Catching Up In the Garden


We opened up the barn garden to the chickens and ducks.



We had a couple of people here from The Natural Garden in Harrisonburg. They were very impressed with our meadow.


Marigolds next to the compost.


The garden spider greeted us for several weeks as we opened and closed the gate to the barn garden.


Dave walks by our volunteer cherry tomato plant growing on the compost fence.


Freda inspects the boneset. I harvested it for my herbalist. She said it is good for fevers.


Pretty, too.


It was great to have some young people here helping us through the alternative economy – hOUR Economy. They worked and we fed them and they camped out on our property. We really enjoyed their company and I think they had a good time, too.


Two of the guys helped Dave install gutters on the back of the barn for a water catchment system.


Dan, Kurt, Meghan, Tim and Savhannah.

They helped out others over a four day period and biked form place to place. We’re talking 15-25 miles between work sites. To have that energy!


Our bushel basket gourds didn’t get bushel size – more like quart size.


As I was walking to the barn one afternoon about a half dozen bluebirds flew off the pasture fence into our big, old oak tree.


I can see two bluebirds in each of the above photos.


Just some of the butternut we harvested.

11-11 update – finally estimated how much butternut we harvested this year. I counted 85 at approximately 2 lbs. each. So that’s about 170 lbs.! I think butternut is about $2 a lb. in the store so about $340 worth!


Just after we opened the kitchen garden to the ducks.



And finally, here is the water catchment.




We got a lot of rain late September to early October. We were amazed at how the water accumulated so quickly. Dave has already used it to water our brussel sprouts and an artimesia (wormwood) we transplanted to the barnyard. It helps prevent worms in chickens.

A Hot Saturday


Our summer squash isn’t doing too well. Fortunately, we’ve gotten some from neighbors and the farmers market.  Here, one of the chickens is eating a big zucchini I bought for them. Leo always has a watchful eye.


The kitchen garden in late morning.


I’m usually a cool color person – my favorites are blue, green and purple, but I love the combination of pink and orange. Beautiful in the sea of green.


Queen Ann’s lace growing in front of the potting shed.

It hit 92 degrees this afternoon.


The beginning of a bushel basket gourd. Will it really get that big?


I identified this vine growing near the wood pile in my Peterson Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs. It’s woody nightshade, bittersweet. It has many uses – treatment for acne, eczema, boils and warts among them.


This is growing everywhere. It isn’t in my field guide. I will have to find another source for identification.

Solar Herbal Infusion



I made an herbal infusion today of comfrey leaf, calendula and lavender flowers in olive oil. It will sit in the garden absorbing the sun’s rays for two weeks and then I’ll strain out the herbs. I’ll use it for skin rashes, insect bites and such.



Late in May

I think the reason I want to post all these past photos is that we had four chick hatches this year.


The second hatch was May 23rd. Dolly, the head hen, hatched 4 chicks. One yellow and three black. The yellow one is very interesting. None of the chicks we received in the mail last summer were yellow. I guess it is a recessive trait.


I discovered this shrub growing in the corner of the porch is deutzia. I read in Michael Weishan’s The New Traditional Garden that this was a favorite around the turn of the 20th century.






Love the combination of purple irises and red poppies.



Just wanted to document where our irises are planted. They are very pretty and I’m not typically into irises.


Gave the hyssop a haircut.


The four chicks. They are about a week old in this photo.


Blooming chamomile and sage


Spinach from our garden.

A Day on the Farm


Dolly and her chicks. This brood hatched May 23rd.



I love this hydrangea.


After a long rainy spell we are now in a long dry spell. The impatiens perked up after some watering.


Can’t remember what this is called. The leaf color is interesting and it is getting set to bloom.


Gave the sage and chamomile a trim today. I also harvested some elderberry blooms.


Today’s harvest of beets and shallots.


We tried to move Bonnie and her eggs to the brooder box last night but she wasn’t having it. We were trying to move her because our nesting boxes are high off the ground and would not be safe for wandering chicks. I knew Bonnie became broody about the same time of our second hatch on the 23rd of May so it was about time for Bonnie’s to start hatching. We waited so long because the brooder has been occupied by Dolly and her brood for the past couple of weeks.  I checked in on Bonnie throughout the day. Late in the afternoon I wasn’t surprised to see this chick. I checked around and found three more. I moved them all including some unhatched eggs to the brooder. Fortunately, they all settled in very quickly. This little one was peeping away. I put some grass and starter feed near the nest and Bonnie started clucking or whatever that sweet noise is that they make to let their chicks know there’s food. I showed the chick where to find water and offered some to Bonnie, too. They both ate and drank heartily.


On the left are the chicks that were born in April. Dolly and her brood are in the coop. Now that the brooder isn’t available to them I put a milk crate with hay on top of the brooder in hopes that they would settle down in it.


I put some treats out to encourage them. I left for about an hour and when I came back Dolly and the three dark chicks were high up on a roost with Leo the rooster. They yellow chick was running about on the ground peeping away. I caught it and put it under Dolly. Hopefully, it will stay there throughout the night. Poor thing just learned how to fly into the brooder. Come to think of it the first brood of chicks were climbing/flying up to the roost much earlier that this second brood. I guess the yellow chick was holding them back. It’s light color and problem flying could cause problems later on – like being targeted by a predator.

