Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Remembering the 2013 Garden

Obviously I have not taken the time to write about the 2013 garden.  Because a few people do read this blog (thank you), I will put in some updates in case they are helpful to anyone.  We learn new things each year as we try various new methods and experience new weather conditions.  Overall, the garden did pretty well, with a few setbacks I will explain in individual posts.  Please see the posts:Garden ReflectionsDeep Mulching, Squash, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Ducks and Cottonwood, Juglone and Tomatoes.  And stay tuned...in the near future I may add some more recipe creations.


December 10, 2013
To start off, this is the garden today.  The past week has not reached over 15F or so until this morning. Now it is a whopping 42 degrees outside.  A few days ago it was -18 in the morning.  This is the coldest I have ever experienced since coming to Colorado in 2008.

Our unheated GREENHOUSE may have suffered from this cold spell, and reached as low as 20F a few of these nights.  The largest lettuces and kale don't look so good, but hopefully the younger ones haven't died and will come back and grow nicely.  I have been covering the bins inside the greenhouse with frostcloth overnight, which I think helped, but there's only so much you can do!  I don't think this will prevent me from following the same plan in the future.  We just do what we can, and if the weather causes a problem, we'll live with what we get.

(The old-fashioned way!)

The WEATHER during the growing season was, I think, a bit cooler than usual in June-July, then pretty hot in August and September.  We had our last snow on May 1 (8"), which kept me from planting my early things a bit, but since I hadn't planned on planting things until later in May, that didn't cause too much of a problem.  (Our "last frost date" is around May 15, but I've begun holding off until after that for many vegetables.)  We had lots more rain than normal throughout the summer, concluding with over 12" of rain here in September, which was mild, compared to many local areas which suffered from extensive flooding.  Our hearts go out to those who lost homes, crops and livestock.


I like to keep notes on everything I do and record what happens, and this year I found Microsoft ONE NOTE to be very helpful.  In it, I was able to keep easily accessible sections and pages for each plant group, the ducks, the weather, soil amendments, pest control, etc. I also am still using the garden planner at GrowVeg.com to plan my garden spaces.  I find it a handy and fun tool.  In case you missed my March post, the plan for the 2013 Main Garden is HERE, and the 2013 Corn Patch is HERE.


I've been getting most of my seeds from Botanical Interests and High Mowing Seeds, Peaceful Valley/Grow Organic, and a few from Sand Hill Preservation.  Although I would like to support the small business, Sand Hill, I must be honest that I probably won't be ordering from them again.  It's been fun to try many of their unique heirloom varieties, but the seed germination rates from these just aren't as good as I get from other seed companies.  I wasted a lot of time and energy trying to get their seeds to grow.  Next year I plan to check out Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for more of the unusual varieties I'd like to try.


SEASON HIGHLIGHTS 

This year I tried several varieties or plants I haven't grown before: squash, beans, eggplant (won't do again), fava beans (will do again), a couple of new tomatoes.  My biggest headache was the sowbugs!  Most of my squash died.  Many of my beans didn't make it.  I had very few strawberries and not as many raspberries & blackberries--we may not have pruned them correctly.  We did get our first harvest of delicious grapes--some green seedless and some red seedless.  After recovering from some damage, hopefully next year our purple grapes will produce.  Our corn was very good this year--I returned to planting some of the organic sweet hybrid varieties (Sugarbaby, Brocade, Sugar Pearl), rather than the heirlooms I did last year, which were ok, but not as sweet and crisp as the hybrids.  

The biggest new thing we did was the deep mulching with wood chips, which is detailed in a separate post.  This was overall a positive change.


PLANNING FOR 2014

It's time to begin!  I'm receiving catalogs and emails from some of my favorite seed companies offering sale prices and free shipping if I order early, so it's time to start planning.  

One big change is that I plan to put all my tomato plants out in our NW area previously used as the 3-Sisters Corn Patch.  I'm running out of rotation beds in the main garden area for tomatoes, peppers & potatoes, so I'll try the tomatoes in a whole new area, and put the corn in the main garden.


We will continue deep mulching, combining manure & compost with the wood chips and watering less frequently.


Deep Mulching 2013

After viewing the Back To Eden film, we decided to use this approach on all our garden beds.  We've found a few places to attain free wood mulch, and covered all of our beds with 3-4 inches of wood mulch.  Our results were both good, bad and indifferent, as follows, and I will outline some of my questions/answers and my plan for 2014.

