We Acquired a Chicken

One our neighbors used to have a lot of chickens. I think they had well over 50, which is a huge number on a quarter acre suburban lot. Sometime around the beginning of December, they seem to have gotten rid of the chickens. Three of the chickens somehow ended up running loose. They lived in another neighbors yard, but came into ours to eat. Unfortunately, that means they ate some small plants I had in my garden.

Off and on my boys and I would try to catch the chickens. However, they were usually just a little bit to fast for us. Eventually, the three chickens became one, I don’t know what happened to the other two. She was friendly, but would jump our fence if she thought we were going to try and catch her. Finally, last week we were able to trap her in a spot between our shed and fence with a lemon tree over the top. I used a laundry basket to catch her.

Several months ago, a friend gave us a small chicken coop that they didn’t want. I had slowly been preparing the coop for chickens to live in. Mostly I had to level a spot in our yard for the coop while trying to keep decent drainage. Thankfully, I had the coop ready when we caught the chicken.

Chicken coop

Our children have decided that we name our animals after foods. Since the chicken is dark, they named her Truffle.

From her markings I believe she is an Australorp. The hens are mostly black, but have purple and green iridescence when seen in the sun.

She has been a good egg layer in the week and a half we have had her. So far she has laid 7 eggs. At one point she laid 6 days in a row. Her eggs are a light brown color, they can almost seem pink at times.

Chicken egg

She is a social bird. When we come near the coop she come to the edge, and will sometimes talk to us. I think our next step is to buy a couple more chickens to give her friends. Of course, more eggs wouldn’t be bad either.

-Joshua

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Wednesday in the Garden: 05/24/2017

Our little garden is growing really well right now.  This is a great time in San Diego County for plants.  The sun shines for well over 12 hours a day, and the temperatures are generally mild.  We did have some fairly extreme temperature jumps this week.  Last Wednesday our high was only 67 degrees, but by Sunday it was about 95 degrees.  I had to make sure I kept the soil from drying out and allowing my seedlings to die.

I also had a problem with something digging in my garden beds.  I have some sort of beetle grub that lives in the soil.  The grub seems benign, but occasionally there will be holes dug all over the garden beds when some animal decides grubs are on the menu.  At least I think that is what is going on.  When I find dug up spots, I just attempt to put the dirt back in place and resettle the plants.  Generally, the plants do OK, but I do miss out on seeds sprouting when they are disturbed.

 

Our lemon tree is growing and putting out many lemons.  Three years ago the lemons looked diseased and were inedible, now there are more lemons then we can keep up with.

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I think we might actually get blood oranges for the first time. The fruit seems to have set and is growing larger right now.

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The key lime tree I bought at Costco has blooms all over it.  I planted it near the end of the summer last year, and got a few limes off of blooms that were on it when I bought it.  I think we will get a lot of limes this year.

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My Anna Apple tree is blooming again.  I was surprised to see more flowers on the tree.  It is the first year I have this tree, so I have no idea what to expect from it.

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The almonds continue to look good.  They really don’t look like almonds at all though.  The part we eat is safely protected inside of its large fuzzy shell for now.

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I really hope this plant is an artichoke and not some lesser cousin.  I think the seeds blew in from my neighbors yard, but I haven’t been able to ask them yet.

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This garden bed has a large cauliflower plant in it that I think is finally going to give us something to eat.  There are also green beans, carrots, Desi Squash, Patty Pan Squash, Long Beans, Pok Choy, and Swiss Chard.  I had some Kale plants, but lost them when that part of the bed got dug up.  I might have a couple pepper plants going, the seedlings look like peppers, but I planted the peppers so long ago that I am not sure.

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The large plants you see in the bed are New England Sugar Pie Pumpkins.  We grew this type last year and got 19 pumpkins out this small area.  There are also 3 kinds of peppers in the background, and green beans in the foreground.

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The brown plants in the back of this bed are my garlic.  They look bad, but seem to be growing well.  There are also three types of flowers, mustard greens, kohlrabi, and some kind of cauliflower.

