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Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Happy Garden is a Happy Hen

Figs coming in strong

The weather has finally gave North Georgia a Fall tease. As the summer is coming to a close, there are new things to grow and harvests are around the bend. After dropping my son off at preschool, it was my goal to throw some boots on and get my hands dirty. I had a plan and it all worked out perfectly as I got into every hand full of dirt I could! Literally...
I started off with setting a trap for the new chipmunk or chipmunk family for all I know and I hope to have one by tomorrow. Next, I took a large cutting from my fig tree and planted it after checking on my one surviving cutting that will hopefully grow much larger over the next few years. 
Then, it was off to the compost piles where I was delighted to find that the pine shavings and chicken poop I have finally decomposed after a year of waiting. It was earthy, crumbly, and felt great in my hands which is everything you hope for in a compost. My chickens have learned at least one thing about their owner. If I am holding a shovel, they eat like queens. If queens ate grubs that is. Not just a few grubs, but close to 100 of these little morsels of protein. The grubs that I run into are root grubs and of course feed on "roots" which aren't great candidates for the garden, so I take every hand full of dirt and check it for these free protein gummies for the girls. The first compost pile must of had roughly 60 of these bad boys and my chickens were eternally grateful. You have to take a moment and appreciate that I can throw 15 grubs in the chicken run and they are devoured in less than 5 seconds with nothing to spare. Pretty impressive! I almost feel bad for the grubs...not really.

So, a little backstory. Roughly a year ago, I happened upon some worms in the ground when digging up some plants and decided to put them in my compost pile that was relatively new at the time. I thought...well maybe they will like it there and make some babies, and with any luck I'll have top notch worm castings. Well these little worms get an A for hard work! With every shovel of dirt, worms would fall out and be squirming wildly on the ground below. So I threw some of the worms back in the dirt, fed them some mulched leaves, and merrily took my beautiful worm castings and priceless compost to the garden. One worm was longer than my hand from fingertip to wrist, which is amazing!
It is important to feed your garden routinely as plants take so many nutrients from the ground. Of course, use whatever resources are convenient to you given what is available. I layered both of my main garden beds with an inch or so of compost and made 2 inch deep rows for planting seeds. I chose to plant two different varieties of rutabagas and some smooth German kale. The smooth German kale seeds were from seeds I harvested which I highly recommend if you looking to be self sufficient and practice seed saving.

The gourds have grown rapidly and I'm thinking there are a total of 6 to 7 of these beauties. Can't wait for them to dry out so I can get their seeds and the natural sponges inside. 

Here is a photo tour of other things going on in the garden. Check it out! Good luck out there with your garden and happy growing!
Fall plants for me this year. The little bag
has my own smooth German kale seeds that
I saved.Bought from Seed Savers this past year
and my plants did really well. I recommend them!
Ginger has grown superbly!

I have about double the amount of the wood shown here and
I'm ready for winter!! Romantic fires are my favorite!

Beautiful Banana Spider??
My son asked me to take him outside to
see the spider 3 days in a row after I showed
it to him. 

Fig tree is bearing lots of fruit and expanding

These two beauties were volunteers and
they made my morning.

I started these lemon trees this spring and
one is already a foot tall from the base
 of the seedling.