Category Archives: Garden

Garden Eating

bowl of green beans

Lots of food in the garden at the moment.  Two different types of green beans were harvested today.  They were tasty!  The Good Mother Stallard have a nice creamy texture when the beans inside are a bit older.  I may let some of them get ripe enough to be soup beans, I think they’d make excellent soup.  Bean with bacon soup made with Good Mother Stallard beans may be exquisite.  I’ll have to grow some to the shell bean stage and find out.

It’s really hard to get a good picture of how red this lettuce actually is.  It’s a deep dark ruby red, very vibrant.  Tastes good, too!  There’s a green leaf lettuce, a green blushed with red romaine and then this really red leaf lettuce.

baby watermelon hiding in the leaves

A new baby watermelon!  Yay!  This is a variety called ‘Hanby’ and hopefully it will be tasty.  Here’s a link from the Baker Creek seeds website with a description of it: http://www.rareseeds.com/hamby-watermelon/

Ha!  Can do the beans, too, I guess.  Ha!  The Good Mother Stallard are a pretty bean.  I’d forgotten they were pretty when I planted them.  http://www.rareseeds.com/good-mother-stallard-bean/

Their website claims 5 to 6 beans per pod, but I’m only seeing 2 to 4, it’s still early on in the harvest, so maybe there will be the larger beans later.  I’ve left the ones with 4 beans in the pod to save for seed, although there’s also another bean growing alongside so maybe they shouldn’t be saved for seed until the other bean is gone.  This is the other bean, the McCaslan 42 is a more or less regular green bean so I wouldn’t want to cross the two.

The garden is all powered by bunny berries, I’m amazed at how well bunny manure works.

In the bunny world, Janet’s babies are opening their eyeballs now.  

They’re also starting to wander out of the nest.  Not very fast, not very far but they are getting more mobile.

 

Now it’s African Violet Time!

box of African violets packed for shipment

So my friend got three boxes packed just like this.  The plants that you can see the leaves of are standard African violets.  Each one is a small plant and each one is different.  The white packages have semi-miniature to full miniature plants in them.  He got three boxes like this!  Over 100 different African violets!

So, of course he drops by to open the boxes at my house and it took hours to unpack them all.  However, occasionally there would be a leaf which had broken off or had a bent stem.  So those leaves were potted up and will hopefully sprout a new plant.

Aftrican violet leaves being started

Mine!  If they all sprout a new plant I have no idea where they will all go.  Maybe outside somewhere in the shade.  African violets can grow outside since we’re in Hawaii as long as they don’t get sun burnt or eaten by the chickens.   All of these leaves are from the standard sized African violets.

small leaves being started

These nine leaves are either ‘semi-miniature’ or ‘miniature’ African violets.  Some of them are fully grown and flowering in a two in pot and their leaves don’t go over the edge of the pot.  Way too tiny, but really cute.  The tiny leaf in the middle with the white edges is from a miniature African violet called “Bunny Hop”.

tiny pink African violet

Isn’t that just the cutest thing?  It’s the one called ‘Bunny Hop’.  That’s a two inch Dixie cup that it is planted in.  The leaf being started from this plant is in a small terrarium.  That may increase the odds of it surviving.  These aren’t my plants, I just got some leaves from some of them.  He got them from a place called ‘VioletBarn’, I’m sure there’s an online link somewhere if you need African violets, too.  https://www.violetbarn.com/    Aha!  Thought there would be one.

So we will see how many of these sprout into new plants.  If they all sprout, then we will have to find a place to put them all, but one thing at a time.

close up of black bunny showing fiber quality

I don’t know if your screen is big enough, but can you see the utterly soft fiber on that bunny?  I’m pretty sure that’s Ziggy and the undercoat is the really soft fiber that we harvest to make into Hula Bunny yarn.   Ziggy is going to make fiber for ‘Moonlit Dance’ color.

Little black bunny eating grass to make into fiber

Ha!  Those gourmet folks are always enthusing about grass fed beef.  What do they know?  We’ve got grass fed yarn, that’s gotta be better, don’tcha think?

Here’s our Grass Fed Yarn video

 

 

 

Grapefruit tree oopsie!

grapefruit tree taken out with moneytree

Ooops!  The roots of the grapefruit tree were all tangled with the moneytree being taken out next door.  When one fell over they both went.  Oh wellos!  Guess we will have to get a new grapefruit tree.  Maybe the next one can be a ruby red grapefruit tree.  I like those much better than the white grapefruits.

last grapefruit and first beans

So this is our last grapefruit, but we did pick the first beans today from the Mother Stallard vines.  They are producing about a week before the other bean vine.

