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Friday, May 8, 2015

Flea Beetles and Rodents

The current feeling I get from my garden is best described as waiting for your favorite part of a song and you have to get through just one more verse. Now that the garden has sprung and the flowers have opened, I'm feeling optimistic. Not to mention that weeding has been reasonable with the use of mulch. One thing I have noticed is that mulch is attracting more slugs which I rarely encountered last year. If they continue to be an issue, I'll start using boards to collect and kill them or feed them to the chickens. I've read that you can lay wooden boards on the ground near your plants and that in the morning, you find slugs underneath the boards which is beneficial if you are trying to use organic gardening methods. Another option is putting beer in a dish and placing it in your garden which attracts them. I cannot attest to how well it works, but I know that as a child I always found slugs under rocks in the yard so the wooden board is a sure bet! 
Smooth German Kale
Red Russian Kale
Plants such as the smooth German kale, red Russian kale, zucchini, and corn have grown quickly and gained some height. Others like bell pepper, ground cherry, beets, and Swiss chard are growing steadily. Beets have the most amazing red stems that contrast beautifully with their green leafy tops. 
I trimmed all of my apples trees and peach trees this year and they are beginning to grow new branches which means I didn't kill them...yay!! 
Peach Tree
The pests of the week are....drum roll....flea beetles and mice! Yes, I have noticed that my eggplant seedlings seemed to do well until flea beetles attacked. They seem to only be on the eggplants, so I'm crossing my fingers and hoping the plants outgrow the fleas' appetites. 
Flea beetle damage
About two to three weeks ago, I noticed some tiny brown oval shaped things in the chicken feeder and I immediately realized that mice or rats were getting to the feed. My worries initially were the spread of diseases and sicknesses. My first idea was to  use glue traps and I had no success not to mention that it made me worry constantly at the thought that one of my chickens could accidentally get stuck to one of my carefully placed sticky traps. My second attempt was putting peanut butter inside of a metal cage trap with no luck, so I decided to read up on it by giving google the ol' search-a-roo. 

Thanks to the Chicken Chick, I found some techniques on how to keep rodents away from the chicken coop. The methods I tried with success after only 48 hours was moving the food and water sources outside of the coop. I also added taking the food inside at night and taking it back out early in the morning as a safe guard. After the first day of making changes I found rodent poop inside the coop where the feeder usually hung. I cleaned it up and crossed my fingers hoping that the mouse was disappointed that his usual buffet was closed. The next morning I checked and found no evidence of a frustrated mouse. Since then, there have been no problems. Honestly, I have been dragging my feet on making the change because I like the convenience of not having to walk the feeder in and out daily. The inconvenience of taking food out in the morning and inside at night are well worth the investment given that a dead chicken is a huge loss when you consider all of the work, food, money, and future egg production. I love my little hens too, so as soon as I realized there was an intruder in their coop at night, my daddy mode kicked in. I said, "Oh no! Not my girls!"
So, If you are interested in owning chickens, currently have chickens, or just enjoy reading about them, go visit >>>>> Chicken Chick <<<<<. There is an abundance of information on how to care for chickens on her website!
Update: On 5/12/15, I caught one one of the suspects in the "who pooped in my coop" incident. The suspect's mugshot is below and has been released into the wild far away from home.

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