Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Herbal Oils

My plan is to make some salves from my beeswax and herbal oils made from garden herbs.  The first batch of oils seems to have come out well.  I covered dried herbs in mason jars with olive oil and then kept in a warm windowsill for a month, with a night spent in the dehydrator set to 100 degrees.  

L to R: calendula, chamomile, yarrow, and comfrey oils

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Summer Lettuce

We love lettuce.... especially a crisp romaine.  The fancier salad mixes turn up their noses at humble little romaine, telling her to go play with iceberg.  But on a hot summer day, nothing is as refreshing as that crisp crunch.   Romaine can take the heat, when those dainty salad mixes just wilt into lettuce mush.

Jericho has proven itself as a great summer lettuce with good heat resistance.  It hasn't gotten bitter or shot up a flower stalk.  Ideally, I'd plant patches of it once a month for continuous lettuce in quantities that we could manage eating.  In reality, I have gotten 2 successions planted (one in April, one in late June from transplants) so that's pretty good.  I harvest it as a young head and let it regrow.  It also grows well in the cool spring or fall.

Jericho romaine

Gazing out at the summer lettuce patch

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Chicken Garden Pen

Inspired by the chicken tractor we built at work to use chickens to clean out beds that had been harvested, I used some leftover fencing to wrap around hoops that were still in the ground from our low tunnels to make a temporary chicken pen.  The area was overwintered lettuce, spinach, and salad greens that had bolted and were done for the year.

There was about a 3 minute period from the hens of "I'm not sure about this" when I put the girls in.  Then I pulled up a few lettuce plants, and they got the idea pretty quick.

I put in four hens.  This is only good for an overcast, cool day because there is no shade cover for them.  A waterer is also a must if they are in the pen for any extended amount of time.

Salad bar
I think I'll still pull out a lot of the largest plants and throw them in the real chicken run for them to turn into compost, but I think a few days of putting some hens in here for an hour or two while I weed the garden will work out well.  I'll also add some sort of "guard" around the bottom (maybe cardboard) so they don't kick all the soil out of the bed with their vigorous scratching.

Going to town
Clearing out the bed
Below is the chicken tractor we built at Garden Dreams.

Chicken tractor