GOOD!  
We watered much less.  Most areas were watered about once a week.  We watered each area for about 8 hours with an oscillating type overhead sprinkler.  (In previous years we used soaker hoses on timers, and watered every 2-3 days.  We found this effective, but after many repairs to broken/split soaker hoses and a lot of work setting up the systems, we thought we'd try something different.)  This new system seemed to work quite well.  I frequently checked the soil under the mulch, and it stayed quite moist.

Fewer weeds in the beds.  Yahoo!  We still had a lot of the bindweed coming up through the mulch, but that was about it, and they were quite easy to pull.  I don't think there's any way to get rid of that stuff.

It looked nice.  Ok, aesthetics are a nice touch.

BAD!
And boy was this a headache.  We had millions of SOWBUGS or PILLBUGS, ROLY-POLYS or whatever.  The wood mulch atop the soil made a perfect environment for them to eat and reproduce.  In the past, my research had indicated that sowbugs are not generally a problem to the vegetable garden, because they eat decayed matter, NOT the plants themselves.  However, with a sowbug explosion, such as what I experienced, there can be too many sowbugs for the food available, and they will eat seedlings, particularly beans.  It is possible that the addition of a large amount of un-decomposed wood mulch created a great habitat for the sowbugs to reproduce, but because the mulch was fresh, it wasn't good food for them.  They can only digest decayed matter or young, small seedlings, so that's what they ate.  That's my theory.

I lost many of my beans and peas.  In many cases, they would sprout, only to be eaten very soon.  One new variety I had planted, and was anxiously awaiting the sprouts to appear, only to find a couple of sprouts.  I dug around, looking for the seeds in the ground, and the seeds were gone!  The only bugs present were the sowbugs, and they were everywhere.  A whole row of carrot seeds never sprouted--I'm not sure if it was because of sowbugs or something else.  I was successful with carrots in another part of the garden where I didn't see as many sowbugs.  The seedlings of all the other things I started indoors in soil blocks and transplanted to the garden were unaffected.  (Whew!)  Next year I just may sprout my beans and peas indoors also.  It will be extra effort, but may make the difference between growing beans and not.

Another problem with the sowbugs is that I found them eating my ripe tomatoes, particularly the Burbank variety, which was quite short, with tomatoes closer to the ground.  I would find tomatoes with holes in them and sowbugs inside.  These buggers even climbed up the vines to reach the tomatoes--they did not remain in their soil habitat.  I've read that the sowbugs may only take advantage of holes in the tomatoes left by other bugs, but I'm not sure.  There had been some grasshoppers hopping around, and they may have opened a hole for the sowbugs; I just wasn't watching :)  At one point, I thought that leaving the damaged tomatoes on the ground for the sowbugs to finish eating might act as a trap keep them off the good tomatoes on the plant, but that didn't seem to help.  There were just too many of the buggers.

After I began to discover the problem, my research indicated that two organic products can be helpful:  diatomaceous earth, and Sluggo Plus.  Unfortunately, for my garden it was too little, too late.  I got these bugs under control somewhat, but not enough.  Most sources recommend removing all mulch to avoid the sowbug problem, but I am unwilling to do that.  I am determined to lick this problem in 2014.  My plan of attack is listed below.

INDIFFERENT
Another minor problem with the mulching was the presence of a few fungi.  The ones I found and identified were considered harmless; a variety of mushrooms, bird nest fungi, and something else I never identified.

QUESTIONS
There are some questions regarding deep mulching I've found few answers for.
Q. How do add compost and/or manure to the garden?  Is it necessary?  (I continually make      compost and we have plenty of horse manure to use up.)
A.  Some sources suggest compost and/or manure are not needed with deep mulching.              Some suggest mixing it in, others suggest sprinkling it on top and let the nutrients trickle      down.  Apparently adding manure will help the wood mulch decompose more quickly            and add more nitrogen to the soil, which is being used up by the wood mulch.

Q.  What do I do in the fall, to clean up and prepare for the next spring season?
A.  Some say pull out the dead plants and do nothing but add more mulch if needed.  For the       most part, I have not found answers to this question.

Q.  Does wood mulch make the soil too acidic?
A.  Some sources would say yes, other suggest it isn't a problem.  My best guess is that               because our Colorado soil is generally quite alkaline, it won't be a problem.  I'm not sure       about the highly amended soil in our raised beds, and my pH tester doesn't seem to               work all that well, but I'm not going to worry about it.