We’ve been eating the lettuce and beet greens for over a week now, too.  The little garden is going well even if excavators got the grapefruits.

The Power of Stacked Concrete Blocks

Well, we’ve been eating salad now for a few weeks and I don’t think all the garden construction pictures were ever assembled in a tidy manner.  There’s been some interest in it on an online garden forum so I thought I’d put the pictures here, too.

This is the fifth stacked concrete block garden so far.  The first three were on flat land and the same height all around.  The fourth is just off the side of this newest one, although I planted too many ‘permanent’ plants there (grapes, cotton, papaya, mulberry) so it is too full to plant lettuce and salad greens.

This newest garden is not only a garden, but also a terrace to hold back the hillside.  I’m planning to make another garden behind this one to continue terracing up the hillside.  Perhaps for that one, a much longer but narrower one which wouldn’t be accessible from the back.  We’ll see when it gets built what it ends up looking like.

 

This is the beginning picture with the problem hillside.  It’s too steep to mow very easily and we have things growing 24/7 around here so it is a continual problem.  Turning it into small terraces will hopefully make a problem into a benefit.

This new salad garden is very close to the kitchen door, so that will be handy for greens and herbs.  In the picture, the digging has already started a little bit.

I should have taken more pictures at this stage, but we were busy digging in the dirt and hauling concrete blocks around.  We were using whatever blocks we had laying about, it’d be easier with all the same size blocks.

When choosing the final size of your garden,  layout the first layer of blocks where you’d like your new garden.  That will give you an idea of how big it will be.  Then stack up a column of blocks as high as you’re planning on building the sides.  Reach into to the middle of the garden area over the column to see how easy it will be to garden in the middle.  It’s easy enough at this point to make the garden a half block narrower or wider depending on how far you can reach.  Since it’s accessed from the front and the back, you can make it as long as you like.

When building multiple gardens, leave a walkway wide enough after the plants have reached their mature size to still fit through between the gardens.  I had one set of raised beds that were too close together and after the rosemary had gotten large in the garden on one side and the asparagus on the other, there wasn’t much room between them.

At this stage in the picture, we’d dug down to the level of the lowest concrete block and spread weed mat across the bottom to keep weeds from growing up inside.  There’s also weed mat along the sides to keep weeds from growing in from there, too.  Depending on how aggressive your weeds are, you may not need to do this part.  If you’re in a dry area or concerned about anything in the concrete blocks leaching into your soil, then a layer of plastic would be an option there.

Notice the rebar stakes stuck in the blocks.  It would be better if it were every hole but we didn’t have that many of the rebar stakes.  You could also use old pieces f metal pipe, short fence posts, pretty much whatever metal reinforcement you can find.   The wire bunny cage in the middle is being used to screen out miscellaneous roots and rocks from the soil being shoveled back into the garden.

That’s 1/2″ x 1″ screen for the bottom of the cage which is a nice size for screening garden soil.  Being part of a cage, it holds it up nicely, too.  If you don’t happen to have a small animal cage handy, you could make a wood frame and nail the screen to that.  It’s rather a lot of soil, buying screened soil would possibly get expensive.  For this particular garden, it was made with stuff laying around so we didn’t have to go buy anything specific for it.

Well, we did get some new seeds while on vacation.  There’s a seed bank in Petaluma, California which is just an astonishing place.  All heirloom and open pollinated seeds and varieties I’ve never heard of before!  Woot!  I don’t know if you enjoy seeds as souvenirs, but I think they’re great.

view looking out of the seed bank's windows

This was one of the highlights of my vacation in Napa, California.

interior view of the Petaluma seed bank

It used to be an old bank building, now it’s full of seeds.  All of them heirloom and open pollinated so I can grow them and save seeds and continue growing the same varieties.  Having all these seeds and nowhere to plant them had been a driving factor in building the new garden.  Okay, back to the garden now!

garden helper co-opted with a bribe of new seeds

All those new varieties of seeds were useful in bribing our local youth to help shift soil and blocks around.  We added in some bunny manure from the bunnies we have here along with the bribe of seeds so he was enthusiastic in helping.  A bit disrespectful sticking his tongue out at the camera, though.  Ah, youth these days, eh?  It’s so hard to get good help, too.   (insert grins and snickers here)

pile of soil behind garden being built

It was rather a lot of soil to move around, the pile there is what was dug out of the area to start with and still needs to be moved back into the raised bed area.  It was a lot of moving of soil.  Fortunately, once it’s built, it doesn’t need that level of effort again.

almost filled new raised bed garden

It doesn’t look all that much different from the previous picture, but it was hours of work to screen and fill.  These gardens have more soil in them than you’d expect.

