My seeds and tubers are finally all ordered. I still need to research one more fruit tree (self-fertile?) to order to add to my other orchard items – 2 more rhubarb, 2 more raspberries. If all goes well, we should get our first harvests of raspberries and gooseberries from last year’s plantings. I don’t really have plans for the gooseberries except maybe in a pie. My great grandmother Bessie and grandmother Mary Helen used to make a gooseberry pie now and then from wild gooseberries that grew near their property. I think I even recall picking and baking one with my grandma one time, but I don’t have any memory of eating it. The varieties I ordered said they were good for table eating too, unlike most sour varieties. I hope this is true.
Our apricots won’t produce for a few more years yet and harvest is always iffy given the usual late frosts. Nature’s got to have her way. Last year, there weren’t many flowers on fruit bearing trees at all – no crab apples or plums, for the most part. I think the squirrels are a bit desperate because of it. I’ve been helping those critters along with some sunflower seeds and peanuts and an occasional handful of walnuts or my son’s leftover breakfast and half-chomped apples. I’d rather feed a hungry creature than the compost. If I had chickens, they would be benefiting from much of the still edible scraps my kitchen generates.
Chickens. My two attempts to eat eggs were failures. I ended up with nearly a full dozen hard boiled eggs that had to be tossed after sitting in the fridge for a month and a half. I could always give eggs away – or eat them when the mood struck. I just want a few hens for pets that could roam around our backyard muttering to themselves in that cute chickeny way – brrrrpppp, brrrrpp. We saw a small flock at the zoo in Colorado Springs this weekend. My husband is the only one opposed to having chickens because of the extra work involved. Of course, I would never order them from a hatchery. I don’t want to support the hatcheries because they kill most of the male chicks. Most likely, I would take a few hens off the hands of a farmer who didn’t want them anymore. My CSA, two years ago, made an offer to it’s members who were looking for hens. And, there’s always Craigslist.
Though I would love bees, I think they are probably not a possiblity because our backyard isn’t large enough to accomodate them and the kids and maintain a safe distance between both parties. I’ll continue to research and maybe consult a beekeeper.
My seed orders are already arriving and I need to get busy and organize them and put together a gardening calendar : when to plant out what, when to start seed indoors, tentative harvests, etc. As usual, I’m sure I went overboard and ordered way too much. I need to get better at saving my own seed, so I need to research with what vegetables and fruits this is feasible in the small growing space I have. I know I can save tomato seed, even though I grow several varieties, and still be relatively sure that the seed will be “true” because tomatoes are self-fertile/self-pollinating (not sure which term is the most accurate).
I’m being ambitious this year and have plans to deconstruct the raised beds in my backyard. I think they just don’t work in my drought-prone climate. The water seems to seep rapidly out of the soil in the bed and the soil ends up like a brick. They were supposed to allow me to have loose, loamy soil so that the veggies (especially root crops) could really dig in, but that has not been the case. If anything, my beets and carrots have suffered. So, if I have the time and inclination, more sod will get dug up around the beds, the wood frames of the beds will be ripped apart and the 12″ of soil will be spread out a bit and dug in with whatever native soil is beneath. I just can’t decide on a pretty shape for the new uncontained garden to take.
To the drawing board…