I have photos from late May and early June still to post but I thought I’d post these photos on the day they were taken!

Early May

I had big hopes of posting daily and it is turning into a monthly. Oh, well. When there is lots to post about there is also lots to do!


The elderberry bush and comfrey in the barn garden. Both are powerful plants. I recently dried some comfrey leaves to have on hand and soon we will have elderberries to harvest. We are talking about making elderberry wine this year.


Our first hatch of chicks when they took their first foray out into the yard.


Leo, our awesome rooster.


We swapped some watercress for these black raspberry shoots.


Dave made tomato cages. It was a big job cleaning out this bed. Actually, even though the tomatoes, sweet potatoes and summer squash have been planted there it still isn’t completely weeded.


A goldenseal shoot. We have a couple that have come up from the several we planted last fall. Keeping our fingers crossed that they survive and multiply. Another powerful plant.

Spring Showers


Two months of winds, three weeks of dryness and then a week of rain and more to come. Spring has sprung!


sweet woodruff


Less than a month old and the chicks are down by the spring house foraging with the rest of the flock.




A proud and dutiful protector and provider. I saw him give a little crawly thing to one of the chicks.


I believe this is the youngest chick.



See all the marvelous watercress in the spring. I must remember to harvest some for lunch.


Dave can’t resist and the chick soon settles down.




A little snow we had a month ago.

March was very busy in the garden. We had a very mild and wet winter. March was very warm and windy…very windy. I wanted to get a head start in the garden and found myself outside for at least a while most every day.

I was all set to post this the last day of March and then was having computer problems.



The forsythia blossoms fill the view from the kitchen window.


Frida and Eartha. This has become one of Frida’s favorite spots.


We have two broody hens so Dave built this broody box to keep them separate from the others and close to the ground for little chicks.


I don’t have an exact count, but I think one is sitting on about nine eggs and the other is sitting on four.


Dave was inspired by Norm of Geezer Farm and got these drip hoses and the row cover for the cabbages. He also got a timer for the hoses. Should all help with the watering and hopefully the cloth will keep away the cabbage worms.

We planted parsnips, turnips, carrots, beets and radishes here.


Preparing these beds were part of our garden work in March. Brought these pine logs from the orchard area to define the bed and hold back the soil


Also using logs to keep the chickens out of the barn garden. Note the branches sticking up from the fence. Also to deter the chickens since the can also fly over the fence.


They know good things are in the barn garden and are looking in.


Over the winter we also enlarged the compost area. The compost is starting to look good. Lots of worms!


Here is the kitchen garden. Put in some lettuce and onions starts from Milmont nursery. Also planted some onions I started from seed and sowed lettuce, spinach, collards, chard, parsley, orach, anise and dill.


Here are the Tom Thumb lettuce sprouts. They came up first. They form small heads of lettuce – about 3 inches if I remember correctly.


I’ve been weeding and thinning and giving the seedlings to the broody hens.


Inside the rounded fence are the garlic and shallots.


Just one of many borage volunteers.


Dug up a lot of grass and weeds to define the border. We’ve already added a rock border and will be back soon with some photos.


Much more work to be done here. This is the front side yard. It was probably once a beautiful flower bed but with the magnolia and holly bush it was hidden from our view. It was also full of weeds among the flowers so we decided with the wonderful sloped southern exposure we’d make it a veggie bed. We moved peonies and day lilies from this bed and plan to plant our tomatoes and either melons, squash or sweet potatoes here.


We planted these azaleas – two on each side – where the boxwoods had been. I should have taken a before photo. The boxwoods were damaged by snow falling from the roof two winters ago. The were starting to come back but were rather wonky. We decided to plant the azaleas and hope the damage done to the boxwoods were a freak accident.


I planted two creeping thyme plants I started from seed last year and they have really taken off in this spot.


The native bee balm has really spread as well.



Some transplanted peonies in one of the front crescents shaped flower beds.


Pretty violets.


Lots of weeding needed here.


I think these are called Bells of Ireland. From photos I could find online the bells should be more like spires. I think the warming and freezing that defines our springs around here are not good for this plant. Will have to keep an eye on it and decide whether it stays or goes.


I think these might be Roman Dark Blue Hyacinths. I happened upon a photo that looks like them on the Old House Gardens website.




rocks for our flower bed borders.


Beautiful now but this bush gets very overgrown over the summer. I plan to cut it back hard when the blooms have faded and maybe moving some of it to the front pasture to add some color there.


Moved some of the sweet woodruff that was in this bed and looking like it was getting too much summer sun. There is a stump and tree roots here so it had been shaded before which is where it does well. Added some day lilies and delphiniums from Milmont.


Digging the border for the addition of rocks.





Love the spring green of the early willow leaves.


A bleeding heart


added some columbines from Milmont





love our Virginia bluebells – just beginning to bloom


the transplanted sweet woodruff to the left of the tulips.


Hoping the clematis uses the sticks to climb upon. They refused the fence last year.


False Indigo for the front bed with the statue. I think I killed the one that was in one of the back beds. Cut it back too far.


It might like this bed more as they prefer full sun or partial shade.

We’ll see. I’m learning so much. Reading Barbara Damrosch’s A Garden Primer.