My Spinach Garden Experiment

The two week update ... it's been 17 days since I planted the spinach and put a row cover over it for protection from the night cold.  So far, I'm pleased with the results.

I started reading my book by Eliot Coleman yesterday - The Winter Harvest Handbook.  Fascinating.  I mean, seriously, I'm really enjoying this book.  

His intro chapters give a history on winter planting - this is nothing new even though it may sound revolutionary to us.  Through the ages, in some form or another, mankind has sown and harvested garden vegetables throughout the winter.  Between 1850 and 1900, there were multitudes of "market gardens" in Paris, France.   

"Hotbeds heated with decomposing horse manure and covered with glass frames allowed the growers to defy the cold and produce fresh salads in January and early cucumbers and melons in May and June."

This horse manure, mixed with straw, came from the city stables and thus helped create a sustainable garden by composting a by-product.

Heck, we can do that.  We got lots of horse manure here.  :-)

Did you know that spinach is one of the top cold-hardy plants? It actually prefers cooler weather.  I didn't know that!

My spinach should be ready to harvest near Day 42 which would be about November 7.  Our days will shorten to less than 10 hours of daylight around November 27-29.  We'll start extending beyond 10 hours about January 13.  During that period, seeds would have difficulty germinating, and already established plants would slow down growth.  They need 10 hours or more of daylight to continue a standard growth pattern.

I'm anxiously checking on my lil green babies every day!

Chicken Coop Progress

Next up.... the roof!

I've been working on the first coat of paint and trim color since last week.  Just finished the person door today.... and made some of my coconut cookies too... and some cheesy dog treats... need to throw some laundry together yet... and do dishes a 2nd time... but not before I crack a Thirsty Dog Raspberry AleYummmmm!   

My hat's off to Thirsty Dog Brewing Company for their delicious craft brewed beers - they hail from my hometown, Akron, Ohio. But I digress....

7 weeks old today

We've decided the pearl guinea (brown/black one) is Nater.

That was the guy's name at Quicken Loans who recently refinanced our home... I mean, seriously, Nater??! (Does that give you a clue how smoothly the refi went??!  If you're guessing it didn't go all that smooth, then you'd be right.)

"Vote for Leah" Winner and Guineas In New Home

Ok, I made a list of everyone who voted for Leah in the Gerber Baby Contest last month, and plugged the numbers into and the winner is...... Maura of Lilac Lane Cottage!  I think it's pretty cool that she won, because she's a fellow Kansan, and she has a wonderful country living blog with great photos that you just have to check out!  

Congrats Maura... please be patient with me as I pull everything together.  With my crazy work schedule, it might take me a few weeks to find adequate time to whip up the cookies and the dog treats and get everything to you!!

The guinea keets were 6 weeks old yesterday, and aptly befitting their age milestone, they were moved from the brooder on the back porch to their newly renovated chicken coop.  So far, they haven't really checked out their spacious new mansion -- as of yesterday afternoon and even this morning, they are perched on the edges of their brooder.  

I hope they decide to explore more today, so we can take the brooder out and get it all cleaned up - the brooder is QUITE a mess. I cleaned it every single day, but the last few days, even that didn't seem to be enough.  Lesson to the wise -- have your chicken coop ready before you buy your birds!  :-)

Four lavender guineas and one pearl guinea survey their new home

The chicken coop isn't entirely done yet. (Hubby has rebuilt this coop from the ground up!)  The roof needs redone and there is trim work for the inside and a roosting rack yet, and of course, we need to put up the fencing on the outside, and finally, paint the coop to match the house.  I'm hoping we can get all that done before winter, esp the painting!  But worse case, we did get the whole thing primed Sunday morning, and just in time too... we were blessed with several heavy rainstorms that afternoon along with 2 episodes of hail!

The new chicken coop front boasts TWO coop doors and one salvaged window from the homestead.  The two coop doors will allow us to section off the inside if we ever need to (new chicks or chickens/keets, sick birds, etc.) so each side will still have outside access.

The way the front looked before hubby started his renovation (above & below)... you may remember that fateful pasture burn of spring 2009?  You can see the old coop door in the above photo, bottom left of the coop.

Check out hubby's newly crafted, handmade person door
on the side of the coop!

Here's the old door.  A tad "ugh", huh?

Like I mentioned above, there's plenty more work to finish up the coop.  I'm excited to get it painted to match the house... I'm just hoping I can get it done before the temps take a plunge.  Starting Thursday, I have a 6-day stretch of work (blech) so I might have to cram a little bit of painting into each morning before work.  I hate doing it that way -- cleaning my brushes/rollers every single time I paint takes so much time!  But if that's what it takes, then oh well.

Winter will be here soon!!!

Ok, I promise to stop with the chicken coop photos, I'm sure I've bored everyone to death by now.  There will be only one future photo ..... once I've painted it to match the house!

Hubby is getting sooooooo good at destructo/constructo projects around here this year --  the front porch railing, the garage, and now the chicken coop.  

Hmmmmm, methinks I'm beginning to build a rather ambitious building list for him.  *wink*

Why I Don't Mind Washing Dishes... By Hand

No buildings in sight... just our tree break and prairie grass beyond!

This is the view out my window above the kitchen sink.  While washing dishes, I often plan my day or simply zone out, while gazing at the view and any wildlife (most often pheasant) that may prance by.  

I have never owned a dishwasher, and quite honestly, don't desire one.  I love how sparkly clean my dishes and glasses are... and frankly, I don't think there's an electric dishwasher around that can beat a good old fashioned hand-washing!

My Winter Garden Experiment

A butterfly zipped by right as I snapped this photo.
I left my bedraggled marigolds and pepper plants alone for now.
They escaped the wrath of my hoe.

After reading a short review of the book "The Winter Harvest Handbook" in Mother Earth News, I've decided all is not lost... I may not have planted my fall veggies in late August/early September, but there's still a chance I can do this!  I mean, c'mon, Eliot Coleman lives in MAINE, and he gardens in cold weather, so heck, I should be able to do it more easily than he, since I live in south Kansas.  Right?  RIGHT??!  We're still having 70-80 degree days here with nights dipping into the 50s... except for last night, which got down to a numbing 41 degrees.  Yikes!

{On a side note, yes, I did order Eliot's book from Amazon yesterday.}

So yesterday I tore out the sad, neglected remains of our summer garden, fortified a short row with some cotton burr compost, and planted some spinach.  I put a tunnel row cover over the seeds, and we'll see if they sprout in 7-10 days as indicated by the Burpee seed packet. The row cover is 18 feet long, so yes, that's extra row cover laying on the ground in the photo.

That's my gramma's old wheelbarrow in the background.... 
a rather retro looking 50s-style wheelbarrow, don't you think?

And just in case you weren't sure, cleaning a garden and digging in compost using a shovel, rake and hoe is the most excellent yet muscle-draining exercise.  Just so we're clear that it's not as easy as my photo makes it look.  My body keeps reminding me lately.... you're going to be 50 before the end of the year girl!!!  Ugh.

I'll give y'all a spinach update in 2 weeks.  I've got my fingers crossed.  :-)

Later this week:  a post showcasing our chicken coop renovation, guinea keets who are growing into rebellious juveniles, beautiful Leah in Ohio, and a blog winner for the "vote for Leah" contest on Gerber's website last month!