Observe & Report

The chickens help me with the Three Sisters' Garden

Is it just me or does Charlie look hungry?

This time of year is all about working in, on, and for the garden.  All this manic prep sets the stage for (hopefully) an awesome harvest in the months to come.  Today’s post is all about giving you updates on our various projects.

I Got All My Sistas With Me

I have made good progress on my Three Sisters’ Garden.  Two weekends ago, we finally cleared out the junk pile that had been living in this spot since we bought the house, I tilled up the ground, and removed the sod layer.  Then, last week, I spent my time after work laying down wire on the ground, framing in the 10’x10′ space with 4×4 posts, and hauling over my lovely amended dirt from the old garden spot.  The chickens were extremely helpful.

They immediately understood that I was building them the world’s best dust bath, and just so I knew that they appreciated my efforts, they bravely hopped right in and scratched and fluffed and kicked all the dirt back out for me.

Such thoughtful chickens I have!

This weekend I built the grid of mounds, as recommended by Renee’s Garden, with a slight modification in the layout.

3 x 5 grid of mounds, 18" across, with flat tops

As soon as I started work on the mounds, I gently refused the chickens’ offer of more help.

Sofia, 13, and JB test the fence. What about their dust bath??

I tossed up a very crude, five-minute fence to exclude the helpers.  I just stuck metal fence posts into the ground at each corner and hung leftover strips of hardware cloth on them.  I will devise something better down the road.

Then, two days ago (Monday, April 19th), I direct-seeded corn in every other mound.  I planted SugarPearl (Su) corn and Painted Mountain Corn, both from Botanical Interests, and also Painted Mountain corn from Lonely Whistle Farm.  I grew both of these varieties successfully my first year here in Vancouver, though not in a proper block formation, so I am looking forward to fuller ears this year.  More on this topic later.  Anyway, after planting, I mulched around the mounds with straw, and we’re off!

When the corn is 4″ tall, I will plant the beans and pumpkins.

Mater – It’s Like Tuhmater, only without the Tuh!

Now, I know that picture is sad, sad, sad.  In fact, it probably looks worse than the pictures from the other day, right after the frost.  But, I ask you to look again.  You see the tiny little things that are sticking up in the crooks between the dead branches and the main stem?  That’s right, it’s new growth!  I finally took the plunge on Monday and I looked under the Agribon.  I had not looked since I took those original, horrifying pictures right after the frost.  I read that if the stem or even just the root is still alive after the frost, they have a chance of coming back.  So, I figured that I would leave them covered and not even peek for a few days, hoping to keep every degree of warmth and protection in there, and give them every tiny, remote chance possible to recover from the destruction.  Besides, I was too scared to look.  I’d be so depressed if they were all dead.

But, finally I looked, and the consensus is that, as long as we don’t have any more frosts, at least 9 of the 12 plants are going to make it!!!!  Nine plants have new growth somewhere on them.  The plants that did the worst are Pompeii Roma, Berkeley Tie-Dye Heart, and Aunt Ruby’s German Green.  They look basically like this:

Berkeley Tie-Dye Heart

Those are the three that don’t have new growth yet.  I don’t know if they will make it… but, the stems are not totally dead yet, so you never know.  Only time will tell.

The ones that did the best are Sweet Carneros Pink, Sungold cherry, and Beauty King.  They each look something like this:

Sweet Carneros Pink

Sorry for the blurry picture.  My camera doesn’t like to focus when it’s that close to the plant and in low light under the cover, but I refuse to open it completely until all my babies are back to growing happily.  Anyway, those three plants all still have some of their original leaves, plus their complete original main stems, and maybe even some new growth.  The other six plants are something in the middle… they look like the first tomato pic in this post.  So, at this point my tomatoes are ‘Maters – Tuhmaters without the Tuh!

It’s Gonna Take Time, A Whole Lot of Precious Time…

It’s gonna take patience and time, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it, to do it right!  So, things are looking up.  It’s going to take some time, and my harvest might be later, rather than earlier, like I’d hoped, and may well be reduced… but it’s looking like at least I will have a harvest!

Baby, Baby, The Stars are Shining For You

Baby tomato - take two!

Also on Monday, day five after planting, my second round of baby tomatoes has started to come up.  They are my tiny beacons of hope.  They will be here to replace any of the original set that doesn’t recover.  As for the extras… I have no clue what I’ll do with them, but I’m pretty sure killing them will be out of the question.  I’ll keep you posted.

I Don’t Have a Song for this One

garden paths and fencing, in progress

Ahhh, don’t we look like lovely, clean, organized people?  I think so too.  Let’s go with that.  We are very neat and organized.  Things never get messy here… yeah, yeah… that’s the ticket!

The above picture shows the progress on the garden.  Brian has been heading up this project.  We have laid down weed cloth and framed it with 4x4s.  The pathways are going to be filled with a few inches of gravel (instead of huge weeds like last year because our mower doesn’t fit in between the boxes!), and lightweight fencing is going to be attached to the posts to keep the chickens and bunnies out, while my beloved bird netting is going to be hung over the whole thing on wires, so that you can walk in it, and still keep the birdies off the seedlings and the biggest of moths out of my tomatoes.  We need not say more about that.

In the Words of Paris Hilton, That’s Hot!

On Sunday, it was 83 degrees, in the shade on the north side of the coop!  That’s hot!  This makes the maters happy.  Of course, today it barely hit 55, but we’ll not discuss that.


3 thoughts on “Observe & Report

  1. Things are looking good at your place. 13 looks so cute out there by the three sisters garden watching Mom scratch. They look like one happy little family.

    Put a little more framing up and some rehab windows and you could almost call that a green house :)

  2. Everything is looking great! I really glad that you tomatoes are making a comeback (knock on wood). It sure is nice that the chickens are so “willing” to lead a hand, beak, feather, or whatever.

    As you are a scientific woman, I thought I would pose a question and situation to you. I think there may be a problem with my pole beans. Since last week the beans are really looking bad. The leaves have become wrinkled and dry looking. I have fertilized (Miracle Grow) and did some preventive bug maintenance (Sevin Dust). So I’m not exactly sure what the problem is. I noticed it the week after I Sevin Dusted and I also used Miracle Grow that week. I used exactly the same about of the fertilizer and bug killer on the entire garden but only the beans look this way. I’ll post a picture of them on my blog later this afternoon.

    With the fact that the other plants aren’t showing these signs, I thought that it might be a virus or disease of some kind. After searching the internet, I came across the bean mottle virus. The effects of the virus look fairly close to what is happening with my beans. So what do you think?

  3. Hey Missy!

    Looks great—so when are you going to answer my e-mails??

    We’re opening not one, but TWO locations by end of year—one in Chelsea, and one next to St. Paul’s. Wish you were here.


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