Category Archives: Garden

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.