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We had quite a wet spring but thanks to my brother Dave, the entire farm is planted (he’s on the 9N in the pic below). I couldn’t have done it without him, he’s the best brother a guy could have.

How is your garden coming along? How’s your weather? We had over 6 feet of snow this winter and I’m predicting a hot, dry summer here in the Midwest. Then again we just had a thunderstorm that dumped a couple of inches this morning. It hasn’t really rained in 3 weeks though….

Our new crop this year (drum roll please) cotton! I got a couple of packs of seeds from Baker Creek Seeds. ¬†A wonderful company who donates seeds every year to our non-profit Project Garden Share. Speaking of Project Garden Share, if you’d like some free heirloom seeds sent to you, contact me! All we ask is that you plant one for yourself and one for PGS (so you can donate it to a local food bank for those in need.)

Here are some pictures of everything from pumpkin mounds, bonfires, happy chickens and a bean trellis made from tree branches that will be covered by pole beans soon (‘How to’ Post coming soon). We are also trying out weed blocking fabric this season, I’ll let ya know how well it does…..

Garden Rows with weed fabric pumpkin mounds planting vegetable garden bean trellis bonfire farm leaf lettuce garden close up chicken golden comet tomato flower brown eggs sunset

1949 Ford 9N golden comet chickens tight garden rows with weed fabricBeans sprouting tomato row chicken Garden Garden rows Sunny summer farm day

Just a simple growing update from the farm. Lot’s of gratuitous glamor shots all from the farm, except the last 2 I took at a local winery…. A special thanks to Brother Dave for helping out so much this season….. How’s your season growing so far?

garden shot

pumpkin growing vinehot peppers on plantgreen peppers plant

bush beans growingcucumbers growingtomato growing garden

chicken eating run

summer flowers

brocolli growingzuchini growing

vineyard black and white

vineyard

 

The good news is, we got everything planted last weekend with help of friends. The bad news is, we got a frost the other night and it wiped out half of the plants. Thanks Mother Nature, you’re a wonderful lady. Of course it’s back to the mid 80′s this week.

It’s back to planting today to replace our little plants that didn’t make it. Have a Happy and Safe Memorial Day everyone!

111 photo w3 photo 4 photo 3 photo 2 photo 1 1115 1114 1113 1112

Want to start your growing season early? Maybe extend in into the winter months? Then build a cold frame or sometimes called a mini greenhouse. A cold frame is 4 walls that secure heat and protect plants from the elements and a top that allows light through.

straw bale cold frame

Step 1) Find a good location that gets lots of sunlight and faces south.
Step 2) Build the walls. I used straw bales. They’re great at holding in heat and no tools are needed.

cold frame 1

Step 3) Use some old windows to put on top. I used some storm windows I found in the trash at a local church.

cold frame2

Step 4) Fill with plant trays full of seeds.
Step 5) Keep an eye on temperature, moisture and airflow. Open up the lid a few inches to circulate fresh air in.
Step 6) Acclimate your seedlings by taking the lid off when they get bigger.

Happy Planting!

cold frame straw3

Next Post: Starting your seeds in the cold frame.

I was hoping to trap a raccoon that’s been trying to get into the chicken coop but instead, I caught this little guy. I also made a 34 second video of his catch and release below the facts part.

Opossum in trap

I didn’t know much about these marsupial creatures so I looked up some facts about them:

  • The word opossum refers to the North American species (those found in other areas are called possums)
  • The Virginia opossum is only found in the United States
  • Opossums are related to Kangaroos, Koalas, Tasmanian Devils, and Brazilian Short-hair Pigmy Possums
  • Opossums help gardens by eating snails, slugs, insects, snakes, rats and overripe fruit.
  • Opossums are highly resistant to diseases such as rabies because of its efficient immune system and lower body temperature.
  • Opossums are not a public health threat.
  • There is far less of a risk of infection from opossums than from house pets.
  • The opossum’s greatest enemies are cars and domestic pets.
  • Another predator of opossums is people, who hunt them for food, sport, and pelts.
  • Other enemies include owls, foxes, and larger wildlife.
  • Opossums compete with sheep and rabbits for food.
  • Opossums have more teeth than any other North American land mammal (50).
  • Opossums are not territorial and move to wherever food is available.
  • Opossums cannot hang upside down by their tail, but use their tail to climb.
  • Marsupial refers to the reproductive system, which entails the very young embryos being born and attaching to the mothers nipples
  • Opossums do not have good eyesight or hearing — they rely mainly on their sense of smell.
  • Opossums are very clean animals and groom themselves much like a cat does.
  • Opossums are also found in Australia and South America

These facts were found at: http://biology.clc.uc.edu/students/114-sum98-opossums/misc.htm

My favorite part of this video is at the end when I pan over to the chickens… They’re all like “What the heck was that?”

1008_butterfly121-300x200The population of Monarch  butterflies has dropped 59% this year. This is the lowest population ever recorded. Scientists attribute the drop to the destruction of breeding habitat in the U.S., due to commercial farming practices involving herbicides and genetically engineered crops.

What does this mean to you? Everything! If these native pollinators are dropping in record numbers, so are other pollinators. But there is something you can do about it. Make a small rest stop (or waystation) for the butterflies to help increase their numbers. This is a quite simple thing to do.

To create a habitat for monarchs, you need to provide milkweeds for the larvae, nectar plants for the adults, and sufficient vegetation to provide shelter for the larvae, pupae and adults. This all comes in a small kit for $16 here at Monarch Watch Stop.

How to Build a Monarch Waystation and lot’s of other useful links:

You can also purchase Milkweed seeds here for $3 a pack at Butterfly Encounters
Milkweed Growing Instructions: Live Monarch
From Here and Now on NPR a great radio piece with audio – Majestic Monarch Butterflies Under Threat
IMAX 3D Movie: Flight of the Butterflies
Teachers: Monarchs in the Classroom

I’ll be building a Monarch Garden this spring and I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going.

Migration_Map
Let’s help our little orange and black friends….before it’s too late. If you’ve created a garden already, please pot in comments and offer some advice to others. Spring’s almost here and I can’t wait! Happy planting!