PREPARATION FOR 2014
FALL CLEANUP/PREP:
Here's what I did, based on my best guess after research.  After removing all garden debris and weeds from the beds, I raked back the wood mulch, then loosened the soil a bit with a hula hoe, which removed as many remaining weeds as possible.  I added about an inch of aged horse manure and blended it in with the hula hoe.  (Some of the 2013 wood mulch was also blended in during this process.)  I sprinkled on some diatomaceous earth (DE) to kill off any remaining sowbugs before they overwinter in the soil.  I raked back the wood mulch, then sprinkled more aged manure on top.  Then we topped the beds with a couple of inches of fresh wood mulch.  I'm hoping that the addition of manure will offset the problem of nitrogen being taken from the soil due to the wood mulch.  I am hopeful that the deep freeze we have experienced in the past week (down to -18 one morning, and other sub-zero temps for several days) will have killed off some of the overwintering bugs.

SPRING PREP:
To proactively control the sowbugs, I plan to rake back the wood mulch when there will be a week or so of dry weather* and sprinkle on some DE and Sluggo Plus, then replace the wood mulch, all before planting.  I want to kill off as many sowbugs as possible before planting.  I may also add some organic fertilizer (HOF) during this process.
*Both of these products become ineffective when wet.  That is a big problem with them!


All in all, I think that the deep mulching system has been a positive change, and will create better soil for future years.  I am currently reading Ruth Stout's "No-Work Garden Book" to learn more about mulching in the garden.  We will continue deep mulching!

Tomatoes 2013

TOMATOES are always my most prized garden treat.  This year I tried some new varieties and some old ones, and had mixed results.  I'll outline my thoughts on each.  I ended up with nine different varieties.

One experiment:  I've always rotated my tomato beds, and have not planted tomatoes in any bed that had tomatoes, peppers or potatoes in the previous year, or preferably two years.  Last year I'd planted my indeterminate tomatoes in a row in the NE corner, and it was such a nice spot, I thought I'd try putting the indeterminates in the same bed this year.  Not a good idea.  They did not do well.  Live and learn!  Sometimes ya gotta just trust what "they" say.

Overall thoughts:  The weather was funny this year, and results were mixed.  Some plants did well, others did not.  Some succumbed to sowbugs.  (See more information here.)  Some were new varieties that just didn't do well.  Perhaps I should become more familiar with tomato diseases.  Perhaps I am dealing with things that would be prevented if I knew what was happening.  As it is, I just plant plenty of tomatoes and remove the plants that die.  I do not compost them: I take them to the dumpster, so they won't infect the rest of the garden.

SILVERY FIR TREE  I had these seeds left from last year, and planted two early in the greenhouse, after starting them in the house under lights.  My plan was to have these as the earliest tomatoes, before the outside ones ripened.  I did get several small early tomatoes from these plants, but not really much earlier than the outside main garden plants.  If I do early tomatoes in the greenhouse next year, I'll try another variety.

CHEROKEE PURPLE  I planted two of these in the experiment indeterminate row mentioned above.  One survived but I did not get more that 5 or 6 tomatoes.

FH CROW  These were free seeds sent to me along with my Sand Hill Preservation seed order.  I planted one in the greenhouse and one in the experiment indeterminate row mentioned above.  I got a few tomatoes from the greenhouse, but the garden bed plant died early on.

GERMAN GIANT  I loved these last year, and planted two in the experiment indeterminate row mentioned above.  One plant survived but only produced 3-4 edible tomatoes.

CAMP JOY  This is a large sized cherry tomato.  I planted one in the experiment indeterminate row, which survived, but I did not get an abundance of tomatoes.  Those I did harvest were good and sweet, although more mealy than I'd expect for a cherry.  I started another mid-June in the house, which was transplanted to the greenhouse 7/25.  It did well.  My plan was to have one tomato which would continue to produce after all others froze.  GOOD PLAN!  We had fresh tomatoes for salads throughout the fall.  I picked all remaining ripe and slightly ripe tomatoes before the big freeze last week and they will last at least a couple more weeks in the fridge, I am sure.

