures in the gallery to see a detailed view and description, or watch a slide show.  Feel free to leave us a comment anytime, we like hearing from you.

Mar 25, 2010
Published in Vegetable Gardening

Spring is Here!  We are so excited here at theYardstead, to be preparing our Spring garden.  The garden is tilled and has two fine patches of green already.  One of the green patches is garlic and the other is onions, both of which were planted in the late fall for harvest this summer.  We start most of our veggies from seed and sometimes supplement with plants from our local feed store.  We have a box of seeds which has accumulated seed packets over the last several seasons, some of which we will plant this year.  Kathleen, who is in charge of garden planning, will be ordering the rest from seed companies.

In the past we ordered a lot of seeds from Johnny's Seeds and Burpee, but this year we decided to go with all heirloom seeds.  Heirloom seeds are.....

Dec 03, 2009
Published in Community Gardens

   Portland Community Garden  Portland Oregon has one of the premier Community Garden programs in the country.  They offer garden plots to residents for a small fee, and donate fresh garden produce to local agencies to feed the hungry.  They encourage good healty gardening practices such as organic gardening, healthy soil building practices, composting, cover cropping, and sustainability.  The program also encourages positive social practices such as community involvement and intergenerational cooperation.  Portland currently has 32 community gardens throughout the city with more coming in the future.
     The Portland Community Gardens program has provided gardening opportunities for the physical and social benefit of the people and neighborhoods since 1975.  The 32 locations are scattered among many Portland neighborhoods.  Volunteer garden managers........

Mar 19, 2009
Published in Vegetable Gardening

Onions in heavy mulchWith springtime just around the corner we are in full preperation mode here at the Yardstead.  We have a few veggies in the garden already with plans for many more.  Kathleen has a stack a seed packets ready to go but I havent looked yet to see whats on the menu.  She does all the garden planning and I just provide the labor.  She helps with that too of course.  Anyway, since Im the head of the yardstead labor department I am always looking for ways to minimize tedious labor intensive tasks.  Number one on my list of tedious labor intesive tasks is pulling weeds.  I have always hated pulling weeds since the first time I can remember doing it.  When I was a kid my father always kept a garden going in our back yard.  I always wanted to help with whatever my dad was doing in the garden, especially if my big brother was helping too.  I remember seeing my brother on his hands and knees "playing" in the garden along a row of eggplants.  I asked if I could help and he gave a quick lesson on how to pull weeds without bothering the vegetables.  The weeds were easy to identify because the eggplants were well established so ther was no danger of me accidentally pulling up veggies and   I soon started working down my own row.  I don't think I made it past even three plants before I promoted myself to watering.  I was still just a little tyke so it was a few more years before I actually got assigned weeding as a chore.  I have been trying to get out of it ever since.
There are many ways to control weeds in the garden and I have tried several over the years and have yet to find a labor free technique.  Its not that im anti-labor, after all, gardening and yard work constitute my entire exercise routine.  I do hate weeding though, and there are many occasions when work or other resposibilities keep me out of the garden for days on end.  In our part of the country with the abundant sunshine and frequent rains, thats plenty of time for a small band of weeds to stage a coup, and  whole sections of the garden can be taken over.  So we've tried many ways to prevent weeds in the garden without having to constantly vigilant. 
The first weed blocking technique......

Mar 12, 2009
Published in Vegetable Gardening

Zuchinni Transplanted to GardenHere at The Yardstead we like to get a jump start on our spring garden.  We are in north Florida so we have spring like weather  as early as February and Kathleen and I get very excited about the spring garden.   We like to get our veggies in the ground as early as possible, but we have to be careful.  Although there are many warm sunny days here in February, we still have some cold days and night as well.  We had a couple of hard freezes in February this year.  In order to get our plants started as early as possible and protect them from the weather.  We start many of our plants in peat pots, peat pellets, or seed flats.  This allows us to leave the plants out on sunny days and bring them inside when it gets to cold. 
There are several other advantages to starting your vegetables in containers and transplanting them to the garden.  Starting the seed......

Apr 19, 2008
Published in Yardstead Blog

I woke up about 5:30 this morning and walked into the kitchen to start some coffee.  I looked out the window and noticed it was raining.  I was glad to see the rain but suddenly I remembered that our baby chicks which are about 3 weeks old were outside with no cover.  We moved the baby chicks outside 2 days ago.  They are in the pen with the adult hens, but are confined to a small holding pen, mostly to protect them from the adult hens.  They have a light to keep them warm and their feeder and waterer, but I haven't made them a cover yet.  I rushed out to their pen with a large umbrella to check on them.  They were all huddled together but were soaking wet.  Some of them were shivering so I ran and got the storage tote that had been their home for the previous 3 weeks.  I started grabbing them and putting them in the box and noticed one of the smaller chicks was laying on the ground sprawled out.  There are 3 chicks that are about 4 days younger than the rest and a little smaller.  All the chicks were cold but seemed ok except the small one which had been sprawled on the ground.  I carried them all inside in the storage tote and put 2 warming light on them.  I took the little one in a towel and gently dried her as best I could. I sat on the floor near a small electric heater and held her close to the warm air to speed the drying.  Her eyes were closed and I really didn't think she was going to make it.  By this time K was up so she took over the ailing chick and I went to check on the others.  They looked better already but were still wet and some shivering.  I grabbed the other 2 small chicks which looked a little worse than the big ones and gave them to K.

Apr 08, 2008
Published in Vegetable Gardening

We have started planting our spring garden here at the Yardstead. We are located in north Florida so we can start a little earlier than gardeners in more northern states. Spring is one of my favorite times to work in the garden. The weather is nice and I really enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. Spring is also the most productive time in our garden and we put a lot of vegetables in the freezer to be eaten later in the year. In this article I will cover some basic steps in planning and growing a vegetable garden: Locating a site, planning vegetables and layout, preparing the soil, planting and weed control, and harvesting.
Locating a site for your garden is a very important factor in how well your plants will grow. You should select an area that gets a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. It's also important to locate the garden .....

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