|First up, the chickens. Here they are...
Puff, the Bantam Partridge Cochin
Lavender, the Blue Laced Red Wyandotte with Ethel, the Black Polish
Rachel, the Easter Egger
Lucy, the other black Polish
Inge, the Swedish Flower
The new coop and the area that will become the run
At this time, only Rachel, Lucy, and Ethel are old enough to lay eggs - and none of them are laying because they are molting. Some of the birds in my old flock are still laying a bit through the molt, and I'm pretty sure it's the Barred Rock who is laying most of the eggs. My other new birds are too young to lay just yet, but they will be ready to go when late January comes around and everyone's done molting.
The coop's OK but not great. It's too short in my opinion, so that makes catching the birds and cleaning the coop a bit trickier than it oughta be. And I wish the door was in the middle of the side that it's on instead of all the way to the left - again, to allow for easier access to catch the birds or fetch eggs out of the far corners of the coop. Aside from that, it's a nice coop and the birds like it just fine.
Now, onto the garden...
If you recall, I had a philosophical disagreement with my roommates and landlord. They wanted to put down a synthetic cloth on the bottom of the raised beds, bring in purchased topsoil, and plant in that. I wanted to build up the existing soil with compost and mulch and to weed everything thoroughly instead of suppressing weeds with a synthetic cloth.
In the end, we solved this by giving me one box to weed and plant in and by giving them another box to fill with purchased soil placed over synthetic cloth. The soil arrived a few days ago, and they got a lot more than they bargained for. I was just finishing up my epic weeding job, and I let them dump 2 wheelbarrows of their soil on top of the half of my bed that wasn't planted yet. Then I scattered carrot and beet seeds throughout the unplanted half of the bed and I planted a few sunflower and lettuce seedlings in there as well. Here's the bed after I did all of that:
Love the dog footprints going right through the box?
My idea was pretty simple. I planted Hopi Dye Sunflowers because sunflowers remove heavy metals from the soil, although I don't expect the soil in the boxes is too bad really. The sunflowers went in a line down the middle of the bed. They will produce edible seeds that are also useful as a natural dye. (In areas where I do think the soil is likely full of god knows what, I planted sunflowers that don't have edible seeds.)
Also down the middle, I planted a row of Cascadia Snap Peas, a variety that is supposedly resistant to powdery mildew. The seeds are old so they aren't germinating well, but I've got a huge bag of seeds so I figure that even a low germination rate will give me enough plants. Direct seeding might not work, but I'm trying that first.
Peas and carrots are excellent companions, so in the front half of the box I planted two rows of carrots on either side of the peas. I planted one variety on the left side, and a different variety on the right side. It appears that one variety germinated and the other one didn't. In the back half, I broadcast a bunch of carrot seeds of several varieties. That way, even if only one germinates, I'll still get carrots all over the box.
Here are my little carrots that have already germinated in the front of the box:
Another great combination for companion planting is lettuce, carrots, and radishes. So in the front, I put a row of lettuce plants next to the carrots. On the right side, I planted radishes next to the lettuce. On the left, I planted baby turnips and chioggia beets. The radishes germinated well - the beets and turnips didn't. My seeds are really old.
On the back half of the box, I planted the rows of lettuce, but I skipped the radishes and just tossed a bunch of beet seeds everywhere. I don't like to eat radishes, but my roommates do. And they can grow them themselves.
In the middle of the box, I planted a celery start that I bought, a fava bean plant I had left over, and a stevia plant that I got as a birthday gift.
All in all, the front half of the box goes as follows from left to right - or at least it was supposed to assuming everything germinated:
1. Alternating baby turnips and beets
It's a tight squeeze to grow all of that together, but the radishes, beets, and turnips grow very quickly, so I'm banking on pulling those out and eating them before the lettuce gets so big that it needs the rest of the space.
If you recall, we have a few other boxes in the yard. There's the first one I planted, a smaller box that I put sunflowers and garlic in.
Then there are two other large boxes - one that had chard, parsley and nasturtiums when I moved in, and another that was empty. I added potatoes and fava beans to the box with the chard. The roommates put their soil in the other box.
Last, I realized that we have another useful weed! Chickweed!
It's edible, nutritious, and medicinal. You can make a poultice with it and put it on cuts (warning: it stings), and you can use it in the bath for achy, sore muscles. It's also useful to treat warts and pinkeye, if everything I've read on the internet is to be believed. I'm so excited to have such a nice patch of this in our yard!!! ... And rather sad that I'll be leaving it soon.
Now that I know I'm moving - and moving soon, I'm not putting too much more energy into this garden. I can probably harvest my potatoes before I go, but that's about it. I plan to help my roommates learn to take care of the plants and chickens so they can enjoy them after I go. At least, in the end, they will become one more home with a garden and chickens in San Diego - and that's something for sure.