Catching up with the Garden and Nature
Spring is around the corner! All the winter rains have soaked the grounds and with the sun showing itself a bit more and things feeling a bit warmer, everything has had a sudden growth spurt. The rabbits have been fattening up on the lush green weeds and grasses after the rather dull looking winter foods.
The cock quails were the first to let me know spring was arriving as they began to crow again. The chickens and quail are now also laying again so eggs have started going out to family and friends. I'll need to start creating meals to use eggs in.
Over the last year the garden has been left to its own devices for the most part, so I'm wanting to start making a bit more effort again to get more food growing. In one of the big cages the nettles had gotten out of control. In all honesty, I procrastinate over harvesting them when I can grab things like chard which won't require gloves and careful handling. So I figured it was about time to set to work harvesting all the weeds as animal fodder and seeing what volunteers were being hidden underneath while also clearing the edges to put some snake bean seeds in. The soil in there is probably the best in the whole garden after years of chickens running in it and lots of carbon going in, in the form of straw and trimmings from the garden. It was also a veggie growing patch for the previous owners, so it had a head start.
Progress being made in the cage. The pathway is made from emptying the straw from the rabbit cages. This will also mulch around plants as they grow.
Some volunteer lettuces were hiding amongst the weeds, which is a boon, because I didn't have much luck with my saved seeds this year.
The soursobs and nettles went to the chickens, because they aren't good for the rabbits in large amounts. The rest of the weeds went to the rabbits, except for the odd wild poppy or any weed I can't identify, which gets dropped back down as mulch. The chicken looking at you is called Cutie and she likes a cuddle, which is likely what she was after here. Judging by the size of her crop (that bulge at the front) she's had her fill of food.
The chard volunteers are much easier to handle than the nettle volunteers when you want something for dinner.
I put some sugar snap peas in another cage a bit late in the season as these are a winter crop here. If I keep up the water to them I may still get a harvest, though. The beans are a summer crop, so I'm actually getting them in on time, for once.
The nettles are also getting out of hand in the other cage it seems. Meanwhile, the peas are going to be facing some warmer days soon.
Because I've been neglectful for a while, the seeds I'm using are old or didn't get collected properly, so it's been a do or die approach to seeing what grows. The peas were several years old and slightly less came up than usual, but still plenty. Carrots can be put in most of the year in our climate and I'd had some go to seed but neglected to collect the seeds and they sat on the dead plants through heat and rain for months. I threw a head full of them in a planter in summer and only had a few take. Even they waited for autumn and the cooler weather. I've sown some more in a couple of places in the garden beds, but no signs so far and signs of lots of earwigs which will find any seedlings tasty, so I'm not holding my breath there.
I nice surprise was some coriander seeds, which I discovered had lots of little dead flies in the jar holding them and holes in many of the seeds. These were also a couple of years old, so the pests would be long dead and I felt it worth giving them a shot so planted them all out. Lots of them sprouted and I ended up having to thin them out, netting lots of micro greens for the rabbits. Nature really is incredible at finding life where it can.
The coriander sprouting in clumps.
The coriander thriving today after a good thinning.
A few potatoes are going in the ground, as I clear more weeds away, and I plan to go through my seed stockpile to figure out what else I can get in now it's spring.
I’m definitely seeing signs that the soil in the garden is improving. I haven't seen dandelions as big as some of the ones I've been encountering since England! The soil is still very clay laden in places, but it's getting much easier to work on the whole.