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Gardening and Small Scale Livestock

Read all the posts written about gardening and small scale livestock.

  • Cue the scary music I am sure a lot of readers here have seen a photo that is out there on the ‘net’ showing a huge boulder with a tree growing right up through the center of it as an illustration of ‘paper beats rock’ or something like that. But in the garden (or at least the gardens that most ...
  • Garden update: early harvests Well, here we are in the early stages of our garden here at Chez Siberia. We’re now long past the early ‘spindly’ stages of things; now the garden is really shaping up. We’ve got a couple of odd empty spots where certain seeds did not come up or the rabbits have chewed things down. We ...
  • Thoughts on a Sunday night Summertime is very busy for everyone, but here are a few thoughts. 1. This is a sawhorse. One of the things on my ‘to do’ list (which is becoming more urgent as time goes on, as I get older) is getting more involved in woodworking. On an odd chance, I searched on ‘wood working classes’ ...
  • Catching up: the garden This is not a very exciting photo but it does give a pretty good indication of what, to the casual observer, is our garden this year. We got started late, got invaded by rabbits, got very little rain in late May and early June. So, to thwart the rabbits, at least until things like corn ...
  • When do I transplant seedlings? If you are just starting out growing plants from seeds on your own, you might have some questions about how quickly or soon to transplant to the next size pot. The secret here, to be blunt, is to concentrate on what’s going on AT THE BOTTOM; not what is happening at the top. As long as ...
  • Weekend thoughts on the garden Since it is literally in the low 40s outside, and raining, and generally miserable (we don’t call this place Che Siberia for nuthin’ folks), your Aunt Toby is forced to working inside today to get whatever can get done, done, so that when the weather improves, which it will eventually, we are ready to go. ...
  • Getting started with gardening I hear more and more from people who want to get into gardening, feel overwhelmed, don’t know where to start and so on. For the ‘I want to garden’ part, I say, “Hurray!! Another convert!” For the ‘overwhelmed, don’t know where to start part,’ I say, “Ok, pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and let’s ...
  • Getting things started in the garden Well, spring really sneaked up on us here at Chez Siberia (and probably a lot of other places as well). One moment, we have six inches of snow with freezing temperatures and the next… 50 degrees and sunshine. Nothing like that to wake up the ‘we’d better start the tomatoes’ feelings. Now, all long-range weather forecasts ...
  • Searching the seed catalogs For all I love the internet and seed sites (I have a very long history with seed companies..we won’t even go into that), there is something totally different about reading a catalog. I find I get so much more out of what’s on offer and this year, because the long range weather forecast is so ...
  • Starting this year’s garden So, there you are, with the pile of seed catalogs (or the URLs of home gardener seed companies and your computer) and feeling overwhelmed. You’d like to have a garden this year. You’d like to grow more of the vegetables that your family eats (fruits too, if you are feeling ambitious), but there are so ...
  • Field of dreams — with water Either we have the biggest gophers on earth at Chez Siberia, or this is a project gone mad, right? One of the reasons (rationalizations might be a better word) for buying Chez Siberia in the first place is that there was enough property to put in fruit trees. We’ve always wanted to have fruit trees. So, ...
  • Fall Gardening: Evaluating how things went This week was, to certain extent, the ‘last hurrah’ for the garden here at Chez Siberia. We had several ‘killing frosts’ here – this is the sort of frost where basically it coats all the grass in whiteness and crunches when you walk on it. It also will literally melt everything that is not hardy ...
  • We interrupt this raincoat for a tomato For folks who have arrived, hoping that this is actually ‘The Further Adventures of a Zip-out Lining,” my apologies. Other things have gotten in the way, so you get this, a humble review of how to save tomato seeds. Now, the picture up at the top is of a tomato, a very lovely tomato which originates ...
  • Timely suggestions OK, folks, sometimes it is good to, as they say in the classical music biz, ‘recapitulate the theme’ before we go on to the ‘variations.’ In your Aunty’s case this weekend, it hit me (literally; the calendar fell off the fridge) that we are now half-way through August, which means many things to many families: 1. ...
  • Stalking the Wild Spaghetti Squash Shhhhhhhh. We’ve now encountered the elusive spaghetti squash in her native habitat. If you look carefully, you can see her crouching here, under the large spiny leaves toward the back. Quiet now; we don’t want to spook her. As you can see, she is taking what is referred to as ‘the spaghetti squash protective squat’, the ...
