Bzzzz April 20th, 2010

The spring days grow longer and warmer. Of course, it’s welcomed. Still, the precious bit of time at the end of the work day that I can spend watering, weeding, moving plants, starting new plants, potting up containers, is never enough. I have big plans for the summer of 2010. Where will I find the time? And the energy?

The side garden near the chicken coop—where we sit on the bright green Swedish bench to watch Chicken TV—is a major project. It was a long-neglected area that we once referred to as Winifred’s Poop Garden because of its liberal use by our now-deceased Belgian Malinois.

Last year I divided variegated hostas and supplemented them with ‘Sun and Substance’ and a couple of ‘Blue Angel’ hostas. The slugs love the variegated hostas, so they’ll slowly be replaced with other plants. Several tiarella, or foam flowers, have gone in. Twenty more are on the way. I’m keeping my eyes open for more dramatic, thick-leafed hostas that Mr. McGregor’s Daughter tells me will be more slug-resistant so I can toss the variegated slug bait to the chickens.

Trying to establish a little green bit of lawn in front of the bench where the two little Papillons can lounge has been a struggle. It was looking pretty good last summer, but the snow plows did severe damage as they piled 5-foot tall walls of snow in the area this winter. The chickens are attracted to the fresh soil when they’re on walkabout and have managed to dig up the tiny grass seedlings I’ve been nursing. Now I’m thinking I’ll transplant more of the creeping Jenny from other parts of the yard to create a different kind of ground cover.

In the front of the house—a shady, north-facing exposure, the ‘Encore’ azaleas are blooming despite severe damage from the heavy snow. The hellebores have been casting off seedlings for a couple of years now and I will be moving them over to the woodland garden sometime this summer.

In the potager,  the angelica anemones are blooming.  I must figure out a plan for them, as they re-seed prolifically and clog up my garden paths. I feel guilty pulling them up like weeds, but what is a gardener to do? One must have paths!

I continue to be amazed by the simple little yellow pansies that I had planted in window boxes last fall. They hibernated under a couple of feet of snow and snuck out small blossoms despite the cold. Now they’ve roared back to life. I need to re-plant the window boxes, but the pansies look so vibrant and healthy, I’m temporarily relocating some of them into other containers.

I continue to tell myself to put one foot in front of the other and to stop to enjoy the sound of the birds and the beauty of spring. After all, the work is for a reason. Right?

Posted In: Gardening, Gardening Life

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Bzzzz August 26th, 2009

Once again I am renaming the small garden area on the side of the house.

chickens-on-wallkabout-august-09

Back when Winifred, our sweet Belgian Malinois, was still with us, we called it Winnie’s Poop Garden. It was not a place where you wanted to spend your free time.

Last year, desperate for more vegetable growing space, I planted tomatoes and cucumbers there and dubbed it the Other Veggie Garden.

chicks-august-09

This year, the Palazzo di Pollo and the auxiliary chicken coop, the Eglu, now reside in that area. And since I was dividing what seemed like hundreds of hostas this spring, I began transplanting them into the shaded area beside the coops. Naturally, I added more hostas as I fell in love with them during visits to garden centers. I called it the Hosta Garden, but just as easily could have called it the Slug Garden, since the slugs and snails moved in to partake of the expansive hosta buffet—their fav.

Now that the baby chicks are old enough for some supervised walkabout time, I am calling this the Chicken Garden. This is where the big chickens and little chickens are currently engaged in their nightly meet-and-greet leading up to the merge of the two tribes.

Miss P adores the chickens. She would, in fact, love to eat the chickens. But being a smart cat, she understands they are off-limits and has ceased making predatory moves in their direction. It doesn't stop her from looking though.

Miss P adores the chickens. She would, in fact, love to eat the chickens. But being a smart cat, she understands they are off-limits and has ceased making predatory moves in their direction. It doesn't stop her from looking though.

You cannot just toss little chickens in with big chickens because they will be pecked on and could be injured. It is best for chickens to get to know each other a bit, work out their differences in relative safety and begin establishing the new pecking order prior to being thrust under the same roof. Using the Eglu as the temporary home for new chickens allows the chickens to see each other but not co-mingle until they are ready. This also allows us to ensure that the new chickens are disease- and pest-free before introducing them into the flock.

Now that the Polish and Easter egg chickens are about 11 weeks old, it’s just a matter of days before we attempt the big move. Until then, they peck and scratch in the Chicken Garden under close supervision.  After all, we don’t want a repeat of the incident that took Johnny Cash.

P.S.

I SWEAR I am still gardening. I have the photos to prove it. More soon.

P.P.S.

You can see the whole chicken photo album here. Click on the photo for a larger image. There are more photos in the albums from the photos sign at the top of this page.

Posted In: Chickens

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