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4.28.2011

It's Rainy, so I finally have a minute...

I have been busier than a one armed paper hanger (sorry about the cliche...) ever since it got warm enough to work outside.  And when I'm not busy outside I'm either busy catching up on my housework (that has been a little neglected) or completely exhausted.  The little bit of time I've had to get online has been either spent posting quick updates for friends and family on facebook or looking up chicken-y things on Backyard Chickens.  Like leg mites.  I might have them, although I find the "legs look scaly" description a bit vague- don't chicken legs always look a bit scaly?

My feet after working in the garden (yes, with shoes on).
The garden is still not much to look at, but I've done a lot of work on it.  Most of the soil is worked and I'm only waiting on a garden soil/compost mix a guy is going to deliver to build up the new rows.  I have a few more pathways in the older part of the garden I want to dig down a little, and less than half of the new rows have been covered with cardboard (that, while the easiest job I've done so far, is not my favorite).  But the most exciting thing- I actually have a few things planted!  I planted strawberries a few weeks ago and, wonder of wonders, they are thriving despite the frigid temps we've had (I have them covered).  And this past week I've planted half my asparagus (that job sucked a little), my onions (sets for large onions and seeds for green onions), and my greens (romain, kale, mesclun, bib lettuce, and spinach).  I need to get my potatoes and peas planted, but am giving the guy with the soil another week before I just buy some compost at the hardware store and make due.  And I need straw.

I know, terrible picture- between my crappy camera and the terrible lighting in my dining room, it's difficult to get a good one.
My inside seedlings are absolutely thriving.  Based on my past failures I am really pleasantly surprised by my success so far (knock on wood).  I have roughly 55 tomato plants and 65 tomato plants at various stages as well as several cabbage, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, eggplant, peppermint, lemon balm, basil, savory, thyme, yarrow, lavender, sage, horehound, evening primrose, and ricinus.  Phew.  It's nearly everything I need to start inside.  

The area right in front of the porch- it used to be solid pavers, some of which were removed and some repositioned.

 I've also gotten some purely cosmetic things done outside.  I didn't think I wanted to spend much time on these kinds of projects this year, at least not until I got more of the practical jobs done, but these two particular areas had been bothering me and one job fed into the other  I started out simply cleaning out the overgrowth from under the grapevine (see pictures below).  Then I decided I wanted to take it a little further.  I remembered there were extra concrete pavers behind thfe shed from when the previous owners had installed the (ugly) pavers in front of the porch (I tell you, this entire property had to have been landscaped by a man).  One side of the trellis was already outlined by an old foundation, and the pavers just happened to match the old dirty, mossy concrete (which I kind of like in this setting).  So I simply dug out some of the soil (and all the weeds and many of the overgrown iris bulbs) and placed pavers around the other three sides.  But the extras weren't enough, and I had wanted to remove some of the ones in front of the porch, so I stole some of those.  Then I planted a few groundcover plants and mulched around it all with some of the wood chips Scott made a few weekends ago (from a fallen tree).  Then, since I had already pulled up a few of the pavers in front of the house, making it even more of an eyesore than before, I decided to pull out the rest and at least get it ready for planting (with absolutely no clue as to what I wanted to plant...).  Then I used the soil I had dug out from around the grape vine and filled up the bed I created by re-arranging the pavers.  After I finished this we needed to go to Menards to pick up the fence posts for the chicken run, and Scott needed to run inside to pick up something motorcycle-y, so I browsed the plants.  I needed some chamomile and oregano plants and have lately felt the desire to be surrounded by green and flowering things.  And, of course, Izzy found the pinkest flower she could and insisted we buy it.  So we came home with two chamomile plants, two mosquito plants (to deter them, not attract them, just so we're straight), one pink flowery thing, and six groundcover plants (spotted dead nettle).  Random assortment, but I planted them in the planter and will mulch them eventually.  But I'm pretty proud of my work, and if you don't count the expense of renting the wood chipper (which I don't because most of them will go on the garden paths) the only money spent on these two entire projects was for the plants.

The grape vine last summer- totally overgrown, with overgrown weeds and irises (I think). 
The grape vine now- pruned (although not sure if I did it right) and landscaped.

The chickens- growing up fast!
The chickens are doing well, aside from the possibility of leg mites.  I didn't take a picture of the babies because, well, they don't photograph as well and the goliath broilers just aren't very cute.  I'm really happy with the way the coop has turned out so far, although I'm still overwhelmed with the number of projects I want to take on.  Before May 20th I want to have the run done, an automatic opener/closer on the pop door, and a rain barrel/automatic waterer built and set up.  This in addition to all the things that need to be planted before then and the cold frame that needs to be built before then.  Sigh.
My Kombucha mother.  Isn't she lovely?
 And on the home front (inside home, that is) my kombucha mother is thriving.  Can you believe I grew that from a bottle of GT's?  It's pretty hardy looking.  Now I just need to remember to drink the stuff every day- I love it, but I just forget.

In addition to that this week I have "the sale," a bake sale for Izzy's preschool that, of course, I over committed for, another sale next week, cherry bushes to plant, more asparagus to plant... it just feels like I'll never get done.  And it's been raining for the last two and half days so I haven't gotten much done, but I've effectively translated my outside motivation to some areas on the inside and cleaned out my laundry room and got my tagging done for the sale.  So much to do!

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