Thursday, August 27, 2015

Misidentified predator, and garden successes.

Well, it turns out we've been blaming the wrong predator for at least some of our chicken deaths. Yesterday the Lady of the House  heard the turkeys giving alarm calls, and saw they were up the tree. When she looked out in the back yard, there, in broad daylight was a first year coyote. She didn't get a photo of it as she was busy chasing it off, but fortunately neither of the turkeys, nor the remaining chicken were killed. We're going to have to do some strong behavioral remediation for this coyote, because as interesting as they are, we Really don't want them around the homestead when we have livestock. At beast they'll scare the rabbits into not wanting to breed (gee, maybe that's why they haven't been accepting breeding) and at worst they can do a Lot of damage as is clearly evidenced by the nearly exterminated chicken flock. At least we know what we're dealing with because a coyote is very different from a fox. Fortunately they're smart enough to be easy to scare, and lazy enough to not want to go to much trouble. But now, let's talk about the garden successes.

To me the success that is co-equal to the beans that I've talked about so often is the garlic. Not only do we have a good selection of garlic for storing and eating that's currently drying, the scapes went to seed quite nicely! The bulbs of the garlic aren't huge individually, but they don't have to be if the flavor is good and strong, which it smells like it will be. The thing I'm looking forward to is planting.
Left is the collection of cut garlic scapes from the various plants. There is a huge variety of appearances to the flowers in the scapes, so I am really enthusiastic to see what comes out of planting. If the garlic has cross pollinated well, we'll probably have the garlic turn out different from all 5 of the strains we've had planted so far. It'll take a couple years to see the full fruit of that, but that's ok with me. If it works out it'll be really interesting, and be something that will grow better in our climate if we select well. That of course is the challenge. Either way, having a lot of garlic is good given how much we use of it.
In the category of things we didn't think were going to do well, especially after the hail, the cucumbers. The fact that they're also a success story is kinda a big deal. They got planted late from leftover stock, we didn't have enough plants, and the hail ravaged the leaves. Despite that, and being insufficiently weeded the cucumber plants have been consistently producing delicious slicers which are a favorite snack food of everyone in the house. Especially the critter. Silver Slicers are definitely well suited to our climate and soil, and are going to be an every year sort of plant for us it seems. I think in the future they will benefit from having a trellis to grow up and around. Frankly so will we, it'll be easier to find the cucumbers!

The other big success stories are the leafy greens. The Swiss Chard in particular stands out to me because we got it on a whim from the seedling swap, and they just did great. We harvest from them from time to time, and every time we think they're going to die off because of one thing or another, they just keep going. The Kale on the other hand has never faltered, and nothing seems to bother it. All of our kale this year is volunteer kale from past years, and it is definitely acclimated to our hillside, and the biggest problem has been keeping it from interfering with things we've deliberately planted. I'm going to let the Kale that's there go to seed over the spring, and distribute the seeds next year. This is a strain of Kale we want to keep around! It makes for great slightly spiced sauteed greens, and a great kale chip. The last success story is the potato buckets, but I don't have good photos of just how well they're doing right now, so we'll touch on them next week.

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