The Garden is Getting Full, But More Empty

Since ‘Gardeningish Weekend’, almost all of the vegetable crops have been planted. Bit by bit the old crops have been pulled out and the baby plants have made it into the ground. The Little Fulla helped me with a bunch of them and some were done after Miss Scarlet went to bed.

All of the seed potatoes are in. The broccoli and red cabbages that were in the way got harvested and pulled out. I love the fact that The Little Fulla still comes running when I call, “Do you want a broccoli snack?”, even when he’s playing with friends along the fence. He’s grown up snacking on raw veggies from the garden. The Little Fulla was most happy with appointing himself as Clod Breaker, as that meant he got to hack at something. He used to prefer getting to put a seed potato into a hole but now he prefers hacking tasks. When he tired of that he poked out small weeds with his stick and implored me to look at the fantastic job he was doing. We have almost a whole row of potatoes in the Front Plot, with two lines of potatoes in it. I had a bit of pea straw left from last season to cover part of the row but I need to get some more or something else to cover the potatoes. Most of the potato shoots are up now.

We plant potatoes in a hole rather than a trench. The soil down this end of The Front Plot is nicer than the other end at the moment. It had old wood shavings from the chicken coop sitting on it from Autumn until spring planting. The soil is dark, loose and so fluffy. Now to enrich the other end…
The Front Plot is fully planted or sowed, apart from the last of the garlic, cauliflower and savoy cabbage crops.

The tomato plants are all in. I didn’t end up with any Brandywine Pink tomatoes, even though I had two plants on my plan. The first lot of seeds failed and I accidentally re-sowed more King’s Gold, which they were sharing a seèd tray and label with. Oh well, more King’s Gold for us. For almost all the tomatoes I opted to crack an egg into the hole before planting. I’m interested to see if it really does help them grow better, while we have plenty of eggs coming in. One tomato variety has half the plants with an egg base and half without. The Little Fulla took particular delight in the task of breaking an egg into a hole with some implement or another. He tried many different ways of cracking the eggs and tipping out the contents, which is all good experience for using eggs in the kitchen too.

This season’s tomato roll call:

  • Amish Paste – 10
  • Broad Ripple Yellow Currant – 2
  • Gardener’s Delight – 2
  • Golden Bell – 4
  • Golden Grape – 2
  • Golden Light – 3
  • King’s Gold – 11
  • Mini Orange – 2
  • Moonglow – 6
  • Olga’s Round Golden Chicken Egg – 5
  • Oxheart Dalmation – 4
  • Tangella – 4

The varieties in bold are ones we’ve grown before. The others are yellow or orange varieties from Heritage Food Crops Research Trust that are high in tetra-cis-lycopene. Our total is 55 tomato plants at the moment. The Little Fulla also has a Broad Ripple Yellow Currant and a Mini Orange in his garden and I have spares of a few varieties, some of which will probably end up in the Herb Garden.

The cherry tomato row and some orach seedlings I transplanted.

All the cucumbers are in and all the pumpkins and squashes, provided none get eaten by snails or slugs. I actually ended up with one Pink Banana Jumbo squash seed that germinated after all and so we’ll see if the plant makes it out in the wilds of the garden. There is one more variety of sweet peppers left to plant and one more variety of beans. I have a lot of strings to cut and hang for the climbing beans and tomatoes.

I had a bunch of celery seedlings self-sow in the Veggie Garden so I’ve moved them around and may not need the ones I started. There are also orach seedlings that have appeared again in their spot. I have leeks popping up in clumps where seedheads dropped their seeds, not to mention the ones that just form clumps over time. There is a lot of leekage. I’ve sowed okra directly into the garden as well as carrot and parsnip seeds.

Before I ousted all the celery from last season I thought I better make some vegetable and ham soup. I was also getting low on lunch options in the freezer. It was also a good use for some of the long, stubborn parsnips that were dug out of their raised bed and pumpkins still loitering on the storage shelf.

The vegetable gardens look more empty now but they are actually more full, of baby plants.