  • Currant Affair What you see in the photo here are what are referred to as black currants, one of the members of the ribes family (which also includes red and white currants and gooseberries), which are a woody flowering plant native to Central and Northern Europe. Red currants are much much smaller (which makes them tedious to ...
  • Chicken Tractor into… something else Remember this structure? This is our version of a ‘chicken tractor’, those moveable bird shelters which those of us who raise chickens (and in this case, mini turkeys) out on pasture. They are very useful things indeed and we made ours out of pvc pipe because of the size and weight issues. Now, PVC will ...
  • Of Mothers Day, Squirrels, and other spring garden stuff Good morning and Happy Mothers (and Grandmothers and Great-grandmas and people who care for kids everywhere – I think I covered it). Toughest and best job in the world. Do something really nice for yourself today. My version of ‘doing something nice for myself’ involved working in the garden. And it occurred to me that ...
  • Seedlings Will Not Wait There is one fact about starting seedlings early yourself – sometimes no matter what you do, they just take off and there you are, more than a month before you can even think about putting them into the ground (and at Chez Siberia, we’re talking probably 5 weeks from now unless I decide to throw ...
  • On and on in the garden For those of you who are in Zone 5 and higher, my situation really does not fit. I’m sure you’ve been planting out in your gardens for weeks, if not the last month or so. And for those folks in Zone 7 or 8, you are coming to the end of your winter growing season, ...
  • Gardening when it’s too cold to garden Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am one impatient gardener. Last year, we got lucky and by this time, it had been in the 60s for several weeks. No such luck this year. The photo at the top was taken about a week ago. faced with a garden covered in snow and ...
  • Getting a box When your dear Aunty was very young, I got into the habit (as some comic in years past put it) of ‘sending away’. Now, of course, this was years before the internet was a glimmer in Al Gore’s eye, and even years before true mail order as it became known became a huge industry. It ...
  • Garden Planning: Where is the shade going to fall? Something which, even after 35 years plus of gardening together, the DH and I are still fine tuning is the issue of where to put stuff to grow, keeping in mind the path of the sun versus the orientation of our garden beds. In the picture above, taken this morning at about 11:30, you ...
  • Ginger: Did it work? Well, your Aunt Toby has been out and about and across the big pond and back again and I have absolutely no excuses for no postings but that is the way it goes. Lots to cover. In an early May episode, I decided to do a little experiment to see if I could, in chilly, ...
  • Garlic: Music wins again Last year, at just about this time, I dug up the garlic and we discussed how to pick which garlic and which cloves to save to plant in the fall for the next year. How to choose garlic for seed And I remarked in that post about how fantastically the variety called ‘Music’ is. And you ...
  • You wouldn’t happen to have a snath on you, would you? In the average American homeowner’s garage, there are all sorts of tools and machines. Some are pretty simple, like shovels or rakes (one step up from a stick, actually); others are more complex and usually run on some sort of motor or engine. They many times are used to cut something – grass, brush, ...
  • Bee Report Well, the weather straightened out enough that the DH could go out and check on the bees. Usually, he’d have gone out in the beginning of May but it was cold and rainy and this is not only not good for bees but everyone would have been home, so to speak, so it makes it ...
  • Catching up OK, Peoples! In our last episode Honey, I broke the tomato we discussed how to use ‘rooting hormone’ (in this case, the powder form) to try to save the broken-off tops of two tomato plants. That was (ordinarily I don’t bother with dates, but in this case, I think it’s illustrative) June 6th. Today is ...
  • Honey, I broke the tomato There are certain facts of gardening life that are right up there with ‘this won’t hurt a bit’ and ‘the check is in the mail.” You can absolutely count on the fact that if you have not gotten the plants into the garden at the optimal time, a massive weather system will choose to ...
  • Gardening Weird Science Forever — it’s a jungle out there Last year, as readers might recall, I planted seeds I had gotten when I ‘married’ some daylillies out in my garden. I got little plants, which I put into pots for the summer last year and then toward the end of the summer, I planted them out into their own little nursery bed. Saving and ...
  • Make Friends With Ginger Gingerbread. Ginger Snaps. Ginger Tea. Asian dishes with ginger. Candied Ginger as a confection. A thousand and one uses of this member of the Zingeberaceae family (which also includes turmeric, cardamom, and Galangal, which is also referred to as ‘Thai Ginger’). It smells good and tastes…well, until you put in enough to make the dish ...