I’d thought about lining the top row with solid flat concrete blocks, but didn’t have enough of them and decided to plant small plants in the concrete block holes instead.  Small low herbs like thyme will go well there.

At this point when the added soil was several inches down from the top, we started adding in the best soil as well as the amendments.   We have acidic soil, so crushed oyster shell was added.  We have really high rainfall which washes out the nutrients, so we added bio-char (crushed charcoal) to trap and hold the nutrients for the plant roots to find.  There’s also a lot of bunny manure added.  We have a whole herd of English angora bunnies who are very interested in garden greens so they do their part to help.

Planted five types of lettuce only three showed up
Missing two lettuces

All the little round things at the top of the soil is bunny manure.  It is a ‘cold’ manure and doesn’t need to be composted although by the time the greens are big enough to harvest it will have broken down quite a bit.

picture of a raised bed garden
New garden April 22nd, 2017

This is the garden after it’s been seeded and we put the little fence around it to keep the chickens out.  At least, we thought it’d keep the chickens out.  One still got in and scratched things around and ate a lot of the hulless oats we’d planted.  So now we have a fence across the front, too.  I may make one big fence panel to make it easier to put the fence up and down.  Or build a fence about six inches shorter so it can be gardened over easier.  I can reach and weed the front several feet but can’t reach the middle with the fence up.

That picture was taken on April 22nd, just after putting in the new seeds from the seed bank and a thyme plant at the front and Joey’s Tomato at the back.  The same person who gave me the Bleak Hall Sea Island White cotton seedlings also gave me what he swears is the world’s best tomato.  He had been growing it for ages so it’s acclimatized to the islands, but he was down to only six seeds so I’m growing it out for him and will hopefully get some new seed.

picture of tomato seedling

Interesting leaf shape and he says it’s an indeterminate variety so we should continue to get a lot of tomatoes from it once it starts.  I put it in the back corner so it can grow huge and escape out the side.

The other little sprig of green in the beginning garden is a small thyme plant.

the new garden at six weeks later

This is the garden about six weeks later.  As usual, I put in too much seed.  The lettuce still needs some severe thinning and the beans are at war with the tomato.  The ‘mater will last longer, though, so in a couple months the beans will die off and the ‘mater will still be there.  The beans provide nitrogen for the growth stage of the tomato.  They provide beans, too.

growing beans

These are ‘Good Mother Stallard’ soup beans, I should mark the first pods to be saved for seed later.  With things like beans that I want to make pods early on, I’ll save the first seeds.  With lettuces, which I want to take awhile before bolting, I’ll save the last seeds.

I should take another picture from the same angle as the first, I suppose.  Just to show what six weeks and a small excavator can do.

six weeks later

 

One Month & One Day

The bunnies aren’t getting any new drastic size changes now that they’re a month old.  When they’re very small, they seem to change quicker.  Now they look like small bunnies instead of baby bunnies, but they still don’t look as fluffy as they will in a couple of weeks.

little black bunny sticking out his tongue

Zookie Schwartz is still being his usual quirky self.  Today he stuck his tongue out at the camera.  Guess he wanted something tasty instead of a flash bulb.

red leaf lettuce in the garden

Not sure why the dark red color doesn’t come through in pictures.  There’s more green in the lettuce along side  of it, too.

crowded leaf lettuces

It’s about time to thin the lettuce in the garden.  Still no beans yet, though.  We’ve had a few messes of beet greens, those are quite tasty.

Down to the last forty eight hours before we can hope to see more baby bunnies!  It seems like it takes forever sometimes, but considering how long folks with horses and cows have to wait to see if there will be babies, I suppose we’d get no sympathy if we complain.

One Month Old!

One month old today!  They’re all still here and doing well, Cheiri is a good mum bunny.  They aren’t quite weaned, but almost.  Within another week or so, they’ll be entirely eating solid foods.

The little white one likes to sit on the nest box.  Either he’s part vulture or he wants to be in charge, I’m not sure which.

This is Gayle three days before hopefully there will be baby bunnies.  She’s kinda looking plump in the middle and she’s laying about instead of nibbling on the grasses.  She’s already built a nest so she doesn’t need to put the grasses into the nest.  Frequently does will get real lethargic a couple of days before birth.  Resting up for the big event, perhaps?  Three more days before we find out if there will be baby bunnies!  Hopefully the change in diet is working, we will see.

So other than bunnies, there was an Orchid Show in Hilo today.

Some of these orchids looked like inter-planetary aliens.