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This is my long bed.  It has a number of things planted in it. Unfortunately, this one got dug up pretty badly twice.  I probably lost the carrots I planted in here and some of the green and wax beans.

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My 7 year old’s garden bed is growing like mad.  Some of his corn plants have corn on the stalks already.  Earlier this week I harvested two of his beets to make room for the other beets.  One of his cauliflowers was eaten by caterpillars so I replaced it with two chard plants that I bought.  His other cauliflower is getting chewed up by caterpillars too, even though I try to look for bugs to kill on it every day.

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My thirteen year old’s garden bed is also growing well.  His corn is also starting to have fruit on it.  His cilantro didn’t like the mid 90s temperatures from the weekend and looks like it wants to bolt.  Cilantro is very heat sensitive, which I find interesting because it seems only be eaten in places where it is warm.  His Black King Pansies have started to bloom a little.

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Here are some pictures of a tomato plant since that is what my mom and my wife really want me to grow.

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There isn’t much growing right now that we can eat, since I didn’t do well in the transition from winter to spring.  There are a few things that I was able to pick.

0524 beets
Chioggia Beets

 

0524 arugula
Arugula (rocket)
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Pok Choy

This afternoon we had a decent sized California Kingsnake on our driveway.  I wasn’t able to get much pictures or video of it since it quickly slithered into our ivy.  There are a number of gopher holes near the snake, so I really hope the snake slaughters some gophers.

 

I hope that everyone that read through all this enjoyed the pictures, and I hope your planting endeavors are doing well.

-Joshua

First Almonds

A little over two years I planted my almond tree.  I have fond memories of fresh almonds off a tree at a house my family rented when I was a child.  Since I have some space I knew I wanted to have an almond tree in yard.

Last year the tree had some beautiful flowers, but they all dropped without leaving almonds.  This year the tree had many flowers most of them fell off, but three turned into almonds.  I have been watching those almonds develop over the last few months, and today I noticed one had fallen off of the tree.  I took this as a sign that they were ripe and picked the other two.

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My three almonds
Open Almond
Removing the shell
Inside Almond
A small almond appears
Almond Shells
Only shells are left

I ate one of the almonds, gave one to my wife, and split one for my oldest sons.  The almond was very good.  Sadly, I have to wait until next year for more, but maybe there will be many more this time.

Joshua

 

Freezing Green Beans

This is not going to be a how too.  Those things exist all over the internet already.  I do not really have anything to bring to the table for instructions on freezing beans.  I found the instructions I used at Better Homes and Gardens, and they were easy to follow.

The basic instructions are:

  1. Trim the ends
  2. Cut the beans into bite sized pieces
  3. Blanch the green beans
  4. Prepare the beans for freezing
  5. Freeze the beans

I am posting to say that this is such an easy process that anybody with extra beans can preserve some for later in the year.  Our bean plants were going crazy, so I had to do something with the extra beans.  I was able to prepare and freeze enough beans to fill up a quart bag in about a half hour.  This process was probably one of the easiest and fastest preservation techniques I have ever done.  Now we have some beans ready for the winter when they do not grow well here.

The beans I am growing are not technically green beans, though the process was the same.  I am growing Purple Teepee Bean and Red Swan Bush Bean.  Both of them do cook green, so that explains the color change in the pictures.

 

If you have never tried to preserve green beans, I encourage you to give it a try.

 

-Joshua

Mostly Wordless Wednesday 05/18/2016

Mostly wordless, just some captions.

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The live Goji Berries I got from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds survived and are trying to come back.
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I am liking square foot gardening
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Purple Beans
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New England Sugar Pie Pumpkins
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What I hope is Capers
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Are you ready for Tomatoes?

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Today’s harvest. Beet tops, leaf lettuce, mizuna, Clairmont lettuce, beans, kale, arugula, pak choy

-Joshua

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

Pictures from the garden with a few comments in the captions.

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Desi Squash
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Desi Squash
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Beans
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Cilantro, Mizuna, Broccoli, Beans
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Arrugula, Pak Choy, Marrigold
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Blue Heirloom Corn

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New England Sugar Pumpkin

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Looks like we may get pomegranates

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-Joshua