  • Putting seeds in early: Is it worth the trouble? This spring in the northeast has been totally crazy. We had about ten days at the beginning of March that were heavenly. Daytime temperatures in the 60s or 70s. Unbelievable. I’d already put seeds into one of the beds, watered them well and covered them up with a double layer of ‘Remay’(tm), which is a ...
  • Garden Planning: The end dictates the beginning Not that Aunt Toby would ever discourage anyone from gardening (digging around in the dirt is your Aunty’s favorite sport), but let’s be realistic about this: If what you are looking to end up with this year from your gardening is a houseful of food, then a whole lot of thought has to go ...
  • What to do with volunteers? Volunteers in a vegetable garden come from several sources: The odd tomato that went bad, fell to the ground and was forgotten over the winter. The random potato or potato piece that had enough of an eye and potato left to sprout again in the spring. The onion set that didn’t grow very ...
  • If You’re Putting This Off, Do it Now: Pruning Apple Trees This winter and spring have been nuts everywhere. Here in Upstate New York, we’ve had the driest and warmest winter that I can remember. Considering we had horrific hurricanes and flooding last August and September, It really makes your head swim (so to speak). Which makes doing anything in the garden according to some ...
  • Crystal Ball in the Garden Well, as is my habit, I started taking soil temperatures in the beds in the garden yesterday and we’re in the 35-41 degrees F range. That means that we can think seriously about putting plastic or our oh-so-high-tech ‘left overs from the greenhouse’ big pieces of glass over the beds to warm things up even ...
  • Don’t Cry – Grow an onion At this point in the gardening year, for our area (Upstate New York), things have actually shut down. We’ve had night time temperatures of 16 degrees F. (which is a killing frost in ANYONE’S book), the soil temperatures are now in the low 40s and though we have been getting some daytime temperatures in ...
  • Fall Gardening Chores Good afternoon, my little cheese puffs – it is time today to talk about ‘putting things off,’ or procrastinating. This year, in late October in the Mid-Atlantic states, we got a little lesson in how Mother Nature can flex her muscles. We can’t really complain up at Chez Siberia – all we got out ...
  • Saving Garlic For Seed – How to choose Greetings, my little cheeseburgers! Here at Chez Siberia, it’s harvest season and this weekend, your Aunty dug up the garlic that she planted last fall. It’s always fascinating to see how things have done, taking into account the weather over the summer. To reprise, this summer weather was not the best. Wet early, then hot ...
  • Grow Bag: Proof in the Pudding About a month ago, we discussed the fact that a) we’d gone past any growing space in the garden, b) I had huge numbers of basil plants that needed to go someplace, and c) what to do. The DH created ‘grow bags’ (which is a product which seemed to exist about 20 years ago ...
  • Sometimes you don’t get what you pay for Earlier this spring (is it still officially spring?), I started some seeds under glass. And I very carefully wrote down on a diagram what I had planted from the seed packets. There was spinach and winter lettuce, mixed cabbages and Soloist Chinese Cabbage. Now, the reason I got those seeds is that I really love ...
  • When All Composts Are Not Created Equal Just because something is labeled ‘compost’ does not mean it’s safe for you or for the plants.
  • Gardening on the Wild Side Time was, when we thought our biggest garden menace were the ground hogs, though we have always found that if we ‘encouraged’ outdoor kitties in the area, the amount of détente that could be achieved in the tooth and claw area was enough to establish a certain balance in our garden. Not that I ...
  • Plants and no place to put them? Heel them in. I know it’s hard sometimes to remember “BTI” (Before the Internet) but there was a time when what people had going for them was referred to as ‘sending away’. Even before ‘direct mail’, there were box tops, advertisements in magazines, and catalogs (remember those?). Even before credit cards were opened up in a big way ...
  • Why Where You Get Your Food is Important: The Glow in the Dark Edition The explosion at the Japanese nuclear power plant makes knowing where your food is grown and how clean it is more important than ever.
  • Throw a little science into the garden mix OK, so Aunt Toby just knows that you’ve got this gargantuan pile of seed catalogs next to the chair or on your night stand and the color photos are just amazing. And your list is growing longer and longer and you are just going crazy with the thoughts of the snow off the ground ...
  • Something to remember when you think about next year’s garden Don’t give up on your garden early in the winter; there are things that will still be good.
  • Seed Catalogs: Still Worth Reading! paper seed catalogs are still worth getting and reading, if for no other reason than the educational factor.