Others looked like flocks of butterflies.

 

Some were pretty orchids

big hot pink orchids

Some were pretty outrageously colored

big display of orchids

And there were just piles of them everywhere.  The whole Edith Kanakaole stadium (where they hold the Merrie Monarch hula competition) was full of orchids everywhere.  It smelled really nice.

And they were selling the orchids, too!  Folks were taking loads of them home.

They do this in Hilo every year, should you feel the need to get orchids to go with fuzzy bunnies.

3 weeks 4 days (Day 25)

baby bunnies on their nestbox
afternoon bunnies

Late afternoon all the baby bunnies are on top of their nest box leaving Cheiri to stay on the floor of the hutch.  She probably doesn’t mind being left alone.

baby bunnies in the mulberry leaves

Today was their first taste of mulberry leaves.

First Mulberry Leaves

Baby bunnies love mulberry leaves!  I was surprised at how eagerly they pounced on the leaves and started munching.  They’d left the supplement and went for the mulberry leaves instead.

little white bunny in mulberry leaves
REW in the mulberry

Guess I’ll prune the mulberry tree some more tomorrow.  The baby bunnies have mulberry branches along with the leaves, it will be interesting to see how much of the branch they eat.  Frequently, the bunnies will eat all the bark and leave the wood.  We will see tomorrow if there’s anything left.

baby bunny nibbling on leaves

3 Weeks 3 Days

little black bunnies munching on a ti leaf
Cheiri & Gomez’ babies at 3 weeks and 3 days old

They are almost beginning to look like big bunnies now.  They can get all their feet working properly and don’t stagger around like little drunken sailors anymore.  They’re eating ti leaves, grasses and the supplement.  They still get some drinks from mom bun, though.

mom bun and four black bunnies eating from a dish, little white bun upside down nursing on mum
dinner time

Most everybunny is eating from the food dish, except the little REW who prefers milk.  Right after this picture, Cheiri went off to the top o f the nest box for a bit.

black baby bunny in green food dish

The food dish is still bigger than the baby bunnies.  They manage to gt the food, though.

watermelon vine escaping out under the garden fence
garden escapee

We have our first garden escapee, too.  The watermelon vine has gotten out under the fence and seems to be headed for the back yard.  Probably just as well to let it wander.  That side of the garden is safe from lawn mowers and it will have more room out of the garden than in.

22 Days Old (3 Weeks, 1 Day)

baby bunnies on top of nestbox

Poor Cheiri!  Now her hiding place is covered with baby bunnies!

I think they got up there by sort of climbing onto the back ledge and then on top of the bit of wood there to fill in behind the nest box.  Not sure if I should make a ramp for them to get down or not.

They’re still gaining weight at pretty much the same rate so even if Cheiri isn’t feeding them as much as they’d like, they’re still growing.

beet greens from the garden

It’s been about five weeks and now there’s beet greens from the garden.  They steam up nicely like spinach.  We should be able to get a couple servings of greens from the garden about every other day now.  If we add in the lettuce, then every day.

Now that the garden is all put together and is fertilized with bunny berries and we save the seed from the best plants, it shouldn’t really have very many more costs involved.  Maybe a slightly increased water bill, but water isn’t expensive here and we have lots of rainfall.  So it won’t quite be free vegetables, but it won’t cost much to keep them on the table.  That’s the joys of bunny berries and heirloom seed.

Two weeks five days

baby bunny drinking from the automatic water system
Found the water nipple

They aren’t even three weeks old and they’re already using the automatic water system.  Usually I’ll hang a water bottle in their hutch low enough for them to reach it, but they’re already drinking from the water system.

two baby bunnies having dinner with mum, eating out of a dish
Dinner with mom

Two weeks and five days old and they’re already eating out of mom’s dish of treats.  It’s calf manna, black oil sunflower seeds and whole wheat and they seem to be nibbling on it pretty steady like.  They’re not even three weeks old yet, I’d expected them to still be fed only by mama, but she’s getting them eating and drinking on their own pretty quickly.

I figure rabbits in the wild would be eating a variety of things and baby bunnies would be nibbling on this and that as soon as they’re out of the nest.  So, if they want to eat big bunny food, well, who am I to tell them differently?  It’ll help take a lot of the load of feeding them off of the mom bun.  It also sets them up for being able to eat all sorts of things as adults.  Kinda like kids that play in the dirt get more antibodies.

assorted lettuces growing in the garden

The garden is doing well for just being over a month old.  We will probably be able to start getting lettuce to eat from it as well as perhaps some beet greens sometime next week.