The garden suddenly feels even more empty as schools were suddenly allowed to go back full time today, with only one day of warning. I have had The Little Fulla around with me at home and in the garden for so long now and I wasn’t ready for him to go back. Sure, he did things that frustrated me every day and it was busy, but he also did things that made me smile and laugh, things that made me proud and things that made me re-think the way I was doing things. Every day I try to remind myself that my kids are only this young once. I don’t want to miss out on enjoying them because I’m too self-centered, impatient or slack at setting and enforcing boundaries. His shortcomings are more about my shortcomings. Most of the time he’s been at school before now I’ve been pregnant or with a newborn, but since things got easier with Miss Scarlet I’ve been enjoying getting to do things with him again. The garden just doesn’t feel the same without him and for today, I found myself avoiding it. That is, until he came home. Then we planted some sunflowers.

Chickens

Some of the youngsters have been moved into the Henley Hut in the Corner Pen. Last year it became the butchering pen since I put the cockerels that I didn’t want to keep in there. That seemed like a good idea; I knew which ones to get whenever I did a little butchering session. This time I decided to put the young pullets (girls) in there because they ought to do better in there than the main pen and they are the most important. I think the pullets are better off in their own pen because 1) they only have access to the correct grower food, 2) they have freer access to food, water and everything else without the big chickens bullying them and 3) I took the roosts out so they have to sleep on the wood shavings for now, which is the best way to prevent them from getting deformities on their breast bone as they grow. The cockerels are staying under the leadership of rooster Jack of Spades in the main flock, which will keep them in line. We have a more boys than girls in the first two batches but more girls than boys in the youngest lot. The second splash chick definitely looks like a boy, so we are extra glad that Sprinkles is a girl.

The Little Fulla finally got his chicken Sprinkles judged for his school Ag Day once judges were allowed to visit properties. It wasn’t how we’d originally envisaged his first Ag Day but I’m proud of him for sticking it out anyway. He and Sprinkles did pretty well. He has since announced that he wants his own chicken flock that Sprinkles will be part of. He wants six chickens: two splash, two blue and two black. I said he might have to wait until we have a bigger property… I can’t say I’m not stoked about this announcement though! The Little Fulla got his Ag Day ribbons and goodies delivered yesterday, which was very exciting!

Sprinkles is the best-loved chicken here right now.

The hens have been playing broody catch again. All the black hens except for Dahlia seem to be frequent broodies. Helen Cluck and Penny Black will be on the chopping block soon since they are from the Frodo line tainted with red feathers from her breeder. I was looking forward to the challenge of breeding out the red, which neither of these two hens have themselves, but I realised we just don’t have the space here for extra projects, no matter how much I want to do them. I also can’t afford to have any hatching mix-ups with the purebreds.

Other Things

The last couple of years I have made a goal of getting my Christmas shopping done by the end of November. I have enjoyed getting to have a more peaceful, meaningful Christmas season and avoiding some of the commercialism. Because of this and shipping delays as well, I decided that this year’s Christmas shopping goal would be one month earlier – by the end of October. And that is what I did. It wasn’t easy trying to consolidate online orders with a curious child hovering around, eager to give opinions and ask questions about everything, but I did it! It’s so nice to have that out of the way.

The Little Fulla chose some colours that he wanted to paint his toy wooden barns. They had gotten drawn on and covered with stickers over the last few years so I figured it was time to paint them. He did most of the painting and we helped with the smaller parts and touch-ups. They aren’t professional level but he had a lot of fun doing it.

Lastly, I’m just thinking about some things I am thankful for.

I am thankful that I get to listen to the call of the morepork (native owl) at night while I’m feeding Miss Scarlet.

I am thankful for the muffins that The Mother keeps making for us.

I am thankful that we can have home church as a family, even if there are disruptions like, “Stop poking Daddy with the cow.”

I am thankful that we get to spend time with our families again now.

I am thankful for having my hands in the dirt; for every time I get to work in the garden. It is freeing to be able to garden properly again.

I am thankful for time spent with The Little Fulla at home that I otherwise wouldn’t have had if he had been at school, especially in the garden and the precious moments with Miss Scarlet. They have been able to have such great times together.

Iris nelsonii (Louisiana Red Iris).

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