Sunday, March 24, 2013

Getting Started on the Spring Veggies

I haven't written an entry in a few months about the Square Foot Garden in the backyard during the winter.   This past winter started out mild for a while, but then things turned bitter cold with a nasty inversion that stayed with us for several weeks with temperatures dipping into the negatives, which does not happen very often where I live.  The water in the chicken coop partially froze on some nights even with the heat lamp on.  The snow, once fell, stayed on the ground for weeks on end.  Things were slow to warm up and I simply couldn't imagine I'd be getting ready to plant at the end of February like on an average year.  I've just started seeing daffodils on some people's front yard.  My own daffodils just popped up with a few inches of green showing up above the ground.

With the last day of frost usually being at the very end of April to early May in our area, it's time to put cold hardy veggies outdoors.  Although today was a cold day, it was clear and sunny, so I decided to get the boxes ready for the 2013 gardening season. ^^  (I'm always too depressed at the end of the season to clean the dead growth and debris from the garden so things get picked up in the spring.)

This is what the spring veggies box looks like today.  Except for the four baby broccoli plants to the left, everything green is carried over from the previous year (Sweet Williams, mesclun, and onion).  I had dead leaves all over the box that were cleared out.  I'm expecting to see a lot of volunteer marigold plants since there were four last year and a lot of seeds were dropped. ^^;

I decided to double the Swiss Chard squares, plus increasing the number of plants from 4 to 9 per square, mainly because I ended up picking them continuously once they reached 6 inches or so last year that they never got the chance to grow to full-size to occupy the full space.  I loved eating it myself in various dishes, but the chickens also love greens, so two squares probably won't be quite enough.  I've decided to give Bok Choy a try this year.  It's one of my girls (hens) favorite greens, and like Swiss chard, I love it, too.  We're also hoping to add two more boxes this year - one for flowers and one for herbs.  Other change I'm making this year is putting some veggies together in one square -- like planting radish around broccoli in a single square.  We'll see how this works out in the coming weeks.

We will be making the boxes, plus an extended run for the chickens in the coming months.  I will also continue to plant the existing boxes with warm season vegetables.

The girls are now over 6 months old and producing eggs regularly.  From left, clockwise: Tapioca (all black), Dorito (brown), Frigglish (black & white), Puccini (gold), and Coco (white & tan).  They have discovered cooked oatmeal.  It's one of their favorite treats.