Two weeks and a day

Stellar bunny day today!  Grandma came to visit!  Gomie’s mum dropped by to visit with her grandbunnies.

Grandbunny mum admiring the little white bunny
Grandbunny mum

The babies were thrilled to meet their grandma and one of the little black ones learned about ear scritches.  Total bliss!  Grandma brought Auntie, too, so there were enough hands for all the necessary pettings.   Poor Gomie had to share.

bunny bliss ear rubs

He just shut his eyes, relaxed and smiled.  Now he wants more ear rubs all the time, Grandma spoils the grandbunnies really quick!

tiny black baby bunny nibbling on grasses
first nibbles on grasses

It’s a little early, but they took from experimental nibbles on the grasses.  In a week or two, they’ll be eating grass right along with mum bunny.

black doe with a mouth full of wool in her nest box
Gayle building a nest

Gayle has gathered up all the wool that she’d tossed out of the nest area and is building a nest with it now.  I’ll give her some more nesting materials tomorrow and see what she does with it.   She’s awfully early for nest building, she’s not due until June 6th.

very red leaf lettuce

red leaf lettuceIt’s easy to weed red lettuce!  This is some of the reddest lettuce I’ve ever had in the garden.  Hopefully soon we will be able to make some salads.

 

13 Day Old Baby Bunnies

They’re getting close to two weeks old.

They’re walking around better today, less like little drunken sailors and more coordinated.  With the dropped nesting areas, they can pop in and out of the nest easily so they’ve been exploring.

little white bunny out of the nest
Out of the nest

They burrow around the nest more, too.  Instead of staying in a neat and tidy pile near the front, they are burrowing through everywhere and it was hard to weigh them today.  I think one got weighed three times since it was hard to keep the ones who had been weighed separate from the ones who had.

baby bunnies in nest with ears up
Eyes and ears everywhere

Pretty soon mom bun will be hiding on top of the nesting box since the little ones are now able to crawl out of the nest and find her if she’s on the lower level of the hutch.

She’s maintaining condition although the next ten days will be the hardest ones on her.  The babies are all growing really fast so she has to provide a lot of nutrition for them.  Once they start nibbling on feed, then it won’t be as hard on her.  I gave them a bit of grass today to see if they’d be interested in it, but it’s too soon for them to nibble grass.  Cheiri liked it, though.

young garden with veggies sprouting
3 weeks & 5 days

The garden is doing well considering it’s only powered by bunny manure.  It’s about time to thin the romaine.  Between saving seeds and using bunny manure for fertilizer, there shouldn’t be any more expenses for this garden now that it’s all set up.  Although, we didn’t buy anything specific for the garden, it was put together out of stuff we already had laying about the place.

First weeding of the garden

With a raised bed garden, it’s easy enough to pick out the weeds when they’re still very small.

raised bed garden with lettuces half grown
Three and a half weeks since seeding

The tomato has flowers starting on it, although that wasn’t started from seed in the garden but was put in as a seedling.  The beets are doing well, three of the five types of lettuce are thriving with the other two AWOL.  The beans are doing well, at least, the ones that sprouted pointing up.  That one that was curled down into the soil never got itself straightened up.  It will probably be time to thin the lettuces pretty soon, I’m sure the bunnies will help with getting rid of the ones thinned out.

garden sprouting
three and a half weeks

Joey’s tomato is being covered by Good Mother Stallard beans.  There’s one Hanby’s watermelon in front of the beans.  Some all green sugar beets in the back on the right, some other beets with the red stem in front, some carrots and the lightest color of lettuce.  Pretty fast for three and a half weeks, I think?  No fertilizer, just bunny manure.

Day Seven Baby Bunnies

six days old English angora bunny sleeping while getting weighed
seven days old English angora bunny sleeping while getting weighed

The little Ruby Eyed White is now the biggest baby.  He/she is 4.3 ounces while the next largest black one is 3.8 ounces.  They’d been tied for the past several days but now the REW is solidly ahead.  We will see if that changes in the upcoming days.   The little REW started at 2.3 ounces so there’s been an increase of almost double the starting weight.  This one will be a keeper.

Six days old and sleeping with their feet in the air
Seven days old and sleeping with their feet in the air

There’s everybunny in their nest, sound asleep with their little feet in the air and all in a heap.  The REW is now pretty much solid white with undertones of pink instead of bright pink all over.  The blacks area also starting to grow in their coat, but it’s not as obvious.

