April has been an action-packed month for us. The garden is producing, the hummingbirds and butterflies are back and the dog(s!!) are getting covered in ticks. And it’s time for a general property update. Lots of projects have been started at our homestead- some expected, some a complete surprise. Below is a series of photos that highlight some of these changes.
Lots of things have happened around the homestead that didn’t always make it into the blog.
First, we finally learned what was happening to all our guinea fowl eggs! We never found many in the coops and thought we might have some males-until Ian started discovering clutches of eggs all around the yard. Some had dozens of eggs in them! But guineas are notoriously terrible mothers so all these clutches had long been abandoned. And we still don’t know if we have any males, so they might not be fertilized either.
Not everyone was such a terrible mother though. Ms. Silkie had roostd on and off all winter and we thought nothing of it… UNTIL one of the eggs started peeping. We now have four fluffy, mutt-ly chicks.
The early part of the month was spent at the Mother Earth News Fair in Asheville, NC, where a highlight for me was connecting with Homestead Iron, a family owned metal-smith company that makes hand-forged garden tools.
Ian started his new on-farm enterprise: mushrooms! He successfully inoculated half a dozen shiitake mushroom logs and in nine months time we should have our first fungal crop.
A parcel of land bordering our land trust was intensively lumbered this winter. The site was left a mess, but Ian had the insight to collect native plant seeds, grow them in our greenhouse all winter, and then transplant them at the most damaged sites. Way to go dude!
In other exciting news, we are well on our way to getting a piglet! Ian’s been using his spare time to build a pig pen from old pallets. Getting enough pallets for a project like this has been an adventure, but we should have enough now to complete it. A full post is coming soon.
And rain. So. Much. Rain. We started this month in a drought period which is hard to imagine now. Since then, we’ve gotten dumped on for days and there is no break in the weather in sight. My garden is soggy and our rain barrels are flooding. One thunderstorm was so powerful it took down a telephone pole, rendering us without electricity for a day and a half.
Last but certainly not least we adopted a second dog. Aldo (Leopold) has officially joined the family, though his balls didn’t. Those were removed immediately. Sorry not sorry.
Even with the inclement weather, our main garden is proving to be a success! It was tilled early March and I’ve been slowly filling it with seeds and transplants. Things are growing and I’m able to pull something out for dinner just about every day. And really, what more could I ask for from life?
And asparagus! I could write an ode to this delicious stalk. Asparagus is my very favorite vegetable but it is notoriously hard to grow for transient people because it takes years to fully develop root-stock. It’s not a lie to say that the mature asparagus bed at our house was a selling point for me in moving there. And so far it is performing! Every couple of days we can harvest enough for a full meal for the two of us. YUM
I’m working towards a sunflower patch and have plenty of varieties to plant, including a giant head of seeds from my wonderful mother in law. Thank you!
The constant downpours have been good for my plants…and the weeds. It’s difficult to tell in some parts of the garden that it was tilled at all!
The tomatoes? Not so sure about them yet. I never meant to put them in our main garden and instead planned to use the one at Big Laurel for all my nightshades. But the weather has made it impossible to till up the garden, and I’ve watched my seedlings grow tall and spindly in the greenhouse to the point of no return. Finally I had no choice but to stick them in the ground at our house and hope for the best.
As luck would have it, I planted these guys right before a cold snap. Poor babies. Now they can’t hold themselves upright AND they’re cold. I’ve probably killed them all.
My cukes reached the same growth danger point as the tomatoes so they are also in the ground. The cold and pelting rain has damaged them too, but the new growth seems healthy so I’m optimistic they will make it.
My carrots are coming up! Surprisingly with the clay soil it looks like just about every seed has germinated.
And finally, my sugar snap peas are having the time of their lives. Most have come up and are growing into their trellis. I think they are smaller than my neighbor’s who planted the same day I did, but I don’t even care. it doesn’t bother me at all. I’m not competitive or anything.. honest. 😉
If you’re not overwhelmed with details about my life yet, I have some updates for a few of the smaller gardens around our homestead.
This time of year it’s nice to revel in the work that someone else did on the property long before us. Like planting these irises.
I also finally harvested my radishes from the cold frame. They were planted in February, which meant they were growing far beyond their supposed 28 day lifespan. While the leaves grew thick and lush, I kept waiting for real radishes to form. Eventually I called it a loss and pulled them all up.
The radishes didn’t go to waste though. They made for a hearty, surprisingly delicious radish top soup. And everything we couldn’t eat went straight to the rabbits.
With the radishes out of the cold frame, my brassicas really began to thrive. I’ve been harvesting chard and collards for about a week now.
And finally, in the small raised bed next to the house my arugula and second planting of radishes are doing well. There is some crop loss because water splashes from the rooftop gutters right in the middle of the bed, but the plants around the perimeter are huge.
And that’s it for my garden wrap up for the month of April. The rate of change in the garden is beginning to pick up exponentially, so stay tuned for more updates in May. And let me know what you think! What’s growing in YOUR garden now?