RIO GRANDE  I planted 8 of these, my favorite paste tomato for canning as diced tomatoes.  These are large, easy to peel, seed and dice.  A couple of these died, which always seems to happen.  The remaining were my latest tomatoes to ripen, but were as good as usual, and many jars of diced tomatoes and various tomato sauces were canned.

HEIDI  These were disappointing.  I bought the seeds based on the descriptions, "A prolific tomato from Africa that bears 2-1/2-inch, 3-4 oz, pear-shaped, bright-red fruit with rich tomato flavor. Thick walls with tender skin, very meaty and great for sauce. A long season, super paste or canner or good eaten raw in the garden."  And, "although classified as a paste-type tomato, it does not seem to have a problem with blossom end rot and is "remarkably tolerant of all foliage diseases in a zone 5 garden." They were supposed to grow well in hot, dry climates.  Sounds great.  There weren't very many of these, and those that grew were small.  Many seemed diseased and were not kept.  Some plants produced round tomatoes, others were oblong or pear-shaped.  Perhaps the seeds were cross-bred?

BURBANK  This was my first year planting these and they were a winner.  They grew on short, sprawling plants that were difficult to stake up, but the tomatoes were plentiful, delicious, red and round.  Unfortunately, many of these were eaten by the dreaded sowbugs and/or maybe grasshoppers.  Some sources indicate that the sowbugs don't eat the tomatoes unless a hole is started by some other bug, so perhaps the grasshoppers and sowbugs worked together on this.  See more about the sowbugs here.  I will grow the Burbanks again.

PRINCIPE BORGHESE  This was the 3rd or 4th year I've grown these.  Two plants were huge and prolific, the healthiest of all the tomatoes this year.  This is supposed to be "semi-determinate" but one of them grew like crazy, much more like a determinate.  Unfortunately I hadn't been pruning it like I would an indeterminate, and it got a bit out of hand.

NEW TOMATO SUPPORTS - I should have taken a photo of the tomato supports Tim built.  Sorry.  They are cheaply made of electrical conduit, easy to put up, take down and store.  Some are taller, others shorter.  They have worked well this year and last.  Next year I'll plan to include a photo!

Squash 2013

I enjoy squash, particularly a good, winter squash.  In fact, maybe I'll cook some tonight for supper!  But, in the past years I've had mixed results in the squash beds, and quite a challenge controlling SQUASH BUGS and CUCUMBER BEETLES.


Lakota Squash
This year I planted 8 varieties of squash:  2 summer squash (1 yellow and 1 green zucchini), 2 each of these winter squash:  Winter Sweet REBA Acorn (bush variety), Burgess Buttercup, Sweet Meat, Long Pie Pumpkin, Nutterbutter Butternut, and Lakota.  Of all these, I harvested only 2 Nutterbutter, 2 Lakota, and 3 Long Pie pumpkin, along with a small few of the zucchinis.

The demise of my squash is a mystery to me.  I saw very few of either the squash bugs or cucumber beetles.  I tried very hard to prevent the appearance of these bugs and I was successful.  I proactively sprayed the plants and soil around them with neem, pepper/garlic spray, sprays made with boiled rhubarb leaves and none of these should have caused the death of the squash plants.  The newest organic pesticide I tried was SurroundWP.  I believe this helped a good deal.  Its effective ingredient is kaolin clay, a white powdery substance which is mixed with water and sprayed onto the plant leaves.  Apparently the bugs don't like it and avoid the sprayed leaves.  The Surround also helps protect the plants from UV rays.  It looks kind of funny, seeing the white spotty leaves, but I think this was quite effective, and I don't believe it was the reason so many of the plants died.  I've also read that mint and lemon balm can repel those bugs.  Rather than plant these invasive perennials near the squash, I've planted them in other areas of the garden (where I don't care if they invade) and some mint in a large pot; I cut off the leaves and sprinkle them around the squash.  Unfortunately, I've done so many things to prevent the bugs, I can't say what does and doesn't work.  I wanted so badly to attack these bugs I went ahead and threw everything I could at them.

So the early death of the squash wasn't due to bugs.  All plants were doing quite well until the end of July, when they all started keeling over, one by one.  One day they'd be fine, the next they'd look a bit wilted, the next they were pretty much dead.  The plants all had immature squash growing on them.  I tried pruning off the deadest parts to salvage the remainder of the plant, but that didn't help.  I just don't know why this happened.  Could it have had something to do with the wood mulch?  (I don't think so.)  I did not see an abundance of sowbugs in these beds as I did the others, and don't believe these were a problem to the squash.  The two summer squash plants never really took off as usual; they did survive a little longer than the winter squash, but they succumbed as well.