Seems every day something strange can happen in Bunny Land.  Sydney and Gomez live in a hutch off to the side that isn’t connected to the automatic water system.  They’re the only two who have water bottles which if the whole herd was on water bottles would take a long time to fill twice a day.  Anyway, so I get their water bottle, unscrew the cap and start filling it up at the water spigot at the end of the hutch.  And a house gecko pops out of the water bottle!  How did he get in there?  He’s not the biggest house gecko I’ve ever seen, but he’s no baby, either.

gecko who was in the water bottle
gecko who was in the water bottle

It’s been dry lately, so probably the gecko was looking for water and pushed up past the steel ball at the end of the water spout?

Spout and gecko, guess he'd fit
Spout and gecko, guess he’d fit

The spout is closer to the camera so it looks pretty large in relationship to the gecko but I think the gecko could get his head in the spout.  Not sure how he managed to get himself past the steel ball that’s in the spout, though.  I put him in the garden, the house already has a lot of the newer green geckos that are pretty aggressive towards the brown ones.

I think it's been about twenty days since the garden was seeded. It's starting to begin to look like a garden.
I think it’s been about twenty days since the garden was seeded. It’s starting to begin to look like a garden.

The raised bed garden has started taking off and is beginning to look like a garden.  I think it’s been about twenty days since it was seeded.  I did have to replant two of the lettuce varieties and some of the hull less oats although the oats was because a chicken got in and ate the seeds the day after they were sown.

We have roller to make rolled oats (oatmeal) we just need oats that don’t have hulls on them to use it.  It will be interesting to see if these oats will be able to be grown and  used for oatmeal.  The bunnies will like the leaves, I’ll get the oatmeal, although they can have some too.  At the moment, it’s just being grown to increase the seed and not grown for consumption just yet.

orchids growing by the bunny hutch
orchids growing by the bunny hutch

Gratuitous flower picture.  This is the orchid growing in front of the bunny hutch so it gets quite a bit of bunny manure washed down onto it.  It’s an ‘oncidium’  orchid and fairly common in Hawaii.  Folks call them ‘dancing lady’ orchids (partly because that’s a LOT easier to spell AND pronounce than ‘oncidium’) because the flowers look like little dancing ladies.  This version doesn’t have a scent, although the purple and white version smells like chocolate.

Day Six Plump Babies

six day old baby bunnies
Plump babies at Day Six

Day Six and all the babies are still there!  Excellent work Cheiri!  They are nice and plump and warm in their nest.

rabbit nest set into floor of hutch
Dropped Nest Box

Cheiri is quite the chow hound these days.  She gets her special mom bun mix in her green dish and is usually waiting in the morning for her first morning snack.  She has all the organic alfalfa pellets she wants as well as ti leaves, but she’d rather chow on the calf manna, whole wheat and black oil sunflower seeds.

You can see the babies’ nest there at the front of the dropped nest box.  There’s holes under the edges of the box so they can get back in on three sides.  Cheiri will also be able to get away from the babies in about three weeks when she wants to start weaning them since she will be able to jump up to the top of the box and they won’t.

raised bed garden sprouting since planted 19 days ago
new sprouts

The new raised bed garden is sprouting well.  Back in the left corner there are Good Mother Stallard beans around Joey’s tomato.  The beans add nitrogen to the soil which the tomato should appreciate.  Most things seem to be sprouting well, if they show up.   We have two varieties of leaf lettuce which seem to be AWOL and a lot of the hull less oats seem to have been eaten by chickens.  It was just a small patch for seed so we didn’t lose much, but now that the chickens are fenced out, I’ll replant.

Planted five types of lettuce only three showed up
Missing two lettuces

This raised bed is right outside the kitchen door so it’s a salad garden, hopefully.  Well, except for that small patch of the oats.  There’s five types of leaf lettuces and they were planted starting with the bright green on one side and goes to the darkest red on the side the most sun will be on.  Red lettuces handle sun better than green ones.

The five types are a bright green leafy head lettuce called Gentilina, I’m pretty sure that was the first one and it seems to have showed up.  The next one, I think was Crisp Mint which is a green romaine, it doesn’t seem to have sprouted more than one seed.  Then the middle one is Cimmaron which is a reddish romaine.  That one showed up really well.  Then the Beleah Rose doesn’t seem to be there at all, it’s a red leaf type.  The Garnet Rose red romaine is showing up well.

It’s been nineteen days since the garden was planted and I can suspect the chickens ate a lot of the oats, but I doubt they would selectively eat lettuce seeds?  I’ll replant the seeds and see what happens.   These are all Baker Creek seed packed for 2017 so they should be good, I’ll try again and see what happens.  Maybe those two varieties take longer to sprout?

 

Fresh baby bunnies!

two baby bunnies in nest
Just born!