  • Kale, Kale, The Gang’s All Here I feel that as a public service, I have to tell you something: Sometimes, you just have to do things because they are good for you. You may learn to like them later. That is the way it is with kale. Just eat it. Find a way to eat it that works for you, but ...
  • Not over ’til it’s over: Fall Garden There are things you can sow in the garden, even after the frost looks as if it has killed everything.
  • Next Year’s Garden – Today! Onions I know for many people, growing things in the garden is strictly done on the ‘what costs me a lot in the store’ aspect or ‘specialty things that I can’t get locally’ aspect. So, there are a lot of people who will grow 6 different varieties of heirloom tomatoes, but who won’t grow potatoes or ...
  • Grape Jam, or My Kitchen Aid is Busted The DH and I have been at this marriage/housekeeping thing for a very long time, but even we have not done everything. This year, I became very sensitive to the whole ‘is there no food that doesn’t have high fructose corn syrup in it?” thing and decided that since PB&J is the “go to” ...
  • Picking a Cantaloupe here’s how to pick a cantaloupe.
  • Garlic Update Garlic is easy to grow and easy to put away for the winter.
  • Turkeys do NOT gobble Turkey noises.
  • Catching up out in the barnyard more updates on raising turkeys and lambs.
  • Ding! Time to get a jump on a fall garden OK, it’s mid-July here at Chez Siberia and it’s been horrifically hot. And dry. And the garden is not, shall we say, looking its best. We’re still harvesting but there are parts of beds that have been picked over, harvested out. There are lettuces that have bolted. (the photo above is basil – which does ...
  • Raising Small Livestock: The Devil’s in the Details A lot of people would like to raise some sort of livestock – whether it’s chickens or pigs or lambs or whatever – but they are stopped by lack of experience and fear. Actually, raising animals is pretty simple (not necessarily easy – which is a whole different deal): – Make sure they have ...
  • Sheep: From the Hooves Up As Aunt Toby said before, there are a couple of items in terms of raising sheep that if you get them right, everything else pretty much falls into place. One of the most important is keeping hooves trimmed. Years ago, I attended a talk by a ruminant specialist from Cornell, who had done a lot ...
  • Want Sheep? Learn This. So, you are thinking about raising sheep. Or, maybe it’s goats. It’s probably NOT cattle because just the thought of raising a cow or a beef animal is so daunting – we’re talking a creature that ends up weighing almost as much as a small car. If one of those babies steps on your foot, ...
  • Electro-Netting for Sheep And, I’m back. Sort of. The orthopedist’s visit last week was a success and I’m assigned to start physical therapy tomorrow. I have to admit that I’m not really looking forward to this. It’s going to hurt and there is no way to step around that fact but it’s the only way I’m going to ...
  • and this is why I never put out tomatoes before Memorial Day That photo was taken this morning about 8:00 a.m. EST. It was 31 degrees F and very windy. Yesterday, we had rain, sleet, and obviously snow overnight. Anyone in our area who had already put out tomatoes, peppers, or eggplants, and not with protection, woke up this morning with damaged plants. There are all ...
  • Tool Repair: Garden Fork It’s spring (except if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case, it’s fall, but this will probably be useful for you folks too). And you want to work in the garden and go to wherever you store your garden tools (Well, let’s hope they got stored and not left to be covered with ...
  • One Year Later – A Report Literally one year ago, I posted this report on the garden: End of March Report Now, if you’d like to read that whole thing, go right ahead, but here are the three important bullet points: By the end of March, 2009: We’d had a very dry spring so far. The Rhubarb was already up. The soil temperatures all over the ...
  • Early Spring Gardening One of the things I find really attractive about gardening is that there is always something happening – even at a place like Chez Siberia (where parts of the property are Zone 2 in terms of what will survive). This week was no exception. You’d think that nothing is happening in the garden here but ...
  • Bringing Spring Sometimes, Aunt Toby is wont (yes, wont) to taking things into her knobby but capable hands and not taking ‘no’ for an answer. This year’s winter has been, for practically the entire Continental United States, one long sitting through of “Ground Hog Day”. Awful. Miserable. Interminable. And I looked at the calendar this weekend and ...
  • The Little Red Hen Moves Far be it from me to make the claim that Aunt Toby and the DH are experts at raising chickens or hatching chickens with a broody hen. Chickens, as I have noted before, are the ‘gateway drug’ of livestock raising: as long as you can keep them save, fed and watered, you are good ...
  • Well, let’s not brood about it We have a hen that has gone broody so we’re allowing her to do what is coming naturally – sit on and hatch out eggs.
