Friday, April 30, 2010

first eggs

The hens have finally started laying! We've gotten 3 eggs in the last 3 days. I had 2 for breakfast today (after the kids had gone to school of course). Duck eggs have a waxy covering called "bloom" and the shell seems harder than a chicken egg. Under the shell the white membrane is very strong and they are difficult to crack open. The egg white itself is clearer than that of a chicken egg. The yolk is a bright yellow on the outside, but a deep orange on the inside. I cooked them scrambled for a first impression. The flavor was stronger, almost fishy at first, but it is just a richer taste. By the time I was finished I thought there is not a major difference between chicken eggs and duck eggs.

I had tried 3 different kinds of nesting boxes without success prior to laying. 1 was a very small plastic sled cut in half. This was too slippery. Next were plastic containers from the 100yen shop, too light, got knocked over too easily. Then plastic boxes, also too light. Finally decided something much stronger, and found 2 old desk drawers at work, about 20cmX30cm. Cut out a doorway, lined with newspaper. Straw or old clothes is better. I hope the egg a day thing keeps going.

Nesting boxes

The garden now has an excess of greens for all the ducks, they still get some commercial chicken feed but would like to eliminate this, what's the point if using all commercial feed?

Duck salad

Dandelion wine in progress

Near my son's bus stop for school is a nice grassy area away from the road and sloping down towards the river. The other day it was loaded with dandelion flowers. I've been reading about the Italian dandelion as a good salad green, but suppose any dandelion leaf will do. Also thought of dandelion wine for some reason. Seemed a shame to let all those flowers go to seed.
Gathered a few liters of dandelion flowers to try making some wine, went back with the kids just before dark to get some more. The field was empty, I was gobsmacked. Someone beat me too it I thought, all those beautiful flowers, all that wine, gone! My wife said, you silly duck, they must have closed up for the night. Impossible I said, I was there, empty I tell you. A quick google proved her right, I'll be back tomorrow, hehe.

storebought tomato seedlings planted into a green manure of clover. The clover is so thick, the roots penetrate about 10 cm down, it cuts like peat or turf.

inside a mini greenhouse covered with clear tarp

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

garden progress

The "tire garden" has been off to a rough start. Spring has been unusually cool and wet here this year, we had frost on the 17th. Plus, I was a bit over enthusiastic and started planting cold weather greens on March 1. It has been terminally soggy since. Nothing took and it has been re-planted from seed again earlier this month. What's worse, I sighted the first ヤマビル - mountain leeches, of the season, yikes. This area gets sunlight partially in the early morning, then from 2pm-5pm only.

I've been checking my fuzzy weather log and it shows that for this year, we've had , according to rough calculations : 25% of days that were sunny or mostly/partly sunny. 30% of days were good enough to make power from wind. 20% were cloudy, and 35% had either rain or snow. Some percentile are missing there, but you get the idea.

In the upper garden, store bought seedlings have been going strong for the most part, broccoli and beans here. Don't know if broccoli is worth the wait or the space yet.

Carrots and green onions planted from old seed on March 1, fail. Hey the clover is going well. Re-planted this bed with 10 potatoes from last years crop.

The log bed also has 10 potato plants or more, along with radish, clover. Also covering this with a tarp on consecutive rainy days. Tomatoes, clover etc
Store bought seedlings of red leaf lettuce have been providing salads every 2 -3 days for the family, more lettuce from seed going ok behind.

potato (4/4)from last year's seed, cukes store bought seedlings, and zucchini from seed. Also beans in there somewhere, no sign of the zucchini yet.

The PET bottles have been working better on protecting store bought seedlings and young garlic, than on my seeds unfortunately.

The first-planted potatoes (3/1)in tires are really coming on strong, surrounded by boxes of lettuce. This whole setup gets covered with a leftover, clear polycarbonate sheet in prolonged rain of more than one day.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

PET mini-greenhouses

The store-bought seedlings are now established and chances of frost have slimmed.
Not wanting to buy new plastic domes or do transplants from seed, I've removed the domes from the established plants and put them on newly planted seeds of warm weather veg- cukes, toms, zucchini and beans.

Using PET bottles, cut in half with some ventilation holes drilled on the sides.

beans - (need to plant more every week or 2)

the tomato bed
It's a little early in the season for these plants but the combination of dark colored raised beds and protective covers should keep things warm enough.

potato - probably doesn't need a cover but want to speed things up and experiment.

I cleaned out the entire recylcling bin. Now I want to try making seedling starters using PET bottles.