Cheiri and Gomez are now parents!  Woot!  This is Cheiri’s second litter and Gomie’s first.

The pink one will hopefully grow up to be an albino bunny – white with ruby eyes which we usually call a ‘REW’ or ‘roo’.  The black one will be a black bunny.   If they survive, there’s all sorts of things that can go wrong when they’re this young.

When this picture was taken, the pink one was about half an hour to forty five minutes old and the black one about four minutes old.   The picture was taken about twenty minutes ago, so there may be more, it’s still early yet.  Not quite sure how long it takes a doe to complete a litter.

I’d gone out early this morning to check on the buns and Cheiri had the little roo baby.  I’d given her some calf manna and black oil sunflower seeds as a treat and she was chowing down on them while I checked her nest.  There was just the one baby at the time and since she was chowing down, I thought perhaps there’d be just one.

Then I went out to take a picture of the baby and she was in the nest so I left her alone and watered the new garden instead.

raised bed garden with new sprouts
New Garden seeded two weeks ago

It doesn’t take too long to water a small garden and when I went back to see if Cheiri wanted some ti and mulberry leaves she was out of the nest area and there was a new baby in the nest.  Yay!

This is the first litter we’ve had in about a year and the first since we’ve switched to organic alfalfa pellets.   Although, Cheiri would have been on the old diet for the first week of her pregnancy, but Gomez was always eating a different brand of pellet.  I don’t know yet if this would have happened anyway or if it’s the result of the new diet.

Cheiri had been with Gomez for a few days and had she had a litter from the first day she was with him, it would have been two days ago.  So of the five bred does, she’d have had less time pregnant (by two days) at the time of the switch over to the new organic diet.

It’s so good to see baby bunnies again!  Hopefully these will be fed and turn out well.  Baby bunnies are extremely delicate.  If they do well, we will probably keep both of them unless they’re both bucks, then one buck may go to a new home.

Bunny Berries!

Another reason for keeping bunnies is so there will be a ready supply of ‘bunny berries’ when setting up a new garden.

picture of a raised bed garden

New garden April 22nd, 2017It may not look like much yet, but hopefully there will be all sorts of things sprouting there really soon.

It’s about eight feet by four feet and 32″ deep at the front.  It’s been dug into the hillside and then lined with weed mat to keep weeds out.  It’s a somewhat appalling amount of work for the size of garden that it is, but once it’s set up  it’s pretty much good for years.  It never gets walked on so it doesn’t get packed down.

There’s a layer of bunny manure, which I like to call ‘bunny berries’ at the top two layers of bricks.  That’s 16″ deep fertilized with bunny manure.  There’s some oyster shell scattered in the lower levels, I should probably put some on the top, too.  We have fairly acidic soil and the oyster shell mellows that out.

I should also dig in ‘bio-char’ which is basically just charcoal.  That traps the nutrients (just like a charcoal filter traps things in a water system) and holds them for the plant roots to find.  We have a lot of rainfall, so nutrients wash out quickly.

Tomato from seeds given by Joey from Maui
Tomato from seeds given by Joey from Maui

The first plant in the new garden is a potato leafed tomato plant that was sprouted from seeds that were given to me by Joey on Maui.  He enthused about it and he gets interesting plants so we will see how it does.  It’s supposed to be a really tasty tomato so I’ll grow it out all by itself until I can get some more self pollinated seeds.  Then I may plant another variety of tomato or two and not save seeds from them since they’d cross pollinate.

The fence is around the garden to keep the chickens out.  Once the plants get established, a chicken wandering through isn’t overly terrible.  Not to be encouraged, but not terrible.  At this stage when the seeds are just sowed, a chicken can scratch them all up and cause chaos.

There’s the Joey’s Tomato, Good Mother Hubbard beans, sugar beets, big cylindrical beets, another green bean, kyoto carrots, tendercrisp celery, red curly kale, a red and a white short day length onion, five different types of lettuce and some hulless oats.  Just a little bit of each, some of them – such as the oats – is mostly to produce more seed.

One of the main reasons I’ve been working on setting up this garden has been a place to grow greens for the bunnies.  There have been no litters for the past several breedings and I’ve been suspecting it’s feed related so it seemed a good idea to grow bunny food.  Then I’d know exactly what’s in it.  However, we went past the Waimea feed store and:

picture of a label from a bag of organic alfalfa pellets
ORGANIC alfalfa pellets

ORGANIC alfalfa pellets!  This should be entirely GMO and RoundUP free!  Yay!  We will see if the bunnies start having litters again when fed with organic feed instead of the other feed that we couldn’t find out where it was sourced.

