Monday, April 13, 2009

Well, I have completely fallen out of the habit of writing and, in the meantime, so much continues to happen around here. I have finally decided to post several items in order to bring things up to speed and to, perhaps, break the chain of "no posts".

I suppose that what most occupies our minds these days is two-fold, including both flora and fauna.

The Flora = Our first major garden endeavor
The Fauna = The 50 chicks that are headed our way

Evidently, when we decide to explore a concept, we jump in completely. Our garden, if successful, should feed not only our family, but many others, as well. And that is an incredible blessing. And our chickens ... well, we let our neighbor (who could be the subject of untold number of blogs) talk us into 50. I think I had thought more along the lines of 15-20, but why stop there, right?

Our garden is still evolving. We have already established a small kitchen garden just outside our back door (and kitchen, hence the name) which is planted with lettuce, spinach, turnips, bunch onions and cauliflower. It is doing beautifully despite our crazy up and down temperatures. Those were all started from seed inside in mid-February and were then transplanted at various times, based on their size. We have been able to outsmart the dipping temperatures by covering the little plants with plastic lids from a variety of sources (strawberries, baby spinach, and even suet containers) and then topping them with a rock or brick. The miniature green house covers have worked wonderfully, however some days have been a real challenge with the incredibly strong winds we have experienced all winter and spring.
The main garden has yet to be tilled and, additionally, has yet to be exactly charted out. We have a lot of seeds to plant and many things to take into consideration, like space for our 3 different melon varieties to spread out and trail their vines. Or how best to organize the pole beans and tomatoes so that they don't shade the lower growing plants. There's a lot to do yet.
Meanwhile, John lovingly tends to his seedlings that he has been nurturing since February. Here's a timeline of their progress, in pictures.

The first picture shows our tomato and pepper seedlings in March. You can see that John did an awesome job of making our own seedling pots out of recycled newspaper. They worked perfectly. These are actually the seedlings' second home, however. We first planted the seeds in either egg cartons, styrofoam meat/produce trays or peat pots that we had saved from our garden efforts in Atlanta. The bottom picture is all tomato plants. Notice how much bigger they've gotten. They even smell like tomato plants now, which is so incredible. John has been able to pull this all off by lovingly tending to these babies, several times a day. He wakes up and the first thing he does is check on the plants. He places them in our southeastern windows for the morning and then I am supposed to move them to our southwestern windows as the sun moves. The plants have gotten so big at this point that some never get moved and instead, are kept under CFL bulbs for about 16 hours a day. When John gets home from work he usually goes straight to the plants to check on them. You can see, too, that the tomato plants outgrew their newspaper pots and are now housed in recycled milk cartons. Recycling has played a bit part in these initial efforts and has saved us lots of money.
We are looking forward to the temperatures leveling off so that the seedlings can stay outside permanently. The moving them around inside, although not a big deal, is getting kind of old and they would benefit from direct sunlight and rain water anyway.
I am so very proud of John for all of his dedicated attention, reading, research, tending, watering, and general tinkering that has led to our success thus far.
We still have to put these puppies in the ground, however, so I'll let you know how that goes!

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