All I can say is that some of my neighbors experienced the same symptoms with their squash, so I'm not alone.  Maybe it was the weather.  I was so hopeful to try the new, unique varieties such as Sweet Meat, but I'll have to try again next year.  I was grateful for the two big Lakota squash.  So far, I have cooked one and it was absolutely delicious!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Potatoes 2013

Last year, the 2012 garden, I had followed some advice that it would be good to store the potatoes in the ground, under mulch, and that they would be fine until spring.  So, in the fall I threw extra mulch (mostly hay and manure) over them and let them be.  I dug some up in December and they were good.  Then, I went out to dig more up in February, only to find that most of them had frozen.  Some were no good at all, and some were ok, but tasted a bit sweet and had an odd texture.  I cooked them all, mashed them, and froze them for future use.  Gee...I've still got some in the freezer that need to be eaten!  :)

This year, 2013, I did leave them in the ground as long as possible.  However, last week when the weather forecast was calling for sub-zero temperatures, I went out on a crazy windy day, prior to the storm, and dug up the remaining potatoes.  I think this was a good plan--storage in the ground as long as possible was better than storing in the refrigerator, and now that they are safely in the refrigerator, that is better than risking them freezing in the ground.

The Rio Grande Russets I planted were small, but good.  The Yukon Golds were bigger and best.

Ducks 2013

Fall 2013
We still have 5 ducks.  Three are the original Welsh Harlequins we got the spring of 2011. The other two are the pekins we got the summer of 2012 (they are the same age as our WH's).

In July I began freezing some of the eggs, thinking that during their molt and lack of egg production, I would need eggs.  I scrambled and froze them in special ice cube trays that make each cube 1/4 cup.  That make a handy measure of about one egg per cube.  I also froze a few in larger blocks, 1 to 1 1/2 cups each.  After making the cubes or blocks, I vacuum sealed them.  I found that if frozen plain, they thaw out quite "glumpy".  By adding a bit of salt to them, they are less glumpy.  I also read that adding sugar would help, but I didn't try that.  Many internet sources suggested to add 1/2 tsp salt per cup of eggs, but I'm uncomfortable adding that much salt.  I added about 1/8 tsp per cup.  They're still a bit glumpy, but they still scramble up fine, or go into quiches or baked goods.  I also froze a few egg whites, and they don't require the extra salt.  I've been glad to have these frozen eggs!

Most of the ducks began molting and stopped producing eggs around the first of August. One duck, I think it's one of the pekins, never stopped laying throughout the molt.  I still consistently get one egg a day, with an occasional day off.  None of the other ducks have resumed production.  Last year they started producing again in October-November, but this year we are still only getting the one each day.  This one egg a day is getting pretty expensive, considering I'm feeding 5 ducks for it!  We are giving them additional light in their house to equal about 13 hours of light each day, and we have a heat lamp in the house on the coldest nights.

One of the WH ducks began acting oddly during the summer, breathing quite heavily, like panting or steadily pulsing or heaving, 100% of the time.  She was also much smaller than the others, and seemed to lose breath after running to keep up with her friends.  She seemed to eat and drink normally.  This went on for 2-3 months, but now she seems fine.

For a couple of months prior to the time the 4 ducks stopped production, one duck was producing ODD EGGS quite often.  I would find the membrane part of the shell, with no hard shell, and a complete egg on the inside.  Often these were found squished, with just the broken membrane and gooey egg oozing on the ground.  Most often they were at odd times during the day.  I wondered if she was expelling her eggs prematurely, before the shell had a chance to develop.  I searched around online, but couldn't find much information about this problem.  I'm not sure which duck did this.  Per my reading, it may have been insufficient calcium (I've been giving them extra calcium and it didn't help) or some kind of infection.  I'm thinking I will wait until they all begin producing again to see if this occurs again in the spring.  If so, I may have to separate them, determine which duck is not giving us whole eggs, and do away with her.  We aren't too interested in vetting a duck.

As far as the DUCK HOUSE, we are quite happy with it, except that the ducks do not consistently use the nest boxes, and we find them somewhat unnecessary.  Otherwise, it has held up well and is perfect for the ducks.  Tim has begun a new hobby of woodworking, so we have a good supply of wood shavings for the duck house--that's nice!  Besides, we have a nice, new, handmade dining table and chairs, and kitchen butcher block island!

