Tuesday, June 28, 2011

All Grown Up...Sigh

Sunday was a big day at the Andersen household! One of this year's chicks layed her first egg! Scorpio has been in seclusion since she was pecked by Blondie and, as a result, has had no competition for food. She's reached her mature weight before the others and beat them to the egg-laying punch! Matt was thrilled that he got to be at the house for the event and so was I, since I missed it last year (I was in Chicago on business). It was a decent sized egg considering it was her first and the shell was a very pretty light cocoa color.
Check it out!:

Some of the other pullets have been getting more and more interested in the nest boxes, so my next project will be to build more in order to avoid bottlenecks during peak laying hours (10am-2pm).

Update: I fried up Scorpio's first eggs last night and one was a double-yolker! It was delicious...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Some Projects Completed

Two big projects done; only 134 more to go! Ha, just kidding, but it sure feels like that sometimes. I get one thing finished, only to come up with three other great ideas. I do take immense pleasure in crossing something off the list that I've been wanting for a long time and I got to cross out three thing this week!
Plant sunflowers in long bed out front. I traded my neighbor some bush bean starts in exchange for some rototilling. About four weeks went by and I was beginning to think Bob had forgotten. But, one day I came home to a beautifully turned bed, just waiting for flowers! I had started some in the greenhouse and had used a coupon at Wilco for five free packets of other sunflower seeds. I did a little weeding, pulling out rocks as I went and before long, it was ready!
Here is the bed nicely rototilled and ready for receiving:

And here it is after I planted all my started sunflowers. I know it looks a little sad now, but there are dozens of seeds hidden among the plants. I hope to see them peeking through in the next week or so. Sooner, if the warm weather holds.

Last Sunday, my friend Mary came over and we jammed! 36 jars to be exact! The strawberries were from the Silverton farmers market and smelled awesome! I put the extra berries on the dehydrator, which makes the garage wonderfully fragrant.

Next! A pantry- finally!!!! I was so excited by this! I've been waiting a very long time for this idea to come to fruition- since February, when I started the laundry area remodel. When Dad was up in April, we brainstormed about what would be best in the narrow area between the kitchen wall and the laundry unit. I was warned by the laundry service man not to build anything permanent, in case the washer/ dryer had to be pulled out for servicing. I knew I was going to need shelves that were sturdy, functional, but that were also pretty to look at and matched the rest of the house. After describing what I wanted, the handymen returned three days later with this:

It's a completely free-standing unit that tucks right in between the wall and the laundry unit. It hides all the cords and plumbing and can easily be removed because it has a back and wheels! I can roll it right out into the kitchen without moving a thing!

It holds all my cookbooks, all my dried fruit, all my preserves (which are now out of the garage-yay!), all my dry goods, and there's still more room! This means that I now have two wooden storage bins free for my onion and potato harvest. I plan to line them with cotton fabric to keep light out.

Look at all the goodies! I go grocery shopping in my own house!

They also finished the strawberry pyramid! Here it is before I filled it:

And here it is after! All the strawberries from the green house went in and I filled every other rung with plants. This way, when they send out runners, I can root them right in the empty rung underneath.

This is what the raised beds look like with the pyramid placed in the middle. I think the vertical effect of the pyramid really compliments this area.

Next on the agenda: a permanent shelf above the back door for platters, hang the herb drying rack (salvaged from my rental), and hanging the pot rack!

Monday, June 13, 2011


Finally! Finally, the sun is out! The days are nice more often than they're nasty. Finally! Every evening I get home and go straight to the garden and stay outside until the motion sensor light starts to come on. The garden has reached the point where the plants are growing faster than I can post pictures! Most of the free space has been planted and I'm starting to empty out the greenhouse. I thought it might be a good time for some reflection.
Here is what the backyard looked like when I moved in:

And here is what it looks like now!

It takes a comparison like this to really hammer home just how much this space has changed. I've gotten so much done in only a year and a half and I'm not done yet!

I'm beginning to harvest early season crops like radishes and salad. I pulled my first batch of radishes before I left for Beloit last week.

The second batch of radishes I pulled after I got back:

And here's my very first home-grown salad! I mean I've had salad out of someones garden before, but the garden has never been my own. It was delicious!

Here's what the salad bed looks like now. Radishes are crowding out the onions, so it looks like I'll have to harvest them all soon and plant more Bumper Crop radish seeds- they're ready after only 28 days!

The carrots have finally started to come up; they sure took their time!

My potatoes are going gangbusters too! I had so many seed potatoes after chitting, that I gave some to Emma and Linda and planted more in some empty pots I had. Yesterday, I sprinkled them with diatomaceous earth as proactive pest control.

The shallots are really starting to thicken and some are setting bulbs already. The celery grows taller everyday...

My Blackberry and Loganberry are sending out new canes; I'll have to get the wire supports up soon!

I planted some poppies and pansies I got at the Iris Garden in with the clematis and the partly shaded bed seems to be the perfect spot for them. The clematis is really liking this spot and has two spectacular flowers already.

My blueberries have fruit, which is incredible since I didn't see any bees around. I plan to put out my Mason Bee house soon.

And here is a new addition to the ornamental bed- Calla Lily. Isn't it beautiful?

The shade garden is really starting to perk up after the three hailstorms we had this spring. The hostas are sending out flower stalks and the ferns and heuchera are all putting out new leaves.

Now, even thought the plants outside have been making amazing progress, they look like they're growing in slow-motion compared to the plants in the greenhouse! These strawberries were just potted up this year from a bundle I bought at Gardenpalooza. Because they've been in the greenhouse, they're a full two weeks ahead of the mature strawberries planted outside. I've already harvested ripe strawberries from these plants!
*Side note: the strawberry pyramid is done!!! I've just recently hired some new handymen and they took the tower and finished it in their shop. I'll be sure to post pictures when it comes home*

Here are the Brussels Sprouts I potted up before I left for Beloit; they had just starting peeking out of the soil.

And here they are, six days later- what a difference!

Here are the cucumbers after I got back, a full four inches taller!

Here are the tomatoes before I left...

And this is what they looked like when I got back! They were actually pushing the lights up!

As time goes by, I get closer and closer to cracking out the hammock. Maybe this weekend....
Until then, I'm enjoying the sunshine and the last of the bleeding hearts.