Life on a little urban homestead in the making, with ideas for self-sufficiency, Permaculture, DIYing, organic gardening, food preservation, Chicken keeping, cookery, crafts, thrifting and more...

May 29, 2018

New Chicks! Garden Update, Growing Potatoes In Garbage Cans, Thrifting Scores

From the L-Sarah, Annie, Pru

New Chicks!
Sorry I haven't posted anything for two weeks but life has been crazy. Between babysitting 2 toddlers Sat./Sun., work and gardening it has been a lot to keep up with. I was really happy that I took today off work and had a four-day weekend. Since we don't travel on Memorial Day weekend it was a good time to plant the veggie garden, sleep in (a little) and play catch up. I have a few more projects today and then back to work tomorrow. I'm going to plant some herbs, shop for some odd things, and barbecue beef is in the crock pot. It's 79 degrees and humid but it beats the rain!!! So here we go-

Saturday we went out to Caldwell, just outside Boise, to the Dunlap Hatchery and bought 3 new chicks. We bought a Black Australorp, the black speckled chick-

Black with teal, pretty!

A White Plymouth Rock, the yellow chick-

A New Hampshire Red, the yellow/gray chick-

Our NHR hen from years ago- 

They should all be about the same size when grown, very intentional. They are six days old and all did really great through the weekend! There was a lot of distress crying from the one chick for the first two days, but that settled down. With our tiny little flock it's interesting to see their personalities, and the curiosity right off the bat. I added a little mirror which they stand by, like to look at and preen in front of. When one starts grooming then they all start grooming, ditto eating and sleeping. They're already developing a flock mentality apparently. I always name my chicks and Pru is the Black Australorp, Annie is the Plymouth White, and Sarah is the New Hampshire Red. I like old fashioned names from New England, since they seem to fit the old New England breeds. Chick area in our spare bedroom-

I made a mistake the first time I bought chicks, buying them over spring break. It made it necessary for them to be inside way too long. I've learned since then to wait until the weather is fairly warm and then buy the chicks, so they will be inside for a minimal amount of time. They will feather out in the next couple of weeks and I will start putting them outside to integrate with the flock then. We did a system before that works pretty well Chick to Flock Integration Tips  We separated them in a small part of the garden for several days, and in the coop, and integrate them after several days, no drama!

That went really well giving the older hens a chance to get used to the babies. The babies then just joined the older girls in the main garden and in the coop. It will take about 5 months or so for the young pullets to start laying, so that will put us into late fall-early winter depending on how things go. With having two older hens, winding down on their laying (you never want to have one chicken alone) it was a good time to get some chicks!

New Verbena, pollinators!

Garden Update-
The weather has been really crazy lately, with a lot of afternoon monsoon rains. I don't remember this kind of weather pattern this time of year ever, but on the bright side everything is super, super green. Sometimes the rain doesn't last that long but sometimes it does. Late last week around sunset it started pouring for several hours leaving everything nice and wet. Sunday night we had a really massive lightning/thunder show for several hours and torrential downpours overnight. That left everything pretty steamy and humid yesterday but that was okay. Garden is coming along great, both in the front and back yard. Lots of flowers are blooming, peaches on the peach tree, pears too.  We had a lot of shade n our veggie area, so Dave took down a large, lower branch off our monster maple tree before we planted the veggies-

Cutting up for our city compost bin

Bottoms up! Free ranging during pruning/planting time

Dave removed a small evergreen shrub that got mangled by a garbage can, shoved across our sidewalk by a (apparently) drunk driver. Bizarre! It was really damaged so Dave dug it up and we bought a couple of perennials for the area- 



He also dug up a big shrub (vines) that we inherited when we bought the house. He really likes digging up unsightly shrubs, go figure! It bloomed in the Spring, the rest of the year just sat there. Neither of us liked it so he removed it. We planted another perennial there. I chose Tickseed and Yarrow because both are pretty low maintenance, bloom, are pollinators, don't require a lot of water-

Another Yarrow

Adjacent area, 2 year old Catmint, huge and the bees love it!

Our front entryway, nice and lush!

Over two weekends we bought some vegetable starts, herbs, and annual flowers. Yesterday we laid out all of the warm weather vegetables in the main garden, and Dave planted a row of green beans on the side of house, where we tore down the shed-

Last year's 2016-2017 heavy winter snows really did a number on the nurseries, and warm weather starts were hard to find. This year the opposite, we found BIG tall tomato plants in tiny pots, $3.00!