  • If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Is there anyone in the world who has not seen “Avatar”? Well, if you haven’t, what I’m going to say is NOT a spoiler. For those of you who have seen it, think of the scene where Sully first sees his avatar in the tank…floating there, in the moisture….happy..peaceful..content… This photo shows something that is ...
  • It’s Later Than You Think: Order Garden Seeds Now One good reason to order your garden seeds now: last year, seed sellers reporting running our by March.
  • Plant ‘em if you’ve got ‘em Spring is months away. One way to get a little bit of spring going is to start some seeds for greens as a window sill garden.
  • White House Garden Enters New Season! The White House has now installed grow tunnels on the beds in the garden!
  • Horseradish: From Root to Plate How to cook, prepare and keep horseradish.
  • Resolved Not To Have Resolutions A final look at the year.
  • Catalog Time…Again Planning for choosing seeds for the garden.
  • No chix-sicles at Chez Siberia Time to move the chickens inside for the winter from their outdoor pasture traveling pens.
  • Second Chances: Not Dead Yet in the Garden More on fall gardening: frosts
  • Is There a Coffee Table Book in Aunty Toby’s Future? Amazing civil engineering bahavior in chickens.
  • Are We There Yet? Gardening Means Not Being Let Off the Hook in the Fall There is still time enough to do gardening in the fall, if you plan well in the spring and summer.
  • Forget Wall Street: Invest in Potatoes Potatoes are a great investment of garden space.
  • WMD: Zucchini Time Good things to do with zucchini.
  • Egg-sactly What We Were Looking For Everything you ever wanted to know about eggs.
  • Goodbye to chickens…Hello to chicken Getting chickens into the freezer.
  • I’ll Have Some Mustard With My Slugs, Please… A plant that seems to protect other garden plants from slugs – by attracting the slugs to itself.
  • Aunt Toby Hits The Big Time A photo Aunt Toby took is now being used to promote the Philadelphia Flower Show.
  • Keeping Up With the Taters.. What to watch for when growing potatoes to know what is happening under the ground.
  • Loose Ends and Housekeeping Updates on the chicks, strawberries, et al.
  • Want Peppers in Northern Growing Zones? Give ‘em a Hot Foot! How to grow peppers in short season and cool areas.
  • Chicks on Grass!! First experiences with putting chicks out on grass.
  • Is cheap, confinement raised meat lighting the fuse on the next flu pandemic? How confinement raised pork is connected to H1N1.
  • Early Frost: The Gardeners’ Blues Fighting early spring frosts.
  • How Some Hot Little Chicks are Going to Heal the Land at Chez Siberia Planning for moving chicks out onto the pasture.
  • What’s a Weed? What’s My Seed? For beginning gardeners, the hardest thing is that they cultivate, plant the seeds and then all sorts of things come up. How can you identify what YOU planted versus the weed seeds that are in the soil and are germinating?
  • Soil Warming Up! It’s worth it to cover garden beds with plastic, but the right kind is important.
  • Win two, lose two: 4-18 ‘fahm’ report Early spring updates for the garden, the chicks and the bee hives.
  • Fowl Deeds Finding out information on local laws on raising chickens.
  • Chick Cam! Moving Away From ‘teh’ cute Episode 2 of raising chicks.
  • It’s Chick Cam!!!! Starting out with chicks.
  • The Urban Chicken Sets Up Light Housekeeping How to choose chickens to raise.
  • End of March Garden Report Updates from the March garden.
  • Sometimes Hope and Dirt Can Use a Hand Here’s a chart which will help you decide when to plant your seeds to get the best germination.
  • Hope is a thing….with dirt There’s life in the early spring garden, even in Zone 4; time to plan so that next spring you have something you can harvest!
  • Get Growing! how to start seeds
  • Tomorrow’s Garden: Today! Part 2 Next steps on getting ready for a spring garden, even if you are in the winter.
  • The Return of the Urban Chicken Raising chickens in urban areas is the hot ticket item right now and into the near future – here are a few things to think about if you are considering it.
  • Thin Thighs in Thirty Days™ OR, Tomorrow’s Garden: Today! Part 1 First Lessons on getting an area ready for a garden.
  • Urban Gardening, or, How to Survive When You Aren’t a Homeowner and Don’t Have a Lawn to Rip Up Growing your own, making your shelter more energy efficient – these things are not just for homeowners. Renters can take some control too.

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