Sunday, June 20, 2010

Homestead Life and Death

Comfrey Tea

It's been a couple weeks since I posted a homestead update. I've had my first chicken deaths by predator.  Just over a week ago I lost two of my girls, I think to a fox. Whatever it was came out just before dark before I'd put the girls in for the night. I've since been very cautious. Putting them up earlier and making more frequent trips outside to make my presence known during the day. I've also been playing music during the day in the hopes that it might be a bit of deterrent. Towards evening when the original incident happened I've made it a point to be out doing a project in the garden or near the coop. With this hot, sticky weather I'm always more likely to be working in the evening anyway.

Coneflowers and Chicken Coop/Greenhouse

I've also discovered why I was seeing a decline in egg laying: the girls are laying as usual but a big black snake had taken up residence deep in the straw bedding of their coop. I shoed him out once but he's back. I'm going to try to catch him in a pillowcase and relocate him. It took a full year before I had a black snake messing with the coop so I'm hopeful that if I can relocate him perhaps I'll have another year without another.

My comfrey has really taken off this year and I'm getting a good harvest which is going into five gallon buckets for brewing into a potent comfrey tea. After 7-10 days the leaves have transformed into a stinky green slurry full of nutrients. This can be applied as a foliar spray or watered into the roots. I've also got a bucked of chicken manure tea that will be watered down and used after a couple of weeks, probably on the comfrey and tomatoes.

Hardy Kiwi reaching skyward

The garden is coming along with everything planted at this point. The peas finally gave up but I got a good crop out of them. After a slow start I've gotten gobs of lettuce though it is now starting to bolt. The carrot and onion crop is looking really good. The squash and watermelon are looking great and have blooms. I was a bit late getting my pumpkin seed in but better late than never! I've potted the eggplant up and have them closer to the cabin. Last year the eggplant plated in the garden  was decimated by flea beatles so I'm hoping to control that by potting them and keeping them closer. So far so good. The perennial borders are starting to fill up with coneflowers and feverfew with the gaps filled in by annuals such as zinnias. The tomatoes are coming along and the basil seedlings are starting to take off.

I've gotten my first harvest of rhubarb and will get a good bit more this year. The rhubarb seedlings started this year are doing fantastic but I won't harvest them till next year. I've still got more rhubarb to get into the ground as well as 18 comfrey plants. I may end up selling some of the comfrey at the farmers market. Last but not least, the Hardy Kiwi is growing very well and has, in this second year, already reached the top of the garden entry arbor. I have little doubt it will completely cover the arbor by the end of July given the current rate of growth. It is a beautiful vine!

It's been a very hot June with temps way above normal. I'd really love some rain and a cool-off!!

2 comments:

Wesley said...

Well I guess this official means there won't be a spring permaculture workshop eh?

I was really hoping you'd try another go this year.

denny said...

Hey Wes,

I'd be happy to do one. Perhaps I'll try to set one up for late summer/early fall. That might be better anyway as plants should be at the height of growth/production which always gives a better illustration of how things should look as opposed to spring when plants are so small. I'll shoot for an early September workshop which will give me plenty of time to set-up some flyers. Glad to see some interest!