Blog posts from January 2011
Jan 31, 2011
If you're in North Texas, we'll be hitting 14 degrees Tuesday evening and won't come up above freezing until Friday. Tomorrow, you'll want to cover any of your vegetables, annual flowers and new plantings through Thursday, with frost cloth. That will give you 4-6 degrees of protection, which is all you really need. You can use a second layer of frost cloth to get you a few more degrees of protection!
Jan 26, 2011
I'm on staycation this week and am enjoying just the kind of morning I love. Stayed in bed until 8:30...LUXURY!!. It's cold outside (for Texas), but it's bright and sunny, which puts me in a cheery mood. I just checked on my seedlings...the lettuce is sprouting eagerly while the tomato seeds sit in stubborn refusal. I have yet to dig out my seed heating mat from the many still unpacked boxes in the garage. Those tomato seeds will sit there stubborn until I warm them up. For all you newbies out there, you really do need a heat mat for your tomato seedlings! I just picked up my new issue of Urban Farm magazine, made some strong chicory coffee and am browsing through articles about beekeeping and all sorts of other fun stuff. I'll be headed out to check on the girls (my chickens) here in a bit to make sure their water isn't frozen and they get their daily salad green buffet. It's mornings like these that really get me excited about spring. JOY.
Because I'm in a new home, with yet again an empty landscape to start with, I'm full of itch to garden. While I have cultivated one large bed that was pre-existing, it will take quite a while to get everything built back up to my prior level of urban farm food production. I do always love a challenge though. I have many raised beds moved from my old house still waiting to be situated and filled...and many ornamental beds to be built and planted, which will take a back seat to the veggie beds. My first big project will be planting what I named "Fruitopia". I have one fenced in side yard, which is street side that will become home to my small fruit orchard and beehives. I'm choosing a well thought out list of small and dwarf variety fruit trees as well as some berry plants. I imagine I'll start planting Fruitopia in early February, once all my varieties have arrived. I'll post the list of selections once it's finalized.
I start my 5-month beekeeping course this coming Saturday and couldn't be more excited! Not only will my bees be much needed pollinators for my own orchard and vegetable garden (and those of my neighbors), but I hope that my tiny effort will help boost what are devastating crashes in honey bee populations over the last 6 years. Colony collapse, brought on by a combination of invertebrate iridescent virus and a fungal organism called Nosema ceranae, are decimating bee populations everywhere and seriously threatening our entire food supply system. If you want to help out the population of pollinators, but keeping hives of honeybees is just to much for you to handle, you can encourage the presence of Mason bees in your garden. Mason bees are excellent pollinators and all you need to do is provide a simple nesting box. North Haven Gardens in Dallas, TX sells both the Mason bee houses and tubes of baby Mason bees in spring to get you started.
Anyhoo, enough of my ramblings. Hope you're getting your veggie beds prepped, your seeds started and are excited about spring!
Jan 23, 2011
I'm often asked if there is any difference between my fresh backyard eggs and eggs purchased at the grocery store (from mass production facilities). My answer is always "YES!!" Fresh eggs from hens that are raised with with access to the outdoors, organic feed, fresh greens, insects, sunlight and low population pressure are healthier for you. They have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene and have a denser texture than mass production eggs. Here is a photo of an egg from one of my Ameraucanas and an organic cage-free egg from the grocery store. I think you can tell which one is the yard egg!
Jan 17, 2011
What with the heavy molt they went through last fall, plus the move to the new house, plus the short winter days, my girls quit laying eggs for me for the last 3 months. I knew that with the lengthening days that I'd probably be seeing an egg or two any day now. Sure enough, Pecker started squawking up a storm yesterday morning (which they tend to do right before they lay an egg...) Sure enough, I was rewarded with these two big beauties this morning!
For those of you new to the blog, Pecker is one of my Ameraucanas so she lays beautiful blue eggs.
Jan 3, 2011
Alright folks, no rest for the weary here in N. Texas! We get to garden 12 months out of the year and it's just about time to start those spring veggie seeds!
You can refer to an older post HERE for more info about exactly what to start when. You can also use the search function to the right and search seeds for several other detailed posts. Now is a great time to start amending your veggie beds or building your new raised beds so that they will be ready for your first transplants.
DO NOT, EVER, try starting your seeds indoors without supplemental lighting. It's a must-have. Also, January is chilly so tomatoes and peppers will appreciate you adding a seeding heat mat to your set up. You'll be very pleased with the results of both supplemental lighting and additional heat - well worth the initial investment.
NHG has good stock on cool season herb transplant as well as some cool season veggie transplants right now. You can start seeding cole crops now for transplant outdoors in 5-6 weeks, and in a week or so get a start on those tomato transplants. For my new class schedule visit my main website at: www.lesliehalleck.com Veggie Gardening 101 is on Jan. 13th and registration is required!
Jan 1, 2011
On a happier chicken note, I've ordered my new day-olds. They are to ship the second week of March. On my order list are:
2 Salmon Faverolles
1 blue Cochin
1 White crested blue Polish
1 White crested black Polish
1 blue Hamburg
1 silver laced Wyandotte