Garden 4.0: Notes for Future-Me

This year, the garden has been a bit, ahem, wild. Overgrown. Unkempt. Let’s just say it’s in need of a serious haircut at this point.

20140726. Our backyard! And Birdie running laps.

Thankfully, due in large part to the wet, cool(ish) summer we’ve been having (and not to my serious neglect), we’ve still managed to get some lovely produce. The tomatoes, green beans, beets, radishes, lettuce, kale, and husk cherries in particular have done awesomely.

20140812. Husk cherries.

Now is the time, though, to start making some notes to future-me for future-garden. I do this mentally every year, and then I completely forget or push out of my mind the previous year’s lessons learned. So, dang it all to heck, we’re documenting the crap out of them this year!

20140708. State of the garden address.

Plans for next year:

  • Husk cherries are the bomb. We need a field of husk cherries next year. Okay, maybe a bed of them will do, but seriously… a lot, please.
  • Half a bed of tomatoes = perfect. Although Chris will disagree, horizontal trellising has worked nicely this year (i.e. no broken twine halfway through the summer during the latest thunderstorm to try to restring, heavy with tomatoes).
  • Let’s do onions for real next year, and half a bed of garlic was perfect. Next year: half a bed of garlic, the other half onions? Yeah? Yeah.
  • ONLY GROW HALF A BED OF GREENS, TOTAL. PERIOD. None of this “eight kale plants will do” crap. Jeez, girl. Greens do awesomely in our backyard, and we really only need two kale and two chard plants for our own consumption. At this point, the chickens have eaten more kale than I have, which is embarrassing (although the chickens are stoked).
  • I really need an entire bed of pepper plants. I love peppers. We EAT peppers. We CAN peppers. I want ALL THE PEPPERS.
  • Green beans: everyone in this house loves them, including Willem. Next year, we’re building a trellis of green beans – a TRELLIS you can walk through and be surrounded by lovely green beans – maybe as part of our front yard landscaping, maybe somewhere in back. Who knows. But we need a lot of green beans. Also, the purple ones are the bomb, because you can actually see them hiding among all that green foliage.
  • A bed of lettuce early in the season was awesome. Maybe that bed can be flipped later for fall plantings of beets, radishes, and arugula, all of which are awesome and need to be planted everywhere again next year, all summer long.
  • THINGS WE NEED NEXT YEAR: Cucumbers were sadly missing from our garden this year, as were carrots. I think I want to do a huge carrot field in one of the beds. I learned that the best carrot planters are 4-year-olds: they just throw the seeds (in huge quantities) everywhere. So that’ll be the carrot-planting plan next year.
  • Last but not least, how about some sweet potato love? I need to expand our sweet potato growing next year. We’ve been doing a sweet potato bin the last few years, which works but kind of requires upkeep all summer, adding more soil. And I want a LOT of sweet potatoes. I’m open to suggestions for best ways to grow them!
  • Oh wait… LAST last one… We need some winter rye for cover cropping this fall/winter. We ran out and didn’t have any last fall, which I swear is part of the reason we suddenly have grass trying to take over the beds this year. It also provides a great winter fresh feed for the chickens.

Also, someday Chris is going to make an epic post about the tens of thousands of bees who have taken up residence in our backyard. He finally managed to get me into the suit last week to help him move the (now two) hives around a little bit. This was me flexing and feeling very high on life after surviving the process without a) getting stung and b) having a panic attack.


The Space-Farm New Chick Cheat Sheet: From Brooder to Coop

In preparation for spring fence building, I pulled out our folder with all of our backyard ideas and drawings and found this gem: our week-by-week chick cheat sheet from last March.

20130303. New chick checklist.

I thought it might be useful to document this in a slightly more permanent place, both for us if we ever decide to get day-old chicks again and for anyone jumping into the backyard chicken ring this spring.

The Space-Farm Chick Cheat Sheet: From Brooder to Coop in Six Weeks!

Week/Day Chick Tending Tasks
Week 1, Day 1
  • The chicks arrive!
  • Brooder temp: 90-95 degrees
  • Cover pine shavings with paper towel for first several days
  • Leave extra light on for first two days, 24/7 (this can be very dim – you should JUST be able to read a book in the light emitted)
  • Mix crushed oatmeal/cornmeal mix in with food for first three days
  • Check bums every day, twice a day for pasting up/sticky bums! Tend to immediately if you discover any pasting up
Week 1, Day 3
  • Add chick grit
  • You can turn the extra light off during the day; turn it on for about 30 minutes each night for the rest of Week 1
Week 1, Day 5
  • Clean brooder, remove paper towels from pine shavings
  • Put mini perch/roost into brooder
Week 2/Day 8
  • Brooder temp: 85-90 degrees
  • Clean brooder
  • Put cover on brooder – the chicks will start using their wings soon!
Week 3/Day 15
  • Brooder temp: 80-85 degrees
  • Clean brooder and upsize it if necessary
Week 4/Day 22
  • Brooder temp: 75-80 degrees
  • Clean brooder
Week 5/Day 29
  • Brooder temp: 70 degrees
  • Clean brooder
  • Begin introducing the girls to the outside on warmer days
  • Prep the coop
Week 6/Day 36
  • It’s a big day: time to move out to the coop (assuming it’s not still really cold where you live)!
  • Switch to developer feed
Extra Notes: All About Feed
  • Chick Starter: 0-6 weeks (20-24% protein)
  • Developer Feed: 6-20 weeks (14-16% protein)
  • Layer Ration: 20 weeks (16-18% protein); also introduce calcium/oyster shell around this time

Calling all chicken tenders (HA!): any major things I’m forgetting here?