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#5 Catching Up On the Garden

My New Year’s resolutions were to focus on my chickens and the garden. I’m doing pretty well holding to them! We prepared a large set up of pens, heat lamps, bedding, food, and water dishes for our expected abundance of chicks! It seemed big at the time, but as we have begun filling up the pens, they seem to get smaller. Our first batch of eggs produced 8 healthy chicks, our second batch around 20 healthy chicks, and then we added 26 meat birds to the bunch from Meyer Hatchery. The meat birds are a mixed breed called Grey Rangers which are known for growing slower than a standard Cornish-cross, but faster than a heritage breed. We are hoping that we can continue a line of meat birds from this batch and self-sustain our meat birds here on the homestead. There are claims that you can keep these birds around as they are better foragers and more active than Cornish-crosses.

When the weather was nice, we worked on fencing in the garden using pallets and chicken wire. Last year we had so many issues with wildlife eating the garden and we also struggled with too much rain which rotted out most of the remaining plants. The garden struggled, but I am determined to learn from last year and make this the best garden yet. Our garden is a 20ft x 60ft bed. Last year I used manure from several of the animals to build of a better soil, as right now it is very hard, clumping dirt. I have seen the difference in the composted soil and the barren soil, so I hope chemically it will work well with our crop for this year. So far, I have planted potatoes, carrots, peas, kale, and strawberries outside in the garden. I ordered my seeds and strawberry plants from Johnny’s Selected Seeds and the seed potatoes came from the local Rural King. I don’t know why I had it in my head that every eye from a potato makes one potato. Nope, every eye makes one plant, and every plant makes about 10 potatoes. I think I planted around 60 eyes… My Irish side will be happy with all the potato goodness that will happen this year!

Here’s the funny part of this post… I thought I had ordered 25 strawberry plants. When they arrived and I opened the bag to plant them I thought “This has to be more than 25”. It was a total of 104 plants, and I planted every single one. They won’t begin to produce fruit until next year, as this year they will get established, but that’s going to be a lot of strawberries!

Here’s to a berry good harvest come this summer and fall!

Happy homesteading,

Rachel