Vegetable and Perennial Care in May some of the busiest time spent in the garden. With backyard chickens to keep you company you are always entertained.
The girls and guys have been enjoying their time free ranging, especially over the last few days when the temperature has reached 90 degrees. They find a nice cool spot under the bushes and take dust baths in the cool soil. I have had to completely ban them from the vegetable garden, closing the gate. They were starting to eat the lettuce and young strawberries. They still are munching on the grass and clovers that run through the lawn. I was told by an organic chicken farmer that allowing chickens to graze on grass and clover makes their bones very hard as well as their egg shells. My girls egg shells are so thick you need to use a little muscle to crack them.
Grace my Bantam hen is still broody, trying to sit on eggs. She has removed all the feathers on her chest, to help keep the eggs as closes to her skin so that she can keep them warm. I feel bad to keep removing her, but this late in the season with the heat in the coop it is for her own health that she needs to be removed. Poor frustrated girl.
The carrots and beet shoots are up and I will be thinning the new seedlings this weekend. You need to thin all your seedlings, especially vegetables that grow in the ground. They will grow in and around each other and ruin the crop if you do not thin. I thin to about 1″ – 1 1/2″ for carrots, beets, and radishes. I tend to allow the lettuce and greens to grow closely together, but when air can not circulate around the greens you will have to watch for mildew and pests. Thinning as needed.
The Peonies and Iris have finally opened their blooms and have been as stunning as ever. There is nothing more beautiful than a Peony bloom. They are a gem of the garden. They are also hardy and carefree. They say years after a homestead is abandoned, you can depend on the Peony to bloom every spring. Needing no special care as long as they are planted in the right conditions.
My naturalizing bed that is 100′ long and 4′ wide is filled with different variety of perennials in a repeat planting, with various blooms coming throughout the season. Blooming right now is the Shasta Daisies, Allium, and Columbine. The hens love to escort me as I weed this bed, they especially love rooting around in the Lamb’s ear, I am sure under its dense cover there are bugs galore. If you have Shasta and Columbine, try to keep up with the deadheading (cutting spent blooms) this will keep from reseeding and keep the plants looking tidy. At the end of their bloom cycle, cut down their stems to the ground foliage. Cut your allium down to ground level after the foliage turns yellow in late summer. Avoid cutting the foliage while it’s still green, as the living foliage provides the bulbs with energy for the following blooming season.
I have had several visitors this week. I am a big proponent of snakes, turtles, and frogs in the garden. Each is a great predator of pests that we all want to get rid of in our garden. However because of their sensitive central nervous system they are very vulnerable to pesticides and poisons. Since I am and have been organic since we moved here over 10 years ago, my lawn, gardens and home are a safe environment for snakes, turtles and frogs. On Monday when I ran out to start the grill, I noticed this fellow laying on the back patio sunning himself. Luckily the i-phone was in my back pocket so I snapped a photo. My youngest son was flipping the compost pile for me and found a box turtle that he safely rescued and released into the wooded area behind our house. The frogs have been singing there melody in the evenings. Last but not least over the weekend, we had a visitor in the house, that lets just say “our visitor” made me scream loud enough that I am sure the neighbors heard. I’m keeping that one secret!