They don’t seem to like these pellets as much as the others, though, they seem to toss a lot of them out of the feeders.  Although that may be because they are also getting some Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (usually just called BOSS among folks discussing feed) and calf manna along with the pellets so they dig through the pellets to get the other tasty bits.  Which then wastes the pellets since they fall through the hutch floor.  Sigh!  Guess I need to get some small separate feeders for the little bits of BOSS and calf manna.

Well, it’s a start, we may not see the May 4th bunnies since they’ve just started being fed the new feed, but hopefully the ones after that will show up.  I wonder if counting  your bunnies before they’re born is as bad as counting your chickens before they’re hatched?

Happy Spring!

Not that we pay all that much attention to seasons, but spring is a good time of year.  More sunshine = more happiness!

Hillside Farm bunny hutches April 2017
Hillside Farm bunny hutches April 2017

It almost looks like they have lights in their hutch now.  Some new neighbors moved into the deserted house next door and they’ve been cleaning and clearing.  They’ve thinned the mock orange hedge behind the bunny hutch so now light comes through.   The bunnies should have more ventilation and a better view now.

CMU block garden dug into hillside
New really raised bed garden

It being springtime and all, it seems a good time to set up a new garden area.  I’ve found raised bed gardens to be really productive.  Not only is it a smaller area to water and fertilize, but harvesting is much easier when you don’t have to fuss around at ground level.

The wire bunny cage is in there being used as a screen to screen out rocks and roots and such from the soil that was dug out of there to make room for the new garden.   The soil was dug out of the area and weed mat was spread across the bottom and sides of the raised bed.  Makes it ever to much easier to maintain when there’s not weeds moving in from the bottom and sides later.  The new garden area will be the area inside the black liner.  It’s roughly eight and a half by four and a half feet so it’s a pretty small garden, but with enough water and fertilizer, it can grow quite a bit.

The other good thing about these particular raised beds is that they are also terracing the hillside.   We are ‘Hillside Farm’ after all, one would expect some hillside in there somewhere and the gardens are going in pretty much the steepest part of the yard.  This is just the backyard ‘farm’, we did used to have a real farm on a hillside, but the bunnies were the only productive thing on the leased farm land so we gave up the farmland lease and now are backyard bunny micro-farmers.  Much closer to home and easier to take care of and no tractors necessary, although I do miss the backhoe.  Anyway, enough of history and now back to the new garden.

The front of the garden is four layers of bricks.  Each layer is 8″ tall, so that’s 32″ in front.  A lovely height to pick lettuce, don’t you think?  The back of the garden will be one layer high, all of 8″.  Considering the garden is only about three and a half concrete blocks deep, it rises two feet in four and a half feet.  Guess I should put some steps along the sides going up.  There may be another raised garden bed on the hillside behind it.  Either that or a short retaining wall of some sort.  Not sure what the overall rise is up to that mac nut tree, maybe thirty foot rise?

the start of a raised bed garden dug into the side of a hill as a terrace
New Garden April 2017

That’s as high as the front wall of the new garden will be and you can’t see from the photo, but it’s halfway full of soil.  The big pile in the picture is actually behind the new garden.  The new bunny hutch will eventually be up the hill under that dark tree up there.  That’s a macadamia nut tree and makes nice dense shade.  We’ve got a road to up there on the other side of the property and will be building a house up there at some point, but all of this is eventual sorts of stuff.

If the rain would stop today, then more work could be done on the garden, but it may be several days before more gardening gets done.  Fortunately, we don’t have much deadline on when to plant around here.

Sea Island white cotton

Well, tis the season, I guess.  For cotton, anyway.  😉

It’s going on just over 506 days since the Bleak Hall Sea Island white cotton was planted and it’s still out there making bolls.   The first bolls showed up long ago, somewhere around day 148, I think it was.  Since then, it’s just kinda been making bolls.  Never a lot of them but usually a few here and there.  This is how much was out there today.

Bleak Hall Sea Island white cotton

I didn’t count how many, maybe eight bolls or so.  The seeds are still inside so it’s still densely packed in the photo above.

It gets fluffy when the seeds are picked out.  It has a shine to it, too, even though it’s cotton.  It’s also almost got a bit of crimp to it, but not much of that.  It’s very soft and almost silky.  I don’t know if that’s from it being freshly picked or if it’s because it’s Sea Island cotton.

These are how clean the seeds are when they’re picked out.   Each boll has three lobes and there’s multiple seeds in each lobe so there’s quite a few seeds in cotton.

Well, I’ll go spin it up now and see how it goes.