Various heirloom tomatoes with Italian peppers in front, much sunnier, thanks to tree trim!

Lemon Cukes, with room for more peppers

Tomato, Zucchini and slicing Cukes, 

Having chickens we do put things in a couple different areas with divider fences and that works pretty well.

Kale ready to eat, with peas behind

Herbs to plant and I started Nasturtium seeds

Dave got a great idea from his brother that I thought I'd share here and hopefully this will make sense. We don't have a sprinkler system on our lot, so we drag hoses around, either hand water, use soaker hoses or use small garden sprinklers. One of the things that we wound up doing (like lots of people) is crimping the hose so you can take the sprinkler head off/change to the hand sprayer. Dave bought a short hose, 15 feet, and an adapter to put on it. When you put on the adapter it gives you the ability to not only turn the water off, but also adjust the flow. So instead of walking clear across the yard or around the house or crimping the hose you basically shut off the water at the start of the 15-foot section. Then you unscrew your sprinkler and put on your handheld watch her or vice versa. It works great and saves you from getting soaked by the sprinkler, walking back and forth repeatedly, or trying to adjust the water. Especially if you're working around a corner! So you can just buy a short stretch of hose and then by an adjuster easy peasy! Hose was $8.00, adjuster $4.00, much simpler. No more damaging hoses by crimping them.

Growing Potatoes In Garbage Cans-
A friend of Dave's at work gifted us with some potato starts and while we weren't planning on doing this we decided why not! It's a great way to plant and grow vertically in a small space. We had two garbage cans that were pretty beat up, one was cracked on the bottom and the other was getting pretty worn out as well-

 We decided since we didn't really use them anymore we would grow potatoes in those. For $6 we also bought a plastic tote at Home Depot-

Leveled after photo

We planted Yukon Golds in the two large containers since those are my favorites and red potatoes in the blue tote. I did quite a bit of research and the basics are- drilling holes in the bottom of the container, some holes in the lower part of the sides for drainage-

We added about 3 inches of almost-ready compost to the very bottom, with several inches of potting soil on top of that, and the potatoes on top of that-

also leveled

After you cover the potatoes with soil just water to keep them moist,but not soggy. We put them in 3 different spots in full sun. It's good we had drainage after a torrential downpour Sunday night as I could tell that the soil had compacted and it was pretty wet. With temperatures in the 80's this week hopefully the soil will dry out and we will be fine. Once we start seeing some greens coming up through the soil we will cover those with more potting soil. Just with that continue until there blooms up on the top of the vines and they turn brown. And then it will be harvest time! We can store some of the potatoes in our small outside refrigerator, and may give some away.

Thrifting Scores-
I found some great thrifting scores a couple of days ago, I bought several new books for a grand babies and a really nice large ceramic water pitcher for our dining table. It has Irises on it, one of my favorite flowers. One of the things I want to do this fall is actually plant some bulbs including some irises so it was a good reminder! I bought two used cook books on Amazon. I went out to Eddie Bauer's Outlet since we got a $10 coupon in our email. It's always funny to go there when I get lucky, since I basically found a nice pair of $75 work slacks. The original tag was $75, mark down to $40 something, with the sale reduction and my $10 coupon I paid a whopping $5! They're nice dressy fabric in a dark gray which will go with lots of different tops.

I also found two blouses on eBay, one is a Columbia Sportswear fishing blouse, (yes fishing) with a SPF built in. I've owned one of these blouses before and they are great for summer weather because they are cool with vents on the back of the shoulders-

It's actually dressy enough to wear to work. On the surface it just looks like another cotton blouse and I love the pink and green plaid. The other I found was a new blouse a Caribbean Joe brand with great colors again to wear to work in the hot weather. It will look cute with dark slacks! Maybe the Eddie Bauer ones!

The total for both tops was less than I would have paid locally for new. And it's easier to find specialty tops like that on eBay than it is driving all over town to various thrift stores. I also found a pair of shorts for Dave on eBay that he loves. They're about $35 new, and he loves them since he does some running, and a lot of heavy yard work in the heat. They're breathable lightweight shorts. They are Adidas brand, $12,  and another pair I'm keeping an eye on. When you really like something really specific eBay is definitely the way to go. I was also happy I also sold something on Etsy, for about the price of what paid for the slacks, two tops and Dave shorts with some left over! Worked out pretty well!

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