I save all my EGG SHELLS, grind them in the blender, and add them to my soil for plants that require more calcium.  I also have been adding them to the duck food, to give them more calcium.  I have always provided oyster shell in a separate container for them to eat at will, but they rarely eat it that way.  I now add a little of the ground eggshells, along with a little of the oyster shell, to their food.  I mix it up with some water to make it stick together a bit.  This way they do ingest the added eggshells & oyster shell without spitting it out, and hopefully this increases their calcium intake.

Cottonwood, Juglone and Tomatoes

A couple of years ago I'd planted a row of tomatoes under our cottonwood tree, and they did not do well at all.  Many died, those that lived produced very few tomatoes.  I blamed it on the variety I had chosen, and have not planted those since.  Then I realized that the strawberries I'd planted near that tree have never done well.  I've replanted the same area with strawberries for 3 years, and just couldn't get them to grow.  I got to wondering if maybe the cottonwood had something to do with these problems. I did some research, and the answer is YES!

Cottonwood trees, like the Black Walnut, produce the chemical, juglone.  Juglone is very toxic to some vegetables and fruits including: tomato, pepper, potato, eggplant, blackberry, blueberry, apple.  These plants will yellow, wilt and die.  I didn't see anything about strawberries not growing there, but in my experience, they didn't.  There are also several ornamental plants that won't grow near them, but I don't do those.  Vegetables that are tolerant to juglone include: beans, corn, melons, squash, beets, onions, parsnips, carrots.

I will no longer be planting tomatoes, peppers or potatoes or strawberries near these trees.  I also try to remove all leaves and twigs that fall onto the beds.  Apparently it's ok to compost the leaves and twigs, but they should not be left on fresh.  It is best to add additional organic matter/compost to these beds, which will lessen the effect of the juglone.  

This year I planted several perennial herbs in the area which had been my strawberry bed.  They'll just sit there and I won't worry about what to plant there in the future. These did quite fine.  One of the things I planted directly under the tree was mint.  I know that mint is quite invasive, and I thought that if it would grow there, it would be just fine!  I've read that mint leaves are good to repel squash bugs, so rather than planting the invasive mint among the squash, I will let it grow by the cottonwood if it can, then cut the leaves and scatter them around the squash.  The mint grew there quite well, along with some chives, lemon balm, marjoram, lovage, thyme and salad burnet.  In the spring I will discover what survived the winter.

For more information, read these articles: 
http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/430/430-021/430-021.html
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/tree-roots-effects-on-soil.html
http://hort.uwex.edu/articles/black-walnut-toxicity
http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1186/

Monday, March 4, 2013

2013 PLANS

OK, so I've pretty well neglected writing on this blog.  But, if anyone is listening, I've just posted my garden plan for 2013 on growveg.com.
The main garden can be seen here: MAIN GARDEN
The three sisters plot is here: CORN-BEANS-SQUASH

Right now it's pretty brown and ugly outside.  I've been working hard inside on plans and getting my new tracking system ready using Microsoft One Note--something I've never played around with before; so far it's pretty handy.  This year I am planning to do some of the most successful varieties from past years, and a few new things to try for fun.

The strawberry bed we've had near our cottonwood tree has never done well.  After a suggestion and some research, I've discovered that cottonwoods put off juglone, a chemical that inhibits the growth of many plants.  I'll be removing the strawberries from that bed (if they've survived) and will plant several perennial herbs there that are supposed to be tolerant of juglone.  Another bed near that tree has also had some sickly plants (especially the tomatoes, a couple of years ago).  I've found that beets, beans,  squash, onions, parsnips and carrots are supposed to do ok there, and will limit those beds to those items from now on.  I'm still learning!

The greenhouse has done well this winter, and has provided us with enough greens for salads all winter.  I've got some onions overwintering in there, too, and hopefully they will provide an early round of onions in the early summer.  I will also be planting a couple of early tomatoes in the greenhouse, to get a head start on them for the season.

Duck Update:  We still have the ducks (3 welsh harlequin, 2 pekin) and are enjoying four eggs a day at this point.  It took them a long time to begin laying after their molt (the pekins began laying in October, the harlequins not until February).  Every day we hope to find a fifth egg.  Maybe tomorrow!