It is hard to write a blog post about the garden at the moment without using the ‘s’ word and the ‘b’ word: slow and behind. I’m still playing catch-up in a busy season. Who needs to fold washing when you can have a self-serve for the family on the couch? It also seems to be baby season at the moment, and for me, making meals for friends with new babies is more important than garden time. But it isn’t all bad in the garden, we’ve got some crops to eat and there are even flowers for the bees.
I’ve also got vege plants and seedlings of many kinds coming out my ears, or at least coming out all over the dining room and deck. And I’ve planted most of them! I mean, I’ve planted most of the ones intended for our garden. I feel like I ought to get special claps each time I manage to plant something. I’m giving myself special claps anyway. Since the last update I’ve planted:
- More lettuces
- 12 capsicums
- 7 tomatoes
- 3 cucumbers
- 7 pumpkins
- 7 squashes
- 3 honeydew melons
Ok, special claps over. Here’s what I have left to plant:
- 1 capsicum
- 3 chillies
- A yet to be ascertained number of tomatoes
- 2 more gherkin cucumbers
- More pumpkins and squashes
- Probably more lettuces, since I just found a few scratched up by birds. You can never have too many lettuces, right?
And I have seeds to sow: beans, more carrots, more parsnips and beetroot. The pesky slugs and snails have been staging a resistance against my heightened attacks and have taken out my runner beans and most of the sunflower seedlings that we transplanted. But I had a second punnet of sunflower seedlings held back for such an onslaught. Take that, molluscs!
Some of my time, although not as much as I’d like, has also been devoted to growing foliage plants to sell. Just another ball to juggle at the moment.
The strawberries are going like bonkers. Since I didn’t get around to finishing thinning out the plants after the runners went everywhere, the strawberry patch is spurting out red strawberries all over the place. I picked 1kg one day, then gave up trying to weigh them all. The Little Fulla has given himself the role of Strawberry Picker. He’s quite good at picking the berries that are ready and giving the slightly bad or too-slug-eaten ones to the chickens. But sometimes the expected harvest doesn’t equal what comes into the kitchen. Like his grand haul of three strawberries one day. When asked how many he ate, his response was, “I don’t know.”
The pumpkins and squashes are quite taking over in space considerations at the moment. Swathe of orange, I tell you, swathe of orange. I am going to have to find interesting places to fit more tomato plants. We cleared The Plant Alcove (my plant growing area) of the remaining old pallets and things to be chopped up. I mowed the area. Then I set to forking up part of the ground alongside the chicken pen. A part that I don’t think I need to use just yet. The Little Fulla helped. Then I brought in reinforcements. A bit of temporary fencing allowed Rory and Betty to be sequestered into helping scratch around the soil. And adding some poop. They are the friendliest chickens and the easiest to catch. Incidentally, they are also Darrington the rooster’s favourites. Or maybe not so incidentally. Later on, broody Paris joined them for a bit, although she wasn’t much use. We also forked up a bit of ground out the front for a giant pumpkin and another squash plant.
The open-air treatment did not work for Paris. She is quite intent on being broody and spent most of the time sitting in this spot on the concrete beside the coop. Fun.
I was letting the two 5-week-old chicks out into The Cedar Pen with Paris sometimes, while I kept an eye on things. They like Paris and seemed keen for her to adopt them. I wished she would, but as far as she’s concerned, they’re just tiny adults, and she has eggs to hatch! Except she wasn’t sitting on anything. She is a very well-behaved broody though, which I still find weird. She doesn’t peck at me and doesn’t do a dragon screech, just a low, growly noise. She would let the chicks hang around and only pecked at them if they came right up to her face. Now, Paris is settling down in the Corner Coop before I give her some eggs to hatch.
Meanwhile, Frodo has just, as of today, turned from broodyish back to full broody. I have been seeing if they will both get along in the Corner Coop together so they can both hatch some eggs. Otherwise one will have to be situated elsewhere. So far, they seem to be fine when they’re in the coop. I might just have to watch them at break times. This could be interesting.
I have been treating Annie for bumblefoot again. I didn’t get it all out last time and it came back with a vengeance. I was quite sick the first time so I wasn’t functioning my best, but I still feel sorry for her.
And now we come to the egg situation. 24 eggs went into the incubator and I candled them on Day 7. The results were not quite what I expected. I started with Paris’ four eggs. I was quite confident that they would be fertile, as her’s have showed good fertility, visually, since then. Only one was fertile and growing. Upon cracking, the other three didn’t look fertile. That wasn’t a good start, especially when I thought Paris’ eggs would be easy shots.
I was quite sure, and even moping, about the likelihood that Annie’s three eggs wouldn’t be fertile, as her decent eggs since had not been fertile to the eye. All three are fertile and growing, with red veins visible. Woop woop! I cannot tell you how stoked I am about this, especially considering Annie’s predicament at the moment. I have been waiting for Annie-Darrington babies since I discovered that little Darrington was a boy. But I am not counting my chicks before they’ve hatched. Especially after last time. I am checking the lid very diligently. A lot.
All of Frodo’s five eggs appear to be fertile too. I am most interested to see how they turn out. This goes back to the red feather problem from my first ever breeding with a rooster (Elrond) who turned out to be not-so-purebred. Now that I know more about chickens and after seeing Mr Bingley’s colours develop, I think Elrond may have had Barnevelder in him. Whether as much as one parent or further back, I don’t know. Being from the same breeder as Frodo, I was never quite sure if it was just him having mixed up genetics, or whether there was anything less-than-ideal in Frodo’s make-up too. Will they be good quality Australorps, meaning Frodo was bred well? Or will they have red feathers come through, meaning Frodo was not from a good breeding program? It is time to find out. I really hope it’s the former, as Frodo has shown excellent hardiness, egg-laying and mothering skills, which are all desirable traits I would like to be passed on. If not, I’d be inclined to keep a Frodo baby or two as egg layers, just because Frodo is great.
As for the 12 Dorking eggs, only one was a dud. It was a sloshy one. So, we’re down to 20 eggs now, which is nice. And I’ve mostly lost Paris eggs, which were the least important, being crossbreds just thrown in for numbers and potential cockerel eating. Tomorrow I’ll decide which eggs from the incubator to give to who, for a short sitting stint. I intend to put any incubator-hatched chicks under the hens as well so they can do the rearing. I want to hatch some in the incubator to make sure things work properly this time. Decisions, decisions. Less than one week until lockdown now…