wow, it is amazing to knock the rust off the rakes and spades and get into the dirt!!! what's better is that i have a bit more clarity about the upcoming garden strategy and how things will proceed.
already, i have built 7 raised bed, 8'x4' plots; one more is on the way. three plots are totally filled in and another is half planted. i'm planting cool weather crops early in the beds that are finished. already in the ground are 2 whole plots of potato (64+/-) plants, 2 dozen garlic sets, 4 dozen onion sets, 2 dozen leek sets, parsley, peas, radishes, lettuce, and cauliflower. carrots will go in soon.
my older son is out in the garden with me every day, so far. the new addition has visited some, too. the older one knows that we want nice, soft soil for the worms to tunnel through. this is maybe the best part of this whole experiment is having fun with him outside and giving him a real-life biology lab in his own backyard.
the hens laid well all winter long. there were just 2 short patches where the weather was too cold and they stopped laying. really, the ISA brown hens outlayed the california gray hens about 3:2. i've been surprised with the consistently large size of eggs from the ISA browns and the increasingly larger size of eggs from the california grays. i've taken to letting out one hen per day to roam the yard; they never wander far when the other three are in the pen. i had been worried about having 4 hens out in the yard at the same time and the impact on the germinating seeds and bulb starts, but this way, the one hen is so interested in staying close to the other three the free bird never wanders far.
i started several veggies for the first time this year: potatoes, onions, garlic, and leeks. for the potatoes, i'm layering the seed potatoes ($0.70 per pound at Uncle Luke's Feed Store) between leaves, chicken shit straw, and clean straw. onion and leek sets just got popped in the ground. the potatoes that were cut to smaller pieces were not aged to let them heal, i say sink or swim! i'll continue mounding up straw as the potatoes plants sprout. the straw will rot and compost and make some nice soil for other veggies next year.
the arbor area is a priority for this summer some time. it'll be nice to have a relaxing area to sit in the garden. if i can trellis cukes, grapes, and morning glories up the arbor, it'll be that much better. if i can get some fruit trees actually planted, this will be shaping up to be a great summer!!!