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Weekend update

Chickens

The biggest news is with the chickens – they are finally outside in their pen!!!

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It has been a real killer trying to get the pen finished. Had to cut the roofing by hand, trim off the edges, and re-staple a bunch of the wire. The problem has been that the bugs are back in full force, and I have been eaten alive every single time I go outside. It makes work very, very difficult.

The other big problem has been with the wheels. I was unable to figure out how to make a proper dolly as outlined in the book, and have been struggling to make wheels that could fold down and then stay in place. In the end, it’s still not working properly. I managed to get the pen over to a starting position (more headaches) and the birds are in. Hopefully I can get some help from the internet and/or friendly neighbours. It has been a chore.

Finally the birds are starting to show leg issues; they can all still walk but I’m getting quite worried that they are growing too quickly. All in all, it’s been a difficult week chicken-wise, and it’s a small victory to finally see them outside. We are looking at four days of rain, so I think my next task is to find someone I can buy hay from. Whew!

(Plenty of complaining, but a lot of it is my own fault. It is definitely worth the effort to know where your food is coming from. I just lack the handy-man skill that is useful at times likes these. Next summer will be much easier, I’m sure.)

Vegetables

The garden has started to grow and the tomatoes are taking to their new home quite nicely. I decided to take the row covers off for a few days to see what happens; we’re supposed to be getting rain and I think it might do them good. If it gets too heavy, I’ll put the covers back on.

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Wine

Last, but not least, the wine is mellowing away in the basement. It had to stand for three days and then go on its side (something to do with the cork). So far it looks like all the bottles were sealed properly and now it’s just a matter of time before the tasting.

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The garden is finally planted

I have neglected to post pictures of the tomatoes with all the talk of chickens and wine, so let’s just say that they grew a lot. Mostly up, unfortunately. I know for next year that proper lighting

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I am pleased to report this morning that they made it through the night!

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Also got the square-foot beds in yesterday. Planted three 4x4 squares that are all joined together in one 12x4 bed. Added row covers on top as the birds were picking at it almost immediately.

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One (large) step backwards

Something has happened to half of my tomato plants. Not sure what, yet, but it doesn’t look good.

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Decided to trim off all the sickly looking leaves; there were  a lot of them.

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Fingers crossed the rest survive.

On a happier note, the chickens arrive in twelve days :)

Where there’s life, there’s hope

After the transplant, quite a few of the seedlings looked like they probably wouldn’t make it. With the right conditions, though, they’ve recovered. A good lesson for life as well as plants :)

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Now

Just for reference

This is closer to what my tomato plants should look like at this point. Got some plants from the gardeners I’m learning from :)

closer to normal, but not mine

The survivors

Rule #1 for seeds: Use proper soil.
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The wrong kind of soil makes it impossible for water to penetrate to the roots. Add that to peat pots being naturally prone to disintegration and it becomes very hard to keep plants alive. Some of the plants flourished for a while, but it became increasingly difficult to water them.

Rule #3 of starting seeds: Wait until there are at least three or four leaves before transplanting to larger containers. I transplanted the tomatoes way too early (below).

Transplanted too early

Aftermath of phase one

The survivors

A few days ago I was able to get some good potting soil from John’s Greenhouse in Summerside – amazing stuff for only $2/bag. There was no easy way to uproot the plants so I just tore open the sides of pots and attempted to remove the seedlings as best possible. I replanted what I could and started some more seeds from scratch. Here are the survivors (tomatoes, celery, and lettuce). There is hope, though. And soon it will be time to start some greens directly outside under the cold frame. Looking forward to home-grown veggies by the start of June :)

Promising signs