Jun 16, 2011
Published in Vegetable Gardening

We're well under way now with our spring garden and have been enjoying fresh squash, zucchini and cucumbers for a few weeks now.  This picture was taken about one month after our first planting.  We started the squash and zucchini on the right of the picture first, and the watermelon and cucumbers a week or two later.  A few of the squash and zucchini were started from seeds in pete pots, then transplanted to the garden.  The rest of the plants were started from seeds, directly in the garden.  

May 08, 2010
Published in Yardstead Blog

I found a web page on line while reading about World War II victory gardens and thought I would share:  http://sidewalksprouts.wordpress.com/history/

This website is full of interesting information about the history of urban gardening. 

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.....

Sep 25, 2008
Published in Vegetable Gardening

Now is the time to plant edible bulbs such as onions, garlic and shallots.  Get your bulbs planted now and you should have a delicious harvest early next summer.  There is a wide variety of edible bulbs available today from all over the world.  Have a look at garlic bulbs in any seed catalog and you will probably be amazed at the varieties available.  We have been planting garlic and onions here at the yardstead for the last several years with greta success.  We typically get the bulbs in the ground in early October and begin harvesting onions in late spring or early summer.  After planting we do very little in the way of maintenance over the winter.  We usually plant 1 row in the garden half with onions and half with garlic, and harvest enough to last throughout the year.  This year we plan on planting shallots as well, for a little variety.
Onions sets should be planted while they are still fresh and green.  If you order onion sets from a seed catalog they will probably arive fresh and green.  If you pick out onion sets at a local store.  Avoid onion sets that are browning or dried out, as this can cause poor growth or early seed formation called bolting which can affect the taste of your onions.  Onions do best in a soil pH between 6.5 and 7.  Test your soil pH and add lime if it is too acidic.  Plant individual onion bulbs about 3 or 4 inches apart and about 1 inch deep.   If you like fresh green onions, plant extra onions for early harvest.
Garlic should also be planted 3 to 4 inches apart and about 1 inch deep.  Seperated the garlic bulbs into cloves and plant the largest bulbs.  Discard or eat the smaller cloves because they usually produce smaller bulbs than the larger cloves.  Garlic requires some cold weather exposure to grow properly so be sure to get them in teh ground before the cold weather sets in.
Shallots are usually pretty expensive at the grocery store.  They have a mild garlic flavor and are excellent for cooking.  Seperate the cloves and plant them the same way as garlic but don't discard the small cloves.  Plant the small shallot cloves as well as the large ones.  They should all produce hardy tasty plants.
Garlic and shallots should be harvested as the stalks brown and fall over.  Onions can be harvested a little sooner or left in the ground until the tops dry and fall over.  If you don't have room for a regular garden, all of these bulbs will do well in containers.  You can also mix garlic, onion or shallot bulbs in with your flowers or other landscape plants.  Get them in the ground now and when summer rolls around you will be glad you did! 

May 30, 2008
Published in Yardstead Blog

I know the debate about climate change and what is causing it goes on.  Much time can be spent debating this issue.  I read an article this morning from Fresh Talk: Comment and Analysis From The National Editor of The Packer.  The USDA press release this week pointed out that the growing season in temperate climates has increased by 10-14 days over the last 20 years.  This gives all of us, that our worried about climate change but are avid gardeners an opportunity to look at the "glass half full"...we've managed to gain two more weeks of time to do something we love.

The link to the Fresh Talk article is below:

http://freshtalk.blogspot.com/2008/05/climate-change-10-to-14-days-longer.html

May 24, 2008
Published in Yardstead Blog

Our baby chicks are 8 weeks old now.  We've given some away and ordered a few more to arrive on June 1st from our local feed store.  I just couldn't resist ordering some Auraucanas.  We ordered a red sex-link rooster with our first baby chicks this spring and unfortunately he found the only spot that he could squeeze out to freedom from the chicken coop.  He met an untimely death, thanks to a dog.  So I've ordered another rooster to come with the Auraucanas.

The ducks are almost fully feathered now.  They are just shy of two months old and three of the four have a pretty good "quack" these days.  They are super friendly and love their kiddie pool.  I really enjoy their company in the yard.  I had no idea how much personality they would have.  I believe we will eat a duck egg in the future but maybe not any ducks.

As Jason wrote last time...I couldn't resist purchasing three turkeys from the feed store.  I really need to quit going in there...I get talked into any cute little critter.  They are fascinating too and it's the first thing I've purchased without a lot of prior research.  I'm happy to say they are thriving under the same conditions as a baby chick.  They seem to have more personality than chickens and are not the least bit afraid.  They actually like to "spend time" with humans...or at least hear you talking in the same room.  Jason really wants fresh turkey this year for Thanksgiving.  So we will see how that turns out.

I had my first lesson in slaughtering chickens last weekend.  Not too bad for a girl who grew up in the suburbs!  I did not have any problems and I've spent all week pretty proud of myself for learning a new skill.  We put a few in the freezer and I'm looking forward to trying "fresh" chicken sometime early next week.

The last item I will plant outside in the vegetable garden this spring/summer will probably be some winter melons.  It's hot in Florida now and we are getting to the time of year where a lot of outside work is just hard to do.  Winter melons grow well in very hot humid environments and need about 150 days to mature.  They keep well for several months and are excellent in winter soups and stir-fried.  We will harvest all summer from what we've planted now and in Florida we are lucky enough to have time for a second garden in the fall.  Also a winter garden is very easy too.  So we will continue to add pictures and write articles as we go.

Apr 27, 2008
Published in Yardstead Blog

We've had a busy week here at the yardstead.  The chicks that got soaked last Saturday are doing fine.  The baby chicks were back outside that same night, with a small shelter in case it rains again.  Unfortunately we've only had a couple of small drizzles since last saturday, so I will probably have to water the garden in the morning.  With the little bit of rainfall we've had though, I've only had to water the garden about once a week.  All the vegetables are thriving and I will probably get some current pictures posted in the gallery tommorrow.  I did manage to add a video of the buff orpington ducklings swimming and diving in their kiddie pool.  I have some more duckling videos to post tomorrow also. 
We have some blooms on the zuchinni plants in the garden.  Some tomatoes and some cucumbers are flowering also.  I am really happy so far with the .......